Im September werden unsere Stiftung und ihr Magazin 25 Jahre bestehen. Obwohl dies sicherlich ein Grund zum Feiern ist, sollte angemerkt werden, dass sich aufgrund des fortgeschrittenen Alters seiner Mitglieder der gesamte Vorstand unserer Stiftung zum Rücktritt gezwungen fühlt. Dies bedeutet, dass unser Magazin im September in dieser Form zum letzten Mal erscheint. Da es jedoch unsere aufrichtige Überzeugung ist, dass das Ziel unserer Stiftung, die auf das geistige Erbe von Teilhard de Chardin aufmerksam macht, von größter Wichtigkeit ist, möchten wir, dass andere unsere Arbeit in der einen oder anderen Form fortsetzen. Deshalb würden wir es begrüßen, wenn wir mit denen in Kontakt treten könnten, die an der Fortführung unserer Stiftung und ihres Magazins interessiert sind und sich dafür engagieren möchten. Wenn Sie Interesse haben, uns per E-Mail zu kontaktieren, freuen wir uns, Sie nach Heiloo einzuladen, um bei der Hausadresse unseres Vorsitzenden zu sprechen.
In September our foundation and its magazine will have been in existence for 25 years. Although this is certainly a cause for celebration, it should be noted that due to the advanced age of its members the entire board of our foundation feels forced to step down. This means that in September our magazine will be published in this form for the last time. However, since it is our sincere belief that the goal of our foundation drawing attention to the intellectual legacy of Teilhard de Chardin is of the utmost importance, we would very much like others to continue our work in one form or another. Which is why we would appreciate it if we could come into contact with those who are interested in the continuation of our foundation and its magazine and are willing to devote themselves to achieving this. If you are interested in contacting us by e-mail, we will be pleased to invite you to Heiloo to talk things over at our chairman’s home address.
Henk Hogeboom van Buggenum
Biophysicist Cees Dekker regrets in his preview of the Dutch translation of this book the prevailing 'either - or' attitude when the issue 'creation and evolution' comes up. The Dutch broadcasting company EO (evangelical) speaks of 'Adam or Eve', and other journalists like to call it the 'God or Darwin' dialogue. Personally I prefer Collins' approach because it may leed to a 'both - and' position.
Francis Collins was the managing director of the National Human Genome Research Institute from 1993 onwards and headed the historical project of unravelling human DNA. The personal and sometimes emotional story of his life on a farm as a child, his academic years when he was an agnostic (and by the time he obtained his doctorate in chemistry he had become a firm atheist) is told in detail. Also the ensuing awareness of the value of Christianity as a belief in a personal God when he started working with patients as an MD after completing his medical studies. C.S. Lewis' books have had great influence on his life, especially the idea of 'Moral Law', which contradicts post-modern belief that all ethical positions are relative (p.33).
Collins clearly states that 'absolute proof of God's existence' cannot be established scientifically (p.74), but our awareness of Moral Law as an inner activity points us towards a caring God. He does not evade questions 1ike 'why does a loving God permit suffering' (p. 46 ff)
Collins does not mention Teilhard de Chardin and his writings. However, his feeling that Moral Law points in the direction of evolution (p.132) is consistent with Teilhard's view that Moral Law gives evidence of the mechanism of evolution. Teilhard's 'law' of simultaneous increase of complexity and psychism may surely be noticed in the entire process of evolution as cooperation or the unification of parts in faveur of the whole. In spite of obvious human selfishness, altruism is evident also, as human beings cautiously are on their way towards point Omega. According to Teilhard this is the ultimate point of evolutionary awareness towards human completion - enlightenment.
Anyway, if we summarize our 3,5 billion years of biological evolution on the time-scale of one day (as Collins does on page 131/132), it seems that so far we have only covered a fraction of a second on our human way. We have only just started, even if technologically we have advanced considerably.
The convergence of science and religion
It is clear that Collins follows Darwin and his findings as well as astrophysics concerning the origins of the cosmos. The "Big Bang (p.63 ff), the anthropic principle (p.70), the complexity of human DNA which wonderfully fits in with the genealogy of life on earth (p. 98), they all indicate that there is a creative force at work. He also writes, 'How appealing to us are the beauty and artistry of the details in all living creatures…for those believers in God there are reasons for great admiration.' (p.97) Of course, there are other options for the relation between science and religion. Collins discusses: Agnosticism, Atheism, Creationism and 'Intelligent Design' (p.140-167). He presents many good arguments for the strength or weakness of each. Collins prefers an 'utterly credible, intellectually satisfactory and logically consistent synthesis' of science and religion (p.170): a theistic theory of evolution for which he proposes the term 'biologos'.
The ethical decisions which present themselves in our scientific advances require more cooperation between the sciences and religion.
Het Paradijs ligt voor ons
ISBN 0 8203 2030 7, Shambala Publications, 1993, £ 25,- , 550 pp.
Edward Goldsmith's Magnum Opus The Way strings together the various phenomena of our present-day way of life in the so-called Western World, criticizing and synthesizing them into a grand epos of Holism.
'Magazine editors do not know who,to send it to for a review, as my book covers a lot of ground and they can't make out whether it is about ecology, anthropology, economics, sociology, the philosophy of science, or religion', to quote the author. And it is exactly this 'problem' that makes it such a comprehensive masterpiece, in my view.
Edward Goldsmith is a campaigner and scholar. He is the author of numerous books and articles, and is the founder of The ecologist of which he is still the editor. In 1991 he received the Right Livelihood Award, also known as the Alternative Nobel Prize. The Teilhard Society in England devoted a whole issue of their magazine to his book 'The Blueprint for Survival', which was published in january 1972. Among the contributors to this special issue was Margaret Mead, and also the Duke of Edinburgh.
The book first provides a radical critique of the 'world-view of Modernism' which shapes all the disciplines in terms of which we seek to understand the world. In terms of the world-view of primal societies, human welfare, rather than being maximised by promoting economic development and world trade, was seen instead as best being preserved by maintaining the critical order of the cosmos, which was always taken to encompass society, the natural world and the world of the gods. These, moreover, were all taken to be organised according to the same basic plan and governed by the same fundamental laws.
Whereas with us, major problems are interpreted as evidence that economic development has not proceeded far or fast enough, for such a society they indicated instead that it had diverted from the WAY, disrupting thereby the critical order of the cosmos. This interpretation is of course fundamentally correct, as most of the problems we face are due to the disruption of natural systems - families, communities and ecosystems - for which there is no technical solution.
A truly ecological world-view, as the author sees it, must necessarily be based on the world-view of primal society, whose members, significantly enough, were the only people who knew
how to satisfy their real needs without annihilating the living world on which we totally depend for our welfare - indeed for our survival.
In this context I remember reading Teilhard's speaking of 'the two halves of my fundamental being, the 'Christian' and the 'pagan'. Isn't it also so that our society suffers acutely from being sadly 'split' into 'useful' secular thinking and the religious mind as belonging to two different worlds?
I would like to quote particularly from cha.61 of The Way, the chapter that so eloquently illustrates the Way of the Vernacular Man. The term 'vernacular man' here applies to a society and to the various features of such a society that are self-organizing and self-governing, rather than being organized externally by the State and its institutions etc.
'The concept of the WAY was probably entertained explicitly or implicitly by all vernacular societies. Thus in ancient China the TAO refers at once to the order and to the Way of the cosmos. The term is applied to the daily end yearly 'revolution of the heavens' and of the two powers of light end darkness, day and night, summer and winter, heat end cold ... Tao represents the naturel course of things. Humans follow the Tao, or WAY, by behaving naturally.
In ancient Egypt the concept of MAAT fulfilled a similar role. MAAT meant 'the right order in nature end society as established by the act of creation ... what is right, what is correct, law, order, justice and trust - not only in society but in the cosmos as a whole ... MAAT is both the task which man sets himself and also, as righteousness, the promise and reward which awaits him on fulfilling it.
A similar concept existed in Vedic India. It was referred to as R' ta. We read in the Veda that 'the rivers flow R'ta'. According to R'ta the light of the heaven-born morning has come ... The year is the path of R'ta. The gods themselves are born of the R'ta or in the R'ta: they show by the acts that they know, observe and love R'ta. In man's activity, the R'ta manifests itself as moral law.
The concept of Dharma was also taken up by the Buddhists who brought it to China where the Dharma of Mahayana Buddhism was identified with the Tao: it exists for the benefit of all beings, for does not its chief manifestation, the light of the world shine its blessings on all men and all things?
In the Persian Avesta, the WAY is referred to as Asha, the celestial representative of justice on earth. In ancient Judaism the terms used are Mishpat, which means justice or right judgment, and Sedeq which also means righteousness. These virtues are attributed to God and, at the same time, the overarching vision of human society in harmony with heaven. This harmony is SHALOM, peace.'
In these last paragraphs I have quoted extensively from Goldsmith's book. lt is in chapter 61 that we find the message for humanity today, as it often appears that we are no longer aware of the underlying Laws that govern manifest Creation. Furthermore:
'If to follow the WAY is to maintain the critical order of the cosmos - then a society can be seen as doing so when its behavior pattern is homeotelic. This term is coined by the author, from the Greek 'homeo', the same, and 'telos', meaning goal: normal behavior that serves to maintain the critical order of the whole.
When, on the contrary, it is heterotelic, then a society must be seen as following the anti-way, that which threatens the order of the cosmos and must thereby give rise to the worst possible discontinuities.
Classical mythology abounds in stories of the Earth taking her revenge on those who destroy the natural world... The 'revealed' religions of today such as Christianity, Islam and modern Judaism, have desanctified society and the natural world, leaving them open to exploitation and destruction ... As society disintegrates and religion becomes increasingly 'otherworldly', as man is severed from nature, so his behavior towards his gods ceases to occur within its correct field...'
The wise old Benedictine monk whom I had the privilege of knowing used to say when I complained about the state of affairs in the R.C. Church: 'Ah, but it is only the work of humans'. As he said it there was a twinkle in his eyes.
In 1921 Teilhard remarked: 'I believe that the Church is still a child. Christ, by whom she lives, is immeasurably greater than she can imagine'.
After all, we are all on our evolutionary WAY of learning and growing, while steeped in physical matter here on Earth. As Sri Aurobindo remarked: 'A passionate longing lies at the heart of Matter'.
SHALOM to all of you readers.
Copies of The WAY are available directly from the author and editor of the Ecologist,
46 The Vineyard, Richmond, Surrey TW10 6AN, tel: 020 8332 6963/0295 - Fax: 020 8948 6787,