The Great Turning

Scientific doctrine placed humans at the periphery of a vast, godless universe devoid of purpose or meaning. Rather than recognize material mechanism as but one of reality’s dimensions, the science fundamentalism replaced the self-limiting dogma of the religious establishment with a self-limiting dogma of its own, denying the very existence of whatever it could not measure and explain in terms of replicable mathematical relationships. It thus proclaimed Life an accidental outcome of material omplexity, and came to treat it as a collection of chemicals and genetic codes subject to physical manipulation for human convenience. Science fundamentalism not only denied the higher orders of human conscioiusness, but declared all consciousness, spirit, and intention to be mere illusions, essentially stripping away any apparent foundation for personal moral responsibility.

The rigid dogma of science fundamentalism was useful in imposing on science an uncompromising intellectual discipline that has led to enormous advances in knowledge and technology. Unfortunately, the premise that only what can be observed is real came to be treated as proven fact, rather than a useful premise for scientific inquiry. It shaped the world-view of modern culture, thus perpetuating the alienation from life that is a primary driver of the addictions of Empire.

It is time to acknowledge that both spiritual traditions and scientific disciplines are part of human future. Scientists need only acknowledge (and some do) that there are truths beyond the current reach of science, without diminishing the value or the power of the science we have. Religious scholars need only return to the core of the teachings of Jesus and the other Spirit persons of the world’s great religious traditions, and acknowledge the many ways in which Creation reveals itself to our species (as some individual theologians already do). Scientists and religious scholars and mystics can then work cooperatively to deepen human understanding of the relationship between matter and spirit. Some have already begun this quest.

The liberation of science and religion would open the way to a profound cultural Turning, from which economic and political Turnings will quite naturally follow. As we humans come to embrace the truth that we are all creatures of the one immanent spirit, competition for power of the one over the other becomes an anachronism. Gratuitous violence becomes sacrilege. The pursuit of money beyond reasonable need becomes idolatry. Chauvinistic exceptionalism becomes a mark of emotional immaturity. A Turning from an imperial economics of individual greed and excess to a mature economics of sharing and balance. becomes nearly inevitable, as does a Turning from an imperial politics focused on competing interests to a mature politics of mutual interests.

The living culture of Earth Community will call us to choose fewer toys, less war, less isolation, and less coercion in return for more fulfilling relationships and the realization of that which makes us human. The living economies and politics that follow from a living culture will be more democratic, ethical, and fulfilling; will secure our children’s future, and will honor our responsibility to Creation.

— David Korten, from The Great Turning

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