Friday, June 7, 2013

(12) Multidisciplinary, Multidimensional

For quite awhile governments, corporations, as well as academics
have pursued their interests via a multidisciplinary approach.  This
approach has superseded looking at an interest or topic just from the 
viewpoint of a single discipline.

This does *not* mean that analysts or scholars are now all generalists.
Rather it implies that they have to be more expansive in not only their
training but also in their outlook.

Probably, at least for some, there's also the multidimensional approach 
as well.  This applies engaging all our human capacities, not just logic
for example.  There's our intelligence, but also our intuition and insight.
There's that "gut feeling."  Smart people, past and present, have 
employed a multidimensional approach, even if they didn't know what
this might entail.

As for "seeking God," or at least questing after the "contours of God'
spiritually or scientifically, the multidisciplinary approach is more and
more being employed by serious scholars--specifically by theologians 
and religious studies academics.  

For example in the field of Biblical Studies, scholars examine ancient
scripture not only from the perspectives of their religion, but also via
cross-cultural studies and archaeology.  More insight and understanding
seem to follow.  Theologians, also, are now more inclined to look at 
not only the Book of Scripture but also the Book of Nature.  Some are
writing tomes combining Science and Religion, blending Natural
Theology with what once was considered Orthodox Theology.

There's "modeling" as well.  Systems Philosophy introduced the idea
of evolving second-order models out of the synthesis of first-order
models.  This kind of modeling is not only multidisciplinary in its
approach, but multidimensional in its tasking.

Overall, these new second-order models can make for far more
insightful--and sometimes more adventurous --studies when it comes
to the God quest.  Already employed here and now, there's little doubt 
these multidisciplinary and multidimensional approaches will be
employed in far more imaginative ways with hopefully far better results 
in the future.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

(11) Consciousness

The study of Consciousness is a "hot" topic today and is likely going to be
even more of cutting edge effort of study in the future.  Over the past few
years scholars and scientists representing a variety of specialties have
met annually at the University of Arizona discussing, presenting papers,
on the topic of Consciousness.  Nonetheless, the difficulty remains that
Consciousness is still very much an unknown.  Put plainly, we still have
little understanding as to the how and why we humans are actually
conscious sentient beings.

However, there has been no lack of effort trying to figure the nature of
Consciousness.  Three major scientists have been in the forefront when
it comes to the study and theoretics of Consciousness.  There's Henry
Stapp, a particle physicist who has carried out research on the foundations
of quantum mechanics--with a particular focus on the role and nature
of Consciousness at the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory at the University
of California.

There's also Sir Roger Penrose, a mathematical physicist, who is the
Emeritus Rouse Ball Professor of Mathematics at the University of Oxford,
as well as Stuart Hameroff, a M.D., currently the Director of the Center 
for Consciousness Studies at the University of Arizona (Tucson).

Together. Penrose and Hameroff speculate that Consciousness is the
result of quantum gravity effects in microtubles, which they dub
ORCH-OR (orchestrated objective reduction).  Microtubles are part of
a structural network (the cytoskeleton) with the cells cytoplasm.

Even more esoteric thinking regarding Consciousness can be found
in considering the topic of non-local consciousness.  Basically this
refers to morphogenetic (or mental) fields, about telepathy, even about
prayer.  Non-local consciousness extends from one individual's
consciousness outward to other conscious persons!

In a sense Consciousness remains a "shapeshifter," in that in recent
years there has been so many perspectives.  The philosopher and
transpersonal psychologist Ken Wilber provided a useful  list of these

"  *Cognitive Science* tends to view consciousness as anchored
in functional schemas of the brain/mind, either in a simple 
representational fashion...or in the more complex emergent/
connectionist models, which view consciousness as an emergent
of hierarchically integrated networks...

"  *Introspectionism* maintains that consciousness is best
understood in terms of intentionality, anchored in first-person

"  *Neuropsychology* views consciousness as anchored in
neural systems, neurotransmitters, and organic brain mechanisms...

"  *Individual psychotherapy*...tends to view consciousness as
primarily anchored in an individual organism's adaptive capacities...

"  *Social psychology* views consciousness as embedded in
networks of cultural meaning, or, alternatively, as being largely
a byproduct of the social system itself...

"  *Clinical psychiatry* focuses on the relation of psychopathology,
behavioural patterns, and psychopharmacology...

"  *Developmental psychology* views consciousness not as a single
entity but as a developmentally unfolding process with a substantially
different architecture at each of its stages of growth...

"  *Psychosomatic medicine* views consciousness as strongly and
intrinsically inter-active with organic bodily processes...

"  *Nonordinary states of consciousness,* from dreams to psychedelics,
constitutes a field of study that, its advocates believe, is crucial
to a grasp of consciousness in general...

"  *Eastern and contemplative traditions* maintain that ordinary
consciousness is but a narrow and restricted version of deeper and 
higher modes of awareness...

"  *Quantum consciousness* approaches...consciousness as being
intrinsically capable of interacting with, and altering, the physical
world, generally through quantum interactions...

"  *Subtle energies* research has postulated that there exist subtler
types of bio-energies beyond the four recognized forces of physics 
(strong and weak nuclear, electromagnetic, gravitational) and that
these subtler energies play an intrinsic role in consciousness..."
[Ken Wilber, an article entitled "Integral Theory of Consciousness.]

It's obvious the tremendous challenge that the topic of Consciousness
poses, now and in the future.  But it's important.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

(10) MEME of all Memes

One of the thoughts that has lingered in the back of my mind
for a long time is that of God as a meme that has been playing
back and forth for millennia--probably going back at least to the
Neanderthals, a kindred hominid that likely preceded Homo

The word "meme" is now fairly familiar in our vocabulary, but
it's still a fairly recent word.  The meme was coined by the 
evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins back in 1976.   
Interesting, too, another great scientist E.O. Wilson also
stumbled upon the meme about the same time, only he
coined it the "culturgen."  

So what is a meme?  According to recent dictionary accounts it
is an "idea, behavior or style that spreads from person to person
within a culture."  The meme is a unit that involves ideas, symbols,
rituals, writing that can be transmitted not only from culture to
culture, but from age to age.

This leads me back to my idea of God as a meme, or put more
poetically the "MEME of all Memes."  One can trace this God Meme
from pre-cultural times to the earliest city states, to civilizations.
This meme, of course, has taken on many different forms.  Hence
we have different religious imagery in different cultures.  
Nonetheless this God Meme has been persistent.  It sticks with
us, even as it changes or evolves.

What I find fascinating is the thought  that the God Meme does
indeed seem to evolve, albeit seemingly cropping forth from an
earlier rendition.  It's like this God Meme keeps growing in our
minds, taking us along for a long fascinating ride.  

Just my own thought about this, but just maybe the God Meme
is purposeful--in that as it evolves, it evolves us.  This meme
would seem a two-way street.  The God Meme seemingly
affects how we interpret God, how we "grow" God as our minds
continue to mature.  And perhaps we mature because of how
we tend or try to understand God from ever new perspectives.

Today we are on the brink of understanding the universe in far
more perceptive ways than ever before, via science and 
technology.  So it's surely understandable that our interpretation(s)
of God evolves, as we view Creation (our surroundings) in ever new 
ways.  So, it's not surprising that God seems to be changing right before 
our eyes.  The "MEME of all Memes" has constantly been changing
over Time, as we constantly change.  It's not something unexpected.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

(9) Neurotheology

Neurotheology is a new field, wherein neuroscientists are
considering the possibility that the human brain is "wired"
to ponder upon "God."  It's a new field that involves scientific
examination of subjective religious experiences.  One such
example that might be considered is as follows.

A number of years ago the Dalai Lama invited biological
psychologist Richard Davidson to come to India to test one
of his Tibetan monks--a Frenchman, actually--by applying
electrodes on his cranium while the monk was meditating on
"unconditional loving-kindness and compassion."  This
particular Buddhist monk had already accrued more than
10,000 hours of meditation, so he surely had to be a seasoned
contemplative.  Davidson's team, from the University of Wisconsin,
nearly immediately noticed powerful gamma brain wave activity.
Later more Buddhist monks were tested by Davidson, and he
found similar results.

Gamma brain waves essentially are considered the brain's
optimal frequency of functioning and associated with a
conscious awareness of reality and increased mental abilities.
The reported benefits of gamma brain waves are as follows:
Boosted Memory, Enhanced Perception of Reality, Building
of Senses, Increased Compassion, High-Level Information
Processing, Natural Antidepressant,  Advanced Learning
Ability, IQ Increase, High Level of Focus, and Improved

These reports about these monks and their brain waves
caught my interest when it comes to how the Universal Spirit
might be working through us, perhaps upon us by enhancing
our brain's capabilities.

Meditation more than often has been in Religion's bailiwick,
though nowadays this kind of mental focus has also rapidly
moved out into the world: i.e., Transcendental Meditation
and Biofeedback.

Regardless the specific milieu for meditation, it's an interesting
phenomenon when the study of such has come under the
scrutiny of neuroscientists.  It would seem our brain is far more
activated.  As to "why," well that's a question that will have to
wait for another day to be answered.  As for "what" might stand
behind all this, well that's open to speculation.

Just maybe there really *is* a Higher Reality acting upon us,
an Universal Spirit, that might actually be evolving us. Could
be our brains have finally reached the level where some of us
humans, like the French Buddhist meditator, seem to have
become an open channel for the reconfiguring of our brain
[Some of this text was originally posted in my "Seeker's Sojourn"
essay site, post 18.]

Monday, February 13, 2012

(8) Evolutionary Theology

The ideas about Evolutionary Theology are nestled in the
unfolding of Creation. Quoting the theologian John F. Haught,
as put by Diamuird O'Murchu, this particular theological approach
actually does "not search for definitive footprints of the divine in
nature" but rather "seeks to show how our new awareness of
cosmic and biological evolution can enhance and enrich
traditional teachings about God and about God's way of acting
in the world. "
[Diamuird O'Murchu, EVOLUTIONARY FAITH, pp. 33-34.]

Evolutionary Theology focuses on the creative process that we
observe in the universe, especially as we discover its ability for
self-organization (autopoesis). This theology also forces us to
look at the "big picture," in that we are dealing over time with
billions upon billions of years. As we now have come to under-
stand, our universe is some 13.7 billion years old. All through
this theology proposes that God has been at work. It's about what
some refer to as "Divine Action in the World."

So basically it's about God working in the universe. Perhaps here
we are broaching a panentheistic point-of-view. Interestingly, too,
Evolutionary Theology doesn't wage war with Darwin--rather it considers
that Evolution helps those in the field of Theology perhaps eventually
to see more clearly God in an "emergent universe" that remains unfinished.

[Also see John F. Haught's book, CHRISTIANITY AND SCIENCE.]

Sunday, September 4, 2011

(7) Natural Theology

An inquiry about God without referring to divine revelation, Natural
Theology actually has ancient roots--going back to the ancient Greek
philosophers. Even more specific, Natural Theology can be traced
back to the pre-Socratics, who quested after the "first principle of
things." Like today, these early philosophers were trying (or hoping)
to understand Ultimate Reality. the Source of all things.

Unlike us moderns, these ancient philosophers did not have the
advantage of contemporary Science or its adjunct Technology.
Mainly their effort relied on being "purely rational." And in their
way, working with their minds, these early questers actually can
be proved scientifically correct in some of their calculations
about their circumstance, even about their observations about
the Cosmos.

In our own time Natural Theology perhaps takes another course,
not necessarily trying to explain a First Principle, if you will. Today
this theological approach is not necessarily one that tries to prove
that God exists--though, for some, Natural Theology does pursue
a transcendent reality in which we humans exist. It's about the
universe in which we live and have our being. Basically its approach
is philosophically familiar, in that it is both cosmologically
and ontologically oriented.

Still, for those who do believe in God this approach by Natural
Theology can point to a Creator. It's also about a synthesis of
human knowledge that can cover a myriad of disciplines, not only
from Science, but also from Religion and Spirituality, the Arts, and
Philosophy. Natural Theology involves an integrative approach
and, most importantly, employs our modern knowledge-base!

Monday, July 4, 2011

(6) Panentheism

There's a book I recently read about "Panentheism" and just
the Content section, itself, provides the long history of this
concept. It's a concept that goes back to the roots of Western
Civilization, beginning with the early Greek philosophers. It flows
on into Christian Neoplatonism, eventually into the Renaissance
Period and Romanticism. And waiting their turn to address
modern Panentheism, there's the great German philosophers
Schelling and Hegel.

Closer to our own time there's Teilhard de Chardin's Christocentric
Panentheism, followed by Alfred North Whitehead and other
leaders of Process Theology. The theologian Paul Tillich also took
up the banner of Panentheism. And, more specifically, in our own
day this concept is playing into what is deemed Ecological Theology
and Theological Cosmology. This persistent historical flow of the
concept can leave one nearly breathless. So the question begs to
be answered--*what* is Panentheism?

Dictionaries provide detail in the early Greek language, in that
Panentheism is described as "pan" , which means "all," as "en"
which means "in", to "theos," which means "God." Basically
Panentheism means "all in God."

It is a belief system that posits that God interpenetrates every part
of Nature, but yet extends beyond such. To differentiate between
Pantheism and Panentheism--Pantheism declares that "God is the
Whole," whereas Panentheism declares that "the whole is in God."
For some even more religiously disposed, the panentheistic
concept allows the idea of a Creator Spirit that dwells within the
"heart of the natural world," holding all creatures, drawing them
forward towards an unimaginable future, even through the throes of
their finitude and death. Further, there's the thought of a Creator
Spirit empowering the cosmic process from within, allowing the
universe a wonderful freedom continuously to self-organize itself,
eventually to transcend itself.

However, Panentheism is most related to Process Theology--initially
a 20th century movement generated by the great scientist and
philosopher, Alfred North Whitehead, who stressed that God has
two natures: primordial and consequent. God contains All within
every given moment, somehow allowing freedom to will, freedom to
be within this continuous flux. Beyond even this the thinking is that
God is not a stagnant being. Rather within this continuous flux God
also continues to evolve. So it would seem with this, there's not only
God with us, but there's a definite inner-relationship between God,
Creation, and creatures. In other words, we humans not only exist
in a living, moving, universe, we somehow are also connected with
and serve as co-evolvers with the Creator Spirit.