Dear Closer To Truth Members:
Year ends are for retrospection—what has happened—and for reflection—what does it mean? I want to share with you why I am conflicted about 2023 and why I am hopeful—or frankly, trying to be hopeful—about the future.
On the one hand, CTT had an engaging, energizing year.
- We broadcast and are streaming Season 22: 10 TV episodes on “Mathematical Beauty & Breakthroughs”, with Ed Witten, Sabine Hossenfelder, Paul Davies, and many others.
- We conducted online “CTT Chats” with Roger Penrose, Noam Chomsky, Dan Dennett, Carlo Rovelli, and more.
- We completed filming and began post-production of four new CTT TV series and over 500 new on-location videos coming in 2024:
- “Philosophy of Biology” (pioneers and leaders of the field);
- “Eastern Traditions and the Big Questions” (Hinduism and Buddhism, plus Daoism and Confucianism);
- “Global Philosophy of Religion” (Islamic, Buddhist, Hindu, Chinese, and Jewish philosophies, with Christian philosophy);
- “Mind / Art / Transcendence” (extending “Art Seeking Understanding” into new realms).
4. Subscribers to CTT’s YouTube channel exceeded 580,000.
On the other hand, the world has had a fracturing, dispiriting year and I’d been growing melancholy about, well, humanity. Group pitted against group—national, religious, racial, ethnic, age, gender, socio-economic. (We can blame social media for exacerbating our differences but not for causing them.) Moreover, Russia’s barbaric invasion of Ukraine, numerous interstate and intrastate conflicts, and, most worrying, laudable patriotism degenerating into malignant nationalism globally. Then, October 7: Hamas’ horrific massacre and all the tragedies that followed and follows (I have friends and remote family in Israel; I have friends in the Arab world, especially in Saudi Arabia).
One might think that in today’s information age, knowledge in brains is what counts, not rocks along borders or demarcations in seas—but that is not how we human beings are wired.
Nationalism is rooted in biological evolution: early human allegiance to the tribe, the group, increased fitness for survival and procreation. In today’s contemporary life, this once-critical instinct has been distorted, warped, into a maladaptive form—much like our craving for fats and sugars that was bred into our DNA when food was scarce and uncertain but now causes illness and disease. Humans have confirmed time and again that they will bear any burden, endure any hardship, to protect the group—even the pride of the group—which today is usually the nation-state or ethnicities. Even the harsh division between Left and Right in American politics has nationalistic drivers. So does fanatical allegiance to a sports team. Compounding our problems, technology has amplified the power of the few to control the thoughts of the many.
I conceived CTT purely as a quest to find the best thinking on planet earth about the deepest questions of cosmos, consciousness, meaning and purpose (if there be any), even God and supernatural things (if any there be)—even when, especially when, such thinking is diverse or divergent (if clear and insightful). I’ve loved the conversations I’ve been privileged to have, and we at CTT feel responsible to share them as widely as possible. But what gives me the greatest satisfaction, especially in recent years, has been to see, from all over the world, many Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists as well as Christians and Jews—seekers of all kinds, and certainly many atheists—all those who think seriously about ultimate reality—as members of the CTT community, appreciating what we do. Even though we may come from countries or groups in conflict, regarding CTT questions, we are united, expressing the same fascination and sharing the same passion. All are welcome; CTT’s only “entrance requirement” is keen interest.
It was not at all my original intent, but we now see that perhaps CTT can play a tiny-tiny part in forging a more tolerant, more harmonious world, perhaps uniquely so, by addressing universal mysteries of the human condition, aspiration, and spirit that unify all of us.
It is so heartening to see CTT members from every country on Earth, of every religion, race, ethnicity, national origin, gender, orientation, education, socio-economic status—all expressing the same wonder and awe—and willing to hear diverse views—when facing CTT’s ultimate questions of cosmic existence and human sentience. It was indeed not my intent originally, but it is surely part of our strategy now.
CTT co-creator/producer/director Peter Getzels and I, and our entire (small) CTT team, are excited about our new series and videos coming in 2024. CTT will continue to reach out to all groups globally.
Your enthusiasm empowers us.
With deep appreciation and all best for 2024 and beyond,
Robert Lawrence Kuhn
Closer To Truth