The God Question

Posted: February 15, 2011 in Integral Studies, Philosophical Debris, Religion

I don’t consider myself an extremely religions person, but spiritual questions keep coming up.  Some of it is because of the extreme danger I see in religious fanaticism gaining footholds in our culture.  More-so, it is because I regard the question of the existence of a deity or spiritual force as  being central in understanding the nature of the universe we live in.

A universe which is cold and impartial, indifferent to the occurrences within it (beyond the scope of cause and effect) is very different from one where there is a benign and positive spiritual energy nudging things in an evolutionary direction.  A universe restricted to the stark phenomenon of purely physical and empirical events is different from one that contains metaphysical and spiritual events.  The question literally defines what is possible within the universe.

Of course I would rather live in the latter, but I consider myself a Rationalist and was, in my youth, a pretty clear cut and Ayn Rand following Atheist.  As much as I would like to believe in spiritual forces in the universe, and as much as I feel them, I know that I cannot accept them only through faith, because that would be blind faith.  Belief based n total subjectivity is prone to self-delusion. There are two kinds of faith.  Blind faith is purely subjective, driven by some inner emotional experience which becomes its own justification.  However, faith can also be an emotional inner experience that has a foundation in empirical or rational proof, and then becomes fueled by the emotional commitment and lack of constant re-questioning.

As I’ve stated before, Stephen Hawking’s book, The Grand Design, tries to describe a universe which doens’t need God.  He doesn’t prove that God doesn’t exist, -just that God is not necessary to the existence of the universe.  On the flip side, this month’s issue of Discover magazine contains an article called “Physics of the Divine? which describes the work of John Polkinghorne who is a Quantum Physicist turned ordained minister.  Polkinghorne tries to argue that there are facets of physics which strongly suggest the possibility of the existence of a God, -specifically the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle and the basic idea of Quantum Entanglement.  (The arguments are a bit complex and the article hasn’t been posted on the web yet, so I can’t give you a link.)  While the idea is compleeling, it is not really that convincing, partly because it doesn’t prove an existence of God, but just allows for God in the scheme of things.

So we have Physicists like Hawkins claiming that the universe can easily exist without God, and like Polkinghorne claiming that the laws of physics do allow for the existence of God.  I do have to say that the Polkinghorne arguments are a little more convincing than Hawking’s, which depends entirely in the existence of string theory and parallel dimensions (without which he has a better argument for the existence of God).  However, both are not really proving anything other than a possibility.  That’s probably because the existence or non-existence of God falls outside of empirical examination.  It is metaphysical by nature, which is a problem for Atheists, but not for Theists.

I’ve recently been listening to lectures by Andrew Cohen, editor of EnlightenNext magazine.  Having a connection with Ken Wilber and Integral Spirituality, I was drawn to his ideas and actually paid for the lecture series.  I have to say that it was disappointing.  In addition to being just too dogmatic (i.e. not providing that needed basis for faith), he was also painfully repetitive, with only one or two points being made in a 45 minute lecture.  While they were points that I’d love to believe, again, he gave me no real reason to do so.

I prefer having a bridge to being forced into leaps of faith.

  1. Ron Krumpos says:

    In “The Grand Design” Hawking says that we are somewhat like goldfish in a curved fishbowl. Our perceptions are limited and warped by the kind of lenses we see through, “the interpretive structure of our human brains.” Albert Einstein rejected this subjective approach, common to much of quantum mechanics, but did admit that our view of reality is distorted.

    Einstein’s Special Theory of Relativity has the surprising consequences that “the same event, when viewed from inertial systems in motion with respect to each other, will seem to occur at different times, bodies will measure out at different lengths, and clocks will run at different speeds.” Light does travel in a curve, due to the gravity of matter, thereby distorting views from each perspective in this Universe. Similarly, mystics’ experience in divine oneness, which might be considered the same “eternal” event, viewed from various historical, cultural and personal perspectives, have occurred with different frequencies, degrees of realization and durations. This might help to explain the diversity in the expressions or reports of that spiritual awareness. What is seen is the same; it is the “seeing” which differs.

    In some sciences, all existence is described as matter or energy. In some of mysticism, only consciousness exists. Dark matter is 25%, and dark energy about 70%, of the critical density of this Universe. Divine essence, also not visible, emanates and sustains universal matter (mass/energy: visible/dark) and cosmic consciousness (f(x) raised to its greatest power). During suprarational consciousness, and beyond, mystics share in that essence to varying extents. [quoted from my e-book on comparative mysticism]

  2. p.wiinholt says:

    While I agree with a lot of what you have presented here, I still find that there is a missing link between the quantum physical and the metaphysical. Looking at science and reality this way makes space for the spiritual, but showing that something is possible is not the same as showing that it “is”. Maybe I’m asking for too much objectivity from what has to be a subjective experience.

  3. Ron Krumpos says:

    In my e-book is a quote by Albert Einstein: “…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.”

    Heisenberg, Schroedinger, de Broglie, Jeans, Planck, Pauli, and Eddington were supporters of mysticism. A good reference is “Quantum Questions / Mystical Writings of the World’s Greatest Physicists,” edited by Ken Wilber (Shambhala 1984, 2001). I had read 40 books on physics, biology and psychology while writing my ebook, but am certainly not a scientist.

    • pwiinholt says:

      Ron, thanks for the Wilber reference. I am not familiar with this book. As you may have gathered from other posts, I am a fan of his perspective.
      I don`t mind you including the name of your e-book and how to get hold of it. I would be interested in looking at it.

      • Ron Krumpos says:

        The book is titled “the greatest achievement in life” and I am the only Ron Krumpos on the Internet.

        It is only 88 pages, plus lists of mystics and three bibliographies, and it is free. For some reason WordPress does not transmit the link.

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