Look around. Outside of yourself. Inside of yourself. Do you find any sharp divisions between utterly distinct aspects of reality?
I can confidently predict, "No, you don't." (If I'm wrong, enlighten me.) There's a reason the word universe starts with "uni." It's a whole.
Most religions, maybe all, are founded on a duality of some sort.
Heaven and earth. Soul and body. Spirit and matter. God and creation. Salvation and sin. Liberation and karma. Truth and maya.
Yet these supposedly separate spheres of existence aren't evident.
They're concepts, belief structures that have to be taken on faith. So religious believers necessarily defend these notions without recourse to everyday experience, whether personal or scientific.
Where is the person with a soul but no body? Where is a God absent any creation? Where is a heaven detached from any earthly connection? Where is a pure Platonic truth unsoiled by material existence?
Nowhere. Yet true believers act as if the universe where we live out our entire lives is a cosmic afterthought, or a deception, or a pale image of some more radiant realm.
I don't get it.
Yes, I had strong dualistic leanings myself for a while, but I tempered them with an appreciation of the unified reality that science has found to exist -- and which non-dualistic philosophical teachings such as Buddhism and Taoism also posit.
It amazes me when fundamentalists are so adamant that what is scientifically known about our universe is worthless, mistaken, false, dangerous to one's spiritual health.
Even if one assumes for the sake of argument that God created the universe, wouldn't it be more likely that creation reflects divinity rather than being utterly opposed to God's nature?
This is the attitude of many religious scientists with a non-fundamentalist bent. They consider that understanding the nature of the universe provides a peek into the nature of God, because reality isn't divided into separate and distinct realms of existence.
Somewhat similarly, but in a fashion I much prefer, Taoists say that whatever is happening at this very moment, here and now -- that's the working of Tao, the Way. Look for it outside of everyday experience and you'll miss it.
Evolution is a prime example of how fundamentalist religion rejects knowledge of this world because it supposedly conflicts with what a holy book or person says about the next world.
Yet here we are...here. Not there. Why elevate a concept of an alternative reality above the actual experience of this reality?
I was encouraged to learn about the Clergy Letter Project.
For too long, the misperception that science and religion are inevitably in conflict has created unnecessary division and confusion, especially concerning the teaching of evolution. I wanted to let the public know that numerous clergy from most denominations have tremendous respect for evolutionary theory and have embraced it as a core component of human knowledge, fully harmonious with religious faith.
Amen. The Clergy Letter Project has a long list of science-friendly sermons. I looked at one from Eugene, Oregon and found a lot to like. Such as these images.