- R.N. Sharma, Ph.D.
National Chemical Laboratory, Pune-411008, INDIA
Eubios Journal of Asian and International Bioethics 8 (1998), 54-56.
The genesis of God in human culture seems to be undeniably linked to fear of uncontrollable forces of Nature, and uncertanitity of individual destiny, which have been innate to the human ethos ever since the very emergence of modern man. Two opposite concepts of poly and monotheism, exemplified by Hinduism and Christianity, are analysed. Search for enduring and universal values and truisms through history of the two systems is deployed to identify commonalities. How far is plurality fissiparous, and partisan singularity unifying, is also compared. It is argued that progressive transcension must form the goal of all spiritual systems irrespective of regional or ethnic backrounds. Realities of the one world concept dictated by the inescapable Space ship Earth paradigm unequivocally lead to one species, one people, and one kind, hosowever anamolous the current trends. This inevitability must necessarily entail a unifying, single ethicality, with or without notion of Godhead. In essence, all spirituality stems from the need for individual or personal salvation and satisfaction. Group or species obligations come next, although it may be expected that with further human evolution these may supersede the selfish propensities predominant hitherto. It is emphasized that the evolutionarily transcendent human must suscribe to a universal ethical force which must necessarily belong to the genre of a singularity embracing the whole human kind. This could be called UNIETHICS, the epithet denoting the universal, the unitary and the unifying. Global consensus are tentatively emerging in several area, dictated by survival needs. Inviolable edicts of the now imperative UES or Uniethics have been spelled out, as also desiderata for achieving them.
Homo sapiens, Man the wise, must also be Man the Ethical,
even though recorded history, with its sordid tales of persecution
and genocide belies it. Yet, it is also true that Man has felt
the need for transcension, for a superior power or force, or,
simply, God. The word has aquired many meanings, as indeed Gods
of all hues have multiplied. There have been purely celestial,
or semi-divine, or entirely human (though transcendental) `Gods'.
Gods which have been raised to high pedestals or unceremoniously
hurled to the grounds. Gods which have been deemed to have failed.
Gods which have been discarded as having died. And yet Man continues
to strive, and to seek something beyond his mundane limitations.
He calls this quest spirituality. And there does seem to be evidence
that he is able to transcend his puny self. Faith not only can
move mountains, it seems to be able to push people to the edges
of unknown/unknowable dimensions. To a large extent our need for
God seems to stem from fear. Fear of an uncertain physical nature
at first. Fear of an equally unpredictable human emotional nature.
Fear of the somberely disquieting lonliness of our species in
the big,unimaginably vast and unending Universe... In addition,
as Time stretched out with the conquest of the material, the conscious
began questioning the genesis of life, its function and purpose.
The present predicament of the human species
We are products of disentropy; perhaps that's why we have this great proclivity towards order, method and symmetry. People have devised systems of greater or lesser symmetry in both Time and Space which seek to explain our eternal quest for our own why, who and what. In this article,the two diametrically opposite concepts of poly- (plural) and mono- (singular) -theism are projected, using Hinduism as the representative of the first, and Christianity that of the second. From these redoubtable pillars of ageless human thought may emerge an edifice which may evetually unite the human species in an enduring construct of emotional consanguinity, ending all conflicts and driving out the vicarious ghosts in our psyches forever.
The Hindu creed ... many call it a way of life, not a religion ... ties up everything quite neatly. So logical is the doctrine of Karma, rebirth and casualty that many non - Hindu religions, thinkers and philosophers today privately or publicly suscribe to the theory of Transmigration. And yet, probably the very mathematical precision of the system is its vulnerable pecadillos. If only it was that simple...
The Christian, especially one with the unswerving belief in a personal, reborn Jesus deserves accolade for at least the sheer intensity of his faith. But the question here stalks bare that every God has to be personal, given a minimum cultural and intellectual sophistication of the novitiate. Or at least the communion between the shepherd and his sheep must be highly personal. Rebirth,`rising' after death, raising from the dead, immortality (largely mythological, supernatural and miraculous) have been recurring themes in all ancient lore. Many religions and mythologies raise the dead at the drop of a hat. Finally, faith not only moves the mountains, it can possibly also vitalize any inanimate focus of devotion. `Miracles' do include contravention of `natural' laws in response to amimate/intelligent striving and effort. Or simply blind faith,if you like. Examples also abound in Christian and non-Christian lore alike of the Bounty of Divine Grace showered upon the uninitiated believer who did everything wrong, but whose`heart was in the right place', to use a metaphor.
Gods - exclusive and inclusive
The problem therefore arises with exclusivity. Fervent claims of the path, the only path diminish the Godhead. Roots... soil, tradition, geography .....these all add up to make a Man. He can no more deny,or repudiate his constitutent molecules than he can deny his very being. And so long as God is the one, (a conceptual singularity accruing from our biological one) all paths must lead to Him. We must not impute our base mundane hangovers and prejudices on the Purity that must be the Ultimate. The quest is for it, or Him. Not for the twists and stakes on the way side. At the same time, one must not diminish personal God(s),any and all, by imbuing them with narrow exclusivity. This includes Jesus Christ, as it does Ram and Krishna, the presiding dieties of the Hindu pantheon.
Bonds of History
While on boundaries, there is also the issue of historicity. In Godheads we seek, or should seek, enduring and universal values and truisms. Historicity, where it is claimed, succeeds only in confining the suppossedly boundless in narrow coordinates of time and space. Small wonder, then, that restricted by boundaries of time, space and particulate human ethnicities,universality of such Godheads is stymied by the very proponents who seek to disseminate them through all humankind. Again,emerging from the dark and dusty mists of mediveal turbulences of human history, we find the slow but sure emergence of `enlightened' religions which are much more unitary in their generalizations of God's attributes : Compassion and Benevolence, a distinct empathy with human needs and aspirations (`in the image of God') ; even pragmatisms ... A singularity, then, seems to be emerging, even as fanatical (one wishes one could dismiss these as `fringe', but its the misfortune of the human race that they continue to be sizable) factions of all hue and leanings continue to strive for disparate, strait jacketed, fissiparous pluralities. But given progressive all round human transcension - in the Sciences,the Arts,Philosophy and Ethics ( Religion), we must hope that an Ethical Singularity (ES) will someday emerge, encompassing and embracing all past, present and future human precepts and aspirations.
If there is a question as to how `real' such a consensus ES would
be, we must ask ourselves how `real' our `historical' or pre-historical
myths (sic) are. And this brings us back, full circle, to Faith
transcending the barriers of the impossiible and creating what
may, or may not have, existed.
The emerging Unitary perception
At this point a little digression into the realm of human state craft - politics - may well be in order. All `enlightened' and even least developed societies are very definitely veering towards unitarian concepts, despite rampant, often runaway chuvanism thinly disguised as `nationalisms'. Thus, there is the American "affirmative action, equal opportunity" line for minorities, the abolition of Aparthied in S.Africa, the Reservation movement in India. But more so is the emerging perception of the one world concept - dictated by hard and inescapable realities of the Spaceship Earth Paradigm. Can one species, one people, one kind be far away, howsoever frustrating be present, apparent trends?
One kind, one race must necessarily entail one Ethic, one God
(at least in the abstract, though the specific may still continue
to be chequered). Unity in diversity - that has been, and will
probably be the refrain of humankind. It just needs a little more
comprehension, a little more realization, a little more reconciliation,
a little more pragmatism, to extraploate it to our eternal quest
for the Ultimate Truth-which too we shall have the ability to
create, if it does not already pre-exist!
Finally, we must address ourselves to the very real and perhaps more (certainly not less) important concerns of the individual, be it desire-fulfilment, grievance redressal or even vengeance. The intercession of divine force (being) of unlimited power for straightening out human affairs at individual personal, family tribe/nation levels has been the recurring and dominant theme of all religions. Without such ispensation, or at least promise of gold at the end of the rainbow, no `spiritual' system (religion) is likely to succeed. Thus, while allowing for the broadest canvas of the whole humankind, or even when catering to less pretentious conglomerations of group, tribe or state, the individual and his/her expectations become central to the eventual success of any promised Kingdom.
In honest ultimate analysis, then, the issue of personal salvation,
justice, pecuniary (or spiritual) gain and amelioration of suffering
cannot be ignored. Humankind is not a supra-entity. We may be
one species, but we retain our individual identities, more so
as conscious,aware and intelligent beings. The personal (or individual),
therefore is important, as with subhuman animals, and actually
takes general precedence in a majority of systems over group or
While it is concievable that individual aspirations and/or conceptions
of order, justice and `Godliness' may differ, existence of universal
truisms cannnot be denied. The models may be highly humanised,
but then its humankind which has conceived them. Thus `Gods' or
a Singularity - God, reflected in the human species, pre-existing
in eternity, or noveau creation of the first conscious and intelligent
beings on this planet, and in this Galaxy at least, must now be
deemed/made a reality transcending entropy, and therefore, inevitably,
dimensional restrictions of time, space, biology and physics.
What is being projected here is the Re-birth or Re-surrection
of God. In the face of such gigantic burdgeoning evolution of
the, by definition, Boundless, Shapeless, Dimensionless ( "
neti,neti,neti": "Not this, Not this,Not this"
of the Hindu Vedas), sectarian restrictions on Him seem so puny,
so very irrelevant, and irreverent ...
The Universal and the ethnic
It is in obeisance to a Universal God of indescribable magnificence
and limitless vista that most major and minor religious doctrines,
particularly their orthodox, ritual contents are unacceptably
juvenile in context of present status of intellect of the modern
Homo sapiens, or man, the wise. The latter can live up
to both epithets (Ethical, and Wise) only if the Human species
(rather than National, Society, community, group and even individual),
is treated as the most important, indeed, vital denominator. Ethnic
Godheads may continue as tangible rainbows of varied hues.......
but the common pot of Gold at the end of each must be a commonality
: A universal ethics with unswerving aim of welfare and progress
of Homo sapiens as a species. This ethical singularity
must evolve through cultural/intellectual channelisation of the
highest of human values and aspirations. Forcing it through biological/genetic
manipulation must be deemed repulsive and prohibited in view of
past unsavory human history, lack of sufficient biological or
evolutionary acumen, which renders manipulating evolutionary short
cuts high risk propositions for the human race.
Biological Imperatives of UES
The following inviolable edicts as Biological Imperatives of the UES may be enunciated: The Human Species - Its Survival; Its Welfare; Its Advancement /Progress; Its Success [ Failure = Extinction!] the above, it is reteriated, would constitute stimulation/modulation of the Noosphere, not through eugenics or its variant philosophies/techniques, but by socio-cultural direction (Figure 1).
Possible Paths To Progress of Homo sapiens
Unmanipulated Natural Evolution
Too slow, if at all progressive.
Dubious, unwise, possibly lethal/ self-destructive in long run.
Channelised Modulation/ Progression
Transcending biological limitations through intellectual/ spiritual development/evolution
U.E.S. ---> Establishment of Goalsof Humankind
Obviously, Global consensus and Control are essential for the
emergence and establishment of the UES conceived. Tentative beginnings
of such planetary, species centered actions are already manifest
in global concerns and plans for, e.g.
1. Disease eradication
2. Nuclear Weapons
3. Ozone layer
4. Global Warming
5. Water Conservation
6. Genetic Engineering in general
7. Human cloning
Once the UES projected here is adopted as an urgent, essential universal goal, it shall automatically come to incorporate all other ethical ramifications of Law, Medicine, Biology, Environment etc. The primary and overriding objective of the Bioethics movement, indeed of Mankind, must now therefore be the urgent single point programme viz. adoption of a non-sectarian UES, or simply UNIETHICS, transcending individual, community, and national ethics.
UNIETHICS may be defined as ............ a single universal, unitary and unifying code of ehtics whose primary concern shall be survival, welfare and progress of the human species to transform it through socio-cultural development into a better intellectual and spiritual entity by transcending the limitations and tyranny of biological evolution.
Summing up, then, at least as a beginning towards the universal desiderata, every individual must extend allegiance to a Universal ethical force. The approaches,the paths,howsoever devious and esoteric, must be accepted and adopted so long as the Universal Ultimate, and the Goal remains the same. The focus in both cases centres on the Human species - its uniqueness, and the need to preserve, amplify it. In this, enlightened paradigm, there can be no place for aparthieds of any kind; concepts, like, heathen and `kafir' must be consigned to eternal oblivion. The goal for the next millenia, if need be, must be the establishment and adoption/incorporation of the UES or Uniethics as projected here into the ethos of human kind.
Without urgent and sincere efforts on this, Nature's experiment with Intelligence may well come to rank with numerous other evolutionary failures, the inevitable outcome being extinction of the (human) species.