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VII. Our Earthuman Ascent: A Major Evolutionary Transition in Individuality

6. Contrasts of Religion and Science

Kabbalah and Complexity: Two Routes to One Reality. www.neiltheise.com. A posting from the website of the Beth Israel Medical Center philosophical pathologist that illumes lucid parallels, as there must be, between traditional Jewish wisdom and new self-organization science, from which we quote. Each try to convey in their vernacular a greater dynamic creation of interactive individuals which repeats and arrays itself into a nested ascendant hierarchy.

Further insights into such once and future common edification can be garnered from Dr. Theise’s publications: “Understanding Cell Lineages as Complex Adaptive Systems” in Blood, Cells, Molecules, and Diseases (32/1, 2004), and “Implications of ‘Postmodern Biology’ for Pathology” in Laboratory Investigation (86/4, 2006).

Now let’s play the film backward, instead of descending downward through levels of scale, let’s start from this ground of Being and move upward. The smallest elements of physical existence pop in and out of the void and then, interacting, they self-organize into different subatomic particles which then self-organize into still larger sub-atomic particles, and then, in turn, into atoms, then into biomolecules, cells, bodies, communities (of all kinds: villages, cultures, ecosystems, Gaia). All of existence, then, is simply the emergent self-organization of whatever arises from the Ground of Being.

And thus, we have a scientific correlate to the Kabbalistic description of creation. The first emergence of the world according to the big bang theory occurs in just this manner, the earliest manifestations of matter and energy self-organizing, moment by moment, as the universe cools, into larger and more complex structures. As the self-organizing emergence continued, historically, through ever changing conditions, the world as we know it emerged.

Troster, Lawrence. The Order of Creation and the Emerging God: Evolution and Divine Action in the Natural World. Cantor, Geoffrey and Marc Swetlitz, eds. Jewish Tradition and the Challenge of Darwinism. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2006. The Jewish chaplain at Bard College considers the writings of Paul Davies, Hans Jonas and John Haught in search of a modern accord of Judaic wisdom with an evolutionary emergence. If the later is seen as a Divine mode of temporal creation, albeit with much struggle and tragedy, a progression in vitality and consciousness at last fulfilled in human reflection is revealed. Thus, Judaism is not troubled by Darwin if an enhanced evolution is viewed as graced by self-organization and information, instead of the materialist model devoid of any such telos. In the same volume biologist Carl Feit considers the earlier 20th century thought of Rabbis Abraham Kook and Joseph Soloveitchik and their general affinity with Bergson and Teilhard. But throughout the collection, the holocaust casts its daunting shadow. In closing, Troster alludes that a resolve may occur with a recovery of the ‘two books of God’ metaphor whence nature, as a quickening genesis, may finally gain scriptural status.

Ulanowicz, Robert. Ecosystem Dynamics: A Natural Middle. Theology and Science. 2/2, 2004. The philosophical ecologist considers a path between the material reductionists (E. O. Wilson, Richard Dawkins), who deny any creative agency, and intelligent design theists (Philip Johnson, Michael Behe) by means of process ecology and organic system theory. By this approach, a self-organizing, autocatalytic genesis becomes evident. This can replace the mechanist’s despair with a “cosmology of hope.”

Van Huyssteen, J. Wentzel. Duet or Duel?: Theology and Science in a Postmodern World. Harrisburg, PA: Trinity Press International, 1998. A well regarded attempt to sort through and move beyond the view that the various religions along with modern science are culturally specific and thus incompatible.

Van Huyssteen, J. Wentzel, editor in chief. Encyclopedia of Science and Religion. New York: Macmillan Reference, 2003. The broadly conceived two volume array of authors and contents, along with its preface, can be accessed at the publisher’s website www.galegroup.com. In distinction to other such works, the nascent sciences of emergent self-organization are given due credit.

Wallace, B. Alan, ed. Buddhism and Science. New York: Columbia University Press, 2003. A survey of the convergence and affinity between Western domains such as quantum theory and neuropsychology with Eastern contemplative wisdom.

Ward, Keith. God: A Guide for the Perplexed. Oxford: Oneworld, 2002. In this engaging book, the British theologian surveys historical responses to the Divine, admits to present quandaries between a pessimistic materialism and human hopes, and offers glimpses of an innately purposive cosmos.

In short, this cosmos could be a product of blind necessity, in which human lives are a mere flicker in a process which is bound to end in oblivion, as energy drains away over billions of years. But the cosmos could also be an arena intended for the realization of created powers which will generate consciousness, desire, intention, purpose and value, perhaps on countless planetary systems over countless aeons. (251)

Wegter-McNelly, Kirk. The Entangled God: Divine Relationality and Quantum Physics. London: Routledge, 2011. This Boston University theologian could be seen as fulfilling a “relational” turn for this endeavor, which now is advised from Lee Smolin’s physics (2013) to child psychologies (Overton). Since prior views of Divine activity “out of nothing” (creation ex nihilo) to “plenitude” (emanation ex deo) now pale, maybe this feature from the depths of physical nature of how everything seems to cross connect might be a better way to express God’s constant but subtle creative involvement.

Quantum entanglement is a physical phenomenon that occurs when pairs of particles are generated or interact in ways such that the quantum state of each member must subsequently be described relative to each other. Quantum entanglement is a product of quantum superposition.

In The Entangled God, Kirk Wegter-McNelly addresses the age-old theological question of how God is present to the world by constructing a novel, scientifically informed account of the God–world relation. Drawing on recent scientific and philosophical work in "quantum entanglement," Wegter-McNelly develops the metaphor of "divine entanglement" to ground the relationality and freedom of physical process in the power of God’s relational being. The Entangled God makes a three-fold contribution to contemporary theological and religious discourse. First, it calls attention to the convergence of recent theology around the idea of "relationality." Second, it introduces theological and religious readers to the fascinating story of quantum entanglement. Third, it offers a robust "plerotic" alternative to kenotic accounts of God’s suffering presence in the world.

Wilber, Ken. The Marriage of Sense and Soul. New York: Random House, 1998. An attempt to reunite the primordial religious essence as distinguished by its Great Chain of Being from matter to Divine mind with a fragmented science which claims reality is nothing but flat, mindless matter. Wilber’s method is to prescribe a neural and cognitive evolution whereby the old scale would be temporalized as a “Great Nest.” Its levels now represent the stages of life’s passage from matter to sensations, perceptions, images and on to concepts and spirituality in humans.

Zajonc, Arthur, ed. The New Physics and Cosmology: Dialogues with the Dalai Lama. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004. A collection from the luminous discussions at a Mind and Life Institute conference in Dharmasala, India. Scientists and scholars such as Tu Weiming, David Finkelstein, George Greenstein, Piet Hut, Arthur Zajonc, and Anton Zeilinger met with the Dalai Lama to discuss deep convergences between quantum and cosmic physics and the essence of Tibetan Buddhism.

Zaki Kirmani, M. and N. K. Singh, eds. Encyclopaedia of Islamic Science and Scientists. New Delhi: Global Vision Publishing House, 2005. A four volume work whose introduction stresses that any reduction of nature must be joined by and leavened with synthesis in order to express, as the Quran teaches, the seamless unity of Divine Creation.

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