By Alfred North Whitehead
@ copyright 1926 The Macmillan Company and Evelyn Whitehead 1954

A Commentary

    It was February 1926 in King's Chapel in Boston when Whitehead delivered
 his four lectures which were the basis for the book, Religion in the Making.
 That was seventy years ago and the second world war was yet to happen and
 the great depression was still three years away.    Lindberg had not yet
 crossed the Atlantic and television did not exist nor did the first electronic 
 computer.  Penicillin had not yet been discovered, surgery was crude and life expectancy
 at birth was about forty-five years.  Tuberculosis and pneumonia were the kings
 of death and the great influenza epidemic had only recently passed.  Death was
 a much more constant companion than today and also there were fewer distractions
 from death's reality.

   Whitehead was at that time a Harvard professor of Philosophy.  He was born
in Ramsgate, Kent, England in 1861 the son of An Anglican clergyman. He studied
mathematics and became a professor of mathematics. His most famous work was
with his student, Bertrand Russell, called Principia Mathematica. Whitehead was
given the chair at Harvard never having formally taken any study in philosophy
and was, at the time, 62 years of age(1924). His most famous book is Process 
and Reality where he lays out the formal construct of his philisophical theory. 
   Whitehead views religion from a global perspective. He is interested in what 
all religions have in common and wants to distill this for us.  He concurs that 
some dogmas may be better than others at least in some ways and he sees that
some religious practices in the past have been very detrimental to mankind. As an 
undergraduate I recall a lecture by a famous Yale professor who was a Whithead
devotee. He was so convinced of Whitehead's arguments that he felt that there 
was no doubt that GOD the god of Whitehead exisited! 
    I will stop here and let Whitehead talk to you through some quotes from the book
and let him guide you. The words of his I have chosen find their appeal in poetry
rather than in pure reason. For if we are to find God it is a personal journey first
and must be grounded in aesthetic principles. The connections between healing and 
religion have deep roots and our understanding of this is only beginning.
Those who have been healed (not quackarey) or have at least found peace by
their religious beliefs have given ample testimony and their ranks come
from all different types of religious groups. I will give some of Whitehead's 
quotes this issue and another set in the future. I hope you can get his book
and read it in its entirety.

{Speaking of comparing faith in arithmetic with religious faith}

" No one is invariably justified by his faith in the multiplication table. But in some sense or other, justification is the basis of all religion. Your character is developed according to your faith."

"Religion is the art and theory of the internal life of man..."

"Religion is what the individual does with his own solitariness. It runs through three stages, if it evolves to its final satisfaction. It is the transition from God the void to God the enemy to God the companion."

"Religion is by no means necessarily good...The God with whom you have made terms with may be the God of destruction, who leaves in his wake the loss of the greater reality."

"We live in a common world of mutual adjustment, of intelligible relations, of valuations, of zest after purposes, of joy and grief, of interest concentrated on self, of interest directed beyond self..of life weariness and life-zest. There is a quality of life which lies always beyond the mere fact of life; and when we include the quality in the fact, there is still omitted the quality of the quality....Religion is the direct apprehension that, beyond such happiness and such pleasure there remains the function of what is actual and passing, that it contributes its quality as an immortal fact to the order which informs the world."

"All simplifications of religious dogma are shipwrecked upon the rock of the problem of evil."

{Whitehead's philosophy looks at the world passing in time and asks what elements go into it's formation and it turns out there are three.}

"These formative elements are:
1. The creativity whereby the actual world has its character of passage into novelty.
2. The realm of ideal entities, or forms, which are in themselves not actual, but are such that they are exemplified in everything that is actual..
3. The actual but non-temporal entity whereby the indetermination of mere creativity is transmuted into a determinate freedom. This non-temporal actual entity is what men call God- the supreme God of rationalized religion."

"The world is at once a passing shadow and a final fact. The shadow is passing into the fact, so as to be constitutive of it; and yet the fact is prior to the shadow. There is a kingdom of heaven prior to the actual passage of actual things, and there is the same kingdom finding its completion through the accomplishment of this passage."

"The depths of his existence lie beyond the vulgarities of praise or of power. He gives to suffering its swift insight into values which can issue from it. He is the ideal companion who transmutes what has been lost into a living fact within his own nature. He is the mirror which discloses to every creature its own greatness."

"He is that element in virtue of which our purposes extend beyond values for ourselves to values for others."

Click to a Web site called Alfred North Whitehead for dummies. It is good(really)!

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