"HOPE" - INVISIBLE INFORMATION:
There are 19 major world religions which are subdivided into a total of 270 large religious groups.
2.2 billion Christians
"As of 2010, Christianity was by far the world's largest religion, nearly a third (31 percent) of all 6.9 billion people on Earth.”
1.6 billion Muslims
There were 1.6 billion Muslims in the world as of 2010 – roughly 23% of the global population – according to a Pew Research Center estimate. It is the fastest-growing major religion. These 1.6 million are praying five times a day. That is 8 billion prayers a day by Muslims alone.
1 billion Hindus
Hinduism has over 1 billion adherents worldwide (15% of world's population) with over 95% living in India. Hinduism is one of the four major religions of the world by percentage of population. Most Hindus are found in Asian countries.
535 million Buddhists
Buddhism is practiced by an estimated 535 million people as of 2010, representing 7% to 8% of the world's total population. China is the country with the largest population of Buddhists, approximately 244 million or 18.2% of its total population.
23.8 million Sikhism
16 million Judaism
4.2 million Jains
173 million Taoists
7.4 million Baha’i Faith 6.3 million Confucianism 2.7 million Zoroastrianism 2.7 million Shintoists
232 million Tribal Religions, Shamanism, Animism
390 million Chinese folk religions
There 7.4 billion people living on Earth. There are about 150 million atheists
775 million who follow no religious beliefs.
According to research, only 925 million people of the 7.4 billion people living on Earth are non-believers in some kind of Higher Power.
FAITH IN THE FACE OF THE UNKNOWN
There are a handful of Atheists who want to give the impression that they are the elite voice of educated realism. They are amused by and have to tolerate all those sad little people believing in their imaginary friend. It’s the foolishness of believing, cranked up with wrath against organized religion and the devastation it’s wrought in the name of whatever God the believers were slaughtering people to honor. They call Faith “the purposeful suspension of critical thinking.” Apparently, cynicism has become the mark of intellectual superiority.
They look down from their lofty heights, aloof in their certainty, confident that they’ve investigated all things spiritual and are comfortable that it’s all a myth swallowed by the ignorant. The new militant atheists are certain there are no intelligent religious believers. They want nothing more than to take away the believer's spiritual journey. They tend to be smug and make snarky remarks about people who have faith, saying they have a “neurological disorder” or condescendingly dismiss them with, “Yes it is a myth. Deal with it. All delusions are myths.”
Militant Atheists may be among the angriest of the believers. They worship at the altar of non- belief with a zealot’s certainty and are now banning together becoming their own religion. Pride has become the common thread of their religion. In many cases, it’s a religion of intolerance. They are proud of their bleak worldview that “this is all there is: you’re born, you live, and you die. Deal with it” They have no doubt and no time for further research or investigation. They are determined to put the faithful “in their place,” and change laws that allow people to acknowledge their faith in public.
They believe: nothing exists but natural phenomena, skepticism is inherently scientific. religion and science are warring forces, Faith is about believing without evidence, and asking what makes existence possible at all is not a real question.
Atheists confuse religion (whatever that is), with spirituality. They focus on dogma and the actions of radical fundamentalists and literal interpretations of sacred works as all the evidence they need to prove their conviction that religion is mindless and shallow. They dismiss the wisdom gained by countless souls over thousands of years who have devoted their entire lives to meditation, prayer, and to address matters of existence and consciousness.
For the atheist, it’s all cerebral. It’s all intellectual discourse. They can dismiss the miraculous as convenient coincidence. Clearly, none of them have found themselves in a life that has become a nightmare, a nightmare in which there’s no way to turn and no way out, and have cried out for help into an invisible and incomprehensible unknown. As they descend into an ever-expanding, ever-more-horrifying bottomless-pit, they surrender.
The drug addict scratching a million invisible bugs, terrified, paranoid, hiding in a closet with a gun, trying not to put it in his mouth, who cries out into the void, “God help me! I don’t know how to stop!” And something impossible happens, from some unspeakable unknown that has nothing to do with scriptures, vows, preachers, or religious promises. Some “power” takes hold. Solutions are revealed. Help comes expecting nothing in return. Their life suddenly changes and they find meaning and joy, rewards and purpose, and a healthy, productive life. How does that happen?
What is it that “faith” gives people that makes it so worthwhile? It gives you “meaningfulness” and meaningfulness gives a zest for life...not in the physical sense... in a deeper sense. It means the quality of Life is judged to higher standards. It gives life direction and value. Your center of attention shifts from EGO to something higher. Living in a spiritual sense becomes life at a higher standard. When you surrender to a Higher Power, you can feel it behind you, looking after you...whatever way things go - good or bad - will always be for a spiritual good...that you just can’t see “the bigger picture”...and once you’ve accepted the situation, your mind becomes calm, quiet, and peaceful.
It changes your “mindset” from one of hatred and intolerance to gratitude and optimism. You live in possibilities. You become fueled by a drive to cultivate happiness, believing that each fresh new problem is a potential source of future bliss...a new breakthrough. It gives your life a foundation, an anchor.
The truth is that the vast majority of the world has Faith. Look at the evidence. Many have had tangible, living experiences that there is not only a Higher Power, there is a Divine Order to the Universe extending far beyond the physical world. Miracles actually do take place. Prayers are answered. Visions do appear. Inexplicable, impossible healing takes place.
And more and more people are discovering that God is a direct experience...one that each of us has to experience for ourselves. But in order to experience it, we have to make an effort. If you don’t make the effort, you continue to live in doubt, fear, anger. and cynicism.
Spirituality and science do agree. Even Einstein was spiritual. Note his quotes in the "Hope" descriptions:
1) “everyone who is seriously involved in the pursuit of science becomes convinced that a spirit is manifest in the laws of the Universe-a spirit vastly superior to that of man - and one in the face of which. we with our modest powers must feel humble."
2) "The human mind is not capable of grasping the Universe. We are like a little child entering a huge library. The walls are covered to the ceilings with books in many different tongues. The child knows that someone must have written these books. It does not know who or how. It does not understand the languages in which they are written. But the child notes a definite plan in the arrangement of the books—-a mysterious order which it does not comprehend, but only dimly suspects."
3) "The finest emotion of which we are capable is the mystic emotion. Herein lies the germ of all art and all true science. Anyone to whom this feeling is alien, who is no longer capable of wonderment and lives in a state of fear is a dead man. To know that what is impenetrable for us really exists and manifests itself as the highest wisdom and the most radiant beauty, whose gross forms alone are intelligible to our poor faculties - this knowledge, this feeling ... that is the core of the true religious sentiment."
In this sense, and in this sense alone, I rank myself among profoundly religious men. And most of the masters and leaders appearing in this artwork have independently agreed that there are many paths leading to the same place, the consciousness of nothingness, the core of your soul, the no-mind state of bliss, the Absolute, the Supreme Universal Self, God."
AND WHAT ABOUT OTHER PHYSICISTS AND SCIENTISTS:
1) Werner Heisenberg, who won the Nobel Prize in Physics for creating quantum mechanics
“The first gulp from the glass of natural sciences will turn you into an atheist, but at the bottom of the glass God is waiting for you.”
2) Nobel Prize-winning physicist Arthur Compton,
For myself, faith begins with a realization that a supreme intelligence brought the universe into being and created man. It is not difficult for me to have this faith, for it is incontrovertible that where there is a plan there is intelligence—an orderly, unfolding universe testifies to the truth of the most majestic statement ever uttered—-’In the beginning God.’”
3) Nobel Prize-winning physicist Max Born, who was instrumental in the development of quantum mechanics
Those who say that the study of science makes a man an atheist must be rather silly.
4) Max Planck, the Nobel Prize-winning physicist who founded quantum physics
Both religion and science require a belief in God. For believers, God is in the beginning, and for physicists, He is at the end of all considerations… To the former, He is the foundation, to the latter, the crown of the edifice of every generalized world view.
There can never be any real opposition between religion and science; for the one is the complement of the other.
5) Lord William Kelvin, who was noted for his theoretical work on thermodynamics
I believe that the more thoroughly science is studied, the further does it take us from anything comparable to atheism.
6) Physicist George Stanciu and philosopher Robert Augros
The material universe cannot be the thing that always existed because matter had a beginning. It is 12 to 20 billion years old. This means that whatever has always existed is non-material. The only non-material reality seems to be mind. If mind is what has always existed, then matter must have been brought into existence by a mind that always was. This points to an intelligent, eternal being who created all things. Such a being is what we mean by the term God.”
7) Princeton University quantum physicist Freeman Dyson
I do not make any clear distinction between mind and God. God is what mind becomes when it passes beyond the scale of our comprehension.
8) Dr. Michio Kaku - a world-leading theoretical physicist - co-founder of string field theory.
You can neither prove nor disprove the existence of God. The universe is gorgeous. The universe is very simple, and it didn’t have to be that way. The universe could have been random. It could have been ugly. That’s the God of Einstein. The God of beauty,[the idea] that says that the universe is simpler the more we study it. “To me, it is clear that we exist in a plan which is governed by rules that were created, shaped by a universal intelligence and not by chance.” “The final solution resolution could be that God is a mathematician,” says Kaku. “The mind of God, we believe, is cosmic music. The music of strings resonating through 11-dimensional hyperspace.”
And the truth is, we need to be reminded of the mystical nature of beauty - the perfection of the universe - again and again. Daily. Nature doesn’t just default to beauty, it aspires to beauty. The Fibonacci Sequence is a mathematical miracle and runs through all of creation so pervasively and consistently that it was referred by the ancient’s as “God’s Signature.” It is known as the Golden Ratio, and everything from the spinning of galaxies to the forms of waves, seeds, spider webs, and seashells are created in this exact same ratio.
Dr. Michio Kaku agreed with the assertion that there must be a divine design at work. He said, “The universe is TOO gorgeous to have been an accident.” And he sites a concept among physicists known as theoretical elegance. In it, if the math is contrived, carries too many conditions and postulates, it is said to be "ugly" or "inelegant." But if it is optimized and self-affirming, like "E=mc2" the term is said to be "elegant." If an equation is inelegant, it might have truth in it, but it is not on the whole truth.
Because all of creation is elegant and aligned with absolute truth, so too would a fully optimized expression describing it.
If beauty was scientifically useless, an atheist may be able to argue that by our sheer lack of reference to any alternative concepts, we are predisposed to find nature beautiful. By that interpretation, beauty would be something entirely arbitrary and ultimately fully subjective.
It is the very fact that all beauty is at once scientifically optimal and that all science as it approaches optimal, is automatically beautiful, that proves that beauty is anything but arbitrary. It is not just beautiful but at the same time profoundly purposeful... as is life.
One could strongly argue that life itself is the result of staggering optimization in the face of astronomical improbability. There is something artful even beautiful about the undeniable improbability of it all and yet here we are. Everything began in a void of nothing, emerged into a vortex of chaos and disorder from which emerged order, organisms, organization, optimization... beauty.
Finally, it occurs to me to ask the Athiest one simple thing, "What if you're wrong?"
It's a paradox, that Atheists have such great intellectual pride in a position that is is so bleak. If they are right, that this is all there is, that there is nothing beyond, the stark reality is grim and sad and an invitation to existential terror.
But, what if they are wrong? The downside of being wrong is an indescribable wonder, incomprehensible divine order, limitless possibilities, hope, purpose, and everlasting life.
I personally believe that God is existence, conscious bliss...infinite, unfathomable, indifferent, and impersonal...AND personal and compassionate...AT THE SAME TIME...and this infinite, incomprehensible oneness out of which everything has been created, is big enough to have created a personal aspect, as well as a universe of cause and effect.
So, perhaps the Divine is infinite and indifferent until called upon. We have been given freedom of choice until we begin to contemplate infinite creative order and surrender to the Almighty Mover, and become willing to do the work necessary to experience conscious contact with the Supreme Universal Self. We experience God, not through logic and intellectual discourse, but through action.
THE FUTURE IS BETTER THAN YOU THINK
And amid this astounding perfection, ablaze in beauty, that this work aspires to the belief: The Future is Better than you Think. As depicted in "DOOMSDAY" - the "companion piece" to this artwork - While our infinitely connected world delivers moment to moment madness, shock, and tragedy; and our entertainment reflects this madness and elevates it to new heights; while Superheroes face Armageddon and Aliens attack; and 24 hour news and Twitter-feeds batter us with shocking events, told and re-told, played back and debated; progress has not stopped and the search for solutions to the major issues of our day has not been put on hold.
We live in an uncertain world, but humans rarely have all the facts. We gravitate towards alarming events because the architecture of the human mind is predisposed to being afraid. Among other things, our minds suffer from negativity bias. Our brains give more weight to negative information than positive information.
The part of the brain called the amygdala, the storehouse of phobias and fears is always on high alert for the next thing to protect itself against. Our decisions are based on limited, often unreliable information, and the information is subject to the limits of the brain’s processing power and the amount of time needed to form a conclusion.
In addition, there is precognitive bias (the tendency for the brain to believe what it is predisposed to believe), the bandwagon effect (we tend to believe what people around us believe), and the additional quandary of “risk perception.” This is the inability of the brain to accurately determine how threatening some imminent danger really is. One person a year globally is killed by a shark but 20 people a year a killed by stampeding cattle. What are we more afraid of?
The world has always been chaotic, but we’ve never before had access to the assault of alarming events simultaneously erupting worldwide, delivered minute by minute to our homes and the palms of our hands. Nevertheless, the truth is, statistically, the world has never been better than it is right now.
Life expectancy is at an all-time high, the number of wars has been declining since the mid-1980s, the distribution of income worldwide has never been better, more people are educated, fewer people are starving, civil rights are better, and although there are still people who live in misery and want...for the vast majority of the planet, we are better fed, better sheltered, better entertained, better protected against disease, and more likely to live to old age than ever before in history.
We have cleaner air, better privacy, travel faster, communicate better and faster, have more electricity, and a greater potential for solving our biggest problems faster than at any time in human history.
We live in extraordinary times and beyond the belief in the ongoing intervention of benevolent higher powers, there is the simple reality of Exponential Growth. It is a fact that not only is technology getting better, but the rate that it improves is also getting better. Solutions are getting better.
Moore’s law is the observation that the number of transistors on an integrated circuit doubles every two years...in other words, computers get twice as fast every two years. There are dozens of technologies that have been following that same pattern of exponential growth.
As crazy as things are, the reality is we are on the threshold of finding solutions for all of our major problems...medicine, water, sanitation, feeding billions of people, cheaper energy, better education, and more. There are incentive competitions inspiring innovations by the smartest people in the world, and remarkable evidence that we are actually close to experiencing a world of abundance, peace, and conscious awareness.