Divine Illumination and Revelation 


Section Three

REALITY 


                                                                                                    

 

Previous Part

Chapter One 

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Read Text Online

 

 


Part Three

CREATED REALITY


The present forms of the universe and its living constituents have been determined by the decisions of the Christ, and constructed by the Holy Spirit. The mission of the Christ is to give effect to the purpose of God the Infinite Spirit which is to create a large number of individuals, some of whom may form a community of self-managing and eternally existing persons. This has been done in conformity with the rules of the moral universe.

The decisions of the Christ have resulted in the human situation in which we have physical bodies existing in a three dimensional physical universe. However, since the Christ is the ground of life these decisions are to be taken as the decisions of life in all its forms. Human beings, if they were sufficiently knowledgeable, would have made exactly the same decisions as the Christ has taken. Exactly the same judgments would have been made because they are the optimum decisions. This is the best of all currently possible worlds, where the range of good possibilities is limited only by the present stage of development of life.

The current phase of the development programme for human beings as a group is the creation of a rational and moral culture. Human beings, as participators in Christ, are associated with the Christ in this mission.

◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊ 

Top

Reality 

Created Reality                                                                                                                                             


Chapter One

THE IDEA OF CREATED REALITY


The existence of Reality is offered as the explanation for the set of human experience. The cognitive self is taken as the datum and all experience is seen to occur to that self, and its source is a reality external to the self. Experiences divide naturally into two categories, the one referring to the ultimate reality of God, and the other to created reality. The path to knowledge of ultimate reality has been discussed earlier. Ultimate reality and created reality meet in the scheme of fundamental reality. Ultimate reality is personal, intelligent and moral. Fundamental reality is systematic, purposeful, and benevolent. These realities provide the substrata for created reality.

In a self-creating system nothing is pre-ordained except its moral foundation and all power is freely available through knowledge. Created reality is specified by the choices of self-creating beings and created according to that specification by the Holy Spirit. However, the transient states of created reality have only a passing truth, and the absolute truth of the ultimate and fundamental realities may be relied on to guide thought and behaviour at all times. The love of God and the morality of creation are the points of departure for all thinking about human affairs.

◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊ 

The Model of Created Reality

In the analysis of created reality the starting point is St.Augustine's observations on the nature of time. In St.Augustine's view the cognitive self never experiences a past time nor a future. Its experiences are always in the Now. It exists in the everlasting present which is eternity.

The experiences of thought lead to the idea of the Intellect which is seen as external to the intelligent and cognitive self. The self is aware of thought and in observing the entities and processes of thought sees them objectively. The intellect may be augmented and changed, perhaps radically, with the assent of the self. There is no observation that the self is changed in these operations and the self is taken to be distinct from them. The world of thought is then external to the nuclear self. The intellect lies in time but not in space. The experiences of space and matter give rise to the idea of the physical universe which is external to, and farther removed from, both the cognitive self and the intellect. The physical body is part of this subreality.

The human individual is seen, then, as an entity with three parts which are the spirit, the intellect and the body. The human spirit or intelligent and cognitive nucleus exists always in eternity. The intellect exists in time and the physical body exists in both time and space. In this model of created reality the human situation is that of the spirit as Will exercising the power of choice based on understanding as given by the intellect, and the physical reality is the external reflection of the consequences of those decisions. New understanding is given by the Holy Spirit on simple requisition. By achieving the right understandings and making the correct choices individuals can change their realities. This is a consequence of the morality of self-creation.

◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊ 

The Natural Divisions of Created Reality

Created Reality, as it is known to humanity, is a reflection of humanity's experience of it and that experience gives information about that reality. The analysis of experience reveals natural divisions. 

The natural divisions of experience are:- 

 

- the Cosmos, including biology. 

 

- Human Nature, including the Intellect and the emotions. 

 

- Morality, covering all relationships, Divine, human and animal. 

 

- the Culture: the discussion is confined to Western Culture. 

 

- Religion, including all personal experience. 

These natural divisions of experience are taken to be natural divisions of reality since reality is the source of experience.

Individuals at different stages of intellectual and emotional or spiritual development tend to see different realities. The materialist sees himself as a physical body and experiences his culture as the most immediate reality. The individual also experiences the natural physical environment as the background to the culture and understands that physical environment through knowledge given by the culture.

The idealist or rationalist views his or her intellect as the most immediate reality and sees the cultural and physical environments as secondary. The rationalist's purposes are connected with the quality of the intellect and the concern is to discover the methods and rules by which these purposes may be achieved. In this, experiences of the culture and the physical universe may, or may not, be of significance.

The moral individual is also aware of human relationships and the emotions and feelings that these evoke. He is aware that there are rules governing inter-personal behaviour and that morality is the basis of these rules. He understands the moral obligations involved in relationships and community. Many individuals become aware of the spiritual, and those experiences which lead to the awareness of God Who is the ultimate reality and power.

Hugh of St.Victor, who lived in the 13th century, mapped a progression in human lives in which the intellect developed from a materialist outlook in the immature stage to a rational state in which the individual is concerned with truth and morality, and then to a spiritual state and a relationship with God. The individual, in this progress, comes to understand the full range of human experience and to achieve a well-developed intellect.

◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊ 

Rational Knowledge of Reality

From the position of knowledge the total flow of experience can be confusing and unmanageable and a solution is to map that experience by analysing it into natural divisions, to allow methodical study. These divisions follow those of subjective experience. These categories of experience are taken to represent segments of reality which are also referred to as environments. For the purposes of study each environment may be treated as a distinct entity and explained by a separate theory. 

These theories are:- 

              The Theory of the Cosmos 

              The Theory of Human Nature 

              The Theory of Morality 

              The Theory of the Culture 

              The Theory of Religion

Taken in isolation each environmental theory is no more than relatively true and is limited by the truth of the philosophy that governs the search for knowledge. These environmental theories may be drawn together into one fundamental theory of reality which explains them all. The fundamental theory is therefore a theory of absolute reality or "theory of everything" and functions as a philosophy of total reality by defining the possibilities of reality and the opportunities which may be pursued. Where the fundamental theory is absolutely true and the environmental theories are compatible with it, then the environmental theories are also absolutely true. No distinction should be made between the theories of the Cosmos and, for example, the culture on the grounds that one is given to human beings and the other is created by human beings. Every division of created reality is created by Life itself, either in the Person of the Christ, or by human beings as participators in the Christ.

Morality may appear to be a different case since the Moral Universe is a law of the Infinite God which is imposed on Creation as a whole but the study of intellectual development shows that every understanding must be created afresh by every intellect. Human beings create their understandings of morality and the moral universe as individuals and as a group, and such understandings, if true, are knowledge. Reality is always defined by human knowledge of it.

◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊ 

The Aims of Created Reality

The task of the Christ and of human beings is to produce that set of conditions in created reality in which the survival and self-fulfilment of all human individuals may be achieved. This programme is the natural extension of physical evolution. The nature of created reality reflects both the stage of the development of life that has been reached and the dream of paradise that compels humanity to go beyond raw utility. It is a dream of a paradise, seen as the Kingdom of God or as civilisation, that can barely be grasped intellectually, but would certainly be recognised when found.

The path to the realisation of civilisation, for the human group, is through knowledge, where knowledge is the power to choose. For the individual the dream is to be realised in the Kingdom of God and the path into the Kingdom is through moral understanding. The moral individual enters into awareness of the Kingdom in direct ratio to his moral progress. Since the group is no more than the set of individuals it is necessary for individuals to develop both better knowledge of created reality and increasing moral understanding and this must be done concurrently.

◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊ 

  Top

Reality 

Created Reality                                                                                                                                    


Chapter Two

THE MEANING OF LIFE IN THE WORLD


The Meaning of the Cosmos

Albert Einstein has said that the significant thing about the Cosmos is that it can be understood by human intellects. The Cosmos is a rational place and serves a purpose. The purpose of the Cosmos is to produce rational self-determining individuals. The objective is the development of persons who have a true understanding of themselves and their potential, and can protect themselves from dangers and errors by trust in God. The Cosmos is a teaching system and its method of working is given by the problem and solution formula which is the only way that intellects can develop. It is, from the point of view of the intellect, a set of problems which can be solved by the rational problem solving method. The Cosmos is also the infrastructure of life. It offers an adventure to be lived and enjoyed. The teaching is in part the gift of the understanding necessary to the proper enjoyment of life.

The Cosmos is a system of the Holy Spirit and is located in the Mind of God. The Mind is not a medium of thought of the Infinite Spirit but is a logical construction made in pursuit of purposes. The structure of the Mind is similar to the intellect except that, whereas the intellect is developing and therefore incomplete, the Mind exists in its complete state. A principal purpose of the Mind of God is communication of meaning. Meaning here is the same primitive language which was referred to in the discussion concerning the creation of new understandings and theories. The form of communication of meaning may be ideal or physical. The Cosmos reflects the character of Mind and consists in structured complex meanings.

◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊ 

The Theory of Life

The fundamental theory is incompatible with Darwin's theory of the origin of species. Darwin's explanation is reductionist and atheistic. The growing corpus of biological knowledge denies Darwin's principal claim that life has developed gradually by small changes and that this accounts for the existence of the species. It is now thought that the development of life has proceeded by revolutionary events which were the mass emergence of new forms of life in a relatively short period of time, with long periods of physical stasis. This is just the scenario that supports theist theory, and absolutely contradicts Darwin's. Karl Popper has said, a century after the publication of the theory, that Darwinism amounts to no more than a framework for research. This implied, in effect, that the theory ought to be returned to its promoters for further consideration. Popper has said that the process of evolution is based on problem solving. This is consistent with the rational understanding of the Cosmos as a problem set.

Lifeform development is based on the solving of problems. The problem is given by the ecological niche, and the limitations of current lifeforms. This problem parallels the theoretical crisis situation in which the existing theory cannot account for a new problem and a new theory is required which explains both the problem and the field covered by the old theory. In evolutionary development the solution to the lifeform problem is a new species which matches the ecological niche.

The solution, which is the new species, makes use of past solutions just as a new theory makes use of past theories, but it is also the solution to a new problem. As an example, the path of development from the Kittyhawk to the Jumbo jet contains a series of problem solutions in the forms of now obsolete aircraft, but the Jumbo represents the solution to a new problem definition and solution specification. The relationship between successive aircraft on the development path does not involve physical transformation, but successive respecification and new creation. Each succeeding aircraft incorporates new ideas and new technology and is a product of creative design. Innovation in both technology and lifeform development is based on problem solving.

The true solution to the ecological problem is knowledge. Each new species in the development path is an advance in knowledge. Physical and intellectual progress are both, therefore, based on increasing knowledge.

In practice, the ecological niche supports a range of variations of the species, resulting from the permutations of genes, but all forms within this range are true solutions which are knowledge. True solutions express the best behaviours for survival. These best behaviours are integral with the capabilities of the lifeform, as specified, and are the optimum with regard to the possibilities offered by the niche. Knowledge is power and always expresses the best actions.

Forms outside the range are errors which are not supported by the niche. Error is disabling. Natural selection serves to keep the special solution true to knowledge. In this sense, it is a quality assurance mechanism. It might be described as the elimination of the false, where the test is experience. Knowledge is always subject to corroboration or falsification by experience.

In treating the development of life as a quite normal exercise in problem solving it is then consistent to regard the development of human beings is an integral part of the rational epistemological project, which has physical and intellectual knowledge components. Psychology and biology study respectively the mental and physical components of the same knowledge development programme. Science contributes to this programme with the objective of empowering life itself to participate in the work of creation. Life, empowered by knowledge, becomes self-creating.

A new theory of lifeform development to replace Darwinism is necessary. The framework for research is given by the set of problems that have been solved in the creation of each species. Every advance in the physical and mental powers of lifeforms marks the solution of a problem. The order in which these problems have been solved, based on increasing power to function in the physical and mental realities, gives the record of development in time. The chain of problem-and-solution combinations defines the development path of each species back to the original problem of trying to interface an intelligence to some aspect of the physical universe.

Creative problem solving and not random change is the key to the explanation of life development.

◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊ 

The Understanding of Human Nature

The understanding of human nature is concerned with the potential of humanity and how this potential can be realised. The fundamental model sees the purpose of the life process to be that of producing rational, moral, and self-determining individuals. The Christ has operated a version of the scientific problem solving method to develop life to the level of human beings. Human individuals, with the same methodology at their disposal, can now participate in that development process.

◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊ 

The Relationship between the Mind and the Intellect

The understanding of the intellect has been outlined above. In its best form of expression it is an integral part of the understanding of human nature. The set of intellects are annexed to the Infinite Spirit in the Christ. In its role as a participator in Christ the intellect is a project of the Mind, and exists within it.

The Mind of God is shared by the Persons of the Holy Trinity. It is both a creative and communications medium. The Mind of God is defined as that intelligent entity which manages operations of experience and understanding within logical space. Logical or mental space is subject to change in time. The Mind, which includes the Cosmic System, is the process of the Holy Spirit and constitutes a development system. The Mind supports and teaches the intellect through the intellect support system and the Creative Source of new understanding.

◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊ 

How the Individual Integrates with his Body

As St.Augustine says, the creation of the human individual as a unification of spirit, intellect, and body takes place at the moment of conception. The intellect at that point is without any understanding of experience, but exists within the intellect support system and is linked to the developing physical body. It functions as an intelligence receptive to, and learning from, experience from the point of conception. The embryonic individual makes an emotional investment in his body which involves the linking of the emotional or spiritual energy of the nuclear intelligence or spirit to the body. This gives the awareness of feeling which causes the individual to identify with the physical body.

◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊ 

The Meaning of Life in the Christian Understanding

Life is both a process of learning and the enjoyment of an adventure. As participators in Christ, human beings share co-equally the Infinite's gift of power in the form of knowledge. At the level of the individual, knowledge is necessary to the process of self-creation and self-fulfilment. Collectively, knowledge is required for the development and operation of the community of participants in Christ. Christianity, as the development of Judaism, extended the concept of the Chosen People to all human beings without exception, and all share co-equally the inheritance of Christ. This is in accord with the understanding of the equality of all in Christ.

The Christ, as the initiator and guide of life, has the responsibility to develop the conditions of life to the optimum. As human beings share in the rights and privileges of power, they also share in the responsibilities and duties. Christianity addresses itself to the problems of humanity, and seeks the knowledge to overcome those problems. This knowledge is provided by the Holy Spirit. With this knowledge the aims of the Christ can be achieved. These are concerned, not only with the conditions of humanity in the Cosmos, but the survival and eternal life of the individual spirit. The Christian understanding is that human individuals can survive the death of the body and go on to new experiences. It is the will and purpose of God, as given in Revelation, that this should happen.

The mechanics of survival are not hard to envisage. The human spirit exists within the Christ Who is not subject to death. The intellect exists in the Mind of God and is likewise neither subject to death nor to extinction. The body exists within the Cosmos and dies. The death of the body cannot cause the death of the intellect but causes the link of the intellect to the Cosmos to be broken.

However, the prepared individual may expect the Mind to replace experience of the Cosmos with another link to whatever reality God has prepared for the good of His people. It is no more than switching from one source of experience to another and the switching process may be a function of the intellect support system. The link to the Cosmos is replaced by a link to non-physical reality. On the human level, changing the source of experience is done every day by switching between channels on television sets.

◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊ 

Top

Reality 

Created Reality


Chapter Three

THE CREATION OF HUMAN CULTURE


The culture is designed to accelerate the development of rational intellects and to produce the best living environment for all the peoples of the world. A better culture leads to a happier, more rational and more moral people. The greatest opportunities for humanity lie in applying rational scientific method to the improvement of the culture and through this to the improvement of human intellects. This objective has two aspects which are the creation of a corpus of rational objective knowledge and the proper education of individuals. Both these aims fall within the responsibilities of the culture. In the solution of the problems of cultural development the Christ is working through the set of rational intellects.

◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊ 

The Cultural and Knowledge Problem

Western culture dates from the reforms in learning inaugurated by Charlemagne in the ninth century. Western culture is knowledge-based and therefore normally progressive. A progressive culture should be able to solve all its problems and to create the best living environment for its members. A knowledge-based culture should thereby make itself better in every way than non-progressive cultures and replace them all. At the present time no culture or subculture is recognisably the best. Western culture has lost its understanding of truth and now has no knowledge.

Present cultural reality is in many aspects pre-rational, and even irrational. Existing cultural reality is characterised by pluralism, which is a pre-rational condition. There are a number of cultures, each with its merits and demerits. Within cultures there are a multiplicity of religions, philosophies and ideologies with differing concepts of reality and consequently differing purposes. The condition of conflicting understandings and purposes and consequent struggles and violence is symptomatic of irrationality. Western Culture must be classed as a pre-rational culture even though it is knowledge based because it has no truth and therefore has no means of resolving internal differences.

The majority of human beings are intellectually sub-standard and therefore irrational. People's intellects are often no more than messy collections of ideas. This is the direct consequence of the quality of their culture and not of their natural capabilities. The blame for this state of affairs lies solely with the cultural ideologies and of course with those whose job it is, in a knowledge based culture, to find and disseminate knowledge. The solution to the problems of the people lies in the improvement of their intellects through rational knowledge.

Cultures which do not act from rational knowledge do not understand reality and will in time go under, to be replaced by better cultures. The perfect culture is the one which supplies all human needs, ensures the maximal growth of every individual in intellectual power and freedom, and provides the groundwork to allow all individuals to lead personally satisfactory lives. The individual in a civilised state, emerges from the cultural education process fully able to solve all his problems and to pursue those objectives that he deems worthwhile.

◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊ 

The Real Aspect of the Culture

The culture is more than theoretical knowledge. It contains a metaphysical and physical environment which is applied knowledge. Human life means life in the real cultural environment. If objective knowledge is uniform for all the peoples of the world the application of that knowledge may introduce differences in the real environment. This may be seen in examining the various societies of the world. Many of these differences are geographically and climatically necessary. Others are the result of historical accidents and local preferences. These differences between the local environments produce corresponding differences in peoples. An objective of the Cosmos is to produce conditions which introduce small differences between individuals so that every individual is unique. Each individual then sees different possibilities as desirable and pursues those possibilities in conformity with the purposes of God. The elimination of real differences in the cultural environment and the production of a single standard type of human being is contrary to truth and to the human interest. Diversity of type taken with intellectual rationality is the proper objective. However the standard of cultural environments should always meet the requirements of knowledge that all human beings should be free and sufficiently educated to pursue individually satisfactory lives. Cultural environments that achieve these aims may be judged to be good.

Good and not-so-good cultural environments are the products of good and poor cultures. Poor cultures do little for their members. Their vision is limited to individual material gain. They produce social divisions, wasteful conflict, crime and street violence, and drug and alcohol abuse. Education in poor cultures is generally unsatisfactory and fails to produce the rational intellects needed for cultural improvement.

Cultural reality is a product of human purposes and is a tool designed to enable humanity to modify its future. Opportunistic and haphazard changes are not always advantageous or desirable as the state of the planet shows and progress through knowledge is rational, which means less harmful and more moral. The process of cultural development is one of improving cultural knowledge in an ever-changing, more truthful, understanding of external reality. The limits of the ranges of possibilities for reality and the culture are given by the Fundamental theory and are subject to the imperatives of morality.

In cultural problem solving humanity is in the process of creating the perfect or rational culture, which is Civilisation. In this state the problems that now afflict the peoples of the world will no longer exist. Civilisation is achievable because the cosmos is rational, and all problems may be solved through the use of correct methods, with the help of the Creative Source. The nature of man is not a barrier to improvement, because man's intellect is culturally dependent. It is the culture that both causes the problems of humanity and offers the way to improvement.

◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊ 

The Study of Morality

The only constraint on Life as a self-creating system is the Moral Law. This law binds even God Himself. The Infinite God does not interfere arbitrarily in the Cosmos or in individual lives. The Moral Law specifies the design rules of creation. It may be compared to the design specification of the Internet with which all users must comply if the system is to function correctly. The Internet has experienced major problems from time to time and these crises imply that the specification of the Internet is inadequate. If there were any defect in the Moral Law, circumstances might arise to cause the collapse of Creation.

The Moral Law, as the device of the omniscient God, may be taken as perfect.

According to Confucius, none can escape the Moral Law. Since it forms the first test of all human action it is the first consideration in the selection of behaviour. While its obvious aim is the protection of all by proscribing harmful actions, it also defines the conditions for power.

A principal purpose of the cosmic system is to teach morality. The end result of the teaching is a rational being, whose behaviour is necessarily moral in all respects. Moral problems must be understood as the prerequisite to moral knowledge and this is to be expected, since moral knowledge is a product of the problem solving method. However, there are no moral experiences which are separate from the experience of the problems of life. The living of life leads to the understanding of the necessity of morality. The initiative lies solely with the individual to seek moral understanding and to want to be a moral being or person in God. The peculiar and individual nature of the study of morality has given rise to religion as the set of theories and practices which assist in the achievement of personal moral status. This achievement rests on the philosophy and purpose of the individual to be moral in all things. In the moral intellect all understanding, and therefore all models of reality, have a moral quality. It is not possible in such intellects to divorce the moral character from the meaning of the model because the meaning is moral. The moral quality of understandings is supported by the Christian philosophy of reality. Theism is a moral understanding of reality.

The study of the Moral Law is a task of Theology which provides guidance to Ethics on questions of absolute morality. The distinction between morality and ethics in the system of knowledge is the same as the difference between God's Law as given in the Moral Universe and human law. Ethics, as a department of philosophy, defines the minimum and desired standards of cultural and personal behaviour. The difference between the two standards represents the opportunity gap to be realised through developments in knowledge and education.

Morality argues for the sacredness of all human life, including the unborn, the crippled, and the aged, and the task of Ethics is to make this effective in practice.

◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊ 

The Account of Religion

Albert Einstein defined religion as the theory that life has intrinsic meaning. This definition is accepted here and distinguishes the religions from ideologies which see life as a byproduct of the random movement of matter. Religion is also different from those pseudo-religious ideologies and philosophies which see meaning only in metaphysical entities such as Humanity or the People, and deny any meaning or value to personal life.

Religion is a response to the meaning of supernatural reality. It is both an individual and a group response. It may be classified as a culture and is subject to evolutionary and revolutionary development as are cultures generally. Its relationship to secular culture is complementary in that secular culture is oriented towards the Cosmos and religion towards the eternal. Their development paths in a rational cultural progression should be converging.

The religious thinker is a researcher in the same sense as a scientist, defining his interests and problems, and arriving by the operation of the problem solving method, whether formally or intuitively, at solutions given by the Holy Spirit as the Creative Source. St.Augustine, although he did not analyse his methodology as an epistemologist might, was doing just this.

Religion lies outside the scope of academic knowledge since religious understanding does not necessarily conform to the rational definition of truth, which is the requisite for knowledge. The rational scientific method gives knowledge of reality as it is, but not as it was or will be. Religion is concerned, not only with present reality, but also with past and future states of reality. Since rational truth is the meaning of reality as it is, and God is ultimate reality, the rational method can reach the truth of this reality. However, it cannot judge the truth of religious tradition.

This does not imply that religious tradition is false. The Holy Spirit, as the Creative Source, responds to the purpose of the individual to know the truth, and may, through inspiration, impart understandings of truth which exceed the understandings of problems. This parallels the experience of theory creation where the new theory may exceed any prior estimate of its character. The given understanding may be untestable against experience but this state of affairs is not uncommon even in physical science.

Religious belief in its tradition and in the realisation of the future promise rests on faith. Faith is valid as a motivator and determinant of behaviour. Knowledge and faith are complementary and their relationship may be illustrated by two simple examples. In the first example, if a traveller boards a plane acting in the faith that it is going to his destination, he has no ground for complaint if it is not. Where the plane is going is a matter of knowledge and he had only to ask first.

In the second example, the traveller may board an aircraft, having first assured himself that he knows where the plane is going. However, whether it will actually get there is not a matter of knowledge. Travelling by air is an act of faith. Some place their faith in air safety statistics; others in God. Knowledge and faith are both necessary to living a life. Inadequate faith is a deterrent to many enterprises, besides air travel. Faith is not therefore a peculiarly religious approach to life. The Enlightenment is an enterprise of faith.

Knowledge, in the rational sense, is not a prerequisite to the understanding of God. Intuitive intellects may experience and understand God directly as Love. However, spiritual knowledge is, in the Victorine scheme, an advanced form of rationality. An approach to God based on knowledge must first be rational before it is spiritual. God must be known before any response can be made to Him. That knowledge of God must be true. False gods, like false theories, are possible. The truth in objective religious knowledge can be reached only through rational methodology, and it has been the absence of this method that has led to religious disputes and divisions.

Both philosophy and religion are concerned with the future of humanity, both are based on rational knowledge, and both are based on faith. However, the interest of philosophy is limited to the welfare of humanity in the Cosmos whereas religion is also concerned with the eternal welfare of mankind.

◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊ 

The Christian Religion

The Christian religion, in its doctrines, unites the Absolute with experience. The Infinite God of ultimate reality is related to the world through the systems of the Holy Trinity. The whole of reality may be known through one system of knowledge. The system of knowledge can be justified by an epistemology which is grounded in both Christian metaphysics and experience. From an epistemological point of view Christianity is an advanced system of knowledge.

It is not possible for individuals to build their intellects by retracing the path of knowledge development from its earliest beginnings. As Karl Popper has said, it would not be possible to progress further than Neanderthal Man in a single lifetime. Christianity, as the highest achievement of rational knowledge, is the optimum platform in Western culture on which the development of the individual religious understanding may be based, and it provides guidance on the best behaviours.

Christianity is not the religion of a race or class, but addresses itself to every human being without distinction. The problems of the world are also the problems of Christianity. The ambitions of Western culture flow from the Christian view of reality which sees meaning in the human enterprise. Progress and ultimate perfection are possibilities for the Western mind. Christianity is an enlightened religion.

Christianity is a personal religion. The most distinctive characteristic of the Christian religion is the high value it places on individuals, and this is because each individual is not only a body and an intellect but a spirit or intelligence. The Infinite Spirit manifests in every individual as potential. Christianity's concern is that every individual realises his or her potential as a rational and moral being. The Christian religion sees personal life as an opportunity for individuals to learn to become moral beings and go on to a higher life after the death of the body. This understanding follows from the knowledge of God and God's purposes.

The religious individual as a person responds to God and forms personal relationships to God the Father, the Source of Grace, God the Mother, the Source of wisdom and power, and God the Christ Who is the ground and community of humanity.

The religious student has three behavioural choices in the Christian understanding of reality which, when rightly grasped, amount to moral obligations. The first choice is to accept the offer of assistance given by God the Father. This is in effect a choice to become an eternal self-managing person in God and is the fulfilment of God's purpose.

The second choice is to seek understanding from the Holy Spirit of the Christian religion, the Scriptures, and the meaning of life, and to conform behaviour to that knowledge. This is the programme of faith seeking understanding as defined by St.Augustine.

The third choice is that of cooperating with the Christ in achieving the aims of Life in the world. Those aims are summarised as ensuring that the peoples of the world are free of want, ignorance and oppression, and are able to live moral lives, and pursue their own ends, in the best possible living environment. Cooperation with Christ also implies cooperation with fellow participators in Christ.

The Christian understanding of the aims of life in the world is consistent with the broad aim of the Enlightenment to improve the human condition. In conforming to the imperatives of morality, and the understandings of absolute truth and knowledge, Christian Enlightenment avoids those problems of ignorance, immorality and violence which have brought the secular enlightenment into crisis. In fulfilling these religious obligations the individual is contributing to the creation of human reality in its best possible forms.

TOP OF  PAGE

HOME

ONLINE TEXT

     

                                                                                                                                     

V9