Monthly Archives: January 2017

January 19 – Relating to God, Part 7: Loving God, Part 1

Today’s Post

We have spent the past few weeks following Teilhard’s use of meditation to the finding of God.  We have followed this thread as it appears in the science of Psychology, noting the evolution of Psychology as ‘assisted secular meditation’, and saw how it can lead us to an understanding of the person that Kierkegaard believed “to be that self that one truly is”.

This week we will address how relating to this universal ‘principle of being’ that manifests itself in us can be seen as ‘Love”.  Now that we have identified how God, the principle of existence, can be understood as a principle of life within us, we can explore what it can mean to say that such a ground of being can be ‘loved’.

A Relook at Love

(The subject of Love and evolution is addressed in more detail in the blog “The Phenomenon of Love” ( which addressed the concept of love from Teilhard’s evolutionary standpoint.)

In today’s culture, it would seem that few things are less obvious and more ubiquitous than love.  Our culture is rife with references to it: it is used to sell things, explain behavior, understood as a prompt to procreation, as fodder for poems and music, as themes to movies and books, as an emotional, sentimental feeling.  Articulated thusly, it seems to offer a poor mechanism for connecting to the ‘ground of being’ that is active at the basis of our lives.

Even our western religion has problems with it.  For many Christians, the emotional aspect of Love far outweighs the ontological aspect: Love is more a sentimental ‘feeling good’ about God and Jesus than the facet of the universal energy which effects our growth as it brings us together.

Teilhard notes that the systematic and ever repeating act of evolution is the increasing of complexity which results from simple union.  Over and over in evolution, from the big bang to the human person, the same phenomenon can be seen:

Two entities of like complexity unite, and the product is an entity of higher complexity and greater potential for union. 

Science observes this phenomenon as active in the evolution of simple matter from the first bosons to the very complex molecules which underpin life.  Natural Selection observes the continuation of this rise of complexity, at a much higher rate, in the evolution from simple cells to the neurons which underpin the human characteristic which we call ‘consciousness’.  Without such a fundamental principle of existence, evolution as we know it would not be possible.  Without it, the universe would still be a ball of unorganized energy.

Love As The Energy Of Evolution In The Human

As we have mentioned several times in this blog, we can hardly expect such a powerful and inexorable upwelling of complexity to stop with the human person: this agent of evolution is just as active in humans today as it has been throughout the history of the universe.  The question remains: how can we see it as active in our lives?

Teilhard observes that evolution proceeds via the ‘activation of energy’.  The unions of evolution that raise the level of complexity do not occur in isolation: they are influenced and effected by the wash of energy which pervades the universe.  Atoms are unified by the strong and weak atomic forces, complex atoms by the fusion forced by gravity, atoms into molecules under the play of chemical forces.

These energies are manifold, and different types of energy come into play at different rungs of complexity.  For example, gravity was unable to have an effect on evolution until particles acquired mass.   The forces of chemistry were mute until the arrival of molecules.  And the forces of love could not play their part until the entities of evolution became conscious.  Love, therefore is the energy which effects our own ‘complexification”.

Seen through Teilhard’s eyes, the increasing complexity in living things, resulting as it does in the phenomenon of consciousness, results in entities subject to the play of energies so subtle as to be immeasurable yet so powerful as to power the ascent of complexity which is ‘consciousness aware of itself’.

The Next Post

Teilhard addresses how this concept of love is ‘the energy which unites persons in such a way as to continue the rise of complexity in evolution’.   Next week we will take a look at how he sees it at work in our lives, and how we can see cooperation with this energy as ‘loving God’.

January 5, 2017 – Relating to God, Part 6- Freud, Teilhard and Rogers in the Search for the ‘Secular Side of God’

Today’s Post

In the last two weeks we followed Carl Rogers as he went into some detail in describing his observations of the process of finding the kernel of person-ness within us.  He also describes what emerges when we begin to trust and cooperate with this fundamental energy which Teilhard identifies as the ‘thread of evolution’ as it rises in us.  This week we will relook look at the three approaches we have addressed in the past few weeks, those of Freud, Teilhard and Rogers as they relate to our search for a ‘Secular Side of God’.

From Freud: the Dark Side

Even the most casual study of human history reveals the ‘dark side’ of humanity.  All of the great books of ancient religions recognize it and warn against it.

Sigmund Freud was the first to systematically apply the emerging practices of science to study of the human person, and as we saw a few weeks ago, assembled a magnificent edifice of concepts, terminology and theory which was applicable to diagnosis and treatment of human emotional problems.  Unfortunately, as we also saw, his premise of the dangerous nature of the basic human, combined with his disdain of organized religion, colored this remarkable undertaking with a deep-seated pessimism that was to permeate his ‘school’ of psychology.

Freud’s view of human ontology was surely influenced by Darwin’s theory of evolution, in which the human evolved from a non-human (animal) ancestor.  He held that this evolution explained the source of our ‘dark’ side, and hence had to be overcome if we were to rid ourselves of our ‘psychoses’.

While Freud (and Darwin) are correct about these roots and how they affect us, they don’t take into account another perspective on such evolution.  Teilhard remarked on the ‘transitional’ states of evolution, such as the formation of atoms from subatomic particles, cells from highly complex molecules, and self-aware persons from conscious animals.  He points out that the first of each of these ‘new’ entities, in every case, initially are virtually indistinguishable from their predecessor.  He refers to the earliest, prokaryotic (non-nucleus) cells as emerging ‘dripping in molecularity’.  If it were possible to see them in a population of highly complex, non-living molecules (such as viruses), it would be very difficult to distinguish them.  In contrast, at the evolutionary level of, say, neurological cells, the uniqueness of living tissue has become obviously different from complex molecules.

He sees the same thing happening with the human.  Were it possible to see the first homo sapiens in a jungle filled with pre-humans, how would we tell them apart?  Today there is no problem with such observation.

We humans have indeed emerged as animals with more brains, but that makes all the difference.  The pre-humans, with their reptilian and limbic brains, are at the mercy of their stimuli.  The reptiles fight or fly, breathe, eat and procreate according to their basic brain stimuli.  Animals add new powers of nurturing offspring, clannish connections and adaption to environment changes.  These new behaviors, due to the new limbic brain are in addition to the stimuli from their reptilian brains, and endow them with more evolutionary fitness.

Even though we humans have a third layer to our brains, the instinctual stimuli of the lower brains is still active, but the neo-cortex provides the capability of modulating them.  I have suggested that the key manifestation of evolution in the human person can be found in the evolving skill of the neo-cortex in modulating the instinctual stimuli of the lower brains.

So, even though Freud’s recognition of the Dark Side is correct, his assumption that the kernel of the person is dangerous does not take into account that it is through engagement with this kernel that the human evolves from emotional immaturity toward personal wholeness.  It’s not that the child’s essence is negative, but that his growth towards maturity is incomplete.

From Rogers: Toward the Light

As we have seen, Carl Rogers takes a view of our personal evolution that is quite different from Freud.  He assumes that each human person comes into the world with a quantum of potency, and that instead of being broken, he is incomplete and capable of personal evolution –growth– towards increased being.

It should be noted that Rogers’ articulation of the emerging characteristics of a maturing person are purely secular.  His methods are those of science: observe, theorize, and test.  They require no adherence to religious belief (and as we saw in the November 24 post above, are often antithetical to some), but rather a basic, fundamental belief in the trustworthy nature of the basic self, and a willingness to cooperate with it.

While there might not be a universally accepted list of the characteristics of human happiness or articulation of human potential, Rogers’ list is not only an excellent beginning but universally applicable.

Combined with the unique (and universal) nature of Rogers’ therapeutic relationship, concepts such as belief, faith and love take on a new, secular, meaning.

Rogers’ approach offers a structure for a true, secular, employment of secular meditation as a means to self-discovery.

From Teilhard: The Light Itself

As we have frequently discussed in this blog, Teilhard starts from the ‘other end’, describing how God is manifest in the very basic and totality of forces which power the evolution of the universe itself.  He describes how these forces combine to effect all that we can see, and not only the human as a species but individual human persons as well.  In his view (and Blondel’s and others), it is impossible to distinguish where God leaves off and where we begin since each act of our ‘becoming’ requires recognition and cooperation with this force as it rises in us.

Freud, Rogers and Teilhard in a Nutshell

Freud applies science to atheism, “It is Id, be very afraid”

Rogers applies experience to science, “It is me, I am trustworthy”

Tielhard applies science to religion. “It is I, be not afraid”

As Teilhard affirms, finding ourselves is finding the universal thread of evolution that rises in us.  As Rogers discovers, the legacy that we receive as human persons can be trusted to power our growth towards more complete being.  God can not only be found, He can be embraced.

The Next Post

After identifying God as an agent of evolution,

by which things increase in complexity over time,

through which the process of evolution is possible,

from the big bang to the human,

as products of evolution: even in our lives,

to which we can come in contact

by searching for the kernel of ourselves

using the emerging insights of science

the next post will now go on to the final stage of Relating to God: the secular side of Loving God.