The killings in Norway force us to recognize that a global religious war is gathering momentum. Efforts to persuade people to respect other religions fall on deaf ears because they partake of a linear, if then, tit for tat mindset.
In my book A Taoist Politics: The Case for Sacredness , I show that the basis of morality is not God, but nature as a system of which humans are a part. As fundamentalists insist, this implies that morality must form the basis of politics. It does not imply that this or that religion must dictate politics, but rather that humans cannot escape their place within a self-organizing whole.
The attraction of Nazism lies in its claim of racial superiority, which denies the systemic nature of reality. The advantage of a Taoist mindset is that it is borne out by science. Fritjof Capra was one of the first to point out the similarities between ancient wisdom and modern physics, and over the last forty years, many scientists have acknowledged them. The similarities between Protestant and Islamic fundamentalism are beginning to dawn on political observers, but in a culture predicated on linear thinking, this does not suggest an alternative to the wars we are told we must fight.
Systems thinking and self-organization illustrate the circular character of the natural world. The idea of an all-powerful deity, above and therefore outside the natural world, is a linear concept, which leads to tit for tat thinking and actions. Even a superficial look at the three religions of the book shows that they are all based on the linear notion of punishment, or tit for tat. Moses’ God gave men rules, and punished without mercy any failure to respect them. Jesus’ God also gave rules, but forgave transgressions in return for repen-tance. As for Mohammed’s God, though he could also forgive, he ordered three prayers a day to ensure that believers would not forget the rules. (Later, zealots raised the number of prayers to five.)
The Tao te Ching, only 5000 characters long, still has meaning for us after 2,500 years:
The Tao that can be expressed
Is not the eternal Tao.
The Tao is nowhere to be found
Yet it nourishes and completes all things.
All things are born from Being
Being is born from non-Being.
Familiarity with the notion of a self-generating whole, rather than polemics that oppose rationality to belief, would appear to be the only way to conjure killing in the name of God.