While updating the Web site for this week’s program about Charles Darwin, I remembered the above image, which I had come across on Flickr a while ago. It’s intended to show the evolutionary development of world religions; it seems that the author, an evolutionary biology professor, was unable to find a similar graphic anywhere and decided to draft his own.

Darwin's "Tree of Life"

So what is the point of attempting to represent the complexity of world religions such a simplified way? The author writes:

I was thinking the above exercise might be a great way for young kids to learn about the diversity of religions, and how new religions are created all the time.

Looking at the image now, it seems even more interesting when placed next to Darwin’s sketch of the “tree of life” (seen at right). Some consider Darwin’s theory of evolution, represented in his illustration, to be an assault on religion. But as we learn in this week’s program, it’s not quite that simple — at least it wasn’t for Darwin. And here’s an example of the same model being used to map out world religions, perhaps with the hope of increasing religious tolerance.

What do you think, are religion and evolution mutually exclusive? Is approaching religion from an evolutionary perspective helpful?

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61Reflections

Reflections

I'm inclined to think that like Darwins original tree that reflected the knowledge available at the time, but which has since proved to be more like a dense hedge... this reflects an elementary knowledge but the world's elite travelled and were indluenced by what was seen even in ancient days... so who knows what has affected what and where the 'cross-breeding' may have occured since then.

Re:
"What do you think, are religion and evolution mutually exclusive? Is approaching religion from an evolutionary perspective helpful?"

-It seems that, especially in our pluralistic culture, in order to answer these questions, more specific definitions are needed. What is religion, and who gets to define it? What is evolution- is it best understood simply as biological adaptations for survival, or does it provide a naturalistic basis for the origin of all species?

That's a good point, who does get to define religion, when one's relationship to (and definition of) the concept can be so deeply personal? Maybe pluralism necessitates a somewhat vague definition of religion, to avoid alienating any that might not fit that definition.

That would be an adaptation if incorporated in existing ongoing religion.

If existing religions did not survive when they did not have the new ability to, but new mutated versions with the ability did survive, that would be evolution.

Interim definitions happen in moments like this, long term definitions are the survivors of selective pressures.

If religion definition evolves each attempted definition is subject to selective pressures to survive.

In a way, Americans have been insulated from uncertaintiy and fear. The secure life we have experienced has cushioned many from the humiliation and need for resourcefulness that the world experiences. It is our time. We are here. As a teacher in an inner city school I have first hand witnessed the struggles and pain of families on the edge. Key to the point is...will this be a cross to bear or will we take this as an opportunity and run with it? Great things can happen by coming together and working through uncertanity and humiliation as community.

This is very much in line with what we've been hearing in our interviews for Repossessing Virtue ... developing stronger communities, re-examining values, and approaching our collective "crisis" as an opportunity.

I feel the statement during Sunday's broadcast regarding how one must consider "the works of God" and "the word of God"when considering if religion and evolution are mutually exclusive. Human beings, religion, and the subject of evolution are part of human history and present day human conscious. This seems to say to me that religion and evolution are connected in the same way man and religion are connected and the science of evolution to man. I feel the way to look at this idea of religion from an evolutionary perspectiveis an interesting subject. But is looking back useful and time well spent? Is there a disscusion to be had about the evolution of religion? Whether or not evolution is useful in religion or vice versa might depend on how complicated a person wants to think and discuss. Religion and science are products of endeavors of a creative adaptive species. Do you doubt we were made from anything less? People want to believe Genisis where it is indicated that man was made in the image of the Creator, God. Whatever the intricate process is going on human beings are here, adapting and impacting the world. We have come far. Are we not still evolving, and still trying to have faith? It seems to me it is all part of the same equation.
"The miracle of creation is the same miracle whether it took 7 days or several thounsand years..." Anna to the King of Siam in the "KIng and I.

If God works through evolving manifestations of life as Darwin theorized in The Origin of Species and Assent of Man, it is logical to hypothesize that same creator’s living religion works through evolving manifestations of faith and acknowledgment.

There is evidence of such a pattern. The surviving religions stand upon the dust of dead religions carrying evidence of inherited traits gained and lost, and even transitional fossils found in print and artifact. Perhaps Darwin gave more evidence supporting the existence of God then challenging it.

As humans develop methods to define their environment they are increasingly defining the selective pressures on survival, and perhaps unwittingly what will survive. Just as the natural world Darwin studied is fast succumbing to new pressures on fitness from modern humans, religion is fast succumbing to new pressures on fitness from similarly artificial (human made) environmental changes.

An example of that artificial (human made) pressure is the widespread controversy about evolution. We would not hear of Darwin’s theory unless someone profited from it. Those with the power to inform and would attempt to justify their status determine what we know about Darwin in large measure. If you are the biggest bully, one might shade the message “the biggest bully wins.” If controversy sells your product the science against religion battle is worth sensationalizing. If strong faith is sold as an escape from the confusion caused by doubt you ask; “You don’t believe humans descended from monkeys do you?”

The fact that people of faith in god continue to survive is by corollary evidence that there is a selective advantage to that trait, or at least expressions of that trait that they have faith in god. Carl Rove did not believe in God, and used the appearance of belief to great selective advantage in political election campaigns. People unaware of Carl’s inability to believe the existence of god gave thanks to their god for Carl, and Carl’s strength of faith to see god’s will was done. Both Carl and the believers may have benefited, even though a parallel for the relationship might be a parasite and host, with a little symbiosis thrown in.

Parasites are not often considered in religious accounts of creation. Darwin’s Origin of Species followed suit. We know there are a greater number of and diversity in parasites than free-living organisms. It occurs to me that the controversy between created, and evolved serves the same masters of manipulation that thrive as parasites. They are not free living, and require a susceptible host to feed on. Possibly parasitic control of the host has evolved to the degree we see now because the selective pressure is primarily artificial (human made).

Often we find controversies produce larger titles then facts to support them. As in this short poem entitled “Ode to the Antiquity, and Ubiquity of the Parasitic Living Microscopic Entity,” that simply reads; “Adam had them.” I suspect the evolution creation debate is unfit for survival. I’ll watch for the emerging species.

If God works through evolving manifestations of life as Darwin theorized in The Origin of Species and Assent of Man, it is logical to hypothesize that same creator’s living religion works through evolving manifestations of faith and acknowledgement.

There is evidence of such a pattern. The surviving religions stand upon the dust of dead religions carrying evidence of inherited traits gained and lost, and even transitional fossils found in print and artifact. Perhaps Darwin gave more evidence supporting the existence of God then challenging it.

As humans develop methods to define their environment they are increasingly defining the selective pressures on survival, and perhaps unwittingly what will survive. Just as the natural world Darwin studied is fast succumbing to new pressures on fitness from modern humans, religion is fast succumbing to new pressures on fitness from similarly artificial (human made) environmental changes.

An example of that artificial (human made) pressure is the widespread controversy about evolution. We would not hear of Darwin’s theory unless someone profited from it. Those with the power to inform and would attempt to justify their status determine what we know about Darwin in large measure. If you are the biggest bully, one might shade the message “the biggest bully wins.” If controversy sells your product the science against religion battle is worth sensationalizing. If strong faith is sold as an escape from the confusion caused by doubt you ask; “You don’t believe humans descended from monkeys do you?”

The fact that people of faith in god continue to survive is by corollary evidence that there is a selective advantage to that trait, or at least expressions of that trait that they have faith in god. Carl Rove did not believe in God, and used the appearance of belief to great selective advantage in political election campaigns. People unaware of Carl’s inability to believe the existence of god gave thanks to their god for Carl, and Carl’s strength of faith to see god’s will was done. Both Carl and the believers may have benefited, even though a parallel for the relationship might be a parasite and host, with a little symbiosis thrown in.

Parasites are not often considered in religious accounts of creation. Darwin’s Origin of Species followed suit. We know there are a greater number of and diversity in parasites than free-living organisms. It occurs to me that the controversy between created, and evolved serves the same masters of manipulation that thrive as parasites. They are not free living, and require a susceptible host to feed on. Possibly parasitic control of the host has evolved to the degree we see now because the selective pressure is primarily artificial (human made).

Often we find controversies produce larger titles then facts to support them. As in this short poem entitled “Ode to the Antiquity, and Ubiquity of the Parasitic Living Microscopic Entity,” that simply reads; “Adam had them.” I suspect the evolution creation debate is unfit for survival. I’ll watch for the emerging species.

If God works through evolving manifestations of life as Darwin theorized in The Origin of Species and Assent of Man, it is logical to hypothesize that same creator’s living religion works through evolving manifestations of faith and acknowledgment.

There is evidence of such a pattern. The surviving religions stand upon the dust of dead religions carrying evidence of inherited traits gained and lost, and even transitional fossils found in print and artifact. Perhaps Darwin gave more evidence supporting the existence of God then challenging it.

As humans develop methods to define their environment they are increasingly defining the selective pressures on survival, and perhaps unwittingly what will survive. Just as the natural world Darwin studied is fast succumbing to new pressures on fitness from modern humans, religion is fast succumbing to new pressures on fitness from similarly artificial (human made) environmental changes.

An example of that artificial (human made) pressure is the widespread controversy about evolution. We would not hear of Darwin’s theory unless someone profited from it. Those with the power to inform and would attempt to justify their status determine what we know about Darwin in large measure. If you are the biggest bully, one might shade the message “the biggest bully wins.” If controversy sells your product the science against religion battle is worth sensationalizing. If strong faith is sold as an escape from the confusion caused by doubt you ask; “You don’t believe humans descended from monkeys do you?”

The fact that people of faith in god continue to survive is by corollary evidence that there is a selective advantage to that trait, or at least expressions of that trait that they have faith in god. Carl Rove did not believe in God, and used the appearance of belief to great selective advantage in political election campaigns. People unaware of Carl’s inability to believe the existence of god gave thanks to their god for Carl, and Carl’s strength of faith to see god’s will was done. Both Carl and the believers may have benefited, even though a parallel for the relationship might be a parasite and host, with a little symbiosis thrown in.

Parasites are not often considered in religious accounts of creation. Darwin’s Origin of Species followed suit. We know there are a greater number of and diversity in parasites than free-living organisms. It occurs to me that the controversy between created, and evolved serves the same masters of manipulation that thrive as parasites. They are not free living, and require a susceptible host to feed on. Possibly parasitic control of the host has evolved to the degree we see now because the selective pressure is primarily artificial (human made).

Often we find controversies produce larger titles then facts to support them. As in this short poem entitled “Ode to the Antiquity, and Ubiquity of the Parasitic Living Microscopic Entity,” that simply reads; “Adam had them.” I suspect the evolution creation debate is unfit for survival. I’ll watch for the emerging species.

I clicked over to see the original diagram you show here. The author Colin Purrington may have added some labels since you originally looked at it. The labels pop up when you move your pointer over them. The root of his diagram is labeled Gullibilism. I assume that is something to do with humans evolving to the point where what they think can be manipulated by another, or can develop superstitious belief.

About as flattering as coming from a monkey's uncle I thought

Thanks for your thoughts. I think that, at the very least, discussing religion in this way can prompt some interesting dialogue (as we've seen here). It's too bad the author chose to include that "Gullibilism" label, but I still find the image (and idea behind it) intriguing.

Thank you for introducing us to this conversation. The intriguing part of the "gullibilism" label is that it seems to be as our human root. The "native tree of beliefs" or "tree of life" was created to teach our inner childs what is going on with religion in the world.

Let's water it with our humble opinions.

Thanks to you and everyone else here who's managed to take this reflection and run with it! I'm happy to have planted the seed.

You talk as if evolution is something new and only connected to life. It's called change. This has happened from day one regardless of when you think that day began. All systems on earth and in the heavens are going through change. Whether living in the form of a "tree of life" or in the change of one item to another IE carbon to diamond. Evolution is what we call this process of change. Some of those changes are very quick and happen in a reletively short time. Others happen over many eons and can only be seen when we look backwards. The question is how do we apply this learning forward? Religion is no different. We need to take the learnings from the past and play them forward. What does religion tell us about the human being, his capacities and his life? How do we apply those to our life and the lives of those in which we interact? This has been the struggle of all religions in how do they stay current to the changing world. Thus the need to be reborn or have a revival of spirit or any number of ways that each religion has gone through.

Most see or think of religions as seperate and distinct. I see religions as one and the same. The earlier religions are just earlier chapters in the same book of life. As you read a book, you don't forget what came before you but you use the information and knowledge to build a better understanding of where the future chapters may take you. Let's look back but not to use the information as a divider of the human race but as a uniter of where we are going. Our capacities for both knowledge and understanding are increasing. What history is telling us is the lesson. How we use that knowledge is what the lesson is about.

The earliler religions have taught us to believe in only one God, the elimination of self and ego, to love our brother as ourselves, to want more for our brothers than ourselves and to think of the earth as one country and mankind its citizens. How do we use these lessons for the good of humanity today? How do we incorporate these into our every day life? That to me is evolution. Me changing from what I was to what I can become. Mankind becoming better as a whole than the sum of its parts.

Evolution is the tool that tells us what changes happened. Don't read into it more than what is necessary for us to understand. Does it matter to me, my friends and family that we came from monkeys or were created by a Supreme Being in a day or that I know how to treat, respect and love them as my brothers and sisters. Many say that is the basis of religion and Faith. So believe what you believe but don't let it become a barrier between you and anyone else. The reason behind this is that we just simply do not know at this time. We are trying to interpret data that we have no clue about. I see this issue as the painting trying to understand why the painter used a particular color or brush stroke. We cannot understand the unknowable essence that is God. We can only know Him through His words that have been given to us from the beginning. Read and understand the entire book not just one chapter in it. Know with your own knowledge. As we change, evolve and expand our understanding, then will we be able to reconcile the differences between science and religion. Now is not the time so let us look at the things we can affect. Global warming, war, education, hunger, love, peace, brotherhood, family, and prosperity to mention but a few. Let us work together on things that we can change. Let us together build a better future for all of mankind.

It's definitely helpful. Religion is a cultural phenomenon, and cultural evolution is well-demonstrated. From a spiritual standpoint, however, it's important to note that one can constantly evolve his/her religious viewpoint on an individual basis by drawing insights from any or all places on the tree. Once a religion becomes fixed as an institution, its ability to evolve alongside our evolving intelligence and culture is greatly diminished.

Very good Mark Currie. How to teach ethics in trans-religioous settings? This is the ethical evolution.

what religion and evolution have in common is that whether you are a magpie or a Christian, your present state of being is absolutely dependent upon whether you have adapted to changing conditions over time. The greatest challenge to "evolution" in religion comes from the faithful having to decide whether to adapt to changes in our understanding of the world we live in. Religion does not need to change when it denies facts that don't matter. Only when facts determine whether we survive or not, does religion need to change. The natural sequence from spirits to many gods to one god seems to me to finally reach the conclusion that there is no god. The series goes many, one, then none. With no god at all, facts are not a problem. Non-religious ideologies then become the greatest barrier to survival.

WOW Donald Poling. That is the ethical point in our survival. If we define religion as belief, we should include non-religious ideologies as a fact of religion itself. Thus, thinking under that ideology that god does not exist is OK. What matters with religion or ideologies is: it is really necessary to live with others? Then evolving religion as an "ethical evolution" - that thinks to believe in respecting toward the msytery of each other and their circumstances - may involve all our environments to build history.

Yes, facts are facts. Facts are neutral. It is in the interpreting of these facts that mistakes are made. Just because we think we understand something does not make it true. One thousand years ago we thought the sun revolved around the earth. Five hundred years ago the earth was flat. These were accepted facts for that age. No longer true. Fact, the earth is several billion years old. Religion, the earth was created in seven days. Seems to be a problem. The paradox is that both have to be right and are right. Let's look at what we were supposed to learn from the example and not nit pick how it was taught to us. If we look back at what our first grade teacher taught us, we could find several things we wish they would have explained differently but that does not change the fact that we still learned the lesson. In hind sight, we would have explained it differently but we are using our knowledge and today's understanding because we know what the outcome is supposed to be. If we apply this to the earlier religions, then the understanding of the people being taught is much different than our understanding today. How would you explain a cell phone call to someone in Jesus' day? Can we even comprehend how communications will be done 2000 years from now? The same difference. Religion like everything else is changing. Our understanding of religion needs to change to keep pace with the lessons being taught. Religion is a journey not a destination. Just because I say I am this or that does not make me either. It is my continued effort to mirrow forth the qualities of that religion in my daily life and in the life of those around me. My job is to acquire and manifest the qualities of God as taught to me by all of the books. Not just one book but all because they represent the totality of His teachings. Whether you know you are on the path or not does not change the reality that you are on the path.

If what we all are saying is that everything evolves then why must religion or anything else for that matter be outside of this process? Our job is to investigate religion as we would anything else. To find what are the lessons to be learned and then to apply those lessons to our lives. It seems so simple because it is. What happens is that we stop looking when we think we have found the end the best and the most complete. But does not evolution and change by definition mean that there is no end? That change is a continual process? The emphasis is that we stop looking. We find what we want to find to support the facts we have or the facts as given by someone else. Have you ever read a book then reread it again later and gleaned a better understanding of it? Has the book changed? As our knowledge and understanding of everything changes, we need to continually look back and reinterpret the past understandings and facts from our new point of reference. Yet this is not often done with religion. What happens when our new understanding contradicts or is at odds with our old point of view or what we are hearing in the churches, synagoges and temples in which we worship? How, to whom and where do we go to reconcile these differences? I contend that we do not look for the answers because we are content with our lives. It is easier to forgo our search for truth and listen to another then come face to face with these challenges. These challenges force us to look at the reality that we are spiritual beings trying to be material not material beings trying to be spiritual. "Noble I created thee, why do thou abase thyself?" We have a higher nature to live up to and that is not always easy. But, I know that as a united humanity we can overcome any and all barriers and obsticles in our path. What we know as fact today will change over time as our understanding of the world evolves. We must not stick with our outdated modes of thought and understanding. The human race is one, the world is one. We rise and fall together. It is not a race or competition where I win and you lose but a new model where when you or I win we all benefit and prosper. As I said before, I am my brothers keeper. My duty is to be a cause of healing for every sick one, a comforter for every sorrowing one, a pleasant water for every thirsty one, a heavenly table for every hungry one, a star to every horizon, a light for every lamp, a herald to everyone who yearns for the kingdom of God. This is to what I aspire.

Am I perfect, NO not even close. But everyday, step by step I try to reach this goal. To me religion and Faith are the foundation on which I build. There are other points of view but they have not convinced me that they have the answers for which I am looking. Yes, I have my facts to which I am trying to find answers to fit but I am open to changing if what I find does not fit or proves me wrong. To do otherwise would not allow me to change and grow. That is one of the greatest strengths of humanity.

What you aspire is cogent, Mark. You already got it. Go and show it as you write it. Understanding others make us human. The paradox is thinking that we have to be right and interpretate things as true. Mistakes have built our experience and learning. Learning is an ongoing process from the cradle to the grave; and spiritually taking, we are transpassing these limits ethically.

Our understanding today is changing to simplicity. It is going back to the native roots of innocence, where we express the qualities of God just with mere breathing. That breathing connection is what make us alive and together. The investigation of religion is an act of introspection to discover we are not alone: that is the big lesson. An end is a new beginning. We refuse to walk in controversy, we feel insecure, and lost; but, that is part of our life transitions. It leads us to immense spiritual growth. We don't need to reconciliate differences when we accept them with joy, and recognize other points of view as other people's answers: is that love?

When I feel a tremendous need of "religion," I go out of mind to love others as I love myself.

You are correct that spiritual learning is a lifelong persuit. Even when we don't think we are learning, we do. I believe that humans have an inate knowledge of a higher source and I believe that we are driven to find and aspire to that higher being. We know right from wrong at a fairly early age. So why does it become harder for us at an older age. If truthfulness is the foundation of all human virtue (as I am told) then why can we not trust those around us? If the Golden Rule applies to all, then why are we this way? For me, how I react to you has no relation to how you react to me. I love the fact that when you need religion you love others as you love yourself. Are we not told to do this every day and to every person? This is the real test we are given. How do we love those that do not love us? That is the learning that we must do from cradle to grave. If we can accomplish this, then our spirituality will never surpass our ethics.

The big lesson is that we have never been alone. In all of the books that have been handed down by all of the spiritual leaders in all of the countries, one of the main themes is that God will never leave us alone. We may feel that he has forgotten us or that he is not invloved in our lives. What happens is that as you say, we have lost the ability to hear and see Him with our heart's eye. I think part of the reason is that we forget our true self and get too immersed in the living of an earthly material existance. The bird loves to fly. If it were up to him, he would soar heavenward for his entire life. But he cannot. He must come back down to earth to sleep and eat. He needs to be careful as to not allow his wings to acquire too much dust and become bogged down so that he may again fly into the higher regions. When we feel lost, we have all of the writings left to us to read and find peace. But we are required to take action. We must seek them out and read. With action comes assistance. We all too often wait for him to help us that we forget that we can help ourselves.

It is indeed that our spirituality will never surpass our ethics. It takes a great deal of inner security and corage to be able to risk one's self in understanding others.

Love, hate, and fear are strong motivators. Hate is a common response in human relations. An ethical person does not hate others. Hate creates hostility, terror and fear; but it could also refer to the conscious establishment of priorities. In Christianity, one should hate one’s personal life to gain eternal life (John 12: 26). Fear for life, death, nature, or people, is a strong negative reaction that paralyze and discourage; but “it can be also a useful emotion when it leads to appropriate caution or measures that would guard one’s welfare” (Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary, 2003). Christians understand the fear of the Lord for the moral benefits of wisdom and the knowledge of God who is all love (Proverb 2: 1-5). However, love does not take the place of ethics or law. Love is not itself ethics or the law. It is a “how” word, but it will never tell us “what” we are to do.

Love, hate, and fear carry with them the expectation of obedience. Only love gives trust and good willing and cheerful obedience rather than coerced and forced compliance, and that is a fresh start to do an ethical act without being obligated.

One alternative explantion of the origin of life I have never seen commented on is the one which actually does reconcile what scripture actually says and doesn't say with that part of Darwinian
theoiry which can actually be empirically proven by what we actually observe.

Young Earth theory is obviously untenable but so is abiogenesis and spontaneous generation because Louis Pasteur conclusively disproved it's tenability 150 years ago.

The first sentence of the Genesis account is exactly that - a closed sentence presenting a thought complete within itself. It ends with a period. The next sentence begins the expression of a separate, different thought - not merely a detailed recapitulation of what was contained in the previous sentence.

God created the heavens and the earth. The scriptures say nothing about how long ago this process occured or how long it took to accomplish.

At later point in time God prepared a dark, water-covered Earth to be hospitable to sustain organic life and proceeded to "bring forth" the plant and animal species "to reproduce aftrer their own kind".

Later, and as a separate, discrete act, He formed man out of the dust of the earth (and not out of the flesh of any animal).

The period of time which passed between the first and second sentences of the creation account could well have encompassed several billions of years during which God himself did nothing in
relation to the earth, but that does not mean that nothing could have happened. It simply means that anything that possibly did happen is of no relevance to infotming us of how what we presently see around us came to be.

The Book of Revelation of John tells us that there was war in Heaven and that rebellious angels were cast out of Heaven down to earth because as Peter's espitle states: "they did not regard their proper fiirst place and were cast out". These rebellious spirit creatures and their leader Satan apparently had plenty of time to themselves on earth to make (they had no power to actually "create" since only God can do that) all manner of mutating defective species of animals in need of constant changing and suffering deleterious evolutionary mutation because of the high residual radiation levels which had not yet subsided through the normal emissive decay processes. These species included pongid/hominids who were Satan's mental defective attempts at making worshippers for himself but several series of them all lacked the requisite intelligence to recognize the concept of having been made or that of a maker.

Modern scientists dig up the artifacts of these failed life forms and simply because they bear some similarity in appearance to ones that are familiar to us today wrongly infer that the former type gradually, accidentally changed into the latter. Mutation can result in breed differences and different traits being expressed by different individuals within a fixed species but the modern species themselves having been made by God are fixed to consistently reproduce after their own kind and never mutate across species or genius lines and never have since God created them after the last of a series of global geological/ecological/climatic cataclyms destroyed all previously existing Satanic ones from off the face of the earth. Those currently living did not descend from the previously existing Satanicly made ones.

This simple explanation allows for evolution to have at one time in the distant past functioned precisely as Darwin speculates it to have but affirms the literal direct Creatorship of God as
regards presently existing living thins including human beings.

It is amazing, Donald, to listen the silent part of any kind of sacred scriptures. It is the bridge to connect with other thoughts and beliefs in our human realm and spiritual field. Reconciliation comes with free spirits that understand even when something is misunderstood or not undertandable. The knowledge of good and bad has been the training for humanity to evolve toward levels described in "sacred" books. What is holy - in my opinion - is the naive nature of our civilization to continue with hope, faith, and love in spite of the opposite. The human resource of finding, ignoring, or denying God is an ongoing ethical issue that does not change with our changeable physical forms, morals, and beliefs. The ethical evolution helps to create an evolving religion.

Donald, now that's what I call thinking outside the box. Unfortunately, the scientific side of the equation will not stand for any form of a diety doing any "creating". This has been the problem we have run into many times in the past. They want everything to fit neatly into the boxes they have produced. Therein lies the problem. Man is trying to type and cast God. He must conform to our standards and rules or he cannot exist. Science and Religion have been at odds almost from the beginning. You point out one of the many problems with religion. It must be our way and no matter what the proofs are it cannot be right if it does not fit with the "Book". That is my "interpretation" of what the "book" means. Man has intellect but sometimes religion asks us to put our intellect aside in lieu of Faith. If we think for ourselves then we must be influenced by the dark side of God. We are all too often told what to think even if it makes no sense because we must have faith. We must believe.

These are the opposite ends of the spectrum. Now in Buddihist thought, it is the middle ground that is the best way. As I heard stated, if a string on an instrument is too loose it will not play. If it is too tight, it will break. Therefore, knowing that the best spot with enough tension to produce the greatest sound is in the middle is the beginning of the journey. It takes many years to truely find the middle path of all things in life. Neither excess or deficiency, hot or cold, rich or poor, strong or weak is the answer. Elimination of extremes. Albert Einstein said it best, "science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind". The two are connected and must therefore argee with each other. They are the wings of a bird. Both wings must be free and strong to allow the bird to fly to new heights. I believe that God created us to carry forth an ever advancing civilazation. We cannot do that without looking at science to help. But science needs to have limitations and these come from religion. Science says we can do it while religion asks should we do it.

Donald, you have put together some very logical points. You have connected the two but how would we prove it to both science and religion agreement. Neither side wants to change or admit that they may be mistaken about what they thought was right. This is why in most cases you cannot argue or even discuse religion and evolution. The sides are too polarized. I do like your theory. Does anyone else have any ideas?

I believe in one of his encyclicals Pope John Paul II drew attention to the evolutionary nature of belief, noting the emergence of the major religions at about the same time (each proclaiming their own versions of a similar insight?). I know that Joseph Campbell wrote of the co-evolution of human beings and human consciousness around the globe.

BTW, I think one very important thing faith has going for it is that it allows to see and know ourselves as we are: mortal creatures. We did not cause ourselves (or the world) to be. This is the truth of our existence. (Christianity of course includes sinful with mortal as an essential human truth.)

I believe that the Pope may have been talking about Christianity not all of the major religions of the world. If we look at them we see from Adam (no existing religion left) to Baha'u'llah (considered to be the latest major religion circa 1844). Adam starts at the point of time. No records survive from his time. Only, as I believe, accounts from the Torah. He is followed by Krishna with Hinduism in about 3,000BCE, Abraham with Judaism in about 2,000BCE, Zoroaster with Zoroastrianism in about 630BCE, Budda with Buddhism in about 480BCE, Christ with Christianity in 32, Mohammed with Islam in 560CE and Baha'u'llah with Bahai in 1863CE. The major world religions in about 5,000 years. That covers a lot of time and change. Not only in the people but in the regions, the world as we know it and cultures that have spread worldwide due to the introduction of travel. I can see the evolutionary part but the part about the same time would have to leave out many respected and old worldwide religions.

This to me is part of the problem with religion. We tend to see our own as the be all, end all for the world. We discount or exclude those who do not believe our way. This thinking has led to wars and hatred spanning almost the entire history of man. When will it stop? Why can't we agree that we are all brother and sisters regardless of the religion or lack thereof. All have the right to believe or not believe. Is it not called free will by most of the world's religions? It is not for me to judge but to teach. Lets sit down and discuss our religions. The similarities, the differences, the laws, the history, the founders, the interpretations and if at the end, you wish to join, fantasic. If not, then fantastic too. Because while you and I sit and talk of God and our religions, are we not also learning from each other and more about this unknowable essense we call God. What could be better.

Your statement about sin and mortality is only considered if you believe that man is born with or into sin. The concept of original sin. Not all Christians believe this way nor most of the world's religions. I believe that man is and was created noble and that through his choices and the excercise of his free will, he sins.

This dialogue is open because of people like you. Thanks Mark.

From the Christiany point of view -- specifically Chatholic -- the words of JPII are enlightening this conversation of respecting the mystery of each person's belief. It helps to believe in others and their circumstances. Even the silence of the people who are now reading this religious dialogue is active and fertile.

We cannot obligate people to love each other, nor can we obligate others to follow one or another religious faith. We are supposed to be ethical with our beliefs when we put our own spiritual teachings into practice -- developing good relations with other faith traditions -- but we will never be taken seriously, and will find ourselves between equally unfavorable or disagreeable alternatives: when (1) we intent to convert others to our religion, and/or (2) feel our faith is in jeopardy.

The people you mentioned are good references to invoke in this trans-religious dialogue and transcendental human evolution.

Yes! PJ: it is very important to know how we see ourselves and how we see the world to mantain life.

Whatever form "religion" (the humanly invented system of how to define what values system and ontological philosophy group thought may choose to relativisticaly define at any point in time as being deserving of adherence) may take simple teleological and cosmological fact is a known, immutable, universal, fixed quantity.

The fact that The Creator has no particular preference for any one organized denominational religion over any other is illustrated by Jesus' warning to "the seven churches" in John's vision of the seven candlesticks. He praises each for acc[etong Him in name but warns each of subtle error which they cherish and that unless guarded against it will prevent them from coming to full knowledge.

True science just like true obedience to the absolute (not culturally relative) rules established and
published by the inspiration of the Creator does not co-exist very well with any dogmatic religious beliefs, be they theistic, deistic, atheistic, or humanistic.

When the belief, Donald, takes the sophisticated level of dogma, religion starts to be an obligation against our free-will. Obedience comes from a deep motivator like love. We must love the absolute.

This topic and discussion has reminded me of my own evolution regarding religion. I was raised Catholic, but that is likely of little importance at this stage of my evolution. As I recall there have been many things that I have questioned regarding their validity or truth. One of the first religious stories that I questioned was how did Noah get all those animals to keep from killing one another? Other things that I have been questioned are "Ten Commandments" from God, life after death , and heaven and hell. At this point I am wondering what part of creation requires a God? Then there is the great question about who created God. It seems that as human beings we invent stories or supernatural creatures to explain the unexplained. The fact that there are those that actually believe these stories or myths is disturbing. I must conclude that those that are prone to be gullible in this regard are seeking comfort of some sort rather than truth. All is not so simple. The world or Cosmos is much more complicated. But the path to truth is not a smooth and simple one.

Welcome! bustero1. It is important to keep the "first love" alive in all stages of our personal evolution. Knowing that we have a growing "native tree of knowledge" about religion, we should not forget to reinvigorate its roots with innocence

What makes comfort in our beliefs is not knowing we have the truth or have freedom from moral wrong, but keeping the enthusiasm to learn.

It takes a great deal of inner security and courage to be able to risk one’s self in understanding others. “Seek not to understand that you may believe, but believe that you may understand” (St. Augustine). This is the main ethical command for the real world: LOVE ONE ANOTHER.

A typical example is when we hear some Christians all sorts of difficult and complicated arguments based on the literal meaning of the religion of the book from which they speak His word, know His word, but don't (the change is mine) do His word (Joshua 1: 8-9).

Believe that we may understand the command of loving our neighbor -- included our enemies -- starts with a non-judgmental position toward them. Whether we indeed love and do well to those who hate us, or behave in a way we disapprove of, we must believe that we may understand why they are not doing His word.

Thus, whether they believe that they may understand their faith, they should not try to convince anyone about the truth; instead they should spread the light of Christ around the world in every individual in spite of their weaknesses.

I agree that we have become too complacent in our quest for the truth. And agree that we have in the past invented stories and supernatual creatures to explain the unexplained. However, as time marches on, we (collective humanity) have gotten smarter and have begun to find the answers to the unexplained. We have begun to realize that the stories of the past were the best ways then to describe the supernatual. Our intellegence tells us not to fear the unexplained but to find reasonable explainations for it. Through our collective intellegence we have created the tools that allow us to better explain our world. But this does not mean that the people still clinging to the old are any less or more gullible than the rest of us. We had thousands of very intellegent people cheated by Madoff and his ponzy scheme. He did this for years under the noses of some of the smartest people. This is just one example that we still fall for stories because we do not look for truth ourselves.

The truth does not change. Regardless of whether we are aware of it or not. 1+1=2. It did 100,000 years ago when humans could not count and it will 100,000 years from now. What changes is our understanding and capacity. Our first grade teacher could have taught us trig, calculus, astronomy, philosophy and much more. But we did not have the capacity for it. It was our limitation not the teacher's. As we grew, our capacity increased and we can now think for ourselves. Thanks to the teachers of the past. Those stories are just ways for the teacher to explain to an ignorant child the truth. Today we look back at those stories and question why. How could we have not seen the truth. But we had different eyes back then. My queston is why is this looking back done only in religion? Why don't we look at our first and second grade books and wonder why we were taught with those books and not War and Peace or some other great classical books? To me that question seems as absurd as us questioning God why he does what he does. It's like the painting trying to find out why the painter used a particular blue for the sea. For today we know the sea has many shades of blue not just that one he used. It is currently beyond our comprehension. Maybe in the future we may know. But what is he trying to teach us? Is that not the better question.

This process of teaching is what I believe God has been doing to humanity. It started out simple and has become more complex as we grew in both knowledge and capacity to fully understand. So does this mean that it has stopped? No. God has promised that he would not leave us alone. Now we may not want to move on but that is regardless to God's plan.

Your question about creation is exactly the point. Is it more important to know how we were created or better to know why? Evolutution or creationism, both, neither? We cannot say conclusively. Each has to pick his own path. But whichever you pick, does not change the fact that you are on the path. Truth does not change only our understanding and recoginition of it.

EVOLving religion is an ethical EVOLution: LOVE

In the modern world, religion is not really important for an ethical person. The human ethical

values: love, support, tolerance, humility, generosity, perseverance, prudence, patience,

forgiveness, understanding, optimism, solidarity, happiness, freedom, peace, faith, justice, silence,

honesty, responsibility . . . are resources in people, whether or not a person practices religion. It

should not mark the individual. Religion does not make people good or evil. “They are most easily

and effectively developed within the context of religious practices of course; but it is not a

precondition of ethical conduct” (Dalai Lama, 1999).

Noah was able to keep animals from killing each other by building separate compartment pens for each on different stories of the ark as was explained in the fairly detailed description of the ark which is provided in Scripture. Most vast majority of all land animals are no larger than a rabbit and if we pay careful attention to what God says about the reason for bringing the flood we discover that it's [urpose was not to destroy all life on the earth - merely all corrupted humanity and the Satanicly spawned Nephilim who had corrupted the human gene pool. Therefore the flood did not have to be global - it merely had to inundate the areas where humans and Nephilim hybrids had migrated to. Water could have covered the tops of the highest mountains in the middle east at the altitude that they sat at AT THAT TIME. Lyell uniformitarianism works fairly well when used to describe the usually occuring state of affairs but fails miserably when it comes to predicting the rate of geological change which can occur during catasprophes such as massive volcanic explosions or seaquakes which cause great tsunamis.
Asking what created God is simply incompetent. He is eternally self-existing. The fact that some humans may not be able to intellectually get their minds around that fact is why he is God and they are not.

Religion is not "evolving". Man is. The truth cannot change only our perception, interpretation and knowledge of it. The reason we understand more today is that we (collective humanity) are different than we were. Our capacities have increased.

You are correct in saying that religion does not make a man either good or evil. Religion is not the destination but the goal to which we all aspire. God has laid out a set of rules, laws and ordinances that we are to follow and has given us examples of and rewards for why we should follow them. He has also given us free will to do as we please. We need to understand that there are consequences for our actions. We will be held responsible for what we do and do not do. An analogy would be the world of the womb. In it we are prepared for the next world to come. One in which we know nothing about but are not stopped in being born to it. In the world of the womb, we develope the needed tools for this world. We have eyes, ears and limbs though we do not need them in the womb. It is as if we had no free will. We develope as we are meant without any input from us. Once into this world, we recognize the importance of having developed the needed tools in the womb. Those that do not develope correctly are thought to be handicapped in this world.

In this world, God gives us free will. He tells us that another world exist that we know little or nothing about. He gives us the choice to abide in his laws or face the consequences. We need to develope the necessary tools in this world for the next. These tools include love, patience, understanding, and all of the other qualities and attributes of God. This is for our benefit not his. When you tell your children to eat their vegetables, it is out of concern that without them they will lack the necessary vitamins to grow and be healthy, not because we want to cause pain or show we have power over them.

To me, God's truth has not changed. There is still only one God. He loves us and will never leave us alone or without spiritual guidance. What has changed are his social teachings. How do we relate to and treat others of our family, clan, city, state, nation and ,now, world. What is acceptable to eat and what is not. The rules for marriage and divorice. These changed because man's capacity to know and understand changed. As we come to understand the true nature of God, we see that he is being a loving parent to a growing and maturing human race. Just as you changed the rules for your children. Your 18 year old does not have a 7:00pm bedtime any longer. You don't let your eight year old drive. Why? Through the growing and maturing process comes knowledge and wisdom. Both of which I believe humanity is struggling to acquire. As we in our own adolescence had difficulty, humanity is now. It may take time for us to come to the true understanding that we are one, that I am my brother's keeper and that we do need each other. 1COR 13:11 has been used lately to remind us that the ideas and answers of the past are not necessarily always correct. That we need to look at the problems anew for to find new solutions. We (collective humanity as a collective world) can and will unite as we are supposed to do. We cannot stop or hinder divine providence, we can only be or not be a part of it. Let's use our free choice and be a part of it, together.

Incompetently, we (humans) are meeting requirements to understand interreligious affairs. Even though I say: love, love, love, I fail to love others as I love my self every moment, every time. I am incapable to love my enemies. I don't have that flexibility, that strength.

It is my fault until I realize -- with duly practice -- the power of our minds to be "unreal in our sentiments and crude in our judgments, instead of being at the trouble of acquiring sound knowledge" (Cardinal Newman).

The real problem with trying to reconcile biblical religion wih the theory of evolution is that two time periods which produced each (biblical scripture, theory of evolution) are so different and seperated that they are not reconcileable. The historical period during which biblical scripture was written was between 2500 BC and 300 AD. And modern science, which produced theories such as evolution, Newtonian Physics, Quantum Physics, has only been around since the time of Galileo. Therefore it is completely unreasonable to state that there is any modern science in the biblical text. Anyone who does so forgets that the biblical text are in no way a science book.

Also I don't believe it is necessary or important to reconcile the biblical text with scientific theories or discoveries. Up to this point the only argument for doing so that has been presented to me runs along some variation of the following "If this one part of the biblical text is not true than there is no reason to believe or follow any of it." This is an extremely weak argument and it falls apart quickly if you ask anyone if they are even trying to follow all of the recommendations of biblical scripture. If they are bold enough to answer yes, then the follow up question is why do they still support slavery? So far no one I have communicated with does support human slavery, yet the biblical text do not give a wishy washy endorsement of slavery. It actually tells you where you can buy your slaves and that you can pass them on to your children as property. (Leviticus 25:44-46) Yet in modern culture, no sane person believes that it is right to own another person as property. So if we don't follow those clearly stated biblical laws because we believe they are no longer revelevant why is it so important that the biblical are acurate about the exact origins of life on earth?
There are a lot of great things in the biblical text that are revelevant to how we interact as human beings with each other, as well as, what can be considered moral behavior. These passages stand alone and are not tainted or threatened by the theory of evolution or any other modern scientific theory.

Evolution can be a threatening concept even to the non-fundamentalist, principally as a matter of ontology. It is our very being that is at stake, not just how we interpret the scriptures. The world seen through the lens of Genesis, whether literally interpreted or no, places special emphasis on mankind. Part of creation, we are yet specially designated by God, to bear the burden of moral/ethical choices, to be caretakers of the rest of the earth, and to commune with our Creator. Darwinism, as it is often perceived, challenges that sense of being. The individual seems less significant than the species, and the species of mankind has reached existence and dominance not through divine designation but through evolutionary struggle. Where is our connection to God in such an origin? How far removed is God from our daily existence? Does this make us less 'special' as individuals? Do we matter only as a species?

I wonder if Darwin's concept of 'nature at war' does not perfectly describe 'fallen creation'. The
difference, I think, is that from a strictly evolutionary standpoint, this chaos and brutality is how the world is supposed to be, the only way the world could ever be, whereas from a Judeo-Christian perspective, God in his goodness and his power is able to use even the chaos of a fallen world to bring forth life--but God himself is not chaotic or brutal. That's one way of seeing it in J-C tradition; I realise there are probably many others.

I was struck by two notions in the program about Darwin: one was Bacon's instructions to study both the Word of God and the works of God, and that the latter should inform the former; the other was the biographer's observation that Darwin didn't so much lower the species of mankind as elevate the rest of the natural world. They're both ideas to ponder and reflect on. Thanks, SOF, for the food for thought.

Ethics leads to God.

Looking for a comprehensive synonym to define the modern/abstract term “ethos/ethics,” we learn it is doing the right thing, virtue, ideals. Also we can call it the manner of life, discipline, teaching, way or path of the good and the right. The closest parallel Greek term in the New Testament is “anastrophe,” “way of life or lifestyle.” For example, in the Sermon of the Mountain, Jesus Christ makes a clear definition of how is to be an ethical person: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.” (Matthew 5: 9). “ Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you” (Matthew 7: 1-2).

What contributes to molding ethics in our human resource is the character revealed in all teachings about religion; this includes the free-will expressed in all kind of faith throughout the world. All of them are making a definition of what is right, good, and ethical. “God causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous” (Matthew 5:45). What defines the character of something we believe is more powerful than our own way -- the real world -- is found in a self- examination or introspection. This process will unveil the human ethical values all we have to the level of discovering what has always been there within us without changing. In this sense, the biblical materials are unique to inspire people to find God through themselves. That is why free-will is so important in this search; it has to be voluntary. You have to make a choice. There is no power in the whole universe, except you yourself, that can prevent God from taking you to that goal of finding it in spite of reality.

The Bible makes a decisive point in breathing ethics into the minds of Christian believers, and on those who may see this educational force as something that instills freedom of speech, conduct and custom, manner of life or practice. The Bible is an ongoing and continuous story about the character and will of God. It requires a permanent updating in our lives and practices to the limit of knowing whether or not we are following the proper basis to live so as to do what is right, just, and good. There is too much diversity in its content to decide that there is harmony and a basic ethical standard and norm against which all ethical and moral decisions ought to be made.

Thanks to all of you for such an enthusiastic, thoughtful comment stream. I must admit that it is rare to witness such in-depth discussion in such a forum. And, if so it usually is a two- or three-person repartee. You all shattered the myth. Cheers.

The universe presents us with reality; tangible things and observable phenomena. We try to make meaning of them. The meaning we make, i.e. our theories, are not real, tangible or observable. In this case, the geological and fossil records and observed biology are “real”. Our babble about these facts is just junk we make up.

I see no qualitative difference between human beings including myself, and my dogs, or dolphins and whales, chimps, wolves, or many other animals. I happen to be good at language and abstract symbols, but my strength and sense of smell are pathetic, and I’m a poor swimmer. I’m good at making and using tools, but chimps do that, too, just not as well. I can create intricate poems and songs. Dolphins and whales may do that, too, but I don’t know because I can’t figure out their language. So any theory, idea, or belief that insists on a qualitative difference between humans and other animals is worthless at best.

I don’t understand the scope or nature of the universe, of reality in total. I have a hope—a faith, if you will—that the struggle and suffering of life has some point and isn’t blind and pointless. To believe this is definitely a matter of faith, because there is absolutely no evidence for it. I just want it to be true, and focus on the possibility that it might be.

But there’s another kind of “faith” that is characterized by magical thinking, denial of reality, and obsession with imaginary friends and supernatural beings. Personally, I think this is the Dark Side of our skills at language, symbol, and poetry. It’s our way of using these skills to feel less afraid and alone in the universe. And this sort of “faith” will always be at war with science, which is merely the quest for more reality and for non-magical explanations.

The universe presents us with reality; tangible things and observable phenomena. We try to make meaning of them. The meaning we make, i.e. our theories, are not real, tangible or observable. In this case, the geological and fossil records and observed biology are “real”. Our babble about these is just stuff we make up.

I see no qualitative difference between human beings including myself, and my dogs, or dolphins and whales, chimps, wolves, or many other animals. I happen to be good at language and abstract symbols, but my strength and sense of smell are pathetic and I’m a poor swimmer. I’m good at making and using tools, but chimps do that, too, just not as well. I can create intricate poems and songs. Dolphins and whales may do that, too, but I don’t know because I can’t figure out their language. So any theory, idea, or belief that insists on such a qualitative difference between humans and other animals is worthless at best.

I don’t understand the scope or nature of the universe; of reality in total. I have a hope—a faith, if you will—that the struggle and suffering of life has some point and isn’t blind and pointless. To believe this is definitely a matter of faith because there is absolutely no evidence for it. I just want it to be true, and focus on the possibility that it might be.

But there’s another kind of “faith” that is characterized by magical thinking, denial of reality, and obsession with imaginary friends and supernatural beings. Personally, I think this is the Dark Side of our skills at language, symbol, and poetry. It’s our way of using these skills to feel less afraid and alone in the universe. And this sort of “faith” will always be at war with science, which is merely the quest for more reality and for non-magical explanations.

Jessica wrote 2 days ago:

"The difference, I think, is that from a strictly evolutionary standpoint, this chaos and brutality is how the world is supposed to be, the only way the world could ever be, whereas from a Judeo-Christian perspective, God in his goodness and his power is able to use even the chaos of a fallen world to bring forth life--but God himself is not chaotic or brutal. "

Jessica, I submit to you that duality is the very fabric of existence. Darkness is defined by light and sorrow is defined by joy. Ying-yang, and all that. Notions of eternal suffering or eternal bliss are oxymorons every bit as much as "military intelligence."

And respectfully, I don't know of any being, real or mythical, more chaotic and brutal than the Judeo-Christian God described in the Bible. This God kills those who won't bow to him, butchers the first-born of Egypt who were innocent noncombatants, then tells us to forgive our enemies and love each other. To me, this is sociopathic madness.

Sparrow, you say these items are defined by the better of the two, light/darkness, joy/happiness. I submit to you that they are defined by a lack of the better. Darkness is not in and of itself anything but an absence of light. We know sorrow because we do not have joy. If the bad is defined by an absence of the good, evil is the absence of good. This is what religion has been trying to tell us. How do we conquer our egos and replace it with what God wants us to do? Having Faith is great but Faith alone will not cure the ills of the world. You need action as well. If I believe but do not act in accordance with what I believe than am I no better than not believing? Having Faith means having the courage to put into action the laws that have been set down for me regardless of the majority or others may say or do. You cannot judge God by what his people do. Yes, in the past he dealt harshly with us. Just as a parent must teach the child what is right and wrong. When the child does wrong, it is punished. For a parent to do other leads the child down a path that will cause it harm and problems in the future. It is always easier for a parent to become less strict with a child than more strict in the future. The lessons learned from the time of leanancy will stay and create more problems between the child and the parent. We are that child. Thinking we can do everything for ourselves and not needing or wanting guidance or discipline from the parent. We value strength over compassion, money over almost all else, our ego over service to others and individuality over unity.

We have reached a stage in our developement that allows, no makes, us responsible for our own salvation. This child, I call humanity, has reached the age where it can choose for itself. But do we choose the old ideas of the past, war over cooperation, wealth over compassion, evil over good, light over darkness or do we choose another path. That of mutual cooperation, service, hope, and love. We are at the crossroads and we are asked to choose. We make the future not planted in the past but with the hopes and dreams of what can be and should be. This, to me, is what is defined as God's kingdom on earth. Where we truely live together in peace and prosperity. Where we do care about the sick, poor and hungry not only around us but of the world. Where we make choices that elevate the human spirit in all that we do. This is the choice that we are faced with today. I hope and pray that our leaders, both political and spiritual, see the the need to look for new answers to the old questions. I heard that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing but expecting different results. Let's stop the same old and create the new. We have this capability if we but exercise it. It's called action.

In the US we are facing the highest amount of unemployment in over 50 years. A new report came out that tv viewing is also at its highest. What if we turned the tv off and started helping out were we can. Volunteering at schools, hospitals, food banks or any other service project. The amount of both time and knowledge that is available now is astounding. Let's make lemonade out of the lemons we are given. We know people that need help in cleaning their yards, cars, attics and the list goes on. We have the time so why not do something of service for someone else. This is what religion means to me. Each one of us helping in whatever way to and for the betterment of humanity.

I follow your bliss, Mark Currie, and the comment stream of this evolving religion. I welcome Sparrow, Jessica, and Tupper to the dialogue with their significant thoughts. The sincerity of their opinions makes this conversation to evolve to the ethical level.

I just finished reading the book of revelation in the Christian Bible with stomachache. Not only because the apocaliptical style of the epoch, but also because the "final judgment" interpretive approach that we as human race are not supposed to do. It was a difficult-to-digest passage. The exhortation to repent is in contradiction with false teaching and unethical deeds of erroneus theology.

I don't want a "place for everlasting punishment and torment, not annihilation" for noone in this planet. I don't know about "dark forces" and I am not invoking anyone; however, human depression, drogadiction, madness, bigotry . . . may be examples of this darkness. I really know bad things happen to all people, but my understanding is still naive to believe we can overcome bad with good.

God loves his enemies as JC commanded, right?Thus, everyone who hates his brother or her sister is a murderer. The problem comes with the people that don't want to repent of "wrongdoing," because -- according with the major religions of the world -- they will have punishment for ever and ever.

What Ogethics is about is not being judgmental. How can we love others as they are? good and bad people. Could we show our love for them, ourselves, and the world if we repent for those who don't want to repent? If we believe for those who don't want to believe? . . ."We must not love in word or speech, but in deed and truth" (1 John 3: 14). It is unscriptural we must accept "sin" in order to love others.

Repentance of God, change of mind, regret, remorse, a realization that wrong has been done, is my concern these days. We have heard that God never changes because his unconditional love. I understand we talk about an absolute concept within human limitations. Isn't it evolution? ethical evolution? lovevolution?

"The God who repents is free to answer prayer and to interact with people. This freedom is part of his being the same forever" (M. Stephen Davis).

My comments were not meant to offend. If they did, my sincerest apologies to all.

I too, welcome the comments and insights from all here. It is through these comments and insights that we can grow and expand our own knowledge and insights.

Interpretations are what I disagree with the most. To whom do we listen and to whom do we feel has the correct or best interpretation. This is what I feel has lead to many of the problems we face today. I too, do not believe in the God that gives and makes absolutes the only option. Either repent or face torment and pain for all of eternity. My way or the highway attitude. But what if our interpretations were wrong? What if there were another way to interpretate these passages? Would the clergy or heiarchy of the churches, temples and synagogues allow them to be taught? Parents give absolutes to their children to keep them in line and to prevent them from getting hurt when the children do not yet have all of the knowledge they need. IE: Parents teach their children not to touch the stove for they will get burned. This is not the entire story or truth. It is only when the stove is on that the danger exists. But the child does not have the capacity or knowledge to tell when the stove is on. Therefore the parent gives the absolute. That does not mean the absolute exists even after the child gains the knowledge. Our knowledge has changed but we keep the same interpretations. God want us to love him and be obedient for love's sake not out of fear of retribution. The word annililation conjers up some very terrible thoughts. "In physics, the word is used to denote the process that occurs when a subatomic particle collides with its respective antiparticle. Since energy and momentum must be conserved, the particles are not actually made into nothing, but rather into new particles" (Wikipedia). So what if in the book of Revelation when God talks about annihilation, God means they are changed into something new? This interprtation now changes the meaning of the passage. Is it correct? is it better? That is for all to investigate on their own.

It is through this process that God has given man ethics and values. My value and ethics are rooted in the primary belief that God knows what he wants me to do and that if I believe in the covenent, that he will not leave me without guidance. It is up to me to search for and find His guidance. God makes it easy because God wants his children to benefit from it. Each person has the free will to choose their path. But we are responsible for the path we choose. This is the guidance I have found and the path I am on.

"To be no cause of grief to anyone.
To be kind to all people and to love them with a pure spirit.
Should opposition or injury happen to us, to bear it, to be as kind as ever can be, and through all, to love the people. Should calamity exist in the greatest degree, to rejoice, for these things are the gifts and favors of God.
To be silent concerning the faults of others, to pray for them, and to help them, through kindness, to correct their faults.
To look always at the good and not at the bad. If a man has ten good qualities and one bad one, look at the ten and forget the one. And if a man has ten bad qualities and one good one, to look at the one and forget the ten.
Never to allow ourselves to speak one unkind word about another, even though that other be our enemy.
To do all of our deeds in kindness.
To cut our hearts from ourselves and from the world.
To be humble.
To be servants of each other, and to know that we are less than anyone else.
To be as one soul in many bodies, for the more we love each other, the nearer we shall be to God; but to know that our love, our unity, our obedience must not be by confession, but of reality.
To act with cautiousness and wisdom.
To be truthful.
To be hospitable.
To be reverent.
To be the cause of healing for every sick one, a comforter for every sorrowful one, a pleasant water for every thirsty one. A heavenly table for every hungry one, a star to every horizon, a light for every lamp, a herald to everyone who yearns for the kingdom of God"
`Abdu'l-Bahá

In my opinion, the main part of any "sacred" book's interpretation is the silent meaning that all scriptures offer to us. We are supposed to follow our hearts: my heart says to listen to others and treasure it in meditation.

I decided to go to the churches, mosques, synagogues, and worship places to listen what they belief, think, and live what they practice, as an ongoing process to teach ethics in trans-religious settings. The dialogue is already open with the Christian community (Catholic, Baptist, Lutheran, Mormon, and non-denominational, by now). The project is focus on the ethical evolution of religion, under the assumption that ethics leads to God.

Although I believe we teach ethics with actions rather than with words, my first inclination is to decline to teach ethics. “Declining to teach is itself a very effective way of teaching” (Budziszewski, 2003). Moral education (ethics) confronts us about what we know (natural law), even though not everyone obeys that knowledge. “Ethics does not inform us moral truths to do; but it motivates us to behave. Ethics is our conscience. It is therefore teacher, judge, and motivator” (Budziszewski, 2003). Thus, ethics makes its own case in this proposal.

After all, my intention to teach sounds like a contradiction to avoid the pretension that I know better what everyone knows. “Are you going to teach us how we ought to live our lives?” No, not at all. This is a personal reflection. I am going to listen to you, thinking about what you say, and make any final judgment.

I just learned this week that the final judgment I read in the book of Revelation in the Biblical scriptures is already between us: Depression. Are you, people, ready to deal with that?

are you related to marie currie?

LIBERTY

2. Freedom to Choose or Free Will

Once we decide to accept liberty with ethical responsibility and free attitude, when we expected less, help comes to guide us from within. A multiple of serendipity facts appear and disappear in our life showing the way through doubt, the understanding in the confusion, the light in the darkness, and that feasible reality throughout many kinds of symbols which mean that we are not alone anymore, we are all one spirit connected to survive for eternity, if we want to accept it.

This is my eulogy to human beings.

We are a dynamic immortal spirit which is connected with the future throughout our human resources such as intellect, imagination, sensitivity, and free will; hence, we need a different vision of this world that expresses our real motivation to prosper and live in a state of satisfaction and sincerity that permits collaboration and help among one another. We are not going to the destruction or any other kind of catastrophic general breakdown of civilization; to the contrary, we are going to the expanding future that is better. There are no eternal cycles of repetition over and over in the same level or same phenomena named stagnation. No, we are supposed to continue with this ongoing process of being humans towards its end, which is an eternal journey to discover plenitude and transcendence without limit.

“We cannot solve the problems of the world from the same level of consciousness that created them” (Albert Einstein)

LIBERTY

1. Free Attitude and Responsibility

It is all about attitude; a free attitude that empowers our decisions in being responsible with our beliefs, thoughts, words, and behaviors. A free attitude in us that develops a sense of responsibility towards others, then, we share the social load or ethical responsibilities without being obligated, because we are free to make those human proper decisions.

It must be a personal choice borne from our mental/spiritual lucidity and specific availabilities to do something important and significant in our lives, depicting our real interest in this world and its population by itself more than zealot beliefs of receiving something in exchange in other life, golden rules of treating others as we want to be treated, or the despicable behavior of making business through humanitarian help profiting from human suffering and needs. At this point of degradation, we are condemned to live in slavery forever.

And, yes, "gullibilism" is a real word.

I've made an attempt at the same (a tree of religions), except with start and end dates and navigation. It's located at www.religionstree.com. Putting religions into a tree form is an over-simplification (Judaism took ideas from Zoroastrianism as well as the ancient polytheism of Palestine) but I still think the exercise is worthwhile.

"Tree of Life" metaphors, in words and images, have been around for eons, and bound up with many varied mythologies. It is interesting how Darwin choose such an image, deeply tied as it is to religious myths. Or rather, as the story goes, the image choose him. His first sketch of it, seen above, came in his journals aboard the Beagle, and the conceptual metaphor became ingrained in his head for how to imagine adaptation and survival. It was redrawn and became the only image to accompany the Origin of Species.

But I think both religion and science have evolved in the past 150 years, so that the visual metaphor no longer works with our current understanding. A more provocative way to think about the adaptation of religious traditions looks like a version of this info-chart on "How Music Travels" [http://infosthetics.com/archives/2011/11/how_music_travels_the_evolution_of_western_dance_music.html] With religious genera and species, there are ebbs and flows, movements in and across time and space, that never branch off completely. They continually intersect.

Since this 2009 show, Terrence Malick created his own version of the religion-science mix in his "Tree of Life." [See http://jaar.oxfordjournals.org/content/80/2/527.full ]

this graphic's logic shows the Muslim religion splitting off from early Christianity.
so much for preDNA darwin-based simplicity
J

What a fascinating concept and image. I love what is represents, life and spirit is constantly evolving as much as we want to make everything constant and unchanging. Religion offers an experience of tradition, ritual and hopefully a portal to transcendence. It can only point a way and there are many paths.

"Evolution is a myth."

I've heard this said disdainfully, but the other day it occurred to me that myths and fairy tales have much to offer. Who is to say that a thousand years from now we won't be considered foolish and childish for believing in evolution, but why is that something to be ashamed of? Maybe it's just something to keep in mind. Our myths are something that we gain from, which inform our lives, and that serve us well. I think we ask ourselves- how do these ideas serve us? Sometimes I think that the Christian who believes in seven days of Creation is further from standing in awe of God than the atheist who contemplates the origin of the universe.