Monthly Archives: March 2016

CHAPTER 2 OF THE NEW BOOK -EVOLUTION

A Happy Purim to all those who celebrate!  If you are going to get so
drunk that you cannot see the difference between Haman and Mordecai,
as is traditional, please do not drive, find a designated driver.
 
I decided to continue with Chapter Two of the Universal Judaism primer, I’m penning,
because I think it makes very clear the difference between the Universal Judaism
perspective and traditional scripture-based perspectives. 
 
You will see that it makes no difference whether we are talking about the sanctity of
a scripture, or the sanctity of some theory, such as evolution. When we consider
any human form of knowledge to actually be sacred– in a way that is competitive
for a Living God, one that grows and evolves/creates— that is when we lapse into
idolatry, the ancient prophetic scourge.
 
Universal Judaism is thoroughly scientific. It does not require us to accept supernatural
assertions of God, nor supernatural assertion of scripture, and yet, it has an intelligent,
rational, yet inspiringly-spiritual God perspective, whether you use the word “God” or not.
 
Hope you enjoy. I would love some comments out there, if you are moved to.
 
Blessings of springtime!!!
 
R’Michael

Universal Judaism

                                   

                                           Re-igniting the Hebrew Spirit for Today’s World

                

                                                                           by Michael Shevack

 

Chapter Two:                      Evolve or Perish

 Evolution is truly a no-brainer for Universal Judaism.  Obviously, if you have a Living God That is continuously expanding and growing in newness, and Its living expansions–  us, for example– are advancing Its growth, which then advances our growth even further, then, there is evolution and co-evolution. (Co-evolution is the spiritual foundation of covenant.)  In fact, there is only evolution. There cannot not be evolution!

 

Why?

 

Because evolution is Life. There is no Life without Evolution, and no Evolution without Life. Evolutionin-Toto, beyond any scale of evolution, such as our earth, that we might observe and study– is Life-in-Toto, The Creator:  Creating is Evolving;  Creating is bringing more of life into Life, as already discussed.

 

The problem that some people have with evolution is that they have taken the Darwinian theory of evolution and considered it to be, in its original formulation, absolute fact.  The issue is not whether evolution exists or doesn’t exist. It does exist!  But the theory– the theoretical mechanism– by which it takes place is not completely understood; there are plenty of holes in it, which remain, even today, including some big spiritual holes.(24) The theory itself is not a fixed idol;  it still has to evolve.

 

How, in an evolving Creation, could any theory of life

not  evolve?

 

That would place our thinking outside of Creation. Is that possible? No!

 

Another problem some people have with evolution is that, in their piousness, in their devotion to their religion, they’ve tended to also turn their scripture and their beliefs about scripture into an idol.  The Torah and/or Bible is often considered to be written by God or guided, perfectly, by the Holy Spirit; it is considered, itself, to be a divine revelation:  a sudden intrusion of God-knowledge into the earthly plane, pure absolute fact.  But scripture is not this.(25)  It is not a revelation; it is a canon– an authorized redaction, an officially-sanctioned book. The confusion between revelation and canon is a serious confusion for many religions. It is the cause of much unnecessary guilt and suffering for religious folk of all kinds.

 

When we take the Bible as absolute fact, we create the same kind of cognitive distortion(26) that happens when we accept any viewpoint, scientific or otherwise, as absolute fact. We then trust a view of Truth as Truth Itself.

We trust an opinion as actual knowledge. We make the idolatrous mistake that the great British philosopher Alfred North Whitehead termed misplaced concreteness. We are construing our map of Reality to be Reality. We are taking a theory of our universe to be the actual working of our universe. We are taking a human understanding and considering it Total understanding. And when we do that, we stop growing, because we are, in essence, worshipping ourselves and our viewpoint. We can’t see beyond our eyes. We don’t look beyond ourselves. We cease to evolve.

 

Universal Judaism considers this kind of scriptural-idolatry which asserts scripture as perfect, inerrant, a fixed fixture in our thinking, to be very dangerous. It prevents us from learning, growing and evolving because we treat this very human document, however inspired, as 100% perfect, a “god” in itself. We are imprisoned by this narrowness and cannot evolve.

 

This does not mean that scripture is not valuable. It is! It contains irreplaceable knowledge drawn from previous experiences of God– How Life Works for Good.  Precious knowledge!  Should we ever lose valuable human spiritual experience?  Should we ever be forced to regain the knowledge that our ancestors might have known and transmitted, however clumsily, through their ancient languages, symbols and words?

 

You see, if we lose scripture, if we lose any valuable piece of sacred human spiritual knowledge, this too can prevent our evolution. Then, we have to re-learn what was already learned and we don’t move forward as readily; we don’t evolve.  We retread what was trod.

 

So the issue for Universal Judaism is not whether scripture is “from God” or “not from God”, the issue for Universal Judaism is the excessive trusting of the authority of scripture– or the excessive trusting of anything mortal, including religious traditions or any theory of evolution– so that we fail to expand, grow, and evolve, physically, mentally, spiritually . . . in all ways. For then, we are no longer participating in our evolving Reality; then, we are no longer acting like a creature made in the Image and Likeness of The Holy One;  then we are no longer consciously living in a way that reflects the Nature of Life Itself. We have become idolaters, worshipping finite representations of the Truth, rather than Truth Itself. We then have de-evolved, and de-evolution means only one thing:  we’re headed for a downward spiral.

 

What is most remarkable about the Hebrew culture, which is ancient– some 4000 or more years old, depending upon the dating system employed– is that they evolved.  Perhaps it was built into their early nomadic way of living;  they could only start where they were– never dwelling in any one place long enough to make it a fixed idol– and from there, they could only move forward, and move forward more, continuously evolving in a progressive living experience: The Living God. Whatever is the origin of their evolution, it remains inspiring to us today:

 

Life is Holy. Celebrate your evolution!

 

Over the many, many centuries, this evolving Hebrew culture faced the most horrific challenges imaginable. Attacks, enslavements, domination, destruction from such ancient empires as Egypt, Assyria, Philistia, Greco-Syria, Rome, Christendom, Nazism, Soviet Communism . . . etc. etc. But, because the Hebrew culture worshiped no mere secondary power over The Primary Power, they never gave away their power to others. Instead, the Hebrews kept moving forward, mirroring the Nature of God, growing, evolving. They always retained their spiritual sovereignty as a nation under God, even when they were, temporarily, forcefully dominated by some foreign false-god worshipping empire.

 

They survived, from the Latin root meaning to live above, i.e. not get dragged below. In fact, the great British historian, Arnold Toynbee, was quick to observe, that of all the ancient nations originating in the Mesopotamian region, only one has survived, and has flourished, with a continuous, evolving, culture:  the Hebrews.

 

How the Hebrews discovered this survival advantage (in Darwinian terms) remains a mystery. Indeed, it can sometime seem like a sudden revelation. But, what is clear is that somehow, the Hebrews came to realize that the best way to evolve (and not perish) is to view every challenge, every assault, as a spiritual opportunity. Each and every challenge was looked at prophetically, with an eye for good, i.e. How should they approach the challenge for Good, i.e. in devotion to God? What was God “saying” to them through this living experience?

 

By so doing, they were embracing the Unity of Life. By so doing, they were embracing That Wholeness so much Greater than any of their challenges, it rendered their challenges a mere passing moment in time. Since everything is evolving (though they’d not have used this term back then), even dangerous challenges would have to, eventually, evolve away, i.e. they would be delivered by God to freedom.

 

Continual Evolution towards Increased Freedom! This is quite a stunning spiritual perspective, different than all the other nations around them. It accounts for the supreme ability, the sheer relentlessness of the Hebrew people to actually endure through the crucible of history. Such relentlessness is simply absolute faith in evolution, preventing them from perishing, leading them to greater survivability (in Darwinian terms) and freedom in all ways:  physical, mental, spiritual.

 

So, using more religious terms, evolution might be said to be The Hand-of-God. It guides us, moves us forward, delivers us away from our natural predators (in Darwinian terms) towards the so-called Promised Land, be it actual or metaphorical. We survive. We do not perish. We align ourselves to the Creator–  How Life works for Good– so, we prosper in all ways.

 

Want to think like a Hebrew? Want to evolve and not perish? When you are faced with any personal challenge, ask yourself these prophetic questions:

 

                                    How can we turn this challenge from bad to good?

 

What did we do that opened us up to not good?

                                               

How can we learn, change and evolve to not

do that again?

 

How can we actually see this seemingly negative challenge as good, however, unpleasant, or lethal, it is?

 

 

This is called optimism. This is called progress. This is the Way of Life that the ancient Hebrew prophets taught their people, and passed on to other peoples, sharing this evolving, progressive, historical perspective with the world:  Future-oriented. Forward-moving.

 

Evolve or perish! This is the theme of Universal Judaism. This is the theme of all Hebrew-based cultures, including prophetically-inspired Christianity, Islam, and a righteous world global secular culture.  This is the great Hebrew contribution towards the healing, the prospering, and, in religious-language, the salvation of humankind.

 

Do you hear God’s call to evolve? Do you want to evolve for Good? Do you wish to add your light to this 4000 year old flame? Evolution- the Hand of God in Creation- is “The HOW” in How Life Works for Good. It’s HOW good happens!

 

Why does Life always work for Good?

Because Life, by its very Divine Nature, evolves.

 

 

When we live with an eye to evolution, to improved goodness in all things, we don’t get a descending, life-ebbing spiral. We get an ascending, life-engendering helix:

 

Like our DNA.

 

FOONOTES

 

Chapter Two

 

  1. There had been many different competing theories of evolution before Darwin. In fact, evolutionary thinking precedes Darwin by over a millennium; it was part of Plato’s thinking. Jewish culture has had evolutionary thought part of its mystical teachings for over a millennia; it forms the fabric of the Lurianic Cabala.

 

There are still holes in the theory today. For example, contemporary evolutionists are still at odds on how to explain the evolution of the dog from the lone wolf in just under 35,000 years. It’s an astonishing diversification of evolution, which Darwin’s theory does not explain adequately. Obviously, the theory needs to evolve.

 

Nonetheless, there is absolutely no doubt, to anyone with any scientific credibility, that evolution is false! Indeed, these days, there is more proof than ever, because speciation, the making of new species, has actually been witnessed in real time studies.

 

Even the most doctrinaire biblical fundamentalists have been forced to

accept the fact of micro-evolution, such as that of the influenza virus.

They still maintain that this does not happen on the macro-level, of

species.

 

Today, macro-evolutionary theory has improved the original Darwinian

construct, and curiously, it is more supportive of the Biblical perspective

than ever. But, it is not supportive of biblicism– turning the Bible into a

revelation, as we will discuss further on in the chapter.

 

  1. Scriptural stories tell of Moses receiving a Torah from God on Mt. Sinai. Torah, is a Hebrew word which comes from the root for “teaching”. Moses’ teaching was clearly not what we commonly call the Torah– the so-called Five Books of Moses. This is a canon, a heavily edited and constructed scripture. The original Torah of Moses, no one knows what it was, or even if it actually was. Today though, in religious piousness and preservation of Jewish culture, and many other religious cultures, often confuse revelation and canon. It causes much religious idolatry and impedes our rational evolution.

 

  1. With thanks to Dr. Aaron Beck, the creator of Cognitive Therapy

for his elaboration of Cognitive Distortions, those patterns of thinking

which render us irrational and cause us great suffering.