Human Faith Within A Conscious Biosphere, Dale Segrest, BookBaby (Pennsauken, NJ), July 1, 2022, 333 pages plus 5 page bio, and Endnotes. ISBN: 978-1-66783-896-0.
Human Faith Within A Conscious Biosphere is an intriguing book. The premise: Consciousness is the system that drives the biosphere.
Dale Segrest is an attorney who served as a Alabama Circuit Judge before retiring. The book is written from that perspective, rather than that of a theologian.
In 1994 Segrest wrote, Conscience and Command: A Motive Theory of Law (Scholars Press Studies in the Humanities), a book that looked at legal philosophy. In the course of writing that book, he came to the conclusion that law and other social systems are “totally dependent on faith (p. 1).” This realization prompted Segrest to explore faith and its functions.
It should be noted here, that although Segrest is Christian in orientation, he does not see faith as something inherently religious, and while he does reference scriptures and explores the thinking of some Christian thinkers, and notes in the introduction that he was helped along by various Christians, the book is not explicitly Christian. This is not to say that the Christian cannot gain from reading the book. In fact, reading the book will certainly get us thinking about how we frame our definition of faith.
“Faith,” Segrest writes, “Is that which humans actually believe. It is what we know. It is the basis for our judgement. It is the data base on which we draw when we decide what to do (p.1).”
Faith, however, cannot exist without consciousness.
To bring together the two propositions (Consciousness is the system that drives the biosphere + Faith cannot exist without consciousness) Segrest employs several threads, or sub-premises, that flow throughout the book, building upon each other:
- Consciousness is not a single essence.
- Consciousness came with creation.
- Humans and other beings merely participate in consciousness.
- Individual participation in consciousness enables individuals' needs by engaging the biosphere.
- “Consensus reality” (a term coined by Segrest) is the collection of knowledge that is empowered by language.
- “Consensus reality” grows generationally, and our participation in consciousness increases proportionally with the generational growth of “consensus reality.”
- We humans are merely observers in the biosphere. Both dualism and individualism are misunderstandings caused by our misperception of consciousness.
- Expansion of human faith has brought about a dynamic expansion of human participation in the biosphere.
- Faith is what we think we know for sure.
These premises precipitate a number of questions:
If consciousness came with creation, it is then an ethereal object? Does consciousness contain an essence of divinity, or in some way part of the divine? If faith cannot exist without consciousness, does consciousness create faith, is faith part of consciousness, or did it come into existence at the same time as consciousness, that is, at creation? If we humans, and other beings, are merely observers in the biosphere what does this say about the concepts of free will and determinism?
If we are mere observers, how do we participate in the biosphere? Is the growth of “consensus reality” an evolutionary process, or something else? Is the growth of “consensus reality” always positive? If faith is what we think we know for sure, is faith then fact?
Some might have a problem with Segrest’s premise that consciousness came with creation. This claim appears to suggest that at a specific point, consciousness came into existence. However, if one holds to evolution, how whatever became “consciousness” evolve into consciousness? And if consciousness is not a single essence, how did the essences come into existence?
And the question I kept asking myself as I read, is consciousness the sum total of the biosphere? In other words, are the two the same? If not, what distinguishes them from each other.
Just a few of the possible questions. Many of these questions are beyond the scope of the book. How well, the author answers those are questions that are within the scope of the book I’ll leave up for the reader to decide. Human Faith Within A Conscious Biosphere is not a theological book, however, the questions that arise from the premise of the book would make for a great philosophical, theological treatise.
Human Faith Within A Conscious Biosphere is a collection of eight essays, divided into two sections, plus an introduction to Segrest’s thinking. Segrest states that he wrote each essay as both a stand-alone and as interlinking. I think we will get a better grasp of the premise that he advances if we read the essays in order.
The first five essays deal with consciousness and “the philosophy of the mind.” The first two with the concept. The third and fourth explore how the human individual defernites self from the biosphere and establishes selfhood. The fifth essay deals with the intuitionalization of social systems, entities and nonphysical values.
The first five might be considered as introductory essays, as it is in essays six and eight that he draws the threads together. The seventh essay interjects into the discussion the various traditional concepts of reality, drawing from Plato, Aristotle, Sts. Augustine and Aquinas, Descartes, and the “Greek legacy.” In regard to Plato and Aristotle, Segrest provides a helpful chart to show the two differ.
In the sixth essay, “Faith and the Consensus Reality” Segrest suggests that it is when we humans come together with a consensus of what is real (what he terms as “consensus reality”) we are able to overcome those barrios that separate us and connect globally. “Consensus reality, according to Segrest is derived from, and maintained by, faith. It is our task as humans, Segrest believes, to evolve a single, common, unifying faith that will enable us to coexist peacefully. He goes on to say that a “common faith” will evolve in one way or another. It is up to us humans to see that it evolves in a positive direction.
Essay eight, “The System That Is Consciousness,” ends the work with the concluding observation that consciousness was, and is, a prerequisite for, and essential to, evolution in the biosphere. Which raises the question, is the biosphere evolving, or is it just our consciousness of the biosphere that is evolving?
Although essay eight concludes the process, essays nine, ten and eleven, serve as addendums to fill in the holes.
“Dualism And Direct Realism” (essay nine) seeks to explain why both dualism and individualism are misconceptions of reality. “Consciousness, Causation And Freewill” (essay ten) follows along the thinking of Henri Berson to suggest that free-will is possible—and active. We, as humans are working together in the “eternal now” of consciousness, in which anything is possible. God too, working in the “eternal now” does not violate the divine time-space-matter-energy laws of nature. Choices are real. Consequences are supported by empirical evidence.
Eleven, “Ultimate Mysteries” admits that there are mysteries regarding consciousness and biosphere that are unanswerable. “Clouds of mysteries,” Segrest writes, “still cloak the entire perimeter of our human existence.”
Human Faith Within A Conscious Biosphere is thought-provocative book. One that will get us thinking about consciousness and faith, no matter we agree, or not, with Segrest’s premise that consciousness is the system that drives the biosphere.
As one who has an interest in Quantum Theory, as I read, I found myself exploring the ideas advanced in the book in the light of Quantum Philosophy.
There are to my mind, a few weaknesses, ones that have more to do with content & structure than premise:
To my mind, and I will admit it is perhaps because of my background as a professor, it seems that Segrest generalizes a bit too often. It would be helpful, I think if there were more footnotes (or endnotes, as in the case of this book) given to support the author’s generalizations. I do realize that much of Human Faith Within A Conscious Biosphere is speculative thinking, but generalized claims without support, I think, detracts from the legitimacy of the author’s premise. It is a excellent premise, I just happen to think it needs more empirical support.
The book is heavy with bold type, not something that makes it easy to read. My eyes kept wanting to jump from this bold word to that bold word, and in so doing I missed connections, and needed to go back and reread. Likewise, I missed some of the endnotes that were present. Regarding the endnotes, I would find them more helpful if they were divided by essay.
Dale Segrest is the lawyer Of Counsel for the Segrest Law Firm, which he founded, and a retired Circuit Judge for Alabama’s Fifth Judicial Circuit. In addition to publishing law papers, he developed the curricula two continuing education programs (1995, 1996), “Foundations in Pluralism,” sponsored by Tuskegee University and the Alabama Judicial College. [On Facebook]
Segrest provides, perhaps an unnecessary, extensive overview of his credentials for writing Human Faith Within A Conscious Biosphere.
© Frank A. Mills, 1997-2024