God's Unlikely Comeback: Evolution, Emanation, and Ecology


  • Sean O Nuallain stanford


Evolution, emanation, emergence, anthropic principle, neuroscience, consciousness, subjectivity


This paper has three contrasting sections. The first starts with a description of the academic context that has led researchers like Stewart Kauffmann to introduce "God" into respectable discourse. It then goes on to juxtapose his schema with similar others that his work does not reference. It is proposed that, since humanity is the cutting edge-for good and evil-of emanation/revolution, it is human development that we must focus on. This, in turn cannot properly be discussed without reference to first person descriptions and their contrast with third person descriptions. Likewise the role of those contrasting accounts within and outside the academy, which is currently under threat, must be referred to.


Accordingly, the second section begins with the delineation of subjectivity suggested by current neuroscience. It is argued that the cluster sampling of EEG will yield significantly more meaningful results than other competing methods.

This paper makes the admittedly radical contention that it may be intellectually responsible to engage in forms of thought and practice that engage the whole of life in a manner heretofore addressed by "religions”. Such forms of life cannot responsibly emerge from an insight into the nature of physical reality, which is the province of the academy. Rather, these forms emerge from consideration of the human psychophysical unity as it engages with a succession of different contexts and attempts to reflect on and refine its responses to them.

The nature of the academy early in the 21st century is a confounding factor. The corporate pressure to attenuate academic freedom is real, as is the fact that academic freedom in liberal democracies would immediately migrate to other, initially unfunded structures in civil society with the internet offering myriad opportunities for dissemination and immediate critique of ideas. Orthogonal to this is the attempt to specify and refine one's psychological life, the bane of academic psychology from 19th century German research onwards. It is argued that academic psychology has an asymptote at this point; better to distinguish between the "academy' and the "real world” in a way that best does justice to both, and allows the layperson participate in a genuine attempt to seek knowledge by providing him with a veridical cosmology and psychology, than risk a new absurdity rivaling ontological behaviourism. Many salient facts about human psychology can be discovered by oneself in the "real world”, if only because the imperatives there will always be more compelling, try as we might.


Finally, a synthetic narrative is proposed, one in which the evolutionary ethos of the first section is interrelated with the signs of the second section. This final section may yet be read independently of its predecessors. Kauffman's imperative  "reinventing the sacred” indicates something is awry in our conceptual and political  systems; it is argued that historically authentic religious movements have preserved something they considered divine, and done so on the margins of society. In fact, this marginalization may be the essence of the religious impulse,




How to Cite

O Nuallain, S. (2012). God’s Unlikely Comeback: Evolution, Emanation, and Ecology. Cosmos and History: The Journal of Natural and Social Philosophy, 8(1), 339–382. Retrieved from https://cosmosandhistory.org/index.php/journal/article/view/262