Summary and Conclusions

What we believe, and how we act on our beliefs, has become a crucial issue at the start of the 21st century. Contemporary philosophical discourse (relativist and postmodern); advances in genetics and the neurosciences; the evidence of history, has led us to question afresh what it is we are, and to ask how can we now believe anything?

The principal task of this book has been to show how it is possible, and indeed necessary, to construct a universally acceptable belief system in accordance with philosophic tradition but which, at the same time, recognises our anthropocentric subjectivity.

We must, it has been argued, face up to the full consequences of our unavoidable subjectivity. There can be no place in our philosophy or our human narratives for an absolute ‘truth’, no view of an objective ‘reality’ and no recognition of transcendental ‘meaning’.

When we abandon the futile search for an absolute truth of an objective reality; when we stop seeking a transcendental status for our beliefs; when we accept what it is we are; we become free to adopt other criteria for our human narratives. The challenge, then, is to construct a convincing account of what beliefs we can hold while, at the same time, acknowledging their genesis and their status as subjective constructs.

We can start with the recognition of what we can see (what evolution has produced us to see) we are. We can recognise the co-evolution of our brains and culture (our genes and memes). We can recognise that our beliefs are the consequence of how we have evolved to engage most effectively with the universe. Our beliefs are historical, evolutionary and contingent, a feature of the continuing cosmic process that has produced us. Our beliefs are contingent on what we are, and what we are is contingent on our beliefs.