by Michael E. Tymn via e-mail|
In his latest book, "Evolution of Consciousness", Dr. Howard A. Jones, a retired
British scientist, educator, and medical researcher, laments the current state of the
world. He opines that businesses have lost all sense of proportion in the continual
quest for growth and expansion and that the workforce has become nothing more than a
means to an end. “Too many people are sleep-walking though life like drones simply
doing jobs that will pay a basic wage for survival,” he writes. “Without command of
their native language, they cannot communicate effectively. The mind cannot develop
individually or collectively without these basic skills of logical thought and
language. The evolution of consciousness will stall unless people are capable of
reasoned independent thought.”
Jones, an Academy member, is especially critical of the educational system of which
he was once part, pointing out that high marks are now given for mediocre
performances, while the decline in literacy and mathematics shows no sign of
reversal. “The reduction in standards of learning and behaviour over my lifetime
has been quite appalling,” he states, further observing that too many people are
indulging themselves hedonistically.
Nevertheless, Jones is optimistic, believing that a global movement is underway,
taking the world towards a more cohesive spirituality. However, as he sees it, there
is no anthropomorphic “sky-god” looking down upon the world from some heavenly throne with
the ability to pull strings and control things. There is, however, he contends,
overwhelming evidence for the existence of an effective and interactive cosmic spiritual
energy or consciousness that is governed by the thoughts of all humans.
“While the cosmic spirit concept may not be compatible with orthodox religion, nor
applicable to Newtonian science, it is time for acceptance and promotion of spirituality
rather than scriptural religion to provide some unity to our increasingly fragmented and
socially uneasy world,” Jones offers, adding that it is possible to have faith and believe
that the soul lives on in an afterlife without accepting the terrible, vengeful,
authoritarian, and vindictive God of orthodoxy. He emphasizes that a “sky-god” is not
a prerequisite to the survival of consciousness after death and an afterlife environment,
something which neither mainstream science nor orthodox religion appears to grasp, as both
seem to believe that they are concomitants and that God must be identified before the
survival issue can be addressed or the evidence for it considered.
Dr. Jones, you state there seems to be an encouraging groundswell of increasing spiritual
awareness within humankind. I know many people who agree with you, but many others, myself
included, see the world becoming even more materialistic and hedonistic. I think television
is the best evidence of the latter view. Can spiritual awareness and hedonism both be
increasing at the same time?
“World population is increasing exponentially. Therefore, there are huge numbers of
people in every country struggling to achieve even a basic material existence.
Furthermore, we have now had several generations of people in the west who have been
encouraged by their leaders, and even by their peers, to ‘better’ themselves – i.e.
to acquire more material wealth. So in both these respects, materialism in the world
“Contrarily however, there are also increasing numbers of people who now have a genuine
moral concern for the welfare of others. The beneficent west comes to the aid of victims
of earthquakes, tsunamis, famines and other natural disasters in less affluent countries.
With world-wide communication systems, like the Internet, we are made more aware of the
plight of those who are deprived. We have many ‘Fair-Trade’ goods available now in the
west from developing countries that previously were ruthlessly exploited.
“Thanks to enlightened religious leaders like Bishops John Shelby Spong and John
Robinson, and clerics like Don Cupitt and Anthony Freeman, more people are replacing
dogmatic religious beliefs in Christianity with a more widely embracing spirituality.
These men, although members of the Anglican community, have the integrity to admit that
the fundamental precepts of their religion are not based on facts but fantasies created
for control of the masses. And thanks to people like Raymond Moody, Pim van Lommel and
many others, people generally are being made more aware of rational evidence of
parapsychological events that strongly suggest (if not prove!) that our soul has
continuing discarnate existence in an afterlife. To me, these issues point to holistic
spirituality gaining ground over materialistic hedonism.”
Psychical research and parapsychology have been producing evidence for the survival of
consciousness, or an afterlife, for more than 150 years now, but mainstream science still
rejects it. Why do you think this is?
“Science is a very conservative philosophy and practice. The world-view of most
scientists is still based on the ideas of Francis Bacon (reductionism), Isaac Newton
(determinism) and René Descartes (materialism). There is a great need for scientists
to emerge from their safe haven of denial and face the overwhelming experimental
evidence of psychic events, especially since there is now a rational, theoretical
underpinning available to explain these phenomena.
“The interaction of matter at the subatomic level indicates an exchange of energies that
is independent of restrictions of space and time. This is holism at work at the most
fundamental level. The quantum world view tells us that some properties of these
fundamental particles are rather imprecise and ill-defined. We have to describe their
behaviour using statistical calculations rather than the algebraic equations we all met
in school. This is indeterminism.
“We find that the solid objects of our material world are really mostly space. But this
is not empty space but space filled with fields of force that hold atoms and molecules in
place. So we cannot any longer draw a sharp dividing line between matter and waves of
energy, including the waves of energy that make up the processes of mind. This is a picture
of idealism in the world.”
So why doesn’t mainstream science accept quantum theory and thereby accept a spiritual
world? If so, would you mind summarizing that case?
“Even after a century of study, the principles and applications of quantum theory cannot
be considered as all unequivocally resolved: it is still called ‘quantum theory’ not
‘quantum law’. There are still huge controversies over the even earlier Darwin and
Wallace theory of evolution and ‘intelligent design’. These are simply models of the
way the world works for which ever increasing amounts of evidence are accumulating.
Unlike evolution theory, based on tangible examples, quantum theory is still largely
a theoretical philosophy. It just happens to be one that accords nicely with ideas in
theology, philosophy and psychology, which to my mind gives it even more validity. And
the fundamentals of quantum theory are based on sound mathematics.”
Why doesn’t organized religion set God aside and look at the evidence for survival?
“Religion is a man-made enterprise. The concept of God that arises from scripture – all
channelled through many human hands and minds of prophets, scribes and translators!
– is again a human interpretation. The idea that there is an all-embracing infinite
and eternal cosmic spiritual energy arises from theoretical physics, supported by
experimental observations. If religious adherents wish to regard this as their God,
there is no conflict with reason. Many of the assertions of scripture, however, which
are said to be the ‘words of God’ are rationally absurd, mutually contradictory and
in many cases morally offensive – like the idea of putting one man to death to assuage
the sins of other people. Especially is this so as the so-called ‘sins’ arose in the
first place from a fairy-tale couple who clearly no sane and rational person could
regard as factually real. But if one accepts the experimental evidence and rational
explanation of the infinite and eternal cosmic energy, the existence of a spiritual
component of being called soul that continues to exist after mortal death is an
inevitable conclusion, and a picture of an anthropomorphic cosmic deity is simply
one fanciful interpretation of this cosmic energy.”
You have now written four books on science and spirituality. How do they differ?
“My first book on this subject, The Thoughtful Guide to God, had two aims. The first
was to argue that scripture and religion were man-made. They represent the ‘Word of God’
only insofar as the prophets were inspired by the universal spirit just like every
author, poet, composer or creative artist. Scripture simply presents one man’s (or
occasionally one woman’s) view of how we should best lead our lives. Having rationally
demolished what for many is the foundation of their faith, I needed to put something
real to believe in in its place. The second aim of the book therefore was to build up
a view of a cosmic spirit that is found in philosophy and psychology as well as in
religion itself but based on the world-view of science.
“My second book, The Tao of Holism, considered various aspects of our lives – like
health, education, social interaction, environment – where I felt that society would
benefit from a more holistic attitude. The last two books have been complementary. The
World as Spirit was inspired by Schopenhauer’s The World as Will and Representation. The
theme was that our lives – and the world in general – are what we make of them. We chart
our course in life through Will, or what William James called Volition. My most recent
book, Evolution of Consciousness, was inspired by the philosophy of Johann Fichte – that
human consciousness is the source of all our interaction with the world and even our
concept of the material world – described by the eastern term maya. This leads on to what
Edmund Husserl called ‘intentionality’ but which is now described by modern writers like
Lynne McTaggart and Wayne Dyer more simply as ‘intention’. If we adopt a positive,
constructive and loving attitude to the world – other people and the Earth itself – this
will be reflected back to us.”
You have had several different jobs in your life. What prompted your changes of direction?
“Quite simply, usually it was necessity. After graduation I spent ten years in medical
research, with a spell in teaching in the middle. Then the university department where
I was doing my postdoctoral work closed. During this time I had been involved with the
university press publisher. So a move into publishing full-time seemed appropriate. The
last publisher where I was employed changed direction in its publishing programme and I
found myself, without warning, out of work. I was a qualified teacher so I went back
full-time to school-teaching. But I had a couple of heart attacks from the considerable
stress and frustrations of the job. So I ‘retired’ in my 40s to devote my time to
writing, tutoring and doing more tranquil charity work – which is what I do to this day. I have practiced my belief in the eastern philosophy of wu-wei – to go where my karma leads me and not to struggle against the life-path that I and others have chosen for me before incarnation. However, this does not imply that the practitioner gives up making constructive decisions about their life.
“All of my careers have given me the opportunity to help others to an understanding of
the world as we know it. In particular, I wanted in my lecturing and writing to encourage
understanding and acceptance of the psychic realm. I also wanted to present the
observational evidence and scientific rationalization behind the reality of continuing
discarnate existence in the afterlife to give hope to those who have lost loved ones or
who are nearing the end of their mortal existence. I attribute my relatively long life
despite ill-health to my spiritual outlook. I hope to continue this work a little longer,
but I have no fear of mortal death when it comes. The spiritual component of my being, my
soul or haecceitas as Duns Scotus called it, will live on.”