by Angelo J. Letizia
This essay tries to illustrate how the question of God’s existence can be approached quasi-scientifically or quasi-empirically. This however is not a dogmatic conception of God, rooted in ritual and passivity. Rather, this essay argues for a conception of God rooted in action and most importantly justice. The key lies in information. The vast intellectual resources of the information age, namely the ever growing stock of human knowledge, must be utilized. This knowledge however is largely fragmented and disjointed. It is specialized and used to answer specialized questions. Yet, by drawing off different disciplines, each with different methods and different discourses to approaching the world, we can begin to corroborate the growing amount of fragmented information and use it not just to answer increasingly specialized questions, but to answer the big questions like the existence of God.
First, I argue why this new method of proof is now necessary. Next I posit a vision of God, rooted in relationships, connectivity and justice. This, of course, is only one way to present God, yet I have chosen this image because our age may benefit the most from it. However, this leaves us with perhaps the most vexing question of all. If this vision of divinity is seen as God, and if we come to know the divine through the process of creating justice, do we discover or create God? This question will be addressed in the last section.
[Credit: independent.co.uk .]
The conundrum (or opportunity) of the information age
The last forty years have been rightfully dubbed the information age, or the post-industrial age (Addison & Meyers, 2013; Bell, 1999). The information age denotes a period where the creation, production, dissemination and control of knowledge and information is the cornerstone of society and the source of strength for individuals, groups and nations. Knowledge workers, such as scientists, engineers, professors and teachers are the new class of power (Bell, 1999). Daniel Bell, who was one of the first scholars to examine the emergence of the information age, or what he called the post-industrial age, argued that post-industrial society emerged largely after the Second World War (of course with antecedents stretching back to the Enlightenment). Nevertheless, by the 1950s, Bell argued that military and industrial capacities, while important were no longer the most important components of national power. Rather, the creation, dissemination and control of various types of information became the crucible of power. Information ranging from military science, meteorology, production science, education, access to higher education, city-planning and healthcare to name a few became crucial to creating and sustaining contemporary societies and governments had to develop capabilities to create, disseminate and control this information to maintain power (Bell, 1999).
Bell argued that the rapid expansion and proliferation of all types of information is the foundation of the information age. This proliferation was best exhibited by the growth of academic disciplines. Newer disciplines and sub-disciplines proliferate, as do academic journals, to grapple with and categorize the new information (Bell, 1999). An academic discipline is a way of understanding knowledge, a discipline provides methods, discourses and common values to represent a certain piece of knowledge (Lattuca & Stark, 2009). Over the last half century, the number of academic journals and college majors has exploded. New disciplines and new sub-disciplines, new methodologies and new discourses are constantly needed to convey the ever expanding corpus of information.
Yet, it would be shortsighted to look at the growing amount of information in isolation. As knowledge increases, so does specialization. Yet, specialization, while necessary to understand the nuances of disciplines, cannot cut scholars off from the inherent holism of human knowledge (Jay, 1996). The corpus of human knowledge is the largest it has ever been. Each discipline, from English, to physics, to nursing, represents a piece of that knowledge. Academic specialization, or more accurately fragmentation, blinds many in academia to the possibility of connections and the interdisciplinary nature of knowledge. Different disciplines can approach the same issue with different language and methods. Combining these insights and using different language and methods to strengthen one another can help to mobilize human knowledge in hitherto unknown ways and help to answer such deep questions as the existence of God. The question has scientific aspects but it may also have other non-scientific aspects. We must utilize all the information in the information age, not just the scientific, to answer these vexing questions.
This will undoubtedly turn the more scientific and rational thinkers away, but if we only listen to reason and science, we become trapped in Weber’s iron cage of rationality, and succumb to Adorno and Horkheimer’s (1969) “new barbarism” or technocracy. Weber argued that the rationality of the Enlightenment could lead society into an “iron cage.” Adorno and Horkheimer took this claim further and argued that the Enlightenment, which was based on the rationality of science, which was supposed to make people free by submitting their lives to reason, had logically transformed into a new form of oppression. This new oppression was cold rationality of science itself, the heartless destruction of nature, and the cruel but efficient methods of modern organization and bureaucracy. Efficiency leaves no room for compassion or care. This was the new barbarism. And when scholars only demand scientific and rational evidence, they may be succumbing to this barbarism of efficiency and cold hard logic because they will not listen to anything outside of science which may be of use (i.e. poetry).
[Credit: Jose Clemente Orozco .]
Many contemporary scientists have realized the dangers of dogmatism in science itself. Ulanowicz (2010), an environmental scientist and biologist from the University of Maryland, argues that science needs a new foundation. Ulanowicz (2010) argues that while the old Enlightenment-Newtonian paradigm of science, which viewed all substance as lifeless matter, which saw nature as deterministic and which left no room for human freedom, and which saw scientific laws as immutable and universal has been challenged by many theories (most notably by Darwin’s theory of natural selection, which rests on a historical element), the lure and desire of Newtonian scientific prediction, control, universality and determinism still preoccupy the hard sciences today. He goes on to argue that in order to deal with life not as a dead and substrate, but as a thing of awe and potential, science needs a new foundation. For this foundation, he calls for an emphasis on the notion of process, contingency and history.
Newtonian science is concerned with atomistic pieces, viewed in isolation such as molecules and atoms and cells. Ulanowicz argues that while these pieces are important, the processes and relationships between these seemingly atomistic components need to be studied. A simple but blatant example he gives is of a hunter/thermodynamic scientist who just shot a deer and asked: what separates a dead deer from a live one? The scientist concluded that the genetic make-up, cell structure etc. were all the same in a dead and live deer. It is the processes and interactions of various components of the deer that are different and that create life. Science can still be represented by laws, but these laws may be simplistic and they do not tell the whole story because they only survey atomistic parts and isolate these parts from larger processes which are much more complex (Ulanowicz, 2010).
On the other side of scientific barbarism however, without reason and logic, we fall victim to irrationality, ideology, dogma and superstition. The overriding concern in the article (and really our age as a whole) then is striking a balance between science/reason and other methods of understanding the universe. I argue that by utilizing the various disciplines in the information age, we can approach questions such as the existence of God, in ways that are not rooted in cold rationality or superstition, but a sort of middle ground. Here, specifically, science can look to other disciplines which do not have the same standards for truth. Historians for instance cannot “prove” something the way a scientist can, but historians do have methods for looking at data and making predictions and informed assumptions as do theologians, poets and cosmologists. So, this article calls for both, reason and science, tempered with other modes of assessing truth (and perhaps some speculation). In the widest sense then, this article is calling for a new conception of truth, one that is rooted in science and empiricism, but one that goes beyond it as well. This is a problem, namely, that all answers cannot have empirical evidence, but it is also a great opportunity. If empirical evidence is not the only standard of truth (which would move closer to the iron cage or barbarity) than we can expand our notion of truth.
Particularly, drawing on Ulanowicz’s ideas, which are not his alone but which echo many other scientists (such as the prominent biologist E.O. Wilson) point to a new understanding of science, and understanding which allows from new possibilities, open systems, historical ideas and an understanding of relationships. Central to this new conception of science is the relationships between seemingly isolated parts and their relationships. Further, the focus on processes and relationships open new possibilities for human creativity and justice. This conception of processes and relationships can be richly articulated by examining a number of disciplines and fields, thus giving it an interdisciplinary dimension.
[Credit: Francisco de Holanda.]
Processes and relationships
So, how can non-scientific “truths” be integrated with scientific ones? This question is at the heart of the interdisciplinary nature of all human knowledge. Religion and theology are usually juxtaposed against science, and for good reason. One relies primarily on faith, the other, on reason and evidence. Yet, as Haught (2012) argues, each mode of thought can reinvigorate each other. One particular way that our ancestors made sense of the earth, one way they knew what was true about the earth, was through religion. Thus, religion (and later theology) have been at the truth game much longer than science. Famed biologist (and secular humanist) E.O. Wilson (2006) argues that our ancestors were much closer to the earth than we are today. A layer of technology separates us from the earth and its great mystery. Wilson painstakingly points out that even to a secular mind, the earth and all of its biodiversity are awe inspiring, and almost beyond human comprehension. Yet, this reverence for life has been repressed for centuries (Wilson, 2006). Since the Enlightenment, human beings have seen their role as dominators, and the earth and all of its life, as their object of domination (Ulanowicz, 2010). Nevertheless, Wilson argues that despite this repression of our reverence and awe for the earth, a reverence which our ancestors still had, resides in us, even if we cannot articulate it. So, Wilson’s ideas prompt us to look back.
In the early nineteenth century German theologian David Strauss from the University of Tubingen (who was later expelled from Tubingen on charges of atheism), argued that religion was not false, it was simply the truth for an unscientific age (Breckmen, 1999). Strauss’s age, the 1830s can be considered the midwife of our own. While the world was still agricultural, science and engineering were in their infancy, but laying the foundation of the modern world (Breckmen, 1999). Thus Strauss had an excellent historical vantage point. Strauss maintained that religious texts were the method by which our ancestors understood the truth of the universe. Thus, science may not simply be an updating of old truths, rather it is another component of truth. The pre-scientific truths, while not empirically true, have an ingredient which we today are lacking and something which cannot be quantified: awe and reverence for the universe. Wilson suggests that poets make great scientists because poets can articulate great visions. Thus, theological “truths” may still have relevancy today. One particular truth that can be gleaned from many regions, but Christianity in particular, is the incarnation.
The most salient truth that Strauss identified in the Bible was that of the incarnation. By this story, the ancients had argued that God had become man. The truth they tried to convey, without fully understanding it, was that God is man. One of Strauss’s contemporaries, Ludwig Feuerbach picked up on Strauss’s idea that God is man, but reversed it and argued that man is God. Before we can examine Feuerbach, we have to examine one of his philosophical influeces. Feuerbach based his ideas on the earlier philosopher, Johann Fichte. Fichte sought to base society on a rational foundation in the light of the critiques on God and religion. Fichte sought to base society on the notions of knowing and consciousness. For Fichte, knowing was not passive however, but an active process. Fichte started with the individual or the I. Yet, Fichte came to a conundrum here. The I could only understand itself by going outside itself. The I had to have a “Not-I,” or something other than itself, in order to define itself as I. Thus, Fichte argued that the solitary individual is a fiction because without another to define itself against, there can be no I (Fichte, 2000; Kamenka, 1989). It is this idea, that the solitary individual is a fiction, is the core of my argument for a new vision of the public good. Later German thinkers expanded Fichte’s notion of the I-Not I. The most noteworthy was Georg Hegel, who expanded Fichte’s notion of the Not-I into the thou, or the other. Hegel saw all of reality as a motion toward the other.
Feuerbach drawing on Fichte and Strauss, made the I-thou the core of his theories and ideas. Feuerbach defined humankind or “Man” as the species-being, or the entire species taken together. An individual human being, in isolation, is limited. He has a limited number of talents and capabilities, as well as many faults. It was only in union with others that the individual could rise above his limited nature, because the faults of the individuals were cancelled by the positive attributes of the species taken as a whole. For Feuerbach, “the ego [the individual] attains to consciousness of the world through the consciousness of the thou [another] (pg. 98).” This is Feuerbach’s “I-thou” notion, and it is the cornerstone of his entire philosophy. Individuals needed each other, in order to be happy and more importantly, to have a purpose to exist at all. The “I” or the individual could only be perceived in the consciousness of the “thou,” of another being. Feuerbach argued that God was not one, undividable supreme substance, rather, “God” could only exist as an exchange between two beings. He wrote that “without other men, the world is not only empty and cold, but meaningless (pg 135).” The notion that human happiness and fulfillment can only be experienced in unison with other individuals is in direct contrast with neoliberalism because neoliberalism is based on the notion of individualism. The public institutions of a polity heavily influenced by neoliberalism may no longer be able to serve the public good because those institutions are built on a concept that cannot be entertained by neoliberalism.
Over 90 years later, the Israeli philosopher Martin Buber expanded on the I-thou. He argued that the I-thou is a type of relationship that human beings hold with one another. However, most human beings stand under a much less noble relationship, that of the I-it. In the I-it relationship, the individual and the rest of society are divided neatly into compartmentalized categories (Buber, 1970). The I or individual in the I-it is different than the individual in the I-thou. Unfortunately, Buber argues that modern life has expunged the I-thou and exalts the I-it relationship between people because profit and power are the only legitimate bonds between individuals. Despite this suppression, Buber (1970) holds firm that the I cannot be abstracted, it cannot be seen as a discrete and bounded entity apart from society. Buber believed that it was the responsibility of the teacher to awaken the understanding of the I-thou in their students.
Writing roughly a century after Buber, educational theorist Alfie Kohn (1990) used the notion of the I-thou to argue for a new conception of human nature and society. Kohn railed against the seemingly common sense view that human beings are inherently bad or self-interested. Kohn was not naïve to argue that all human beings are good; rather he examined hundreds of studies which argued that human beings have just as much inclination toward empathy and altruism as they do toward avarice and self-interest. In light of this proclivity toward compassion and kindness, Kohn argued that schools and policymakers should promote these altruistic and empathetic tenets of our nature. Here, Kohn (1990) saw the I-thou as fundamental to understanding social relations. Kohn held that society could not be based on isolated individuals but the I-thou, the relationship between individuals.
The growing field of leadership studies, which encompasses diverse fields and disciplines such as business and education, echoes the ideas of Feuerbach, Buber, Kohn and the larger ideas of the centrality of human relationships. Yet, leadership studies show the importance not just of relationships but how relationships are central to accomplish tasks. Warren Bennis (2009) for instance argued that American culture tends to simplify the notion of leadership by glamorizing (or vilifying) individuals in leadership positions. The truth however is that it takes many people in an organization to effect true change. Fullan (2001) similarly argues that the key to any leadership position is relationships. If a leader cannot cultivate relationships, he or she will not be effective. He maintains that in the information age, which changes at lightning speed, relationships offer some form of stability, a foundation in the chaos. Spillane talks of distributive leadership. Spillane calls not just for a distribution of tasks, but sees distributive leadership as an interactive web of leaders of followers who periodically change roles as situations warrant (Marano, Watis & McNulty, 2005). It is a collaborative distribution where the actions of one leader becomes the basis for actions of others.
Perhaps the best conception of human relationships, power and leadership however is that of Robert Greenleaf. Greenleaf was a businessman turned writer who first put forth the conception of servant leadership in the 1970s. Servant leadership calls for leaders to be ethical and to measure their growth and success by the success of their followers (Greenleaf, 2002). In short, servant leaders lead by serving. Greenleaf’s ideas, while not rooted in research, have been explored in many empirical studies (Babb, 2012; Kohle, Smith, Dochy & Brendan, 2012). The various literature on leadership shows how leadership is no longer viewed as a top down, autocratic phenomena, or simply the whims of a charismatic leader. Leadership is not a position, it is a process (Northouse, 2013). Leadership is dynamic, it evolves and transforms according to the people performing it (leaders and followers). It is a process by which tasks are accomplished and new ideas created. Leadership is creative.
Following this sentiment, Kouzes and Posner (2008) argue that leaders have a vision of not what is probable, but what is possible. The possible is not based on statistics or numbers, rather, the possible is based on creativity, on foresight and will. Yet, visions by themselves are meaningless. Leaders, in order to truly be leaders, need to rally others to this vision. And they do not simply enlist others to follow their own vision, rather, others are enlisted and contribute to and enlarge the vision. The vision starts as a rough blueprint which is built with the hands of all followers. Leaders engage their followers, demanding the best, in order to actualize a vision which all contribute to.
All of the above sentiments, ranging across human disciplines, using various methods and discourses, all point to something similar: the interconnectedness of seemingly atomistic parts, whether they are people, cells of atoms. Psychology and leadership studies obviously do not have the same burden of proof that the hard sciences do, but psychology and leadership are working with different phenomena. Educational research cannot isolate students in a lab, rather, a researcher must contend with a myriad of historical, social, and personal factors when conducting research, and these factors make predictability of results extremely difficult (Berliner, 2002; Wieman, 2014). The subject of educational research is always changing (Gutierrez & Penuel, 2014). This notion of a changing subject is especially pertinent for studies like the question of God. Psychology is working with the human brain and psychological concepts. Leadership and educational research is working with people. People and psychological ideas are not atoms, cells or rocks, and thus, the same level of empiricism and certitude cannot be obtained (Phillips, 2014; Gutierrez & Penuel, 2014; Rudolph, 2014; Wieman, 2014). Working with a question such as the existence of God is similar. We cannot demand hard proof, just like educational research cannot work with hard proof, but there are various methods that truth can be approached and some types of proof can be given. While the predictability and hard proof of science may be sacrificed, researchers gain flexibility to study new and different questions in novel ways.
Unfortunately, much research in the social sciences, especially education, is seen as largely ineffective because education research usually lacks predictive capabilities like the “hard” sciences of physics or chemistry that take a positivist orientation (Phillips, 2014; Gutierrez & Penuel, 2014; Rudolph, 2014; Wieman, 2014). Yet, Rudolph (2014) and Wieman (2014) argue, at least for education, that precisely because education research deals with social, historical and political factors that cloud predictability, education research must employ cutting edge methods which can attempt to capture these social, historical, and political influences. I would extend this not just to education research, but all research in general. When we can obtain hard proof we use it, but we do not sacrifice research questions when we cannot obtain this proof. Further, we corroborate studies with hard proof with other studies, we use the disciplines to strengthen one another, to draw out connections between knowledge and use this to ask and possibly answer the big questions.
The studies on leadership, corroborated with other fields and disciplines, point to how these ideas can be mobilized and used to create something higher. It is the relationship between these parts, and the way these parts interact with each other and the whole, that determine reality in a variety of spheres. This short examination illustrates how different disciplines, while not saying exactly the same thing, can be used to strengthen and weave each other’s findings into newer and richer ideas. Leaders in education and cells in microscopic ecosystems, when viewed holistically, may be able to tell us something different about the universe than they could separately. In the widest sense, they may be able to hint at something divine.
Creativity and justice and the interdisciplinary
Despite the above examination of the centrality of the processes and interconnections between individuals, as well as all component parts in any ecosystem, the contemporary social, intellectual and economic climate stymies this conception. Much like the Newtonian view of the universe, individuals are seen as atomistic, with little bearing on each other (Giroux, 2011). The vast and far reaching connections between individuals and component parts are neglected in favor of simplistic explanations. For instance, poverty is almost always viewed an individual and personal choice, not a systemic feature.
Without a true conception of justice, humanity cannot flourish (Voelker, 2011). Justice then is integral to creativity, yet the contemporary age is rife with injustice. There is a litany of facts to cite on this point, but a few will suffice. The 85 richest people on this planet own more wealth than the bottom 3.5 billion people (Fuentes-Nieva & Galasso, 2014; Pogge & Horton, 2008). Over the course of the last 20 years, over 100 million people have died of preventable diseases and conditions, such as starvation and hunger (to put this in perspective, the combined number of deaths of 20th century genocides is roughly 40 million). Environmental pollution is responsible for thousands of diseases in the United States alone (Beckman, 2013). It is no stretch to say that we are a global society, or at the very least every human being is connected in ways hitherto unknown. Thus, individuals, groups and nations can no longer act like their actions do not have far reaching consequences.
[Credit: Jude Landry.]
As Feuerbach and Buber noted, God resides in the relationships and connectedness between seemingly atomistic pieces of reality. If this vision is updated to include not only relationships between people, but the relationships between knowledge created by people, it can provide better understanding of the injustices above, which are largely systemic and span across sectors. Following this sentiment, it is not a stretch to argue that a new conception of justice is required to reflect the information age. Justice is integral to human flourishing because it allows for all to have an equal chance to utilize resources and display talents. Justice here is defined in terms of accountability, where both people and groups are held accountable for their actions, especially when those actions are committed knowingly, with knowledge that those actions might inflict harm either directly or indirectly (Miller, 2001; Sandel, 2009). Justice may now need to include a new dimension, that of interconnectivity in order to truly be just.
Ironically, in order to formulate this new conception of justice, the Catholic Church may offer an excellent paradigm. This is ironic because the Catholic Church has historically been noted for its intolerance and dogma. Yet, now the Catholic Church has taken a leading role (to the chagrin of many conservatives and those affiliated with global capitalism) in resisting injustice today, especially the destruction of the environment and the glaring wealth-income gap. Boff and Boff argue that justice is inherent in Catholicism. This justice is similar to Sandel’s and Miller’s ideas. Catholic justice is based on accountability, on holding groups and individuals accountable for wrongdoing as well as obligations to one’s neighbor and those in need. Boff and Boff argue that policies and political strategies which work to oppress people must be criticized, exposed and rectified. Boff and Boff show that this is the work of God. Accountability in the present is the seed of everlasting salvation. Salvation begins now and it begins with justice. Justice is perfect, and thus it may be divine in a sense. This divine justice however is only latent, in order for this divine justice to take hold, it will need the insights of leadership theory, and corroboration of science, theology and psychology to bring it forth. This article is cursory, it is a short exposition. This vision of justice will need the combined insights of interdisciplinary knowledge.
[Credit: Richard Wilkinson.]
The most vexing question of all
The short examination above illustrates how different disciplines can help to offer a vision of the divine in the information age. As for definitively answering the question of whether God exists, perhaps all we can say for now is the divine cannot be proven empirically, but it can be corroborated by a variety of different disciplines, from the hard sciences to theology. But there is still a question that is wanting. When we envision God in the information age, are we discovering the eternal God that biblical writers and mystics from other religions have written about, or are we creating God? The answer to this question may be: both.
To answer this question involves an examination of what came “before” the big bang. There is no definitive answer to what came “before” the big bang and it is a point of contention between many scholars in many different disciplines. Some, like Steven Hawking, do not think there is a question anymore, because as Hawking argues, the universe came from nothing, and thus there is no need of a divine creator. Others however are not ready to close the book yet. And if something outside reality and the natural laws of physics created this universe, this may be a space for humanity to realize the divine, but not necessarily a divinity apart from itself, but a divinity which it is fundamentally connected to.
Cahoone (2009) argues that the “nothing” that Hawking sees as spawning the “something” of the universe is a nothing with certain properties, and thus, not nothing. Cahoone maintains that “their (Hawking etc.) ‘nothing’ is actually a vacuum state governed by eternal physical laws.” Nothing cannot be envisioned, for even to say nothing is to designate it something. Again, to quote Cahoone “Nothing is not simple, complex, stable, unstable, temporal or eternal, natural or unnatural. It just is not.” The nothing that Hawking speaks of is invested with physical properties, governed by the laws of physics and thus is something. Here, Cahoone argues that it may be plausible that a Ground state founded or gave birth to the universe that we know. This Ground state is intimately linked with but sufficiently different form the universe that emerged. The main difference is that the laws of physics are not present in the Ground state. These laws came after the creation of the universe, not before. The Ground caused the universe to emerge, and while this particular universe was not deterministic or predetermined it was highly likely due to the laws and constraints present just after the big bang. Cahoone goes on to argue this Ground state should not be equated with a theistic god. The theistic or omnipotent God is perfect in all respects, thus, change cannot be permitted, yet evolution and the expansion of the universe are the hallmarks of this universe. Thus, as Cahoone notes, God may not be the perfect being, but the perfect becoming. God may be a process which we as humans are inexorably tied to, which we participate in, and which we can transform into new possibilities which were unknown (assuming the universe does not end in heat death, which as Ulanowicz points out, is another example of simplistic or taken for granted ideas being promoted in the scientific community which may or may not be accurate).
For over 13 billion years and before the emergence of man, conscious thought was non-existent. Yet, the universe before man contained the possibility of this thought, and with that possibility, the possibility for a just God. Humanity’s ability to ask the question if god exists was a product of evolution, of the evolution of the human brain from single celled organisms (Forrest, 2000). As noted above, the emergence of this universe, with its physical laws and constraints was by no means determined at the big bang, but it was most likely more probable than other configurations (Cahoone, 2009). The singularity point contained within it the possibility for human thought/consciousness which is the necessary ingredient to actualize the divine as a transcendent idea, something outside of humanity. Once human thought capabilities evolved, our ancestors, who were closer to the earth, first articulated a vision of the divine with this thought process. Our ancestors had a vision, all of them, from Neanderthals, to Buddhists to Catholics. Now, we can activate this vision in the information age. So, the possibility of this thought has always been outside humanity, invested in matter, but it took human thought to activate it. I must make a disclaimer here. This continual activation for the divine should not be read as a post-humanist tract.
While a varied movement, post-humanism generally believe in an eschatological vision of the future, where human beings will be able to shed their biological and physical bodes, upload their conscious and live as avatars in cyberspace. Of course not all post-humanism is this extreme, but the secular post-humanist movements in many respects divinize technology and cast it as a savior in a not so distant, but still far off future (Tirosh-Samuelson, 2012). What I am calling for is not divinization of technology, but rather a new understanding of the knowledge that we have now. Not just technology, but all types of research, from research in education and leadership, to psychology etc. is to be valued and seen as steps in actualizing the divine, a divine which is just and fundamentally human. The post-humanist movement seeks to move away from our humanity, whereas my movement is meant to humanize the divine. This may not be as glamourous as avatars, but it nonetheless may be more realistic and more desirable.
Referring back to Kouzes and Posner (2008), perhaps our ancestors were the visionary leaders who laid out a vision which we are called to follow (a latent vision present at the moment of singularity). Yet, we do not follow it blindly, we contribute to it and we are fundamentally tied to it. Many different people in different cultures, with different understandings of the world follow the words and ideas of our ancestors but do not follow them blindly; now in the information age we can add, create and modify the old vision continually, and by doing so, create a working vision of God. As Haught (2012) argues, a deep skepticism and even atheism may be a necessary ingredient to finding and understanding the divine, because only through this deep questioning can we begin to truly understand it for ourselves. God may know past and present, but the future is only possibility, one which humanity it intimately part of (Cahoone, 2009). This fluid vision is ultimately the idea of divinity and transcendence, because while it is built with human hands and with human ideas, it is greater than humanity, it is pure. God as justice is above all humanity. In the widest sense this elaborate vision of the divine is complex and rests on many variables. The divine is not a simple substance, or simple idea, rather it may be a complex process, which rests on relationships and interactions of various parts, on human understandings of time and space, of relationships and epistemology, and which can at least begin to be represented by interdisciplinary knowledge.
The purpose of this article was to present a method by which God, or really a vision of transcendent connectivity and justice, could be conceived of in the information age, by drawing on humanity’s greatest creation, interdisciplinary knowledge. It should be read as a beginning.
[Credit: Lorenzo Quinn.]
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[Thank you indeed Angelo for this contribution. Lead graphic: “God the Geometer” by Anonymous.]
The writer is assistant professor of graduate education at Newman University.
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