Does proving the existence of God make any real difference to us? Is it of any consequence? Are we just ants infesting a Zoo, thinking that it was built by a benevolent super being for our benefit?
When Atheists or scientifically minded people scoff at religion they are typically attacking certain supernatural or superstitious aspects of it. Most often these days it is the Young Earth Creationist under attack , who chooses to deny a mountain of scientific evidence, claiming that the world was created 8 000 years ago by God, and denying both Geology and Evolution. But it also would include the acceptance of an historically unsubstantiated, often translated and randomly edited book (The Bible) as a fundamental truth, the idea of an afterlife that is only accessible by those who defer to a set of arbitrary rules pronounced by a patriarchal institution, the idea that prayer will result in God’s intervention (which has some indirect merit, as I’ll discuss later), and that there is a divine being who demands our worship to be in His good graces.
I recently viewed a video on YouTube called The Signs of God’s Existence, which is supposedly an intellectual and scientific examination of astronomical, physical, biological and mathematical theories, proving that the universe had to come about by Intelligent Design. The arguments presented are far more intellectual and refined than the ones usually presented but I could easily spend pages rebutting this travesty of a documentary. But that is not my goal here. Suffice it to say that the so called evidence presented in this video is deeply flawed and very misleading.
However, let’s assume for the moment that this documentary is accurate and that things like the finely tuned constant values in forces holding the substance of the world together, and the Fibonacci pattern arising regularly in nature (to take two examples) is not explainable by science, but is proof of divine creation. Such a proof of the existence of God still does not confirm in any way the beliefs of the Earth’s various religions. It does not automatically follow that we are special in any way, that God wishes to be worshipped, or that Heaven is waiting for us. It could be an impersonal God which has no desire to intervene or even have any interest in human, earthly affairs. In fact, it is far more likely that the motives and designs of a divine and omnipotent being would be unfathomable to us.
Einstein clearly believed in a mysterious, spiritual force. He was what would loosely be called a “Modern Deist”, although there are a multitude of meanings for that term. From the World Union of Deists:
“Deism is the recognition of a universal creative force greater than that demonstrated by mankind, supported by personal observation of laws and designs in nature and the universe, perpetuated and validated by the innate ability of human reason coupled with the rejection of claims made by individuals and organized religions of having received special divine revelation.”
I’m not sure to what extent Einstein would have formally believed this, but in many interview with him he stated that there was an elegance to the structure of the universe that was not entirely scientific. He was attracted to Spinoza’s impersonal God rather than the personal one of traditional religions. Similarly, the Eastern system of Taoism believes that there is a positive force flowing through the universe (kind of like The Force in Star Wars, which was actually based on Taoism). While this “force” is not in any extraordinary way concerned with us, it is still possible to live in or out of harmony with it. It is still possible to recognize the pattern of its worldly effects on reality.
This is an impersonal God. It can be seen as an evolutionary force, as a spiritual presence or as a mathematical theory related to Chaos Theory. Perhaps one day we will be able understand it better or maybe even quantify it. It does not require worship, it does not see us as exceptional and it does not speak to us of an afterlife.
However, as I said, it is possible to live in or out of harmony with this force. When the subject of “prayer” comes up, there is the fact that if you envision something you wish to come to pass, this reinforcing act of volition will make it more possible, empowering your Will and aligning your Sub-Conscious. This is the way in which prayer and mindfulness (or meditation) might be similar, -the enabling and empowering of certain thoughts to help propel them into reality by strengthening volition. Also the act of mindfulness or contemplation strengthens the mind, helps produce harmony and enables a more deliberate and rewarding life. In this very indirect way, prayer and God may be a real force in our lives, in an impersonal way.
My personal feeling is that it is a huge leap from a universe full of only hydrogen and helium to the existence of a William Shakespeare or a Robert Frost. If Quantum Physics has to postulate a theory of multiple universes in order to adequately explain the finely tuned constants of forces, then perhaps there is another force helping to nudge things along in the background. Not a patriarchal, bearded, sentient (at least in the way that we understand it), personal God, but perhaps an impersonal, “spiritual” force moving us towards increased organization rather than just entropy. It would not be ridiculous to think that there may be an evolutionary force functioning in the universe as a counter to entropy. Such an impersonal God, if that is even a wise label, doesn’t impact or interfere in my life, still allows me to create and evolve my own morals, and ultimately affirms science. It also provides a little order and meaning to the universe.