A Manifesto for Philosophical Mysticism


The God of Love, Science, and Inner Freedom

We often suppose that there are conflicts between God, love, science, and inner freedom or human responsibility. Science seems to conflict with the idea of God; God and science both seem to threaten our inner freedom; science seems to be unloving. I’ll suggest a way of understanding God, love, science, and inner freedom that makes them not conflicting but mutually supporting and, in fact, inseparable.

Suppose that God is present in everyone as our capacity for inner freedom and love.

(a) This God transcends the world (isn’t “pantheist”), because inner freedom and love go beyond our inherited and ingrained “nature” (appetites, ego, etc.).

Freedom and love go beyond our inherited and ingrained nature by asking questions like “What’s really true?” “What’s really good?” “What should I really do?”

(b) But this God is also “immanent”: present in our experience.

It’s a paradoxical combination of separate and together. Those of us who have the greatest degree of inner freedom, which seems at first to involve separateness from others and from God, discover that freedom ultimately takes them beyond the boundaries that separate people both from each other and from God.

(c) This God “saves,” by giving freedom and love.

(d) This God’s freedom makes this God more self-determining and more “himself” than anything else is; and in this sense, this God is more fully real than anything else is. And if real power is the ability to bring about what’s fully real, this God clearly has all real power—is “omnipotent.”

(e) This God “creates,” by making the world more itself, and thus more fully real, than it would otherwise be.

This “creation” doesn’t conflict with Darwinian evolution, since this “creation” takes place throughout time, rather than at its beginning.

This conception of God avoids: anthropomorphism, blind “faith,” and conflict with science.

1. An important aspect of the freedom that this God is, is free inquiry.

2. Science is a kind of free inquiry.

3. So science is an aspect of this God’s presence in us.

When science recognizes what it contributes (by transcending nature through free inquiry) to transcendence and God, it won’t reject the ideas of transcendence and God.

And when religion recognizes our freedom’s role in God, it won’t be dogmatic or coercive.

This conception of God has been promoted, in the West, by Plato and his followers, including Emerson, G.W.F. Hegel, and the Romantic poets (Blake, Wordsworth, Rilke, and others). For more details, see Internet Resources for Philosophical Mysticism, Blog (especially “What Is Philosophical Mysticism?”), and Writings.