Our Godless Universe

Natural Selection and the Spiritual Search for Meaning Without Religion or Supernaturalism

Non-Fiction - Religion/Philosophy
Kindle Edition
Reviewed on 03/29/2021
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Author Biography

Tony Sunderland is an award winning Author and educational researcher who is acknowledged as an innovator in the writing and presentation of nationally accredited courses ranging from social science to the history of learning . He is particularly interested in the practice and history of what has become known as the ‘Western way of life’.
He believes that there are many alternative explanations of how ‘things came to be’ in the Western world and that these have either been ignored or suppressed by dominant and overpowering narratives of what can be termed as consensus history.
Tony has visited many of the main archaeological sites in Egypt, Israel, Jordon, Italy, Turkey and Greece. His current research interests centre on the investigation and understanding of ancient cultures that existed in the vicinity of the greater Mediterranean region. Tony has been married for 26 years and has two children.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Lex Allen for Readers' Favorite

Most people believe our universe was either created supernaturally by a divine entity or that everything exists as the result of natural occurrences devoid of any creative, organizing force. But could there be another explanation for how things came to be? Could it be that the evolution of superior forms of intelligence is part of a greater narrative, written before the birth of our universe? Tony Sunderland tells the story in two parts: first is the story of the relentless struggle of our genes across time, and the cultural attempts to transcend our predetermined genetic nature—both personal and societal. In the second part, he discusses the constant spiritual yearning that lives within each of us, and urges us to envision life as more than mere survival. But this unique trait has also been abused and manipulated by other (usually religiously inspired) forces.

Tony Sunderland has written a profoundly intensive study of evolution by natural selection and intelligence, coupled with the concept of the internal spirit, rather than an omniscient/omnipotent creator that drives humanity forward; a spiritual yearning for the truths of the universe, our lives, and the interconnection of the whole. This is not the spiritual of an omniscient /omnipotent god; rather, the inner spirit genetically passed to successive generations that strives to improve, to discover, learn and transcend earthly bonds. The historical interpretation provided at the beginning of Our Godless Universe is exceptionally interesting, as it differs dramatically from what most of us have been taught and told to believe. Following the recounting of how we got to where we are is a masterpiece of investigative and philosophical discovery, and the results of that are also scary, particularly the interface between humanity and AI and the advances made toward trans-humanism!

Vincent Dublado

Our Godless Universe: Natural Selection and the Spiritual Search for Meaning Without Religion or Supernaturalism is the result of Tony Sunderland’s research and inquiry in making sense and creating meaning in a world by fine-tuning our understanding of intelligent design. He traces our formative beginnings and how this has shaped what we are now. He makes it clear that his use of the term 'intelligent design' does not involve the role of a divine creator or a supernatural entity. He believes that evolution by natural selection and intelligent design are not mutually exclusive concepts; rather, they are both compatible and interdependent in explaining where we came from and why we are here. He chronicles the journey of our genetic nature at the personal and societal level, as well as our propensity for spiritual yearning that has been abused and manipulated but has become a key element in our survival.

Tony Sunderland keeps it balanced. While he argues for spiritual meaning without ascribing to supernatural abstractions, he meticulously explains, without sounding preachy, our inclination to cling to a divine force despite scientifically-generated truths. It is fascinating how he presents this with backed-up research as he references the work of geneticist Dean Hamer. At the same time, he illustrates how the future incarnation of humanity could fulfill such heritable yearning to be spiritual, as this evolves to scientific spirituality—an indication that there could be a predetermined plan for humanity. As we continue to march with the social and cultural constructs of our time, Sunderland is optimistic that our spiritual needs will focus on the rational rather than blind faith. Our Godless Universe is a timely insight that will help us view our inner selves and our role in a world, and make us evaluate the spiritual compass that we have freely chosen.

Mamta Madhavan

Our Godless Universe: Natural Selection and the Spiritual Search for Meaning Without Religion and Supernaturalism by Tony Sunderland is a profound and thought-provoking book that gives insights into the collective journey taken by humans from a Western point of view. The book has two parts; the first part discusses the unbroken narrative of human genes across time and the cultural attempts to transcend predetermined nature, both personal and pertaining to society. The second part is about the spiritual yearning that exists within everyone. The book deals with evolution by natural selection and intelligence, two concepts that are interdependent on each other and compatible, and explains to readers where they come from and why they are there. These concepts help readers look at humanity with a different outlook, and discuss the realities surrounding human cloning, sex selection, genetic screening of disease, and gene therapy. The author's words are a good way to make readers understand the interplay between human behavior, genes, and cultural environment.

It is evident that the author has done a lot of research as he shows readers how current times are going to be a symbiotic union of machine and human, and the complexities of the human relationship with technology. The dependence of human beings on artificial devices to experience the world around them, and Yuval Noah Harari's endgame that positions all living organisms as algorithms, have been discussed, along with the concept of transhumanism. The Key Points shared after the chapters are helpful in understanding in a nutshell what is included in each chapter. The chart of the Evolution of Spiritual Belief will help readers understand the evolution of spiritual beliefs and the three radical alternatives about the creation of the Universe. Tony Sunderland speaks about how the fog of faith points to a world that no longer exists, and how the evolved traits of humanity which are intelligence, compassion, imagination, and a sense of spirituality will become part of the future. There are a lot of deep insights which may require readers to go back to it again to comprehend the profundity of the author's words.