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A Common Path: The Future of Religion, Science and Spirituality Paperback – 2011
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A conflict has raged between Science and Religion for centuries. Through its conflict with religion, science has undermined religious beliefs without providing an alternative basis for ethics and meaning for our lives. This conflict can and must be resolved. A Common Path providies a resolution while developing answers to nine vital questions regarding our existence, e.g. how was the universe created, does God exist and how should we live our lives. Though relying heavily on what science can tell us, Alan Bourey explains how knowledge should not and cannot be divided into separate categories such as "scientific" or "religious," but must be viewed as a whole. Knowledge should only be categorized on the basis of means of acquistion and degree of certainty. Revisions to past approaches of both science and religion can result in A Common Path for all future knowledge and can lead to knowledge vital for encouraging and supporting a much-needed new spirituality. Science must eliminate its reductionistic, materialistic and deterministic biases which are based upon unproven assumptions. Religion must reconcile revelation with recognized facts and promote true spirituality in place of doctrinal adherence. Borrowing from our legal system such concepts as differing burdens of proof and circumstantial evidence, Alan Bourey offers to the reader substantial evidence supporting his answers to life's most mysterious and compelling questions. Even if the reader does not accept as proven all of the answers presented in A Common Path, he or she will acquire vital tools for crafting his or her own verdict investing his or her life with meaning and direction.
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Top Customer Reviews
The bottom line of Bourey's search, and of the book itself, is truly ambitious: to come up with a common sense spirituality that can guide the day to day choices and decisions made by the contemporary man and woman.
In this quest for an intelligently grounded spirituality, Bourey's training as a lawyer plays a crucial role. In fact, herein lies a unique aspect of his book, and perhaps its greatest strength: in seeking the contents of this new spirituality and reliable "spiritual knowledge," Bourey rejects as inappropriate both the rigorous degree of proof demanded by science for its facts and theories, as well as the simple belief and faith traditional religions demand for their dogma. Instead, he applies the common sense legal notion of proof based on what is "more probably true than not." He rejects the burden of proof, similar to that demanded by science, of "beyond a reasonable doubt" that the legal system demands in criminal cases, and instead embraces the standard demanded in civil cases referred to as "beyond the preponderance of evidence," also known as the "fifty-one percent" standard. A second and complementary legal concept Bourey applies in his examination of contemporary religion and science relates to circumstantial evidence: if there is sufficient circumstantial evidence to make a contention or theory appear more likely true than not, he suggests it is only reasonable to accept it as such.
Armed with these simple but powerful intellectual tools from the legal world, Bourey proceeds to separate the wheat from the chaff by examining what can be taken as true in the traditional religions, as well as which factual yet potentially spiritual phenomena remain mysterious despite the best efforts modern science; he then synthesizes these "truths" into a common sense spirituality for the 21st century. Subjected to the standard of "more likely true than not," much of what people are taught to accept and believe in the traditional religions is swept away, essentially leaving only the core spiritual truths common to all the religions. Likewise, Bourey reviews in some detail the fascinating and often not commonly known discoveries of science which scientists are as yet at a loss to explain. These mysterious phenomena, from quantum theory to ESP to near death experiences, often seem to give weight to Shakespeare's "there are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy"...and substantiate the need for thoughtful contemporary people respectful of science to embrace nothing less than a spiritual perspective and lifestyle.
After his distillation of the core truths of modern religion and the scientific phenomena relevant to spirituality, Bourey then proceeds to examine in depth their implications for not only what we can believe in with some assurance, but also how we should live in light of these truths. These practical guidelines for living spiritually from day to day, spelled out in some detail, represent the bottom line of Bourey's quest.
The readers for whom this book might prove most useful are those who were raised in a traditional religion but came over time to be so skeptical of its dogmas that affiliation with the religion was broken. Many of these people know what they no longer believe, but have not been able to arrive at more sturdy perspectives and beliefs with which to fill this gaping hole. Bourey is a reliable guide through the process of determining both what must be rejected, and what can be reasonably substituted in its place. That all this is accomplished with grace, humor, and a plethora of relevant personal anecdotes is a kind of miracle of its own.
---review by David Chicoine, Ph.D.
More than anything else, Bourey's book allows readers to perceive the world from a different, more unified vantage point. Bourey adamantly stresses the importance of science and religion being indivisible; instead, he urges society to view them as parts of a cohesive whole. Using the "principle of complementarity" and the "conceptualization of the infinite," Bourey concludes that only when unity is achieved can individuals have the possibility of attaining absolute knowledge and enhancing the future path of science and religion.
In a nutshell, science and religion both have practical and conceptual flaws. For example, the majority of scientists do not believe in the existence of spirits because it has not been proven. Bourey then presents a fundamental question that pertains to all scientific inquiries: "Why do they assume something is not true just because they have not proven it to be true? And isn't it difficult to prove something unless and until you investigate it? It is one thing to disprove something and quite another to simply disbelieve it because it does not fit into one's preconceived notions."
In order to reach a new level of spirituality, the realms of science and religion must acknowledge and transform. The tendencies of both are to avoid "what does not easily fit into its present conceptualizations." While science refrains from discussing concepts such as spiritual phenomena--because it is unable to explain or prove their existence--religion will not tread upon scientific thought that challenges its fundamental, ingrained beliefs.
A Common Path, despite having the make-up of a dense text, is extremely interesting. Alan D. Bourey does a fantastic job of depicting familiar concepts of religion, science, and spirituality in a foreign, futuristic fashion. A Common Path is a must-add to your library collection, highly recommended!
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