Although the Earth is not the center of the Universe, humanity is at the center of God’s will, but not in the way many people believe. Scientists discovered long ago the error of believing that all other heavenly bodies orbited around the Earth. They do not, no matter how it may appear to casual observers that they do. So long as observers assumed that the Earth stood motionless amid a sun, moon, planets, stars and other objects in space that moved, they tried to explain how the motions they observed were caused by the motion of every heavenly body except Earth. Once observers accepted that the Earth itself is not only in motion in its own orbit but also in motion revolving around its own axis, their explanations and theories had to change. Let’s give these observant thinkers credit for having reconsidered their earlier theory that the Earth was absolutely motionless and for having tossed it out in favor of other theories once persuasive evidence was gathered. Their reconsideration is a form of repentance, a process of rethinking prior conclusions in light of new evidence. We can similarly reconsider the central role God has entrusted to humanity once we stop assuming that our role consists primarily of being pampered, punished or passed over by God, observe accurately what our role is and develop a theory of life consistent with our true role. Just as it takes more than casual observation to understand the relationship of Earth to other heavenly bodies, it takes more than casual observation to discern our role and relationship to God and God’s design for life. Factors to observe accurately include questions such as “Who orbits whom?” and “For what purpose?”
When the Earth lost its status as the center of the Universe, the Christian religion (then predominantly expressed through the Catholic Church) resisted the new evidence as contrary to long-established religious beliefs about humanity’s being the centerpiece of God’s creation. Catholic traditions enthroned in interpretations of scriptural stories set humanity above all other life forms as the pinnacle expression of God’s divine process of creation. Had polar bears developed a religion it’s possible that they would have thought of themselves as the pinnacle expression of God’s creativity and interpreted the illusion that the stars appear to orbit around the North Pole and the fact that the Earth rotates on its axis around the North Pole as proof of polar bear supremacy. But it seems that only humans have developed religions or felt the need to assert superiority over other species and within our own species. So only humans once claimed that the commonly observed motion of heavenly bodies was linked to humanity’s supremacy in God’s plan of creation and found it hard to let go of outdated theories of an Earth-centered Universe once new and less commonly observed yet nevertheless accurate evidence was available. Although the absence of an Earth-centered Universe did not necessarily imply the absence of a God-centered Universe, modernizing human thinking gradually shifted towards that conclusion. Since Western thinking favors either/or outcomes, in the competition between the scientific and the sacred the scientific gained vastly predominant authority and the authority of the sacred faded by comparison. The possibility of reconciling this competition in an outcome that honored the authority of “both/and” instead for “either/or” was not a favored outcome in minds trained in Western thinking that tends to see issues in terms of opposites and resolves conflicts by designating winners and losers.
Once scientific observations prevailed over traditional religious beliefs, scriptural stories lost much of their authority. Science discredited Scripture. Science won. Religion lost. In fact, science became the new religion and the former institutions of religion in Western (industrializing, developing, modernizing) society took a back seat to science for many centuries, serving mostly to justify and cheer on sciences’ achievements in the “march of progress” of modernization – as measured by material standards. In the current modern era, it’s perhaps time to question whether science works well as a religion. Perhaps in some way undetectable by science humanity does have a centerpiece relationship with God and a central role in God’s plan. The ascendance of science as the superior thought system has seduced us into believing that what is “detectable” by scientific instruments and human observation is all that exists. Thus, with a God that is undetectable by science, God does not exist except in the minds of those who believe God exists, a belief that seems to conflict with physical observations. To many scientific thinkers (atheists, agnostics, skeptics, religiously oriented, etc.), the existence of God is not provable and therefore is largely if not totally irrelevant in one’s “practical” life. While young or prospering socially, many people postpone thinking about God in any depth. More pressing issues related to immediate social success take priority and occupy their minds. While in foxholes there may be no atheists, in between fox holes many sidestep issues related to God to focus on attaining their next social goals.
We may be reaping the results of having scientifically convinced ourselves that God is irrelevant to human life when the truth is precisely opposite. What if God is the most relevant aspect of life and if humanity is the most significant aspect of life as Life happens on God’s terms? Might we shift our priorities and re-arrange our investment of time and energy if that were so? By believing unquestionably in science as our new religion may we have inadvertently encouraged the plague of violence now besetting the Earth at all levels of Life? I am not blaming science for causing the plague. I am merely suggesting that predominant use of science’s way of thinking has distorted our concepts of cause and effect and trained us to assume that the Law of Cause and Effect must always start with the assumption that major (if not all) causes are physical in nature and that nothing non-physical can be a significant factor in causing any effect. It is not necessary to return to medieval superstitions to regain our balance and consider the possibility of significant non-physical Causes of Effects within a balanced blend of both types of Causes and Effects.
I submit that careful observation (akin to Galileo’s looking through his primitive telescope) will establish that the human race plays a central role in the Universe according to God’s plan. (Given that there may or may not be other forms of life elsewhere in the Universe, I am not necessarily suggesting that humanity is the supreme form of life found everywhere in the Universe. But I am suggesting that humanity is the supreme form of life found on Earth and may be charged, among other things, with advocating on behalf of the sanctity of all Earthly Life’s forms instead of desecrating them. And if there are other forms of life beyond Earth, human beings are likely to be responsible for representing and advocating on behalf of all Earthly life forms in future relationships with non-Earthly life forms. Will it not be difficult for humans to stand up for all Earthly life forms when communicating with non-Earthly life forms if we continue to treat other Earthly life forms as unworthy of respect and totally expendable for our convenience? We can only hope that non-Earthly life forms who turn out to have powers superior to ours do not treat us as poorly as we treat Earthly life forms of lesser power.)
I also submit that we will find and return to our central role in God’s plan for Life when we stop limiting our search to material or physical matter. Mainstream science focuses primarily on the physical world. It is inherently biased in favor of materialism. If we limit our inquiry into humanity’s significance to God by limiting our investigation to things physical, we’ll miss what we are looking for. It is not physical. It is detectable but not by instruments limited to detecting physical phenomena. The discernable but nonphysical significance we have to God corresponds to God’s non-detectability by scientific instruments. The existence of humanity’s greatest significance is no more likely to be detected by scientific instruments than God is likely to be detected by them. Hints may be detected but only hints. The precise attribute itself may remain undetectable by scientists for a long time.
By hints, I mean the byproducts or signs of humanity’s significance to God can be detected as evidence of that significance, if the observers are willing to accept these byproducts or signs as evidence rather than explain them away through other explanations more acceptable to science-biased minds. Let’s take an example from science itself of a byproduct of an invisible phenomenon that scientists accept as evidence of the existence of that invisible phenomenon. Today scientists accept the existence of magnetic fields created by many kinds of objects, ranging in size (on Earth) from electrically charged particles in motion to small magnets and the Earth’s core. Although a human’s physical senses may not detect the presence of a magnetic field, the introduction of iron filings into a magnetic field will disclose to human observation the presence of a magnetic field around a magnet. This video demonstrates what happens:
The reaction of the iron filings is evidence of the presence of the energy of the magnetic field around a magnet even when the field’s energy itself remains invisible.
My proposition is that the human species (humanity) is at the heart of Life as God creates Life. Admittedly this proposition contains assumptions that may not be accepted by all observant thinkers. It assumes 1) the existence of God, 2) the role of God as on-going Creator of Life (past, present and future tense of “create”) and 3) the existence of Life itself as an overarching, never-fully-completed phenomenon within which all forms of life (as we have identified and may yet identify them) take place. I propose that Life is an ever-evolving Supreme Field of Divine Energy akin to a magnetic field, that God is the ever-expanding flow of divine energy that magnetizes Life akin to the way a flow of electrical energy creates a magnetic field around a wire through which the electricity flows and that Life’s “network of wires” or energy routes called “relationships” continues to expand as well as vary in capacity to transmit divine energy, depending among other things upon the level of resistance to the flow of divine energy. As my proposal demonstrates, phenomena in the physical world can provide metaphors for the nature of Life and help us to accept observable evidence in a new light based on a revised theory of Life.
We need not toss out all of our past observations, theories and conclusions in order to investigate the value of this revised theory in which both God and humanity play key roles. We need only be willing to consider that our past and present theories are “good as far as they go” and that there’s more to the story than what our currently accepted theories consider possible or adequately allow for. I propose that scientific theories are Scientific stories and that Sacred stories (from all of humanity’s spiritually oriented thought systems, both of oral and written traditions, not just Christian Scripture) have value as allegorical perspective and guidance in understanding the meaning, purpose and direction of Life. In short I am proposing a theory by which sciences and religions may be reconciled and integrated into a unified perspective on Life – within a Unified Story told by the Source of Life through human emotions, thoughts and activities. Under such a unified thesis, the sciences may have more to say about “how” life works than about “why” Life exists.
© Art Nicol 2015
To consider more about the possibility of a Unified Story of Life, please read Part 2 of this 3-part series.