Richard Dawkins, the sage of Darwinism, was comprehensively squashed this week on the Today programme by an unlikely assailant — that old Leftie cleric, Canon Giles Fraser, comforter of the Occupy movement. Here’s how it went:
Fraser: Richard, if I said to you what is the full title of The Origin Of Species, I’m sure you could tell me that.
Dawkins: Yes I could.
Fraser: Go on then.
Dawkins: On the Origin of Species…uh…with, oh God!, [laughs], On the Origin of Species … There is a subtitle with respect to the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life.
We can all perhaps sympathise. The title is a bit like a 21-gun salute — it seems to go on forever, especially if you are trying to recall it from memory on live radio. The full 21 words are: On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life.
One thing’s for sure, it wouldn’t get past the thought police if it were newly published today. But then there was always something nasty in the Darwinists’ woodpile.
Dawkins’s notion of God — who doesn’t exist, naturally — is similar to Michelangelo’s muscular chap with a beard looking down on us from the heavens in the Vatican. I’ve always thought there was a distinct likeness to Charlton Heston.
Dawkins complains that many people claiming to be Christians don’t believe that Jesus was God or read the Bible. It’s true that most modern Christians don’t believe in the simplistic children’s story of the virgin birth in a manger and a miraculous resurrection. Why should they when it confounds their sense of reality?
I have tried to describe the most likely version in The real truth about The Da Vinci Code.
Leaving aside the Trinity, there are two aspects of God from a human point of view. Hindu tradition speaks of the “Supreme Personality of Godhead”, Krishna, for example (etymologically close to “Christ”) and there have been others. The word Avatar is frequently used.
The West would think in terms of Jesus; the Far East of Bodhisattvas, such as the Buddha — someone who embodies godlike qualities and is sent to teach those who have ears to hear the real truth.
Godhead, a term used by Meister Eckhart, the 13th-century German Catholic mystic, is Being itself, Consciousness or Spirit. We all exist within the realm of consciousness but are mostly unaware of it, while drowning in thoughts.
Consciousness/Spirit is so close to us, it’s possible to stumble through life without ever knowing it exists. This is the base human condition, ignorance.
If you are a natural mystic — or like me, a life-long student of mysticism — Consciousness/Spirit is very real indeed and all manner of wonders precipitate out from it at certain peak moments in life. Science is mainly ignorant of this vital living “stuff” underpinning the universe, with some honourable exceptions.
The Dawkins crowd don’t believe it even exists. Darwinian evolution is a totally mechanical function of operability: survival of the fittest or Natural Selection. Not a hint or a drop of free choosing ever passes its lips.
The fact that Darwinism has prospered in our modern world illustrates the vast ocean of ignorance upon which our scientific age has been built.
In many ways science has been playing God all along. Its practical arm, technology, uses the universe’s flexible facilities to build walls around us, separating us from the Divine. Modern transport, mobile communications, television, they all do what God was thought to do in earlier times. Indeed, to some, including Dawkins, science is divinity itself and has taken on religious overtones as “Scientism”.
But there is a difference between God and the usage of God’s infinitely malleable Spirit to sub-create the world. A franchise is not identical with its founder; intellect not co-terminous with the truth.
Some scientists — thankfully rare — have begun using apocalyptic language to describe what they do, almost as if they were the god they don’t believe in. One might think of the priests of antiquity who kept their kings under control with their sorcery.
Delusional but harmless, perhaps? Some senior scientists now believe that human science is well on the way to destroying us all, like Prometheus who stole fire from the gods. The physicist Stephen Hawking gives us 200 years at best.
Even when science is apparently benevolent, as when inventing technologies to increase food production, it does harm over generations by expanding the human population — the principal reason the planet seems to be in such a parlous state.
Until we recognise the functional difference between ourselves and the Godhead, Consciousness/Spirit, and begin listening carefully to those who know it as intimately as a human can, we will surely perish as a failed experiment of life. The last of the Darwinists will then proclaim the rite of Natural Deselection over a growing pile of corpses.
However, the study of mysticism reveals the continuation of consciousness after physical death, so whatever the world throws at us, we will survive — in one form or another.
A higher world awaits, once we have gone through the apprenticeship of this one.
… who is the author of The Eternal Quest for Immortality: Is it staring you in the face? Available from Amazon and all good booksellers.
Mystics in the Modern World is coming soon.
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