Embracing the Mystery of Life
By John Humphreys
Our Benevolent Cosmos is a thought provoking and comprehensive commentary that successfully demonstrates how the cosmos is directly linked to the human condition. John Humphreys brings a combination of experience, talent and critical thinking to a book that informs and challenges the reader. It will appeal to anyone who is asking questions about existence and not satisfied with traditional answers. He provides an effective analysis of how the Church has created its own problems by developing doctrines around sin and separation that conflict with the basic teachings of Jesus about unlimited love.
Many of these problems have arisen outside critical biblical reading and highlight major inconsistencies amongst branches of the Christian Church. He emphasizes the importance of reading the Bible from the perspective of the weak and suffering rather than from the viewpoint of the powerful and secure. Each offers a different understanding.
The author grounds his arguments in an analysis of the evolution of church doctrine and practice and offers a way forward beyond the old and incredible shibboleths of belief. In doing this he draws on a large range of scholarly works, ranging through a wide field of perspectives and modern day educated common sense. Consequently, the book lends itself to individual and group study with several reflective moments for conversations or deeper personal thinking.
Inevitably, the God concept, heaven, and hell, are comprehensively dealt with drawing on science, philosophy, theology and reasoning always challenging the reader to adopt a mindful, reflective and creative stance when unpacking ideas.
At the heart of this carefully crafted set of arguments is a vision of a ‘new reformation’ which others have commented on as emerging in this era. Many of the proponents of new inclusive and spiritual change are drawn on to show the widespread growth of a consciousness that better reflects the Jesus way for our times than much of what has evolved in conservative church thinking.
It is a narrative that calls on serious thinking but well within the scope of the average reader. At all times it provokes and tantalizes practitioners of faith to seek an authentic part in the reformation process and to learn from the many lessons that are evident in our environment.
Occasional poetic and artistic input help the reader engage with many challenges.
My reading of John Humphreys’ Our Benevolent Cosmos was one of the most enjoyable and informative reading experiences I have had, and I would urge others to give it a go.
Paul Inglis 7/12/2021
About the Author
John Humphreys’ life experiences have inexorably led him to the writing of this book, which blends together his career in science, technology and innovation, his personal spiritual journey, his interest in research and his love of literature. It also reconciles his earlier, more conservative, religious teachings with more contemporary understandings of traditional teachings.
His interest in radio-astronomy and the cosmos was stimulated by his Chairing, over 8 years, of the Australasian Square Kilometre Array (SKA) Industry Consortium, which supported the Australian Government in the international development of the next generation of radio-astronomy systems. This was a high-level group comprising over 20 multinationals, Federal and State Governments, as well as the national research community. Several international activities were encompassed in this role. The initiative now involves 16 countries in a global enterprise to break new ground in understanding the cosmos.
His career has taken him through fields of innovative science often related to industry, many private and public sector organisations, and collaborative ventures, to complement his earlier experiences in the Presbyterian, Uniting and Anglican Churches, and his more recent forays into understanding/reflecting on Progressive Christianity.
His emphasis on ‘we are all one’ regardless of nationality or ideology, which is one of the book’s themes, is drawn from his life experiences, as is the need to continue to question traditional ‘immutable’ truths.
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