[Host's Note: My apologies for delivering this three-part message out of
Greetings to all of you.
Part 1 - Religion.
Faith dwells within an individual. When believers with similar faiths
organise themselves into a community of practice they create a religion.
Thus faith is privately organised while religion is publicly organised.
The religion component makes our LO-topic most difficult and contentious.
But since it involves organisation, internal for faith and external for
religion, we cannot avoid this topic in our LO studies. Religious
organisations have just as much need for the LO as any other kind of
organisation. So let us not avoid the topic, but definitely avoid any
negative and destructive behaviour towards each other.
In this contribution, like other contentious ones before, I will often
refer to "me" rather than "us" in a contentious patch. It is not intended
to promote myself nor to exclude any of you fellow learners. It is to help
you, hopefully, to move easier over such a patch.
The 7Es (seven essentialities of creativity) are liveness, sureness,
wholeness, fruitfulness, spareness, otherness and openness. They can help
us to behave positively and constructively. As for myself, for example,
wholeness makes me keeping faith and religion together as well
incorporating them into my system of thinking. Openness drives me to write
to you even though I know that I am exploring a topic having a minefield
of mental models. Because of otherness I cannot keep quiet on what enabled
humans to emerge from all other animals. I believe that only humans have
obtained that openness to the requisite intelligence needed for exploring
the divine and reporting with joy what the Creator is doing.
Different religions have been the main reason for many violent clashes
among humankind for many millennia all over the world. Different opinions
on religion have also brought many organisations to their knees. Hence to
begin a dialogue on any aspect of religion is as dangerous as bringing a
flame close to a keg of gun powder. So let us take utmost care in this
dialogue and withhold us from any judgement on qualities of character such
as true, good and right.
Allow me first to paint a panorama on all religions. It seems to me that
all religions have three common properties: a confession to an omnipotent
Creator, a dogma (rules) for common behaviour and a liturgy (rites) for
common worship. Religion is the organisational outcome of the capacity of
individuals to believe and thus to increase in faith. Believing increases
faith like learning increases knowledge. People who believe similarly will
organise themselves into a religion just as people who learn similarly
will organise them into a school of thought.
Just as languages all over the world evolved from an archaic proto
language into several families of languages, it seems to be the same for
religions. In fact, there are striking similarities in the deities of the
various religions and their names in the various languages. Although the
morphogenesis (genealogy) of religions is complex, it also has a striking
resemblance to the evolutionary tree of races and peoples as they have
slowly migrated to all continents from a place somewhere in central Africa
many millennia ago. It seems that the three acts of speaking, believing
and exploring went tightly together in the history of Homo sapiens the
past six millennia.
A systematical study of all religions unfold in two main categories: the
morphogenesis of religion (mentioned above) and the morphological
classification of religion. It seems to me that the morphology has two
"kingdoms" -- the naturalistic and the spiritualistic religions. It
depends on whether the focus of the mind was on the "world-outside"
(naturalistic with emphasis on physical needs) or the "world-inside"
(spiritualistic with emphasis on the qualities of character).
Naturalistic religions unfolds into two orders, those (like Dravidian,
Etruscan, Chaldean and Mayan) ascribing magical powers to plants and
animals, and those (like Assyrian, Vaidic, Germanic and Hellenic)
ascribing magical powers to superhumans. Spiritualistic religions also
unfolds into two orders, those (like Taoism, Brahmanism, Jainism and
Judaism) with largely a national character and those (like Buddhism, Islam
and Christianity) with an international character.
A unique problem in our post-modern era is what relationship religion has
to science and technology. Many people argue that there should be no
relationship. Others argue that science and technology should undo
religion. Yet perhaps the greatest experimental scientist ever, Michael
Faraday, was also a deeply religious person! Some argue almost to the
opposite that religion has to prescribe the development of science and
technology. Yet the modern era of science and technology began with
Copernicus who defied such a prescription! What a confusing complexity do
we not have here. But wait, this is not all.
Should we apply the three common features of religion to science and
technology, they seem to constitute religions for some. In this case (1)
the omnipotent Creator is humankind of which certain members have a
sufficiently complex knowledge, (2) the dogma is the rules expounded by
the experts and (3) the liturgy is the disciplines applied as infallible
recipes. Thus science and technology, whenever practised as religions,
form the internationally naturalistic religions which complement the
internationally spiritualistic religions. Now we can understand why this
complementary dual is often perceived as dialectical opposites, causing
some scientists and technologists to claim that all religions are
superstition while some religious proponents claim science and technology
to be low graded religions.
Many religions are not with us any more. Some grow while others fade away.
I would have loved to tell more about them and especially a comparative
study of them all. This comparative study tested my understanding of the
7Es to the hilt. But I have to hasten myself because this topic is not on
religions, but on religions and faith as organisations. With this then too
short an overview, let me ask the next important question.
Is a LO-dialogue on religion important? Yes, the metaphor "as dangerous as
a flame close to a keg of gun powder" tells it all. When gun powder
explodes, the very explosion through the initiation by a flame is the
rapid production of entropy because of immense free energy liberated. The
gunpowder is a mixture of compounds with great differences in their
chemical potential. The same applies when two or more religions with great
differences in their religious potential are mixed within an organisation
or a society. I believe that when an OO (Ordinary Organisation) transforms
into a LO, all its members will grow in such knowledge and faith that they
will avoid adding to the "gunpowder" and even igniting it. But let us
first investigate how organisations tried to do it in the past.
One way to avoid tragedy when having a religious mixture, is to outlaw the
public activities of religion as far as possible. (See for example the
Balkan states.) This is a deliberate impairing of the essentiality
liveness. It inhibits entropy production by avoiding any becoming in the
system. Another way to avoid tragedy is to follow a nonreligious policy.
(See some European countries.) This is a deliberate impairing of sureness.
It lowers the religious potential of each religious group. Another
possibility is to separate religious groupings. (See India/Pakistan.) This
is a deliberate impairing of fruitfulness. It prevents effective
collisions between opposing religious groups. These three examples show
that an impairing in one or even a combination of the 7Es may be used to
hinder the making of a tragedy (too rapid entropy production). Impair a 7E
(even on the level of tacit knowing) and the power of religion seems to
The immediate problem with impairing the 7Es is that although rapid
entropy production can be prevented, it cannot be maintained endlessly.
The spirit of authentic learning cannot be quenched. Sooner or later an
event occurs which overrides the particular impairing of some 7Es so that
a religious tragedy is often triggered elsewhere (butterfly effect). But
there is also a deeper problem. By impairing some of the 7Es (even on the
level of tacit knowing), each of the religions involved is prevented from
evolving harmoniously. Hence these religions develop rather skew while
many believers acquire an overdose of mental models deforming the rest of
their mental activities. This will heighten the subsequent explosion.
I firmly believe that one error which we should not make, is to deny the
vast potential of religion. It is made possible by the faith of individual
believers in any religious community. The faith of such an individual may
fire that individual to give up on almost every organisation to which that
individual belong. Entropy is a measure of organisation. For every
organisation, some of its total energy is bound up to maintain that
organisation. The rest of the remaining total energy is free energy.
When a believing individual gives up on almost every organisation, a vast
amount of the bounded total energy is liberated as free energy. The
ensuing entropy production will be so rapidly that the ridge of chaos and
the subsequent bifurcation will come suddenly. Only the power of faith
guided by the power of love can seek for emergences rather than
immergences. Faith reaches beyond those bifurcations into what cannot be
known ordinarily. However, ordinary knowledge of a lower order than faith
has little power.
It is easy to confuse the articles of faith with imaginative speculations
or unfounded assumptions. The latter two are created within the domain of
ordinary knowledge itself for better or worse. However, faith emerges from
ordinary knowledge as a deeper conviction to certain patterns in it.
Believing is the way by which humans reach out beyond the ridge of chaos
for knowing what is unknown to ordinary knowledge. Faith is almost like a
system of conjectures. They cannot be proved or falsified by the ordinary
knowledge available. We simply have to wait for ordinary knowledge to
catch up with these conjectures.
With respect to the power of faith, it is also interesting to note (see
overview above) that the three internationally spiritualistic religions
(Buddhism, Islam and Christianity) together have far more followers than
all the other religions together. And in each of these three religions the
most astounding faith of a particular individual (Buddha, the Prophet
Mohammed and Jesus Christ) gave rise to these religions. Religions may
come and go, but the faith of an individual is a power which nobody should
In part two we will shift our focus from religion to faith.
With care and best wishes
At de Lange <firstname.lastname@example.org> Snailmail: A M de Lange Gold Fields Computer Centre Faculty of Science - University of Pretoria Pretoria 0001 - Rep of South Africa
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