Role of Religion
by Dr Michael Ellis©2006

It seems that we are on the verge of civilization conflict precipitated by competition for scarce resources and ecological friendly habitat. The very survival of life as we know it is at stake. Many institutions are failing dramatically in their ability to meet the changing life conditions.

There are two questions here which are imporrtant

1. Are the religious traditions practiced by the vast majority of human kind in their current forms able to recognize the change in the dramatic nature of life conditions we are in? Are they in a condition to be ready, able and willing to respond to them?
Most of the monotheistic religions were formed when the world population was 1/2 billion or less. The religions formed in tribal communities or Early Empires were responding to social and Human scenarios vastly different to the societal and ecological milieu we exist in today I believe that Religious traditions are not focused and not able to recognize the crisis as it is. They weren't designed for this crisis.

There is however within all esoteric and mystic knowledge found in the Great religions and Great Spiritual paths resources essential for dealing with human crisis in terms of insight and activity.

2. What are the spiritual, ethical and consciousness dimensions of the responses to the dramatic change that are occurring in life as we know it?
The problems are many spelled out as either ecological, spiritual and do not encompass the creation of a new world model of reality equivalent to a paradigm shift.
There are literally thousands of organizations round the world devoted to peace and who wish to make a difference.
A person searching through the vast range of references for a solution or a master plan is likely to go into information overload unless we ask the right questions and perceive the basic principles underlying the complex change occurring.

We all know complexity theory as for example within the dissipative theory of Pribogine. A new higher order of complexity can occur as a system becomes more disordered and chaotic. This systemic change is evidently occurring at the moment and will include and impact all the many political, environmental educational, economic and spiritual institutions on the planet.

The Harvard forum of religion and ecology further elaborates on these points Ten religions are referenced to including Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, Judaism.etc
This Forum on Religion and Ecology is the largest international multireligious project of its kind. With its conferences, publications, and website it is engaged in exploring religious worldviews, texts, and ethics in order to broaden understanding of the complex nature of current environmental concerns.

The commentary states

It is, however, with some encouragement that we note the growing call for the world's religions to participate in these changes toward a more sustainable planetary future. There have been various appeals from environmental groups and from scientists and parliamentarians for religious leaders to respond to the environmental crisis. In addition, there has been a striking growth in monographs and journal articles in the area of religion and ecology. Several national and international meetings have also been held on this subject. For example, environmental groups such as World Wildlife Fund (WWF) have sponsored interreligious meetings, such as the one in Assisi in 1986. The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in North America has established an annual Environmental Sabbath and distributes thousands of packets of materials for uses in congregations throughout the United States and Canada. The Parliament of World Religions, held in Chicago in 1993 and attended by some 8,000 people from all over the globe, issued a Global Ethics of Cooperation of Religions on Human and Environmental Issues statement. International meetings on the environment such as the Global Forum of Spiritual and Parliamentary Leaders have been held in Oxford (1988), Moscow (1990), Rio (1992), and Kyoto (1993). These included religious leaders such as the Dalai Lama as well as diplomats and heads of state such as Mikhail Gorbachev, who hosted the Moscow conference and attended the Kyoto conference to set up an International Green Cross for environmental emergencies. Since 1995 a critical Alliance of Religions and Conservation (ARC) has been convening conferences and publishing books on this topic in England. In the United States, the National Religious Partnership for the Environment (NRP) has organized the Jewish and Christian communities on this issue. The time is thus propitious for a broad investigation of the contributions of particular religions to solving the ecological crisis, especially by developing a more comprehensive environmental ethic.

We need to find a common ground to all religion not reject but transcend and include all the various doctrines and ideologies especially determining the essential focus of equality in spirituality. in this respect a spiritual community can play a major role. An example is Wolfgang Fischer`s Global Resonance Network

The new creativity occurring on the planet comes from social intelligence and is engendered by the internet. This is associated with what appears to be a grassroots movement in spirituality which is not aligned with conventional institutions or religions. In the States there are about 50,000,000 cultural creatives. This increase in knowledge and exchange of knowledge would appear to be enabling people to question old dogma and institutions which make up the old paradigm. The old paradigm is of course linear, logical, reductive and based on a distinction between the external observable environment and subjective experience.

However, the new way of looking at things has been developing since the theory of Relativity in the early 20th Century. So many technological devices now run on quantum principles and the basis of physics is no longer Newtonian physics but Quantum Mechanics in which the observer influences the observed.

What we are seeing here is an understanding that there is a spiritual interiority, a basic noesis or inner wisdom which is now being tapped particularly by those people in the developed world who are not desperately surviving from hand to mouth as half the world is.


Dr Michael Ellis

Dr Michael Ellis is a medical doctor, futurist, and peace worker, living in Melbourne.

Dr Ellis is Founder of The Medical Renaissance Group. The aim of The Medical Renaissance Group is to create a new kind of medicine which integrates mind, body and spirit, society and the environment.

He is also Founder of the Centre for Change which aims to create an openness of dialogue for men and women of goodwill, in order that we can find a way out of the current global crisis. It also aims to contribute to the creation of a planetary peace culture, which affirms our deepest respect for all life which makes up the biosphere.

Dr Ellis has higher qualifications in general medicine, paediatrics and nutritional medicine.

He has a special interest in mind-body medicine and in optimizing the physical, mental and emotional health of the individual. He is a Research Fellow at the Graduate School of Integrative Medicine, Swinburne University, where he is particularly interested in brain longevity and the prevention of dementia.