Category Archives: Religion

Oracles of Science

[S]cientism“—an exaggerated and ideologically explainable respect for a certain mistaken image of science. Indeed, two of the most remarkable figures in thrall to “scientism” were Freud and Marx themselves. Their own theories must be reinterpreted in order to free them from this incubus.

Alexander Rosenberg, Philosophy of Social Science, 2016, p. 156.

[S]cientism is] an exaggerated and often distorted conception of what science can be expected to do or explain for us. One aspect of scientism is the idea that any question that can be answered at all can best be answered by science. This, in turn, is very often combined with a quite narrow conception of what it is for an answer, or a method of investigation, to be scientific. Specifically, it is supposed that canonical science must work by disclosing the physical or chemical mechanisms that generate phenomena. Together these ideas imply a narrow and homogeneous set of answers to the most diverse imaginable set of questions. Everywhere this implies a restriction of the powers of the human mind; but nowhere is this restriction more disastrous than in the mind’s attempts to answer questions about itself.

John Dupré, Human Nature and the Limits of Science, 2002, p. 2.

Science as Pseudo-Religion

Nobel laureate Steven Weinberg, one of the greatest particle physicists of the twentieth century, assured his readers that the universe was “pointless” in his classic The First Three Minutes, still selling briskly a quarter century after its initial publication. We look in vain, says Weinberg, for a purpose for human existence or anything else and must console ourselves selves with the knowledge that science can lift the human experience above its natural level of “farce” and give it the “grace of tragedy.” (Giberson and Artigas 2007, Kindle Locations 40-43)

[Oracles of Science argue] that outside science we cannot find respectable truth; this, of course, is scientism, not science…. Scientism is a belief that serves its adherents very well, assuring them that only science provides vides a valid paradigm for assessing knowledge claims. Scientism is, however, an obviously self-defeating ideology. Its claims about its own epistemology are not the consequence of any scientific investigation but rather reach outside itself into the very realm that it claims does not exist. The claim that there is no valuable knowledge outside science certainly cannot be supported from within science. This is an extremely simple philosophical error, akin to a child claiming that because all the people he knows are in his house, that there cannot be any people outside his house. (Giberson and Artigas 2007, Kindle Locations 565-570)

When we reflect on science—its aims, its values, its limits—we are doing philosophy, not science. This may be bad news for the high priests of scientism, who reject philosophy, but there is no escaping it. Dawkins is a good scientist and a brilliant communicator and certainly would have been an effective lawyer or politician, but he seems strangely unaware that he is an abysmal philosopher and an even worse theologian. (Giberson and Artigas 2007, Kindle Locations 570-573)

How a scientist becomes a disciple of scientism is mysterious, because science and scientism are incompatible. Science owes its success to its restricted focus—its acknowledged inability to even address questions like those raised by scientism, much less answer them. Scientists concentrate on very particular subjects, generally astonishingly narrow, and use rigorous methods to study them, submitting their hypotheses to careful scrutiny and avoiding extrapolations or unwarranted generalizations. In contrast, scientism is an unsupported generalization, bad philosophy masquerading as science or one of its consequents. This qualifies as a virus of the mind, to use Dawkins’s own terminology. Most of scientism’s disciples are casual and probably not even aware that they hold this philosophy, but when scientism is seriously adopted, it becomes a sort of pseudo-religion, providing a meaning to life, and an ideal for which one will fight. Conversion to this strong form of pseudo-religious scientism often derives from two related factors: a disillusionment with some form of traditional religion, and the discovery that science is wonderful and seems to provide meaning and values, in addition to knowledge. (Giberson and Artigas 2007, Kindle Locations 573-579)

There are indeed important values associated with scientific work, and the progress of science contributes to their spread. Progress in crucial aspects of contemporary culture reflects the spread of scientific values. But as most practicing scientists have discovered, one can work in science, easily mixing its values with unrelated extra-scientific interests. (Giberson and Artigas 2007, Kindle Locations 579-580)

Dawkins points, repeatedly and with enthusiasm, to the diversity of religions and concludes that their very diversity proves that no one of them is reliable. Of course, Dawkins’s ideas are themselves much debated among scientists, and serious disputes do indeed exist regarding the very aspects of evolutionary theory that he champions. This, however, hardly constitutes an argument that all these various points of view are equally vacuous and that there can be no serious discussion about them. Dawkins seems strangely unmoved by the large number of thoughtful scholars—including his colleagues leagues at Oxford University, like Keith Ward, Alister McGrath, and Richard Swinburne—whose religious beliefs are accompanied by serious reflection and considerations of evidence. (Giberson and Artigas 2007, Kindle Locations 580-584)

There is, to be sure, a great difference between the general unanimity of science and the diversity of religions. But there is a considered response to this. We reach the peculiar agreement and intersubjectivity of natural science only when we deal with repeatable patterns in the natural world. Scientists have the luxury of gathering together in laboratories to share common, repeatable, and predictable experiences. It is no surprise that when we pose problems related to meaning and spiritual realities, it is more difficult to reach agreement. When we insist on testability, empirical control, quantification, repeatability, and so on, we should be aware that we are confining our study to those realities that meet these criteria. This study is both wonderful and exciting, but it has absolutely nothing to do with the scientism that would impose its straitjacket on the human mind, denying the value or validity of other explorations. (Giberson and Artigas 2007, Kindle Locations 584-589)

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The Ideological Uses of Evolutionary Biology in Recent Atheistic Apologetics

Why should we be concerned about biology and ideology? One good reason is that the use of biology for non-biological ends has been the cause of immense human suffering. Biology has been used to justify eugenic programs, enforced sterilization, experimentation on living humans, death camps, and political ambitions based on notions of racial superiority, to name but a few examples. We should also be concerned because biological ideas continue to be used, if not in these specific ways, then in other ways that lie well beyond science. Investigating the past should help us to be more reflective about the science of our own day, hopefully more equipped to discern the ideological abuse of science when it occurs. (Alexander and Numbers 2010)

One of the most remarkable developments during the opening years of the twenty-first century has been the appearance of a number of high-profile populist books offering an aggressively atheist critique of religion.’ This “clustering” of prominent works of atheist apologetics in the period 2004-7 is of no small historical interest in its own right, and is widely taken to reflect a cultural reaction against “9/11”-the suicide attacks tacks in New York in September 2001, widely regarded as being motivated by Islamic extremism. (Alexander and Numbers 2010)

Yet the appearance of these works is of interest for another reason. A central theme of two of them is that developments in biology, especially evolutionary biology, have significantly negative implications for belief in God. Daniel Dennett’s Breaking the Spell and Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion, both published in 2006, express the fundamental belief that the Darwinian theory of evolution has such explanatory power that it erodes many traditional metaphysical notions-such as belief in God-through its “universal acid.” This represents an extension of the basic lines of argument found in earlier works, in which an appeal to biological understandings of human origins, subsequently amplified to include accounts of the origins of human understandings of purpose and value based on evolutionary psychology, which was made in order to erode the plausibility of belief in God. (Alexander and Numbers 2010)

From its first appearance, some saw Darwinism as a potential challenge to at least some aspects of the traditional Christian view of creation. Yet it is important to appreciate that most early evolutionists, including Charles Darwin himself, did not consider that they were thereby promulgating or promoting atheism. Since the beginning of the nineteenth century, serious ous Christian thinkers had come to realize that at least some metaphorical interpretation was demanded in considering the early chapters of Genesis, so that their possible incompatibility with evolution was not the major stumbling block for the intelligentsia that might be expected (see also Harrison, Chapter 1, this volume).’ Nor is there any shortage of later significant evolutionary biologists who held that their science was consistent with their faith, such as Ronald A. Fisher, author of The Genetical Theory of Natural Selection (1930), and Theodosius Dobzhansky, author of Genetics and the Origin of Species (193’7).’ The emphasis upon Darwinism as an acid that totally erodes religious belief, though anticipated in earlier periods, appears to have reached a new intensity in the first decade of the twenty-first century. (Alexander and Numbers 2010)

This chapter sets out to explore the emergence of this focused appeal to evolutionary biology in Dennett’s and Dawkins’ recent works of atheist apologetics, both considering it in its historical context and offering an assessment of its impact on the popular understanding of Darwinism in the early twenty-first century. This appeal to biology in the defense of atheism is complex and nuanced, and there are significant differences of substance and emphasis between atheist writers who adopt such an approach. Nevertheless, some common factors emerge, which suggest that this is an appropriate line of inquiry to pursue, of no small intrinsic intellectual interest to both historians and evolutionary biologists. (Alexander and Numbers 2010, emphasis added)

As my concern in this chapter is specifically with biological issues, I shall not engage with the more general argument, also embedded within some recent atheist writings, that the natural sciences as a whole make faith in God intellectually irresponsible or risible.’ This argument occasionally reflects an implicit presumption, generally not defended by an appeal to historical scholarship, of the permanent validity of a “warfare” or “conflict” model of the historical interaction of science and religion.” It is clear that this model has continuing cultural authority, especially at the popular level. It may have been radically revised, even discredited, by academic historians; it is, however, clear that this development has yet to filter down to popular culture. While this atheist argument merits close attention, as it has relevance for the calibration of traditional Christian approaches to evidence-based apologetics, it is not a topic that I propose to address further here. My main theme is the manner in which Darwinism has been transposed in recent atheist apologetics from a provisional scientific theory to an antitheistic ideology. My focus is on the ideological use of the biological sciences, especially evolutionary biology, in recent atheist apologetics, a topic which I believe is best considered under three broad categories: (1) the elevation of the status of Darwinism from a provisional scientific theory to a worldview; (2) the personal case of Charles Darwin as a role model for scientific atheism; and (3) the use of the concept of the “meme”-a notion that reflects an attempt to extend the Darwinian paradigm from nature to culture-as a means of reductively explaining (and hence criticizing) belief in God. (Alexander and Numbers 2010)

Darwinism as an ideology

One of the most interesting developments of the twentieth century has been the growing trend to regard Darwinian theory as transcending the category of provisional scientific theories, and constituting a “world-view.” Darwinism is here regarded as establishing a coherent worldview through its evolutionary narrative, which embraces such issues as the fundamental nature of reality, the physical universe, human origins, human nature, society, psychology, values, and destinies. While being welcomed by some, others have expressed alarm at this apparent failure to distinguish between good, sober, and restrained science on the one hand, and non-empirical metaphysics, fantasy, myth and ideology on the other. In the view of some, this transition has led to Darwinism becoming a religion or atheist faith tradition in its own right. (Alexander and Numbers 2010)

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Science as a Social Activity

Most sociologists and anthropologists agree on the definition and the domain of their disciplines; the same holds true for many psychologists, political scientists, and almost all economists. The same cannot be said for philosophers and philosophy. Philosophy is a difficult subject to define, which makes it difficult to show social scientists why they should care about it—the philosophy of social science in particular…. [T]he subject is inescapable for the social scientist…. [W]hether as an economist or an anthropologist, one has to take sides on philosophical questions. One cannot pursue the agenda of research in any of the social sciences without taking sides on philosophical issues, without committing oneself to answers to philosophical questions. (Rosenberg, Alexander. Philosophy of Social Science. Boulder, CO: Westview Press; 2016; p. 1.) 

(…) Questions about what ought to be the case, what we should do, and what is right or wrong, just and unjust, are called normative. By contrast, questions in science are presumably descriptive or, as sometimes said, positive, not normative. Many of the normative questions have close cousins in the social and behavioral sciences Thus, psychology will interest itself in why individuals hold some actions to be right and others wrong; anthropology will consider the sources of differences among cultures about what is good and bad; political science may study the consequences of various policies established in the name of justice; economics will consider how to maximize welfare, subject to the normative assumption that welfare is what we ought to maximize. But the sciences—social or natural—do not challenge or defend the normative views we may hold. In addition to normative questions that the sciences cannot answer, there are questions about the claims of each of the sciences to provide knowledge, or about the limits of scientific knowledge, that the sciences themselves cannot address. These are among the distinctive questions of philosophy of science, including questions about what counts as knowledge, explanation, evidence, or understanding. (Rosenberg 2016, 2-3)

PHILOSOPHICAL PROBLEMS OF SOCIAL SCIENCE

If there are questions the sciences cannot answer and questions about why the sciences cannot answer them, why should a scientist, in particular a behavioral or social scientist, take any interest in them? The positions scientists take on answers to philosophical questions determine questions they consider answerable by science and choose to address, as well as the methods they employ to answer them. Sometimes scientists take sides consciously. More often they take sides on philosophical questions by their very choice of question, and without realizing it. The philosophy of science may be able to vindicate those choices [or undermine them]. At least, it can reveal to scientists that they have made choices, that they have taken sides on philosophical issues. It is crucial for scientists to recognize this, not just because their philosophical positions must be consistent with the theoretical and observational findings of their sciences. Being clear about a discipline’s philosophy is essential at the research frontiers of the disciplines, it is the philosophy of science that guides inquiry…. [T]he unavoidability and importance of philosophical questions are even more significant for the social scientist than for the natural scientist. The natural sciences have a much larger body of well-established, successful answers to questions and well-established methods for answering them. As a result, many of the basic philosophical questions about the limits and the methods of the natural sciences have been set aside in favor of more immediate questions clearly within the limits of each of the natural sciences. (Rosenberg 2016, 3)

The social and behavioral sciences have not been so fortunate. Within these disciplines, there is no consensus on the questions that each of them is to address, or the methods to be employed. This is true between disciplines and even within some of them. Varying schools and groups, movements and camps claim to have developed appropriate methods, identified significant questions, and provided convincing answers to them. But among social scientists, there is certainly nothing like the agreement on such claims that we find in any of the natural sciences. (Rosenberg 2016, 3)

The social and behavioral sciences have not been so fortunate. Within these disciplines, there is no consensus on the questions that each of them is to address, or the methods to be employed. This is true between disciplines and even within some of them. Varying schools and groups, movements and camps claim to have developed appropriate methods, identified significant questions, and provided convincing answers to them. But among social scientists, there is certainly nothing like the agreement on such claims that we find in any of the natural sciences. In the absence of agreement about theories and benchmark methods of inquiry among the social scientists, the only source of guidance for research must come from philosophical theories. Without a well-established theory to guide inquiry, every choice of research question and of method to tackle it is implicitly a gamble with unknown odds. The choice of the social scientist makes it a bet that the question chosen is answerable, that questions not chosen are either less important or unanswerable, that the means used to attack the questions are appropriate, and that other methods are not. (Rosenberg 2016, 4)

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The reason for the everlasting interaction between science and philosophy transpires clearly. The human mind musters an admirable ability to think up equations for physical systems. But equations need to be interpreted in terms of physical models and mechanisms. Science requires conceptual understanding. This understanding employs fundamental philosophical notions. (….) The scientific enterprise comes with philosophical commitments, whether the scientist likes it or not. The scientist needs philosophical ideas, simply because amongst the experimental and mathematical tools in the toolbox of the scientist there are conceptual tools, like fundamental notions. The despairing scientist may ask: ‘Will we ever get an answer?’ The philosopher replies: ‘Not a definitive answer, but a few tentative answers.’ Recall that the philosopher (and the scientist qua philosopher) works with conceptual models. At any one time only a few of these models are in circulation. They cannot provide the definitive answers of which the scientist is fond. But this is typical of models even in the natural sciences. (Weinert, Friedel. The Scientist as Philosopher: Philosophical Consequences of Great Scientific Discoveries. Berlin: Springer-Verlag; 2004; pp. 278-279. )

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Science is not above criticism. On the contrary, because of its influence on modern society, science and scientists need careful scrutiny as much as they deserve admiration and support. As Helen Longino eloquently puts it, science is a social process, and one that is far too important to be left in the hands of scientists alone. Perhaps the most dangerous fallacy a scientist can commit, often subconsciously, is to only do science and never think about it. Yet many scientists who I know are not aware of the broad discussion about how science is done (or shouldn’t be done) that permeates the literature in philosophy and sociology of science. Worse yet, when asked, they positively sneer at the idea of doing philosophy or sociology of science. (Pigliucci 2002: 247)

This lack of understanding of philosophy and sociology of science by scientists is, of course, at the root of … scientism … [When] a scientist of the caliber of Noble Prize-winning physicist Steven Weinberg can even go so far as writing a book chapter entitled “Against Philosophy,” in which he argues that philosophy is not only useless, but positively harmful to the scientific enterprise … [we see a] sort of hubris that offends many [religionists] … (not to mention philosophers), and they have every right to be offended. (Pigliucci 2002: 247)

Golden Rule and Business Ethics

[This extensive publishing of chapter eight of Jeffrey Wattles Golden Rule was done with his permission.]

The Golden Rule of the Fatherhood of God and the Brotherhood of Man

The late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries in America were times of great economic expansion and inequality, opportunity and abuse, times of American power and of world war. Early scientific doctrines of evolution were being used to gain understanding of the human species and social life, and the result was a profound challenge to traditional religion. Does religion render a person less fit for the rigors of competition, or does real religion empower a person to deal in a progressive way with those very challenges? As that debate went on, America was a center of a dynamic, religiously motivated golden rule movement, affecting society, politics, economics, business, and interfaith relations. Many enthusiastic individuals chose the rule as their motto; a popular literature on the rule arose; many a store was called “Golden Rule Store”; it was the custom to bestow on exemplars of the rule the nickname “Golden Rule.” Authors expounding the maxims for the exercise of a given craft would dub their principles “golden rules,” and many books carried titles such as Golden Rules of Surgery. A Golden Rule Brotherhood was formed with the intention of unifying all the religions and peoples of the world. During this period the golden rule came to symbolize a wholehearted devotion to the service of humankind. (Wattles 1996, 90)

This movement, which spread beyond the boundaries of Christianity, held the conviction that all men and women are brothers and sisters in the family of God, and they formulated the essentials of religion in the gospel of the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man. The phrase “brotherhood of man” was used to include, not exclude women. Since the struggle to synthesize religious idealism with scientific realism had become especially urgent, the golden rule became caught up in the debate. Does living by the rule render the individual needlessly vulnerable to rugged, evolutionary competition and conflict, or is the rule itself a vehicle of evolutionary progress? (Wattles 1996, 90)

There had been a growing sense that each individual is akin to every other human being. The fabric of humanity had been torn by religious wars between Christians and Muslims during the Middle Ages and between Protestants and Catholics during the early modern period. Europeans disgusted with the slaughter turned toward tolerance, especially since it was clear that professing a religion was no guarantee of morality and that some atheists lived highly moral lives. In the eighteenth century, Hume had proclaimed that every person has a spark of benevolent sentiment toward humanity, and Kant and others attempted to distill universally acceptable basics of religion and morality. In the nineteenth century, at all levels of culture, religious and secular humanitarianism flourished. Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony used Schiller’s “Ode to Joy,” which reads, in translation: “Joy, beautiful divine spark. . . . your magic binds together what convention had strictly divided; all men become brothers where your gentle wing rests.” Leo Tolstoy (1828-1910) abandoned the life of a Russian nobleman and the privileges of literary success for a life in some ways like that of a peasant. He defined art in terms of its capacity to arouse the feeling of the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man. His radical application of the Sermon on the Mount and his critique of luxury and oppression stimulated the idealism of many others throughout the world. (Wattles 1996, 90-91)

Among German theologians, Albrecht Ritschl ( 1822-1889) drew on Kant for a conception of the kingdom of heaven as the organization of humanity through moral action inspired by love; Ritschl’s influential student Adolf Harnack ( 1851-1930) used historical study with the aim of separating the kernel of original Christianity from the husk of associated Greek philosophic dogma. Painstaking scholarship enabled Harnack boldly to read between the lines of the New Testament text and to discover afresh Jesus’ persistent tendency to speak of religion in terms of family life. He presented the teachings of Jesus as, in sum, the fatherhood of God, the brotherhood of man, and the infinite value of the individual soul. With this conception of religion, the golden rule would find new meaning and historical vitality. In interreligious relations, the new conception of religion reached an historic high-water mark at the World’s Parliament of Religions, organized in Chicago in 1893 by Presbyterian minister Dr. John Henry Barrows in conjunction with the Columbian Exposition. It is not surprising that the most frequently mentioned principle of morality at the parliament was the golden rule. Praise for the rule came from representatives of Confucianism, Judaism, and Christianity. The golden rule was perhaps the most widely shared commitment among all the religions; and it came to symbolize the participants’ commitment to live the warm brotherly and sisterly unity that most of them had experienced together during their days of the parliament. (Wattles 1996, 91)

FROM RELIGIOUS ETHICS TO BUSINESS ETHICS: ARTHUR NASH

Two sides of the American golden rule movement are represented by Arthur Nash ( 1870-1927) and J. C. Penney ( 1875-1971) respectively. Each wrote an autobiography from the perspective of a successful Christian business leader offering advice concerning the practical, moral, and spiritual principles of living that had proven themselves through years of personal experience in the competitive arena. Nash, whose story is recounted here in more detail, participated in the social drama of urban Christianity during the years surrounding World War I, and his application of the rule is religiously motivated from the start. Penney, by contrast, was a traditional, rural and small-town man who followed the golden rule as a moral principle and achieved success in business without religious motivation until his evangelical conversion later in life. (Wattles 1996, 97)

Is religion a sphere apart from business activity, or should there not be continuity between one’s religion and the way one conducts one’s business? As a bridge of continuity between religion and business was being built by those whose primary motivation was religious, it was found that the bridge could be traversed by others whose primary motivation was economic. In some cases, the intertwining of religious and business ideas resulted in an ambiguity that has lent itself to cynical interpretation. If Jesus could be popularly portrayed as the greatest advertiser and salesman in history in Bruce Barton 1924 bestseller The Man Nobody Knows, business writers could also promote religion as a tonic that would inspire an individual to conduct relationships in a way that should conduce to prosperity. Many unwitting secularists painted a veneer of religious idealism on their enterprises. (Wattles 1996, 97)

Although Arthur Nash had some tendency to let the rise and fall of his business affect his confidence in the evident, practical worth of religious principles, he remains one of the most sincere of the exponents of the golden rule as the guide to business relationships. Nash was born in a log cabin in Indiana in 1870, the eldest of nine children of strict Seventh Day Adventist parents. He referred to his parents as having a “stern, rigid, uncompromising” faith and “great and sterling character.” He was educated in Adventist schools and seminary and was sent to Detroit as an instructor in a school for Adventist ministers and missionaries. His refusal to conform to denominational boundaries led to conflict and the first of his two breaks with Christianity. He left Detroit and did not return for years. When he did, however, he was touched by the plight of the unemployed there, and with the help of others was able to open a laundry in which he was able to provide many jobs for poor people. Church people began to send him their business, and he met the Christian woman who would be his wife and the mother of his three children, and who convinced him that his objections to Christianity were not to the religion of Jesus but to the very lack of it. Inspired again, he reentered the ministry with the Disciples of Christ. But when in a funeral service he eulogized a man of considerable character who had no professed religion, he was asked to resign his ministry. He then found work to support his family selling clothing—and did very well at it. In 1909 he moved to Columbus, Ohio, started manufacturing men’s clothing, began to prosper, but lost nearly everything in the flood of 1913. He then moved to Cincinnati and was able to organize the A. Nash Company in 1916 with sixty thousand dollars in capital, making made-to-order suits for individual clients. A short while after the Armistice was concluded, he acquired ownership of the small shop that had been making his garments under contract. (Wattles 1996, 97-98)

Then came the breakthrough, the pivot of this narrative. Nash took over the limping business of a man who had leased floor space in the building of the A. Nash Company. The tenant had run a sweatshop in the depressed clothing manufacturing industry of Cincinnati. When payroll time for his new employees came around, Nash realized that some fine and vulnerable people were only earning four dollars per week. He had recently become impressed with the kind of world that could result if people would only practice the golden rule, and he had been giving speeches to that effect. He thought of raising wages substantially, but his son, freshly disillusioned from having participated in the war in Europe, resisted the idea. They had lost four thousand dollars during the previous fiscal year, but Nash decided he would close up shop rather than exploit people to stay in the clothing business. The stockholders agreed to close the company, and Nash agreed to make up their losses, but he decided to pay a living wage until they went out of business; he would put whatever capital remained as a down payment on a farm where he would at least have the satisfaction of honest earnings. He went in to announce the decision to the small group of workers. The speech is worth quoting in full (Wattles 1996, 98):

“Friends, you have heard no doubt that we have bought this shop, and I have come in to get acquainted with you. No doubt, too, you have heard a great deal about the talks that I have been giving during the War about Brotherhood and the Golden Rule, while pleading the cause of Christianity and its affiliation to my conception of true Democracy. Now I am going to do a bit of talking to you. First, I want you to know that Brotherhood is a reality with me. You are all my brothers and sisters, children of the same great Father that I am, and entitled to all the justice and fair treatment that I want for myself. And so long as we run this shop [which to me meant three or four months longer], God being my helper, I am going to treat you as my brothers and sisters, and the Golden Rule is going to be our only governing law. Which means, that whatever I would like to have you do to me, were I in your place, I am going to do to you. Now,” I went on, “not knowing any of you personally, I would like you to raise your hands as I call your names.”

I read the first name. Under it was written: Sewing on buttons—$4.00 per week. I looked straight before me at the little group, but saw no hand. Then I looked to my right, and there saw the old lady I have referred to holding up her trembling hand. At first I could not speak, because, almost instantly, the face of my own mother came between that old lady and myself. I thought of my mother being in such a situation, and of what, in the circumstances, I would want someone to do for her. I hardly knew what to say, because I was aware that when I went into the shop, that after agreeing to stand all of the loss entailed by the liquidation of the company, I could not go too far in raising wages. It seemed to be my obvious duty to salvage something for the boys who were coming home from military service, and for the daughter just entering the university. But as I looked at that old lady, and saw only my mother, I finally blurted out: “I don’t know what it’s worth to sew on buttons; I never sewed a button on. But your wages, to begin with, will be $12.00 a week. (Wattles 1996, 98-99)

Nash continued through the list, giving equal 300 percent raises for those earning the least, and raising the highest wages from eighteen to twenty-seven dollars. It was not a move made out of ecstasy, but in blunt lucidity about what it would subtract from the money he would have to invest afterward in a farm. For months thereafter he gave little attention to the clothing business, but when he needed to see how it was doing financially, he was surprised: their little business was putting out three times the quantity it had done the previous year. He then learned that after his little speech the Italian presser had concluded that if he were the boss and had just spoken like that to his employees and raised their wages, he would want his employees to “work like hell.” And that is exactly what they did. Soon the shop had more orders than it could handle. Encouraged, Nash turned his business into a laboratory for the application of the golden rule, and the business prospered greatly. (Wattles 1996, 99)

Nash’s leadership with the golden rule led to many changes in his business. He proposed a profit-sharing plan; the workers chose to take their benefits in the form of higher wages. By 1923 the workers owned nearly half of the company stock. The best-paid employees petitioned to extend the distributions based not on the wages but on time worked. “The higher-paid workers, therefore, on their own motion thus relinquished their claim to a considerable sum of money in order that the lower-paid workers, whose need was greater, could be better provided for.” Nash continued to raise wages, limited the profit of capital to 7 percent, and reinvested remaining profits in the extension of the business. He lived simply. When Nash proposed to withhold bonuses from those who had worked less than six months (since an employee had joined for a short time and left right after receiving a bonus), the workers insisted that the golden rule indicated assuming sincere motivation in every employeeand they prevailed. Nash and the workers agreed that the consumer should play a role in the setting of prices, and consequently their prices were drastically cheaper than others’ (sixteen to twenty-nine dollars for a suit instead of fifty to a hundred). They also agreed to return extra profits to the customer in the form of better goods and extra trimmings. And they proposed, during a time of unemployment, to take a wage cut and make additional work for the unemployed in Cincinnati. They had abundant sunshine and fresh air and a healthy vapor heating system, and they remodeled their plant according to a schedule that the group agreed to. The work week was reduced to forty hours, and Nash was resolutely opposed to overtime. Every change was either proposed by one of the workers or thoroughly discussed in a company meeting. Nash supported labor unions; his firm unanimously agreed to make no clothes for a firm fighting a union and looked askance at someone taking a striker’s job; but he thought there was a better way to safeguard the rights of workers, and so he had no union in his plant. An experienced factory observer visited Nash’s workers and concluded that he was watching piecework, so rapid was the labor; but those people were working for an hourly wage. In one room, however, workers were taking such painstaking care with their work, the observer was sure they were on an hourly wage; but they were in fact the only one’s getting paid by the piece. Even during hard economic times they continued to grow from around $132,000 in 1918 to $3,750,000 in 1922. (Wattles 1996, 99-100)

Nash became widely known, and in 1923 he published an autobiography, proclaiming the golden rule as his cardinal principle, telling of his path to success, and reproducing two appreciative commentaries. After writing the triumphant account of his spiritual, social, and material success, the former preacher finally had a national pulpit that could not be taken from him. (Wattles 1996, 100)

In a posthumous 1930 edition of his book, completed by an associate, we learn the rest of the story. As a result of his renown, Golden Rule Nash became overcommitted to travel and speechmaking, and during the last four years of his life his business, now grown quite large, began to weaken in sustaining its original spirit. As Nash came to employ not a few hundred but 140,000 employees, the service motive did not permeate as thoroughly as before. Previously he had estimated that 90 percent of his workers identified with the spirit of his undertaking, and the other 10 percent worked alongside them faithfully. But now some people began to take advantage of the looser system of control; some subordinate executives did not keep pace with their leader. Favoritism, discrimination, and poor workmanship became noticeable, and morale slackened as Nash was away much of the time on speaking engagements with dinner clubs, lodge and church conventions, and chambers of commerce. (Wattles 1996, 100)

Nash’s resolution of the problem led to an expansion of his management philosophy. At first he approached a group of ministers and invited them to examine every phase of his operation and to report any situation where the teachings of Jesus could be more truly put to work. They refused, deferring to his greater experience in business. At length he decided to turn to a union. Previously, despite his sympathies with the union movement, Nash had endeavored to treat his workers so well that they would feel no need for a union. The enmity between labor and management, especially in the clothing industry, had been strong during the previous decade; now, however, in December of 1925, he turned to the Amalgamated Clothing Workers Union, on account of its sustained dedication to the skills of the trade and to the welfare of the workers. The union’s technical competence, which Nash had previously rejected as deadening, proved most helpful. New methods accounting, inventory management, and finance were introduced. Thus many techniques of scientific management that he had scorned as mere mechanical substitutes for human cooperation were introduced, and he found that they in fact constituted the very extension and application of the golden rule itself. The business weathered a slump and emerged stronger than ever; sales for 1926 were fourteen million dollars. The workers owned most of the stock. It became evident that the supreme desire to apply the golden rule did not enable Nash to discover by himself every step of forward progress that he needed to take. He needed the union to show him that techniques he had opposed were in fact required by his own purposes. Nonetheless, it was by following the golden rule that he came to the union and thus to accept ideas he had previously rejected in the name of the rule. (Wattles 1996, 100-101)

He founded the Nash Journal as a forum for popular and inspirational tidbits of wisdom, business advice, editorials, news of the company and the world. In one of his rare forays in the direction of philosophy, Nash responded to an article in which his company’s success was explained in terms of the golden rule plus other factors of business judgment. He challenged the separation of the golden rule from good business judgment. (Wattles 1996, 101)

In order to perfectly live the Golden Rule, one in business, to begin with, would be compelled to buy his merchandise in such a way that he would be dealing with the seller on the basis of the Golden Rule, as well as buying for his customers on the basis of the Golden Rule. The thought I want to bring out, is that we have left most things religious and spiritual down in the boggy swamps of sentimentalism. The efforts of the church in the past have not been directed as much as they may be toward educating and equipping men and women to live large and full lives. Whatever success has come to the A. Nash Company in living the Golden Rule has come because there has been enough business knowledge to enable us to live it to just that degree, and whenever we have failed in exercising the very highest and keenest business judgment on a truly ethical basis, it has been because we did not have sufficient insight to understand our obligation measured by the Golden Rule. . . . In other words, perfect and infallible living of the Golden Rule would require infallible mentality and undaunted courage. (Wattles 1996, 101)

Nash’s book argued that religion is needed for the socially effective practice of the golden rule. Any acceptable economic success must be based not upon profit-hungry manipulation but upon good relationships between those involved. Acting in accord with the golden rule is required in order for a business enterprise to flourish in its social relations, since the rule stimulates improved service. The practice of the rule in business should not be regarded as suicidal; often it is an aid to success. Religious motivation is usually necessary to motivate the wholehearted practice of the golden rule. Therefore, religion is essential for the flourishing of business and consequently for the flourishing of society and of civilization. In sum, Nash used the rule as a symbol of his Christian ideals of brotherhood and service and as a method to discover new ways of treating his workers and his customers well. (Wattles 1996, 102)

FROM BUSINESS ETHICS TO RELIGIOUS ETHICS: J. C. PENNEY

J. C. Penney experienced the golden rule during his early years more as a symbol of the rigorous, edifying, and self-denying morality of his “good and dedicated” father rather than as a symbol of the spiritual example of his “unselfish and saintly” mother. The son of a Primitive Baptist preacher (and the grandson of a preacher), the third child of twelve children (six of whom survived to adulthood), growing up on a farm, Penney recalls learning self-reliance by having to earn the money for his clothes beginning at age eight. He ran errands. He raised pigs. But when the neighbors complained about the smell, his father obliged him to stop raising pigs—an early lesson about the unwelcome implications of living by the golden rule. The boy turned to growing watermelons, spending the last nights before harvesting in the field with a dog and a shotgun to protect his crop. He took them to the county fair to sell them, and set up his wagon close to where the crowds were entering. Sales were becoming brisk when his father interrupted and ordered him to close down and go home. The lad had unwittingly broken the norm of selling along with other merchants who had set up inside the fair and had paid for a concession to do so. This was his second hard lesson about the implications of the golden rule. (Wattles 1996, 102)

The next phase of his life with the golden rule were his early years in business. He learned to sell dry goods. “I concentrated on two points: knowing the stock and exactly where everything was, and giving the customer the utmost in service and value, making only a small profit on each sale. I was particularly interested in the idea of keeping the store sold out of old stock.” He learned how “to add service and value from the woman’s point of view.” He stayed away from the cities, feeling that he knew “how to get close to the lives of small town people, learning their needs and preferences and serving them accordingly.” He liked working where he and those who worked with him “understood our neighbors as readily as they could understand us.” In 1902 he opened a store in Kemmerer, Wyoming, with the sign: Golden Rule Store. He and his wife worked together without any help at first, working hard, too hard, as Penney recalls, from early in the morning to late at night seven days a week. They abided strictly by the golden rule, they were extremely frugal, and they made money. As they began to hire people, Penney never hired anyone who did not have a “positive belief in a Supreme Being”; he selected people with “character, enthusiasm, and energy. ” He had large ambitions: “By our service to our customers we would create in them that spring of sparkling good will which would prompt them to want to help us to serve them.” (Wattles 1996, 102-103)

The last period of his life was marked by his religious conversion. Chronically troubled by his merely external engagement with religion, he had not been able to convince himself wholeheartedly that “it was enough for a man to lead a moral and upright life.” At the age of fifty-eight, having financially overextended himself in philanthropy when the Great Depression hit, this wealthy and successful man was brought to bankruptcy, alcoholism, and despair. Through an evangelical mission in New York City, he found God in a radiant and satisfying way and could then speak anew of the golden rule. “From our spiritual wellsprings come our capacities for unselfishness.” Penney proclaimed that the world must be transformed, would be transformed, and could only be transformed by the spiritually motivated practice of the golden rule, service to all people as one’s neighbors. (Wattles 1996, 103)

As civilization grew and horizons widened, the definition of “brotherhood” took on more exact meaning, and people came gradually to understand the golden rule as a basic principle, applicable to all relationships. In former periods business was identified as secular, and service as sacred. In proportion as we have discerned that between secular and sacred no arbitrary line exists, public awareness has grown that the golden rule was meant for business as much as for other human relationships.

Penny 1950, 52

Thus Penney joined men like Nash and Jones in holding to a religious conception of brotherhood as the basis for the replete practice of the golden rule. (Wattles 1996, 103)

CONCLUSION

The golden rule has functioned to mobilize sympathies, to sustain human dignity, and to express religious experience on a diverse planet in need of unifying ideals. Despite the follies of some of its champions, the rule, interpreted through the gospel of the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man, has showed itself a sturdy player in the encounter between religious idealism and scientific realism. (Wattles 1996, 103)

Evolution means progress as well as struggle. Not only does idealism need realism to make its ideals effective, but realism also needs idealism in order to keep pace in a progressive world. The fact that the rule provided a focus for the experience of harmony among members of different religions and the fact that the rhetoric of the golden rule could be an effective lever of reform give hope for the moral sense within the human heart and an incipient spiritual community. How, then, shall the golden rule be applied in practice? There is no formula for finding the proportion of legitimate self-interest in a life dominated by the service motive. There is no formula for determining when a sacrificial deed will have great leverage. Nor is the golden rule a substitute for gifted leadership, though it can contribute the moral focus for inspired leadership and teamwork. (Wattles 1996, 104)

Simply to ridicule the follies of idealism or to expose the scandals of a narrow-minded realism may make people more cynical about the prospect of combining idealism with realism. Pointing beyond cynicism, the biographies summarized here show how some, daring to treat others as they would be treated, found their way. Arthur Nash discovered that his apparently self-sacrificing wage increases won a profitable response from his workers, and they gained national attention for joining religious and moral dynamism with business progress. J. C. Penney respected the rule as a moral constraint on profit seeking and as a guide to service, and in the end also wrote of religiously motivated brotherhood. Samuel Jones, despite relative economic and political success, continued to aim, sometimes unwisely, for social and personal objectives beyond his reach. His sense of the pathos of life’s contradictions was much sharper than that of Penney or Nash. Nash and Penney showed that an individual and a company can flourish with a profound commitment to the rule. Jones, however, also showed that a society transformed by the practice of the rule is a long way off. (Wattles 1996,104)

~ ~ ~

American Taliban: It Is Happening Here

How did we get from John F. Kennedy’s eloquent speech at the Rice Hotel in Houston on September 12, 1960, in which he urged voters effectively to bracket a candidate’s faith out of their considerations when they entered the voting booths, to George W. Bush’s declaration on the eve of the 2000 Iowa precinct caucuses that Jesus was his favorite philosopher?

— Balmer, Randall. God in the White House: A History. New York: HarperOne; 2008; p. Preface.

Trump wears religion like a John wears a condom. And the scandal of the evangelical mind is that there isn’t much of any mind … Or much of any soul, or moral integrity, or spiritual truth, or compassion, or empathy, or love, or fruits of the spirit. They have slid drip by drip from evil, into sin, and having made sin habitual, fully embraced the cup of iniquities and are drinking Trump’s spiritual blindness and venomous bile to the full as they scream “Barabbas! Barabbas! Barabbas!” crucifying the living Christ as they worship an abomination incarnate in Trumpism.

God Mocking: Be not deceived; God is not mocked. Whatever Social Media sows, this our Social Fabric all will also reap. (Galatians 6:7)

What was emerging from this and similar meetings was a political force — the so-called Religious Right — that injected into the Republican Party a new emphasis on the promotion of religious morality (an area of concern which most early Goldwater activists thought belonged in the private, not public, and not political, arena). The focus of this new religion-centered “conservatism” was not on liberty and limited government but on what Russell Kirk had called the “transcendent moral order.”

By 1989, the Moral Majority, the late Jerry Falwell’s organization which had emphasized religious values across sectarian lines and often shared a common purpose with many conservatives and orthodox Jews, had all but disappeared. In his place rose the Christian Coalition, led by Pat Robertson and Ralph Reed. The Religious Right had become the overtly Christian Right. (Edwards 2008: 40-41)

(….) Through aggressive grassroots activism the movement’s members and supporters won elections, took over party organizations, and dominated party conventions. Later, when George W. Bush’s political advisor Karl Rove would speak of “the Republican base,” this was who he had in mind. (Edwards 2008: 41)

The Christian Right was hardly the Republican base (the party’s voters were often much more moderate in their views than were Robertson and his followers), but because Robertson’s forces tended to dominate conventions and primaries in which voter turnout is often low, they exerted influence far beyond their numbers. In the process, they transformed the republican Party and indeed the conservative movement itself into an arm of religion, precisely the outcome the First Amendment of the Constitution was designed to prevent. There were instrumental in galvanizing the conservative opposition to death with dignity laws in Oregon, private medical decisions in Florida, and scientific advances in the nation’s medical laboratories. (Edwards 2008: 41)

A wall was erected between church and the state … as an extension of the founder’s experience with religious persecution in Europe. Placing religion in a position to dictate, or heavily influence, national policy had led to sanctions, torture, murder, and war. European battlefields were littered with the corpses of men sent to war on behalf of one religious sect or another. In a nation founded on Lockean principles of individual rights, there would be no place given to sectarian terror. (Edwards 2008: 64)

The wall between religion and statecraft serves an additional purpose. The enemy of civility (a necessary ingredient in the governance of a diverse society) is certitude. And nothing breeds certitude more than religious belief. Religion is often a positive force in the lives of individuals, but when the true believer feels compelled to impose upon the whole of the society the truths that have enriched his or her life, the threads that bind us as a nation begin to fray. (Edwards 2008: 123)

(….) Conservatism’s central philosophy has long been based on the regard for the individual rather than the collective. Yet today many are willing to support the imposition of the personal beliefs of some, be they a majority or a minority, on others, who do not subscribe to those beliefs. The title of Sinclair Lewis’s novel about a politician who rose to power on a wave of religious fervor was ironic: It Can’t Happen Here. Its message was: yes, it can. (Edwards 2008: 124)

Because the Constitution’s central premise is liberty — it is a document designed for a free people–it was created to prevent both the concentration of power in a few hands … and the ability of the majority to impose its will on the minority… The rule of law, not the rule of the masses or rulers, defines American constitutional government. But that is a lesson conservatives have forgotten. (Edwards 2008: 128-129)

The Constitution is for all Americans — Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Buddhist, Muslim, and nonbeliever alike. We are free to practice or not as we deem fit. Religion is a personal thing; government is what we hold in common, and that distinction lies at the heart of American conservatism [opposed to extremist fundamentalism as exhibited above]. Community is not the same thing as government. The U.S. government is a secular institution, and its policy decisions should not be required to conform to religious doctrine. (Edwards, Mickey. Reclaiming Conservatism. Oxford: Oxford University Press; 2008; pp. 40-166) 

Now is the time to remember that our great religious traditions, notably Christianity, once upon a time could not even conceive of reducing religious engagement with public life to a narrow list of hot-button issues. They were too concerned with the whole person and the whole of society to limit their reach to a handful of questions. Now is the time to heed the call to social justice and social inclusion embedded deeply in in the scriptures. (E. J. Dionne Jr., Forward, in Lew Daly (2009) God’s Economy: Faith Based Initiatives & the Caring State. University of Chicago Press)

Pilot Light

The Primal Light the whole irradiates,
And is received therein as many ways
As there are splendors wherewithal it mates.

Dante Alighieri, Paradiso, canto 29.136-38

The lamps are different, but the Light is the same: it comes from Beyond.

Rumi

I had heard of thee by the hearing of the ear,
but now my eye beholds thee.

Job 42.5

A VOICE WHISPERED to me last night: “There is no such thing as a voice whispering in the night!”

Haidar Ansari in Idries Shaw’s Wisdom of the Idiots.
Religious Literature on Presence of Light

Around the age of fifteen I began a spiritual search. Having already encountered Christians who were quick to try to convert me with their theology of divine child abuse — aka the atonement doctrine, at which I could only laugh — I wanted to answer a simple question; if there is a God (or gods) I wanted to know, for myself, who or what this God was. I started my search studying what I call popular Buddhism. I thought that Buddhist esoteric practices where the way to enlightenment and set out to find this experience for myself. Along the way I encountered some interesting phenomenon, such as internal flashes of light and viewing my own internal neural network. I quickly learned that this was not the path to enlightenment.

Having rejected the esoteric, popular “new age” pop-religions filled with pseudo-religious truth, I turned to the study comparative religion, psychology, science, and philosophy to find the answer. I read widely in psychology, from Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs to Viktor Frankl’s logotherapy (Man’s Search for Meaning and The Unconscious God), from Carl Jung’s collected works to Freud’s psychoanalysis to B.F. Skinner’s behaviorism. I read William James (The Varieties of Religious Experience, etc.), Eric Fromm (The Art of Loving and You Shall Be as Gods, etc.), which in turn led to Abraham Heschel’s classics (God in Search of Man and The Prophets).

At one point I finally reached the question, “Who is this person called Jesus? What did he really teach?” Having rejected traditional Christian theology, but nevertheless impressed with truth-insights contained in Jesus’ parables and with the Jewish prophetic tradition as revealed by Heschel’s The Prophets, I began my study in earnest of the Judeo-Christian tradition.

One day, while making my periodic search of the bookstores1 for the latest scholarly works, I stumbled across a big blue book — The Urantia Book — sitting on the shelf. I read the table of contents and my first thought was it was just another work of “new age” pseudo-religious pop psychology full of “I feel good, you feel good” platitudes. Then my eyes fell upon the section of the meaning of the death on the cross. I read it; I was stunned; it confirmed everything I had thought about the atonement doctrine and more. I purchased it and took it home to my little migrant shack I was living in at the time. I read that book all night long, and the next morning when I went to work at the local YMCA where I was teaching gymnastics, I had a revelatory experience in the steam room while meditating on what I read the following evening.

It was in studying the Urantia Book that references to the indwelling divine mind I had been reading about, which in Buddhism is called the ‘Buddha mind’ or ‘true self,’ in Islam is called the spirit of Allah, in the Judeo-Christian traditions is called the indwelling spirit of God or Christ, and in the Bhagavad-Gita is termed the ‘atman,’ or ‘inmost timeless self’ which is at the same time Brahman, became personally and experientially real. Prior to this experience I was attempting to meditate, which I was learning through the Buddhist scriptures, but not to any great success. And prior to meditating I had experimented with attempting to use my mind to achieve astral projection, but had some experiences that quickly taught me this was not an effective way to achieve spiritual growth.

At that point in my life my concept of God or Deity was of some great IT or impersonal Absolute, or some mysterious ‘non-self’ reflected in Zen Buddhism. I had only vague inklings of what this thing called true self might be or how I might approach finding and experiencing for myself this reality. In my studies I surely could see common threads of what I perceived to be truth running through them, but I didn’t want to just intellectually know; I wanted to experience God personally. But my dilemma was, how does one ‘know’ an impersonal Absolute, or realize one’s ‘non-self?’ It was through concepts and teachings in the Urantia Book that this gulf between the idea of an Absolute and a personal God of infinitely loving and divine parental affection was bridged and synthesized into one and the same reality. Of course now I see clearly that this dual concept of the Divine is harbored in all the great traditions.

The next day I went straight to the YMCA, and while meditating in the steam room as was my habit, and reflecting on what I had learned the night before regarding the life and teachings of Jesus, the indwelling presence of the Adjuster and Jesus’ Spirit of Truth, the simple truth of my faith sonship with God, and the joy of knowing salvation, I experienced the presence of a Inner Light. I cannot describe with mere words this experience. It was not a presence outside of me, but within me. When I saw this light (not with my physical eyes) I clearly remember thinking it was like staring into the sun, but only infinitely brighter. And then, not of my own doing, I was enveloped in this light, which I can only describe as the presence of the divine love of God. I don’t have words to describe what transpired. I don’t know how long it was, or god forbid what I looked like sitting there naked in the steam room communing with God, but when I opened my eyes I was overwhelmed with this profound sense of peace and joy, even to the point that tears were streaming down my cheeks — I was in a steam room so it was not too obvious. I went home immediately and searched the Urantia book for anything referencing light, and found the following two statements:

There is a characteristic light, a spirit luminosity, which accompanies this divine presence, and which has become generally associated with Thought Adjusters…. this Paradise luminosity is widespreadly known as the “pilot light”; … it is called the “light of life.” … this phenomenon has sometimes been referred to as that “true light which lights every man who comes into the world.”

Urantia Book, 107:4.5

特徴ある光、つまり精霊の明度があり、それは、この神性存在を伴い、また思考調整者と一般的に関連するようになった。ネバドンの宇宙では、楽園のこの明度は、「種火」として広範囲に知られている。ユヴァーサでは、これは、「命の光」と呼ばれる。ユランチアでは、この現象は、時々その「世界に入るすべての人を照らす真の光」と呼ばれてきた。(ウランチイア

이 신다운 계심에 따르는, 특징이 되는 빛, 영의 빛남이 있는데, 이것은 생각 조절자와 일반적으로 관련되어 왔다. 네바돈 우주에서 이 파라다이스 광채는 널리 “표시등”으로 알려져 있다. 유버르사에서는 이를 “생명의 빛”이라 부른다. 유란시아에서 이 현상은 때때로 “세상으로 오는 모든 사람을 비추는 참 빛”으로 언급되었다. (유란시아서)

Most of the spectacular phenomena associated with so-called religious conversions are entirely psychologic in nature, but now and then there do occur experiences which are also spiritual in origin. When the mental mobilization is absolutely total on any level of the psychic upreach toward spirit attainment, when there exists perfection of the human motivation of loyalties to the divine idea, then there very often occurs a sudden down-grasp of the indwelling spirit to synchronize with the concentrated and consecrated purpose of the superconscious mind of the believing mortal. And it is such experiences of unified intellectual and spiritual phenomena that constitute the conversion which consists in factors over and above purely psychologic involvement.

Urantia Book, 100:5.4

いわゆる宗教転向に関連する壮観な現象の大半は、本質的には完全に心理的であるが、時として起源が、精神的でもある経験も生じるのである。精神的な起動が、精霊到達への心的に上向きのどの段階においても全く総体的であるとき、神の考えに対する忠誠の人間の動機づけが成就するとき、次には、内在する精霊の突然の下方への把握が、信じる人間の超意識的な心の集中され神聖にされた目的に連動させるために頻繁に起こる。そしてそれは、純粋に心理的なかかわり合いを超えた要因の転換を構成する統一された知的で精霊的な現象のそのような経験である。(ウランチイア

이른바 종교적 감화와 연결된 대단한 현상의 대부분은 전적으로 심리적 성질을 가졌지만, 영적 기원을 가진 체험이 이따금 일어난다. 영적 달성을 향하여 정신적으로 발돋움하는 어떤 수준에서도 절대로 온전히 정신을 기울일 때, 신다운 개념에 인간이 충성하는 동기가 완벽할 때, 믿는 필사자의 상의식(上意識) 지성의 목적, 집중되고 거룩하게 된 목적과 시간을 맞추려고 그 깃드는 영이 갑자기 내려와서 잡아채는 일이 무척 자주 생긴다. 통일된 지적ㆍ영적 현상을 그렇게 체험하는 것이 순전한 심리적 관계를 초월하는 요인에서 생기는 감화를 구성한다. (유란시아서)

Religion, the conviction-faith of the personality, can always triumph over the superficially contradictory logic of despair born in the unbelieving material mind. There really is a true and genuine inner voice, that “true light which lights every man who comes into the world.” And this spirit leading is distinct from the ethical prompting of human conscience. The feeling of religious assurance is more than an emotional feeling. The assurance of religion transcends the reason of the mind, even the logic of philosophy. Religion is faith, trust, and assurance.

Urantia Book, 101:0.3

いわゆる宗教転向に関連する壮観な現象の大半は、本質的には完全に心理的であるが、時として起源が、精神的でもある経験も生じるのである。精神的な起動が、精霊到達への心的に上向きのどの段階においても全く総体的であるとき、神の考えに対する忠誠の人間の動機づけが成就するとき、次には、内在する精霊の突然の下方への把握が、信じる人間の超意識的な心の集中され神聖にされた目的に連動させるために頻繁に起こる。そしてそれは、純粋に心理的なかかわり合いを超えた要因の転換を構成する統一された知的で精霊的な現象のそのような経験である。(ウランチイア

종교, 인격자의 확신과 믿음은, 믿지 않는 물질 지성에서 태어난 논리, 표면상 모순되는 절망의 논리를 반드시 이길 수 있다. 속에서 나오는 참되고 진정한 목소리, 바로 “세상으로 태어나는 모든 사람을 비추는 참된 빛”이 정말로 있다. 이 영의 인도하심은 인간의 양심(良心)에서 우러나는 윤리적 재촉과 다르다. 종교적 확신을 가진 느낌은 감정보다 더한 것이다. 종교가 주는 확신은 머리로 따지는 이치, 아니 철학의 논리조차 뛰어넘는다. 종교는 믿음이요, 신뢰요, 확신이다. (유란시아서)

The Koran has a most beautiful description of what I experienced upon realizing this divine presence:

Allah is the Light
Of the heavens and the earth.
The parable of His Light
Is as if there were a Niche
And within it a Lamp:
The Lamp enclosed in Glass;
The glass as it were
A brilliant star:
Lit from a blessed Tree,
An Olive, neither of the East
Nor of the West,
Whose Oil is well-nigh
Luminous,
Though fire scare touched it:
Light upon Light!

Surah 24:35

Over time I collected various scripture from the Torah that speak of this inner light and still small voice:

There is a spirit in man; therefore stand in awe, sin not; and commune with your own heart upon your bed, and then be still; and your ears shall hear a small voice behind thee, saying, ‘This is the way, walk you in it.’ When you go, it shall lead you; when you sleep, it shall keep you; and when you awake, it shall talk with you. You shall make your prayer unto him, and he shall hear you; your eyes shall see thy teacher, and his light shall shine upon your ways. Behold, the Almighty shall be your gold, and you shall have the silver of his spirit for strength. Says the Lord, ‘My presence shall go with you, and I will give you rest.’ For you gave your good spirit to instruct us, and to show us light, and the way wherein we should go. I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye beholds you. Truly the light is sweet, and a pleasant thing it is for the eyes of the soul to behold the presence of our Father.

Torah on Inner Light

All the world’s great religious traditions have prophets, seers, and teachers who speak through poetry of this inner light, this pilot light, the true light that lights every child who comes into the world.

Dharma-body’s wheel of light is without bound,
Shining on the blind and ignorant of the world.

The light of wisdom exceeds all measure,
And every finite living being
Receives this illumination that is like the dawn,
So take refuge in Amida, the true and real light.

Every being is nurtured by this light.
So take refuge in Amida, the one beyond conception.

The light of purity is without compare.
When a person encounters this light,
All bonds of karma fall away;
So take refuge in Amida, the ultimate shelter.

The light of compassion illumines us from afar;
Those beings it reaches, it is taught,
Attain the joy of dharma,
So take refuge in Amida, the great consolation.

The light dispels the darkness of ignornace;
Thus Amida is called “Buddha of the Light of Wisdom.”
All the Buddhas and sages of the three vehicles
Together offer their praise.

The light shines everywhere ceaslessly;
Thus Amida is called “Buddha of Uninterrupted Light.”
Because beings hear [and apprehend] this power of light,
Their mindfulness is enduring and they attain birth.

The majestic light, transcending form, is beyond description;
Thus Amida is called “Buddha of Inexpressible Light.”
All the Buddhas praise this light.

The Collected Works of Shinran, 325-328

Tasdiq is to recognize a truth, to appropriate it, to affirm it, to confirm it, to actualize it. And the truth, in each case, is personalist and sincere…. [F]aith is then the recognition of divine truth at the personal level. Faith is the ability to recognize truth as true for oneself, and to trust it. Especially in the Islamic case, with its primarily moral orientation, this includes, or makes primary, the recognition of the authenticity, a moral authority, of the divine commands. Thus there is a recognition of the obligatoriness of moral obligations; and the acceptance of their obligatoriness as applying to oneself, with the personal commitment then to carrying them out.

Again: it is the personal making of what is cosmically true come true on earththe actualization of truth (the truth about man).

More mystically, it is the discovery of truth (the personal truth) of the Islamic injunctions: the process of personal verification of them, whereby, by living them out, one proves them and finds that they do indeed become true, both for oneself and for society and world in which one lives.

Tasdiq is the inner appropriation and outward implementation of truth. It is the process of making or finding true in actual human life, in one’s own personal spirit and overt behavior, what Godor Realityintends for man.

And with many a passage strongly insisting that faith is more than knowledge, that it is a question of how one responds to the truth, one may also render the proposition ‘faith is tasdiq‘ as ‘Faith is the ability to trust, and to act in terms of, what one knows to be true’. (Smith 1981: 150-151)

(….) Faith, then, is the positive response to God’s initiative. It is not merely knowledge: it includes knowledge, but is something else as well. That something additional, the men of kalam came to agree, is tasdiq. Huwa (that is al-tasdiq) amr za’id ‘ala al-‘ilm.

We turn, then, from faith to tasdiq… We can now see that it designates not belief, but knowledge; and not merely knowledge, but knowledge of the truth plus something else. (Neither of these two componentsneither that of knowing the truth, nor that of the something additionalis found in the current Western translations …). (Smith 1981: 155)

(….) What, then, is tasdiq? Clearly, it lies in the realm of activist sincerity. Sidq … designates truth at the personalist level, of recognition and integrity: the second form of the very designates an activating of this.

Fundamental for understanding one of the prime meanings of tasdiq in this connection is a remark such as the following of al-Tabari:

al-qwam kanu sadaqu bi-alsinatihim wa-lam yusaddiqu qawwlahum bi-fi lihim.

Obviously this is not ‘to believe’ but rather to confirm, to actualize the truth. They ‘… spoke the truth with their tongues, but did not corroborate what they were saying with their deeds’. Or one might use such verbs as ‘authenticate’ or ‘validate’. An older usage in English would legitimately appear here if one translated by: ‘… they were not faithful to what they were saying, in their deeds’. (Smith 1981: 156)

The actualizing aspect of tasdiq is illuminated, again, in the oft-cited statement, al-iman ma waqara fi al-qalb, wa-saddaqahu al-amal. ‘Faith is that about which the heart is firm, and that deeds validate (authenticate, corroborate).’

Again, and more theologically, the fact that God Himself is called mu’min is also explained, by al-Baghdadi, as His being actively faithful in this sense:

wa-Allah mu’min li-annahu yusaddiqu wa’dahu bi-al-tahqiq.

(It would be ludicrous to translate either iman or tasdiq as ‘believing’ in any of these casesand I feel, in any cases at all).

The difference, then, between knowledge and tasdiq lies in the sincerity and in the operationalist addenda denoted by the latter term. Knowledge is the perception of the truth outside oneself; tasdiq is the personal appropriation of that perception. It is the inner reordering of oneself so as to act in terms of it; the interiorization and implementation of the truth in dynamic sincerity. Tasdiq means not ‘to believe’ but rather to recognize a truth and to existentialize it. (Smith 1981: 156)

(….) All this is especially relevant to, and leads to a consideration of, the second of the two fundamental orientations that we averred to be characteristic of Islamic life and significant for its faithnamely, the moral. For the truth to which the Muslim must respond is largely a moral truth. The knowledge conferred by revelation is largely a knowledge of moral requirements, of commands, of duties: awamir, ahkam, fara’id. In the moral life especially, as all of us recognize, knowledge is not yet virtue. The recognition of that something out to be done is not yet the recognition that I ought to do it, not yet the resolve to do it, not yet my personal decision to act. Involved in the moral life is a particular quality or act, more than and other than knowledge and its awareness of objective truth, a quality that brings one to the point of committing oneself to act in terms of what one has recognized as right. This is tasdiq, and to have it is to have faith. (Smith 1981: 157-158)

(….) One of the compelling expositions of the matter comes in the fuller elaboration of a statement by the later writer al-Kastalt …: ‘Al-tasdiq does not mean knowing the truth …; no, it is rather a yielding to what is known and a letting oneself be led by it, setting aside recalcitrance and stubbornness, and constructing one’s actions in accordance with it’. (This is a beautiful example of a passage that Christian theology could be happy and proud to take over word for word ….) (Smith 1981: 158)

Wilfred Cantwell Smith, On Understanding Islam

So as we can see from the teachings of Islam, faith and belief are not the same thing and mere knowledge is not wisdom, but knowledge plus something else; the divine light and love of God infusing knowledge with true cosmic insights that transcend the mere knowledge of men.2

The keys of the kingdom of heaven are: sincerity, more sincerity, and more sincerity. All men have these keys. Men use them—advance in spirit status—by decisions, by more decisions, and by more decisions. The highest moral choice is the choice of the highest possible value, and always—in any sphere, in all of them—this is to choose to do the will of God. If man thus chooses, he is great, though he be the humblest citizen of Jerusem or even the least of mortals on Urantia [earth].

Urantia Book, 39:4.14

天国の王国の鍵は:誠意、さらに、さらに一層の誠意。すべての人が、これらの鍵を持っている。人は、決定により、さらなる、さらなる決定により、それを用いる—精霊状態の前進。最も高い道徳的選択は、最高可能な価値の選択であり、そして常に—いかなる局面においても、いかなる全局面においても—これは、神の意志を為すことを選ぶということである。もし人が、こうして選ぶならば、ジェルーセムの最も謙虚な公民であろうが、または、ユランチアの必滅者の最小者でさえあろうが、人は、偉大なのである。(ウランチイア

하늘 나라의 열쇠는 성실(誠實)하게, 더욱 성실하게, 또 더욱 성실하게 사는 것이다. 누구나 이 열쇠를 가지고 있다. 사람은 결심하고, 더욱 결심하고, 또 더욱 결심하여 이 열쇠를 사용한다―영적 지위가 올라간다. 가장 도덕적인 선택은 가능한 가장 높은 가치를 고르는 것이요, 언제나―어느 구체에서나, 모든 구체에서―하나님의 뜻 실행하기를 택하는 것이다. 사람이 이렇게 선택하면, 비록 예루셈에서 가장 비천한 시민이라도, 아니 유란시아에서 지위가 가장 낮은 필사자라도, 그는 위대하다. (유란시아서)

Over time, I have come to understand meditation to be an attempt to achieve unbroken communion with the indwelling presence of God through balanced prayer and worship, and an inner dialogue with the divine presence. I also have found in my experience that loving service brings one closer to God through actualizing divine love in our lives through wise service to one’s fellows; I view them as two sides of the same coin. I understand this inner communion as my attempt to attune my mortal mind to the indwelling divine mind of God (finding, realizing, and choosing to align my will with the divine will); to realize the spiritual values of truth, beauty, and goodness, and to actualize them in my life. I think any sane and balanced practice, if it leads one to a closer relationship with God, is worthy of our attention. And I certainly will take a warm loving hug any day, and find it easy to see God in the love and compassion of others.

Note: At first, before entering the light, I observed a purple pulsating orb, within the center of which was a was an expanding golden light in the shape of what I would learn later was the corpus collosum. Within the center of the golden expanding light was a white light which as I seemed to pass through the golden light I found myself, metaphorically speaking, in the presence of without a body, only in mind, observing rather objectively. Upon realizing I was in the presence of the divine light I merged with the light in worshipful reflection. How long I was in this state of reflective worship I cannot say. The Urantia Book speaks at great length about the indwelling Thought Adjuster and its relationship to the human brain-mind:

Adjusters should not be thought of as living in the material brains of human beings. They are not organic parts of the physical creatures of the realms. The Thought Adjuster may more properly be envisaged as indwelling the mortal mind of man rather than as existing within the confines of a single physical organ. And indirectly and unrecognized the Adjuster is constantly communicating with the human subject, especially during those sublime experiences of the worshipful contact of mind with spirit in the superconsciousness.

— Urantia Book, 110:1.1

調整者は、人間の物質的な脳に生きていると考えられるべきではない。それらは、領域の物理的生物の有機的部分ではない。思考調整者は、物理的な単一器官の境界の中に存在するというよりも、むしろより適切には人間の必滅の心に宿ると見なすことができる。認識されていない調整者は、人間の対象と、特に超意識における精霊との心の敬虔な接触のそれらの崇高な経験の間、間接的に、絶えず情報交換をしている。(ウランチイア

조절자는 인간 존재의 물질적 두뇌 속에서 산다고 생각해서는 안 된다. 조절자는 그 영역에 사는 육체적 인간의 유기적 부분이 아니다. 생각 조절자는 단일 신체 기관의 경계 안에서 존재하기보다 사람의 필사 지성에 깃든다고 상상하는 것이 더 마땅한 듯하다. 간접으로, 눈치채지 못하게, 조절자는 항상, 특히 상의식(上意識) 속에서 경건하게 지성이 영과 숭고한 접촉을 가지는 동안에, 그 인간 주체와 교통하고 있다. (유란시아서)

From the two-hemisphere type of the Urantian cerebral cortex you can, by analogy, grasp something of the one-brained type. The third brain of the three-brained orders is best conceived as an evolvement of your lower or rudimentary form of brain, which is developed to the point where it functions chiefly in control of physical activities, leaving the two superior brains free for higher engagements: one for intellectual functions and the other for the spiritual-counterparting activities of the Thought Adjuster.

Urantia Book, 49:5.14

類推により、ユランチア大脳皮質の2脳球体の型から、1頭脳-型について何かを把握することができる。3頭脳-型系列の3番目の脳は、より高い連動のために2つの優れた脳:知的機能のための1つと、思考調整者の精霊的に対応する活動のための他方を自由にし、主に身体活動を支配して機能する程度にまで開発されるあなたの下級の、または初歩的な脳の形式の展開として考えられるのが最も良い。(ウランチイア

유란시아인이 가진 두뇌 피질의 두 반구(半球) 종류로부터 유추함으로 너희는 한 골 종류에 대하여 무언가 파악할 수 있다. 세 골 서열이 가진 셋째 골은 너희의 작은 골, 곧 기초 형태의 골이 진화된 것이라 상상하는 것이 최선이다. 이것은 주로 신체 활동을 통제하는 기능을 가지는 점까지 발전되며, 상위의 두 골이 더 높은 일에 종사하도록 해방하는데, 하나는 지적 활동이요, 다른 하나는 생각 조절자에 대응하는 영적 활동을 위한 것이다. (유란시아서)

1 Of course, this dates me, as this was the pre-Internet and pre-Amazon age and the only way one could find good books was to physically travel to a bookstore or library.

2 The Urantia Book in Paper 108 Section 8 titled Faith and Belief teaches:

Belief has attained the level of faith when it motivates life and shapes the mode of living. The acceptance of a teaching as true is not faith; that is mere belief. Neither is certainty nor conviction faith. A state of mind attains to faith levels only when it actually dominates the mode of living. Faith is a living attribute of genuine personal religious experience. One believes truth, admires beauty, and reverences goodness, but does not worship them; such an attitude of saving faith is centered on God alone, who is all of these personified and infinitely more.

Belief is always limiting and binding; faith is expanding and releasing. Belief fixates, faith liberates. But living religious faith is more than the association of noble beliefs; it is more than an exalted system of philosophy; it is a living experience concerned with spiritual meanings, divine ideals, and supreme values; it is God-knowing and man-serving. Beliefs may become group possessions, but faith must be personal. Theologic beliefs can be suggested to a group, but faith can rise up only in the heart of the individual religionist.

Faith has falsified its trust when it presumes to deny realities and to confer upon its devotees assumed knowledge. Faith is a traitor when it fosters betrayal of intellectual integrity and belittles loyalty to supreme values and divine ideals. Faith never shuns the problem-solving duty of mortal living. Living faith does not foster bigotry, persecution, or intolerance.

Faith does not shackle the creative imagination, neither does it maintain an unreasoning prejudice toward the discoveries of scientific investigation. Faith vitalizes religion and constrains the religionist heroically to live the golden rule. The zeal of faith is according to knowledge, and its strivings are the preludes to sublime peace.

Urantia Book, 101:8.1-4