The ‘Future of God’ Debate – and the Problem of Evil

This article below by famed female philosopher mythologist anthropologist Jean Houston, deals with the Problem of Evil indirectly as it ponders whether God exists or not; and deals with that ol’ Problem very directly, not to mention dramatically, at the very end of the article…

And here also is a video of Jean Houston talking to Deepak Chopra about the existence of Deity/Consciousness/God. Just like in the article below, in this video Jean also ends dramatically — this time with the remark, “I think suffering is Infinity playing with itself.”

+Katia

THE ‘FUTURE OF GOD’ DEBATE
Dr. Jean Houston
March 15, 2010

Here are a few of the points I made or intended to make at this remarkably
rousing debate between the atheists and skeptics — Michael Shermer and Sam
Harris on one side and Deepak Chopra and myself on the other. The debate was
mostly focused on the scientific aspects for the existence or non existence
of God. My role was to provide a somewhat different perspective.

1. The world has been rearranged, the reset button of history has been hit.
Many are called to take initiatives that before would have seemed unlikely,
if not downright impossible, including the rethinking of the reality of the
Intelligence that underlies the universe. My perspective joins that of the
poet Christopher Fry: “Thank God our time is now when wrong comes up to meet
us everywhere, never to leave us till we take the longest stride of soul men
ever took.” In this, we are present at the birth of an opportunity that
exceeds our imagination — the 13.7 billion year experiment that could
result in our lives coming to end within the century.

2. There is a radical need for a new natural philosophy based on our new
knowledge of the cosmos, the world, the cross-cultural mix of knowledge and
understanding, potential evolutionary directions, and our own emerging
realities. We have been shackled for too long by philosophies, however
noble, that have been limited by much narrower views of the world. And what
is worse, too many of us have been patterned and prepared in the alembic of
these limited views, however out of date they may be, and we find ourselves
to have been marinated in the medieval soup of the mind. Today, many feel
the need to release inadequate ideas of God so that we can all move forward.
To become atheistic and skeptical at a time of so much opportunity is one
way to respond to our dilemma, but then we forget that religion and
spirituality are also about the quest for meaning, transcendence, seeing the
interrelatedness between things, compassion, goodness, laughter, and the
great Pattern that connects all things with each other as well as ways to
live kindly with the suffering that is an inescapable part of the human
condition. Thus, faith will never go away and, in the words of Karen
Armstrong, ” To identify religion with its worst manifestations, claim that
they represent the whole, and then demolish the straw dog thus set up does
not seem a rational or useful way of conducting this important debate.”

3. In spite of the fact that there appears to be a decline in attendance in
traditional organized religions, the search for spiritual experience has
rarely been greater. In America alone, in the last 30 years, the number of
religious groups has doubled. We take new names, sit zazen, become Sufis,
Taoists, neo-pagans, devotees of Kali and Vedanta. Buddhism in all its
varieties is the fastest growing American faith. There is an eruption of
spiritual polyphony, that some might caustically see as “the Divine Deli” or
“cafeteria religion.” What this points to recalls the original Greek meaning
of enthusiasm: entheosiasmos, “being filled with the god.” As one Catholic
Brother told me, “These other traditions do not contradict my own. Rather,
they open the wells of the Waters of Life. When I meditate with His Holiness
[the Dalai Lama], I feel as if the deep rivers of our respective traditions
are meeting and becoming a mighty flood of spirit and renewal.”

4. The complexity of the present world is shattering expectations in every
arena, most especially, in the geography of the soul. Lost as we all are, we
can understand why some retreat into fundamentalisms that provide archaic
certainties, holding houses of containment before the onrush of new
realities. Others wander in a spiritual void, overwhelmed by the loss of all
pattern, looking to material accomplishments to replace the loss of essence.
Still others flee into “replacement strategies”– psychotherapy, drugs, sex,
growth seminars, travel. In each case, mind and body are at the end of their
tether, swung out into vertigo over the abyss of Being. And yet the yearning
for personal experience of the divine reality has never been greater.

5. As Martin Buber taught us, “I” attends to “Thou” much more than “I”
attends to itself. When you get beneath the surface crust of everyday
consciousness, and past the sensory, psychological and even mythic and
symbolic levels of the ecology of inner space, you discover the depths
beyond depths, and, with it, peace, serenity joy — no separations, but also
a transcendent grace and even high creativity. It is not just the mystics,
but the high creatives (some of whom are scientists) who report that in the
throes of creative experience, feel themselves aligned, guided, allied by a
power that is beyond or deep within themselves. This power is felt as
spiritual reality, a vision, an inward voice, an invisible life’s companion,
and became a formidable motivation for a quest for truth and discovery. One
cannot just reduce these experiences to brain secretions and happy neural
chemistries. There is more to us than that. We inhabit the Universe, but the
Universe, with its vast domain of intelligence and inspiration also inhabits
us! In certain states of consciousness and explorations we tap into its
myriad resources.

6. The issue of where this is all coming from has ancient roots. St. Francis
in the 13th century defined the issue of consciousness, the brain and God
when he said “What we are looking for is Who is looking.” Meister Eckhart, a
little later, took it further when he said “The eye by which I see God is
the same eye by which God sees me.” He got into a lot of trouble with the
Pope over that one.

My own take on this is that we are the players in a great game called
Paradox. And what is the paradox? It is that we are both Infinite and finite
beings: As finite beings we are Godstuff incorporated in space and time; as
Infinite being, we are the Living Universe in an eternal yet spirited form
of itself. As this Infinite self expressing aspects of God, and as a form of
the Living Universe, we find ourselves capable of creating and sustaining an
individual finite self. That is you — the human being that is the microcosm
or, if you will, the fractal of the Infinite self. The human Selfing game
may be what Infinity does for fun. Not realizing this, we live in a state of
galloping ambiguity, caught in a limited time vehicle
and yearning for our greater self. Then when we make the rare excursion into
our Greater being, becoming our cosmic selves, we suddenly yearn like
Dorothy in Oz to get back home to the farm in Kansas. Why is this? To
continue the metaphor, to live in Kansas however joyous and rewarding it is
to chronically confront our limitations of body, mind and the others.
Whereas to enter into infinite life is rather difficult to navigate and
transcends all understanding.

I believe that to live in a state of both/and is to become who and what we
were patterned to be. We cannot contract the infinite to fit into the
finite, because if we do so we just end up with a fundamentalist God.
However, we can extend — through conscious work on ourselves — the
capacity to expand and thus to enter into partnership with the infinite.
Then, and this may be the goal of the Paradox game, we do indeed discover
that we are an infinity of selves creating and sustaining our individual
human self. Do you see the stupendous import of this statement? To me, it is
a mind cracking, soul buffeting, life enlargening realization. Once
understood and internalized, it adds tremendous power to our freedom to be,
our enormous capacity to grow, evolve and recreate ourselves, and our
ability to live simultaneously as finite and infinite beings. The Infinite
self has some part in directing the development and unfolding of the finite
self, and the finite self offering joy, entertainment and knowledge to the
Infinite self. This is the Paradox of partnership resolved. The game is to
overcome the illusion of separation.

Now we know that many of the great spiritual traditions, Buddhist, Hindu,
Taoist, the Christian mystical tradition declare that the finite and the
infinite are on a continuum with each other. Even recent scientific
speculation is saying the same. Modern physics of the quantum variety as
Deepak Chopra so brilliantly illustrates, increasingly extends into the
paradoxical and mystical in is pursuit of a unified theory of the
fundamental forces of the living universe.

Finally, we are that crossroads between biology and cosmology. We are called
to explore the mystery itself as an interface between engagement with
external realities and embrace of the inner journey. This brings us to a
place of contemplative practice, and the vital synergy between inner and
outer realities necessary to transform self, institutions, paths of
possibility, as well as visionary endeavors. And in so doing, unleash the
human spirit of those who compose the institution or endeavor and of those
who are served by this. It is an activity of extraordinary balance, a
tension in repose. It is about a zone in which paradox occurs. It is a space
where the sacred emerges and the local self disappears. It is a space of
exquisite silence and of extraordinary service. It is a space wherein there
is a fusing and blending of silence and service. In such a state one has
access to the creative, world making place where one’s unique entelechy (the
essential self) meets the Entelechy of a potential new time, one that gives
the details of an evolution in person and society.

There is a wonderful Sufi story of a man broken hearted by all the suffering
and sorrow he saw in the world. He sat by the roadside and began to beat the
earth. He looks up and yells at God. “Look at this mess. Look at all this
pain. Look at all this killing and hatred. God, Oh God, why don’t you DO
something!?”

And God said, “I did do something. I sent you.”

————

Published by

Katia

Katia is a consecrated independent sacramental bishop. She directs the online Esoteric Mystery School and Interfaith Theological Seminary. Check it out at NorthernWay.org.

3 thoughts on “The ‘Future of God’ Debate – and the Problem of Evil”

  1. I think the author is saying what I believe: I am God being me, and all beings are God being each of them and all of us at the same time. If that is so, then is evil God being bad?

  2. Dr. Houston writes:
    “To become atheistic and skeptical at a time of so much opportunity is one
    way to respond to our dilemma, but then we forget that religion and
    spirituality are also about the quest for meaning, transcendence, seeing the
    interrelatedness between things, compassion, goodness, laughter, and the great Pattern that connects all things with each other as well as ways to live kindly with the suffering that is an inescapable part of the human
    condition.”

    I think for me personally in these days of a superfluity of immediate input via the web, of access to rather too much knowledge, the best way seems to be through scepsis in search of transcendence. As the poet Wallace Stevens wrote, “I have said no to everything in order to get at myself. I have wiped away moonlight like mud.” (Mrs. Alfred Uruguay) Dr. Houston rightly states, “too many of us have been patterned and prepared in the alembic of these limited views, however out of date they may be, and we find ourselves to have been marinated in the medieval soup of the mind.” Until we can discard these outdated, limited, mediaeval notions about G-d, sin, redemption, blood sacrifice for atonement, etc., we shall have a very difficult time realising transcendence. Hence the sceptical posture, as long as it does not itself degenerate into dogma, if it is always accompanied by a relentless seeking with an open mind, may in the end be the most practical way for the lost postmodern soul to pursue the spiritual quest.

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