There is a continuing controversy in everyone’s mind about what has priority in their life. What is it that we should value at this moment and why should we value that as opposed to something else? For example, politics is swarming with conflicts of social values and its proponents try to their utmost to swing opinion to support their views for the allocation of public resources. Most of the time, we have more immediate personal problems to cope with and they take priority. However, when we have time to ponder, there are existential considerations which most people consider as rising above politics and daily tasks. When given the opportunity they consider religion which thrusts itself into this vacuum of meaning. The attempt is to transcend daily problems and answer ultimate questions of our core being — what is existence, where did we come from, why are we here, what should we be doing with our lives, what is our destiny, where do we go when we die, what will happen to the world?
Various religions have posited answers to those questions based on moral considerations of what we think we like and what we think would create a better life for us. Science has posited answers to those questions too, but on the basis of amoral and testable physical reality. Science has encroached upon morality-based religion as a more accurate and responsive relationship has been established with the physical world, but the scientific method has limitations. The ongoing crisis, which for religion-based belief systems still resonants with many people, has been dubbed Darwinism. It has the catch phrase, Survival of the fittest, but a slight expansion of that is – successful reproduction by those who survived best in their environment. That phrasing implies an ongoing adaptation to the environment which the ongoing line of successful parents happen to find themselves within.
Environments vary greatly, and a perfectly healthy sloth who lives in the trees of the tropics will probably not survive and reproduce well on the shores of Antarctica, and a perfectly healthy penguin from Antarctica will not do well in the Amazon basin where most sloths thrive. The species of the world have adapted to the environment in which their ancestors survived, reproduced and their offspring did too. If ever those ancestors had failed to survive and reproduce a single time in the billions of years past, the individuals presently living wouldn’t exist. 99% of species which once thrived are extinct.
That what is known as Darwinism is based on sex and death is a rather callous way of stating the scientific view and makes the Darwinian worldview seem raunchy and murderous. Darwin himself was appalled by nature’s prodigality and ruthlessness. By comparison, the callous way of stating the religious position is that it is based on blind beliefs in untestable assumptions. From this point of view it appears that religion is based on a vacuum and its conclusions are equally vacuous. Both positions have brought about some good and some not so good human events.
Teilhard de Chardin, a Jesuit priest and prominent paleontologist, tried to bridge the gap between church and science with his book, The Phenomenon of man but was censured by the church for straying too far from their dogma of original sin, and he wasn’t well accepted by the scientific community for being too pious and speculative. Chardin’s view posited a natural pull toward what he termed The Omega Point, the final combining of all thought into a single point. This seems to be a point where some great minds converge, because it is similar to the Singularity of communication posited by technologist Ray Kurzweil and others. It does seem to be where the internet is drifting at present, where soon everyone will have access to every thought ever conceived. That may come to pass, but it seems unlikely to answer the existential problems mentioned at the top, because all answers will be too generalized and lack comprehensibility to most people and will not always suffice for specific conditions. This is a similar problem to weather prediction, where it can be done accurately only for short times into the future because minor short-term unmeasurable fluctuations have long-term influence.
Humanity is clearly entering into a new relationship with itself and with the existential problems because of the instant availability of facts and knowledge and to some extent of wisdom. It is becoming increasingly easy to make contact with the great minds of humanity and to compare their relative merits. As this is done by people with great ability and experience, a new worldview will develop which can be instantly transmitted to everyone. Thus all humanity becomes a single entity, similar to that suggested by Chardin and made possible by modern technology bringing us to a technical Singularity similar to Kurzweil’s concept.
My personal view is that the existential questions and the best answers to them have been available for two thousand years. This view is based on a careful reading of the Sermon on the Mount as explained in What Jesus really said about The Golden Rule. How people should treat others was clearly stated by Jesus in his Sermon on the Mount, but it still hasn’t been heard or promulgated. The whole New Testament points to Jesus, and Jesus’ whole sermon points to the Golden Rule and part of that Golden Rule is emphasized again and again by Jesus himself; it is the pivotal word of that simple sentence: SHOULD. In addition to that, I would add that humanity needs to survive for a very long time for as many people as possible to reach their perfection using that simple suggestion.
Help all humanity to achieve the utmost in human potential.