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God and the Evolving Universe
A BOOK REVIEW
By Richard Gunther
This book, written by James
Redford and published by Bantam Books, is one of several others by the same
author. Their titles include ‘The Celestine prophecy: An Adventure’, ‘The
Tenth Insight: Holding the Vision’, ‘The secret of Shambhala: In Search of
the Eleventh Insight’, ‘The Celestine Vision: Living in New Spiritual
Awareness’, etc. As the titles of these books suggest, the author is
interested in exploring ‘spiritual’ themes. The question naturally arises at
this point: from which basis does the author approach his subject – does he
view things from the perspective of the Bible, or does he come from another
direction? A great deal rests on the answer.
The author sets out the two
main aims for which he wrote his book: 1. To discuss a wide range of
capabilities and experiences which are available to humans, and 2. to
‘actualize’ these capabilities. He thinks that when people utilize, or take
control of, their newly-found capabilities, they will enter “a new
evolutionary step – a step as significant as the emergence of life from
inorganic matter and the rise of humanity from the first tiny cells, a step that
would bless us with spectacular new abilities and levels of experience.”
So before we even start into
chapter one of this book, we know that the author is an evolutionist, and that
he believes Man can rise by his own efforts into a higher plane of existence.
Both these views are the antithesis of what the Bible teaches. The Bible story
begins not with a random process of evolution, but with the command of a
Creator. According to the Bible life is no accident, but a highly sophisticated
and designed thing, with a purpose. As to the other view, the Bible describes
not a gradual improvement of Mankind, but a fall from perfection into the toils
and troubles of sin. Into this fallen world, estranged from God by its own
willful rejection of God’s law and love, the Creator regularly intervenes to
help and heal out of sheer mercy and compassion.
Chapter One looks at various
times of heightened awareness, or epiphanies, which people occasionally
experience, and the inference is made that these startling and memorable moments
are a glimpse of some future stage in human evolution. Again the assumption is
made that “Science has enjoyed no greater triumph than the discovery of
evolution,” yet this statement has been hotly contested by many of the
world’s greatest scientists, and is by no means a proven part of true science.
As far back as Louis Pasteur, the theory of biogenesis – life arising from
non-life – was demonstrated to be a fallacy. Life is utterly beyond chance,
and even a single living cell is more complicated than a city the size of New
York. For any kind of life to arise by chance is mathematically impossible, and
the only basis on which the theory of evolution rests is the already accepted
assumption that it is true. There is no scientific evidence to support it –
only conjectures and theories, assumptions and guesses.
Most people are unaware that
theories of evolution have hidden beliefs. These beliefs are religious and are
deliberately kept from the general public who have been indoctrinated to accept
evolution as science, and science as having nothing to do with religion.
Much as I would prefer not
to spend so much time on the subject of evolution, I think it is necessary
because the author of the book being reviewed has built his entire book on
evolution. I will try to be as brief as possible.
Evolution is based on the
belief that the past can be totally understood by reference to the present day
events. This belief has the technical label of uniformitarianism. Some books
call it “the present is the key to the past.”. In the New Scientist
magazine, June 1982, Mark Ridford from the Zoology department wrote,
“Uniformitarianism is not an empirical principle; it is trusted because of its
obvious logic . . . the theory of evolution stands or falls with
uniformitarianism.” Here we have a clear statement to the effect that
uniformitarianism is not empirical, that means, not provable, or ‘we cannot
test it’. This means it is non-scientific, or, a religious belief. And notice
that Mr. Ridford says evolution “stands or falls” on this belief.
Evolution is also based on
atheism, or its twin sister, naturalism. 99% of all television programs and
public school textbooks, when they cover the origin of the universe and life,
make no reference to a Creator. Evolution is implicitly atheistic. It says, in
the fine print, ‘there is no God’, and ‘there is no need of God’. Life,
says evolution, can make itself, and Man is the master of his own destiny,
answerable to nobody but himself. Evolutionary material seldom slips up by
saying outright that evolution and a religious view of origins go hand in hand,
because this would reveal the real purpose of evolutionary teaching, and expose
evolutionists for what they are – non-scientific.
The renowned evolutionist
Isaac Asimov said “I am an atheist, out and out, - I don’t have the evidence
to prove that God doesn’t exist, but I so strongly suspect he does not I
don’t want to waste my time.”
Dr. Michael Walker, Senior
Lecturer in Anthropology, Sydney University said, “One is forced to conclude
that many scientists and technologists pay lip-service to Darwinian theory only
because it supposedly excludes a Creator.”
Carl Sagan, in his TV series
‘Cosmos’ promotes as scientific his idea that the universe has evolved
several times over, but he fails to inform the audience that he has a soft spot
for eastern religions, such as the Brahman in which life is repeatedly
Page 7 of the book tells us
that “some 15 billion years ago, from a mysterious something no larger than a
single atom, our universe exploded into existence, and within a second was
millions of years across.”
The origin of the universe
was never observed, and its supposed explosion from a single point is a
hypothetical argument based on carefully selected data. In other words, that
everything came from an explosion is just another theory, which happens to fit
rather nicely with the atheistic theory of evolution. Matter created itself?
Where did the original matter come from? No scientist was there at the beginning
to observe the event, and no scientist can repeat the explosion. Once again we
have non-science dressed up to look like science, and the public is fed this lie
as if it is proven.
Logic would suggest that
explosions produce disorder, rather than the opposite. The universe ought to be
a chaotic mess of rubble, a mighty scattering of dust and debris, but we see
instead order, balance and what looks very much like design. Are we to believe
that, contrary to present day observations, explosions in the past did not
behave the way they do today? Why would that be? Some of the latest photographs
taken by the Hubble Orbiting Telescope show that even the most remote reaches of
the universe display not greater degrees of dust and decay, but galaxies showing
exactly the same amount of order and shape as any galaxy close by. Evolutionary
scientists expected the opposite, since their theory demands that the leading
edges of the ‘explosion’ would be traveling faster, and therefore be in
greater disarray, but they were totally wrong.
Page 7-9 outlines the
typical Darwinian evolutionary plan – explosion, matter, formation of planets,
life arising from non-life, sea creatures, land creatures, apes, Man . . . but
this idea that living things can gradually change from one thing into another
has several very solid and very scientific barriers in its path.
One barrier is based on the
DNA. As we all know these days, everything we are physically is passed on to us
through DNA and expressed as genes. Every species has a certain number of genes,
and within the genes are many possible variations. Hence we have the dog
species, but many different types of dogs, and we have the pigeon, or horse
species, but many different kinds of pigeon or horse. This shows that it is
possible to have variation within a species, but then we also know that because
of the DNA and the genes, no two different species can interbreed to produce
fertile offspring. All Man has ever seen is variation, but never anything like a
It would be very handy for evolutionists if different species could interbreed, because that would give rise to new forms of life with the greatest of potential to evolve further, but this never happens.
Another area in which the
DNA prevents evolution is the way it limits the number of possibilities it can
produce. Because of careful selective breeding some plants and animals have been
bred to the extreme of their potential, but once that maximum is reached, it is
absolutely impossible to go any further. For example, a horse may grow only so
big, a sugar beet may contain only a certain amount of sugar, and a human brain
may be only so large. Evolution cannot cross this barrier, and unlimited time
makes no difference.
A third area in which DNA
forbids evolution is in the area of adding new organs or other features. For
example, for a lizard to fly, it would need a huge amount of new DNA to provide
for the growth and maintenance of wings. A wing requires a blood supply, bones,
skin, feathers and muscles. Just as a human might draw up many detailed plans
for a new style seat for a car, evolution needs an enormous amount of new DNA
information in order to supply a plant or creature with new features. This
information is never produced. It has never been seen to form, and the fact that
if it were to accumulate it would have to be intelligently written into the DNA
to integrate it exactly with all the other millions of bits of information,
destroys the whole idea that evolution is random.
Evolutionists cling to the
sinking ship of mutations to explain how random differences in DNA can lead to a
new organism, but geneticists have found that random differences are either
useless, or a hindrance, or deadly. Evolution demands that any change be a
random or chance happening. The mathematical possibility that chance alterations
to chemicals could produce something living, or that such random changes could
alter legs to wings has been shown to be zero since 1967. (Moorhead and Kaplan,
‘Mathematical Challenges to the neo-Darwinian Interpretation of Evolution’,
Wistar Symposium Number 5) At that time a prestigious group of international
biologists and mathematicians gathered at the Wistar Institute to answer the
question, “Could random mutation and natural selection be a basis for
evolution?” Their calculations showed the probability was ZERO.
In today’s terms, think
what happens if you randomly, or accidentally alter a computer program. It never
improves the program. The hereditary information for a living organism is in the
code – DNA. If you continue to make chance alterations to it, it only gets
worse – never better.
And finally, the great
barrier against evolution in terms of DNA is the fact that present-day
observations have never seen a trend from less complex to more complex. In fact
observations have shown that the trend is exactly the opposite way. Very complex
organisms tend to degenerate, lose DNA, lose information, and trend away from
the direction which evolutionists would prefer – ‘upward’ and onward, into
greater and greater complexity.
The fact that species are
locked into their set of DNA, and the fact that all the general trends for
living things are downward, is evidence for the Bible story of original
creation, and the fall into sin, with God’s judgement on all creation.
10 briefly touches on the supposed fossil evidence for evolution. “Scientists
. . . have found exciting fossil remains from thousands of plant and animal
species ranging in size from microscopic organisms to tyrannosaurus rex.”
Most people still believe
the fossil record provides the major proof for evolution. But Charles Darwin was
very puzzled by fossils. He wrote, in 1859, “geology assuredly does not reveal
any such finely graduated organic chain and this perhaps is the most obvious and
gravest objection which can be used against my theory.” Since then further
study of the fossil record has supported this view, and despite the confidence
most people have that the fossil record proves evolution, it’s a simple fact
that it does not.
David Raup, Curator of the
Field of Natural History Museum, Chicago, which has one of the world’s best
collections of fossils, said, “instead of finding the gradual unfolding of
life, what geologists of Darwin’s time and geologists of the present day
actually find is a highly uneven or jerky record; that is, species appear in the
sequence very suddenly, show little or no change during their existence in the
record, then abruptly go out of the record.”
Likewise Professor Heribert-Nilsson
from Lund University, Sweden, said, “It is not even possible to make a
caricature of evolution out of paleobiological facts. The fossil material is now
so complete that the lack of transitional series cannot be explained by the
scarcity of the material. The deficiencies are real, they will never be
So even after 160 or so
years of intensive study, the transitional forms have never been found – no
intermediate forms of life linking one plant with another, or one animal with
another. This fossil evidence is far better proof of the Bible account of a
global flood. God created plants and animals, complete and finished, and they
then went on to breed true to their species, but the flood destroyed the planet,
burying trillions of living things in sediment, which hardened into rock. Today
the fossil-hunters are busy chipping the remains of these plants and animals out
of the rock, but instead of seeing them as evidence of a global flood, they look
in vain for transitional forms – forms they will never find.
Page 17 “The earth’s
collision with a meteor sixty-five million years ago . . .caused the dinosaurs
Since evolutionists claim
that humans appeared on earth about 4 million years ago, there must have been a
gap of nearly sixty million years from the time of the extinction of the
dinosaurs to Man. Unfortunately there are many reasons why this theory cannot be
The Bible describes what
appear to be two kinds of dinosaur – Job 40, 41, and there are many cave
drawings and rock carvings around the world which depict dinosaurs. As well as
this there are many stories from Britain and Europe which tell of creatures
which sound similar to various kinds of dinosaur.
But the fossil evidence is
also suggestive of extinction by water. In order to form a fossil, a living
thing must be buried quickly, and sealed from the air before decomposition can
take place. As most of us know, even an elephant will not last long if it dies
in a field. Natural decay and scavengers work very quickly to dispose of the
tissues, and the bones are destroyed by nature’s little recyclers and the
weather. But dinosaur fossils are chipped out of sedimentary rock. There are
billions of tons of fossils trapped in sedimentary rock all round the world,
including fish, plants, birds, insects and dinosaurs. Sometimes the dinosaur
bones are found in strata which also contains the remains of plants and animals
living today. The fossil evidence points not to a meteor, but to a flood, and
the fact that no transitional forms of any dinosaur have ever been found
suggests creation rather than evolution.
Page 19 contains the
statement, “At the core of this book is our belief that the universe has a
telos, a fundamental tendency to manifest its latent divinity.”
By these amazing words, the
author rejects the evolutionary view that life is an accident, and adopts the
New Age view that behind evolution is some guiding principle, some Mind, some
Deity, but he labels that Mind a “divinity” and leaves us to decide just
what exactly he means by this word. He cannot mean the God of the Bible, because
this God has already declared clearly why He created the universe, and what Man
is, so the author has rejected this true and living God, and chosen a god of his
own making – this is called idolatry. The author has shaped a god with his own
hands, just as heathen people chip a face into a block of stone and then bow to
But surely we cannot have it
both ways? Evolution has no God. It is absolutely random. As John Lennon said
“Imagine there’s no heaven, it’s easy if you try, no hell below us, above
us only sky,” The universe, if we are faithful to Darwin’s theory, must be
totally empty of any telos, any path, any direction. It cannot have a basis for
morals, for religions, for humanity. Evolution empties all meaning and purpose
out of life and replaces it with blind, random mechanism. The moment we allow
any kind of ‘direction’ in we are betraying the theory.
So, by his own admission,
the author cannot live comfortably with his own premise, and has added a
“divinity” to compensate. By doing this he commits an act of great
dishonesty, and also undermines any credibility he might have built up in his
defense of Darwinian evolution.
“Evolution entered a new
domain with the appearance of humankind. Intelligence, communication skills, and
other attributes of animal life advanced dramatically as our species formed
newly creative social groups, harnessed fire, developed new tools, learned to
speak, and tried to make greater sense of the world around them.”
The Bible presents a view
which stands in stark contrast to this. God created the first humans and placed
them in a specially designed area of the planet. At that stage the first humans
were sinless, physically and intellectually and spiritually perfect, and as such
they enjoyed a beautiful communion with their Creator. But they chose to disobey
God and as a result they and their world were punished. The evidence of this
punishment is easy to observe today – disruptive weather, burning sun,
tornados, storms, floods, extremes of temperature, poisonous plants and animals,
carnivorous creatures, sickness, deformities, death, and in the realm of humans
crime, war and hate in all its permutations.
But Mankind fell from
perfection into its present state because of sin, whereas evolution cannot speak
of sin, and must push Man from apelike beginnings towards ultimate Manmade glory
– all without God.
By rejecting the Bible
account, the author has plunged himself into a morass of difficulties. Just one
of these difficulties involves the appearance of language. For any human to
learn a language, they need to be taught it by others who already speak it. The
same can be said of reading. If you speak and read English, chances are you
learned from people who could already speak and read English. Left to yourself
you would not have a language, except perhaps a few grunts and gestures. So the
origin of language is quite mysterious, if we try to explain it in terms of
evolution, but its origin is far more reasonable if we see it as a creation by
God. The fact that humans have a speech center in their brain and are therefore
‘pre-wired’ for language is also significant. No animal could ever speak,
because they lack the brain part to process a language.
There are many distinct and
different languages in the world. Each has its own set of thousands of words;
each has its own forms of grammar, inflexions, vowels and parts. While there
seems to be a scattering of words which all languages seem to have in common, by
far the greater portion is unique to its own language family, and so no speaker
in any one language can understand the speech of another language – unless
they learn it. And it is hardly any help learning one distinct language in order
to learn another because they are all so different from each other.
The complexity and
differences found in and between languages cannot be explained by evolution, yet
it fits exactly with the Bible account of a time when God “confounded the
languages” of the people, and caused them to separate and travel to different
parts of the world where they spoke their common language and built their
Chapter three explores the
limits of our perceptions, noting some of the ‘enhanced’ moments when
physical senses occasionally seem to be amplified above their normal level, but
page 82 points out that, “We can experience and develop clairvoyance and the
perception of subtle energy.” The dictionary tells us that clairvoyance is
“The abnormal faculty of seeing what is out of sight; deep insight or
Clairvoyance is probably a
universal phenomenon, because Man is a complex being, and the world is full of
mysteries. Many religions have different stories to tell of ‘second sight’,
and the ability to see more than others, to feel, hear and sense deeper things,
and this is what we would expect if we believe the Bible account. God created
Man, and the world, and since the fall the vast powers of Adam and Eve have been
suppressed somewhat, but every now and then a little more than the average
breaks through and for a brief moment humans enjoy a glimpse of what might have
been. The evolutionary approach sees these things as a slight progression into a
higher state of being, but logically, if one holds the evolutionary view, there
can be no such thing as ‘progress’. By its very claims, evolution can have
no direction, either forwards or backwards. It is a totally random process, in
which ‘progress’ cannot exist.
On page 91 the author
suggests that shamans working during the ‘Stone Age’ used ‘remote
viewing’ to find game, and goes on to tell us that “it is considered to be a
real power in most Hindu, Buddhist, Sufi, and Taoist contemplative traditions,
and it has often been attributed to Jewish and Christian mystics.” On page 92
the author pulls together ‘remote viewing’, telepathy, UFOs and reference is
made to an encyclopedia about extra-sensory perception. This is typical of the
style of the book. The author passes like an avid shopper over a grab-bag of
subjects, collecting them as fast as he can and dropping them uncritically into
his trolley as if they are all as true and credible as each other.
To many people, all
religions are basically the same. It is commonly said that all roads lead to
God, and that it doesn’t matter which road one takes. This common view has led
many people to believe that Christianity has no more to offer than Hinduism or
Islam, and that ‘spirituality’ is more important than dogma.
The fact is, when one sorts
out the core beliefs of the different religions, Christianity stands alone. It
is possible to find many minor strands linking it with all the other religions,
because humanity is bound by the same moral laws inherent in all hearts, but
when one examines the fundamentals of the religions, the differences are so
stark they appear as black to white.
Just briefly, we will run
through the main religions and point out some of the main differences. There are
not that many to look at: Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Shintoism, Judaism
and Islam. (In another group we could place Agnostics, Atheists, Secular
Humanists and Marxists. In the cults group we could place Jehovah’s Witnesses,
Mormons and many other popular followings, but these are separate headings and
will not be dealt with in this essay.)
For a Hindu to be saved, he
must either: follow knowledge, become one with Brahman, be devoted to a deity,
or follow ceremonial works. There is no salvation in Hinduism, only a seemingly
endless cycle of birth, death and rebirth. Christianity teaches salvation by
grace, and good works follow out of love and gratitude. A Christian can never
earn salvation because it is a gift, received by faith.
For a Buddhist to be saved he must follow the five precepts, which are quite virtuous and if he is a monk he can add another ten. A Buddhist sees Man as worthless, having only temporary existence, and there is no place for redemption. A Christian has no set of rules, except only one, and that is to love others and do to them as he would have them do to him. To a Christian, man is infinitely valuable, because it took the death of God’s own Son to redeem fallen Man. While the Buddhist sees the human body as a hindrance, the Christian sees it as an instrument through which he may glorify God and sensibly enjoy the good things of this material world.
The Confucian has an ethical system which, if more people followed it, would make the world a much safer and better place to live in, but the ethical philosophy taught by Confucius is one of self-effort, leaving no room for, or need of God. Confucius taught that Man can do it all by himself simply by following “the way of the ancients”, but Christianity teaches that man does not have the capacity to save himself. Confucius taught an ethical philosophy which rejected the supernatural, but Christianity teaches that there is a mighty, and righteous God, who can accept sinful Man only in terms of the salvation He has provided.
Shintoism is a Japanese religion made of a mixture of other religions. One of its basic doctrines is the superiority of the Japanese people, as descendants of the gods, and their land above all others on earth. This fosters a feeling of pride, which is a barrier to accepting salvation by faith alone. Christianity teaches the equality of all people, and gives their origin as the offspring of only two created people. Shinto teaches the basic goodness of people as children of the gods, whereas Christianity teaches the basic sinfulness of people and hence their need of a Saviour.
Judaism reveres the Old Testament and believes in a still-to-come Messiah. Judaism accepts that Man is sinful, but looks for salvation in such things as sacrifices, penitence, good deeds and a little hope in God’s mercy. Christianity teaches that Jesus is the Messiah, and that His sacrifice on the cross ended Man’s search for atonement once and for all time.
Islam has some 450 million followers, and its name means ‘submission;’ or ‘surrender’. While Islam has many things to commend it, and many things in common with Christianity (such as a belief in one God, angels, respect for Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses and Jesus, a resurrection, rewards for the good and punishments for the bad) it diverges from Christianity in other crucial areas. It cannot accept Jesus as the Son of God, and they think Judas, not Jesus was crucified. Muslims live in a legalistic system and must earn their salvation, keeping the ‘Articles of Faith’ and the ‘Pillars of Faith’, and sin is seen as a failure to obey. Christianity teaches that we are all sinners regardless of how hard we try not to be, and that Jesus is the only one who can save sinners. Islam was founded by a now dead man claiming to be a prophet, while Christianity was founded by God the Son, now risen from the dead and alive for ever more. The founder of Islam based his teachings on untrue and inaccurate interpretations of the Bible. It presents a twisted view of the true God and robs him of His love, mercy and compassion.
The author moves through various supernormal experiences, touching briefly on them as he goes along. He mentions ‘the life force’, ‘ecstasy’, ‘love’, ‘out of body experiences’, ‘radiant heat’, and so on, then he moves into ‘transcendent’ experiences and quotes from the Indian mystic Sri Ramakrishna and who tells of his disciple Narendra. “Narendra, because of his Brahmin upbringing, considered it wholly blasphemous to look on man as one with his Creator. One day at the temple garden he said to a friend”: “How silly. This jug is God? Whatever we see is God? And we too are God? Nothing could be more absurd.” Sri Ramakrisnna came out of his room and gently touched him. Spellbound (Narendra) immediately perceived that everything in the world was indeed God . . . “
The Bible does not agree. It says that God created all things, and sustains all things, but it also tells us that God is separate from His creation. Logically, if all is God, then nothing has any real freedom to make choices, and all freewill is but an illusion. The gospel gives people the opportunity to either choose or reject Jesus as Saviour, but if God is everything, then there can be no choice. Interestingly, the account quoted above comes from a book called ‘The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna’, which shows that it sets itself up as an alternative gospel to the Christian Gospel.
The author moves through more of the same, filling pages with quotes from far and wide, reinforcing the same themes of self-enhancement, and the ability we all share of harnessing the latent supersenses available to us, tapping into dreams, and energies, finding transcendent identity and seeing apparitions of the dead.
This last is on page 190, where we are told, “Osis and Haraldson found that many people near death have visions of departed friends, relatives or religious figures who come to “take the patient away,” helping them pass to another mode of existence.” A brief summary of this phenomena follows, and then on page 192 the author tackles the subject of reincarnation. Some interesting material is given which seems to support the idea that after death people pass into another level of existence, which is somehow related to a previous or following rebirth, or another life. The author, as always, takes care not to commit himself to any of the material he provides, leaving the reader free to accept of reject it, but the very fact that the author supplies this material gives one the impression that he thinks it is believable.
Reincarnation is an idea which began, according to the Bible, almost as soon as there were humans in the world. God warned Adam that if he or Eve ate of the fruit, they would “die”, and Satan said “you shall not die.” The Hebrew meaning for the word “die” as pronounced by God is “dying you shall die,” which means a progressive process leading to death, and this is precisely what happened. Adam and Even ate the fruit and began to die, living for a few hundred years as age gradually claimed them.
Satan’s lie has continued in many different forms ever since that first contradiction, and today we have people who believe in spirits, ghosts, poltergeists and various kinds of afterlife. A recent movie ‘What dreams may come’ starring Robin Williams depicted an afterlife in which a man stumbled about in a fantasy world looking for his wife who had gone to hell simply because she had committed suicide. People often talk about some dead departed being “up there looking down at us,” and many funerals give the impression that godly Christians and even the worst of sinners fly from earth to a heavenly realm as soon as they die.
The Bible teaches that death is the end of life, and consciousness, until the resurrection. It also teaches that the dead cannot contact the living. The Bible warns people not to try to contact the dead, because they may become entangled with evil spirits, phantoms, evil angels, apparitions, ectoplasmic visions, or demons, who often impersonate the dead departed. And the Bible says people live only one life, then die, and then come back to life at the end of the age for judgement.
Reincarnation, if it were true, would obviate a day of final judgement, because one could simply jump endlessly from life to life and never be accountable. Reincarnation opposes God’s words about death, and offers an alternative to people who reject God’s Word.
The remainder of the book covers some methods whereby the reader might be able to enter into some of the areas of psychic ability and supersensory experience already covered, then follow 67 pages of suggested readings.
From the Christian point of view, this book “God and the Evolving Universe’ is just another New age publication among many thousands of other similar books, with the same old familiar themes. It promotes the occult, dressing it up in the garments of science, pseudo-science, religion and philosophy. By way of concluding this book review I would like to look briefly at the subject of the occult, and then add a little advice.
The word “occult’ comes from the Latin ‘occultus’ meaning hidden, secret, or mysterious. In this sense, the occult can apply to operations or events which seem to depend on human powers that go beyond the five senses, or with supernatural effects. Under the heading of occult we can place such things as ‘witchcraft, magic, palm reading, fortune telling, ouija boards, tarot cards, Satanism, spiritism, demons and the use of crystal balls, astrology, numerology, necromancy, palm reading, horoscopes, and divining to name just a few things.
C.S.Lewis wrote, “There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. He other is to believe, and to feel an unhealthy interest in them. They themselves are equally pleased with both errors, and hail a materialist or a magician with the same delight.”
The Bible categorically denounces any and all occultic practices, see Deut.18:9-14, Galatians 5:20, Acts 13:6-12
The book under review promotes many of the things forbidden by the Bible, which raises the question as to just who the author is working for? Obviously he is not working to promote God’s Word, but in every way actually undermines its authority, so it seems he is an enemy of God and a rejecter of God’s Word. While he never tries to promote any single path to the “divinity” he claims lies behind the universe, he also throws every religion into the pot as if there is no particular way to that “divinity”, and by so doing he totally obscures the unique claims of Christianity. This is a common ploy by the enemies of Christ, who, like the Pharisees, add so much tradition to the truth they effectively bury it.
In today’s modern world the new Age movement has had a huge effect on the thinking of millions, though it is not easily defined. It has n specific founder, no headquarters, no definitive statement of beliefs and no regular meetings, yet it has a generally cohesive message. It holds many occultic beliefs, but also many other beliefs, and it seems to satisfy people from all walks of life. As David Spangler, a New Age spokesman said, “The new Age is a concept that proclaims a new opportunity, a new level of growth attained, a new power released and at work in human affairs, a new manifestation of that evolutionary tide of events which, taken at the flood, does indeed lead on to greater things, in this case to a new heaven, a new earth, and a new humanity.”
To understand the New Age movement we have to first of all see that it is not really “new” at all. The Time magazine said it is, “a combination of spirituality and superstition, fad and farce, about which the only thing certain is that it is not new.” Behind all its packaging, terminology, and plans, it is simply ancient occultism. Every so-called ‘spiritual truth’ in the New Age movement can be traced back to some pagan mystery religion. These satanically energized methods of obtaining otherwise unobtainable knowledge are paraded before the public like sweets – they include astral projection, psychometrics, radiance therapy, channeling, crystal therapy, iridology and acupuncture.
Satan knows that he cannot capture people into his web of deceit by directly marketing his products, so he dresses them up under new names, and sells them in modernized wrapping. This way he can smuggle his poisons into the ‘modern’ mind without being exposed for what he is – a liar, a murderer and a destroyer.
But the most serious error propagated by Satan is his teaching about salvation, because compared to this one, all the others are but red herrings. They occupy and ‘use up’ people’s lives, entertaining and intriguing their minds all the way to the grave, and once dead there is no longer a remedy. But if a person finds God’s salvation, they are set free from sin, death, the occult, and all the deceptions of philosophy and religion. If a person embraces Jesus as Saviour and begins to follow Him, they find a road which leads into ever-increasing light.
New Agers reject the Christian doctrine of humankind’s need for salvation. They believe humans are not fallen creatures, but in reality divine, or at least partly divine. Their brand of salvation means being rescued from ignorance, or being enlightened with ‘spiritual’ knowledge, or ‘becoming one with the universe’ (Hinduism). New Agers seek freedom from ignorance of one’s godhood, which they sometimes call ‘god-realization’. As Douglas Groothius writes, “To gain this type of transformation, the three ideas that all is one, all is god, and we are god, must be more than intellectual propositions; they must be awakened at the core of our being,”
This transformation is achieved by first looking “within” where all reality and truth exists, so salvation comes from one’s own self. In order to find this inner salvation, New Age people employ a huge number of different consciousness-changing techniques, or ‘psychotechnologies’ to aid the body, mind and spirit, including meditation, yoga, chanting, guided imagery, ‘energy’ alignment, and hypnosis. They draw into this bag of methods reincarnation and karma. The first is a “cyclical evolution of a person’s soul as it repeatedly passes from one body to another at death. This process continues until the soul reaches a state of perfection.” Karma is the ‘debt’ which accumulates or diminishes depending on whether one lives a ‘good’ life or a ‘bad’ life.
So salvation for many New Agers is a long process of many lives until one reaches a stage when one no longer needs a new birth. As George Harrison sang “ . . . keep me free from birth.”
But the Bible says that there will be some who are saved and some who are lost (Matthew 7:21-23, 25:31-34) Jesus said that on the day of judgement he would send some false followers away (Mat.7:23) There are no second, third or fourth chances for those who knowingly reject Jesus. Heb. 9:27 says, “It is appointed unto men ONCE to die, but after this the judgement.”
Ere is the essence of the New Age movement: all religions are acceptable because each one teaches essentially the same thing. Since all is one, and one is “God”, “God” (or divinity, or the Mind, or some other word for God) can be reached in many ways. All religious leaders are equal – Buddha, Mohammed, Zoroaster, Confucius, Krishna or Jesus. For the New Ager there is no heaven to desire or hell to fear, as Benjamin Crème a New Ager said, ”The path to God is broad enough to take in all men.”
The New Age movement talks about a new world, a new religious emphasis, one planet, Gaia, and harmony with the cosmos. It talks about world peace, sexual liberation, freedom to do one’s own thing, disarmament, prosperity, and inner peace, and for many people these half-truths and deceptions are enough to keep them happy. But the Bible is the written Word of God, and whether we get an emotional buzz out of it or not, what the Bible says is true. If people want to chase ecstatic and supersensory experiences they will probably find them, but they will never be saved through them. What people really need is the written assurance from God that their sins are forgiven, whether this promise makes them feel good or not.
The advice I would like to offer to all sincere seekers of truth, is to read the Bible, preferably one of the gospels, and listen to the words of Jesus as you read. Compare his claims with what you have been taught by other people. He claims to be God the Son, the only Saviour of the world, the way to God, the truth about God and the life of God. If you are truly seeking after God and an experience of Him in your life, begin with Jesus. It will save you wasting your life chasing counterfeits and twisted, useless substitutes, and it will also rescue you from an eternity of regret.
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