Absolute Value Perspective
Sun Myung Moon
November 26, 1982
Eleventh International Conference On The Unity Of The Sciences
Distinguished chairman, eminent scholars, ladies and gentlemen.
We have now come to meet for our eleventh Conference on the Unity of the Sciences in the historical city of Philadelphia. I would like to express my sincere gratitude to our chairman, Dr. Kaplan, to the committee chairmen and group chairmen, to the ICF secretariat, and to all you distinguished professors and other ladies and gentlemen who bring inspiration to the Conference.
If we are to characterize today’s world in one word, we can say that it is a world of great confusion. Whether we look to the Orient or Occident, to the North or South, to the advanced world or the developing world, all societies are full of contradiction and injustice and corruption. There is endless repetition of conflict, collision, and rebellion. Although advanced nations enjoy material affluence, in the Third World, especially Africa, many are suffering from hunger and even dying from starvation.
If this state of confusion worsens and accelerates, mankind will face a certain danger of perishing, a danger it will be difficult to escape.
Conflict In Value Perspective
What would be the reason behind such worldwide confusion? The cause could be attributed to many things, but the ultimate reason lies in conflict of value perspectives. Confusion arises because standards of truth, of goodness and of beauty differ from person to person, from nation to nation, from race to race, and from one thought-system to another.
If, in the opinion of person A, an action is good but person B considers it to be bad, A may persist with the action at any cost, but B oppose it strenuously. In such a situation we see confrontation and disharmony, and a conflict will certainly arise. I cannot help but conclude that today’s confusion stems from conflict and disagreement of value perspectives.
What, then, is the basis of that difference in value perspectives? It stems, first of all, from egoism. Almost without exception, each individual is a prisoner of egoism, each nation has become a prisoner of egocentrism, and each race is selfishly pursuing its own interests.
Secondly, the difference in value perspectives stems from differences in thought. The world abounds with various thoughts, and each keeps many adherents captive. Most significantly, communism and democracy have, through their ideologies, now divided mankind into two major blocs.
Resolving The Confusion
Accordingly, we cannot help but say that the way to save mankind from certain destruction is, first, to eliminate egoism and, second, to solve the problem of differences of thought. To liquidate egoism, we must first know why mankind fell into self-centeredness. Before we hope to resolve the differences we must discover how and why mankind came to have differences in thought.
The original cause of mankind’s differing thoughts is that mankind, because of the fall, lost God, thereby losing both God’s love and God’s words. God’s love is the source of value (truth, goodness and beauty). Accordingly, God’s love is the basis of absolute value, and absolute value is the basis of all religious virtues; it is the unifying value. God’s truth is the basis of all truths and therefore of absolute truth, which is the unifying truth. Mankind, because of the fall, lost God and lost absolute value and absolute truth, thereby losing any unifying value and unifying truth.
Absolute value and absolute truth are the foundation for an absolute value perspective, “perspective” being viewpoint and theory. Accordingly, we cannot help but conclude that the way to resolve worldwide confusion is to find the absolute value perspective.
Religion And Absolute Value Perspective
God established religion in order to convey the love and truth of God to mankind so as to save mankind. He established various religions, each in its own time and place. For example, He founded Buddhism in India and Confucianism in China 2,450 years ago, and Christianity in Judea, 2,000 years ago.
It can be said assuredly that the absolute value perspective is established only through religions, which revere God. In other words, it can be validly claimed that no solution to today’s confusion is possible through those thoughts and philosophies which are not founded on God. It follows logically that only through God-centered religion is it possible that mankind can be saved from confusion. In history, we have such examples as Confucianism, Buddhism, Christianity and Islam. Each one, in its own time and place, dissolved social insecurity and confusion and, on the foundation of peace and security, brought forth a flourishing of culture. This was true of the role of Confucian culture in the Han Dynasty of China, of the role of Christian culture in Medieval Europe, and that of Islamic culture in the Saracen civilization of the Middle East.
The Collapse Of Religious Value Perspective, And Its Cause
Today, unfortunately, religion no longer functions to control confusion and is unable to lead man’s spirit. Religions today are gradually losing life, and faith is becoming more and more a mere form or habit. With few exceptions, people are increasingly losing interest in religion, and the original enthusiasm of faith is diminishing. This is a grave situation, because if religion which is supposed to lead the spirit of mankind eventually loses its function, the world will turn to complete lawlessness, and mankind will sink into an abyss of violence and murder. Today, indeed, such phenomena are increasingly visible.
All this can readily be termed a phenomenon of collapse of religious value perspective. What, then, is the cause of this collapse?
First, with the development of scientific technology and the growth of economy, the human spirit is drifting into a materialistic value perspective. Second, various atheistic and materialistic thoughts are spreading rapidly and widely. Third, under national policies separating education and religion, religion is being excluded from school curricula, resulting in the rise of atheistic thought. Fourth, communists are using a strategy of intentionally destroying what fraction of religious value perspective remains, in order to promote their own goal of communizing the world. Fifth, there is a woeful lack of ontological theory adequate for supporting the religious perspective.
The most important of these five causes is the last, the lack of adequate ontology. By ontology, I mean the theory of absolute being. Each religion has an absolute being as a basis for its theory. The absolute being of Judaism is Jehovah; that of Christianity, God; and of Islam, Allah. Generally, no absolute being is specified in Confucianism or in Buddhism, but “benevolence,” which is the basis of teaching in Confucianism, is linked directly with heaven; therefore, “heaven” may be seen as taking the place of absolute being in Confucianism. In Buddhism, phenomena are transient; truth, however, can be found from “Jin Yo,” which lies behind all phenomena. Thus, “Jin Yo” may function as an absolute being in Buddhism.
However, the explanations of all these absolutes have been consistently deficient on such questions as the properties of the absolute being, the manner of creation of things, and the motivation for creation — or whether God or an absolute being exists at all. Each religion has been uniquely unclear on these points, and therefore unclear about the basis of all religious virtues. Thus, religion today has but little persuasive power.
Ontology And Religious Teaching
In order for the virtues, precepts, commandments, and teachings of all religions to be well kept, enough must be known about the existence of the absolute being, the properties of this being, the purpose for which this being created, and so on. In early times, people were not so analytical or theoretical, and thus were willing to blindly obey such commandments as “Love your neighbor as your own body,” or “Be loyal to the king and filial to your parents.” Today, however, such maxims are questioned. The unfailing response to a “thou shalt” is “why?” Unless and until these questions are answered, the teachings remain unconvincing.
Such fundamental questions as “Does God really exist?” are raised. There are challenges to descriptions of God as “almighty,” “omnipotent,” “omnipresent,” and “father of mankind,” and to such ideas as utmost goodness, utmost beauty, utmost love, or absolute justice. “Is there any way of knowing or proving any of these claims?” “Why did God create a universe when he does not have to do anything? “What is his purpose for creating?” “By what method did he create all things?” “If God is of utmost goodness, why do strong-eat-weak phenomena prevail in his creation?” “It is being taught that the world became sinful because of the fall of mankind, but how did the creation of a perfect God become capable of falling?”
These are but a few examples of the numerous questions that are raised. Unless reasonable and consistent answers are available and given, today’s intellectuals are not willing to accept religions such as Christianity. Thus most religious commandments remain unpracticed, and much of the Christian teaching of universal love, the Confucianist code of family morals, the Buddhist code of conduct, and the Islamic teachings of the Koran, is generally ignored or even rejected. The basic reason for the ambiguity of ontology is that in recent years Europe, which has historically been the cradle of Christianity, has given rise to materialism and atheism. We can cite the examples of Karl Marx, Lenin, Stalin and Nietzsche, who are all raised in Christian families but who turned atheist and anti-Christian.
Ontology And The Conflict Of Religions
Even more lamentable is the fact that the very religions that were supposed to serve as the leading element of the human spirit and as the leading mediators among conflicts are themselves becoming a reason for conflict, thereby diminishing religious dignity and authority even further. Judaism fights Islam, Catholicism conflicts with Protestantism, Christianity contradicts Buddhism: even within one religion different denominations fight among themselves. The basic cause of these religious antagonisms is the ambiguity of ontology. There is only one absolute being, never two, but when each religion advocates its own absolute being as the true one, it may seem that there can be many different absolute beings. This leads to the idea that the god of each religion is only a god of relative status, and that there is really no such thing as an absolute being.
Here we can see that, although the absolute value perspective pertaining to God’s love and truth was to be enhanced through religions, it has not been developed, but has remained relative instead of absolute. In other words, we can conclude that religion up until this day has been incapable of establishing the absolute value perspective that can bring prevailing confusions under control. This is the inevitable result of the failure of all religions to explain the absolute being clearly.
Emergence Of New Religion
We can logically say that, under these circumstances, if an absolute value perspective is to be established, it is necessary that new religion emerge, with an ontology that can explain clearly and accurately the unique, absolute God.
We have said that, since all religions are founded by God, their purpose has been to realize absolute value. However, when we observe that so much religious conflict prevails, we can confidently say that the gods of each of the existing religions cannot become the absolute God, and therefore the absolute value perspective cannot be established by these religions. Therefore, we must conclude that new religion must emerge for the sake of establishing the absolute value perspective.
The new ontology for new religion needs to make it clear that the absolute beings of all the religions are not separate gods; they are indeed the one same God. Since each religion grasped only a part of God, making that part its religious perspective, the new ontology must make it clear that a complete revelation of God will show that all religions originate from the same God and pursue the same purposes, being like brothers. Furthermore, by explaining God’s properties, as well as his motivation for creating and the purpose and rules of creation, the new ontology will explain that purpose and law control the motion of all things in the universe, and it will show that the norms by which we humans must live spring from that same purpose and law, namely, the heavenly way.
Just as the relationship among the sun, the moon, stars and planets consists of heavenly orders of vertical and horizontal relationships, likewise in the family there are such vertical relationships as grandparents-parents-children, and such horizontal relationships as brothers and sisters. There are value perspectives corresponding to each of these relationships. In explaining things, this new ontology must not contradict all the knowledge of the natural sciences; it must accord with the human conscience; and it must resonate with the prevalence throughout history of such maxims as “Those who follow the heavenly way prosper, and those who go against it perish.”
The value perspective that has been established through the new ontology is in the truest sense the absolute value perspective. By establishing, understanding and practicing absolute value, absolute truth, absolute goodness and absolute beauty, a new reformation of the human spirit will be accomplished and the confusion of the world will be dissipated.
New Ontology And The Unity Of All Religions
After all is clarified about God through the new ontology, and after it is shown that there is one unique God common to all religions, each religion can hold its own signboard; but, in effect, unity of all religions will have been accomplished, and all can tread abreast for the realization of heaven on earth, which is God’s ideal of creation.
All deficiencies and unsolved points in the doctrines of religion will be remedied by the new ontology, and this will eventually lead even to the unity of all doctrines.
Thus all religions will reach perfectly God’s very goal or purpose in establishing religions on earth.
It is the Unification Church that emerged to solve various problems of the absolute value perspective. This value perspective can, in turn, resolve the great confusion of the world. The Unification Church is comprehensive, logical and reasonable, and its teachings known as the Unification Principle and Unification Thought have the power to engender total spiritual awakening to all men of conscience and intellect.
May your continued effort and study during your participation in this Conference deepen your understanding of absolute value, and may God’s protection remain always with you.