Friday, October 12, 2012

The Problems With Believing That Energy Is Ultimate

By Reverend Mark Hunnemann

“Come this way, please.” The life coach and wellness expert pleasantly coaxed his client into his office.
“Our goal today is to teach you how to raise your vibrational levels…this will relieve stress, enhance overall health, build confidence, and make you more successful in every area of your life. Just think, you will be tapping into the same cosmic energy that surges through our galaxy —synchronicity! I can guarantee you that your public speaking as well as your love life will take a quantum leap forward!” Sounds enticing, does it not? And no holy God that we have to be accountable to…yeeaay!

Energy…our country has become fixated with it. The scene above, with ten-thousand variations, is played out in similar fashion everyday across our country. We saw last time that the notion of ghosts did not just pop out of thin air; it is no coincidence that the birth of the New Age (around 1990) occurred at generally the same time that the notion of ghosts started taking off in popularity—moving from a few fringe groups to where CBS says that now one-half of Americans believe in trapped spirits. I personally do not know of another significant belief that has grown this quickly in such a short period of time. The point is that the belief in ghosts is under the extensive umbrella of what we call New Age…or occult/pagan. First is the worldview shift—energy displaces God as ultimate reality—then aberrant beliefs (such as trapped spirits) start mushrooming across the landscape of our culture. Very few in the supernatural community seem to be aware of the causal connection between the two. And frankly, many don’t want to know because they simply have too much personally vested in the notion of ghosts.

The energy worldview is monism or one-ism. We saw last time that Energy has displaced the infinite/personal God of the bible as our concept of ultimate reality. Dr. Peter Jones has suggested that we think in terms of One-ism and Two-ism to describe the two fundamentally opposed worldviews. There is such a bewildering array of different beliefs and techniques that express this shift, that it is helpful to have some way of organizing all the data. (Peter was desk-mates for several years with John Lennon in Liverpool). John went on to be one of the most influential one-ist proponents ever, and his pal Peter one its biggest opponents.
One-ism is the belief that all reality is one…in this case, there is a divine energy that undulates throughout all the cosmos—making everything an expression of Energy—and by raising our energy vibrations to match that of the world around us, we begin to fire on all cylinders. You should note that, at the very heart of one-ism, is the obliteration of the distinction between Creator and creature. Energy is ultimate reality, but since everything is infused with this energy, then everything is one—all we have to do is have a spiritual chiropractic adjustment in order to maximally experience this divine energy. Sin and salvation take on an entirely different meaning in this worldview. Instead of us being saved from the clear and present danger of God’s holy wrath due to our trespasses against Him, instead our basic need is to be released from our ignorance regarding our divine nature and this is achieved via enlightened teaching or direct experience.
Two-ism is shorthand for designating the biblical worldview…there are two kind of reality: primary (the Creator) and derived (the creation). The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ is primary or ultimate reality, and He is distinct from His creation, which derives its very existence from Him. He created it out of nothing (ex nihilo…Gen.1:1), and He continues to sustain and uphold its existence (Col.1:16). The two-ist or biblical worldview upholds the Creator/creature distinction…two utterly distinct kinds of reality. (Do you see why a depth awareness of God’s holiness is so crucial?).

The one-ist worldview, (New Age or pagan/occult Energy) overhaul of our culture is so comprehensive and diverse, that it is easy to miss the forest for all the trees…the forest being a one-ist worldview, and the trees being the innumerable beliefs, methods, and techniques that are expressive of a one-ist paradigm. Whether it be Reiki, incarnation, astral travel, quantum jumping, acupuncture, the chakras in yoga, and so on—all are one-ist trees—that comprise the one-ist forest or mindset/worldview. That is what drew me to Dr. Jones simplified means of making sense of all this mind-boggling variety…it explains so much: Energy as ultimate reality is the one-ist worldview which is in vogue today. But as I mentioned last time, it is not without its problems..

In classical philosophy there is epistemology (theory of knowledge), metaphysics, ethics, logic, and aesthetics. Few of us are philosophers in the technical sense of that being our academic specialty. However, we are all philosophers in the sense that we all have a worldview (albeit usually unconscious) through which we interpret the world. In this series, I wish to show the epistemological, metaphysical, and ethical necessity of the infinite/personal God really being there and having spoken to us. Often, Christian leaders despise philosophy and discourage any interaction with it. This is sad because the questions philosophers have asked for millennia, can only be answered satisfactorily by biblical Christianity—philosophy and biblical theology fit like hand in glove—and for this, I bow before the Lord in worship. It isn’t just that biblical Christianity has the best answers; it has the ONLY satisfactory answer.

Today there is not so much a generation gap, as there is an epistemological gap…we view truth differently... Epistemology is that branch of philosophy that deals with how we acquire knowledge, whether it is of the natural or the supernatural. This where we must start, especially when it comes to this notion of Energy as ultimate reality.  I would gently insist that without the God of the bible, and the bible of God, we have no sufficient basis for knowing anything. I have a friend (call her Laura) who is well known in paranormal (whoops…I said it!) circles, she has written a book and has been investigating the supernatural for over 35 years…specializing in what she refers to as hostile haunts. Laura was deeply angered at me after reading my book and told me so. Thought I was too narrow…siiigh. She explicitly states that she does not believe in religious absolutes, and incredibly, after many hundreds of investigations of active houses, she says that she has never run into a demon! Never…

I mention this as an illustration of the paramount importance of epistemology. The starting point for her in analyzing the supernatural is, well, herself…not any beliefs external to her. The fact that she is convinced she has never once happened upon a demon is terrifying to me, and it surely shows that 35 years of operating on a false presupposition, will only lead one ever deeper into darkness and folly (Rom.1:18ff). Consider this verse I happened upon in my quiet time yesterday, “And the angel…who swore by Him who lives forever and ever, who created heaven and what is in it, the earth and what is in it, and the sea and what is in it, that there would be no more delay.” (Rev.10:6 emph. added) The Greek word for heavens (ouranos) can mean the sky, the place where God dwells, and the supernatural realm. Regardless, John is emphatic and explicit in noting that it is the Lord who created the different realms and (this is key) what is in them. Since God is the Creator of the inhabitants of the supernatural realm, we must see reality through His eyes if we are to identify His creation accurately. His word is the necessary epistemological foundation for gaining true and accurate knowledge of the supernatural realm and its inhabitants… as they really are. On the contrary, the more experience and time one has spent analyzing the supernatural without reference to He who created it, will only lead to an intensification of ignorance and foolish conjecture.

The one-ist worldview states: In the beginning, there has always been impersonal energy, and this impersonal energy + time + chance = the current complexity of the heavens and the earth. That has many ramifications, but the epistemological are most fundamental. How do we acquire knowledge of the world?  Now, please consider this: suppose you are doing your thing (which is not God’s thing) and investigating the supernatural. You are observing with your five senses, while also using instruments…the observer and the thing being observed. If ultimate reality is impersonal energy, then you as observer are the result of: impersonal beginning billions of years ago + time + chance. Specifically, your eyes and your brain are the result of an impersonal beginning, plus time, plus chance (that is how evolution rolls). I gently insist that you do not import any notion of intentionality or design because that is being inconsistent (You can’t have your autonomous cake and eat it too).

In this scheme, you have no intellectual basis for claiming that what is coming to you is data. Call it blah, blah, but you have no epistemological basis for saying that you are receiving data. Why do I say that? How can you trust your brain which is a bunch of chemicals and billions of firing synapses? How can this process kick up a brain which conveniently has categories which corresponds with external reality? Your eyes…again, nothing but energy in motion, configured by chance. How do you know that what you perceive as a red apple is really red in color, and is really shaped as you perceive it? It was Immanuel Kant who dropped this bombshell on the philosophical playground about 200 years ago. To make matters more complex, in this scheme (impersonal energy is ultimate reality) how can you trust the information transfer from eyes to brain? How can we be sure that we are acquiring accurate knowledge regarding anything? What is the basis for believing in the basic reliability of our senses?

I have briefly sketched the epistemological problem of the one-ist worldview of Energy, which is the root of this explosive rise of interest in spirit beings/ghosts. I want to close with showing how biblical Christianity alone supplies the answer to the epistemological problem. God is infinite and personal, and we are finite and personal. When it comes to His infinity, God is utterly dissimilar to us…and all of creation (this is the essence of two-ist thinking), but when it comes to God being personal, then we are similar to God—we are made in His image. The same God who formed the external world for our enjoyment, also created our five senses to operate or function in this environment: do you see how massive this is epistemologically? A personal God of reason made our reason; a God who hears prayer made our ears to hear; the Creator who sees all and knows all created both our eyes and our minds—with categories which correspond to what is out there. We have a sufficient basis for knowing that what appears to be a red apple is precisely that. We have a sufficient basis for trusting in the basic reliability of our five senses. When it comes to the problems of this worldview now in vogue (energy is ultimate reality), we see that only the God of the bible, and the bible of God, provide the only solution.