“Constantly regard the universe as one living being, having one substance and one soul; and observe how all things have reference to one perception, the perception of this one living being; and how all things act with one movement; and how all things are the cooperating causes of all things which exist; observe too the continuous spinning of the thread and the contexture of the web.”
– Marcus Aurelius, (Emperor of Rome, 161-180 AD),
— Meditations IV, 40.
Overview of the Book of Continuing Creation
Note: The Book of Continuing Creation is opposed to religious, biblical, fundamentalist creationism.
This 27-page Essay highlights the main themes of The Book of Continuing Creation: Finding Life’s Meaning & Purpose – In Nature, Reason, & Science.
We refer to Continuing Creation as Nature’s Continuing Creation; as The Growing, Organizing, Direction of the Cosmos; and as The Interlocking Processes of Continuing Creation. And we sometimes say that Continuing Creation often Grows in the Direction of Complexity and Beauty.
The Book of Continuing Creation is a collection of related Essays. Thirty Essays have been posted up to our free website, www.continuingcreation.org, and one more will go up in the coming weeks. All the Essays can be read independently of each other. However, this Overview, and/or the very short 3-page Essay called Introduction, should be read first. This Overview Essay provides links to the other Essays in this Book. This Overview is best read second.
The Practice of Continuing Creation is not related to Scientology, Wicca, New Age, Theosophy, or Christian Science. (There are forerunners to our Spiritual Path, including Process Theology, Deism, and Nature-based paths. We also devote a separate Essay to them called Forerunners to Our Path & Practice. See also our forthcoming Essay, Peculiar Modern Spiritual Paths.)
What is the Purpose of Our Human Lives?
The purpose of each human life is to create and to build. This includes creating and building positive and constructive relationships with our loved ones, neighbors, and co-workers. Creating and building also include discovering, exploring, learning, preserving, and teaching. Each of us is here on Earth to sustainably contribute to the constructive processes of Continuing Creation.
What Is Natural “Continuing Creation?”
“No one knows how the universe began. Maybe it was created by God (or more likely by the Tao); maybe it exploded out of a gigantic black hole in (or at the death of) another universe; maybe it was born from an earlier version of itself; maybe it flowered from a “bud” on the side of a parallel universe; maybe it began out of nothing; and maybe it has always existed. I am an Agnostic on that entire question. But I do see Continuing Creation all around me — in the processes of evolution and in the inventive work of human beings. Because I can see it — and even participate in it – Continuing Creation is the source of my personal spirituality.”
— J.X. Mason.
Continuing Creation: The Growing, Organizing, Direction of the Cosmos is Nature’s drive to build structures and systems that are increasingly complex. This increasing complexity is possible when there is open energy flow, such as we have from the Sun.
We use the phrase “Growing, Organizing, Direction of the Cosmos,” because when there is a steady flow of energy from a star such as our Sun (or from a planet’s molten magma core), the processes of Continuing Creation produce Growth in a Direction of increasing Organization and Complexity; It also often grows in the Direction of increasing Beauty. The Direction toward Complexity and Beauty often includes greater Diversity. For example, an increase in the number of different car motors (piston, rotary, hybrid, electric) means that motor technology has become more complex.
Continuing Creation is the set of linked processes which have created everything in the universe and are creating them still. Creation did not happen all at once, or during an early seven days. Creation has been continual since the Big Bang (Initial Singularity), and it is accelerating now in the tool-making minds and hands of humankind.
As we shall discuss, the very earliest Creation was a process of “splitting apart,” or “freezing out,” which created space, time, and the four fundamental forces of the universe.
Ever since, Creation has meant making new Wholes that are greater than the sum of their parts. For example, when early humans cut holes in the centers of two wooden or stone circles, put a wooden rod through the holes of those “wheels,” and placed a wood platform on top of the rod (now called the “axle”), Creation took place. The Whole new assembly (a cart) was capable of carrying things. None of the cart’s individual components could do that on their own – not the wheels, or their holes, or the axle – or the platform. Only the cart as a whole could carry things. The cart was therefore different than any of its parts. In fact, the cart was different than the sum of all those parts if the parts were just lying in a loose pile on the ground. The cart’s difference (its “cart-ness”) depends on the organization of its parts.
Continuing Creation happens when parts combine to make wholes, and then the wholes are combined to make even “greater” Wholes. Thus, over time, we invented the cart, the carriage, bicycle, and the automobile.
While this Book of Continuing Creation sometimes explores the difficult disciplines of physics and philosophy, the fact that simple parts can combine to make greater wholes is really all one needs to know to understand what we mean by “Growing, Organizing, Direction.”
Synergy is another name for this process of Creation by combination.
In the natural world, synergistic phenomena are ubiquitous.
- In physics, different combinations of quarks produce protons and neutrons.
- In chemistry, the gases hydrogen and oxygen combine at room temperature and pressure to form a liquid compound – water.
- In biology, the simple instincts of bees, aggregated in colonies, will form elaborate honeycombs.” 1
However, Continuing Creation on Earth is not inevitable. Its Processes must contend with human destruction of the ecosphere, entropy, cataclysmic events (such as collision with a gigantic meteor), and the ultimate death of our Sun. We will take these subjects up a bit later. 2
Still, Continuing Creation has tremendous resilience and staying power. It is the only true miracle in our universe. Beginning with the Initial Singularity (“big bang”), it has ever since been both prevalent and ongoing. The Processes of Continuing Creation are both miraculous and completely consistent with scientific knowledge, which is itself growing.
Our Comprehension of Continuing Creation does not accept any other miracle stories as factual. Jehovah did not speak to Moses through a burning bush; Jesus did not walk on water nor rise from the dead; Muhammad did not ascend into the sky; and the mineral crystals revered in “New Age” spirituality do not heal sickness. All these mythical tales violate science and everyday common sense.
The natural history of Continuing Creation is an endless chain of wondrous events. When we mentally and wholistically connect with Continuing Creation, we establish a true and marvelous basis for living a moral, virtuous, and fulfilled life. All these qualities of life are addressed later in this Book.
Why We Wrote The Book of Continuing Creation
We wrote this collection of Essays called The Book of Continuing Creation for three main reasons:
- To show that Life’s Meaning & Purpose are found in Nature, Reason, & Science.
- To oppose the magical myths, religious strife, and outdated moral standards of religious fundamentalism.
- To describe the daily Practice of Continuing Creation; and show how it can improve our individual lives.
Our Goals are “to get it right” and “to make it useful.” We aim to make our explanations of science as accurate as possible without getting lost in details. We also strive to make our Practice as useful as possible for people who are living average, productive, family-and-friends oriented lives in the midst of modern democracy and technology.
Our Practice is Based on Nature, Reason, & Science
By traveling Our Path and engaging in Our Practice, we mean cultivating a deep intellectual and emotional connection with, and positive participation in, the ongoing creativity of the universe.
Nearly all humans easily find Meaning & Purpose in Nature, and an appreciation of Nature can by itself sustain a person’s practice in the Path of Continuation Creation. We feel awe, elation, and connectedness when we view the power of a spiral galaxy, the majesty of a tree, the vibrant colors of tropical fish, a mother duck shepherding her troop of ducklings, the reach of human intelligence into space exploration. All these things are manifest features of Nature.
But our apprehension of Nature can be greatly enhanced by an understanding of science, and science itself has connective Meaning within it.
To appreciate Nature through science, one must have a basic understanding of science. Nature, of course, is the subject matter of science. All science grows (evolves) out of Nature. Roughly like this: From Bacteria to Animals, to Mammals, to Opposable-thumbs, to Larger brains, to Humans, to Reason, to Curiosity, to Science!
Oxford University Professor Richard Dawkins has said, “An awful lot of people who call themselves religious simply don’t know there’s any alternative. If you probe what they believe, it turns out to be pretty much the same — we all have a sense of wonder and reverence at the majesty of the universe.” 3
For decades, many theologians and scientists have been calling for a reconciliation between religion and science. The Book of Continuing Creation answers that call. We reject mythology and create a new secular and naturally inspirational Way of Being that is based on Nature, Reason, & Science, and also on factual history. Our New Path is evidence-based and open to change as human knowledge changes. The Practice of Continuing Creation must be continually corrected, updated, and expanded.
The Way of Continuing Creation is consistent with real sciences; evidence-based and peer-reviewed. We are talking about physics, geology, chemistry, biology, ecology, anthropology, and psychology as they are taught at major accredited universities. We are not talking about pseudo-science, such as Dianetics’ assertion that spiritual beings called “Thetans” are reborn into successive human bodies, nor the New Age theory that crystals possess “healing powers” for body and mind.
For all these reasons, The Practice of Continuing Creation focuses on finding Life’s Meaning and Purpose in Nature and its Processes. Ours is a New Path of Understanding for the Third Millennium.
Main Events in the Story of Nature’s Continuing Creation
As we presently understand, the universe began as a very hot, small, and dense superforce (the union of the four fundamental forces), with no matter or structure. Then about 13.7 billion years ago, this tiny, hot, dense ball (the Singularity of Initial Creation) exploded, creating time and space and then expanding space outward at lightning speed (called the Big Bang). 4
Within the first micro-micro-seconds, the four fundamental forces of today’s universe – gravity, the strong nuclear force, the weak nuclear force, and the electromagnetic force – sequentially “separated out” from the original superforce.
The first matter was a sea of infinitesimal, undifferentiated subatomic particles called quarks. Within another tiny fraction of a second, the quarks joined to form the first protons and neutrons, which combined within minutes to form the first nuclei.
But It took 380,000 years for electrons to be trapped in orbits around nuclei, forming the first atoms. These were mainly hydrogen (and some helium) atoms, which are still by far the most abundant elements in the universe. The hydrogen atoms have much different properties than do the quarks and electrons which compose it. The emergence of this difference, and of all subsequent diversity, is the miracle of Continuing Creation.
1.6 million years later, gravity began to form stars and galaxies of stars from clouds of hydrogen and helium gas. Heavier atoms such as carbon, oxygen and iron, have since been continuously produced by fusing hydrogen in nuclear furnaces of stars. All these elements have since been catapulted throughout the universe in spectacular stellar explosions called supernovae.
Today, these atoms have combined to form thousands of compounds, including water, which became the basis of life. Note that the characteristics of water are completely different than the features of the hydrogen and oxygen which compose it. It has liquidity, clarity, and is able to form snowflakes of infinite geometric variety.
All our knowledge of oxygen and of hydrogen could not predict the properties of water – its liquidity, its clarity, and its ability to form snowflakes of infinite geometric variety. 5
Ultimately, the huge variety of elements and natural compounds have combined and recombined to form the plants and the complex, conscious, roaming creatures that inhabit the Earth today. All our knowledge of oxygen, hydrogen, and the other 90 natural elements could predict the specific creatures that inhabit Earth today. All our knowledge of oxygen, hydrogen, and the other 92 natural elements could predict the specific life forms that inhabit Earth today. The wholes made by Continuing Creation are greater than, and different than, the sums of their parts.
One of these creatures – humankind — has gone on to create calculus, literature, airplanes, penicillin, and the rule of law. In and through Humans, Continuing Creation achieves self-consciousness, creates language, and establishes morality (e.g., do not murder, steal, lie, or biologically parent more than two children ).
Thus, the Growing, Organizing, Direction of the Cosmos began with the Initial Singularity of Creation, and has continued to create and grow ever since. Continuing Creation has proceeded through cosmic evolution, geologic evolution here on Earth, biologic evolution, and (through humans) into cultural and technological evolution.
Continuing Creation Requires an Energy Flow
Our Book of recounts the story of Continuing Creation, and we have summarized it just above. But this Book also describes the methods and processes by which Continuing Creation accomplishes its constructive work.
All the Processes of Continuing Creation Are Driven by an Energy Flow.
All Creation on Earth is powered by energy from the Sun. Plants use photosynthesis to convert the Sun’s light (plus nutrients from the air, water, and ground) into stems and leaves. Animals eat the plant materials (or other animals) and burn it in their bodies using oxygen they inhale from green plants to generate the body’s energy.
When humans burn coal and oil, we are burning ancient plant materials that have been converted into those hydrocarbons deep inside the Earth. The hydrocarbons are a limited resource, but humans are developing new sources of Sun-powered energy – solar power, wind power, nuclear energy, geothermal, and others.
The plants, animals, human technology and Earth itself are all Open Thermodynamic Systems, because energy flows through them and out into space as heat. But the processes add information — structure and complexity — to our planet, our bodies and to our artifacts.
The Second Law of Thermodynamics says that when energy stops coming in, everything runs down – clocks, fires, living organisms, stars. Our sun will generate light and heat for a billion more years, then getting so hot that Earth become uninhabitable, and then eventually explode (go supernova) or die out. By that time, we will hopefully have colonized planets in other solar systems where the Suns are still shining.
“Without the sun’s steady infusion of fresh, external energy, life as we know it would quickly end. An external source is required because although energy cannot be destroyed, it constantly degrades into weaker, less useful forms, in accordance with the second law of thermodynamics.”
— Laurence C. Smith, The Continuity Equations. 6
Complexity increases when information and organization are added to a set of building blocks. For example, the human body is composed of water, carbon, iron, calcium, and other elements. At a chemical supply-store they are together worth only about $4.50, according to the Mayo Clinic. But in the human body, incredible information and complexity has been woven in among those elements. (See our Essays, Complexity and Continuing Creation, and Patterns of Information – How Creating Works).
The Processes of Continuing Creation
Having covered the requirement for a constant energy-flow, we now turn to the Processes of Continuing Creation that use that energy. There are three main processes of Continuing Creation: Crystallization, Combination, and Evolution. Within these three are many important sub-processes, and we will mention a few of them as we go along.
- Creating by Crystallization
As we described above, the early cooling of the universe caused space-time and then four fundamental forces to “separate out,” “freeze out,” “precipitate out,” or “crystalize out” of the Initial Singularity. The four fundamental forces are also called the “four fundamental interactions,” and their separation is also called “symmetry breaking.” (Scientists have used all of these descriptions. The English language often does not fully describe scientific events, but they do the best they can.)
2. Creating by Combination and Interconnection
Combination and Interconnection are part of modern Complexity Science (or, Complexity Theory).
Complex Wholes are created by combining and interconnecting simple parts. For example, hydrogen and oxygen are gases at Earth’s surface, but their combination forms water, H2O, which is usually a liquid or a solid (ice) on Earth.
Another everyday compound, table salt (sodium chloride) is utterly different from the two elements – sodium and chlorine – that compose it. Common salt is necessary for animal life and we eat it nearly every day. Yet sodium by itself will literally explode if it contacts water, and chlorine is very toxic at anything but an extremely low dose.
“…Parts often betray no hint of the whole. Just as you could never guess, unless you’d seen it, that individual carbon, oxygen, and nitrogen atoms could run together into something as useful as an amino acid, you’d have no idea that a few amino acids could fold themselves into all the proteins that run a living thing.” 7
The Wholes that are successively created by the Continuing Creation can be not only objects, such as molecules or human beings; they are often entire systems as well. Human beings are systems; as are hurricanes and factories. Systems throughput energy to maintain themselves and to grow; and some of them can also self-replicate.
At the highest level of interconnection, all the biological communities in the world connect to form the geologic, climactic, and living system called the biosphere. Within the biosphere, human participants form energy systems, legal systems, financial systems, and many others.
2a. Emergence is an important Sub-process of combination & interconnection.
Chemistry abounds with emergence. The compound benzene has a distinctive smell, yet the carbon atoms and Hydrogen atoms that make it up are odorless. Therefore, benzene’s distinctive smell is an emergent property.
There is nothing living in any of the individual atoms that make up a human body. Life emerges from the arrangement, the pattern of those atoms, and from the throughput of energy. If we study and know everything there is to know about all 92 of the natural elements, we will still be unable to predict the emergence of frogs. Yes, we may be able someday to explain each step between the two end points – atoms and frogs — but so many variables were acting on the systems over the millennia, that frogs could not have been predicted. We might well have gotten only insects, no frogs.
The human brain evolved to survive and reproduce, but unpredicted things like poetry and mathematics have also emerged from our brains.
The Book of Continuing Creation says – Here is the key Truth of the Growing, Organizing, Direction of the Cosmos; the key concept of Our Path of Meaning & Purpose: The miracle of a complex whole is that complete knowledge of its component parts does not fully explain the Nature of the Whole. Full knowledge about all the 92 natural elements done not predict the trees and human beings that have evolved from them. There is nothing about carbon or water or the law of gravity that predicts “tree-ness,” “human-ness,” or Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony.
Carbon and water do make humans (and therefore Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony) possible, but they do not begin to predict humans or the Fifth Symphony, or even to make them probable. Except for the path of a random giant meteor that hit the Earth long ago, our planet might well be populated by intelligent dinosaurs rather than intelligent human beings.
The World Wide Web is a popular example of a modern decentralized system that exhibits emergent properties. There is no central organization rationing the links between webpages, yet there is clear self-organization based on mutual page popularity. The organization of the Web has emerged, as a natural extension of the participants’ activities.
The added information and the increased organization created by The Growing, Organizing, Direction emerges from the simpler parts. This emergence is marvelous and surprising; yet it is all around us. It is the property of emergence that makes the processes of Continuing Creation the one and only true miracle in the universe.
So, in the mythical desert religion of old, creation happened all at once, from the top (from God) down. In our natural and modern Practice, Continuing Creation has happened, and still does happen, from the bottom up. However, as systems grow in complexity, they often develop their own partial top-down control structures. Our brains have evolved switching centers; markets have evolved central banks.
Additional Sub-Processes Within Combination and Interconnection
Within the process of Creation by Combination, there are many key sub-processes which we describe in other Essays in this Book. These include:
- Competition and Cooperation; Yang and Yin. Human Nature is divided between the two. When a person is in physical danger, she experiences “fight or flight.” But when a person balances and interrelates Yang and Yin, she experiences productivity and fulfillment.
- Pattern and Position. The properties of compounds, trees, and humans emerge from the way in which their components are organized — from the pattern in which their components are organized.
- Feedback Loops. Houses with central heating systems have thermostats which turn the furnace on or off as the home’s room temperature hits pre-set lower and upper limits. Human bodies are kept at a constant temperature range around 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit in a similar way.
- Phase Changes, Chain Reactions, Paradigm Shifts. When combination and cooperation increase until they reach a critical mass, a new holistic behavior can emerge in a sudden cascade of change. For example:
“Two or three termites in a chamber will begin to pick up pellets and move them from place to place, but nothing comes from it; nothing is built. As more join in, they seem to reach a critical mass, a quorum, and the thinking begins. They place pellets atop pellets, then throw up columns and beautiful, curving, symmetrical arches, and the crystalline architecture of vaulted chambers is created.” — Lewis Thomas, The Lives of a Cell: Notes of a Biology Watcher. 8
These and many other sub-processes of The Growing, Organizing, Direction are discussed in our Essay, Complexity and Continuing Creation.
3. Creating by Evolution
The Science of Evolution is part of the Science of Complexity. Complexity science deals with all systems, but only some of those systems evolve.
When Continuing Creation combines components to form similar but somewhat different new things (e.g., organisms, computers, new songs), and then only one or a few of them work well enough to survive in their environment, Continuing Creation is using the processes of Evolution. We say that the environment “selects” the organisms that work with the environment well enough to survive. With respect to living things, Charles Darwin called this process natural selection.
Many people do not understand that Evolution involves both Competition and Cooperation. We usually say that the surviving plant or animal “out-competes” the plants or animals that die off.
Many people do not understand that Evolution of living things involves both Competition and Cooperation. We usually say that the surviving plant or animal “out-competes” the plants or animals that die off.
But we can just as correctly say that the surviving things successfully combine with the environment to build a new and larger Whole. For example, evolution combined small dinosaurs and the Nature of Earth’s atmosphere to make a flying dinosaurs,” and a new system called “flight.” Later, certain flying dinosaurs evolved into birds.
The Five Arenas of Evolution
Evolution began with the formation of the first nuclei, shortly after the Initial Singularity (also known as the “Big Bang”). Evolution includes five Arenas, all of which remain ongoing:
- Cosmic Evolution — created & still creates the elements, galaxies, stars, and planets;
- Geologic Evolution — created & creates Earth, chemical compounds, atmosphere, oceans;
- Biologic Evolution — created & creates all Earth’s plants and animals;
- Cultural Evolution — created & creates societies, languages, religions, law, and art;
- Technological Evolution — created & creates the wheel, plow, steam engine, pharmaceuticals, computers, fabrics, and solar-power cells.
We are most familiar with biological evolution, where differences in living things are created by mutation of the genes or by different combinations of genes from the father and the mother. But evolution also takes place in the formation of solar systems, language, law, art, technology, and even in religion. In each successive Arena, evolution proceeds more rapidly than in the prior Arena.
For instance, the English language has evolved from Old English (500-1100 CE), to Middle English (1150-1500 CE), to today’s Modern English. New words and phrases are added each year, and old words and phrases become obsolete. The passage below is from the Prologue to Geoffrey Chaucer’s famous Canterbury Tales (circa 1395). We show the original in Middle English; with a side-by-side translation into Modern English.
Prologue to The Canterbury Tales, by Geoffrey Chaucer (circa 1395)
|“Whan that Aprill, with his shoures soote|
The droghte of March hath perced to the roote,
And bathed every veyne in swich licour,
Of which vertu engendred is the flour;Whan Zephirus eek with his sweete breeth
Inspired hath in every holt and heeth
The tendre croppes, and the yonge sonne
Hath in the Ram his halfe cours yronne,And smale foweles maken melodye,
That slepen al the nyght with open eye-
(So priketh hem Nature in hir corages);
Thanne longen folk to goon on pilgrimages,And palmeres for to seken straunge strondes
To ferne halwes, kowthe in sondry londes;
And specially from every shires ende
Of Engelond, to Caunterbury they wende,The hooly blisful martir for to seke
That hem hath holpen, whan that they were seeke.”
|When April’s gentle rains have pierced|
The drought of March right to the root,
And bathed each sprout through every vein with
liquid whose strength engenders the flower;When Zephyrus too with his sweet breath
Has blown through every field and forest,
urging on the tender shoots; and the youthful sun,
His second half-course through the Ram now run,And small fowls are making melody
That sleep all night, eyes open as can be
(So Nature pricks them in their little hearts),
Then folks long to go on pilgrimages,And palmers seek travel to foreign strands
To distant shrines renowned in sundry lands;
And specially, from every shire’s end
In England, folks to Canterbury wend:The blissful martyr for to seek,The one who helped them when they were sick.
In technology, the history of the bicycle is a clear example of evolution. They began with huge front wheels and tiny rear wheels. When gears and a chain drive were added, bikes with two wheels of equal size out-competed the old tall-bikes, driving them to extinction in the marketplace. Later, specialized bikes proliferated to fill specific “niche environments,” including the racing bike, mountain bike, and stunt bike. As biologist Richard Dawkins wrote, “We cannot explain the bicycle in a single step – from atoms to bicycle. We also know that complex things, like the bicycle, cannot be created in a single step. Only by a series of small steps.” Systems build upon previous systems. 9
Like Complexity Science, Evolution Science also has a number of important sub-processes, including co-evolution, parallel evolution, adaptation, sexual recombination, speciation, and others. We discuss these in our Essays, The Processes of Evolution – And Their Meaning.
The Evolution of God into The Growing, Organizing, Direction of The Cosmos
Religion Itself Has Evolved over Time. The human vision of God is itself a “cultural artifact” that has seen tremendous evolution over the generations.
Humans had evolved conscious, reflective minds that could be curious, foresee real dangers, imagine fictional dangers, make plans, take action, get frustrated, feel suffering, and expect a certain death. Religion evolved to help people deal with all those apprehensions. Interestingly, science also evolved as a way to deal with those very same apprehensions.
People seek the comfort of certainty of religion. We collect robes, hierarchies, sacred texts, ritual, liturgy, other people all around us singing the same thing. But there can be no true certainty where there is contradiction and no reason. The Weave of Continuing Creation offers testable and verifiable certainty: the certainty produced by science, critical thinking, historical scholarship, and rational analysis. However, this consistency must be continually open and self-correcting, because new inconsistencies, new gaps in our knowledge, may come to light.
The most primitive human cultures often have animist religions where virtually everything – a mountain, river, a jaguar — is animated by a spirit or demon. This likely arises because human are intensely social animals, and therefore have a natural tendency to believe every natural event is explained by the active intention of something that has powers very like their own. The behavior of these supernatural beings (and the wizards and witches who were their human agents) was usually selfish and capricious.
2500 years ago, in large, post-animist tribes, such as the ancient tribes of Israel, the father-figure God — Yahweh or Jehovah — was a Father-warrior God who brought victory over enemies in exchange for burnt offerings, loyalty, and obedience. Human childhood lasts a long time, and children’s traits of love, trust, and obedience are the perfect mental framework for believing in a “super-parent” – a Father-God who will guide them.
Later, as Hebrew civilization developed, Jehovah was re-conceived as a Law-giver, maker of contracts, and supreme judge for the Jewish people.
Christianity extended morality beyond the tribe, to encompass all of humanity. Jesus went even further, preaching Universal Love or Radical Love of All Humanity, meaning that we should extend love to our neighbors, loving them as much as we do ourselves (even the neighboring Samaritans, who were clearly not members of the nation of Israel). Christianity changed the desert conception of Divinity from a judging and punishing God to a loving and forgiving God. Jesus preached that we should love even our enemies. (The Book of Matthew 5:44) Should we? We discuss this in our Essays, Leading an Ethical Life and Leading a Virtuous and Honorable Life.
Jesus also preached radical sharing, meaning that “those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.’” (Luke 14:25-26 and 33). And, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven.” (Matthew 19:21; Luke 18:22; and Mark 10:21)
The doctrines of radical sharing and radical love are very impractical, and inconsistent with human biology. Love of our families and friends is naturally more intense than the consideration we feel for strangers. Radical Sharing is not family-oriented, because resources must be accumulated to support a family. Human sharing is, and should be, strongest within the immediate family. After family, sharing and love extends outward in diminishing circles of intensity to friends, tribe or nation, and to the ecosphere itself. Today, however, it has become vitally more important to help the ecosphere than our tribe or nation.
If human wealth were spread out evenly across the world, we would all live in small huts. The very existence of science, technology, scholarship, and the arts all require capital concentration. Since the Path of Continuing Creation seeks to further knowledge and progress, we have written an Essay opposing the doctrine of Radical Sharing.
However, with the world’s richest 10% owning over 70% of all human wealth, concentration of capital has already been achieved. So, a great deal more sharing could be done than we do now. 10
And if human overpopulation could be reduced, Earth would be able to provide everyone with a good standard of living.
A different problem is that Jesus did not talk at all about sharing wealth with the biosphere – with the plants, animals, and ecosystems of the Earth. Nor, for that matter, did Muhammad. The Discipline of Continuing Creation argues that sharing in this direction is woefully underfunded in the Old Religions.
In short, Western religion has evolved from envisioning capricious gods, to a sole, parental, and morally judging god, and then to a universally loving and forgiving God. The Book of Continuing Creation goes even further, by recognizing The Growing, Organizing, Direction of the Cosmos, which is a constellation of continually creating, and progressing natural processes.
The Old Religions of Asia, however, never had the authoritarian bent of the Old Desert Religions in the West. In China, for example, one of the world’s oldest religions, Taoism, was from its very beginning a sophisticated and poetic statement of Continuing Creation: The Growing, Organizing, Direction of the universe. Consider the following wisdom from Chapter 25 of the founding text of Taoism, the Tao Te Ch’ing (“The Way and its Power”), by Lao-Tzu (4th or 5th century, BCE):
There was something formless and perfect
Before the universe was born.
It is serene, empty.
Infinite. Eternally present.
It gave birth to the universe.
For lack of a better name, I call it the Tao.
It flows through all things,
Inside and outside, and returns
To the origin of all things.
— Lao-Tzu, The Tao Te Ch’ing
— Translation by Stephen Mitchell, 1988 11
The Book of Continuing Creation presents a series of Essays on the major world religions. In each Essay, we compare and contrast one of the Old Religions with the Path of Continuing Creation. In doing this, we examine only the major texts of the religions, not the way modern people actually follow those faiths. Many modern people have abandoned textual verses telling them to “bathe after menstruating,” “sell all your possessions and give to the poor,” or “kill all the infidels,” because modern secular thought has thankfully shown most modern followers how ridiculous those behaviors are. But the bizarre passages are all still there in the “sacred” texts, ready for new generations of radical fundamentalists to adopt and carry out.
There is also an Essay in which we evaluate more recent Spiritual Paths, including Freemasonry, Humanism, Existentialism, Mormonism, Scientology, New Age Spirituality, and Postmodernism. (In fact, we talk a bit about Humanism and Postmodernism later in this Overview)
How Continuing Creation Differs from God
The term Continuing Creation is a restatement and correction of the supernatural mythical being/concept known as God. Today in the third millennium, Western civilization has the language and knowledge to accurately describe Continuing Creation. There are already millions of people who believe in God, but do not believe in the miracle stories of the Old Religions. In addition, a large percentage of these people do not believe that God is a person, or that “he” has personal, one-to-one conversations with individuals. These people already are, or are very close to being, Practitioners of Continuing Creation, which grows in the Direction of Complexity and Beauty.
Today, many educated people do feel that the concept of Continuing Creation is more meaningful than the older concept of God, but they continue to attend conventional churches out of tradition and a desire to belong.
In the Old Desert Religions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam), God is seen as being like a man who possesses all power, all knowledge, and all presence everywhere (omnipotence, omniscience, and omnipresence). These Legacy Religions see God as a “top-down” Creator, who placed fully formed trees, lions, and humans on Earth.
In contrast, Participants in Our Way understand that Creation takes place from the “bottom-up,” from the very simple to the exceedingly complex, over eons of time. Only a few animals, and principally humans, have evolved the power to consciously and deliberately create new things.
Believers in the Desert religions often have doubts about their faith, or crises of faith, because the stories they are asked to believe are so patently ridiculous. But the Path of Continuing Creation changes as verified human knowledge changes. Yes, our Path comes with questions built in, but we have no doubt about our method and direction; therefore, we minimize psychic suffering from doubt.
Continuing Creation (CC) is based on Nature, Reason, & Science; and has no myths.
- God is a mythical person or mind; whereas Continuing Creation (CC) is a set of natural processes.
- God can be alternately punishing or loving; but CC does not have a personality.
- There is no personal God who listens to and talks to human beings; but holding an imaginary conversation can be a way to enter the flow of Continuing Creation.
- Temples and Churches are houses of God; while schools, universities, research institutes, and Wikipedia are the houses of Continuing Creation.
- Many believers say that God intervenes in individual human lives; while CC affects individual lives only through the processes of physics, chemistry, biology, psychology, anthropology, sociology, and probability.
Our posture as Agents of Continuing Creation is not adoration from afar, but active participation. For us, a “relationship” with CC is a mutual interchange of knowledge and energy. It is a two-way flow of contemplation, meditation, teaching, learning, appreciating, building, and growing. The Path of CC is well-suited to people who like to “get on with it,” and like to “try something reasonable and see if it works.”
The Practice of Continuing Creation in Theological Terms
The Book of Continuing Creation has a number of important forerunners. Among these are Deism, Pantheism, and Process Theology. Our Path of the Growing, Organizing, Direction is similar to, but not the same as these four theologies:
- Deism: God / CC created the natural laws; but does not supervise how it all works out.
- Pantheism: God / CC is present in all life forms, processes, and things).
- Humanism: Moving toward rationality, goodness, and justice for all humankind.
- Process Theology: God is not the starting point of Creation; the Growing, Organizing, Direction is the evolving endpoint of Creation.
These and other predecessor philosophies and theologies are discussed in our Essay, Forerunners to Our Path of Continuing Creation
The Practice of Continuing Creation is a type of Process Theology, because we Followers hold that knowledge and technology progress over time.
In Process Theology, a perfect creation does not happen all at once, “top-down,” at the beginning of time. Instead, Creation happens incrementally through time, “bottom-up,” by assembling the simple into the complex.
- There is no person-like God who has a mind and knows all things, but all knowledge is part of Continuing Creation.
- There is no all-powerful God who directs every event, everywhere…. but everything obeys the laws of physics, chemistry, biology, probability… and in certain systems, chaos theory.
Versions of Process Theology argue that The Growing, Organizing, Direction will lead to what Catholic theologian Pierre Teilhard de Chardin called “The Omega Point,” a unified supreme consciousness. For de Chardin, “divine unification,” or God Himself, is the Omega Point. In other words, as our “process” proceeds, evil and suffering will decline until they no longer exist. Chardin is saying that God did not create the world; the world is creating God, i.e., creating the unified supreme consciousness. 12
However, our own Path of Continuing Creation makes no such claim for a “happy ending.” Long before the inevitable death of our sun, humans may cause an irreversible degradation of Earth’s biosphere. Natural disasters, both on the Earth and from outside the Earth, could wipe out all of humankind, or wipe out all life on Earth, or even destroy the entire planet itself. While the Processes of Continuing Creation are vibrant and resilient, they are not inevitable.
Problems with the Old Religions
Most of the world’s religions are at best outdated. At worst, they are dysfunctional. The major religions of the world (particularly the Old Desert Religions of the Middle East – Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) have three major faults.
The First Problem is that conservative followers of the Old Religions believe so fiercely in their own myths and doctrines that they fight deadly wars with followers of other Old Religions. These are the fundamentalists of their faiths. They believe that their particular religious text is literally the true word of God. The orthodox of each religion still assert that theirs is the only true religion. Even today, some literalists still see God as a war champion who will grant victory over enemy tribes in exchange for sacrificed animals, ceremonies, and fealty.
The Second Problem with Old Religions is that their morality is outdated. Their fundamentalist factions still subjugate women, perform genital mutilation, and practice death by stoning. They still call for war against neighboring ethnicities and nations. In addition, their sacred texts, written down when Earth’s human population was small, do not address today’s overpopulation, pollution, and the extermination of entire species. The Path of Continuing Creation sweeps away all such outdated morality. Every human who is born deserves the full support of a loving family; however, the birth rate itself must be managed so that the ecology of the Earth itself is not damaged.
The Third Problem with the major Old Religions is that none of them were written after the Enlightenment or the Scientific and Industrial Revolutions. Therefore, no Old Religion incorporates science, industry, or technology or makes their creative power and new knowledge integral to its spiritual path. Today, while ancient myths and stories can illustrate truths, it is ridiculous to base religions on the belief that such stories are literally true. None of the Old Religions are synchronized to creativity and invention – the great trends of the modern era. The Book of Continuing Creation provides that path.
The Path of Continuing Creation Opposes Religious Fundamentalism
The Practice of Continuing Creation is opposed to all forms of religious fundamentalism, including the literal interpretation of “sacred” books. It is the curse of all religions. It cannot be supported by actual history, objective evidence, logic, reason, or common sense.
Fundamentalism leads to belief in demons and witches, casting of spells, abandonment of reason, the end of critical thinking, the end of free speech, “thought police,” death by stoning, forced conversion, mind control, dressing women in black bags, theocracy, and the end of the separation between church and state. By opposing fundamentalism, The Way of The Growing, Organizing, Direction promotes intellectual freedom and helps eliminate irrational beliefs as a cause of war and violence.
- Fundamentalism comes from the desire for certainty, and the desire for easy answers.
- It comes from having lazy minds lacking the virtues of curiosity, critical thinking, and the scientific method.
- It comes from saying the founding religious text is inerrant.
- Fundamentalism comes from desire to keep members in the fold, by punishing them if they leave and by fomenting distrust of outsiders.
- It comes from using myths to explain natural phenomena.
- Fundamentalism comes from moralities that are outdated, including intolerance, the near enslavement of household workers, and the subjugation of women. Fundamentalist subjugation of women can include physical confinement, denial of education, the marrying of female children to old men, genital mutilation of girls, and stoning women to death as punishment for alleged marital infidelity.
- And it comes from making alliances with political leaders who use it to maintain secular control.
Many followers of the old religions have liberalized over the years. Judaism used to have only Orthodox; now it also has Conservative and Reform Judaism; each version taking the original texts less and less literally.
Unfortunately, modern people can too easily revert to the harsher, fundamentalist beliefs of old; as we see today among Muslims in the Middle East, Jews living in the Israeli Settlements, and Fundamentalist Christians residing in the U.S. They are able to revert to intolerant and often violent behaviors because they can find justification for those raw positions in their sacred texts. That is why we must modify those sacred texts as they now stand; and instead look to The Book of Continuing Creation.
So, when we discuss a world religion in this Book, our discussion will focus on its original texts, and not about how modern followers are managing to read them through rose-colored glasses.
Followers of the Book of Continuing Creation say that people should mark the outdated and immoral passages in all religious texts as immoral or outdated and ignore those passages going forward. The outdated passages would include all the impossible miracle stories (e.g., parting the sea, walking on water, raising the dead). The marking could be done by printing these passages in a different color or by lining them through with fine lines (fine enough to leave the passages readable).
The Practices of Continuing Creation vs. Practices of Old Religions
Throughout history, almost every human society has had religion. Why? For two main reasons:
- First, religion easily makes use of predispositions that are hard-wired into the human brain. For example, humans are predisposed to view all events as caused by an agent, e.g., a god, demon, or spirit.
- Second, religion reinforces the cohesion of human tribes and societies. Cohesion brings greater ability to survive the evolutionary competition between tribes and societies. (For more on both reasons, see our Essay, Religion and the Human Brain)
We Members of Continuing Creation do not have “beliefs;” instead we reach conclusions and convictions that are open to change. Because The Growing, Organizing, Direction is not a super-person, we do not “worship” Him or Her; instead, we participate and celebrate in Our Progressing Practice. As active and important agents within Continuing Creation, we never kneel before “God,” never sacrifice animals, or engage in other rituals of submission. We do not hide our faces and hair from Continuing Creation’s sunlight and air, except to protect them from over-exposure to heat, radiation, and cold.
Travelers on the Path of Continuing Creation do not plead with or blindly obey God, we participate in the Growing, Organizing, Direction of the Cosmos. We never ask for favors. We don’t pray, we envision and affirm. A typical envisioning for an Agent in Continuing Creation would be, “May I move closer to the Flow of Continuing Creation, and become more positive, kind, helpful, creative and productive.” When we do this, we are addressing our inner-selves or our better-selves; however, since we are each a part of Continuing Creation, we can be said to be talking with Continuing Creation.
Unlike most religions of God, the Way of Continuing Creation has no sacred, immutable text. The Book of Continuing Creation must be subject to continual revision, by human beings, as new knowledge and better reasoning come to light down through the years. Our Path always encourages continual reading and questioning, just as science and scholarship do.
The old major religions present a way out of life, an escape – to heaven, nirvana, a Jewish kingdom on Earth, monasteries, nunneries. But the Path of Continuing Creation presents a way into life. Ours is a way forward in life, not a step to the side or a retreat to inactive stasis.
The Old Desert Religions seem to have too much Yang (the male principle). The Old Asian Religions (Taoism, Hinduism, Buddhism) seem to have too much Yin (the feminine principle). The Way of Continuing Creation has a balanced mix of Yang and Yin. “First we meditate, then we act.”
The Old Religions are like plays. The forces of Nature and the traits of man are played by characters. These religions can be insightful, entertaining, and motivating – just as the plays of Shakespeare can be. As art, the stories of the old sacred texts can have multiple levels of meaning, appealing simultaneously to different aspects of human experience.
However, everyone watching a Shakespearean play knows that the action on-stage is fictional; whereas far too many people who follow the Old Religions believe those stories to be literally true historical events. In addition, when the Old Religions portray the forces of Nature and the Nature of humankind, they often get it wrong – because at the time the old sacred texts were written down, scientific knowledge – physics, chemistry, psychology – was virtually non-existent.
The Book of Continuing Creation contains Essays on several well-known religions and philosophies. At the risk of over-simplifying, below are one or two of the negative bullet points about some of those religions. We will leave the positive points, which are quite important, to be read in the Essays themselves.
Brief Remarks on Some of the Old Religions
Judaism is too tribal, legalistic, and contractual. It is also crowded with mindlessly detailed ritual.
Christianity, as we discussed earlier, is too communal and too radically-sharing. It would spread wealth so wide that wealth can no longer be concentrated enough to achieve progress. The Christian ideal of “Love thy Neighbor as Thyself” is inconsistent with human biology, because humans are evolved to love our families more than we do strangers.
There have been many “messiahs” since Jesus, including electric power, the printing press, rule by law, the Declaration of Human rights, modern medicine, (maybe) the computer and the internet, and (for sure) great architecture both big and small. All of those milestones have moved us closer to realizing an eventual “Kingdom” of Continuing Creation here on Earth. More “messiahs” are to come, including solar power, population control, nuclear fusion, and re-forestation of the Earth.
Hinduism is too fantastic — filled with hundreds of Gods and Goddesses, endless myths, and rituals; all of which seem to be equal to each other.
Buddhism is too pessimistic (“all life is suffering”) and too passive (“sit, meditate, and transcend into nirvana”). Buddhists see suffering (or dissatisfaction) as a human analogue to what physicists call entropy – the degree of disorder or randomness in a system.
Today, Western Civilization has given us abundant energy, complex technology, democracy, and the rule of law. Today in the West, life is certainly not all suffering. To live a life of meditative contemplation would be to abandon active participation in the processes of The Direction of Complexity and Beauty.
Taoism, of all the Old Religions, the most like the Way of Continuing Creation, but it lacks the scientific concepts that could give it weight of evidence.
Humanism, while not a religion per se, is also flawed. It does not address the needs of our planetary ecosystem, neglects Nature as a source of spirituality, and neglects the role of technology. We will talk more about Humanism later in this Overview
Humans Are Not at the Center of Continuing Creation.
Humans are not as special as we once thought. Until about 1960, people living in the Abrahamic tradition (Judaism, Christianity & Islam) believed they were the masters of the Earth. Today, most of us realize that we are dependent on the interrelationships of nearly all plants and animals to sustain the biosphere that keeps us humans alive. For practitioners of Continuing Creation, “love” means deep and caring personal involvement with some person, place, activity or thing. If we do not love Earth’s plants and animals and their entwined relationships, we cannot love Continuing Creation, because CC is those things.
— We humans have good eyesight, but nothing like the eagles.
— We can run for longer distances than any other animal, but we cannot fly.
— We have sympathy and empathy, but elephants and whales may have more.
— Our language is the most advanced, but whales, birds, and even trees also communicate.
— Our tool use is the most advanced, but chimpanzees and crows also use tools.
— We raise livestock and build cities, but so do certain species of ants.
— African lions hunt, but no species on Earth kills as many creatures as we do.
— Chimpanzees make war on each other, and so do ants; but human war matches their brutality.
— Without machines we cannot echo-locate; but bats, whales, and porpoises can.
— Human beings are unable to turn sunlight into food. Only Earth’s plant-life can do that.
Are there are things humans do that are unique? Yes:
- We alone create machines that are themselves open thermodynamic systems (they run by burning fuels or on solar power),
- We alone can create machines that communicate and process information.
- We alone can create cultures far advanced from what other species create.
- We alone pollute the Earth.
- We alone over-consume the resources of the Earth. While there may be enough acreage to give everyone a home, there are not enough resources to supply everyone’s needs; especially not enough to provide everyone with a modern Euro-American middle-class lifestyle.
Continuing Creation encompasses the universe. But The Earth is the most tangible, encompassing creation any of us experience in our daily lives. Therefore, Planet Earth represents all the interacting Processes in The Growing, Organizing, Direction in our lives. Ancient myth and folklore have personified this reality in the person of Gaia, Mother Earth, or Mother Nature. If human minds insist on anthropomorphizing the Processes of Continuing Creation into a person, Mother Nature would be our choice for the role.
Were the Processes of Creation Started by God?
It is possible that a traditional Creator-God designed and started the Initial Singularity and thus created the universe. It is impossible to prove otherwise. We can never prove that there is no single, active, creative intelligence, that there is no God, because we cannot prove or disprove something that is said to be outside all evidence, outside all frames of reference, outside even time and space.
It does appear that the four fundamental interactions or forces (gravity, the strong and the weak nuclear forces, and the electromagnetic force), the laws of physics, and the 92 natural elements are the same all over the universe. But this does not mean we have to imagine a super-person God, complete with a human-like personality, who stands outside and before the Initial Singularity (the “Big Bang”).
Why not just say that the laws of physics and the four fundamental interactions are themselves the Growing, Organizing, Direction of the Cosmos? Either way – by God or by The Organizing Direction – we have a mysterious miracle of creation. Imagining a human-like God does not make it any less mysterious, it makes it needlessly more mysterious!
People who conclude that God must have set up the “clockwork” of the universe, wound it up and set it running, are called Deists in the language of theology. They hold that after setting everything up and turning on the switch, God stepped back from “His” creation and has never interfered since; and He has certainly not stooped to interfere in the mundane lives of individual humans. Many of our founding fathers were Deists, including Washington, Adams, Franklin, and Jefferson. Deism is a Forerunner of The Path of Continuing Creation. (See our Essay, Forerunners To Our Path and Practice.
What Else but God Could Set Just the Right Initial Conditions for Life of Earth?
True, Earth is just the right distance from the Sun to permit us to enjoy flowable liquid water rather than just static ice or chaotic super-heated steam. Our planet is also well endowed with carbon. Carbon combines easily with many other elements, allowing all Earth’s plants and animals to be carbon-based life forms.
While it is true that Earth is indeed very lucky, astronomers are finding that there are billions of other “Suns,” with billions of other planets and moons circling them. While most of those satellites will not have advantageous orbits or the chemical resources conducive to life, quite a few of them probably are in the same “Goldilocks Zone” that Earth is in. 13
What Accounts for the Mysteries of Science, if not God?
Virtually all the Old Religions describe God as “unknowable,” and beyond human understanding. The Path of Continuing Creation tentatively agrees…. The entire Growing, Organizing, Direction of the Cosmos may be unknowable and beyond human understanding, but a great deal of it is understandable.
Humans are unable to sense many aspects of reality. We cannot see ultra-violet light, although our instruments can detect it. We cannot see, touch, or hear gravity; we can only feel it. We can measure and manage both electricity and light, but we don’t really understand them. Sometimes light seems to be particles called photons, and sometimes it seems to be waves. But while ocean waves need water to travel in, and sound waves need a medium (water, air, or even rock) to travel in, light can move freely through a vacuum.
One thing is for sure — we must conclude that there is there is still plenty of mystery left in The Processes of Continuing Creation.
We Participants in Continuing Creation say that the four forces of the universe (such as the electromagnetic force that gives rise to electricity and light) are integral parts of Creation. We do not need a God (especially a human-looking one with a gray beard) to stand outside those forces and their mathematics. In fact, we ourselves are also integral parts in-and-of Continuing Creation; here on Earth and even in universe as a whole.
To illustrate, there are many things in modern Physics that seem self-contradictory and mysterious. Here are a few of them:
- Our senses often fail us. We can’t see ultraviolet light or infrared, but other creatures can see those “colors,” and we can “see” them with the aid of our instruments.
- Light sometimes seems to be a wave, and sometimes seems to be a stream of particles (photons). There are large bodies of accepted equations and experimental results “proving” each version.
- Most of us think of space as an empty vacuum, yet Einstein proved that gravity actually bends space. It is actually this bent shape that makes us fall inward toward the center of Earth when we trip over a tree root.
- In recent years, it has become accepted in physics that all the matter we see in the universe is actually only a small fraction of the total matter in the universe. The lion’s share is thought to be “dark” (invisible) matter. Dark matter is invisible because it does not interact with light or any other form of electromagnetism.
- There is also dark energy, pervasive throughout space, which causes virtual particles to pop in and out of existence.
- The electromagnetic force can take several forms – electric current, light, magnetism, and chemical energy. But no one really knows what electricity is. Electrons do move through the wire, but they do not come out the end of the wire and hit something to push the blades a rotor and make it move. Instead, they travel back around the wire to the source (e.g., a battery), where they came from. Meanwhile, the electric force is “carried,” (or “conducted”), by fields that run along the outside surface of the wire. But no can really explain what it means to “carry” or “conduct” a force.
We will discuss scientific mysteries in our coming Essay, How Continuing Creation Works: Concepts from Physics.
Right now, neither God nor science fully explains all aspects of the phenomena we see and hear. But of the two, Continuing Creation clearly explains more of them than does God. And with each passing year, the knowledge base within Continuing Creation deepens as science advances.
Old Religions exhort their followers to believe in God on faith. But we Explorers in Continuing Creation say just the opposite: take nothing on faith. Our Spiritual Path, our Practice of Creative Living, must be based on verifiable knowledge; and we must pursue verifiable knowledge where it does not yet exist.
We Explorers in Continuing Creation also say – It is a good thing if new mysteries keep opening up. Without mystery, there is no adventure; and without adventure there is no discovery. Adventure and discovery are part of being human.
Besides, Einstein’s Theory of Relativity is not really different from the old-fashioned Newtonian Physics we learned in high school. When we scale back the terrific speeds and masses handled in Einstein’s equations down to the modest speeds and short distances we humans live with here on Earth, Einstein’s equations simplify and become Newton’s equations. In other words, Newton’s physics is a subset of Einstein’s physics.
Is the Growing, Organizing, Direction Made of Mathematics?
Today, some writers are saying that “mathematics is the language of God (or of The Direction of Complexity and Beauty (DCB); or even that “Mathematics is God (or Mathematics is the DCB).” 14
We do know the following things about mathematics:
- Mathematics (“math”) is the language of science, particularly of physics.
- There are many branches of math, but they all relate to one another, as do the hubs, and intersections of a three-dimensional web. (See the 11-minute mini-lecture and its entertaining video, “Map of Mathematics,” available on online.
- Their interconnectedness makes some math professors think that the branches of math are discovered. But other experts say no, they are invented. Over past centuries, mathematicians have frequently come up with some new types of mathematics, which seems to have little or no application in the real world. Then, decades later, this branch of math will turn out to be exactly the right tool for describing some new branch of science.
- It is increasingly possible to represent just about everything, including 3D images, and chess strategies, and robot movements with computer code consisting of nothing but “zeroes and ones.” The patterns of the 0’s and 1’s are a kind of logical mathematics.
As in the Sciences, there are also profound mysteries in mathematics. For example,
- The Spiral Pattern shown on the Home Page of our website (continuingcreation.org) animates everything from galaxies to plant shoots, to snails, to staircases. Amazingly, this pattern comes from a simple sequence of numbers produced by basic addition.
- Another example involves the number Pi = 3.14159… Pi is the ratio of every circle’s Area to its radius (“r”), as in… “Area = pi times r-squared.” Yet, for some as yet mysterious reason, the number pi, 3.14159…, turns up in all kinds of other things that have nothing to do with circles.
- There is a proven theorem in math which says that every system of math, no matter how complete and comprehensive it seems to be, always has one or more true things which cannot be proven to be true within that system itself. In other words, every math system has a “trapdoor” to some truth that lies outside that system.
We explore these and other topics in our Essay, Mathematics and Continuing Creation.
Consciousness: Continuing Creation Wakes Up
Like intelligence and opposable-thumbs, consciousness has evolved. Formerly thought to be unique to humans, consciousness exists on a continuum throughout the animal kingdom. The most we can say is that we humans are more conscious than all or almost all other mammals.
With the evolution of animal and especially human consciousness, the Growing, Organizing, Direction of the Cosmos can be said to “wake up,” to become increasingly self-aware. From this point on, Continuing Creation, through its human agents, is increasingly able to plan and choose the further path of the Growing, Organizing, Direction itself.
Human consciousness includes all of the following things:
- An understanding of self
- An understanding of past and future
- An understanding that I have a “mind”
- An understanding that others have minds
- A partial ability to infer the intentions of others
Many futurists believe that we are on the threshold of “Electronic Consciousness” (usually called the “technological singularity”), when our net of computers, our world-wide-cloud, “wakes up” and achieves a consciousness of its own. And then the net begins, perhaps, to reproduce and evolve on its own, quickly outdistancing the cognitive abilities of the human brain. Or, human brains may be joined to implanted computers. In either case, beyond this point the future could be completely unpredictable… and possibly disastrous for human beings, as portrayed in numerous works of science fiction, including the Terminator film series. 15 For more, see our Essay, Cyborgs, Transhumanism, and Immortality.
Morality also evolves. Morality grows out of cooperation – independent bacteria cells combining to make a multicellular organism. Cooperation has produced symbiosis, herds, and insect hives. New studies in biology show that even trees signal each other when a systemic threat appears within their ecosystem.
Morality as we humans know it first developed among the mammals – long before Moses supposedly climbed Mount Sinai and received the Ten Commandments. Since morality evolved to support human cooperation, morals predate all religions, and so all religions and spiritual paths, including our own, start with similar sets of moral principles.
Since the time of the earliest humans, the circle (range) of moral behavior has widened. Morality first applied only within the family, then within the tribe, then the nation. Yet even today there is still a great deal of tribal behavior – ethnic cleansing, segregation, caste systems.
Next, Jesus and Buddha called for universal love and radical sharing, and the Enlightenment and spread of democracy established a set of human rights.
However, despite the increased range of morality, it does not yet sufficiently extend out to include all the other living plants and creatures of Continuing Creation.
Our Essay, Leading an Ethical Life, presents the Moral Principles of the Practice of Continuing Creation.
The morality of The Growing, Organizing, Direction of the Cosmos includes specific principles directed toward the preservation of Earth and its biosphere. Our morality covers three areas: Continuing Creation, human welfare, and the welfare of Earth. We call these three directions our Moral Triangle.
The Moral Triangle of Continuing Creation
To be Moral within the Way of Continuing Creation, humans must be concerned with a “Moral Triangle” composed of other people, other living things, and the creative systems of the Growing, Organizing, Direction of the Cosmos.
- The Processes of Continuing Creation created both Earth and humanity.
- Earth sustains and supports both humanity and the Processes of Continuing Creation.
- Humanity provides self-awareness and care (foreseeing, analyzing, planning, deciding) for both Earth and Continuing Creation.
- Humans are agents of creation for Continuing Creation.
(In fact, all living things are agents of Creation: plants perform photosynthesis, worms reprocess the dead, birds build nests, and so on.)
We know that all three sides of the Moral Triangle work together, so all three should be given equal care.
If we fail to extend and balance the Moral Triangle, we could suffer hellish dystopian futures in the long run. Computerized machines (CM’s) could surpass and repress humans; or humans could merge with CMs and lose their humanity; or wealthy bio-engineered humans with “superpowers” could repress poor “unimproved” humans; or humans and/or CMs could destroy the biosphere. We discuss these scenarios in our Essay, Cyborgs, Transhumanism, and Immortality.
The Threat of Human Overpopulation
The size of our Spiritual Path’s Moral Triangle can grow best only if all the three sides move outward in step with each other. Today, due to our runaway population and excessive consumption, the humanity side of the triangle has been moving out too far and too fast.
We must place more emphasis on the health of the environment, reverse the accelerating death of species, and curtail the human over-population which infests the Earth. The Path of Continuing Creation is pro-technology, but our technologies must be green, reducing our carbon footprint and other pollution.
Keeping the triangle equilateral requires constant trade-offs and constant improvements in technology. Should a swamp be drained to feed the hungry, or left as a wetland to support populations of birds and insects? Should we drive smaller cars, even if they are less safe? Should we genetically modify mosquitoes so they can no longer host malaria bacteria? Maybe…. but what would the unintended consequences be? The difficult choices are pressing and endless.
For more discussion, see our Essay, Overpopulation Threatens Continuing Creation.
Problems with Humanism
The Weave of Continuing Creation supports nearly all the concepts and moral principles of Humanism. However, Humanists have traditionally concentrated their concern and care on the humanity side of the Moral Triangle and have given insufficient consideration to Earth’s biosphere and to the Growing, Organizing Direction.
Humanism fails to explain that creativity is inherent in Continuing Creation; and that humans and human civilization are only parts of The Growing, Organizing, Direction of the Cosmos.
Humans cannot answer the question, “What is the purpose of my life” without learning about the lives of stars, bacteria, plants, genetics, and evolution. These are topics of science, not topics of “the humanities.” Said another way, “Man is not the measure of all things.” Unless humans know and feel that they are part of a greater whole, we will always feel alone in the universe.
As Dr. Jonas Salk once said, “If all the insects disappeared, in 50 years all life on Earth would end. If all humans disappeared, in 50 years all life on Earth would flourish.”
Another weakness of Humanism is that it is overly optimistic about the “perfectibility” of humankind through education. It underestimates the biological strength of humanity’s evil, aggressive side. Humanism also neglects the reality that the primary inculcation of values and morals takes place within the family. The important values we learn in elementary school, team sports, Scouting and Campfire Girls come second.
The Book of Continuing Creation plans to devote an Essay to the strengths and shortcomings of Humanism, just as it has done (or will do) for each of the world’s great religions.
Moral and Spiritual Redemption in Our Practice
The Practice of Continuing Creation holds that people can achieve moral and spiritual redemption. Good behavior later in life can make up for bad behavior earlier in life. The process of redemption requires admission of wrongs, turning to Continuing Creation and to other people for help, change in behavior, change in attitude, apology, restitution, specific amends, and “living” amends. Living amends includes good and moral behavior in all three moral directions. This includes other people who want to recover and reform. Your Author, J.X. Mason, has himself lived most of his life on a Path of Redemption.
The Book of Continuing Creation also includes the Essay, Leading a Virtuous and Honorable Life. Virtues are more voluntary and proactive than moral principles. As you might expect, our Essay places emphasis on the Virtues of creativity and productive work. These virtues are not emphasized in Christianity, Hinduism, or Buddhism. As an example, consider the Virtue of Right Livelihood, which is one of the eight practices of Buddhism’s Noble Eightfold Path: 16
Example: The Virtue of Right Livelihood
Say you work in the field of finance. If you are a traditional banker, lending money to small and medium-sized businesses to help them grow, you are contributing to the Practice of Continuing Creation; you are a “pie-maker.’ You are aligned with the Growing, Organizing, Direction of the Cosmos. This is a Right Livelihood (as it would be called in Buddhism).
But if you work for a credit card company and your job is to create the obfuscating rules that first over-extends credit and then escalates the borrower’s interest rate beyond all reason, then you are not aligned with the Path of Continuing Creation. You are not a “pie-maker,” you are a “pie-divider,” taking pie from poor borrowers and giving it to rich creditors.
Some might argue that it is up to the “invisible hand of market competition” to correct this situation. But the Morality of Continuing Creation says, No, the moral path is not always the path of unfettered markets. Yes, the moral path is a matter of individual choice and individual responsibility. But The Book of Continuing Creation does not hold with “Buyer Beware.” Law and Regulation must protect consumers.
About the Virtue of Love
In the Practice of Continuing Creation, love means having deep and abiding care and concern for and involvement with one of more of these things: persons; plants and animals; our work; and our constructive activities. When we have and express Love, we can at times enter a “flow state,” or what athletes call “the Zone,” where our being in a sense merges with the object of our positive involvement.
For Weavers of Continuing Creation, love is not the supreme virtue. The supreme virtue is furthering the balanced flowering of Continuing Creation. But love very strongly contributes to that over-arching virtue by creating and then building stronger, richer interpersonal relationships.
Love is not unique to human beings. Dogs love, elephants love, whales love. In fact, almost all mammals love their young; many love their mates; and a number love their brothers and sisters. [Note] Animals of different species may also learn to love each other if they live in a protected environment. See “Animal Odd Couples, the television series Nature, on PBS. http://www.pbs.org/wnet/nature/animal-odd-couples-full-episode/8009/. This fact does not lessen the importance and power of love in human living.
Love is the deepest form of interconnection that humans can experience, because it involves not just intellect, but also emotion and great sharing of time, effort, and wealth. Family love especially enlists our genetic drive to pass on our genes. Love makes it possible for human parents to fulfills our children’s needs during their uniquely long period of childhood dependency.
While the sharing of time and resources is limited, human love in the forms of empathy, kindness, and emotional connection can flower and grow over an entire lifetime.
Ants or computers may succeed the human race, but it’s unlikely that they would have the same capacity for love as humans… or as dogs, elephants, or whales.
The Way of Continuing Creation describes different levels of love, concern, and respect for different circles of human acquaintance, which is consistent with our biological Nature. We naturally have more love for members of our immediate family than we do for our extended family, and so on.
True, a small minority of humans – including Jesus, Saint Francis of Assisi, Gandhi — may elect and succeed in manifesting universal love. But their lives should not be held up as the model for the rest of us. If we all became Mother Teresa, no Thomas Edison would have invented the light bulb; no Jonas Salk would have discovered the polio vaccine; no team composed of Drs. Townes, Schawlow, Gould, Maiman, Javan, Bennett, & Herriott would have created the laser.
The Purpose and Meaning of Our Human Lives
The Book of Continuing Creation says — The purpose of our human lives is Constructive and loving participation in the Growing, Organizing, Direction of the Cosmos. This includes preservation of the Earth and its biosphere, enhancement of the human condition, and progression of knowledge, culture, and technology.
Several Essays (and Blog Posts by J.X. Mason) talk about the purpose of our human lives. The Essay called Living a Fulfilled and Happy Life presents a number of routines and disciplines for achieving fulfillment, including our Seven Steps of Daily Growth.
Cultivating closer personal alignment with Continuing Creation enriches our individual lives.
Individual humans also have the same fundamental purposes as the lowly bacterium – to Be, to Live over time, and to Reproduce. Every living thing, from the lowly single-cell bacterium to the human being, requires the same three basic things: 1) a boundary between itself and the outside environment, 2) a metabolism for the food that generates what engineers call a throughput of energy, and 3) a way to reproduce.
Do we humans have a purpose beyond survival? If so, the easy answer is to say the Purpose of Life is to “Be Happy.” But that’s too easy; too self-centered.
We can correctly say that our primary concern is for our ourselves and our immediate families, for this concern is rooted in biology and mammalian nurture of children. The emotion of familial love is rightly very strong, and The Book of Continuing Creation champions family values. Of course, not everyone has biological or adopted children, and childless people can admirably devote love and to their friends, their work, to causes, or to research and the arts.
Looking beyond our connection to family and friends, it is also clear that The Growing, Organizing, Direction of the Cosmos is manifest in human nature. We are natural explorers, strivers, learners, builders, artists, and organizers. Therefore, the purpose of each individual human life includes contributing to the Continuing Creation by working, discovering, inventing, creating, building, sharing, learning and loving.
This concept is similar to (but not the same as) Catholic doctrine, which says that the purpose of life is to “Glorify God.” But today, we can actually describe what “glorifying” means. It’s about actively contributing to the positive processes of Continuing Creation. Co-Agents of Continuing Creation are motivated to contribute to the creative process of the universe by working, discovering, creating, and inventing. Within our Way of Continuing Creation, this intense and positive involvement in life is how we define Love, in its broadest sense.
There are three human drives: the Selfish-Aggressive drive, the Selfless-Sharing Drive, and the Drive to Create and Build, which may be a combination of the first two drives. Selfishness is the evolutionary force of competition, and selflessness is the evolutionary force of cooperation. Continuing Creation and the process of Evolution have always contained all three. Human nature also contains all three.
In their drive to accumulate and control, selfish-aggressive people can accumulate and build a great deal. People work hardest for themselves and their own families.
But sometimes the Selfish Drive produces violence. Plants have been at war with insects for millions of years. Animals, including humans, have been at war with bacteria and viruses for millions of years. Human civilizations have been at war for tens of thousands of years, and at war with their criminal elements for just as long. In the future, humans may be at war with their own machines. Humans are already doing untold violence to the general biosphere.
On the other hand, people who share and cooperate with each other can also build a great deal. Cooperation can magnify the creative power of each person acting alone.
However, sometimes the Selfless Drive produces passivity, resignation, decline, and decay – as we during the communist rule over Russia and eastern Europe in the four decades after World War Two.
Here’s an example of both drives in action: On the one hand, patent protection (the Selfish Drive) can aid progress by motivating inventors to invent; while on the other hand, freely sharing scientific knowledge (the Selfless Drive) can advance world progress by stimulating other people to make related discoveries.
The evolutionary Process of Continuing Creation has produced all three drives. We cannot say that Continuing Creation excludes aggression, suffering or evil, because all three of those do exist. The processes of Continuing Creation will continue create by any method it can, with or without the element of cooperation. However, the evolutionary and historical records show that a combination of the selfish and the selfless creative drives produces the most Continuing Creation.
Followers of Continuing Creation understand that the one overall Direction of the Growing, Organizing, Direction of the Cosmos is not toward (a) aggressively competing and controlling, nor toward (b) selflessly sharing and loving, but toward (c) creatively building and progressing.
If humans kill themselves off in a nuclear or biological holocaust, it is likely that the Processes of Continuing Creation will evolve new species on Earth to occupy the ecological space we leave behind, using new and novel forces of both competition and cooperation.
The Way of Continuing Creation says that we Humans are part of the Earth and we are part of its Ecology and Processes. While we have a serious obligation to preserve and sustain species and ecologies, we have the right to compete against species that might truly threaten us (e.g., plague bacteria/ viruses), the right to keep our machines under human control, and the right to preserve our own existence and our human values. We may try to achieve all this and fail, but we must try. And that effort must balance our care among all three interdependent sides of the Moral Triangle: Progress – Earth – Humanity.
Inspirational People in the History of Continuing Creation
Most of the Old Religions are centered on a single inspirational person – Lao Tzu, the Buddha, Jesus Christ, Muhammad. Stephen Prothero calls these figures religious “exemplars,” and he also includes the lesser saints, prophets, martyrs, and well-known gurus.
We are all drawn to exemplars, to heroes and heroines, because humans are social animals. The explosion of social media shows how fascinated we are with the lives of others. For the Path of Continuing Creation to inspire most people, it must also present us with inspirational people. But not Jesus (too communal). Not Buddha (too withdrawing). Not Socrates or Plato (too studious; too dependent on slaves). Not Einstein (too mean to his wife).
For Participants in Continuing Creation, a better hero from the ancient past might be the Stoic philosopher Marcus Aurelius (whom we quoted at the opening of our Introduction, and again just below); and also the unnamed Romans who invented the stone arch and the use of concrete mortar.
“Constantly regard the universe as one living being, having one substance and one soul; and observe how all things have reference to one perception, the perception of this one living being; and how all things act with one movement; and how all things are the cooperating causes of all things which exist; observe too the continuous spinning of the thread and the contexture of the web.” – Marcus Aurelius, Meditations IV, 40.
The Way of Continuing Creation: The Growing, Organizing, Direction of the Cosmos is a characteristically American spiritual path, emphasizing action, discovery, new knowledge, and progress. It is a “can do” spiritual path.
We could list many other heroes and heroines from more modern times, including Thomas Edison, Jonas Salk, Frank Lloyd Wright, Harriett Tubman, Leonardo Da Vinci, Neil DeGrasse Tyson, Voltaire, E.O. Wilson, Lewis Thomas, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, James Clerk Maxwell, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Alan Turing, Srinivasa Ramanujan, Martin Luther King, John Muir, Mary Wollstonecraft, Sojourner Truth, Elizabeth Blackwell, Marie Currie, Helen Keller, Dorothy Hodgkin, Margaret Thatcher, Billie Jean King, Benazir Bhutto, Oprah Winfrey, Malala Yousafzai, Mary Barra, Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, and Elon Musk.
Of course, we would need to know if the private lives of these people were as laudable as their public achievements have been. They may have cheated their siblings, abused their spouses, shamed and belittled their children.
Every Participant in Continuing Creation should research and select his or her own personal exemplars, provided they are exemplars of the Way of Continuing Creation itself. For more, see our Essay on Inspirational People.
Objective Truth vs. “Relative Truth”
While proponents of the Old Religions slaughter each other, another kind of war is going on. This is the war between fundamentalists who insist on believing in the absolute word of their own particular book, and modern questioning and critical thinking.
Too many educated liberals today follow the writings of comparative mythologist Joseph Campbell. They see the old primitive religions as cute, precious, and anthropologically interesting. And they wistfully call for adoption of some “modern” myths to provide poetic imagery. No! We should not go there. It is too dangerous, because too many people are eager to believe in just about anything.
In the city where author J.X. Mason currently lives, there are a number of intelligent men at a particular Protestant Church who believe not only in Jesus Christ, but also in alien visitations and the urban myth that the CIA was behind the 9/11 on the Twin Towers in New York City.
Problems with Postmodernism
Underpinning this upswing in public gullibility is the “post-modern” idea that there is no objective truth; that whatever is in your mind is your truth, and all such truths are equally valid. According to the post-modernists, there is no Truth, there are only models that “portray” reality from different points of view. This is a potentially catastrophic idea.
Postmodernism holds that many, if not all, apparent realities are only social constructs and are therefore subject to change. It claims that there is no absolute truth and that the way people perceive the world is subjective and emphasizes the role of language, power relations, and motivations in the formation of ideas and beliefs.
Practitioners of Our Way are objectivists. We hold that the conclusions science and historical research are true across all cultures. We reject the subjectivity of postmodern thought.
People have different opinions about different subjects, but all opinions are not equal. There are informed opinions and uninformed opinions, but facts are facts. As the late U.S. Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan once said, “Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not to their own facts.”
Many religious liberals believe that all religions are equally meaningful and equally good. Therefore, we are all “citizens of the world.” Really? Nazism and the political orthodoxy of North Korea share many of the features of a religion. Do we want to respect them as we would Presbyterianism or Buddhism? Absolutely not.
To see how awful a near-future fundamentalist-Christian theocracy in the United States could be, read Margaret Atwood’s prize-winning 1986 novel, The Handmaid’s Tale. The epilogue to Atwood’s novel takes place long after the theocracy has fallen. In the epilogue, a group of university students are critically (and wittily) discussing the old regime. The contrast between the closed-mindedness of the old theocracy and the reasoned free expression of the new open society is stunning. 17
Practitioners of Continuing Creation do not adopt the postmodernist idea that “all myths are types of truth,” and “all religions are okay.” We should not all join hands and sing “Kumbaya.” All religions are not equal, as we repeatedly show in our Essays on the various world religions.
What the Path of Continuing Creation Can Do in Our Individual Lives
Finding Inner Peace
Christians seek inner peace through faith in Jesus and universal love, and outer peace through Brotherhood and Radical Sharing… followed by an eventual Last Judgment and Paradise for the Faithful.
Wahabi Muslims seek Inner peace through submission, and outer peace through an authoritarian world caliphate… followed by an eventual last judgment and paradise for the faithful and righteous.
Followers of Continuing Creation plan to attain inner peace, here and now on Earth, by Creative Contribution to the Growing, Organizing, Direction of the Cosmos, and outer peace by helping create three things:
- A restored, healthy biosphere on Earth – (a) principally by lowering birth rates such that the human population drops by 50% over 100 years, (b) by creating new clean-energy technologies, ands by adopting sustainable lifestyles and patterns of consumption.
- Advancement in science, technology, and culture such that everyone in Earth’s reduced population enjoys a high standard of living (comparable to Scandinavia today), including excellent and universal healthcare, nutrition, education, and life-opportunities. At the same time, the economy should become inherently sustainable and Earth-centered.
- The universal rule of law, the preservation of individual rights and freedoms, and equitable participatory government, free from war, crime, and corruption.
People on the Path of Continuing Creation have no fantasies of life after death. However, we know that #2 and #3 above are not only attainable here on Earth, they are highly probable here on Earth…. If today’s exploding human infestation and pollution of the planet can be reversed.
Developing Spirituality Based on the Processes of Continuing Creation
Spirituality happens when we align our minds and emotions with Continuing Creation.
Spirituality happens when we have a transcendent awareness of The Whole.
Spirituality happens when we feel deeply connected to all of Creation.
Experiencing Primal Spirituality
The spiritual experience does not depend on practicing any religion or any particular spiritual path. Primal Reverence happens to virtually all humans, when we look at a beautiful sunrise; contemplate a flowing stream of water; listen to a symphony; watch a happy baby playing with its mother’s fingers. When we see these things, we feel a surge of well-being, appreciation, and connectedness to all of Life… to Continuing Creation. This Primal Spirituality is built into our minds by the process of mammalian evolution. (For more, see our Blog on Primal Reverance.)
“It is very difficult to explain this cosmic, religious feeling to anyone who is entirely without it, especially as there is no anthropomorphic conception of God corresponding to it. The individual feels the nothingness of human desires and aims and the sublimity and marvelous order which reveal themselves both in Nature and in the world of thought. He looks upon individual existence as a sort of prison and wants to experience the universe as a single significant whole.” 18
— Albert Einstein
Primal, or Nature-based spirituality is expanded and strengthened by scientific understanding. For example, we may view a magnificent tree in the forest. We stop to watch the light twinkle through its leaves and the wind move its branches. If we can go further and think about the water and nutrients rising up from the tree roots through the inner bark; or if we think about the miracle of photosynthesis in the leaves, storing the sun’s energy in the substance of the tree and exhaling oxygen for all animals to breath, then our spiritual experience is enriched through understanding.
Because the Whole is greater than the sum of its parts, the Whole is Transcendent. When people have a Spiritual Experience, they are directly apprehending the Whole. They are transcending analysis (identification of parts; finding cause and effect) and experiencing synthesis. (In our Essay, Forerunners to Our Spiritual Path, we discuss Transcendentalism, an American philosophical and spiritual movement of the mid-1800’s led by Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau.)
Ancient people had primal spiritual experiences. But they had insufficient science to understand them and describe them. So, they created myths. For many people today, it helps to have a supportive community around us to practice spirituality. The danger in that is the tendency for religious leaders to ask for conformity to beliefs that are not based on history, science, and reason.
However, for the vast majority of people, it is wrong to retreat into a life devoted to transcendence. The Path of Continuing Creation says it is wrong to dwell in a transcendent state, as do the monks (Buddhist and Catholic), nuns, dervishes, and ascetics of many religions. The correct path is to practice spiritual transcendence (and meditation) as a periodic recharging of the spirit, gathering strength for a more productive life in the active world of the Growing, Organizing, Direction. 19
For further discussion, see our forth-coming Essays, “Religion and the Brain,” and “The Spiritual Practices of Continuing Creation.”
Living a Fulfilled and Happy Life
Can God work in our individual lives? No. God-the-super-person does not exist, and can neither receive prayers, grant favors, nor establish plans for individual lives. However, Continuing Creation: The Growing, Organizing, Direction, of the Cosmos, can work in our individual lives… if we each align ourselves with the G.O.D.C. and then attend to our alignment.
Humans who consciously align their lives with Continuing Creation can lead happy, constructive, and fulfilled Lives. We devote an Essay to this topic, called Leading a Fulfilled and Happy Life. It covers topics including “Right Livelihood,” “Mindfulness,” “Meditation,” “Acceptance & Commitment theory (ACT),” and the Book of Continuing Creation’s “Seven Steps of Daily Growth.”
While our creative work cultivates our individual lives, at the same time it can help increase knowledge, cure disease, eliminate world hunger, invent new technologies, discover eco-friendly energy sources, and eliminate war.
How do we align ourselves with Continuing Creation? How do we move into the central flow of the Growing, Organizing, Direction? Through one or more of three paths: 1) Learning and Critical Thinking, 2) Direct Apprehension, and 3) Constructive Action.
1. The First Path is through the path of Reasoned Study and Critical Thinking.
Members in Continuing Creation pursue lifelong learning. We attend schools, we read substantive books, we discuss issue with others. We use the internet and Wikipedia, and we watch documentary films, subscribe to serious newspapers and periodicals. We peruse essays on science, math, evolution, complexity, and the religions. We are always open to new information and other points of view, and we subject everything to examination.
2. The Second Path is through Direct Apprehension – mindfulness, awareness, contemplation, & meditation.
The colors of the rainbow may be described by their different wavelengths, but the “yellowness” of yellow cannot be explained to someone who has never seen the color yellow. The direct apprehension of yellowness is another instance of primal reverence.
“Perhaps for you it is the stars at night, somewhere beyond the reach of our puny, interfering city lights, the whole sky filled with uncountable rays originating from trillions of light-years away… Or perhaps your taste runs to the deep forest, or the towering redwoods… or the suspense and drama of a thunderstorm… or even the first unfolding green of the garden, coming back to life after winter’s severity… Let me promise you: …None of that has anything to do with Jesus. Or Buddha… The primal experience of reverence in and for the natural world precedes theology of any variety. It is an organic human experience that requires no supernatural explanations…The visceral response of reverence is as real and as functional to the kind of creatures we are as our hunger, our fear, our sexual impulses, our protection of the young.”
— The Reverend Dr. Kendyl Gibbons,
— “Primal Reverence,” UU Worlds, Summer 2015. Pp 22-30.
What About “Prayer” in the Practice of Continuing Creation?
The Practice of Continuing Creation holds that “prayer” is actually a reflection and affirmation. Prayer can calm a person and reduce anxiety because reflection and affirmation have that power. However, instead of the word “pray,” a better description of what most Practitioners of Continuing Creation do is “reflect, envision, and affirm.”
Still, as long as we understand that “God” is not listening our individual words, it is okay to “talk” to the Growing, Organizing, Direction without feeling silly, because Continuing Creation is within us, and we are within Continuing Creation. Humans evolved to hold conversations, and verbalizing our thoughts is a way to make them concrete in our own minds.
Followers of Continuing Creation are not Supplicants. We are Participants. Rather than ask God to do things for a loved one, we envision good things for a loved one. The visualization of the good event should help us do something or act in a way that helps the good thing come to pass.
In the western world, God is can be like an all-powerful parent, at times angry and at times loving. Continuing Creation, on the other hand, is like a river. It buoys us up, it floats us, and its current moves us forward if we are positioned correctly within it. We must learn to avoid the rapids; but navigate them when necessary. We must learn to stay in the main channel – avoiding the rocks and sandbars. And we accept that there may be storms and floods.
3. The Third Path is through Action – through productive and positive living.
Human beings are products of Continuing Creation. Human beings also have a major, historically unprecedented role in the furtherance of Continuing Creation. Therefore, The Growing, Organizing, Direction of the Cosmos is within us…. And in the world around us.
The order of Freemasons is a spiritual practice built around the craft of building itself. Its symbols are the compass and square. The building of Stonehenge, and the cathedrals of Europe were not done by slave labor; they were labors of love. The ethic of building is inherently anti-war, anti-crime, anti-destruction. (For more discussion of Freemasonry, see our Essay, Forerunners to Our Path & Practice.) 20
Dealing with Suffering & Evil on the Path of Continuing Creation
A major reason why religion evolved was to help people deal with suffering and evil. The Book of Continuing Creation devotes an Essay to this subject called, Suffering and Evil – Causes and Responses.
In that Essay, we conclude that a great deal of suffering results from the frequent competition between species and individuals in our ecosystems. Humans want to use their bodies and reproduce; cholera bacteria want to consume our bodies and reproduce.
Suffering also results from entropy – the general tendency for every system to eventually wear out. We humans experience it in many ways, including arthritis in our joints. Entropy is a very important concept, and we discuss it in a number of different Essays in the Book.
Physical pain is the body’s alert system, telling us that something is wrong. Some animals, humans in particular, experience psychic pain because we are able to remember and plan. So, we spend painful time regretting the past and worrying about the future.
Evil is not the same as suffering. Suffering can occur via impersonal forces, like Earthquakes and hurricanes; whereas Evil requires an Evil-perceiver and almost always an Evil-doer. Moreover, the evil-doer is usually required to have evil intent. In our Essays, we explore the various sources and types of evil and how best to counteract it.
Most of the world’s religions teach that we should deal with suffering by changing our attitude, To accomplish this, people are to “trust in God,” “practice acceptance,” “stop mental attachment,” and (often) to “wait for heaven.” None of these religions advocate practical action to solve suffering, because they all evolved before the scientific and industrial revolutions.
The Practice of Continuing Creation, however, is a modern Spiritual Practice and places great emphasis on preventing and curing suffering. How? Through modern medicine, sanitation, nutrition, sturdy and warm shelter, safety and security from attack.
Dealing with Death
Another major reason for the evolution of religion is to help people deal with the deaths of loved ones, and with the inevitability of their own death. Death is often seen as “the final suffering.” Our Essay on this subject is, Dealing with Death on the Paths of Our Lives.
Heaven is a fairy-tale land where there is no entropy and not even any change. The myth of Heaven is a mental fiction that religious people use to accommodate the fact suffering during life and the fact of ultimate death. The myth of Hell is a threat used by the Old Desert Religions to motivate good behavior.
The Practice of Continuing Creation has bad news and good news. The bad news is, there is no evidence of life after death; no evidence of heaven or reincarnation. The good news is, there is no evidence of hell.
In contrast to the Old Religions, The Path of Continuing Creation provides a number of real reasons to help humans deal with death. Here are some of them:
- Death is Creative Evolution’s way of clearing a path for progress, of taking out the old to make way for the new, for change achieved through biologic and cultural evolutions.
- If all our ancestors had not died, we would not be born; or if we were born, “we” would be some type of ape or small mammal; because no mutation, and therefore no evolution would have taken place to transform our ancestors, generation by generation, into human beings.
- Death makes room for new life, and new mutations within that life. Some of those mutations will be favored by Continuing Creation, just as mammals were favored over the dinosaurs; just as our human race was favored over our cousins the Neanderthals.
- Since death is real, we must make our lives here on Earth as good, creative and full as we can.
- There is no evidence that Continuing Creation is placing all its bets on the human race. If all the mammals were to go extinct due to a giant meteor crashing into Earth, Earth’s insects could rise and evolve an intelligence equal to or surpassing or own. And if all life on Earth were destroyed, the processes of Continuing Creation may have spurred other life forms on planets in other solar systems.
- At present, everyone ages and dies. In the future, however, human life is likely to be extended – possibly indefinitely. Cloning is a possible way to do that, as is transfer of a person’s experience into a computer inside an advanced robot. Perhaps such an embodiment could “live” in a favorable cyber-world that would be a kind of “Heaven.”
- Or, we humans could “give birth” to technological “creatures” – machines that are intelligent, can replicate, and can evolve on their own (what some writers call the Second Singularity). Perhaps such machine-creatures would turn against us humans, as some science fiction writers have imagined. Although this would be disastrous for humankind, it would be consistent with the Processes of the Growing, Organizing, Direction.
- In any case, the Direction of Continuing Creation toward increasing intelligence and sophistication – seems clear; at least in our experience so far here on Earth.
Practicing and Celebrating the Way of Continuing Creation
We hope that Practitioners of Continuing Creation will congregate. If so, we will want to establish a calendar of annual events, and ceremonies marking important stages of life, special symbols and places. For more detail, see our forthcoming Essay(s) on Practices, Symbols, Special Events, Inspirational People (discussed earlier), Stories, and Songs.
Ceremonies In The Flow of Continuing Creation
- Flower Communion to celebrate love, cooperation, and unity
- Maypole Ceremony to celebrate the re-birth of Spring.
- Tree-planting ceremony; Arbor Day.
- Spring equinox to celebrate flowering and rebirth; with bunnies, eggs, and chicks.
- Harvest Festivals at Autumn equinox celebrate the bounty of the growing season.
- Winter Solstice marks the passing of the shortest day. Celebrates conception, fertilization, sleep and hibernation. Symbols are the lighted evergreen tree and the yule log.
- Ceremonies celebrating building and creating. Cornerstones, ribbon-cuttings, fireworks.
- Graduation ceremonies celebrate learning.
- Annual Celebration(s) for the Inspirational People we listed earlier in this Overview.
Symbols of the Way of Continuing Creation
- The Golden Moebius Strip, which is the logo for continuing Creation. It circles and enfolds, yet has only one side and one edge. Celebrates pattern and mathematics.
- The mature tree — the largest living thing on Earth. It conducts photosynthesis, supporting animal life on the planet.
- As a tree Grows, it Organizes, and it has Direction (up and outward) = G.O.D. Or, we can emphasize the progression with little forward-pointing arrows, G>O>D>.
- The ancient Taoist Yin-and-Yang Symbol — the dance of opposites that creates patterns.
- Water is the chemical basis and medium for all life on Earth, and a symbol of purity.
- The Grand Canyon, the Everglades… are beautiful creations of geologic and biologic evolution.
- The whale is the largest mobile creature on Earth; a social animal with language.
- Flowers are among the most beautiful things on Earth, and are worthy of celebration.
- Earth’s Mineral crystals are also beautiful and worthy of celebration.
- Flowing streams of water – they represent the Flow of Continuing Creation.
- Ecosystems, with their interlocking creatures, soils, and habitats are worthy of celebration.
- The great Creations of cultural evolution – pyramids, cathedrals, Van Gogh’s art, Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, the Federalist Papers…
…. All these, and more, are worthy of celebration in our forthcoming, Celebrations of Continuing Creation: The Growing, Organizing, Direction of the Cosmos.
- Peter A. Corning, Nature’s Magic: Synergy in Evolution and the Fate of Humankind, 2003, Cambridge University Press, ISBN 0-521-82547-4. See also Peter A. Corning, Holistic Darwinism: Synergy, Cybernetics and the Bioeconomics of Evolution, 2005, University of Chicago Press, ISBN 0-226-11613-1.
- Herbert F. Vetter, Is God Necessary? No! And Yes!, 2007, Harvard Square Library, p.105.
- C. Rowe, “Playboy interview of Richard Dawkins,” August 20, 2012. Playboy Magazine, http://www.playboy.com/articles.
- CERN, The Early Universe, https://home.cern/about/physics/early-universe).
- For timelines of the Big Bang and early Universe, see Chronology of the Universe, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chronology_of_the_universe.
- Laurence C. Smith, “The Continuity Equations,” This Explains Everything, John Brockman, Editor, 2013, Edge Foundation, pp. 245-248.
- Sam Kean, The Disappearing Spoon: And Other True Tales of Madness, Love, and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of the Elements, 2010, Little, Brown and Company p. 145.
- Lewis Thomas, The Lives of a Cell: Notes of a Biology Watcher, 1974, The Viking Press, p. 13.
- Richard Dawkins, The Blind Watchmaker: Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe Without Design, 1986, W.W. Norton & Co. p. 14.
- Jeanne Sahadi, “The Richest 10% hold 76% of the Wealth,” CNN Money, 8-18-16. http://money.cnn.com/2016/08/18/pf/wealth-inequality/index.html.
- Lao-Tzu, Tao Ted Ch’ing: A New English Version, with Forward and Notes by Stephen Mitchell, 1988, Harper Row, p. 25.
- Teilhard de Chardin, The Phenomenon of Man, 1961, Harper Torchbooks, p. 259.
- Stuart Gary, “What is the Goldilocks Zone,” ABC Science, February 21, 2016, http://www.abc.net.au/news/science/2016-02-22/goldilocks-zones-habitable-zone-astrobiology-exoplanets/6907836
- See for example, Max Tegmark, Our Mathematical Universe; and Mario Livio, Is God a Mathematician?
- Ray Kurzweil, The Singularity is Near, 2005, Penguin Group, pp 14-21.
- Thich Nhat Hanh, The Heart of Buddha’s Teaching: Transforming Suffering Into Peace, Joy, and Liberation, 1998, Parallax Press and Broadway Books.
- Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale, 1998, Anchor Books.
- Albert Einstein, quoted in Newberg et al, Why God Won’t Go Away: Brain Science and the Biology of Belief, 2001, Ballantine Books, pp.153-4.
- For examples of integration between the practical and the transcendent, see Robert M. Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, 1974, Wm. Morrow & Co.
- Note: The Path of Continuing Creation has no organizational relationship with Freemasonry, and author J.X. Mason is not a Freemason.
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