General Information about the Project
The following is the synopsis for the forthcoming book “Seeking a More Enlightened Worldview” by Brandon Norgaard, specifically the introductory version. You can read about the advanced version here. Both versions cover similar subject matter, but the introductory one is oriented towards general audiences and the advanced one is for academic audiences.
Synopsis for “Seeking a More Enlightened Worldview – Introductory Version”
Does anything beyond material substance really exist? Do souls exist? Is there a God? Does morality have a basis in reality beyond each person’s point of view? What is the meaning of life? These kinds of questions are often considered solely within the domain of faith. Most major world religions provide an answer to these and other questions that people naturally seek answers to as a part of life. On the other hand, many people believe that material substance is the only thing that truly exists and that there is no God. For them, the best explanation is that morality derives from human instincts that are entirely the product of evolution and societal norms. They also argue that life does not have any inherent meaning other than to reproduce and to increase one’s evolutionary fitness.
In recent years, the debate between religious and secular worldviews has been played out through numerous best selling titles, including the secular minded The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins, The End of Faith by Sam Harris, and Breaking the Spell by Daniel Dennett, along with countless titles that extol the virtues of faith and spirituality. There is no doubt that religion has had huge influence on the world throughout history and this is still true today. The aforementioned secular minded books argue that religion is far too influential in the modern world. They argue that religious faith simply comes from people believing things without sufficient evidence and that this inevitably leads to unnecessary conflicts, which are a threat to our peace and prosperity. People of faith counter this by arguing that their religion is peaceful and that within these secular belief systems there does not appear to be a basis for morality, a sense of spirituality, ultimate explanation, or meaning in life. There does appear to be merit to this argument and this is one of the factors that motivate people to turn to faith or to continue with their faith despite the lack of evidence.
If it seems like the arguments of materialists and atheists might be inadequate in their attempt to describe all aspects of life, then there should be a way of investigating this possibility and finding the truth. What is needed here is a new worldview that incorporates everything that is known based on modern science with only the aspects of religion that make sense and for this to be entirely based on evidence, not faith. If this new worldview can incorporate modern science and also provide answers to questions that people naturally have, such as the basis for what is good and evil, the ultimate explanation for why the universe is the way that it is, and can provide a solid answer to the age old question “what is the meaning of life?” while relying only on strong, reliable evidence, then it would truly be more enlightened than any secular worldview such as atheism, materialism, and humanism, and any faith-based religion such as Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, and Hinduism.
How is any of this possible? How can one begin to answer these questions solely on the basis of evidence? The important key to this is to understand the foundations of science and then to use similar principles to formulate a way of analyzing one’s own conscious experience in the first person. Each person can realize, from a systematic and careful introspection as a part of the modern phenomenological method, the nature of their own consciousness, free will, and a sense of morality. From this they can build a worldview that includes answers to the great questions of life.
People who read this book should be able to realize that there is solid evidence that there is an aspect to their own existence that is beyond their material body and that a more enlightened worldview can be constructed from this realization. Because this realization has a strong basis in evidence instead of blind faith, this new worldview should be able to build bridges between people of different belief systems and to lead to a more peaceful and prosperous future.
What are your thoughts upon reading the basic summary of this book? Love it? Hate it? Want more info? Please let your voice be heard in the forum. Also, more information about the effort to bring this book to publication can be found here.
Important project update: As of 2015, Brandon and the rest of the Enlightened Worldview Project team can’t speculate on when the general-audience version of Seeking a More Enlightened Worldview will become available, but special advance copies of the academically oriented manuscript version may be available by special request. Email the author for more info.