The reorganisation of humanity as imagined in my post on world government requires an adjustment which might need to be revolutionary. If during the transition, the world descends into chaos, it will be important to have some touchstones, some values that can guide us and keep us on track.
For many people, this comes in the form of religion. But religions as they exist today seem to do more to divide us than to bring us together.
If we are to venerate something in the future, it must be something universal, that transcends any particular time or place. Something so universal that if we were to discover alien civilisations, we would discover temples to the very same gods.
What gods are so universal that they arise naturally as an object of veneration?
The One God and Truth.
An all powerful One God arises logically from any contemplation on divinity. The god of monotheism is a mathematical necessity. And it is also natural to want to worship the ‘most powerful’ of the deities.
Such a God will always stand at the top of a list of objects of veneration. But because the One God contains all qualities, it is problematic as an object of worship. The fact is that monotheisms all end up reflecting the nature of the society in which they emerge — the true one god remains above, intangible. It cannot be worshiped in its true form.
Instead, God is better able to be imagined and sought out as Truth or Beauty or Love. For example, a temple to Truth is a temple to the manifestation of God in a form tangible to the logic of the mind. It is an ideal that arises naturally from contemplating God.
Truth, beauty and love also have an ineffable quality which can be hard to tie down, this also captures the nature of the one God.
The search and application of Truth is itself the way of justice. The search for Love is realized as compassion. Beauty is realized in the things we create.
An attempt to find the One God is possible on Earth through our realisation that Truth, Beauty and Love are her manifestations. The temples are already built in our houses of law, and our art galleries, and our churches.
The Universe and Gaia
The total of all that IS, materially, is a more tangible object of worship than one God, and clearly deserves a place in the pantheon. The Greeks envisaged it as Ouranos (‘Uranus’-the planet was discovered and named much later) as a father, and it is a natural object of veneration and contemplation. However a more immediate object of affection and veneration for a species is its home planet, and ours is Earth. She has also been worshiped through time and has been called Gaia.
Gaia according to Hesiod’s Theogony was one of the first four gods to emerge from Chaos. But I am adopting the name and applying it to the wider mother earth god which appeared in religions around the world. Shakti would perhaps do as well. There are many other names.
Green movements, those seeking to preserve the world’s ecosystems, and protect her from exploitation already incorporate a concept of Gaia into their values. There is no big shift then, to re-deify Gaia, but I think it is useful to crystallize the object of this work and passion.
Gaia deserves our veneration, for her beauty and power, and as the immediate creator and sustainer of our own wellbeing as a species. There should be temples to Gaia everywhere to remind us of our duty to protect our planet.
“A moment of doubt in the mind is a devil” echoes a belief held by many religions (I quote from Lin-Chi) that doubt, as opposed to faith, is a bad thing. Yet interestingly, science is built on a foundation of this healthy, doubting skepticism. Doubt is the attitude that naturally arises when we realise that we don’t and can’t know everything, and that what we think we know might turn out to be wrong after further inquiry.
The unknown doubtlessly exists, yet by definition, we can know nothing about it. All we can do is chip away at the edges, and in creating the desire in us to do this, it exerts a sort of negative force on human activity. The unknown is not lessened by our knowing, it just retreats further into the cracks, where it awaits to destabilize our vain constructions. Washing through all life, it is the forgetting of sleep, it is the blank curtain of death, the unwinnable secret. It is powerful and essential, and by firing our doubt it breaks our delusions and brings us closer to reality.
Self-doubt can be debilitating, yet it is also the foil of blind faith, and self-infatuated egoism. Used like a surgeons knife, doubt is a tool, and a fundamental value that underpins modern evidence-based decision making. The great unknown that is the source of doubt should be venerated for its acid-bath potency and its wisdom. Its temples already exist as our observatories, and our places of learning.
These three gods make a triptych. I think there is a natural sense in this, and that this is a reflection on the way things really are. The test is whether the idea arises naturally to others, as anything that only occurs to me is useless, although we are all intimately connected to the ultimate, just as we are all connected to each other and to the big bang. The One God and the Unknown have merged to form the Universe, and just as Gaia is the child of the Universe, the child of Gaia, is life on Earth. That is how I see it.