New Consciousness Review Winter 2016 - Page 41

AWAKENING HEALTH The discussion about the existence of God seems to devolve into a question of semantics. Shermer, a self-proclaimed atheist humanist, focusing on the Abrahamic God of the bible, rejects all notions of a divine being sitting in judgment or being the architect of the universe and all it contains. He is convinced that all natural systems will self-organize, and that the notion of any form of intelligent design is mere superstition promoted by religions with a vested interest in controlling the faithful. Sheldrake, on the other hand, speaks eloquently of a compassionate universal energy that is a manifestation of divine power and consciousness. However you wish to call it – God, energy, unified field – in the end Sheldrake and Shermer’s views on spooky action at a distance or the causal field that creates order out of chaos and life out of biochemical reactions are not that far apart. The main question that separates a person of faith from an open-minded skeptic is whether these actions are directed by a conscious source. That seems to be the “big question” that materialists do not yet have an answer for. On the one hand, looking at such things as war, disease, poverty and injustice, even a believer must wonder what was God thinking! But then looking at babies, sunsets, starry skies and the beauty of nature, the thought that this all came about by chance just doesn’t compute. I personally would not want to be such a skeptic as to think that the universe is just a clockwork mechanism obeying the laws of physics and mathematics and indifferent to my being. How grey the world would seem. I think the biggest gift of this book is that one is forced to consider one’s own position on many fascinating questions like this in light of the other perspective. It is far too easy to go on autopilot when it comes to one’s beliefs, and feels safer to go with what your parents and teachers taught. Given the state of the world and the polarization being inflamed by religious zealotry, it is probably time that we all re-examined our beliefs. This book provides some useful directions.  Reviewed by Miriam Knight INTERVIEW About the Author D r. Michael Shermer is the Founding Publisher and editor-in-chief of Skeptic magazine, a publication largely devoted to investigating pseudoscientific and supernatural claims. He is a monthly columnist for Scientific American, has been a college professor since 1979, and regularly contributes Opinion Editorials, book reviews, and essays to the Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times, Science, Nature, and other publications. Dr. Shermer has authored numerous books including: The Moral Arc: How Science and Reason Lead Humanity Toward Truth, Justice, and Freedom; The Believing Brain: From Ghosts and Gods to Politics and Conspiracies; Why Darwin Matters: Evolution and the Case Against Intelligent Design, and The Science of Good and Evil. Dr. Shermer has an M.A. in experimental psychology from California State University, and a Ph.D. in the history of science from Claremont Graduate University. He appeared on such shows as The Colbert Report, 20/20, Dateline, Charlie Rose, and Larry King Live. His two TED talks, seen by millions, were voted in the top 100 of the more than 1000 TED talks. 41 | New Consciousness Review LISTEN TO THE INTERVIEW