Hi everyone. Continuing with this course in the religious philosophy of
Universal Judaism, here is chapter three of the primer I’m working on.
Religion, in general, especially Hebrew-brand religions, make absolutely no
sense at all, unless you begin to understand what is it about the human animal which is
different form other animals. Indeed, if you understand this– the burden of technology– independent,
material creativity, not bound to the cycles of nature of earth– only then, can you understand the meaning
of the story of the Garden of Eden, let alone, the value of any so-called “religious laws”.
Our ability to have individual-creativity– free will– free because it is loosed from the natural, unlike virtually
all animals– defines not just a natural creature, but a super-natural creature, literally meaning “beyond nature”.
Only an animal that has this ability would be forced to invent a God, in order to explain itself, because only this
animal could conceive of their power coming from a force which is higher than the mere earthly natural.
It is a sad thing that religions have forgotten the origin of their own worth, and rendered themselves, worthless!
Please read this important chapter, and please start up a conversation on our blog. We will have social media
up and running shortly.
Thank you and Bless you.
R’ Michael Shevack
Re-igniting the Hebrew Spirit for Everyone in Today’s World
by Michael Shevack
Chapter Three A Supernatural Animal
Now, the capacity to evolve exists in all creatures, as the theory of evolution makes cogent. However, in no other species is the capacity to evolve so pronounced as in the human being.
While all other species grow and evolve with the challenges of their earthly (environmental) experiences– a fact which is at the cornerstone of Darwin’s theory of natural selection– no other creature equals our ability to grow consciously. That’s because no other creatures is as conscious. No other creature is as conceptual.
We human beings have the extraordinary ability to conceptualize Reality, to form a workable picture, an understanding, an abstract model of the world we are experiencing. That’s why, except for some relatively minor efforts on the part of chimpanzees and some birds, we are the only major tool makers in the animal kingdom.
To create a tool means one must be able to look at raw nature, take it in hand, and re-shape it according to an idea, a concept. We have to look at a stick, imagine it in our mind, re-shape it according to our imagination, alter it for our needs, and use it, often differently, than intended by nature: a stick now becomes an awl to pry insects out of a log, or, with a few modifications, an arrow to shoot some prey or enemy.
Whereas most creatures might be called natural, bound to the earthly nature from which their bodies emerged, living in synch with the cycles of nature and the seasons of the year, we human beings, while natural, are also super-natural: beyond nature. We have evolved to be able to go beyond earthly nature to access a much Wider Nature. Our bodies tend to be earthbound, but our minds launch skyward.
Whereas other creatures tend to be stuck in their particular environmental niches, an ancient observation which the Bible records (Genesis 1:24), human beings are not so stuck. Through our extraordinary conceptual abilities, we have found ways to explore the sky, the seas, underground, and now, way, way “above”– the moon, the planets, the sun, galaxies upon galaxies, and universes upon universes, that are part of Nature.
It is no mere evolutionary artifact– but, in fact, a living symbol, a sign of our unique conceptual status– that in the entire animal kingdom, we are the only near perpendicular animal. From feet to head, from head to all above, we form a near perpendicular connection between earth and the heavens. In a way, we are a living transversal connecting two parallel realms. So, we human beings are not just in a taxonomic class of our own, but also in a spiritual class of our own. Our body is a living sign of our spiritual nature; our spiritual nature is expressed through the physical form of body, inseparably so.(27)
To explain this, the Bible describes God breathing Its Spirit into the dust to create a living soul (Genesis 2:7). Others have offered up the explanation that a soul is some piece or spark of God that we possess, something mere natural animals do not have and which accounts for our conceptual, supernatural or rational abilities. Regardless whether it’s “spirit” or “soul”, these are– like “God”– just working theories. They’re useful explanatory tools, but as yet unproven. Better models may arise as human beings evolve.(28)
From a contemporary scientific viewpoint, no one knows exactly how the human being became so remarkable, how we can be earth born, yet not earth bound. But, with all respect to Darwin, it is highly unlikely that we could ever evolve beyond the earth if only earthly forces were at work.
Human evolution must be cosmic or our evolution
makes no sense.
Although we are at a fairly rudimentary stage of development, the human being is, as the second chapter of Genesis describes, a cosmic being. That’s why theories like “God” or “soul” are somewhat unavoidable for us if we wish to account for our existence. They are placeholders-in-thought to build upon.
After all, only human beings can vault the heavens and come back with knowledge beyond the earth. Only we can travel to the moon, and beyond. Only we can reveal unseen universes in so-called theoretical equations. Only we can take a God’s Eye View of Life, conceptualize it, and understand its mechanics. Only we can fathom, abstractly, the governing principles or laws of the universe, and apply them personally. And, yes, only we can understand, abstractly, the spiritual laws for How Life Works for Good and govern ourselves, consciously, by them.(29)
That’s because we are not just conceptual, supernatural, cosmic; we are also something else, something beyond special: individuals.
We are individuals! You, me, everyone! We are an astonishing evolutionary advance! Individuals have the ability to re-engineer Creation for our individual needs and desires. We have individual creativity, our very own, uniquely so. We can actually take our universe personally, generating new ideas never before thought of, and materially-express them just for our pleasure alone! It’s a kind of Divine self-centeredness.
Indeed, just as God brings new possible existences into Its Existence from an Existing Existence, we humans also bring new possible existences into our existence from an existing existence within that Existence. God is Creative and we individualize That in our own way. This is why the Bible defines us as being Made in the Image and Likeness of God. We reflect the Nature of God (as the Hebrew word tzelem, translated Image, means); we are separate, cut off, as the Hebrew word demut, translated likeness, means. We are separated into individuality, an individual being from The Divine Being.!(30)
Life is Holy. Celebrate your Individuality.
Individuality allows us to consciously focus and concentrate the aspects and qualities that exist in nature. Bringing them under our dominion (Genesis 1:26), we can master these and direct them for our individual benefit. For example, animals exist in nature. But the supernatural animal can focus our intelligence upon them, conceptualize them within our minds, and therefore domesticate them, farming them, at will, for our needs, rather than relying upon them to just appear haphazardly in the wild.(31)
Another, more subtle, example: Flight exists in nature. But, through the power of our conceptual, supernatural, cosmic individuality, we can understand, abstractly, the laws that are involved in flight and re-produce this natural phenomenon whenever we want. This is how we invent jet planes or rocket ships. We find a quality within nature, focus and concentrate upon it, abstract it, and direct it for our individuals needs. This is how we individuals accomplish all our technologies: farming, house-building, manufacturing new products, even controversial technologies like abortion and genetic engineering. We, as individuals, comprehend them into existence– comprehend, in the dual sense of encompass and understand.
Our individuality allows us to comprehend the fixed and often restrictive laws of nature and neutralize them, so we are not imprisoned by them. While a block of iron will sink in water and will not levitate off the ground, human beings can study the laws of flotation, shape the metal accordingly, so that the upward force of buoyancy neutralizes the downward force of gravity. The result? Metal ceases to sink, but floats. In water. In air. A fixed law of nature has now been neutralized for human needs.
The result? Freedom. There is nothing more precious to human life than Freedom. Nothing more precious to Universal Judaism. Freedom is at the very core identity of the Hebrew people, in our Exodus from enslavement in Egypt. Freedom is the very gift of contemporary democracy that we all now enjoy, thanks to Enlightenment philosophy that re-discovered ancient Hebrew principles that had been forgotten or ignored. Freedom is what it means to feel human!
Life is Holy. Celebrate your Freedom.
We supernatural animals have a far greater range of freedom than all other animals. We supernatural animals have a far greater freedom of options available to us. One such option is that we can conceptually, abstractly, comprehend all the options available to us, and consider them, weigh them, contemplate on their possible projected effects, before we act. We have that amazing ability, the hallmark of human freedom: choice.
Life is Holy. Celebrate your Choice.
Conceptual, supernatural, cosmic, individuality is what grants us, as religious philosophers call it, free will, so, we can consciously, will-fully, choose how we shall direct our lives and talents. How else could we be individuals?
Should we achieve this? Should we achieve that? Should we do something hurtful or even lethal to someone? Or, should we refrain, and bring more good into Good? Upon our ability to consciously choose is founded the science that religions call morality.
Now you may not believe that the Biblical story of the Garden of Eden was factually true. You may not believe that there was a real Adam and Eve and that there was an evil serpent, seducing them to eat the forbidden fruit.
But, can you deny that we human beings have an intelligent faculty within us, that continuously tempts us to explore, to be curious, to go beyond natural limitations and boundaries, to taste the fruit– i.e. experience the consequences– of our individuality?
You may not believe there was an actual Tree of Knowledge in the midst of the Garden (Genesis 2:9) But, can you deny our ability to explore, discover, focus, and concentrate the knowledge which is central to how our world was created, formulating human expressions of this as scientific laws? Can you deny our ability to ingest, digest, catabolize, metabolize and assimilate knowledge, and ironically, in this age of personal computers, process the information through bytes of our Apple.
In spite of its primitive, Near Eastern imagery and mythic vestiges, this Biblical story, fiction though it is, nonetheless expresses a Real Truth about our human condition. We all still live somewhat disconnected from earthly nature (The Garden) because we are consciously, individualistically, creative beyond nature.
Although the unfortunate phrase as been grossly misused, causing unnecessary
pain, guilt and suffering, falsely indicting our very birth as something poisoned
and evil– in truth, we all do live in a kind of original sin. We all do live
somewhat separated from our earthly animal nature because of our skyward,
conceptual, supernatural, cosmic individual nature, i.e. human.
You are human. You are special. You evolved to be a conceptual, supernatural, cosmic, individual animal. A soul? Nice theory. Made in the Image and Likeness of God? Another nice theory.
Such religious theories aside: are you ready to own the fact?
Warning: Do not read further, unless you are. It could be dangerous!
Chapter Three: Footnotes
27. The spiritual is seen in the physical, the physical expresses the spiritual.
Yet we tend, because of a lot of foreign thought-contamination, to consider spiritual as conflicting with the physical, as if these are polar opposites that are irreconcilable. This is not Hebrew thought. This tends to be Gnostic thinking which infiltrated Hebrew thought, probably from Babylonia and definitely from Greek thinking. Gnostics believed that materiality was an obstruction to spirituality. For Christians, the incarnation of Jesus is a healing of the seeming opposition of spirit and flesh, and is a re-statement of the Hebrew view, in a slightly different form. We will discuss this later more later on.
28. There is so much confusion out there about what is a “soul” or what is a
“spirit”. It is compounded by the fact that we translate a lot of ancient
religious texts into foreign languages. So, we might translate the Hindu
atman as soul, and prana as breath or spirit. But, it doesn’t necessarily
mean that we mean the words “soul” and “spirit” the same way.
29. As with footnote 27 above, who is to say whether so-called spiritual laws
of Creation are not physical laws, and physical laws are not spiritual laws.
This is a lot of Gnostic contamination, where we view physicality as
something apart from spirituality, because we, personally, experience
physicality and its death as some kind of finality. Is it? Universal Judaism is about developing a Unity Consciousness beyond these arbitrary oppositions.
30. In Darwin’s theory, natural selection depends upon the individual organism. It is the individual organism that is the unit by which the environment stimulates the transmission of “positive” traits, those that
facilitate survival. Thus, unlike in the Bible, where it seems as if there
is no individuality in any animal other than the human being– a case which is tremendously overstated– it is undeniable that there is
individuality in the animal kingdom. The difference is conscious individuality, which only the human being has to the same degree.
This is an important qualification for today’s era.
31. In the Bible, God parades all the animals in front of Adam, and Adam promptly demonstrates his ability to name the animals, i.e. conceptualize them, marking them through the use of a symbol-word. Thus, he demonstrates conceptual power– comprehensive power– over them, which is necessary for domestication. All power over the any force of nature is achieved the same way.
(copyright 2016 Michael Shevack all rights reserved)