A personal journey to natural theology and religion

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dedicated to developing and promoting the art of peace.

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Philosophy is written in this grand book - the universe, which stands continually open before our gaze. But the book cannot be understood unless one first learns to comprehend the language and to read the alphabet in which it is composed. It is written in the language of mathematics . . . Galilei, p 238.

Welcome to natural theology

The Roman Catholic Church

This site is the log of a trip from 'Catholicism' to 'natural religion'.

Theology was once considered the keystone of the sciences. Its position began to deteriorate with the scientific revolution that began about 500 years ago. New mathematical, empirical and critical methods both released and fed off the energy of industrialization. The resulting explosion of scientific knowledge and industrial power still engulfs us.

One of the few areas relatively untouched by industrialization is traditional religious and theological belief. The paradoxical result seems to have been a revival of the old theologies within advanced industrial communities.

I was brought up amidst Roman Catholic theology, and so it is my natural starting point. This theology embraces traditions many thousands of years old. It emphasizes the vast difference between the eternal life of God and our own lives. The Catholic God is omniscient, omnipotent, infinite, etc, and the Church tells us that we live in a world fatally flowed by original sin. This doctrine has very important social, political and economic consequences.

Catholic theology is the fiction at the heart of a huge corporation, the Roman Catholic Church (RCC), which has power over the minds and actions of more than a billion people worldwide. Over two thousand years, the RCC has developed and embellished a 'history of salvation' which giving itself a central role in 'God's plan'.

The Church gained its power using this history, and strategies ranging from war and occupation to promises of eternal salvation in return for earthly obedience. My religious environment led me to trust Catholic belief, and I set out to live it in a religious order, the Order of Preachers. I began to train for priesthood. I was convinced then that there is no salvation outside the Church.

Life in the Order opened my eyes to a whole new world of knowledge, which at first looked beautiful. Soon, however, it began to clash with science I had learned at school. This conflict made me look around and eventually come to questions like: why does God have to be so different? Why can't the World be God? Why do we need the Church?

Catholic theology has answers, of course. Answers built on a strong theoretical backbone that can be traced from the writings of Aristotle and Plato through Augustine of Hippo, Thomas Aquinas and Bernard Lonergan (and thousands of others) into the twentieth century. Aristotle, Plato, Augustine, Works by Thomas Aquinas - Wikipedia, Lonergan.

This theoretical tradition confirms the Christian belief that God is wholly other. I began to see, however, that everything depends on your model of God; and that any model (eg the Bible) is a human fiction which must be tested against reality before it can be trusted.

My questions struck at the heart of Catholic belief. The Roman Catholic Church is an authoritarian institution that claims the right to control human minds. It employs only true believers, so I was asked to leave the Order

Natural theology

Galileo opened our eyes to the 'book of nature'. This book assumed critical importance for theological modelling when Darwin's Origin of Species provided an explanation for our origins at least as plausible as the Book of Genesis. Darwin, Genesis

Let us assume that for all practical purposes, God and our Universe are one and the same, so that the book of nature is also the book of theology. That is to say, the Universe lives its own life and is not the product of some outside creator. What follows?

First, the radical revision of Catholic theology. Christianity is a mystery religion. There is no evidence for it, people must accept its claims on blind faith. On the other hand, if the Universe is divine theology can become a science in the modern sense of the word. Natural theology (think natural science) may consider every thought, feeling, action or event in the whole Universe as revelation from and of God. The data for natural theology are everything that happens, a vast treasury that outweighs countless ancient texts.

The Catholic Church (through its various agents) did a good job of inhibiting me, but I am slowly breaking free and letting my lust for life flow. This is unlikely to do too much damage in my aging condition, but I do feel a prophetic urge in me to propagate my theological idea now that it seems to me to be sound. An evidence based theology seems capable of yielding great benefits to peaceful human union and our collective power of survival by proving a firm foundation to our dealings with God (our Universe).

(revised 1 March 2013)

Related sites

Concordat Watch

Revealing Vatican attempts to propagate its religion by international treaty


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Further reading

Books

Click on the "Amazon" link below each book entry to see details of a book (and possibly buy it!)

Axelrod, Robert, The Evolution of Cooperation, Basic Books 1985 Amazon.com: 'This book is a must-read not only for students (broadly defined) of the social sciences, but also for politicians and bureaucrats, especially those in charge of military and foreign affairs. Axelrod's book is a tour-de-force in multi-method approaches. Although the author is a trifle repetitive and occasionally laborious, I think the profound content of the book far outweighs the minor inadequacies of its form. At the risk of sounding like a logical positivist, I would venture to say that Axelrod's approach offers hope for a bottom-up construction of cooperation in an uncertain world without a central authority.' Reeshad Dalal 
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Cantor, Georg, Contributions to the Founding of the Theory of Transfinite Numbers (Translated, with Introduction and Notes by Philip E B Jourdain), Dover 1955 Jacket: 'One of the greatest mathematical classics of all time, this work established a new field of mathematics which was to be of incalculable importance in topology, number theory, analysis, theory of functions, etc, as well as the entire field of modern logic.' 
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Cummins, Denise Dellarosa, and Colin Allen (editors), The Evolution of Mind, Oxford University Press 1998 Introduction: 'This book is an interdisciplinary endeavour, a collection of essays by ethologists, psychologists, anthropologists and philosophers united in the common goal of explaining cognition. . . . the chief challenge is to make evolutionary psychology into an experimental science. Several of the chapters in this volume describe experimental techniques and results consistent with this aim; our hope and intention is that they lead by example in the development of evolutionary psychology from the realm of speculation to that of established research program' 
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Darwin, Charles, and Greg Suriano (editor), The Origin of Species, Gramercy 1998 Introduction: 'In considering the Origin of Species, it is quite conceivable that a naturalist, reflecting on the mutual affinities of organic beings, on their embryological relations, their geographical distribution, geological succession, and other such facts, might come to the conclusion that each species has not been independently created, but has descended, like varieties, from other species.' 
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Davis, Martin, Computability and Unsolvability, Dover 1982 Preface: 'This book is an introduction to the theory of computability and non-computability ususally referred to as the theory of recursive functions. The subject is concerned with the existence of purely mechanical procedures for solving problems. . . . The existence of absolutely unsolvable problems and the Goedel incompleteness theorem are among the results in the theory of computability that have philosophical significance.' 
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Dirac, P A M, The Principles of Quantum Mechanics (4th ed), Oxford UP/Clarendon 1983 Jacket: '[this] is the standard work in the fundamental principles of quantum mechaincs, indispensible both to the advanced student and the mature research worker, who will always find it a fresh source of knowledge and stimulation.' (Nature)  
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Galilei, Galileo, and Stillman Drake (translator), Discoveries and Opinions of Galileo: Including the Starry Messenger (1610 Letter to the Grand Duchess Christina), Doubleday Anchor 1957 Amazon: 'Although the introductory sections are a bit dated, this book contains some of the best translations available of Galileo's works in English. It includes a broad range of his theories (both those we recognize as "correct" and those in which he was "in error"). Both types indicate his creativity. The reproductions of his sketches of the moons of Jupiter (in "The Starry Messenger") are accurate enough to match to modern computer programs which show the positions of the moons for any date in history. The appendix with a chronological summary of Galileo's life is very useful in placing the readings in context.' A Reader. 
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Jones, Alexander (ed), The Jerusalem Bible, Darton Longman and Todd 1966 Editor's Foreword: '. . . The Bible . . . is of its nature a written charter guaranteed (as Christians believe) by the Spirit of God, crystallised in antiquity, never to be changed . . . . This present volume is the English equivalent of [La Bible de Jerusalem] . . . an entirely faithful version of the ancient texts which, in doubntful points, preserves the text established and (for the most part) the interpretation adopted by the French scholars in the light of the most recent researches in the fields of history, archaeology and literary criticism.' (v-vi) 
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Lonergan, Bernard J F, Insight : A Study of Human Understanding (Collected Works of Bernard Lonergan : Volume 3), University of Toronto Press 1992 '... Bernard Lonergan's masterwork. Its aim is nothing less than insight into insight itself, an understanding of understanding' 
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Nicolis, G , and Ilya Prigogine, Self Organisation in Nonequilibrium Systems: From Dissipative Structures to Order through Fluctuations, Wiley Interscience 1977 General Introduction: 'The aim of the present monograph can ... be expressed as the studiy of self-organisation in non-equilibrium systems, characterised by the appearance of dissipative structures through the amplification of appropriate fluctuations. ... The natural approach to the problem of the emergence of new patterns is bifurcation theory. The purpose of this theory is to study the possible branching of solutions that may arise under certain conditions. We have tried to present a readable introduction to this rapidly expanding field ... Our main emphasis is in physical examples and simple but representative models, and our aim is to give the reader an idea of the variety of space-time structures that may arise through bifurcation. ... ' 
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Wiener, Norbert, Cybernetics or control and communication in the animal and the machine, MIT Press 1996 The classic founding text of cybernetics. 
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Links
Aristotle The Internet Classic Archive | Aristotle An archive of the works of Aristotle back
Augustine Church Fathers: Home Browse to Augustine of Hippo for a list of Augustine's works online. back
Genesis The Book of Genesis 'Genesis is the first book of the Pentateuch (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy), the first section of the Jewish and the Christian Scriptures. Its title in English, “Genesis,” comes from the Greek of Gn 2:4, literally, “the book of the generation (genesis) of the heavens and earth.” Its title in the Jewish Scriptures is the opening Hebrew word, Bereshit, “in the beginning.”' back
Plato The Internet Classics Archive | Works by Plato An onine archive of the works of Plato back
Thomas Aquinas Thomas de Aquino, Opera Omnia Latin version: CORPUS THOMISTICUM S. THOMAE DE AQUINO OPERA OMNIA recognovit ac instruxit Enrique Alarcón automato electronico Pampilonae ad Universitatis Studiorum Navarrensis aedes a MM A.D. back
Works by Thomas Aquinas - Wikipedia Works by Thomas Aquinas - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia 'The works of Thomas Aquinas are tremendous both in number and in philosophical and theological depth. Few philosophers or theologians have written so much of high quality in the amount of time used by St. Thomas: a little less than three decades.' back
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