Why the Religious Fear–and Fight–Science… and Why it’s a Sad Mistake
by Ervin Laszlo on September 9, 2010
Religious people — and by this I mean people who are deeply committed to a religion and aspire to live in accordance with its scriptures — usually fear science: they suspect that science contradicts some of their cherished beliefs, beliefs they are asked to accept on faith. And because many believe that the best defense is offense, the religious often attack science and scientists, and widen the gulf that separates these branches of contemporary culture. This is regrettable, for throughout history every enduring culture embraced the best of its dominant religion, together with the rational and empirical ideas that made up the science of its time. The current gulf is all the more regrettable as it’s based on a fundamental misconception. Indeed, on two misconceptions: of the nature of religion, as well as of science.
The average religious person identifies the religion that he or she espouses with the doctrines of that religion. These are the sacred scriptures created by the founders and prophets of that religion. For the most part they are centuries old, and contain sayings, episodes, and injunctions that are said to come from a higher, superhuman authority.
If it is its doctrines that make up a religion, then there are reasons for the faithful to fear science, or at least a dominant (mis)conception of science (and the misguided souls who embrace that misconception). It’s always possible that science will fail to recognize that the sayings, episodes, and injunctions that make up the literal content of the doctrines come from an undisputable superhuman authority. Scientists are not disposed to accept claims on faith; they are trained to ask for proof — for empirical proof. If it’s not available, then they might say that the sayings, episodes and injunctions are unproven, and could be mistaken. In that case the religious would have good reason to fear science (or at least those who believe that science would pass judgment on the literal meaning of religious scriptures); their deepest convictions would be in question.
But this fear is unfounded. It’s based on a misconception of the true nature both of religion, and of science.
Religion doesn’t simply consist of the doctrines that make up its sacred scriptures. There is far more to religion than that. And it’s not the case that science would take religious doctrines at face value and pronounce their content either true or false. There is far more to science than that.
Both religion and science are sourced in human experience. True, they are sourced in a different kind of experience, and science can tell us that they are conveyed by a different hemisphere of the brain: religion is right-hemispheric, and science, left-hemispheric. Human experience encompasses both.
Religion is based on the right-hemispheric experience of its founders, saints, and prophets. These must have been deep and vivid experiences, for they had a remarkable power to affect the heart and the mind of those around them. The founders, and even more their disciples, sought to communicate the substance of these experiences. They did so in the language, and with the concepts of their time. Their followers made the mistake of taking the record of the experiences for the essence of the experiences. They mistook the letter of religion for its spirit.
True scientists would not confound the record of a religious experience with the meaning of that experience. They would not judge a religion by the literal veracity of the sayings, episodes, and injunctions contained in its doctrines; they would ask about their roots in lived experience. And they would seek to understand that experience.
Analyzing the nature and meaning of religious experience is not a threat to the religious. On the contrary, it can prove to be a support. Because when the deep religious experience is analyzed with the methods of a science, a remarkable finding comes to light. The religious experience has aspects and elements that make it consistent with the world scientists discover on the basis of empirical experience.
Strange? Perhaps, but it is so. Psychiatrists such as Stanislav Grof find that in meditative, prayerful, or otherwise altered states of mind and consciousness people have access to the kind of mystical or transcendent realities that make up the substance of all great religions. This doesn’t mean that science can “verify” the metaphysical reality of these visions and entities. To establish their reality is not simply to see whether they correspond to the entities and processes that make up the content of valid scientific theories. It calls for careful reasoning and a further development of our understanding of the perceptual and cognitive powers of the brain, and of the consciousness associated with it. This development is already under way — among other things, recent attempts to discover the quantum-receptivity of microtubules and other subneuronal arrays in the brain point to it. It appears that we can apprehend far more of the reality in which we are embedded than we had thought. In addition to its standard information-processing circuits, the brain has quantum-receptive capacities, picking up information that’s instantaneous, multidimensional, and “nonlocal.”
Work in this area is still in progress, but we can be reasonably certain already that there are aspects and planes of human experience that far transcend the limits of everyday experience. As Shakespeare remarked, there are more things in this world than you and I had ever conceived.
Entering on a plane that is deeper or higher than that of everyday experience is what the religious experience is all about. And trying to understand how we can connect with that plane is one of the most exciting tasks facing science today.
The sincere religious has nothing to fear from the genuine scientist. On the contrary, the religious and the scientist have much to learn from each other. Together they will achieve a better understanding of the deep reality that surrounds us, and grounds our own existence. Isn’t it time to begin to explore that reality together — instead of fearing and fighting each other?
As 2012 approaches there is an increasing urgency to this message because we’re all, literally, running out of time to play in the third dimension.
In simple terms, the habit of thinking and feeling and behaving that we know of as the third dimension is going away. Everyone is shifting into a fourth dimensional consciousness and experience, and then into a fifth dimensional consciousness and experience.
However, most people on the planet are not prepared for this Shift. But it is happening nonetheless, and for those who are unaware of what’s going on it will not be an easy or comfortable experience.
Yet this can be a wonderful, enjoyable time as well. With some basic information about what the Shift is, and what “dimensions” are, and with simple tools to help manage our thoughts and feelings, everyone has the ability to evolve their consciousness and move gracefully and joyfully into these higher vibrational realms.
If you don’t know what dimensions are, you are not alone. Most people playing the game of life as we know it in the third dimension are playing without a “rule book” that would explain what the game really is and how one can play it successfully.
This article provides these basic, missing rules. It explains what the third, fourth, and fifth dimensions are, and why they are the most important consideration of your life right now.
If you can understand the structure and play of these dimensions, you can begin to move fluidly through the unprecedented changes of this Shift without fear, without effort, without the tension and anxiety that is, for the most part, the daily habit of our lives.
So, first of all, let me define what dimensions are not.
Dimensions are not places or locations, and they are not a linear progression – 3, 4, 5, 6 – stacked up like pancakes. And the 3rd dimension, or the 4th dimension, is not the chair you’re sitting in, or the walls that surround you, or even the Earth itself. That is form, which exists predominantly in the 3rd and 4th dimensions, and which will still be very much part of the play in the 4th dimension when the 3rd dimension is no longer an option.
In general, dimensions are states of consciousness available to anyone who vibrates in resonance with the specific frequencies and opportunities available within each dimension.
In a way, you could think of each dimension as a different game with a different set of rules as to what is possible and not possible for the beings that choose to play and create there.
So what is the 3rd Dimension?
The third dimension (3D) is a box of rigid beliefs, more or less, with a relatively inflexible set of rules and limitations. Most of us have been playing this game for lifetimes, so we tend to think it is the only game available to us. But nothing could be further from the truth. One of the rigid 3D beliefs that structure our lives – our thinking and feeling and actions – is linear time.
Linear time is an optional belief and structure that let’s us “live” an experience of past and a future… and then we die. Because this belief is the default assumption of mass 3D consciousness, and events seem to validate the belief, most of us think and act as if it’s true.
But now we are all waking up from the illusion of this ubiquitous belief. And as you become more conscious, you realize that time in 3D is actually a time loop. What you experience in “the past” is pretty much what you put your attention on now, and you project that reality into “the future,” and therefore you experience it over and over again.
So the structure of time is quite specific (and limiting) in the 3rd dimension, but your experience of time is quite different (and empowering) as you move into higher dimensions.
Everything in a 3D consciousness is also very conditional. The concept of, for example, ‘unconditional love,’ does not exist in the 3rd dimension. If you experience ‘unconditional love’ or ‘unconditional peace’ you have actually moved into a fourth dimensional (4D) consciousness.
You see, in the earth experience now, we have access to both 3rd and 4th dimensional consciousness, but most of us rarely step out of the well-grooved habits of 3D thinking and feeling.
The 3rd dimension also offers no possibility of choice. We don’t choose our thoughts, feelings, and actions in every moment (that’s a skill of 4D and 5D), instead we react from unconscious beliefs and training to the people and situations that pop up in our space.
Duality provides another rigid structure for 3D experience. Up/down. Left/right. Should/shouldn’t. Since the fall of Atlantis 12,500 years ago, we have become very fearful as a way of life, and in that fear we have learned to narrowly define good and bad, right and wrong, etc. Unconscious judgment permeates 3D thinking.
Moreover, we perceive our 3D experience predominantly with the left hemisphere of the brain, home of the rational mind, and so we use only about 5 to 10 percent of the brain’s capacity to play the 3D game. Most of us suspect the rest of our brain must do something but have no idea what it actually does and how it functions.
In fact, what the rest of the brain enables us to do is function in the higher 4th and 5th dimensions, and beyond.
We already have the potential, all the necessary equipment and wiring, right now, to be fully conscious in all these dimensions. But our habits of thinking and feeling, grooved over many lifetimes, dumbs= us down and limit us to 3D experience. Our left-brain, rational mind only knows what it knows, and doesn’t know what it doesn’t know, and it works tirelessly to keep us within a thin range of objective 3D thinking and possibilities. And we, for the most part, have gone along for the ride. But no longer.
The increasing light energies and frequencies of the Shift are rewiring our brains to allow us access to a much wider range of information and possibility than is available in the 3rd dimension. These light energies are preparing us for 4D and 5D experience, even as they are clearing the rigid 3D “rules” from our consciousness.
So what is the 4th Dimension?
The “rules” of 4th dimensional consciousness provide an enhanced sense of ease, possibility, and capability than the structures of the 3rd dimension.
Time in 4D, for example, is always present time. The focus is only ever this moment, what is happening right now. Our bodies already know only this present time; they can’t know ‘yesterday’ or ‘tomorrow,’ and as conscious beings in our natural alignment in the higher 4th dimension, we function absolutely in this “Now” of present time awareness and attention. When our attention point becomes present time awareness, choice becomes possible again. We can observe any and all events with a sense of detachment, merely as information to consider, and from that still, uncluttered platform we are then, and only then, free to choose our response. In the higher 4th dimension we become response-able.
A concept and possibility known as paradox also becomes available in the present time of 4D consciousness. Paradox simply means that what was true just a moment ago may not be true right now. And what was false a moment ago may no longer be false. Instead of applying rigid, pre-existing definitions to any experience, we choose our preferred version and vibration in every moment.
So as we move into 4D consciousness in present time, with the power of choice and response-ability, and the flexibility of paradox, the ability to alter the game to enhance our happiness and wellbeing becomes available.
Interestingly, 4D consciousness will not be a long-term option after the Shift clears away the rigid structures of 3D consciousness.
The 4th dimension is serving as an essential, but short-lived, stepping stone or vibrational platform from which we will all move into 5th dimensional consciousness. 5D is the target for Earth and all her inhabitants. The archangels have said the entire consciousness of Earth will be a fifth dimensional consciousness by the year 2015.
But although the 5th dimension is the target, the experience of the 4th dimension is essential. We cannot enter 5D directly from 4D. All mental and emotional baggage from the 3rd dimension must be left at the door to the 4th dimension, and we can only enter the 5th dimension after we have become masterful of our thoughts and feelings in the 4th dimension.
Some assembly is required.
So what is the 5th Dimension?
The 5th dimension operates, to a great extent, in a completely differently fashion from the 3rd and 4th dimensions.
Time in 5D is instantaneous time, meaning that everything (all possibilities) occurs in the same place at the same moment. In 5D, you focus your attention and the answer or experience is given to you exactly when and where you focus.
Ask and you shall receive.
In 5D, you don’t have to move or go anywhere for your answers or experiences; everything comes to you easily and effortlessly based upon the attention point and vibration you choose to hold in every moment.
When you are vibrating in 5D consciousness, you don’t create with form as you do in the 3rd and 4th dimensions, you create with light and light patterns and light frequencies. You apply sound and color and geometric shapes. You consciously interact with the Creator and all the Beings of Light.
In this heightened consciousness, the rational mind plays a very minimal role. It returns to a small, specific focus it was intended to have, namely the wellbeing of the physical body.
But before we can move into our vibrational home that is 5D consciousness, we must first become masterful of the vibrations and possibilities of 4D consciousness. This is the focus of the Shift for most people as we head into the ever-accelerating events of 2012.
So how do you become masterful in 4D consciousness?
The Tools of 4D Present Time
As I mentioned, 4D is the ‘right now’ of ‘present time.’ But present time actually has four different levels.
In 2010, we all stepped into the third level. As we move 2012, we will step into the fourth, and final, level. In that level, when you think, ‘I would like an apple,’ the apple is going to appear in your hand. Usually when I say that people get very excited. And it is exciting. However … there is a however.
The vast majority of people on this planet are not prepared to be the masters of their every thought, feeling, and action in every moment. But there’s no option. It’s a required, baseline skill of higher 4D and 5D consciousness.
One of the reasons the 3rd dimension was created was to provide a “playground” in which we each can practice and hone the vibration of our thoughts and feelings. To accomplish this, the 3D playground has a time buffer. Instead of ‘instant manifestation’ there is a time lag between the thought we think and the manifestation or experience of that thought. For the most part, we are very sloppy with this buffer.
Instead of focusing on what we want, and allowing this to unfold over time, we spew anger, frustration, boredom, worry, anxiety, blame, guilt, fear – all kinds of lower, disharmonic thoughts and feelings. We behave as if we can think and feel anything with impunity because we do not see the instantaneous results of our thinking.
But no longer. As 3D linear time is collapsing into a single point of present time, the time buffer is collapsing too. We have less opportunity to practice being aware of our mental and emotional habits before what we think is what we get. This is a very big deal.
Fortunately, some simple energy tools can help you manage your thoughts and emotions in every moment so that you can be prepared for the unprecedented opportunity and challenge of living and creating in present time in the higher dimensions.
These basic energy tools are available for free on our website www.masteringalchemy .com but let me explain a few of them here by way of example.
Allow the Shift to clear your unconscious thoughts & feelings
In simple terms, the Shift is using one wave of light frequencies to clear away who we are not, and another wave to remind us who we are. The Shift knows where we’ve stored unwanted, unconscious habits of thought and reactionary emotion, and the light is clearing all this from our vibration.
However, as these lesser thoughts and feelings are cleared, they will come into our awareness, and magnetize people and circumstances to us that mirror these chaotic energies. How do you handle these often-powerful energies when they appear. You allow them. If you can simply observe them with a sense of detachment as they come up – knowing that they are just coming up to be cleared – they will clear quickly, and you won’t even remember what the fuss was all about.
But if you grab hold and engage these chaotic thoughts and feelings, if you insist on feeling guilty or worrying, if you continue to argue that ‘I am not OK’ or ‘They are not OK,’ these energies will not be cleared from your space – and the Shift, as it accelerates ever faster, will become a very bumpy, very ‘not OK’ road for you.
Remember most often what comes up is not even yours; it does not belong to you. Acknowledge it and know that it’s coming up to be cleared… forever. Take a couple of deep breaths, go for a walk, listen to music — but turn your attention point to something of a higher vibration.
Understanding the Lower and Higher 4th Dimension
To simplify another important aspect of the Shift, let’s imagine that the 4th dimension has just two parts to it – a lower 4th dimension and a higher 4th dimension. (This is not technically true, but it’s a useful distinction.)
As I mentioned, form will remain when 3D disappears. We’ll still experience houses and cars and trees. But fear, judgments, blame and guilt, the rights and the wrongs, will disappear. All this dense emotional energy, which is the only thing that prevents us from playing in the higher dimensions right now, will simply be cleared from our space.
However, depending upon the vibration of the thoughts you are thinking as 3D disappears, you will find yourself in either the lower 4th dimension or the higher 4th dimension.
The lower 4th dimension, which is also called the astral plane or dream space, holds all the thoughts ever thought by anyone in the 3rd dimension.
You see, thoughts don’t just disappear after we think them. They live on in the lower 4th dimension, with specific weight, texture, density and emotional charge. And they bond and cluster with all the other thoughts of similar character.
Some thoughts – such as rape, domination, slavery, war, hatred – feel heavy, dense and dark. Conversely, thoughts such as ‘butterflies,’ ‘children playing in the park,’ and ‘flowers blooming on a warm spring day’ feel light and have a simple, airy vibration. Lighter thoughts like these rarely linger in a 3D consciousness. Because in order to align and feel the vibration of, for example, ‘beauty,’ we must step out of 3D consciousness into present time, a higher 4th dimensional space.
Wait, you say, I know ‘Beauty!’ You do, because we’re now living in both the third and fourth dimensions simultaneously, but how often do you align yourself with, and linger on, the feeling of beauty?
It’s a 4D, present-time skill to take thoughts like ‘light,’ ‘airy’ and ‘beauty’ to heart. These vibrations don’t even exist in the hurry up, past/future of the 3rd dimension where it’s very difficult to pause in present time and smell a flower.
But, on the other hand, have you noticed that heavy, uncomfortable thoughts such as ‘I’m not good enough.’ or ‘They don’t like me.’ or ’I’m never going to succeed.’ tend to linger quite a bit longer in 3D consciousness? This is because thoughts are electric and emotions are magnetic. A set of light, airy vibrations like ‘beauty’ or ‘graciousness’ has a low, soft, electrical charge that is expansive and fluid. Whereas heavier, uglier thoughts come highly charged and wrapped in highly magnetic emotions. These thoughts are not only harder to clear than kind, loving thoughts; they also bond magnetically to all other thoughts like them in the lower 4th dimension.
So much of the magnetic field we walk around in – I’m not OK, You’re not OK – has very little to do with who we really are. It’s just the magnetism of one heavy, unconscious thought attaching itself to the magnetism of similar heavy, unconscious thoughts.
You begin to see why it’s vital to become conscious of the thoughts you think and the emotions you throw into your vibrational mix.
Fortunately, the second wave of the Shift is making this easier and easier. As we let go of the heavier energies of Who We Are Not, the light is rewiring us, stepping us up into a higher 4th dimensional vibration where lesser thoughts and emotions are not such a distraction in our general experience.
We start to live in alignment with the heart, and experience the vibrations and consequences of concepts such as ‘I like me,’ ‘I’m happy,’ ‘I’m pleased with myself.’
The alignment with the heart becomes natural because it already is our natural alignment in the higher fourth, fifth and sixth dimensions.
However, some assembly is required.
Any limitations, judgments, denials, blame, guilt, or resentments that we each still argue for, in one way or the other, become like weights on a hot air balloon. They limit how far we can rise within the fourth dimensional range of vibration.
Each of us is 100 percent in charge of the process. The more weight – lower-vibrational patterns of words, thoughts, and emotions – we remove, the higher we rise into the expansive experience of the higher 4th dimension. Here, it is as if we look past the boundaries and limitations, which were always just a habit of observation in 3D. It’s a wider view, a calmer view, and a quieter view. In the upper 4th dimension, you can choose fear or worry, and drop into the lower 4th dimension… but you won’t.
As you begin to align with the heart, very naturally – ‘I Like Me’ – you’re going to find there’s no reason or compulsion to choose an uncomfortable attention point in the lower 4th dimension. It comes naturally and readily because it is the language and vibration of you’re natural well being – if you let it, and if you focus upon it.
It’s a choice.
As the shift accelerates and time collapses and everything is in the present moment, you could still choose your thoughts and feelings unconsciously, out of 3rd dimensional habit, and you would have the opportunity to live that discomfort immediately and fully in your experience.
Or you can choose your thought and emotion in every moment, with focus and awareness, and live the fullness of that experience.
In other words, it’s to your benefit to practice and integrate the ability to choose the contents of your consciousness right now, before it really counts – and that moment is not very far away.
It’s all up to you.
Until now, the center of your head, the place from where you can choose your thoughts and attention point, has been pre-occupied by the thoughts of others. Your Mom-Dad-Teacher-Minister loved you and had an opinion about the best way for you to live your life, and as their thoughts moved in to your head, “You” moved out.
Now it is time to take back ownership of the center of your head. As you recognize and let go of the unnatural thoughts that say, ‘Oh, I can’t do this’ and ‘I can’t do that’ and ‘I must do this,’ you’re going to find that soon all those thoughts, with their sticky interlocking connections in the lower 4th dimension, disappear.
Just putting your attention in present time on ‘beauty’ and ‘well-being‘, or just being ‘happy’ in a state of ‘ease‘, eliminates the lesser vibrations stored within the lower astral fields of the 4th dimension.
Start by playing with the vibration of what I call Living Words. The Archangels very deliberately and precisely selected these words – words such as Certain, Capable, Commanding, Present, Senior, Graciousness and Happy – so that you can most easily clear all the unconscious vibrations from your space.
Choose one word each day and live with it all day, think it and feel it often.
If you practice thinking and feeling these vibrations now, when it doesn’t absolutely count, they will become your habit when it does count.
You begin to gracefully realign with the fullness of “You,” and your natural state of wellbeing lifts you into the higher 4th dimension.
Easy? Kind of.
Does it require awareness and a choice from a present time space? Absolutely.
Can you sit on the sidelines and hope it all turns out? No.
Increased levels of electromagnetic light from the higher dimensions are now flowing within all of us. Many people in the 3rd dimension cannot handle this surge, and they are choosing to step out of their
And many, many more will follow as the Shift accelerates
You see, everyone is going home to the 4th and then 5th dimensions, but not everyone is going home on the same timeline, and with the same ease and grace.
Emotions are the sum total of your wealth as a human being. Emotions trigger the inner pharmacopoeia, your body’s personal drugstore. In the drugstore of your body, you are the pharmacist. You write the prescription according to your emotional response or reaction to events.
Let’s look at what emotions actually are. I am frequently talking about consciousness in these newsletters. Consciousness consists of thoughts that we hold over time, thoughts that we think over and over again until they become beliefs. Consciousness also consists of the feelings that we have about the beliefs that we hold. So we have thoughts and feelings in our consciousness. The term emotion simply means the energy-in-motion’ pertaining to the feelings that we have about the beliefs that we hold.
Beliefs-feelings-emotion (energy in motion)
Your emotions create a corresponding chemical release inside your physical form. The endocrine system, which is responsible for the chemical responses to your emotional choices, will evolve. New chemicals will be produced inside your body that will help you change. Choosing a different way of receiving or translating reality will trigger inner doorways to open and produce substances that will take you into the higher realms.
How do we do that? Well, the first step is to honor your emotions. That’s not to say that we become irresponsible with our actions; only that we are to notice how we are feeling and if we are sad — feel it. If we are angry — feel it. If we are frightened — feel it. Do we dwell in these feelings? — NO. Do we project them onto someone else? — NO. Do we acknowledge them, feel them responsibly and move on? — YES. You will notice that when you feel the feelings responsibly, there is an immediate release of toxins from your consciousness. This of course is being matched in your physical body’s consciousness and will help you avoid dis-ease. You feel better.
Let’s look at an example. Suppose you were told that you have breast cancer. My heart would go out to you as this is an experience that I have had, however, I would know at the same time that there is nothing for you to fear.
Breast cancer indicates to a metaphysician, such as myself, that you hold particular beliefs and feelings in your consciousness. Louise Hay has done a brilliant job in researching the belief system of people and the resulting physical dis-ease in her book “You Can Heal Your Life”. In the case of cancer she sites “Deep hurt. Long-standing resentment. Deep secret or grief eating away at the self. Carrying hatreds. “What’s the use?” She goes on to say that the breasts represent mothering, nurturing, and nourishment.
In my practice we would search your consciousness to find the exact beliefs that you are holding regarding these matters. Once we find them, we would examine them and most importantly feel the feelings and emotions attached to them. In doing so, you will release the frozen energy of the beliefs and free yourself to experience a new belief. In turn your feelings will lift and your emotions will be brighter. This along with honoring your physical body for telling you about the problem in your consciousness, will trigger your complete healing.
One of the most important keys that I have received regarding the healing of dis-ease is:
Love yourself. Honor the vehicle that you occupy and act as if you are priceless. Act as if you lucked out and received the best thing possible — your body. Honor Earth as well, with love and respect, for it is here, on Earth, that you stage your fanciful dramas. Love yourself and Earth on your ride through the universe, and your journey will be lighter.
Your body is going to demonstrate absolutely miraculous abilities. Your sensitivities will develop to such a degree that smells and senses will have greater impact on your moods, emotions, and general sense of well-being. You will say, “I found that when I sprinkle this herb on my food, or when I have this smell in my house, I have more energy. And when I use this one, I am quieter.” Learn how to use the plants around you that are gifts from the Living Earth. …
Blessings as we navigate through these interesting, intense and miraculous times together.
Thank you for reading.
Warm blessings, Dr. Judith Long
About Dr. Judith Long
Dr. Judith Long is a renowned counselor and author, a lifelong intuitive helping people worldwide . She is considered an expert in the field of expanded human consciousness.
A 3-D reconstruction of the upper church at Banganarti. Built almost 1,000 years ago this medieval church was one of two that archaeologists excavated at the site.
CREDIT: Bogdan Zurawski
Excavations of a series of medieval churches in central Sudan have revealed a treasure trove of art, including a European-influenced work, along with evidence of journeys undertaken by travelers from western Europe that were equivalent to the distance between New York City and the Grand Canyon.
A visit by a Catalonian man named Benesec is recorded in one of the churches, along with visits from other pilgrims of the Middle Ages, according to lead researcher Bogdan Zurawski of the Institute of Mediterranean and Oriental Cultures of the Polish Academy of Sciences.
The discoveries were made at Banganarti and Selib, two sites along the Nile that were part of Makuria, a Christian kingdom ruled by a dynasty of kings throughout the Middle Ages
The art there tells stories of kings, saints, pilgrims and even a female demon, said Zurawski, who presented his findings recently at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto.
The church contains 18 square rooms, two staircases and, at its center, a domed area that probably contained holy relics. The team believes the building was dedicated to the archangel Raphael and was used for healing rituals. “The multitude of inscriptions addressed to this archangel are more than suggestive” that the church was dedicated to him, Zurawski said.
Beneath this building lies a structure, built about 300 years earlier, which also appears to have been dedicated to Raphael. This lower church, as the archaeologists refer to it, contains a ninth-century mural depicting “the Harrowing of Hell,” which shows Jesus visiting the underworld to rescue the firstborn. [See images of the lower church]
A Catalonian journey
The team uncovered numerous inscriptions at the two sites, many left by pilgrims visiting the churches in hopes of being healed.
One of the inscriptions at Banganartiis written in Catalonian and appears to have been inscribed sometime in the 13th or 14th century by the man named Benesec. It reads: “When Benesec came to pay homage to Raphael.”
In addition to the monograms of Raphael, a prayer to the archangel, written by a King Zacharias, was found inscribed in the ruins near Banganarti.
CREDIT: Bogdan Zurawski
Zurawski told LiveScience that “Benesec” was a very popular name in 13th- and 14th-century southern France. This particular Benesec had probably traveled some 2,300 miles (3,700 kilometers) from southern France or northern Spain. The journey took him east across the Mediterranean Sea and far up the Nile into the interior of Africa.
The inscription and a Catalonian playing card found downriver by another team, which may or may not have been left by Benesec, were the only traces found of these visitors from Europe.
Zurawski said Benesec may have been a trader who, along with other Catalonians, received permission from the Mamluk rulers of Egypt to pass through their territory. “The Catalonians were granted trade privileges, trade rights, to exchange goods and to trade with Egypt, and apparently they also came to Nubia,” he said
Harvard University Researchers Explore Link between Thinking Styles and Faith
Newswise — WASHINGTON — Intuition may lead people toward a belief in the divine and help explain why some people have more faith in God than others, according to research published by the American Psychological Association.
In a series of studies, researchers at Harvard University found that people with a more intuitive thinking style tend to have stronger beliefs in God than those with a more reflective style. Intuitive thinking means going with one’s first instinct and reaching decisions quickly based on automatic cognitive processes. Reflective thinking involves the questioning of first instinct and consideration of other possibilities, thus allowing for counterintuitive decisions.
“We wanted to explain variations in belief in God in terms of more basic cognitive processes,” researcher Amitai Shenhav said. “Some say we believe in God because our intuitions about how and why things happen lead us to see a divine purpose behind ordinary events that don’t have obvious human causes. This led us to ask whether the strength of an individual’s beliefs is influenced by how much they trust their natural intuitions versus stopping to reflect on those first instincts.”
The research was published online in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General. The study from the Harvard University Psychology Department was conducted by Shenhav, a doctoral student; post-doctoral fellow David Rand, PhD; and associate professor Joshua Greene, PhD.
In the first part of the study, 882 U.S. adults, with a mean age of 33 and consisting of 64 percent women, completed online surveys about their belief in God before taking a cognitive reflection test. The test had three math problems with incorrect answers that seemed intuitive. For example, one question stated: “A bat and a ball cost $1.10 in total. The bat costs $1 more than the ball. How much does the ball cost?” The automatic or intuitive answer is 10 cents, but the correct answer is 5 cents. Participants who had more incorrect answers showed a greater reliance on intuition than reflection in their thinking style.
Participants who gave intuitive answers to all three problems were 1 ½ times as likely to report they were convinced of God’s existence as those who answered all of the questions correctly. That pattern was found regardless of other demographic factors, such as the participants’ political beliefs, education or income. “How people think — or fail to think — about the prices of bats and balls is reflected in their thinking, and ultimately their convictions, about the metaphysical order of the universe,” the journal article stated.
Participants with an intuitive thinking style also were more likely to have become more confident believers in God over their lifetimes, regardless of whether they had a religious upbringing. Individuals with a reflective style tended to become less confident in their belief in God. The study also found that this pronounced link between differing thinking styles and levels of faith could not be explained by differences in the participants’ thinking ability or IQ. “Basic ways of thinking about problem solving in your everyday life are predictive of how much you believe in God,” Rand said. “It’s not that one way is better than the other. Intuitions are important and reflection is important, and you want some balance of the two. Where you are on that spectrum affects how you come out in terms of belief in God.”
In another study, with 373 participants, the researchers found they could temporarily influence levels of faith by instructing participants to write a paragraph describing a personal experience where either intuitive or reflective thinking led to a good result. One group was told to describe a time in their lives when intuition or first instinct led to a good outcome, while a second group was instructed to write about an experience where a good outcome resulted from reflecting and carefully reasoning through a problem. When they were surveyed about their beliefs after the writing exercise, participants who wrote about a successful intuitive experience were more likely to report they were convinced of God’s existence than those who wrote about a successful reflective experience.
These studies suggest a causal link between intuitive thinking and a belief in God, but the researchers acknowledged the opposite may also be true, that a belief in God may lead to intuitive thinking. Future research will help explore how cognitive styles are influenced by genes and environmental factors, such as upbringing and education, Rand said.
The American Psychological Association, in Washington, D.C., is the largest scientific and professional organization representing psychology in the United States and is the world’s largest association of psychologists. APA’s membership includes more than 154,000 researchers, educators, clinicians, consultants and students. Through its divisions in 54 subfields of psychology and affiliations with 60 state, territorial and Canadian provincial associations, APA works to advance psychology as a science, as a profession and as a means of promoting health, education and human welfare.
Article: “Divine Intuition: Cognitive Style Influences Belief in God,” Amitai Shenhav; David G. Rand, PhD; and Joshua D. Greene, PhD; Harvard University; Journal of Experimental Psychology: General; online.
Church Wrestles With Growth of Wisconsin Shrine to Mary
First Posted: 10/22/11 11:43 AM ET Updated: 10/22/11 12:21 PM ET
By Judy Keen
CHAMPION, Wis. (RNS) Philip and Barbara Hesselbein came to the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help to pray for a grandson who has an inoperable brain tumor.
Darlene Searcy prayed for her family and for herself; she has cancer.
Mary Spakowicz, who also has cancer, came “because God will hear me here.”
The afflicted and the faithful have long made pilgrimages to the quiet country site where Belgian immigrant Adele Brise said in 1859 that she saw the Virgin Mary three times. For the past few years, maybe 30 or 50 people had trickled in daily to visit the chapel, Brise’s grave and the candlelit crypt that marks the site of the apparition.
That changed in December, when Bishop David Ricken of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Green Bay certified after investigations by three theologians that Brise had indeed seen a beautiful lady in white who said she was the “queen of heaven.”
That made the shrine, which is a mile from the unincorporated town of Champion, the only official site in the United States where Mary is said to have appeared.
Now there’s a steady flow of traffic into the recently enlarged gravel parking lot. Cars, vans and buses bring 500 people — and often many more — here daily. License plates from Ohio, Minnesota, Missouri, Illinois and Indiana were spotted one recent weekday.
A new building houses much-needed restrooms.
A former boarding school on the site is being refurbished to house two priests recently assigned full time to the shrine.
“I knew that there would be some increase in interest” after he certified Brise’s vision, Ricken says. “I wasn’t sure how wide it would be, how broad it would be.”
Our Lady of Good Help attracts far fewer visitors than international Marian shrines such as France’s Lourdes, which draws 5 million a year, or Mexico’s Our Lady of Guadalupe, which has double that.
Still, Ricken expects the number of visitors to continue to rise and says the diocese is trying to figure out how to accommodate them without losing “the simplicity of that beautiful shrine and the peace of the place.”
The farming area around the shrine is changing already.
“If the rumors are right, it’s going to look like downtown Chicago pretty soon,” says Louie Gomand, who owns a farm adjacent to the shrine.
A farm stand on his property sells vegetables and water to visitors. A sunflower costs 50 cents and a gourd 35 cents. A handwritten sign reads “bus specials.” There’s a lot more traffic, he says, but he has no complaints.
Neither does Kelli Vissers, 34. She and her husband, David, 38, own two buildings in Champion. “Since the shrine happened” in December, “the traffic has quadrupled through here,” she says.
They have converted a small trailer into the mobile On the Way Cafe. Kelli Vissers said she hopes to cater meals for tourists and turn one of the buildings into a bed-and-breakfast and the other into a full-scale cafe.
(CNN)– Steve Jobs’ admirers praised him for de-cluttering the world of high-tech gadgetry. The products that made him famous, from the Macintosh computer to the iPad, exemplified minimalist design and simplicity of use, enabling what some called a Zen-like experience.
Might Jobs’ approach to innovation and design have been provoked by real-life Zen, as in Zen Buddhism?
The Apple chief, who died Wednesday at 56, had a decades-long relationship with a Zen master, who presided over his wedding and whom Jobs reportedly appointed as a corporate spiritual adviser. Their ties have fed speculation about such a connection.
Early on in life, Jobs took a spiritual retreat to India that helped lead him to embrace Buddhism. But the teacher with whom Jobs bonded with in the United States was a Zen Buddhist, a tradition rooted in Japan.
According to Yang and to other press reports, Jobs studied at the Los Altos Zen Center in the 1970s and developed a close relationship with a Japanse-born Zen master, or roshi, named Kobun Chino Otogawa.
Kobun focused his teaching on developing a Zen meditation practice.
“The real purpose of practice is to discover the wisdom which you have always been keeping with you,” Kobun said in a talk that’s posted on the website for the Jikoji Retreat Center, a Zen center he founded outside San Francisco.
“To discover yourself is to discover wisdom; without discovering yourself you can never communicate with anybody,” said Kobun, who died in 2002, in the same talk.
For the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself, “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” And whenever the answer has been “no” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.
According to Yang, Jobs appointed Kobun as the official “spiritual adviser” for the company he founded after being fired as Apple CEO in 1986. Called NeXT, that company was eventually purchased by Apple, paving the way for Jobs’ second act there.
In the 2001 book “The Second Coming of Steve Jobs,” Alan Deutschman describes Kobun as:
a Zen Buddhist monk who had been Steve’s guru and friend since Steve was in his late teens. (Kobun) was a lovable, poetic, romantic personality who was known for speaking very slowly (even in his native Japanese) and giving unintelligible lectures… He was a renegade who rebelled against the strict discipline and burdensome responsibility of being a priest. He was the Steve Jobs of Zen.
Kobun presided over Jobs’ 1991 marriage to Laurene Powell.
The relationship between Jobs and Kobun is the subject of a graphic novel, soon to be published by Forbes. The book, which is fiction but is inspired by the real-life relationship, is titled “The Zen of Steve Jobs.”
(CNN) – In case you were wondering about all the balloons and cake: CNN’s Belief Blog has just marked its first birthday.
After publishing 1,840 posts and sifting through 452,603 comments (OK, we may have missed one or two) the Belief Blog feels older than its 12 months would suggest. But it also feels wiser, having followed the faith angles of big news stories, commissioned lots of commentary and, yes, paid attention to all those reader comments for a solid year.
2. Atheists are the most fervent commenters on matters religious. This became apparent immediately after the Belief Blog’s first official post last May, which quickly drew such comments as:
Can we have a fairy tale blog too?
This is nothing but America moving away from its wondrous spirit of Apollo 11 into a mindset of the perpetually intellectually challenged.
I think there was some news today about scientists having created the first artificial cell. That should have been a HUGE story. And yet, what do we get? A faith blog. Pathetic.
This blog is terrifying. It’s amazing how much power the radical religious right is amassing in our country right now. If I can’t have some legislation, can I at least have some news that does not cater to zealots?
Those early comments presaged an avalanche of alternately humorous and outraged atheist responses on virtually everything the Belief Blog publishes. They’re more evidence that atheists are coming out of the closet to trumpet their disbelief, argue with the faithful and evangelize their godlessness. (It’s worth noting that the Belief Blog does plenty of atheism stories.)
3. People are still intensely curious about the Bible, its meaning and its origins.
4. Most Americans are religiously illiterate. Despite the appetite for stories and commentary about the Bible, most Americans know little about it. A huge Pew survey released in September found that most Americans scored 50 percent or less on a quiz measuring knowledge of the Bible, world religions and what the Constitution says about religion in public life. Ironically, atheists and agnostics scored best. How did you do on the quiz?
7. Americans still have an uneasy relationship with Islam. Nearly 10 years after the September 11 attacks provoked many Americans to pay attention to Islam for the first time, much of the country is still somewhat uncomfortable about the religion, which counts 1.5 billion followers worldwide.
The biggest domestic religion story in the Belief Blog’s young life was probably last year’s opposition to a proposed Islamic Center and mosque near New York’s ground zero. And with the 10-year anniversary of the 9/11 attacks approaching, domestic tensions around Islam may flare again. The Arab Spring, meanwhile is raising weighty questions about Islam’s role in post-autocratic regimes, guaranteeing the religion – and its relationship with the U.S. – will be one of the world’s big stories for years to come.
Only about a third of Americans correctly identified Obama’s religion, while nearly one in five said he’s a Muslim. Another irony: The longer Obama’s been in office, the smaller the proportion of Americans who can correctly name his faith. As the 2012 presidential race approaches, this story bears watching, since views of candidates’ religion influence voting patterns.