Phil Brown and I must have been having an astral conference, because the other day while I was browsing through articles discussing the relationship between spirituality and science, Phil was writing an excellent article on the subject, quoting an article in the NY Times Magazine:
Which is the better biological explanation for a belief in God — evolutionary adaptation or neurological accident? Is there something about the cognitive functioning of humans that makes us receptive to belief in a supernatural deity? And if scientists are able to explain God, what then? Is explaining religion the same thing as explaining it away? Are the nonbelievers right, and is religion at its core an empty undertaking, a misdirection, a vestigial artifact of a primitive mind? Or are the believers right, and does the fact that we have the mental capacities for discerning God suggest that it was God who put them there?
Although I have sworn a vow to myself to refrain from making frivolous astrological connections, it does appear that the heated arguments over astrology and religion that have been circulating the net lately seem to coincide with the opposition between Saturn (realism) and Neptune (transcendentalism). Perhaps it is the ever-increasing number of astrology and other consciousness-oriented blogs (Uranus-technology in Pisces-mysticism in mutual reception with Neptune-spirituality in Aquarius-innovation) which makes these fields a growing target for skeptics.
Phil mentions the new best-seller The God Delusion by biologist Richard Dawkins, who puts religion to the test of scientific scrutiny. This book was first published in September as Saturn and Neptune were first in oppositional alignment. Under Pluto in Sagittarius (since 1995) there has been an increasing willingness to take apart the foundations of religion and the theological framework (Jupiter/Sagittarius) that form the basis of the world’s religions. Neptune/Pisces has more to do with an individual experience of the divine and connectivity to the cosmos, as opposed to Jupiter/Sagittarius which is more concerned with the theology of ideas and a shared understanding of truth.
Neptune is also associated with delusion, and it is certainly a positive step to lift the veil of illusion from our ability to see clearly the process of our experience. Perhaps this is where the opposition of Saturn to Neptune can have it’s greatest effect. With all oppositions there is a tendency to swing from one extreme (Saturn) to the other (Neptune), when ideally we find balance between the two, maintaining a reverence for the mystery of life (Neptune) while keeping our eyes open to the truth (Saturn). Deepak Chopra, a medical doctor and recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physics, does just this in a four-part article that debates Dawkins’ claims. Some excerpts:
A materialist could conceivably analyze the brain functions of a Mozart or Beethoven down to the last synaptic firing, but that would tell us nothing about why music exists, why it is beautiful, where great symphonies come from, why inspiration uplifts the listener, or in fact any relevant thing about the meaning of music. The world in general has meaning, deep meaning at times. This cannot be dismissed as a delusion, an artifact of chemicals. The same analogy comes to mind whenever one hears that brain research will eventually explain all human thought and behavior. If a scientist could map every molecule in a radio as it was playing the Beethoven Fifth, there would be a complete diagram of the symphony at the level of matter. But the radio isn’t Beethoven. It isn’t his mind, and a diagram of Beethoven’s brain, which would also be at the level of matter, is equally futile to explain what his mind was like except in the crudest terms.
. . .
The second worldview [that the universe contains design] can be called religious, but it’s a trap to say that only a Christian God explains intelligence in the universe. There is room for a new paradigm that preserves all the achievements of science–as upheld by the first worldview–while giving the universe meaning and significance. Dawkins shows no interest in uniting these two perspectives ([Dawkins]disdains the whole notion of a religious scientist), but many of his colleagues do.
. . .
random chance is one of the worst ways to explain how the universe evolved. Here are a few reasons why:
–The various constants in nature, such as gravity and the speed of light, are too precisely fitted with each other for this to happen by chance.
–If any one of six constants had been off by less than a millionth of 1 percent, the material universe couldn’t exist.
–Events at opposite ends of the universe are paired with each other, so that a change in the spin of one electron immediately produces a twin effect in another electron. This ability to communicate instantly across millions of light years cannot be explained by materialism. It defies all notions of cause and effect. It defies chance.
–Every electron in the universe exists as a wave function that is everywhere at once. When this wave function collapses, we observe a specific isolated electron. Before the wave collapses, however, matter is non-local.
An interesting debate and one that is likely to continue for quite some time.