The book Mapping Reality: a Critical Perspective on Science and Religion was published on the 19th of June 2006. So only now do I start to get question about the book and what the ultimate thesis of the book is?
As humans we are not really capable to understand reality rationally. We can only form perceptions and conceptions of what reality is. Science and ultimately physics and chemistry only deal in ‘facts’ about the physical universe.
Actual reality is not something that we can accommodate in our heads. Our minds just do not have the capacity to do it. We use human artefacts like philosophy, science, and religion (dogmas) to actually create the maps of reality in our very limited mind capacity that we then cling to as the only and absolute truth in existence.
Reality is ‘awfully complex’ and we all need an adequate personal map to get through life, to give us direction. We use science, philosophy, religion, mysticism, personal experience, rational, and irrational logic to construct our personal maps. Our maps of reality are full of emotion, greed, decadence, self-interest, and irrational information.
Furthermore, these maps need to be maintained and improved as our knowledge and experience increases, but we need to be very, very careful on what we put on them. We do not want to clutter them with irrelevant or wrong information. But then again, add everything you learn to your map – who can tell, what is true or not, what is irrelevant or wrong? Then add a cookbook full of ‘recipes for life’ to your map.
However, it is completely arrogant for anybody to think that the only reality is the physical (or in computer terms, the hardware) reality.
What then about the spiritual (or software) reality of the universe?
Religion is also not helping anymore; it has become dogmatic, sectarian, and self-serving. Religion has lost its core, the real message but we still need true spirituality; we need a map to the Truth – to our own spiritual Eldorado.
We urgently need alternative views on science, religion, and philosophy to explain the world around us; we need integrated maps of reality to make sense of our lives; the existing fragmented (‘disjointed’) maps only serve to confuse us.
Science gives us one window on physical reality; philosophy and religion give us two other windows, but we now need a bigger, single window to integrate all our fragmented (‘disjointed’) maps of reality. Well, a mapmaker of reality, in the first instance, must think for himself/herself – that is presently our only alternative to ‘canned’, organised science and religion!
We, therefore, must navigate our own way back to real spirituality.
Spirit, in religion and spirituality, usually has two core meanings:
- The nature and essential substance of human souls, through which each is connected to all others
- The experience of such connection is a primary basis for spiritual belief
Spirituality, for our purposes, is an inner sense (rather than just the believe) of something greater than one-self and recognition of a meaning to existence that transcends one’s immediate circumstances. This term is defined quite differently by monotheists, polytheists, humanists, followers of new age, Native Americans, etc.
A common meaning is ‘devotion to metaphysical matters, as opposed to worldly things.’ Another is ‘Activities which renew, lift up, comfort, heal, and inspire both ourselves and those with whom we interact.’ Spirituality is a way of living that emphasises a constant awareness of the spiritual dimension of nature, without any acknowledgement of a contractual relationship between the material world and the spiritual.
Neo-pagan religions generally will not worship, but stress spirituality. Spirituality is a sense of meaning and purpose, a sense of self and ‘that which is greater than self’, and practices such as meditation and ‘bonding rituals that support such identity and relationship. Religion represents only a minor subset of the overall themes of spirituality and spiritual practices, and may in some cases hinder rather than assist in spiritual development.
In theological terms, a ‘spirit’ (singular lowercase) is the deepest part of the human soul, and the transmitting organ by which human beings can contact God. It is our Higher Self, our Guardian Spirit, or Guardian Angel. This is the biblical Comforter (‘the Holy Ghost’) and Itzhak Bentov’s Observer (see Stalking the Wild Pendulum, 1988).
Spirit is variously defined as the inmost principle, the divine particle, the vital essence, the Higher Self, the inherent actuating element in life. It manifests through association with protoplasm and dwells in the astral body, also called the soul, which in turn is the connecting link between the spirit and the physical body. At death, the connection is severed and the spirit will find no ordinary means of physical manifestation.
After death, there is no annihilation in Greek Mythology. The dead are dead because they have a flavourless and unhappy existence in the Underworld. The Underworld, in classical mythology, is the place beneath the earth where the souls of the dead go.
Those who are practically dead but exist and dwell in all happiness in the Isles of the Blest or Elysium (or Elysian Fields) are called Immortals. Therefore, life and death, according to Greek Mythology at least, are qualities of existence, not a lack of it.
Compare this with Rene Descartes (1596-1650) the French mathematician, scientist, and philosopher’s famous utterance; ‘Cogito ergo sum’ (‘I think therefore I am’).
What utter nonsense! It would have made much more sense if he rather said, ‘I am, therefore I think, and certainly talk, and usually talk too much!’ He surely had his cart in front of his horses! However, even worse, he has confused science too! The spirit (‘I am’) is always first and only then the manifestation (‘I talk’).
Even when ‘unconscious’, you will still ‘be’, but you will not be ‘consciously’ (or rationally) thinking (and talking)! Do not ever confuse thinking (and talking) with consciousness, or even worse, with existence, as Descartes did!
The view of the human anatomy and physiology has changed drastically from an organic, holistic view to a mechanistic and then to the new physics’ view trough the ages (see Fritjof Capra, The Turning Point, 1983:37-117).
With the advent of first the electronic calculator and then the electronic computer and holograms, this new knowledge must again influence and extend our views past that of earlier philosophies. We are now in a position to realise that advanced technological contrivances not only depend on mechanical hardware, but that algorithmic software (computer programs) and information technology also play an enormous role to make these sophisticated artefacts work.
These modern, electronic artefacts surpass the old mechanical contrivances in an exponential manner! We can but only compare a sophisticated, mechanical clock with a modern personal computer to observe the enormous advance in technology for ourselves! Moreover, we have not seen the end of this development either.
Who was the designer and builder (the Architect) of this organic hardware and who was the programmer of this complex software (possibly) millions of years ago? Who was the experimenter who initiated and sustained the advancement of new and ‘better’ forms of life and who made the biosphere suitable for this awesome experiment!
We can but only surmise that the anatomy and physiology of the human spirit must be so much more advanced to make a human being, or even the simplest organism, what it is!
We can then rightly ask what this human software component is and where did it come from, i.e. who was the programmer(s)? What is this software? How does this software fit in with ancient concepts of spirit, life, the soul, mind, and consciousness?
Mapmaking is not the sum total of philosophy, science, and religion, just as a map (a cookbook or guidebook) is not the entirety of geography (or culinary science). It is simply a start and a way – an artificial layout of reality. The very commencement and continuation that are at present lacking when people ask … ‘What does it all mean?’ ‘What am I supposed to do with my life?’ ‘Where am I going with my life?’ ‘Is there a purpose in life?’ ‘What happens when I die?’
A map does not solve any of our daily problems and does not explain the mysteries of the universe and our lives; it merely helps us to see, to identify, and to position these mysteries. It makes the mysteries visible and perceptible to life’s travellers and puts everything in perspective for us. It indicates where we are and we can then consider were we are going. Furthermore, a map is not a plan or a strategy, it is not a goal, but rather a means to help us plan and to set goals. A map is useful in creating visions and thinking, however.