- Tom Drake-Brockman
How to change the world with compassion: a new spiritual humanist purpose for existence
The problem with secular humanism is its tendency towards nihilism. If we are to find the resolve to transform our world, we need to believe there is a purpose to this universe and that requires a divine plan. But the ones on offer by conventional religion do not cut the mustard. They fail to resolve nagging enigmas like why God created a world with so much evil; why he so often fails to respond to prayers; and how a goal centered on some mystical afterlife can only distract us from the critical problems of this world. What we need is a new spiritual paradigm that could resolve these problems.
How about this:
Imagine before the ‘big bang’ there was simply the goodness of God. But that goodness could not be fully actualized due to the absence of its opposite- just as, for example, white might not be fully appreciated without the presence of black. This inexorable necessity eventually produced the ‘big bang’, a spontaneous (more than God created) clash of opposing titanic forces. The result was a universe based on finite mortality and hence self preservation. This made self interest the dominant instinct of all the living creatures that evolved within it. Given the inexorability of this situation, God has had very limited scope to intervene without upsetting natural laws and a moral order based on free will. But when sentient life evolved, he managed to infuse some primates-humanity- with a capacity for transcending their egoism. Later, he sent a few messengers like Buddha, Christ and Mohammed to show us how to do this.
Their central message and that of prophets generally, was compassionate love- compassion for the suffering that God had unwillingly caused. God selected humanity to become his agents, giving us the task of reducing this suffering and improving the world, Far from being helpless sinners, we can see ourselves- as humanists have always insisted we should- as masters of our own destiny.
Could we transform the world with this kind of world view?
Closing Statement from Tom Drake-Brockman
Sorry but I don't think many of the contributions have been strong so much as trite, platitudinous and narrow minded. But the issue obviously hit some raw nerves, especially with Ted lover!