Last week I discussed how materialist science took hold of the Western worldview. This week I'll address the effect this had on religion and the spiritual vacuum it created in our lives.

Religion Dismantled

Suppressed by the Church for centuries, science lashed out on all fronts with a vengeance. Because creation, life, and reality could now apparently be explained by materially based processes, any notion of God, higher intelligence, or transcendent consciousness was taken out of the equation. God was dead. The materialist orientation spread to every form of human thought. The Bible was systematically deconstructed and relegated to amusing myth at best, harmful mind control at worst. And, ironically, the success of science in taking down religion was predicated on the fact that traditional Western religion was itself materially based despite purporting to be spiritual.

Orthodox Christianity misunderstood the archetypical, symbolic meaning of the Christian story. Instead of seeing Jesus' advent as a seminal event of higher revelation, it concentrated on a virgin birth. Instead of understanding the meaning behind the profound spiritual wisdom he taught, it concentrated on his physical miracles. Instead of perceiving the crucifixion as a metaphor for the way human fear and ego crucify the divine spark trying to awaken within us, it concentrated on the physical agony of his death as a blood sacrifice for our sins. Finally, instead of seeing the resurrection as the awakening of dormant divine wisdom within us while still alive, it perceived the resurrection as physical bodies rising from the grave.

This focus on literal and material interpretations left traditional religion right on the home field of materialist science. Dismantling the historicity and miracles of the Bible or, at least, casting grave doubt on them, was easy using scientific material rationalism. After all, you can mathematically quantify the apple falling from the tree, but how can you prove a formula for raising the dead?

The Polarization and Fragmentation of Humanity

The shift from religion to science has had a profound effect on the psychology, feelings, and outlook of every person on the planet. We now live in a polarized world. The assault of science has driven many people back into a limiting, fundamentalist interpretation of God and religion, often with violent results. Islamic fundamentalism is largely a reaction to people's religious comfort being torn out from under them by the onslaught of a modern, materialistic world outlook.

In the middle of this polarization is a large gray area of people who are confused and disheartened. Thanks to science they no longer believe in religion, but in facing life's difficult problems they have an innate spiritual yearning that persists like a smoldering ember, and atheistic science can never satisfy that need. Traditional religion and traditional science have one other thing in common besides their materialistic outlooks on life—they have both done an efficient job of suppressing the human spirit.

Next week I'll begin to discuss the Third Way, a new paradigm supported by the advanced sciences and ancient spiritual wisdom.