The old science is dead.
The old psychology is dead.
The old religion is dead.
The above refrain is not some doom and gloom assessment of the state of things today. The refrain, instead, is sung with joy since it prepares for a new synthesis based upon a new consensus about reality.
Thousands of years ago, the world had such a consensus. In a nutshell, that consensus said that there is only one truth, based upon the fact that everything is held together by an unseen reality. Wisdom was defined as the ability to see beyond surface reality and to identify with that unseen reality.
The world, however, became increasingly complicated. No one person or group could understand everything. That is how the specialties of science, psychology and theology arose. In the beginning, the three disciplines saw themselves as three unique ways to perceive reality; not as three separate realities.
Human nature being what it is, however, and human egos being as voracious as they are, experts found themselves drifting into rival camps. The great minds, for the most part, stopped talking to one another. They saw each other as the enemy.
And so science no longer cared about what was right or wrong, only the possibility that things could be produced. This kind of thinking gave us nuclear weapons, nerve gas, the electric chair, acid rain and toxic waste. Psychiatry, in its early days, looked like a giant step forward for humankind. But then Freud pitted mental health against spiritual health; B.F. Skinner tried to reduce us to rats in a cage, no longer even interested in exploring our dreams or even our childhood experiences.
The old religion, too, seemed to run out of gas, trying to connect people to the Ultimate, using outmoded thinking. If your starting point is to deny evolution, the central fact of life, there is not much to say to an educated laity. Fundamentalism reared its ugly head, clericalism gave us the abuse scandals, and ritual degenerated into ceremony.
But now for the good news. There is a revolution going on among certain sectors of science, psychology and theology. It is not that each discipline is denying its own path. It is more like each path has begun to realize that it seems to be heading up the same mountain. And here some thought that there were three separate mountains!
As our pathways begin to converge closer to the top of the mountain, we are simply coming to the realization that humans are composed of body, mind and spirit. Let each discipline examine the human being from their own perspective. But never let us forget that we are not just animals, or minds, or spirits. Our glory is that we are all three at the same time!
Next posting: Aging Gracefully
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