Loehr-Daniels Study Course of Basic Teachings
By Franklin Loehr
In our beginning lesson we went straight to the beginning of all reality, and hence the beginning of all spiritual study – the Creator, God. Begin With God.
True, it has been popular in some circles to downgrade God. This is the Age of Science, and science is still in its adoles-cence. It is a common trait of adolescence to try to assert its maturity by challenging and turning from their elders. What greater One to turn from than God! To turn from God is a heady, though idiotic, experience. Small persons – small of mind, small of character, and small in their own self-esteem – often bolster their own weak ego by downgrading their superiors. The scientists who proclaim in essence, “Look, folks, you don’t need God – I am here!” are ludicrous, but they do have their influence and followers.
Also it is true that religion in the last several centuries – the first several centuries of science, as it was getting its precarious start and footing – came to fear and fight any scientific work that questioned the assumptions or beliefs of that particular religious system. God never has been threatened by the honest search for truth, for God ordained truth and truth is what God, the Creator, has done and is doing. But many church-taught systems of belief, Christian and non-Christian, have been and are afraid of science and antagonistic to it.
This is “par for the course.” This is human nature. This is the resistance to progress that we find in many non-religious fields, too. But religion is beginning to learn that science is an ally not an enemy, a tremendous ally in the search for God. When science reports, on the basis of its great scope and depth of research, that never has a cause been found without its effects, and all that we observe is the effect of adequate causation, it is saying – and this is the great touchstone of science – that this is a cause-and-effect universe. There is no watch without a watchmaker, and there is no creation without a Creator.
This is the first great proof science brings of the existence and nature of God.
The second is this: Wherever science has researched this material universe – be it in the macrocosm of a solar system or a galaxy, or in the microcosm of the infinitely small atom – science has found pattern. Not only do things always happen from a cause, but also when they do happen they happen according to pattern. The DNA that carries the genetic code of all cellular life is a tremendously large and complex organization of genes and chromosomes, but it is a very precise organization. The difference in placement of a single small sequence (nucleotide), or of a molecule within a segment, can make the difference between normality and abnormality or any other trait of beingness. One DNA pattern will produce a man, another a cat.
It is all according to pattern.
Man’s experience with pattern shows us that wherever extensive pattern appears, there is a purposeful intelligence and force producing that pattern. If one were to find an old country road of cracked asphalt and pour onto it a hundred million marbles, doubtless at some places along the course of that road the marbles would collect in cracks so as to give a rough semblance of a letter or other simple form. Most would be meaningless. But if one found a hundred million marbles all arranged so as to spell out a message, with not even one out of place, one would know that those marbles had been arranged in that pattern by some purposeful arranger.
Extensive pattern is found only where there has been conscious purpose, and the ability to shape the elements involved into that pattern. The very letters that make up the sentence “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” never fall into place by chance or accident. Whatever the language used, the letters had to be chosen and arranged by a writer who knew what he wanted to say and how to choose and arrange the letters to form the words to say it.
The organization of matter than we find in the universe, each portion tucked deftly into place, was produced not by chance but by a purposeful intelligence and power. What purposeful intelligence and power could have produced the immeas-urable, constant pattern found all through this universe? Well, whatever purposer had the intelligence, the ability, the opportunity, and the will to bring that about, is by virtue of its doing so – the Creator, God.
Thus science, in its vast observ-ations of our universe, brings us first the necessity for there being a Creator in the very fact that there is a creation, a cause-and-effect universe, in existence. Probing ever more deeply, science then brings us a second proof of the existence of God in that the extensive patterning found throughout the universe necessitates a purposer with the intelligence, will, opportunity and ability to bring about this extensive patterning.
One of the most devastating things that can happen in a courtroom is to have a star witness introduced by one side turn out to be in fact a star witness for the opposite side. This is precisely what we have in the case of the materialistic view of the universe versus the spiritual view, and the star witness, science.
Science was thought to be the star witness for a materialistic, god-less, soul-less, no-survival-of-death explanation of the universe. Karl Marx, founder of communism, spelled it out perhaps as clearly as anybody. In his Dialectical Materialism, foundation document of communism, he argues (that’s what dialectic means) that materialism is the only logical correct view of the world, that only physical things are real, and that there is no non-material or spiritual reality. And the reason, the evidence, the star witness he presents for materialism as the only reality? Science! Karl Marx was building his philosophy upon a widespread notion about science. Millions who would fight being called communists actually follow the Marxist philosophy of materialism, believing the verdict of science to be that only material things are real.
Let us look this “sacred cow of the unsacred” squarely in the face. Does Science say that only material things are real and that the non-material (spiritual) are not real? The answer is a resounding NO. For two reasons:
First, science itself is only a method of getting information. It has been used in various fields of knowledge. These in turn have been called “sciences” simply because their leaders used the scientific method to get the information they now present.
Second: The method of science can be used and is being used now to get spiritual knowledge. The scientific method is not confined to physical material areas only. The scientific method is now getting factual, verifiable, measurable, repeatable knowledge of non-physical realities. In Religious Research we have been doing it successfully since 1952. The door of scientific religious research has been thrown wide open. This is a solidly established beginning, and there is no presently discernible limit on how far religious research can go. It took only a few pioneers to throw open the American frontier. Then millions streamed through and made it their home.
These lessons of the Religious Research School of Spiritual Studies are the first open roads for millions to follow, the new pathways of finding God and Reality and the Truth of our beingness.
Our physical homes now have composition roofs and insulated walls, electric lights, central heating, indoor plumbing, water coming through faucets, even very hot water where we want it. Our material homes are tremendous improve-ments over the lean-tos and log cabins of the pioneers. Our new spiritual home should be no less of an improvement over the old. Science that has brought such advance of knowledge in every area where it has been used, can bring religion – the field of spiritual knowledge – truly into its own unlimited potential.
What ways of getting information did man have before the development of the way of science? Essentially six:
(1) Authority. We still use authority as perhaps our first way of knowing. A child first learns to do some things and not to do other things by the authority of his parents. Later he comes home from school to announce proudly, “Four times four is sixteen,” and if asked how he knows that he replies, “Teacher said so!” All of us get much of the information we accept and by which we live, upon the authority of those whom we accept as teachers or experts in their fields.
(2) Tradition. Each human being is born into and grows up within a certain culture that has preserved the experiences, the deductions and lessons from experience, and the things generally held true and valuable in that particular society. We learn these early in life, and the traditions of a culture have enough momentum of group and historic authority, and enough work-ability in daily living, to carry much acceptance. In early cultures, traditions taught the very means of survival in that time and place.
(3) Speculation. The human mind is a restless and innovative thinking instrument. Man’s own speculation has led him into much information – much true, and some untrue.
(4) Personal experience is of course another great and universal way in which we learn. True, our personal experience is by its very nature subjective. It is our experience and not always everybody’s experience. It carries weight with us, but we quickly learn that its subjectivity is its limitation.
(5) Intuition must be recognized as another way in which man gets information. Intuition has been considered more on the feminine side, with the “logic” of “speculation” considered more acceptably masculine. But how did Einstein get his world-remaking idea of General Relativity? By a sudden burst of intuitive insight. How was the benzyl ring, the key to understanding chemically the complex petroleum molecule, discovered? In a dream. Why do big corporations encourage their top executives to “put their feet up on the desk and let their minds wander”? Because new ideas, answers, advances so often come that way. What is the purpose of brainstorming sessions? That the human mind, freed of the responsibilities of logic, may be more open to that information which can come through intuitive faculties. So the place of intuition is more secure and more recognized now, among the methods by which mankind does get some information.
(6) Special Revelation needs to be included among the ways man gets information. There are those who have said, “The Lord told me” and then related messages which proved true, at many stages of history and in every major culture.
Then not much more than a century ago a new way of knowing appeared, a new way for man to get information. It was the method of objective observation rather than the subjective observations of personal experience. It was the method of repeatability, rather than the flash of intuitive insight. It was the method of quantitative measurement – height, width, depth, weight, color, strength, speed, duration, boiling point, breaking point, flash point, spectrum analysis when incandescent, etc. – rather than the speculations of a human mind. It proved much of the knowledge gained from tradition only partly true, and partly false – as with the old teaching that Earth was flat. It has proved to be such a good way of winnowing the true from the false and the part true from the part-false that in tribute to its superiority man gave this seventh way of getting information the very name of “knowing.” The Latin verb meaning “to know” is scio. The gerund of that verb, meaning “knowing,” is spelled s-c-i-e-n-c-e.
Science is a very new way of getting information, a new tool of the mind. And when man has a new tool, what does he do with it? He uses it on whatever is most handy. A child given a pair of pliers will pinch his fingers with them. So many children poked so many screwdrivers into the old style open electric sockets and suffered so many burns and scared so many mothers that the very design of the sockets was changed into the modern safety kind, with only the two small openings for the prongs of a plug. Just so, when man got his hands on this wondrous new tool of science it was natural and inevitable that he would try it first on the things most handy – the material things which can be seen, touched, weighed, measured. So in these early days of the era of science – for a century or two is only the beginning of an era – the method of science has been used mainly in the material field. Thus many people wrongfully assumed that science said only material things are real.
Not at all. Consider the field of psychology, where the scientific method has been used to explore the abstract and intangible elements of human behavior and human nature. I think the breakthrough out of materialism was made at this point, in the use of science in the non-material field of psychology. Religious research is simply the logical follow-up, of using the method of science to get proved facts rather than inherited ideas and dogmas in the field of man’s spiritual nature.
When we examined the cause-and-effect nature and the extensive patterning which science reveals about the universe, we saw how scientific research in even the material field has given us two indigenous factual foundations for the existence of God. Now as science is used in religious research, already begun and spreading to who knows what proportions in the years ahead, we shall dig out many more facts about the spiritual nature of man, the universe, and the Creator who planned and brought it and us into being.
Now let us turn to the religion side of “The God of Religion is the God of Science, too.”
Religion falls within the general field of philosophy. Philosophy is man’s attempt to find the meaning of things and to arrange that which he knows into a meaningful and coherent pattern. Science gets facts – philosophy, the meaning of the facts. Religion is philosophy that begins with God. Religion makes the obvious but often overlooked point that if there be a Creator then the creation will be slanted and colored by the nature and purposes of the Creator; therefore, the more we know about the Creator the more we can know about the creation He has brought about. A rather logical starting point, really, when one stops to think about it.
Why, then, so many differences in the field of religion? Often it seems that various religions are like the blind men “defining” an elephant. You remember the old fable. One man felt the broad side and said an elephant is like a barn. Another felt the trunk and said the elephant is like a large, thick snake. A third, feeling one of the massive legs, said, “No, the elephant is like the trunk of a great tree.” And the fourth, grasping the tail, declared the elephant was like a rope. Which was right? All of them, of course. And all were wrong when they each insisted that he and he alone had the true picture of an elephant.
Every religion has some truth of God. None has all of the truth.
The Creator of this far-reaching universe, He who not only brought into being the trillions upon trillions of tons of matter but also fashioned each portion and each aggregation with infinite pattern – that Creator is not to be confined to man’s total understanding, let alone to the partial understanding of any one religion.
But there is one point upon which all major religions agree: God is the Creator of this universe. Looking back and behind and beyond all that we know, man comes to God. In taking “Creator” as the first name of God, Religion’s God begins at the same place as the God-view of science. The Creator, whoever or whatever that may be, is God.
Since no religion holds all spiritual truth, the study of many religions – the study called comparative religions – should bring us a larger comprehension of God than if we confine ourselves to one religious system only. This is one major reason why Religious Research is open ended; we definitely say that we do not have a monopoly on truth, that we do not have all the truth there is, and that even the truth we do have will in many cases be improved upon, winnowed, made more purely true by further spiritual knowledge gained in the years ahead. We also know that we can learn from everyone. Thus we erect no fences to shut others out, for these would only shut us in.
In the study of many religions we find an interesting historic process taking place: As man unifies his concept of the universe, he unifies his concept of God.
Spiritism is the form of religion most found among primitive peoples. In spiritism (do not confuse this with “Spiritualism”) each object – stick, stone, tree, deer, etc. – is thought to house a spirit, and the correct approach to the stick, stone, tree or deer is to the spirit within it. This view sees the world as infinitely fragmented.
Pantheism grew out of spiritism. Pantheism gets its name because it recognizes a whole pantheon, or large aggregate of gods in existence. I have heard that the Hindus recognize some 33 million gods and goddesses. True, their religious thinking has grown to a recognition that these personalized “gods” are but aspects, functions, manifestations of The God. But the 33 million facets show also the carryover from the pantheistic view of Deity.
Henotheism is an upward-movement stage of thought about God. In this stage each nation or tribe or other social unit is thought of as having its own particular god. The gods of other nations, tribes, and other social units are recognized as gods, too – and the contests between the human cultures are seen as contests between their respective gods as well. Much of the early and middle Old Testament reflects this thinking.
Dualism represents the next theological and philosophical step upward. In dualism, the unification of the universe has been realized to the extent that only two creative forces are seen as producing it – good and evil, light and darkness. Zoroastrianism represents this dualistic stage, with its Ahura Mazda (god or principle of light) and Ahura Mainu (god or principle of darkness).
Monotheism comes when man sees all this universe as essentially of one piece, and that therefore its Creator must be of a Oneness. Science knows, from the universal law of cause-and-effect and the universal principle of patterning it finds, this universe is just that – a universe, one creation. Millennia before the physical scientists grasped this, religious prophets and seers of many cultures proclaimed the oneness of God. Judaism’s great “Shema” states, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord Thy God, the Lord is One.” Jesus taught that God is our Father, including even the Samaritan – the man of a different national, social, and religious nature. Mohammed proclaims, “Allah is One.”
The freedom to think independently has produced rich social, material, and political progress. So also this freedom has produced in religion the riches of diversity. The great question of religion is not “Does God exist?” but “What is God like?” The very magnitude of the God that could create our universe (and who knows what other universes as well) means that even the spiritual geniuses, the seers and prophets of each culture, would at best get but partial glimpses of God’s nature. So of course we find different things about God emphasized by the different religions. Very likely it will take many years of careful religious research by thousands of spiritual scientists to really winnow the good in each religion from the limitations that all possess, and put together a factual, comprehensive, great science (knowing) of God – His nature and His doing.
But the beginning point is clear: This creation is created, brought into being, by its Creator. Whoever or whatever brought it all about, that is God.
In a question period following a lecture in a large metropolitan cathedral one questioner asked me, “What is truth?” The presiding minister, mindful that perplexed minds of all ages have puzzled over this question and that the Roman ruler, Pilate, asked it even of Christ, said, “You don’t have to answer that one if you don’t want to, Dr. Loehr.”
I replied, “I’ll accept the question: Truth is whatever God has done, plus whatever God is doing.”
This universe is the creation of God, the Creator. Reality and truth are whatever God does and is. Whatever man can learn of the nature of God is a priceless clue, a primary guiding insight, into what God has done in creating the universe and us in it.
In the lessons of the Religious Research School of Spiritual Studies we disclaim any pretense to having all truth. But by using the method of scientific research in the field of spiritual realities we have discovered some things about God and what God has done which we feel helps modern, scientific man understand God better. From the experiments and observations of the trail-breaking first three decades of Religious Research, we bring you in these lessons what we have discovered about the nature of this God Who was, Who is, and Who has caused to be all that exists.
This – to understand God – will get complex, as complex as the entire universe and all that is in it, and more. But the beginning point, for science and for religion and for our personal search for meaning and truth, is so simple: There is a Creator back of it all. There is a God—one God, the God of religion and of science.