Past Articles

« Hakuna Matata!.. It's our problem-free philosophy | Main | Inspiration in action »

Are God and Science reconcilable?

So oft in theologic wars,

The disputants, I ween,

Rail on in utter ignorance

Of what each other mean,

And prate about an Elephant

Not one of them has seen!

... from 'The blind men and the elephant'  [1]

The networked world has opened up a huge opportunity for us to collaborate and side-step society's old crumbling monoliths and hierarchies.  There seems to be a new world order emerging where we can share, learn, grow and evolve much more easily than before.  And yet we have these other 'world views' - the scientific and religious one, that are still stuck struggling to make sense of our world.  By way of example, this great post from  Tony Goodson  (via Hugh at  Gapingvoid ):

Science does not have all the answers.  In fact it looks a bit foolish in the eyes of some of these things from Wired, What We Don't Know.  My favourite is Entanglement, - How do entangled particles communicate?

In 1997, scientists separated a pair of entangled photons by shooting them through fiber-optic cables to two villages 6 miles apart.  Tipping one into a particular quantum state forced the other into the opposite state less than five- trillionths of a second later, or nearly 7 million times faster than light could travel between the two.  Of course, according to relativity, nothing travels faster than the speed of light - not even information between particles.

Even the best theories to explain how entanglement gets around this problem seem preposterous.  One, for example, speculates that signals are shot back through time.  Ultimately, the answer is bound to be unnerving.

Eh!!  Two particles can communicate with each other at faster than the speed of light, over considerable distance!!  The first thing I would question is the experiment.  Is what was measured and observed accurate!!  If it is then how the hell do we explain entanglement.

And where does God come into this?  Well for me, I'd rather place this stuff which is way out, in the realms of spirituality for the time being, rather than science, which looks to be struggling like a cornered Creationist, on this one.

Hey, I've no intention of joining the ongoing malarkey between the Creationists and Evolutionists but I've never quite understood why God and Science have to be mutually exclusive.  I share the pantheist philosophy of Albert Einstein that there is one wholly benevolent Life/God/Nature that we are all a part of;  that All is One... but we just don't know how to see it yet.

A human being is part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space.  We experience ourselves, our thoughts and feelings as something separate from the rest.  A kind of optical delusion of consciousness.  This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from the prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.  The true value of a human being is determined by the measure and the sense in which they have obtained liberation from the self.  We shall require a substantially new manner of thinking  if humanity is to survive.........Albert Einstein, 1954

Einstein and all the really great scientists have had a humility that embraces the inadequacies of human thinking, a trust in inspiration rather than pure reason or intellect, and a disdain for the 'madness of men'.  They have an openness that doesn't seek to do battle between God and Science but recognises that they both come from the same seed - this desire to know the Truth - What is real?  How do things really work?  Who am I?  Why am I here?  Science without this humility becomes severely crippled  - it's limits bounded by the ego's 'understanding'.

With all this effort to make sense of the world maybe we struggle because the world as we know it does not make sense at all.  Maybe there is nothing stable or meaningful here.  Certainly it seems at times as though the world is nothing but a perpetrator of bitter jests.... particularly prone to strikes down the ambitious, the haughty and the proud - perhaps anyone who tries to seek meaning in the meaningless.  If this world of ours does have an agenda it seems to be this:  Look not to worldly things but to yourself for that which is meaningful.

Looking for Truth in the physical world alone is akin to trying to make sense of the flickering shadows on the walls of  Plato's cave  in isolation.  By looking only at effects we fail to see or understand cause and then all we see is chaos and confusion.  As Einstein once said:  "Reality [as we see it] is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one".  It's only when we include ourselves in the picture, when we let go of the concept of each of us having our own separate 'little bit' of consciousness that is disconnected from 'everything out there', that things start to get clearer.

In the village where I live there's an ancient wood around the lake behind  Roche Abbey, where I walk the dogs.  Trees that fall are left where they fall and weird looking fungi and plants grow out of there rotting trunks.  Animals that die there are quickly consumed.  Spend time here and you become acutely aware that everything is part of the food chain, that nothing physical lasts. 

The more I sit still and just watch this 'life going on' and become aware of the impermanence of everything in this wood (including this body that is watching it all) the more I become aware of the symbiotic synchronicity and perfection of life itself.  The more I allow myself to be aware of this one unbroken process of life, the more I sense I am a part of it all - it is us!  We are this life.  In feeling this connection the mind calms and in that calm comes clarity and in clarity the simplicity and perfection of 'everything as one Life' becomes known.  We don't need a Holy book or scientific paper to teach us this.... that is just detail.  Time enough to write up the notes later.

It seems that's only when we stop taking ourselves out of the equation and embrace this ground of consciousness (that all thought and appearance of form appear in)  that we start to get a sense of cause effect and the perfection of it all.  When we develop a deeper felt sense of our own Beingness and connection to everything, then photons that appear to travel at the speed of thought between two villages no longer seem quite so remarkable.

So what about this 'new way of thinking' that Einstein talked about.  How do we develop a more powerful, all inclusive, way of seeing things?

Now here's the thing:  This question seems the natural one to ask and yet to me it is misleading, and keeps us from actually 'seeing'. The question assumes that we are some how 'broken' - that we have to develop faculties that we haven't yet got.  This is simply not true.  Seeing and knowing Truth simply requires letting go of the self imposed beliefs that we can't already do this.

So for me at least, a more meaningful and empowering question might be,  "What are the ways we limit our knowing?" Here's a few ideas that spring to mind:.... [feel free to add others in the comments if you've seen them...  I'd like to discover more.]

  • If I was going there I wouldn't set out from here.[2]  We have to get over the belief that intellect and rational thought is the be all and end all.  Thinking isolates a situation or event as if it had a separate existence.  The very foundation that the scientific method is based on - that there is an observer and something that is observed - is duality.  This fragmentation is an illusion (although very real while we are trapped in it) but this illusions denies that there is One Thing (or 'Grand Unifying Principle', if you like).  So the very act of thinking obscures the Truth that thinking seeks to know.
    .
    Probably all religions and many scientific endeavours started with a flash of insight - a recognition of what life is really all about, but man being man these sublime insights tend to get rationalised and then the very act of trying to make them understandable as opposed to knowable tends to hide the originally meaning.  Mental activity obfuscates the awareness of pure Universal Consciousness, 'Presence' if you like, that all true inspiration and creativity arises from.  We have a tendency to let the word of God getting in the way of the experience of God. 
    .
  • Inappropriate criteria for proof.  Surely a test of truth should be what is always true... what always works in all circumstances... what is the unchanging essence of everything.  To my mind the criteria for Truth needs to shift from 'what is observable/measurable' to ''what doesn't change'.  When we accept permanence as a test of reality then focus shifts to this flow of energy or life force that is at the core of everything.  Simplicity is another criteria that also appears to be indicative of Truth.  Whenever we have a problem or phenomena that appears complex or intractable I always feel that we haven't gone deep enough yet, we haven't uncovered the core principle - the underlying cause-effect.

    When the solution is simple, God is answering"..... Albert Einstein.
    .

  • The 'blind men and the elephant' syndrome.[1]  Can we really expect to know reality, discover a 'grand unifying principle', by studying particles - separate little bits?  Maybe we'd be better of with 'whole-thing physicists' as well as 'particle physicists'.  Scientists now tell us that when we look at the core of everything we find only energy, but we have a hard time comprehending this.  We have a fixation with form even though form is only a perception, not reality - how this indivisible energy is perceived by the body.  And yet the experience of connection, of synchronicity, of Love and of our creative power - when we allow it into our awareness, is more real than anything body's crude senses can perceive.
    .
    Perhaps Truth, as is Love, can only be experiential and never be encapsulated within a definition.  Certainly the more we dissect reality, the more ephemeral it appears to be.  But if words can't capture Truth then at least they can be pointers towards it, sign posts if you like.  And we have to say something, don't we?

It's hard for scientists to accept that the infinite and eternal nature of Life defies measurement;  and it is difficult for spiritual types to accept that the Truth can never be captures by words, belief or practice.  Scientific investigation and blind faith and are two sides of the same coin - limited mental models that hide the next step - a more open, unlimited way of seeing and knowing.  They are both strategies of the mind  (one based on looking solely 'outside' and one based on not looking at all)  that avoid the direct experience of what is always here in the present moment.  But it's in recognising the limitations of these two approaches to coming to Truth that frees them both up to be really useful - to become pointers to  experience  Truth.  Because it is only in experiencing that we truly know anything.  If we can free science from it's arrogance and release religion from it's dogma then surely they can both serve as sign-posts to help us on our way to a greater knowing.... and a more powerful and loving way of being in 'our world'.

You have to be a scientist or a 'believer' to know Truth.  When we let our minds rest innocently open to the experience of whatever is in front of us in each moment then Reality  reveals itself  to us.  The truth of Reality is plain to see in any moment we choose to be fully present without the obfuscation caused by dogma, belief or intellectual curiosity.  Then we start to see the presence of this grand  uni -fying principle at work everywhere.  We see this dance of life as simply the falling away of our resistance to the direct experience of Truth, of Love.  We see God in everything and we feel the presence, our own Presence, that has never been or ever will be apart from That.  This is my God, the God of everyday things.

Perhaps I am a hopeless romantic, but I look forward to the day when humanity will see and let go of the cause of our problems by embracing and living by the Truth, our essential loving nature.

They say that God is everywhere, and yet we always think of Him as somewhat of a recluse"..... Emily Dickinson

.
Related Article:
  How big dare you dream??

Notes:

[1].. American poet John Godfrey Saxe (1816-1887) based this poem, "The Blind Men and the Elephant", on a fable that was told in India many years ago.  It is a good warning about how our sensory perceptions can lead to misinterpretations.

It was six men of Indostan
To learning much inclined,
Who went to see the Elephant
(Though all of them were blind),
That each by observation
Might satisfy his mind

The First approached the Elephant,
And happening to fall
Against his broad and sturdy side,
At once began to bawl:
“God bless me! but the Elephant
Is very like a wall!”

The Second, feeling of the tusk,
Cried, “Ho! what have we here
So very round and smooth and sharp?
To me ’tis mighty clear
This wonder of an Elephant
Is very like a spear!”

The Third approached the animal,
And happening to take
The squirming trunk within his hands,
Thus boldly up and spake:
“I see,” quoth he, “the Elephant
Is very like a snake!”

The Fourth reached out an eager hand,
And felt about the knee.
“What most this wondrous beast is like
Is mighty plain,” quoth he;
“ ‘Tis clear enough the Elephant
Is very like a tree!”

The Fifth, who chanced to touch the ear,
Said: “E’en the blindest man
Can tell what this resembles most;
Deny the fact who can
This marvel of an Elephant
Is very like a fan!

The Sixth no sooner had begun
About the beast to grope,
Than, seizing on the swinging tail
That fell within his scope,
“I see,” quoth he, “the Elephant
Is very like a rope!”

And so these men of Indostan
Disputed loud and long,
Each in his own opinion
Exceeding stiff and strong,
Though each was partly in the right,
And all were in the wrong!

Moral:

So oft in theologic wars,
The disputants, I ween,
Rail on in utter ignorance
Of what each other mean,
And prate about an Elephant
Not one of them has seen!

[2].. "If I was going there I wouldn't set out from here"  is the response I got from a man in Ireland when I stopped to ask for directions to  Avoca

Credits:   Cartoon by Andre Jordan at  A Beautiful Revolution
.

TrackBack

TrackBack URL for this entry:
http://www.typepad.com/services/trackback/6a00d834515efd69e200d835401a8c53ef

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Are God and Science reconcilable?:

Comments

Welcome.....     

  • ..this blog stems from a recognition that our true nature is far more creative, loving and unlimited than we could possibly imagine... and it transforms everything... a practical, generic solution to all our problems.

    These are just my lesson notes as I try to  be true to that recognition... and  learn to fly.  So it's quite possible that everything here may be wrong.

    Thank you for visiting.  Email (to Nick Smith) is always welcome.

Keep Up To Date    

  • You can use a feed reader and then subscribe or enter an email address below to receive updates.

     

Google +

  • Join the conversation here...