For increasing numbers of people in our modern world the idea of “God” has become nonsense. The proposition that there is a supreme being somewhere “out there,” conceptualized by many as a powerful old man with a beard (as it was in my former Mormonism), has been shown to be highly improbable and implausible. This has caused many to lose their faith entirely, and abandon God, religion, and spirituality.
But perhaps it was not God, but our human ideas of God, that were at fault, that were incomplete, and caused the conflict with the reality we discovered through science and other means, and as we’ve learned more about cosmology, biology, evolution, physics, and the way the universe works. If we let go of those earlier ideas which have grown stale, those earlier interpretations of the Divine, perhaps we can see God in a new light that is reconcilable with all else we’ve learned about the cosmos, and we may even come to experience God directly. Through this direct experience we can interpret God anew.
I see “God” as a name or label for ultimate reality, the absolute, the totality of all existence, and beyond the existence that we can perceive with our limited human senses and minds. God is in everything, including everything we do not know, or even can know intellectually.
And I think this is reconcilable with science, although neither science nor religion can probe the depths of the inner subjective experience of God, which is where God is originally known. When this inner intuitive experience is put into words to make it outwardly known, it becomes something other than what it was. The language we use to point to God is not God itself, the language we use to describe reality is not reality as it is, the map is not the territory, and so this leads us into many errors, mistaking the words or concepts for the reality itself, both in science and religion. We can take the words too seriously, too absolutely. Only our inner subjective consciousness can know God directly through various spiritual practices and mystical experience. Through these practices the absolute can know itself, in us, since we are a part of it.
And yet, we must talk about it, even knowing our language fails at describing it (see Isaiah’s lament in Isa. 6:5). Modern scientists such as Karl Popper have recognized that we cannot articulate absolutes with certainty, that this is impossible for the human mind, and yet we strive to articulate as best we can. And in that search, that striving, we are actually articulating our Self, the cosmos from which we’ve come and in which we are. As popular astrophysicist Carl Sagan remarkably recognized,
…we are a way for the cosmos to know itself.-Carl Sagan
God is the source from which all the cosmos flows, the Singularity or One from which all things manifest in reality, perhaps even that initial gravitational singularity from which the Big Bang sprung, and is still springing, from which consciousness and all material things arise and take shape, the quantum field in which all energy becomes material and receives its form. We have also come from that energy and received form. This “God” is in us, and is the energy and matter that makes up us, that gives energy to our consciousness, the “light” of our mind.
And not only is God the source or essence of all, but the substance or expression as well. God manifests itself in this cosmos. God incarnates itself in its creation. God emanates its own Self, as the rays from the sun. The rays are not separate from the sun, but are the sun manifesting itself. The singularity from which the Big Bang sprung did not disappear, but radiated out, expanding the spacetime of itself, and some scientists think we may still be living inside of that singularity. The energetic fluctuations of the quantum field are the material creation itself (protons, electrons, etc.). They are One and the same.
Mass and energy can be seen as two names (and two measurement units) for the same underlying, conserved physical quantity.“Mass-energy equivalence,” Wikipedia, paraphrasing Einstein
We might then ask what is that “same underlying conserved quantity”? Is it a substance? An essence? Information? Mathematics? A field of potential? God? What is it that becomes known to us as both mass and energy? Why can it not be created or destroyed? What is it that is “underlying,” why is it “underlying,” and can this “underlying” entity ever be known?
Spirit (energy) and body (mass) are One, as Einstein showed mathematically in E=mc². We are that energy and matter, the entire cosmos is that God which is manifesting itself as the energy and matter in all things, and particularly in life such as ourself. Our consciousness is God knowing itself, reflecting on itself, observing itself, being aware of itself, creating itself, awakening to itself.
And we are included in that “God,” that reality, that totality, that incarnation, the creation, the cosmos, the spirit, the matter, the energy, the One. In moments of deep meditation and contemplation we can perceive ourselves in this One, as this One, in oneness or nonduality. We see ourselves as the One who is the totality of the Whole. Consciousness realizes itself.
We see this as an infinite and unconditional Love and Grace beyond all human comprehension. It is Love because it is One, in perfect eternal union with all things. It is Grace because it is already done, already given, already One, infinitely up and down throughout all things and beings.
In such contemplation, all subject-object dualism falls away, even our own egoic individual psychological “self” falls away from consciousness, and we know the One, and the One is us, the Holy (Wholly) One, all of us. God may know its Self only in us, in our consciousness, as that consciousness arises in energy and matter. As the ancients recognized, only the “Son” may know the “Father,” only the one who is God may know God (John 1:18; 6:46). Knowing the eternal union and equivalence of mass and energy as our own cosmic Self giving rise to consciousness is perhaps part of the meaning of “resurrection.” It is God knowing God.
God has no objective existence outside of this cosmos, or as a particular being within it. God is in and through it all, the “all in all,” including in us, as the Apostle Paul noted, “for in [God] we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28).
4 thoughts on “Bringing “God” into the 21st Century through Science and Mysticism”
Excellent Bryce. We might say God is the holy One in All and All in the wholly One. I once posted this:
E=mc², Einstein’s Special Theory of Relativity, is probably the best known scientific equation. I revised it to help better understand the relationship between divine Essence (Love, Grace, Spirit), matter (mass/energy: visible/dark) and consciousness (f(x) raised to its greatest power). Unlike the speed of light, which is a constant, there are no exact measurements for consciousness. In this hypothetical formula, basic consciousness may be of insects, to the second power of animals and to the third power the rational mind of humans. The fourth power is suprarational consciousness of mystics, when they intuit the divine essence in perceived matter. This was a convenient analogy, but there cannot be a divine formula.
Thanks Ron! Einstein’s equation seems to have many depths that are unplumbed. This equivalence of energy and mass/matter is fascinating on many levels.
Einstein once wrote: ““…most beautiful and profound emotion we can experience is the sensation of the mystical. It is the sower of all true science. To know that what is impenetrable to us really exists, manifesting itself as the highest wisdom and most radiant beauty – which our dull faculties can comprehend only in their primitive form – this knowledge, this feeling, is at the center of all religion.”
I love that quote!