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Smug Man versus Straw Man:
The Science versus Religion Hoax
By Michael Goodspeed

 "You may believe that you are responsible for what you do, but not
for what you think. The truth is that you are responsible for what you
think, because it is only at this level that you can exercise choice.
 What you do comes from what you think." - A Course in Miracles

At a recent lunch meeting with a friend, I was asked to identify a single ability or asset human beings must have in order to live successfully. Put to this test, my initial instinct was to blurt out such answers as, "Love! Courage! Forgiveness! Inner peace!" But I forced myself to pause for a moment of introspection, and almost immediately, the answer came to me.

"The greatest asset anyone can have is the ability to tell what is true from what is not," I replied.

And my friend raised his eyebrows, seemingly both in pleasure and surprise. He agreed that this is this the most essential ingredient to successful living, and furthermore, it is a quality that much of humanity has always lacked.

We have difficulty distinguishing between truth and falsehood, because so often, our real choices are misrepresented to us. If one is told that the path to truth can only be found on roads A or B–but in reality, both roads lead to a bottomless chasm–what true choice does one have?

This problem is exacerbated in contemporary society, where a handful of huge corporations have bought the majority of TV, radio, and print media. Meaningful debate is stymied by the (often deliberate) misrepresentation of our choices. Incredibly complex and multi-layered issues are distorted so that they appear as simple matters of black and white, either-or.

In political discussions in the U.S., people who call themselves either "conservative" or "liberal" take turns engaging in polemics and ad hominem attacks. Rarely do popular political commentators offer positive ideas for action, but endlessly accuse one another of hypocrisy, dishonesty, and sleaziness. This breeds divisiveness and close-mindedness in the populace, feeding the myth that a "two-party," left or right political system is the only possible reality in America. And it actively discourages true intellectual vision–a desire to learn as much as possible wherever that path might lead.

This perversion of reality by popular media touches every area of human interest. Take, for instance, recent coverage of the so-called Science versus Religion debate. This phrase is used with increasing regularity, as natural disasters, terrorism, fears over coming "pandemics," and warfare have many wondering if we are living in the "end times" prophesied in the Bible. The phrase is also used to frame the evolution versus "intelligent design" debate–a debate forged by a kind of hidden cooperation between the two sides. Both are happy to "debate" the question, as if the debate precludes other possibilities. One side or the other MUST be correct. For most in the news media, all of this comes down to choosing either the literal interpretations of scripture advocated by Christian fundamentalists versus the disciplined, rational, feet-on-the-ground observations of respected scientists. It's simply a case of "blind faith" vs. "rationality."

Personally, I have no religious beliefs, and I am happy to see the "historical accuracy" of the Bible put to the test by science. But I don't think it is "irrational" either to believe in an active "intelligence" in the universe, or to question the tenability of popular scientific theories such as Darwin's model of evolution by "natural selection." In fact, I suspect that the Evangelicals framed the debate in these terms because they know that most humans have a dependable level of good sense: most will not accept the idea that mere biological mechanics could account for the unfathomable sophistication of living organisms. So if you side with intelligent design, the Evangelicals think they win, which is nonsense.

I agree that a literal interpretation of Biblical accounts, including the story of Creation, is not tenable. But I will not be tricked into believing that the best alternative to religious dogma is atheism and its counterpart materialism (the belief that physical matter is the only reality). In truth, science lends no support at all to the materialist's ideology. Increasing numbers of scientists are exploring questions of spirit and consciousness, and their findings contradict the empty and disconnected Universe envisioned by materialists.

The movie What the Bleep Do We Know achieved immense popularity because it spoke for what so many individuals have long recognized, even if they could not express the conviction in words: that there is more to "reality" than the three-dimensional material world. "What the Bleep" featured scholars that are arguing for this stance. Another formidable scholar, scientist and author whose works argue against the philosophy of materialism is Dr. Rupert Sheldrake. He has convincingly demonstrated the psychic connections between humans and their pets.

But of course, true spiritual discovery is not about proving or disproving this or that "phenomenon" in the eyes of others. Even if it were possible to empirically prove the existence of God, I don't believe this would necessarily be of benefit to the human race. To live a spiritual life, one need not believe in "mystical" or "supernatural" principles, but only to devote oneself unconditionally to seeing the truth in every situation.

And more and more people are waking up to this not-so-little secret. Many spiritual guidebooks have emerged in recent years which teach a philosophy contrary to the Christianity of modern Evangelicals. In my opinion, the inane Science vs. Religion debate has little or nothing to tell us about the nature of God, spirit, or the Universe as a whole. Skepticism of the Bible is NOT a repudiation of spiritual reality. I have no use for dogma–scientific OR religious. Given the choice between a smug man and a straw man, I choose neither.

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