What will guide Australia? “Dogma” or “free enquiry”?

This week I came across two media pieces. One was a Ted Talk by Dr Rupert Sheldrake, biologist from the UK, in which he talked about deeply entrenched conflict in the heart of international science. Sheldrake defines science as a ‘method of enquiry’ based on reason, evidence, hypothesis and collective investigation. He says the other side of the conflict operates out of the belief that “science” already understands reality in principle leaving only the details to be filled in.” Sheldrake calls this the ‘science delusion.’ It is a belief system or worldview; not science!

About 2 months after the talk went online it was withdrawn by Ted on the recommendation of an “anonymous” group of scientists who recommended that as the talk was ‘pseudoscience’ it should be removed to protect Ted’s reputation. Ted conceded. This action caused quite an online furore.

In his presentation Sheldrake said that over time science, health, education and government have become “wholly owned” subsidiaries of “philosophical materialism”. Let me declare, I’m a person of faith, coming from a Christian teaching worldview. I’m certainly in favour the “enquiry” approach to science Sheldrake favours.

He asserts that “materialism”, and now ‘science”, largely holds that nature is “mechanical” or machine like. Humans are like machines. In nature everything is unconscious. There is no consciousness in matter; in planets, animals and plants. Therefore, there can be no consciousness in human beings. Everything is fixed; always has been and always will be. Nature is purposeless; there is no ultimate meaning for which to search. Memories are uniquely stored in an individual’s brain. Your mind is only in your head. Mechanistic medicine (to maintain the body in working order (my words)) is the only medicine that works, which Sheldrake further asserts is the reason governments will only fund research into mechanistic medicine.

You do have to ask, “Is this man conspiring against the truth?”

You can see more on http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JKHUaNAxsTg

The second piece was a Templeton Prize address in the 90s by Dr Paul Davies, a physicist. In his speech he said… “Einstein once said that the thing that most interested him is whether God had any choice in His creation.”

Davies also wrote, “According to the Judeo-Islamic-Christian tradition, the answer is a resounding yes.” Einstein obviously wasn’t sure!

Davies continued, “Although not conventionally religious, Einstein often spoke of God, and expressed a sentiment shared, I believe, by many scientists, including professed atheists. It is a sentiment best described as a reverence for nature and a deep fascination for the natural order of the cosmos. If the universe did not have to be as it is of necessity – ‘if God did have a choice’: to paraphrase Einstein – then the fact that nature is so fruitful, that the universe is so full of richness, diversity, and novelty, is profoundly significant.”

Davies went on to say… “If there is a meaning or purpose to existence, as I believe there is, we are wrong to dwell too much on the originating event. The big bang is sometimes referred to as “the creation,” but in truth nature has never ceased to be creative. This ongoing creativity, which manifests itself in the spontaneous emergence of novelty and complexity, and organization of physical systems, is permitted through, or guided by, the underlying mathematical laws that scientists are so busy discovering.”

You can read more on: http://www.firstthings.com/article/2008/09/003-physics-and-the-mind-of-god-the-templeton-prize-address-24

If these are two alternate ways of defining science – dogma or free enquiry – should leaders across society stand for the latter, if there is to be creative and innovative development of a hopeful and fair society, and in which there is widespread well being?

Over the last twelve months, we – Sophia Think Tank, P4T Inc and AMEP – through many conversations have explored the terrible scourge of youth suicide. The abiding phrases in those conversations are “lack of identity”, “lack of meaning and purpose”, “lack of connection”, and “lack of belonging.” In other words, “No Hope!”

Out of these thoughts, it seems we human beings have two choices:

  1. Hopelessly accept the force of entropy around us; or
  2. Work to flourish the meaning and purpose in everything around us.

The latter demands the integrity of all human beings. “Us”, with no “Them!”

I believe this will come as human beings begin to love the mind of God out of reverence and deep fascination for everything around us – with our hearts, minds and effort. Just as we love our neighbours! Just as we love our enemies!

This could lead to the fulfillment of the meaning and purpose of creation. If this is true, fulfillment of the universe could depend exclusively on these human attributes.

I encourage you to explore this field of enquiry. If you do, you could bring on the next cultural contest of ideas. Again, it will be a contest between the powers of enslaving dogma, whether materialist or religious, and the liberating power of scientific and spiritual enquiry to search for and live within the mind of God.

This could be a bitter battle in which AMEP will be on the side of the latter.

It will demand a much greater need for all types of people, leaders across Australian society, in the arts, business, community services, education, health, justice, the law, media, politics and sport to be the contestants.

Of necessity, public discourse around complex and difficult issues needs to be through media of some type. If you are a leader in a key area of Australian society you need to understand the media very well, and be equipped to engage with it. It will also require you to engage and encourage journalists of integrity, as part of your contest.

But neither AMEP, nor journalists will be contestants with you.

Journalists of integrity will simply test your integrity, and if your stories have good news value, these journalists might tell the stories of your good work. If you do your part well, the mind of God will be praised by many people who are depending on you to lead the way to hope, fairness and well being.

Bob Simpson

The Australian Media Engagement Project (AMEP)

(Project initiative of P4T Inc)

About Bob Simpson

Bob is project manager of The Australian Media Engagement Project (AMEP). He believes that ethical and independent journalists are vital to the continuing freedom of Australian citizens. You could argue that In recent decades media organisations have subtly subverted journalism to their own private commercial interests, and away from an integrated sense of fairness, well being and shared prosperity in Australian society, especially for the disempowered. AMEP aims to change general media narratives towards greater fairness, well being and shared prosperity in Australia.
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