Monday, 26 November 2012 22:19

Is Science Based Religion Possible?‏

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Abstract: 

Our ancestors examined their world and concluded that there was more to their existence than met the eyes. They posited what they called God as the cause of their world and worshipped him. They hoped that placating him would make him banish the natural forces that made a mess of their existence and eventually killed them. Every group of human beings posited their own religion. Thus, we have African religions, Asian religions (Hinduism, Buddhism and Taoism) and European religions (Europeans let go of their ancestral religions and appropriated the Semitic religion of Christianity; since they embraced a foreign religion that did not represent their souls aspirations they have been arguably insane!).  These religions reflect the cultures and people that put them together. They are all limited by the fact that they were hatched in prescientific eras. We now live in the world of science. Science is a methodological approach to phenomena that accepts only what we all can observe and verify as there. My goal is to find a way to posit a scientific approach to religion that all observers, regardless of where they live on earth, can verify hence accept (Saint Simon tried to construct a rational religion and failed). This paper is an effort in that direction. The paper points out that intelligence and light exist in different forms, in some forms exist outside human beings and that people exist in universes other than our present universe. 

Is Science Based Religion Possible?‏

Ozodi Thomas Osuji 

INTRODUCTION:

 

The term religion is derived from Latin, religio. Religion is any effort to reconnect to one’s presumed source.  Religious activities therefore are those efforts human beings engage in when they search for their source, their origin.

Human beings are those creatures who are not sure of their origin and are searching for it. To search for their origin implies that they do not assume that they originated from where they currently are, earth; they assume that they came from somewhere else. Human beings tend to see themselves as strangers in this world, as aliens from another world. They tend to assume that they came from a spiritual world, a world different from the material world they live in.

Everywhere human beings are found they are searching for their origin. Human beings are always engaged in religious activities, even when they do not call what they are doing religious activities!

In search of their source people posited what they called gods and worshipped them.  They had not actually seen what they called god but they assumed, along with Aristotle that there must be an unmoved mover of all things in motion, a cause of all things; they assumed that that source must be very powerful to have created them and this huge universe they live in. They believed that such a force deserved their worship.  Thus, instead of trying to study and understand that force they worshipped him.

Worshipping God did not shade any light on people’s origin or improve their lot on earth. Therefore, some people began to look for other ways to understand their origin. Reason and science was born.  Initially, people used pure reason to speculate on the power behind this universe. They posited interesting hypotheses that are not proved hence did not prove the existence of God. Philosophy is full of rational conjectures on how people came into being. Rational speculations don’t prove anything so people were left where they were before speculating, not knowing their source. They left philosophy and embarked on science.

Science, Francis Bacon tells us is a methodological approach to phenomena that only accepts that which can be verified to be there and can be seen as there by other observers. Science is a method of approaching life that says that truth is that which all people following the scientific method can verify, not that which we merely assume to be there.  In this light since no one has actually observed the existence of God the scientific mind jettisoned the idea of God and, instead, focused on what science can verify: matter, space and time.

Science has made amazing discoveries about the nature or matter, space and time since 1543 when Nicolas Copernicus speculated that the earth is not the center of the universe and that the sun is. In 1610 Galileo used his telescopes to observe that the sun is the center of the planets orbiting around it (Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Neptune, Uranus and Pluto).  Science was given firm foundation when Isaac Newton in 1687 published his book, Principia Mathematica that explicated the nature of gravity and the three laws of notion. Newton showed that there are laws that seem invariant in the world, laws that all of us can observe and verify to be there.

Science has explicated some of the laws that operate in the world of matter, space and time. So far, unfortunately, science has not been able to extend the scientific method to the realm of religion.  Thus, unlike science, religion is left where it was thousands of years ago, not improving mankind’s knowledge about its origin.

People still have all sorts of irrational beliefs that god exists and that if they flagellate themselves before him or worship his alleged only begotten son, Jesus Christ, that they would be saved from their sufferings, and prevented from finitude and oblivion when they die.

There is no such thing as God and flagellating one’s self for the god of our human inventions would not improve our lives. What is self-evident is that there is intelligence operating in the universe and it is that universal intelligence that we ought to search for, for he operates through us and is our true identify.

Every age seeks its source in its own way; people seek their god with the knowledge available at their time of living. Our ancestors had little science and posited mere poetic ideas on the nature of their origin.

In the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century findings in science led folk to postulate new ideas on God, such as what we find in Christian Science religion, Unity Church, Religious Science Church  and the so-called new age religions (as found in Helen Schucman’s book, A course in miracles).  All those were still operating from poetic conception of reality, not from a pure rational and or scientific conception of our source.

This paper explicates the nature of our source not in poetic terms but in prose, in the language of reason and science. In the final analysis the conclusion of the paper is limited by the present limit of science. The thesis of the paper will be changed as science learns more about the nature of phenomena (such as explicates the nature of dark matter, dark energy, and multiverses etc.). Thus, this presentation of the nature of our source is not going to be the last of such presentations.

Be that as it may, it is a presentation that gives the writer peace and happiness. When a person’s search for his origin leads him to live in peace and joy he has reached as far as his methodological approach can take him and must leave it to other persons to continue the eternal quest for our origin.

I am at peace with my conclusions; I know that the reader may see them as not true, in which case he is honor bound to either reject them or improve them, for that is how knowledge and science grows.

I am interested in the physical sciences. I use the discoveries of physics, chemistry and biology to study our origin. I am not interested in believing in some alleged source that none of us is able to verify.

We may not be able to verify everything yet but that is not reason to assume magical gods as the creator of this universe. We can use what we now know from physics to attempt explaining our origin and when scientific knowledge improves discard those aspects of our findings on our origin and nature that are no longer rational and scientific and posit new ones. In the nineteenth century Saint Simon used pure reason to invent what seemed to him a rational religion but today we no longer see his invention as rational hence discarded it. There is no need for uncritical, dogmatic acceptance of any view when it is not verified as true.

Science is always searching for improved understanding of the nature of phenomena and as new information comes up old views are discarded.

(Whereas it is not the goal of this paper to review all sorts of science it seems necessary to give a brief history of the development of Western science. As far as we know, it was the Greek Democritus who posited that the atom is the smallest indivisible part of matter. The concept of the atom went cold with the rise of the Catholic Church after the fall of the Roman Empire.  Science essentially went missing until Copernicus resurrected it in 1543. Galileo pursued science. Christian Hugeness, Tyco Brahe and Kepler made strides in astronomy. Huygens observed that light is wave. Isaac Newton, on the other hand, said that light is composed of corpuscles, particles. Because of the influence of Newton his particles concept of light prevailed until 1800 when Thomas Young’s two slit experiment showed that light had interference marks on the screen behind the two slits suggesting that light is wave. Thus, throughout the nineteenth century light was considered wave. In the eighteenth century Robert Boyle and Lavoisier made strides in the study of gases.  Ludwig Boltzmann continued the stride on gas behavior in the nineteenth century.  John Dalton in 1800 resurrected the idea of atoms.  In the mid nineteenth century Michael Faraday invented the electric motor. James Clark Maxwell combined electricity and magnetism in his famous equation on electromagnetism.  In 1896 Henri Becquerel showed that uranium decayed and gives off radiation and Pierre and Marie Curie studied the nucleus of uranium and showed that it decayed and formed new elements, such as radium.  Roentgen discovered X-Ray. By the end of the nineteenth century heat was pretty much well studied and the laws of thermodynamics were well known.  In 1897 J.J. Thomson discovered the electron. By the beginning of the twentieth century the state of optics was that light was wave. Then in 1900 Max Planck showed that light has quanta (particles). In 1905 Albert Einstein in his paper on the photoelectric effect of light showed that light knocked off electrons on hot objects indicating that light is. The debate returned as to the nature of light, particles or wave. Broglie convinced physicists to see light as both particles and wave, behaving as one wants it to behave; he also showed that electrons and other elementary particles have particle-wave characteristics.   In 1911 Ernest Rutherford showed that the atom is not the smallest part of matter, that atoms have nucleus with proton in it…in 1932 James Chadwick showed that in addition to protons the nucleus contains neutrons. The early twentieth century made progress in biology beginning with Mendel’s genetics, Alexander Fleming’s discovery of penicillin, Francis Crick and James Watson’s explication of the nature of the DNA. Linus Pauling transformed Chemistry from alchemy to science. By the end of the twentieth century our knowledge of physics included special and general relativity and quantum mechanics; the atom had yielded not just the three major elementary particles of electrons, protons and neutrons but well over 100 other sub particles of matter. Murray Gell-Mann made sense of quarks, the building blocks of protons and neutrons.) 

LIGHT AND INTELLIGENCE ARE EVERYWHERE 

There is light everywhere.  Light carries information.  If light (light can be particles, photons or wave) touches you it takes picture of you (which you can see when it is reflected in a mirror) and moves on with that picture of you.  The picture of you taken by light is carried by light as it speeds past you (light travels at the speed of 186, 282 miles per second). The past picture of you and other things taken by light is now somewhere in space, perhaps billions of miles away.

In the future when science has developed instruments capable of seeing the pictures taken by light we may be able to see pictures of our ancestors somewhere in space.

(Under hypnosis or regression therapy, some persons claim ability to see their past lives; perhaps, what they do is see a vague picture of their past lives in video form somewhere in space. Perhaps all our activities are video-taped and are in space and in the future people would be able to retrieve those movies and watch them and see how their ancestors lived in the past This is not past traveling but merely seeing the past in pictures.)

Light carries intelligence.  Light is intelligence.  Contemporary science and technology projects information into light, photons (in the form of electrons) and sends it to all part of the earth. While in your room, if you have the right electronic equipment, such as the Internet, wireless phones and television, you can receive all sorts of information that is floating in the information superhighway in space.

There is always light in the universe means that there is always intelligence in that light.  Light is everywhere means that since information is in light, intelligence is everywhere in the universe. The universe is intelligence for intelligence is written into every photon of light in the universe and since light is everywhere intelligence is everywhere.

There are all kinds of light including the light we can see with our naked eyes and those we cannot see with our eyes. There is alpha, beta, and gamma, ultraviolet and infrared light. Dogs and other animals can see what we human beings cannot see. (Other creatures probably perceive information that we do not.) 

THE ORIGIN OF PHYSICAL LIGHT 

Contemporary cosmology (astronomy, astrophysics and physics) tells us that the universe began 13.7 billion years ago in an explosion. A particle of unknown nature (dubbed singularity) supposedly emerged from nothing (what does nothing mean; if nothing exists something must exist, for the one cannot be conceived without conceiving the other) and got very hot and produced inordinate heat and exploded. That heat produced light. The light expanded out (and where is it expanding to, an already existing vacuum?).

That expanding light eventually slowed its velocity and condensed into quarks which further congealed to particles such as neutrons and protons (electrons condensed directly from light without going through the intermediary of quarks)).  Light congealed into quarks which in turn combined to form protons and neutrons. Protons and neutrons combined to form nuclei of atoms (the strong nuclear force holds protons and neutrons together in the nucleus of atoms).

For 400, 000 thousand years the universe was composed of plasma: that is, nuclei and electrons and the photons of light trapped in the dense plasma. Thereafter, nuclei captured electrons and the simplest atoms, hydrogen and helium were formed.  This led some light to escape from the plasma (dubbed cosmic microwave background radiation; it was picked up by Robert Wilson and Arno Penzias in in 1965).

The universe thereafter was a cloud of hydrogen and helium and light.  Millions of years later, the cloud of hydrogen separated into clumps. Each clump was acted on by the force of gravity, pulled inwards until its inner core got very hot and ignited, that is, began fusing hydrogen into helium and stars were born (hydrogen has one proton in its nucleus and one electron circling it; two or more hydrogen…deuterium and tritium are isotopes of hydrogen, one with one neutron and the other with two neutrons,  atoms fuse into a helium atom that has two neutrons and two protons in its nucleus and two electrons circling the nucleus).

The initial stars were very massive in size. Those lived for millions of years and exhausted their hydrogen fuel and began fusing helium to carbon. Thereafter they fused carbon to oxygen and when the fusion process gets to iron the star is no longer able to fuse other elements, and expands and explodes in supernova.

In the increased heat generated by exploding stars elements higher than Iron were fused. The over 100 elements in the universe were formed by dying stars.

The exploded stars spilled out their newly formed elements and a cloud of hydrogen gas (called nebula) into space. Eventually, that cloud separates into clumps and gravity acts on the clumps to form medium sized stars and planets. Medium sized stars, such as our star, the sun, last billions of years before they exhaust their hydrogen fuel and explode and die.

(There are all sorts of stars and quasi stars, including, pulsars, quasars, neutron stars…here all matter in the core of a star during its explosive death is converted into neutrons and the star spins at an incredible rate, black holes…here all matter in the core of exploded stars are converted into something that we do not know what it is, into nothing; all we know is that light does not escape from its event horizon and that even planets and stars that enter the event horizon are eaten up…we shall not here concern ourselves with the many types of stars there are in the universe.)

Our sun  has been around for four and half billion years and would probably live another five billion years before it expands and incorporates its nearest planets (Mercury and Venus) and throws off its outer layer and the inner core remains as a white dwarf and eventually like amber flickers out. But the sun will not go before it had charred planet earth into inhabitable hot planet. The earth will be too hot to be lived on by biological organisms in about two billion years as the hot dying solar dries its waters.

Our sun and its nine planets were formed from dead stars about four and half billion years ago. Planet earth formed from star dust. Initially it was very hot. Comets (which are frozen water and dust) slammed into the early hot planet earth and their water melted and cooled the planet. Eventually, enough water was brought to planet earth to not only cool it but cover 70% of it with water.

Inside that water certain elements (especially nitrogen, oxygen, carbon and hydrogen) combined to form the basis of biological life forms.

Single celled organisms were first to be formed and later those combined to form multicellular organisms. Some of those organisms became trees and animals.

Animal evolution began from single cells until they evolved into complex organisms such as human beings.  Today we have animals called Homo sapiens with the capacity to understand themselves and their universe.

Let me summarize what I have said so far. I have said that stars, planets, land, water, trees, animals and human beings were formed from congealed light.  Everything in the universe is literally congealed light.  Our bodies are congealed light. Animals are congealed light. Trees are congealed light. Planets are congealed light. Stars are congealed light.

Light massed itself into particles which massed themselves into atoms which massed themselves into molecules which massed themselves into bodies such as ours.

When light massed itself into matter it did not leave intelligence behind, it brought its intelligence into matter. Intelligence is in matter, space and time.

However, when intelligence/light is condensed into matter, it slows down and no longer travels at the speed of light. There is intelligence in every part of matter but it is not as quick and fast as the intelligence in unmassed light.

We can say that matter is slowed and darkened light, and that matter is darkened intelligence.  There is intelligence in everything, in every cell in our bodies, in every cell in plants, animals, and inorganic matter but that intelligence is slowed down and is not as pure as intelligence outside matter, space and time. 

GNOSTICISM REINTERPRETED 

Gnosticism, an ancient Greek religion (it formed the core of early Christian religion, see the Dag Hammadi findings) was unto something when it said that God is light and that matter is darkness.  To Gnostics to live in God is to live in light but to live in body is to live in darkness. Gnostics equated light with God and equated body with darkness.

According to Gnostic religion the world of space time and matter came into being when some agents rebelled against God, and left to go form their own separate kingdom, a world apart from the world of light that is God (heaven is seen as a place of light; the earth is seen as a place of darkness).

The force that rebelled against God, light, to form the world of darkness is called many names, including Demiurge, Lucifer, Yahweh (the Old Testament God…that is correct, the old testament god is seen as a false god, as the god of darkness; the real God is seen as a loving God, whereas the Jewish god is seen as a god of punishment). That dark force, the false god is said to have created human beings (invented human beings egos; the real God created people’s real selves, the unified spirit self).

Gnosticism and its conjectures about god are not necessarily true. What Gnosticism was getting at albeit poetically is that originally there was light and that somehow parts of it was transformed into matter and that matter, our material universe is reduced light hence darkness.  This postulation is scientifically true for as we saw above the universe began in light and that light congealed into matter and out of matter our bodies were formed.

Originally, only light existed (darkness could not exist before light…darkness cannot produce light but light can be covered and light seem not there. Although that original light is nameless, I call it pure light.

Pure light is not the same as the light produced by stars or from heated objects. That original pure light was pure intelligence.

The original pure light/intelligence, as it were, projected a part of itself into the particle that during the big bang got hot and exploded and formed a different type of light, the light that eventually congealed into matter, space and time.

The originally light, intelligence is now colored (by design) by the matter it condensed to and projected itself to.

The original light, intelligence remains as it always is but produced another form of light and intelligence that formed the material universe.

(The eight century Hindu philosopher, Shankara thought along the line I am proceeding here; he said that God, Brahman projected itself into our phenomenal universe and dreams through it while remaining awake in his Brahmaloca. Although I am very well informed on most religions of mankind I am not predicating my hypothesis on known religions but on insights from science. As a scientific hypothesis the paper must be examined and if verified accepted and if not verified discarded. See Karl Popper’s paper on the nature of scientific conjectures and refutations.)

Light and intelligence is in matter, is in stars, planets, our bodies but light/intelligence is colored by the matter it operates in. Because this light and intelligence is colored by the matter it operates in it is no longer pure light/intelligence.

The original light/intelligence is outside of matter and therefore does not feel pain. Inside matter intelligence feels pain. We feel pain when our bodies are hurt. Because we feel pain we must seek ways to defend our bodies from what inflicts pain on them.  We must separate ourselves from other parts of the material universe.

To be a human being is to be intelligence that sees itself as separated from other intelligence and perceives other people and things as capable of hurting it and defends itself from them.

We must not call the intelligence in the universe God and must not worship it.  However, we must seek ways to find out about its nature. Science is a useful way of discovering aspects of it.

Meditation enables us to calm down our bodies and minds and in our calm minds begin to study the nature of intelligence when it is not operating inside matter.

The goal of our life on earth is twofold; first, to forget where we came from and second to understand where we came from, to understand the nature of both the material universe and the light that congealed into it.  When we have completely understood the current universe we would no longer have anything else to do and would be bored.


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Ozodi Osuji Ph.D

Ozodi Thomas Osuji is from Imo State, Nigeria. He obtained his PhD from UCLA. He taught at a couple of Universities and decided to go back to school and study psychology. Thereafter, he worked in the mental health field and was the Executive Director of two mental health agencies. He subsequently left the mental health environment with the goal of being less influenced by others perspectives, so as to be able to think for himself and synthesize Western, Asian and African perspectives on phenomena. Dr Osuji’s goal is to provide us with a unique perspective, one that is not strictly Western or African but a synthesis of both. Dr Osuji teaches, writes and consults on leadership, management, politics, psychology and religions. Dr Osuji is married and has three children; he lives at Anchorage, Alaska, USA.

He can be reached at: ozodiosuji@gmail.com (907) 310-8176