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An Alternative Future for mankind – Eugene Minard Extended book review

In short, our destiny is in our own hands. But such control cannot come soon for even under the best conditions nature may require a thousand generations to bring a new species into being. But progress in our knowledge now enables the possibility that Homo sapiens can indeed significantly become more God-like. Moreover, gene manipulation has the potential to drastically reduce the time line to a higher state of behavior. Minard has an insightful approach: join the hands of religion and science in a new religion able to grow and move with the tides and times.

Monotheism has been a guiding light for part of humanity for some 3500 years. It arose several millennia after agriculture enabled a sedentary lifestyle that gave humanity time for leisure and thinking:

  • Humans were and remain curious about the unknown. What controls events in the here and now as well as the hereafter? A multiplicity of gods arose early in curious minds to explain ordinary natural events such as lightening, thunder and good or bad fortune.

  • Humans with their inborn traits for dominance, obedience, cooperation arising from herding instincts, altruism and parenting led naturally to the concepts of a god of gods and finally to a single God—modeled in a likeness of man himself, of course. That psychological projection was a natural consequence of evolution. Monotheism arose not just in the Middle East, but in other places as well, including the less "civilized" (less advanced actually) new world. That the belief could arise independently on opposite sides of the earth attests to the fact that a belief that a single god created man and this Garden of Eden of a planet is a universal product of evolution itself. Monotheism is not a universal belief. Nevertheless, it has captured the imaginations of perhaps half of the world’s citizens. However, it is deficient big time in one respect. Religions, while teaching peace have not brought universal peace after three millennia of trying. There must be a better approach. Eugene Minard has an ingenious concept that is best described in his own words.

In his book Evolution of Gods, Minard proposes “A Grander Destiny”. Excerpts from chapters two and five follow that we believe have remained on the mark a quarter of a century after its printing. Although he did not make explicit use of all Five Pillars, their essence is there. He stated:

    “Instinctive or ‘automatic’ behaviors are inherited and ‘species specific.’ This means that every living creature has “built-in” behavioral “Programs” which are unique for their species.” [But there is great overlap--as one would expect from genetic origins. Ed]

    “These may be experienced subjectively as ‘emotions’ and ‘drives’ to behave in a manner typical for the species, not learned. However, any animal may have these instinctive behaviors ‘conditioned’ or modified by experience with the environment. In addition to ‘conditioning, training or learning, these instinctive or emotional ‘drives’ may be guided by logic to a limited degree in humans.”

Instead of our more explicit Five Pillars, he reduces these to: “‘…being, belonging and becoming’ in that order from the most primitive to the most highly evolved.”

In chapter 2 he proposes HOMO SAPIENS “DEUS.”

    “Through self-directed evolution, the descendants of modern man may be expected to have some of the following characteristics:

    “1) a superior brain, relatively free from genetically transmitted defects and protected from environmental damage. “2) an immune system of tremendous protective power against infections and malignant cells; “3) prominence of ‘higher’ instincts for ‘belonging’ and ‘becoming’, reflected in tremendous altruism (concern for others) and curiosity (the basis of learning.)

    “A superior brain in a superior body requires protection, even in utero, from environmental injury due to certain chemical, radiation or viruses which can cause birth defects or malformations (teratogens). Protection for the egg or sperm is important even before conception. “From the time of birth, there is need to avoid physical brain trauma, anoxia, malnutrition, infections, certain chemicals and types of radiation.”

    “The ‘higher’ human instincts of altruism and curiosity can be nurtured and developed through institutions of learning guided by a new evolutionary scientific religion.” [To these features we would add parenting enlightened by experience. ED.]

    Minard proposes a GRANDER DESTINY AS FOLLOWS: “The natural alternative to human self-destruction is self directed evolution to a god-like species on a heaven-like earth. This is the ‘grander destiny’” [We could not agree more.]

      “For this to occur, a new religion is absolutely necessary. ‘Religion here means a belief system adhered to with great emotional conviction and devotion, but ‘new’ by always changing with new knowledge.” “Such a belief system is needed to unify, not divide, mankind. It must be capable of crossing ideological boundaries, providing a common belief and a common goal. To accomplish this, it will need to be personal, non-denominational, ‘scientific’ and global.” [In other words, he is suggesting that a dynamic religion may be our only salvation. For that to happen, humanity must control itself and eliminate our psychopathic genes. For more on this issue see Joe Brewer at: How Will the 99% Deal with 70 Million Psychopaths? and Martha Stout.]

    Minard realizes change of this magnitude can only occur slowly, nevertheless he proposes certain steps be taken:

      1) “the more complete dissemination of ‘basic knowledge’… to inspire a new leadership from informed ‘citizens of the world;’”

      2) “a ‘new religion’ as a true partnership of religion and science, essential to unifying mankind’s conflicting ideologies;

      3) “an ‘alliance of enemies’ meaning the nuclear ‘superpowers’, the U.S. and U.S.S.R., as a necessary step to making possible a supreme democratic world government of justice and law.”

    In view of events since he wrote this book, his “grander destiny” may seems like pie in the sky. Genocides in the Balkans and Rwanda combined with terrorism, unprovoked war on Iraq and a continuing effort to extend the new American empire, are setbacks of the first order. So also are serious stumbles by financial institutions that have bloodied the image of unregulated capitalism and financial systems. The American Government is now virtually paralyzed by the injection of special moneyed interests in national affairs. But are these events fatal to democracy as a movement? China, Cuba and Russia are all now more democratic than they once were. An Arab spring attests to the desire of people for democracy in the Middle East. And a growing recognition that Wall Street has gone too far has led to the OWS movement—which persists via peaceful means to raise the level of awareness of American citizens. So a desire for democracy and justice is alive and well. It is high time for a new spirit to prevail. Minard explains further, for a NEW RELIGION:

      “A new partnership of science and religion is essential for human survival and a ‘grander destiny’. To value truth above comfort or prior indoctrination is to be scientific. To be scientific and religious is to ‘revere’ truth and knowledge. Religious feelings, with powerful instinctive origins, can provide the ‘will’, and science, with logic and demands for proof, can provide the ‘way’”.

      “A personal belief system for all ‘citizens’ of the world which can unify mankind must provide realistic purpose for living, both for individuals and the species. It must be capable of crossing today’s political-religious boundaries…”

      “A new religion for survival and ‘the evolution of gods’, must require each individual to accept a dual responsibility for self and for the species. This means to become informed and political.

      “To become informed is to evolve. ‘Personal evolution’ and species evolution are inseparable. Both are through the accumulation and creative use of knowledge.”

      “To become ‘political’ is to become a ‘citizen of the world’, where any wrong in any part of the planet must be righted. This will require one law and one justice for all on one planet.”

    It is hard to argue with his logic, especially when couched in terms that religions use to hold onto the psyches of their converts. The main barrier there is to replace stubborn dogmatic attitudes with a dynamic one that reveres increased knowledge. If this barrier is not real, why does science take such a bad rap in the areas of human involvement--evolution and global warming for just two examples, but not in physics or chemistry and their off-springs--technologies?

    See Sensual Politics and the Five Pillars. for more on this connection. This construction is logically consistent with evolution which is itself consilient with the whole of science. So the idea has a lot going for it—enough that we can accept the concept as the best yet for how religion arises in the first place. The Five Pillars do not prove either poly- or mono-theism, but does allow them to exist as well as atheism—which is also prevalent in some sectors of human societies.


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