More than anything else, the future of civilization depends on the way the two most powerful forces of history, science and religion, settle into relationship with each other.
Alfred North Whitehead
It was the Spring of 1996; I had been invited to a small seminar, deep in the Californian redwoods, to discuss the evolution of consciousness. As I sat there, listening to various debates about the nature of mind, recent discoveries in neurochemistry, and theories on the origins of consciousness, I felt an increasing frustration. I wanted to say, "Weve got it all backwards", or words to that effect. But I couldnt express my misgivings in a coherent, well-reasoned mannerwhich you need to do in those settings if you want people to take you seriously. So I bit my lip and sat with my frustration.
A few weeks later, on a plane from Los Angeles to San Francisco, I opened a book I had recently picked up in a used-book store. The author, a Dutchman writing in the 1920s, was not saying anything that was new to me, but he did remind me of the processes of perception and the way we construct our experience of reality. My readings in philosophy, particularly the writings of Immanuel Kant, came flooding back; so did my studies in physics on the nature of light, and my explorations into Eastern philosophy and meditation.
Suddenly the root of my frustration became clear. We need more than a new theory of consciousness. We must reconsider some of our fundamental assumptions about the nature of reality. That was the bit I had been missing; that was the insight that was trying to break through at the seminar. I started scribbling, and by the time the plane landed, the picture was clear. Our whole worldview needed to be turned inside-out.
Over the following months, I worked on an essay pulling together the various pieces of a model of reality in which consciousness played a primary role. In the process, I discovered that the implications were even deeper than I had supposed. The new worldview not only changed the way science looked at consciousness, it also led to a new view of spiritualityand, most surprisingly, to a new concept of God.
The seeds sown on that plane flight have now grown into this book. As with any exploration of such profound issues, the ideas are not complete, and may never be complete. They represent my current thinking on the key ingredients of a new worldview, and how consciousness could be the long-awaited bridge between science and spirit.
As much as the book is a journey of ideas that starts with science and arrives at God, it is also my own personal journey from a physicist with little interest in spiritual matters to an explorer of consciousness who now begins to appreciate what the great spiritual teachings have been trying to show us for thousands of years.
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Introduction to Peter Russell 's new book 'From Science to God'