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The demise of organized religion:
a Pyrrhic victory for science
Last night I watched a program on British television about “life after God.” The
central question was whether we need to regain a sense of the sacred in our
scientific world or can society function if it dispenses with the notion of God
altogether? Three ‘hard’ science types took on a sweet but helpless theologian
and a witty more spiritually oriented person. At times it was painful to see
how the hardliners rejoiced like little kids in the advances towards a godless
world while remaining completely oblivious to the fact that their
antagonistic position against organized religion and traditional god concepts
would have them dragged down together with the primitive world views they had
so vehemently fought and defeated.
These brands of science and religion are the products of a worldview that is
fundamentally dualistic. Both also see man as separate from his environment. In
science this sometimes goes so far as to deny the very existence of subjective
experience. In religion, God is seen as a being outside of our physical world,
who can interfere pretty much at will. Science has successfully stripped away
much of the dogmatic notions of religion, replacing them with its own rigid
statement of fact that everything that exists is physical or material.
The only phenomenon within their experience that they have not been able to
explain is consciousness.
In my view, the most significant development of the 20th century has
been the rediscovery of the mind. There is an unmistakable tendency to give
back to human consciousness the central place it has always had, even if it
wasn’t acknowledged. We see this in the trend towards individualism in society,
the importance of the ‘observer effect’ in quantum physics, and in religious
dogma losing its grip on the individual.
The information age has taken root in the last decades of the second millennium
with unprecedented speed. With it’s coming, the fate of physicalist science has
been sealed. Soon, not the elementary particles of physics but information
will be universally accepted as the primary constituents of the Kosmos. This
will be accompanied by the recognition of the role of consciousness in
organizing this information. Physical reality will be seen as only one of
infinitely many systems of organization. This, in turn, will lead to a
tremendous expansion of the range of human consciousness. Physical reality will
resemble an online chat room: a virtual meeting place where people come
together to talk about their experiences in the real world.
Hard-line scientists will be looked at as sweet but helpless people who hang on
to old, archaic ideas.