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.]