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By Thomas F. O'Neill

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Science and Spirituality Complement One Another

A few day’s ago I was flicking through the channels on my television and I heard a televangelist talking about how we are living in the end times as foretold in the Bible. He shouted about the biblical signs, such as the depravity in today’s world. While holding Bible in hand, he shouted, quite loudly I might add, about how people are turning their attention away from God. There is no doubt that the world is quite different than the world our grandparents and great grandparents grew up in. As the televangelist noted there is higher crime today due to the drug issues and materialism.  Drugs are being abused in order to escape from modern day issues. 

On the other hand we have the ability to travel anywhere in the world in matter of hours. Without air flight it took our ancestors days and months to travel by land and sea. We also have instant global communication through the media something that would have been considered science fiction a century ago. But it would seem to us there was more psychological stability in the environment our ancestors grew up in.

One reason for this stability is that our ancestors lived in the same neighborhoods their entire lives. If they were raised Christian they most likely went to the same churches their parents and great grandparents went to. Throughout their lifetime their house of worship was a significant part of their upbringing.

The average person a hundred years ago rarely traveled beyond a twenty mile radios.  Their perception of the world remained the same due to their religious upbringing, neighborhood or village.  Today most people will change jobs five times before they reach retirement age. They will also move to different Town’s, City’s, or State’s, on average - five times before retiring. 

We are not consciously aware that our perceptions of the world are constantly changing due to the rate of technological advancements. There have been more technological achievements in the last twenty-five years than in any other time in human history.  How we see ourselves in relation to others is also being influenced by science. We are becoming less personable through our digital technology in our fast passed computer age.

Babies born today will see science and technology double every two years. When today’s newborns are senior citizens they may have a life expectancy of 130 years. The world they are being born into will be quite different when they are adults.

Our language is also evolving due to the rate of science and technology. Scientific terms are becoming part of our common vocabulary. Babies being born into today’s world will not just have a greater vocabulary but they will have a much greater understanding of the world around them more so than we ever had at their age.   

The accelerated growth in knowledge and technology will definitely have a profound effect on our next generation.  The super information highway will also have a profound impact on the next generation’s relationship with the world in which they live. Their perceptions of themselves in relation to others will constantly change as they mature and grow with the rapped rate of technology.  This is something our grandparents and great grandparents have not experienced in their lifetime.

 I don’t necessarily see this as something completely negative.  To be totally honest I can’t even imagine what the world will be like 50 years from now.  I suppose that is where the gift of the imagination comes into play. These accelerated changes are not just taking place in the United States they are taking place globally especially in the Asian countries. 

I disagree with that televangelist though who believes we are living in the end times.  I do not place that much literal emphacis on the Bible. I do agree that today’s world is quite different then yesteryear’s world.  Most people today are searching for ways to deal with their day to day stressors. The majority are also placing less significance on religious institutions. 

This is being reflected in the number of self help books that are being published each year along with the low numbers in the churches.  It is worse in Europe --the churches there are empty. The American University in Rome has one seminarian in their undergraduate seminary.  In the 1930’s there were four or five priests assigned to each church; now churches are being consolidated due to lack of priests.

People however are still searching for spirituality in order to cope with the fast paced world. They are searching for meaning and purpose.  In the past the majority of people accepted religion as holding all the answers needed for this world and the afterlife. 

The only problem was those in the past who went against the status quo were either burned at the stake or excommunicated for being heretics.  For some there was great fear in being free thinkers; this was also a great inhibiting factor when it came to scientific advancements. 

It wasn’t until the secularization of the free world that science and technology took great leaps for the betterment of humankind both in knowledge and achievements. But there must be a balance between knowledge and its proper application that is where human wisdom comes into play. As our society continues to grow in knowledge that knowledge must be balanced wisely and it must be properly applied. Not just for the individuals benefit but for the betterment of society as a whole.

Science and Spirituality are beginning to complement one another. These two separate disciplines are both searching for the essence of things. Spirituality is accomplishing this by drawing us inward for greater self knowledge.  It helps us understand the essence of who we are in relation to the world around us. It can also help us keep pace with the world’s fleeting images without completely surrendering to them.

Science on the other hand is beginning to recognize the subtle intelligent designs of life without quite defining what life is. I suppose that is where spirituality comes into play. For some life is the eternal presence of God.  Life, love, and God, are all synonymous they lead to the essence of things. Spirituality brings us ever so closer to who we truly are in relation to others.

It is easy to get caught up in the world’s fleeting images and feel we are being lost in the process. On the other hand, Spirituality can help us focus on the essential matters of life. Our society may seem less religiously motivated but there is still a deep hunger for spirituality in our fast passed society.

There are still those however that would like to see society to go back to the middle Ages when the church and Bible were the vessels of divine truth. Our world then was the center of the Universe. It was a religious fact then that we are at the center of God’s creation.  it was just plain common sense among the religious. But modern reality doesn’t conform to those beliefs.

It wasn’t that long ago in human history that Scientists discovered that the planets in our solar system revolve around the Sun and they were quickly declared heretics by the religious establishment because the scientific findings contradicted the Bible.

The Church at the same time refused to acknowledge that the world was round because such a notion contradicted the Bible. The Bible states the world has four corners. A round world also defies common sense because if the world is round we would fall off. Most people at that time also believed if you sail to far out to sea you will eventually reach one of the world’s four corners. What happens then was up to speculation some believed the ship would fall off the edge of the earth. 

When it was becoming common knowledge that the world was round the church continued to declare it heretical teachings and if you were a Catholic teaching it at that time you would have been excommunicated.

The Catholic Church in the 1700’s also declared Newtonian Physics as heretical teachings because of its views on gravity. The Pope at that time declared that any Catholic teaching it would be excommunicated. The Pope also made the statement that God holds men in existence in the world not gravity.

The Catholic Church in the late 1700’s during the forming of the new American government declared that democracy is an immoral form of government. They viewed Democracy and the separation of Church and State as being morally evil.

The Church also declared evolution to be heretical and they still hold the view that man was created fully man and the belief in human evolution is a fallacy.

The current Pope has declared Embryonic Stem Cell research as morally evil. It is the same historical pattern within the Church. The Churches view on embryonic stem cell research is just another example of their irrational stance against the advancements in science, technology, and human knowledge in general for the betterment of humankind.

Throughout history the churches views on science have been proven to be erroneous because the scriptures must not be viewed as a science book, historical documentation, or a literal moral guide; the scriptures are simply theological literature which I personally enjoy reading.  

We must also take into account the cultural and historical influences surrounding the writing of the scriptures such as when the scriptures were written. The scriptures for me are masterpieces of great literature and they had a profound influence throughout history due to the religious significance humanity has placed on them and its religious institutions.

It is only now that we are gaining a much more holistic understanding of the biblical text and its profound impact on humankind due to our deeper understanding of the power mythologies have on human cultures and on the human psyche in general.  Modern Theologians are taking a much more anthropological approach to the scriptures. They are studying them in relation to the historical and anthropological influences on the scripture writers. The Bible was not written in a vacuum; there were many environmental factors in the scriptures development.

Our growing understanding of the scriptures has given us a much greater appreciation of the power we as human beings have given the scriptures throughout history. Our understanding of the significant impact the Bible has had on world history both positively and negatively is also continuing to evolve and mature with each passing day.

I have also come to understand intuitively that we cannot and must not limit our understanding of God to a single book. We are spiritually maturing and evolving revelations of God’s love. We are not just human beings on a spiritual journey; we are spiritual beings on a human journey.

When the mind draws a blank to the world’s riddles it turns to the soul for answers for the soul knows what the mind seeks. When we reveal the love that is within us we become the living and breathing presence of God’s love for others to embrace and emulate.

There are indeed many great problems in the world but the solutions lie in the people who inhabit the world. What we give to humanity we give to ourselves and what we change in ourselves we change in humanity. If we want to witness more loving people in the world and directly in our own lives. We must change for the better by loving others more fully--this is the essence of God’s revelation.  

With love,

Thomas F. O'Neill


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Other articles, short stories, and commentaries by Thomas F. O'Neill can be found at the links below.








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