suggestions, questions, and answers to:
limitations of Religion and Science
start with consensus...
In everything that I have learned in my exploration of science and
faith, it is clear neither camp is fond of being called "incorrect"
or "narrow." So, rather than begin by making statements
that are contentious, or prone to create a loud crash, as minds
on different paths slam shut, I will simply begin by stating, "you
are both right."
I call this chapter "the Limitations of Religion and Science"
not as a means to state that either path is wrong, or right, but
to begin with the obvious; both take a limited view of the full
range of possibilities our our existence.
So, by means of starting off on the right foot, I will mostly likely
offend both camps, before bringing them together in some form of
common language and belief.
It is common knowledge in marketing, politics and sociology that
change comes from the middle, not from the extremes on any issue.
The same can be said in working to combine faith and physics into
Phaith. Identifying the extremes, in order better understand the
middle, is important as a starting place.
easier, but intellectually lazy to simply state, "It's what I believe,
and that is all I need to know." This concept is prevalent in both
theology and science, with both digging deeper into their respective
bomb shelters, closing off any discussion from alternative camps.
the base of why I am doing this project, is a sincere belief that
both camps are correct, and painfully incorrect. They are correct
in having part of the answer, but also incorrect in the assertion
that their path is the only path, and that no others can
come to the same conclusions, or ultimate goal.
easy to understand why someone who practices a traditional religion
may reduce the conversation down to a single school of thought or
belief. After all, every religion calls for complete faith in the
basic tenants of their holy scriptures, and all promise a safe,
happy, fulfilling journey through this life and beyond, if you simply
just take them at "The Word," and move on without question.
is interesting to me, is that while I grew up hearing that Christians
are to have the "Faith of Child," there is no more apt description
of a child than of someone who continually asks, "WHY?" We are also
asked to have the "faith as small as a mustard seed" that
would allow us to move a mountain, simply by telling it to move.
(If nothing speaks of intention and quantum mechanics in Christianity,
this concept does). But, the ambiguity of asking questions, while
offering unshakable faith in that which we don't understand is at
the root of most people's faith.
do bad things happen to good people? Why is there suffering? Is
there really an afterlife, and how do I get it?
in general is not so unlike organize religion, in that it is rooted
in a need to be specific in disciplined belief, while stating "this
is the law, live with it." If you think there is strife in
the world over differences in religious belief, you may be surprised
to find the same zealous dedication in the sciences, regarding the
fundamental questions of "how we got here," and "where are we going?"
Newtonian sciences to the "New Physics," and the huge range of psychological
and medical science options and opinions, there is almost no end
to the number of stalwart, rigid beliefs in the science world that
easily rival the range of rigid religious beliefs.
coming back…does have a way of complicating the questions.
I readily know that there is far more to our reality than either
side has to offer on its own, I am stuck at a couple of basic questions
for both sides. These questions are at the heart of my journey,
and will be the launching spot for this project.
would have to ask any practitioner of any religion this question,
"Why must we limit our quest to know God to a simple "Supreme Being
in the Sky" when the true nature of our existence is far more compelling,
interesting, and beautiful?"
for the science crowd, "Why are you so afraid of finding out there
may be universal intelligence behind the mechanics of your scientific
belief? What would be wrong with using science to in some way acknowledge
the existence of something bigger than ourselves?"
the base of both of these questions is the perplexing reality of
my own experience. If I died, and I believe that I did, and I was
given a primal understanding of how the universe, and perhaps beyond
our universe, is wired…who gave me the answers? Who was I talking
to, if not God?
I know some basic truths about the quantum nature of our existence,
and the way in which this universal consciousness is part of everything
in our existence, I continue to ask the childlike question, "Why?"
and especially blind faith in something, has no place in this journey.
And yet, I realize fully that I am asking you to believe the basics
of this story, in order for us to move beyond and toward the answers
we are all seeking.
I can tell you--again and again-- is that there is more to this
existence than either traditional religion, or science currently
provides. The answers come from both disciplines, but without the
boundaries of either.
we are to move forward at all in this journey, it is imperative
that we do so with an open mind, and perhaps even more important,
an open heart.
are no "wrong answers" here in most cases. The real problems
come from not going far enough with what we already know, or feel
in our hearts or intuition. There are clear differences between
simple faith and a pragmatic approach to an expanded understanding.
Let's begin with the differences, on a surface level.
to start? Religion or Science…
may seem an easy answer for most modern, enlightened, sojourners
to start with the limitations of religion, primarily because so
many of the main religions have similar mythology that would not
seem credible, even on a Saturday morning cartoon show.
and the use of myth as a basis for worldwide organizations, is "easy
money," when it comes to finding a clear, renewable source of revenue.
"Extreme Christianity" (those of such blind faith that
even average church attendees shake their heads) go so far as to
have its own museum dedicated to the scientific proof that the earth
is 6,000 years old.
Museum" is to common sense, as what Rock Hudson is to heterosexual
monogamy. While the earth and the universe certainly are every bit
of 6,000 years old, they are certainly much, much older (an understatement?)
And, while Rock appeared to be a "manly man who loved girls" on
screen, there was obviously more to the story (another understatement?)
common sense doesn't stop tens of thousands of "the faithful," or
perhaps just those like myself who would attend for a good laugh,
to pay up to $24.95 a day to see proof that man and dinosaurs once
lived in harmony together. And, Rock Hudson and Doris Day were one
of the most popular romantic movie star couples on the silver screen.
people that intellectually lazy, or simply that resolute in their
beliefs? I don't think it matters.
fact that so few Christians have ever read the entire Bible
continues to astound me. If I were going to turn my life over a
supreme being, and have faith that everything that is written in
the "Good Book" is inspired, if not the actual word of God, I would
think that you would want to at least have a reasonable understanding
of what those words are.
have read the Bible, more than once. I have even read the Bible,
using one of comparative language versions, in which you can read
the original Greek translation, the King James Version, and the
New Living Bible side by side, just to make the point that there
are nuances and differences in each translation. This in itself
is an important point. The fact that there are innumerable translations
should be a tip off that "The Word of God" is a malleable work of
man. More important, the Bible, as we know it today, is comprised
of countless "gospels" that were chosen from countless others, at
a time that a unified work was being assembled (or in the case of
non-Cannon approved written text, disassembled).
was as if an editor was trying to create a great novel, but had
hundreds of authors trying to tell their version of the same, or
differing stories and then assembling "The Word of God" as a unified,
coherent, cogent work. The result, as you can imagine, would be
uneven, a bit disconnected, and often contradictory from chapter
only need read one of the key verses in the New Testament, "Mathew
5" (Christ's sermon on the mount) and then follow it up with a healthy
dose of the Book of Leviticus (whose two lines about a man not laying
with another man is the basis of centuries of homophobia) to see
the root of the contradiction. It is the proverbial "Nice God" -versus-
the "Crazy, Insecure, Kill a Dove, a Goat, and a Sheep in my Name"
God, that creates the first ripples of doubt in any reasonable person's
we do "have the faith of a child," and turn our lives over to God,
there is the matter of omnipotence, the part that leads us to believe
that we are not in control, and that God is watching over every
living thing. If God does indeed know "how many hairs on our heads"
(Matthew 10:30) and watches over every facet of our lives, is He
just watching, or does He play a hand in everything that happens?
This is where God and Science can, and perhaps do start to cross
paths. More about this later.
it is also easy to see where the "Faith of a Child" can be completely
subverted into something that is confused, and lost. It is also
easy to see why complicating the "great mysteries of God" with myriad
rules and constructs works in the favor of those working to keep
control over the masses.
In defense of religion, whether they be organized or simply faith-based
beliefs, at least start with a premise that there is more to life
than simply THIS life. It is the innate intuition that there is
"something more" that leads to faith in a higher power,
or greater intelligence. All good, as long as the quest for understanding
the mind of God doesn't just stop there.
Like it does with science...
you think that the creation of the universe is simplistic and unfulfilling
in its scope in a religious text, one only need grasp the basic
tenants of "The Big Bang" and evolution, to feel that
there are some pieces of the puzzle missing.
"In the beginning, God created heaven and earth, and the earth
was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the
deep." Genesis 1:1
to the standard theory, our universe sprang into existence
as "singularity" around 13.7 billion years ago. What is a "singularity"
and where does it come from? Well, to be honest, we don't know for
sure. Singularities are zones which defy our current understanding
of physics. They are thought to exist at the core of "black holes."
Black holes are areas of intense gravitational pressure. The pressure
is thought to be so intense that finite matter is actually squished
into infinite density (a mathematical concept which truly boggles
the mind). These zones of infinite density are called "singularities."
Our universe is thought to have begun as an infinitesimally small,
infinitely hot, infinitely dense, something - a singularity. Where
did it come from? We don't know. Why did it appear? We don't know.
its initial appearance, it apparently inflated (the "Big Bang"),
expanded and cooled, going from very, very small and very, very
hot, to the size and temperature of our current universe. It continues
to expand and cool to this day and we are inside of it: incredible
creatures living on a unique planet, circling a beautiful star clustered
together with several hundred billion other stars in a galaxy soaring
through the cosmos, all of which is inside of an expanding universe
that began as an infinitesimal singularity which appeared out of
nowhere for reasons unknown. This is the Big Bang theory.
the beginning, God created the Heaven and earth" doesn't sound a
whole lot worse to those who want to know, than a whole list of
"We don't knows."
what makes science even more maddening and confounding in regards
to coming to grips with "where we all came from and where we are
going," is that while the science community claim to not know the
complete answers, they are extremely resolute that God, or a creator,
or even a form of intelligence in nature, had no hand in the creation
or governance our existence.
the wonderful documentary movie, "The
Nature of Existance" by Roger Nigard, David L. Warks, a physicist
from the Imperial College/RAL makes the statement, "I could make
a fortune now, and all I would have to do is write a book on how
Particle Physic proves God exists, and it will all be total hooey
but it will sell a million copies…and none of my friends will ever
talk to me again, but I'll be rich."
the primary reason to exclude the possibility of an intelligent
force or entity in the creation of our universe, is because we are
afraid of what our friends might think?
fun thing about science is that they don't stop there. Like most
religions who claim to be the "One True Word of God" and for the
most part revile or even kill those who think differently, science
has a long history of rebuking and discounting any scientific discipline
other than their own school of thought (and funding).
the primary questions of our existence of a biologist, a Newtonian
physicist, a particle physicist, a physiologist, a doctor, a cosmologist,
or an astrophysicist, and they will likely give vehement, and resolute
arguments about the "laws of nature" and the universe to support
their side of the argument.
to science, there is a scientific explanation for almost everything
in the universe, and there is no need for anything metaphysical
or supernatural to be brought into the conversation. Of that, the
scientific community is absolutely sure.
as the long history of "Scientific Laws" that have tumbled out of
favor will attest, scientific law seems as malleable as interpretations
of the Bible. What is "fact" today, may be more inclined to fit
with the latest government grant, or to the needs of the major Defense
Contractor, or Pharmaceutical Conglomerate that is funding the project.
astrophysics clings steadfastly to a "creation myth" founded on
the Big Bang, and mundane (though ever changing) laws about gravity
and thermodynamics, particle physics are now banging down the walls
of the most basic of Einstein's laws of matter; space and time.
they don't know.
breakthroughs in the science of quantum collacation, the ability
for particles to be in more than one place at the same time, or
to communicate instantly with other particles through entanglement
at great distances (far beyond the speed of light), are certainly
witness to the science community and beyond, that there is MORE
to all of this than meets the eye, or the most current popular directions
that corporate funding would take us.
there is nothing in modern physics more confounding than the infamous
"double slit experiment" where the nature of a matter
and energy can become either wave or particle, depending on mere
observation or measurment-wave one way, particle another. In essense,
allowing that "intent" from external sources can, and
most likely does, manipulae our not-so-physical world and laws of
while science seems to seek answers, but qualifies their search
by stating, "there is no God," the religious community seems bent
on denying science because there "is a God."
is the logic and common sense in that?
are asked to accept the existence of God, and not question the origins
or workings of creation (ask Galileo how that worked out for him).
Or, we are asked to accept that there is a scientific explanation
for everything in the universe, if we just wait long enough, that
will explain away a need for God. Why should we do either?
would have us believe that the Big Bang, and an infinite number
of complete accidents and special circumstances all came together
in the first billionth of a second of that event, that ended up
creating through basic evolution, who and what we experience in
our reality today.
particle, of every atom, of every cell, that makes up every living
thing, in a universe of infinite dimensions, may or may not be vibrating
with the DNA and quantum communication with every other particle
in the entire universe…and it is all just a series of events, coincidence,
and random outcome?
observable universe (not to be confused with parts beyond our ability
to observe), according to most estimates, is more than 93 billion
light years wide. We might has well have said that Noah lived to
be 950 years old. The math for both statements is mind-boggling.
see… a light year is how long it takes the speed of light to travel
in a year. The speed of light is 186,282 miles per second. That's
670,615,200 per hour, or roughly 5,874,589,152,000 miles in a year.
That's over five quadrillion
miles (thankfully our nation debt is not a quadrillion dollars yet).
nearest star to our own sun in our galaxy is Alpha Centauri at some
4.4 light-years away.
between the things we can see, are the seemingly infinite (and I
realize that number is starting to have no meaning at all by this
time) subatomic particles in dark matter, that are theorized to
be the glue that holds it all together, and keeps the universe from
expanding too quickly, or compressing back into the infinitely dense
singularity from whence it all supposedly came. Every particle is
part of the known universe. Energy is eternal, and it is this energy
that becomes the elements of who we really are, and what we become
in this life.
is an old man in the sky, who made it all 6,000 years ago for his
There is plenty of silly to go around when it comes to science or
at this point I implore those of both schools of belief to move
forward in a spirit of "what if" and embrace that possibility that
there may in fact be room for more…much more. What I believe, and
perhaps am even bold enough to state at this point, what
I know, is that without science, the basics of any religion
have no clear fundamental basis for belief. And, that at the root
of the biggest questions of science, is a universal intelligence
that lives and communicates through every particle of our existence,
and may ironically help us understand our existence beyond theory
or malleable scientific or religious laws.
you can't embrace the "what if" of both sides of this equation…this
is your last chance...stop reading now. Because the real
answers to the biggest questions about our existence are Beyond
God and Science.