I’m very pleased to welcome Anthony J. Gerst as a contributor to Below2C. Mr. Gerst is a long-letter writer whose letters have been featured in 20 countries including England, Spain, Hungary, India Australia and Brazil. A longer bio is found at the end of the article. (Rolly Montpellier, Editor)
The polarity of extremist views continues to increase. Fundamentalists tend to blame academics/liberals, claiming we must put God back as central to our government. The mainstream seem to accuse talk radio and the 24/7 news media, with MSNBC and Fox News whipping hysteria into the right and left wings of our two-party system. Conspiracy theorists and others point toward fiscal elitists using the divide and conquer method to keep the public at each other’s throats instead of uniting against them. The polarity of right vs. left, fundamentalism vs. existentialism is hardly restricted to the United States, it is a global phenomenon.
Earth Centric Paradigm Shift
As early as the mid 1990s, it was suggested that what we as a species are experiencing is a paradigm shift toward an Earth Centric ethical standard: a shift no less profound than the scientific revolution 400 years ago. The philosophical and scientific approach created by Rene Descartes, known as the Cartesian Method is a prime example of that paradigm shift. Descartes is best known for his philosophical quote, cogito ergo sum: I think, therefore I am. His philosophic endeavors of questioning everything perceived (sense imagery) and indoctrinated (taught from youth) brought forth a methodology of reasoning based on logic and a mechanistic interpretation of nature.
During that time Reductionism, the belief that any complex system can be understood by reducing it to the study of its parts, became the dominant belief in Western Civilization. Of course in 1543 Copernicus’s bombshell of heliocentrism did more to launch the revolution than probably anything else. The concept that the sun was the center of the universe and not the earth, sent shockwaves through the medieval church.
An Earth Centric paradigm shift will challenge many of Western civilizations’ underlying foundations, such as hierarchical ordering, viewing the universe as a mechanical system, and the belief that society must be a competitive struggle. This paradigm realignment challenges the deeply held belief that our species is above nature, and nature’s only value is being instrumental for our usage wants.
We are heading toward the historically held belief that mankind is just a strand in the web of life. We should be caretakers of this world, all of its life forms, and the earth itself, simply holding it in trust for posterity. In no way is this indicating that the scientific revolution was a waste of time nor that we all need to live in small hippie communes. Jumping to these conclusions is just another symptom of extreme polarity, a causal affect created by the anxiety of a paradigm shift.
Oddly enough, it is organized religion, especially the Abrahamic traditions, which opposed the scientific revolution (just think about the Inquisition) that are opposing this shift toward an earth centric spiritual/philosophical paradigm. Why? Organized religion is based on a patriarchal hierarchy. In contrast an earth centric paradigm engages in focusing on interconnectedness and the interdependency of interwoven systems, or “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”
Reductionism has led many scientists to find paradoxical conclusions. Paradoxes are the cornerstones of Eastern philosophic thoughts. An old Chinese saying proclaims, “Why matter, consciousness. Why consciousness, matter.” Scientists studying subatomic particles discovered that after a certain point Newtonian rules of physics do not apply. They learned what we view as reality, matter, is nothing but vibrating wavelengths of particles, mainly composed of empty space. (We know by now that empty space is composed of dark matter, but that is another entirely different essay.)
Many physicists and scientists across disciplines, having reached the limits of reductionism, have in recent years acknowledged that eastern philosophy and the ancient Greek philosophers were right all along. The meaning of life cannot be deduced from reductionist study of substance. It is your conscious self that gives definition to reality. For your information, consciousness has never been found to reside in the physical brain.
Your individual consciousness, soul, spirit or Divine Spark is part of the universal consciousness, part of the world and cosmos. None of us will live to see this shift completed. It is my hope that the Earth System Gaia doesn’t reset the environmental balances before our species achieves this. It will be a bumpy ride but combining the knowledge of the scientific revolution with an earth centric ethical system, would be a marvel to behold.