Saturday, October 30, 2010

"The Force Be With You"

Part 4: FROM COSMOS, TO CHAOS, TO CONSCIOUSNESS

By Pastor Larry DeBruyn




“They have discovered a subatomic particle called a lepton. And the general consensus is that leptons do exist as individual subatomic particles. The only hitch is they’ve only been able to observe leptons in communities of two and three. And so they said, yes, we understand that this is a single lepton, the problem is we only find them existing in groups of two and three oneness. And so the Newtonian understanding of cause and effect has simply taken a beating with quantum physics; because you take a picture of an atom, you take a picture of the same atom a second layer; they don’t know what it’s going to do.

Well, the assumption was always there was an element of predictability at the very bedrock foundational part of the universe. But the problem is quantum physicists are just saying what when you get right down to the smallest thing, that makes a thing, that makes a thing, that makes a thing, essentially the universe at its core is unpredictable. The best we can come up with is that the universe at its core is some sort of relationship of energy.

"So you have brilliant, studied, respected research scientists saying all we can come up is the universe at its core is made up of some sort of relational energy that we simply can’t control, some of them are even starting to use words like personality. And that this energy that holds everything together, that brought everything into existence, and somehow sustains or holds everything in existence, gives life to everything, and simply has a mind of its own, we cannot conquer it or put it into a box. It is simply above and beyond what we can comprehend.

"High end particle quantum subatomic physicists are starting to sound a lot like ancient Near-Eastern Jewish poets.”
Rob Bell, “Everything is Spiritual #2"*




Dicey Design

As many know, Intelligent Design calls into question the Darwinian worldview and the academic establishment that espouses it. The anthropic principle, the idea that we live in a physical and biological universe so minutely calibrated as to enable human life to exist and survive, opposes the random philosophy of life implied by atheistic evolutionism.[55] After all, how can design exist without a Designer, the One the Bible introduces as God? (See Genesis 1:1.) Does our reality exist for reason of “chance,” or the Creator? Are we to think that an explosion (chaos) in a printing shop produced the Encyclopedia Britannica (a fractal)?

The new physics with its attendant aspects of chaos and fractal theory, views such a lucky transformation as possible. Inherent within chaos is design. The planetary junkyard we live in may morph into a new car, provided the “green movement” can first prevent our earth from becoming a graveyard. The ecological crisis must be solved in order to buy the time necessary for the environment to evolve into a higher fractal form.

When the shift between Newtonian and quantum physics took place in the last century, Albert Einstein (1879-1955), believing in the old theory but fascinated by the possibilities of the new, protested stating, “God does not play dice with the universe.”[56] Fractal-ism seems to be an attempt to account for the design in the universe absent a Designer . . . design by chance. Quantum-ism assumes that a self-originated, self-existent, and self-contained system, or universe, is also a self-creating, self-transforming, and self-evolving complexity continuously organizing from chaos into fractals. Reality is a continuum of disorder to order, order to disorder, disorder to order, and so on and so on, from infinity to infinity. The system, it is believed, possesses an inherent ability to transform itself. Order can emerge out of disorder, fractals out of chaos.


Dynamic Monism
So if hope exists, it resides in the ability of the system, in which human beings are the conscious part, to self-transform. Because of the way the universe works independent of the transcendent God, the worldview might be called, “dynamic monism.” Though God remains materialized and energized in the cosmic processes—a sort of divinity does remain in, around, and through all things—He is depersonalized. No longer considered holy, God comes to be known by dynamic monists as “the Force,” or the “It” of everything. This panentheistic and/or pantheistic view of life deny the sovereignty and providence of the Creator.

We can note the similarity of “dynamic-monism” to an ancient philosophy propounded by Anaximander (c. 610 BC–c. 546 BC). In his City of God, Augustine (354-430) noted the philosopher believed:

each thing springs from its own proper principle. These principles of things he [Anaximander] believed to be infinite in number, and . . . that [the principles] generated innumerable worlds . . . He thought . . . these worlds are subject to a perpetual process of alternate dissolution [chaos?] and regeneration [fractals?], each one continuing for a longer or shorter period of time, according to the nature of the case . . .[57]

In difference to intelligent design, Augustine noted that Anaximander did not “attribute anything to a divine mind in the production of all this activity of things.”
In the quantum view of reality, design just seems to happen, but some hypothesize that via human consciousness (presumed to be the cosmos’ intelligent-control mechanism), humans can cause it to happen.[58]


The Consciousness Connexion
According to the old physics, humans were observers of the universe. According to the new way of understanding the universe, humans are participants. The New Spirituality hypothesizes that consciousness and cosmos are connected within a holistic universe, that spirituality and science, metaphysics and physics are interdependent aspects of the monistic and dynamic One. Not only can humans watch the universe operate, they also possess the ability to affect the happening of it. The German physicist Werner Heisenberg (1901-1976) for example, was one of the first advocates of the uncertainty principle. He is quoted to have said:

The great scientific contribution in theoretical physics that has come from Japan since the last war may be an indication of a certain relationship between philosophical ideas in the tradition of the Far East and the philosophical substance of quantum theory.[59]

After all, if perchance God be removed from the system, what, or who, is left? Only the System is left, and the New Spirituality therefore calls upon humans, as the conscious parts of the System, to exercise their consciousness and play God.


THE SPIRITUALITY

To the new spiritualists, the universe is just “there.” Within a universe seen as self-contained and self-creating, it becomes “natural” for an environmentally conscious New Age/Aquarian spirituality to combine philosophy with physics, to link the cosmos with human consciousness, to take the “quantum leap” from the physical to the metaphysical, and to combine science with spirituality.[50] Some even label the connection between consciousness and cosmos, Quantum Spirituality.[61] In his book Soul Tsunami, Leonard Sweet states:

One of the greatest changes in perspective is the postmodern redefinition of size at both the gargantuan and the miniscule levels. Physics is increasingly becoming the study of matter so small (is it a wave? is it a particle?) as to become the study of consciousness. In other words, physics is becoming metaphysics.[62]

Generally, the existential leap involves three phases.[63]

First, any God—who is before, separate from, and therefore above the universe—is denied. Referring to the Jewish Shema which says, “Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one!” (Deuteronomy 6:4), a Rabbi explains:

My genuine experience of life is that there is nothing ‘out there.’ This is all there is. And when you see the seamlessness of it all (monism?), that’s what I mean by ‘God.’ . . . If you ask me what 9/11 really did, it made me understand the truth that, ‘Everything is one.’ Not that there’s some guy hanging out there who has it all together, who we call ‘One,’ but that it is all one.[64]

In contrast, the Bible pictures reality as dualistic. God existed before and separate from the universe which He created out of nothing (creatio ex nihilo). Therefore, “below and above” is not a “seamless whole.” The God in heaven above is separate from earth below. “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). Jesus told those authorities who were His antagonists, “You are from below, I am from above; you are of this world, I am not of this world” (John 8:23). To believe it to be otherwise, that “Everything is the One,” is pantheism; and pantheism is atheism.

God “In” Process
Panentheism (i.e., nature houses the divine Soul) is basic to The Shack’s view of God’s being. For reality to be a “mess-below-but-fractal-above,” demands belief that a divine Soul infuses the material universe; that the Soul is not only “around” everything, but is also “through” and “in” everything.[65] Thus, Jesus explains to Mack about “Papa-Elousia” in The Shack:

Being always transcends appearance—that which only seems to be. . . . That is why Elousia is such a wonderful name. God who is the ground of all being, dwells in, around, and through all things—ultimately emerging as the real—and any appearances that mask that reality will fall away (The Shack, 112).

So “the ground of all being” who is a Papa goddess, “dwells in, around, and through all things.” Though it disavows that nature is God (i.e., pantheism), panentheism believes that nature is permeated with a divine Soul. For example, if someone hugs a tree, they are not physically hugging God per se, but they are putting their arms around an object that, along with the rest of nature, houses the divine Soul. Thus, everything and everyone is endowed with an aura of sacredness. Such a worldview, so the thinking goes, will provide humanity with the spiritual basis and incentive to love one another, the creation, and thereby solve the ecological crisis.

Second, because they view reality as a monistic-seamless whole independent of “some-One-out-there,” the New Spirituality deduces the universe to be a self-originated, self-contained, self-perpetuating, self-creating and self-evolving system “which is just there.”

Third, how then, according to this systemic view of everything, are we to understand spirituality? Spirituality comes to be defined as an experience of feeling connected to and aligned with the Universe (i.e., the System, Nature, or Creation), the Source of everything that just is—as above, so below, as without, so within. One Aquarian spiritualist explains:

Knowing that there’s this interconnectedness of the universe that we are all interconnected and we are connected to the universe at its fundamental level . . . I think is as good a definition of spirituality as there is.[56]

To cultivate the consciousness of becoming and being one with the One, to feel connected to and aligned with the seamless whole of Nature, mystical experiences are necessary. Such spiritual encounters become means to that end. Something must happen to shift a person’s inner consciousness to that of feeling connected to Creation, to awaken the dormant divinity that assumedly lies within every person. Mystical experience must transform sub-consciousness (below) into consciousness (above). So as one professor of religion explains, “Mysticism constitutes a core tradition within all the world’s religions and is, above all, a positive and awesome experience of the mystery and miracle of being rather than hypothesis, inference, or mere belief about it.”[67] Another states:

In certain forms of mysticism, there is an experience of identification with every life form . . . Within the deep ecological movement, poetical and philosophical expressions of such experiences are not uncommon.[68]

Thus, we observe that the New Spirituality includes pursuit of mystical experiences through which contemplators—via techniques including meditation, chanting, drumming, and taking drugs—will supposedly develop a consciousness of feeling “at-one-ment” with “the One” which is Nature, which is whatever is “there.”

Likewise, while denigrating a biblical worldview as one of unnecessary institutions, arbitrary authority, and inhibiting rules, The Shack is big on experiencing “Creation” with a capital “C”—strolling in the garden, hiking in the forests, lying on a dock and looking up at the stars in the night skies, exploring caves, walking on water, and so on.[69] Thus a reader of The Shack is introduced to the role played by consciousness in the worldview of the New Spirituality.


To be continued. . . .


Endnotes:
55. See William A. Dembski, Intelligent Design, The Bridge Between Science & Theology (Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 1999). In this book’s “Foreword,” Michael J. Behe summarizes that physically, “the universe is fine-tuned for life, ranging from the strength of the gravitational constant to the values of the resonance levels of carbon nuclei to the frequency of supernovae.” He also points out that biologically, design lies at “the cellular basis of life, where molecular machines of stunning complexity carry out life’s most basic tasks.” (p. 11).
56. Thomas Torrance, “Reflections: Einstein and God,” Center of Theological Inquiry (http://74.125.95.132/search?q=cache:dnWCKtO3JPUJ:www. ctinquiry.org/publications/reflections_volume_1/torrance.htm+Einstein,+%22dice%22&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=3&gl=us).
57. Augustine, “City of God,” Great Books of the Western World, Volume 18, Robert Maynard Hutchins, Editor in Chief (Chicago: Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc,) Book VIII, Chapter 2, page 265.
58. Ibid.
59. Emphasis Mine, Werner Heisenberg quoted by Fritjof Capra, The Tao of Physics, 18. Capra also quotes Quantum physicists Julius Robert Oppenheimer and Niels Bohr with the supposition that quantum mechanics and quantum mysticism compliment one another. In other words, there is a quantum link between science and spirituality!
Philosopher Ken Wilbur on the other hand, thinks that merging particle physics to mystical spirituality is in error. Though many quantum physicists were mystics, they were not so for reason of science. Wilbur rejects the “physics-supports-mysticism” idea because of the “uncertainty” that quantum theory is science’s final view of reality. Like quantum theory has done to the old Newtonian worldview, one day it too will probably be superseded by some new theory of reality, and if this should happen, then Wilbur knows that any spirituality connected to the quantum worldview would be trumped and rendered obsolete. See Ken Wilbur, Editor, Quantum Questions, Mystical Writings of the World’s Great Physicists (Boston: Shambhala, 1985) ix.
60. J.C. Polkinghorne notes that, “Two books which survey modern physics and seek to assimilate it to Eastern thought are Fritjof Capra: The Tao of Physics (Fontana, 1976), Gary Zukav: The Dancing Wu Li Masters (Fontana, 1980).” Polkinghorne then gives his estimation of the attempt. He writes: “Personally I feel that the attempt depends too greatly on purely verbal parallels to be convincing.” The Quantum World (Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1984) 97.
61. Leonard I. Sweet, Quantum Spirituality, A Post Modern Apologetic (Dayton, Ohio: Whaleprints, 1991).
62. Emphasis Mine, Sweet, SoulTsunami, 109.
63. Blackburn states notes that, “Existentialist writing . . . reacts against the view that the universe is a closed, coherent, intelligible system [i.e., that of the old Newtonian physics] . . . In the face of an indifferent universe we are thrown back upon our own freedom. Acting authentically becomes acting in the light of the open space of possibilities that the world allows.” See Simon Blackburn, “existentialism, “Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy (New York: Oxford University Press, 2005) 125.
64. Rabbi Irwin Kula quoted by William J. Jackson, Heaven’s Fractal Net, Retrieving Lost Visions in the Humanities (Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana Press, 2004) 239-240.
65. On this point Rick Warren quotes the New Century Version’s theologically errant rendition of Ephesians 4:6b, that God “rules everything and is everywhere and is in everything” (Italics Mine). See The Purpose Driven Life (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2002) 88.
66. Stuart Hameroff, M.D., What the Bleep do we know!? DVD (Beverly Hills, California: © 20th Century Fox, 2004).
67. Paul Brockelman, Cosmology and Creation, The Spiritual Significance of Contemporary Cosmology (New York; Oxford University Press, 1999) 74.
68. Ibid. 153. Quoting Arne Naess, “Identification as a Source of Deep Ecological Attitudes,” in Deep Ecology, Michael Tobias, Editor (San Diego: Avant Books, 1985) 153.
69. It can be counted that the word “creation” occurs approximately twenty times in The Shack, and is always spelled with a capital “C.” By his use of the upper case spelling contra Romans 1:25, is the author assigning divinity to nature? In the first occurrence of the word “nature,” it too is spelled with a capital “N.” (The Shack, 15) On the preceding page, Young also wrote of “the god of winter.” (The Shack, 14)

[Ed. Note: The title for posting this segment (Part 4) was derived from the text. Links were added to this text.]

*Rob Bell, “Everything is Spiritual #2," http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cksKWREnDiw and http://www.amazon.com/Everything-Spiritual-Rob-Bell/dp/0310285569. This quote by Bell was added to the original text because it illustrates the points made here in Part 4. For additional interesting reading on Emergent/Emerging church leader Rob Bell's new physics, see the post at the Sola Sisters blog, October 27, 2010: "Quantum Science Proves 'Everything Is Spiritual?' Not So Fast, Says Quantum Physicist Dr. Frank Stootman," which reports that Rob Bell's science is questionable "according to Dr. Frank Stootman, a quantum physics professor in Australia who has written a paper scientifically refuting Rob Bell's attempt to make panentheism seem scientific. Dr. Stootman's paper states that Rob Bell's "science" is weak at best, and does not support his argument." http://solasisters.blogspot.com/2010/10/quantum-science-proves-everything-is.html


Reprinted with permission. This article series is from a chapter in Pastor Larry DeBruyn's book, UNSHACKLED: Breaking Away From Seductive Spirituality, which is available from Discernment Ministries for a gift of $10.00 plus $2.50 for shipping. Orders can be placed by phoning: 903-567-6423. Bulk discounts are available. Book sales directly benefit "Eastern European Ministries," a very special mission project that is close to Pastor DeBruyn's heart.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Fractal Emergence

Part 3: FROM COSMOS, TO CHAOS, TO CONSCIOUSNESS

By Pastor Larry DeBruyn


Linear Versus Non-linear Time

Quantum theory also influences one’s view of time. Previously understood as linear by the old view, time is now viewed as nonlinear. As Emerging Church leader Leonard Sweet states: “We do not live in linear time and space, but in curved time and space and nonlinear iterative processes.”[34] Sweet then adds:

Rather than stasis and order, the dynamics of life-systems are non-linear, where the rules of the game keep changing because the game keeps changing. One plays on the run and while everything is moving.[35]

Such a view of time explains why in The Seeker, Will became a time traveler, journeyed back in history, and found the fractal-marked signs by which the universe could be rescued from the encroaching chaos of darkness. This view of time may explain how Mack could visit a garden, “A Long Time Ago . . . Far, Far Away.” (The Shack, Chapter 9, 128).


The Old Physics
The Newtonian worldview—that God the clockmaker made the universe to run like a clock—calculated time to be linear. One writer calls this view of time “straight arrow,” and explains:

Time marches in a straight line at a uniform pace from past to present to future, without variation. Time can only move in one direction—always forward, never backward, certainly not to the left or right, and never in circles.[36]

So tick tock . . . we’re on the clock! According to the Newtonian understanding, the reality of life is sequential, chronological, and temporal. We were born. We live. We will die. This understanding accords with the Bible. The Psalmist wrote: “The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away” (Psalm 90:10, KJV). Jesus spoke of “this age [and] . . . the age to come” (Matthew 12:32). At the time of His ascension, the disciples asked Jesus, “Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?” to which He answered them, “It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power” (Acts 1:6-7). In light these biblical citations—more could be offered—it is concluded that the biblical “view of time may be called ‘linear’ . . . God’s purpose moves to a consummation; things do not just go on or return to the point whence they began.[37] Everything about life is sequential and therefore temporal. Time marches on . . . or, does it?


The Time Changers

Quantum physics introduces an alternative, though ancient, way of looking at time; that time is non-linear. This cyclic understanding of time opposes the biblical and Newtonian conceptualization of time.

Einstein’s theory of relativity—that energy equals matter (E = m)—not only changed the understanding of the universe’s material dimension, but also its temporal dimension. The quantum physical worldview theorizes that time is non-linear, or cyclic. Theologian Lucas explains:

According to the theory of relativity time can no longer be regarded as an independent entity separate from the three spatial dimensions of length, depth, and height. Instead we have to think in terms of a unified, four-dimensional space time.[38]

Because outer space is measured by the distance that light travels in a solar year (i.e., light years), and because light may in fact be particles, quantum theory integrates light with space (because light is matter, and matter occupies space). Thus, a New Age spiritualist opines:

According to relativity theory, space is not three-dimensional and time is not a separate entity. Both are intimately connected and form a four-dimensional continuum, ‘space-time’.[39]

By combining time and space, and the energy-matter which occupies space, some scientists project there to have been no temporal “beginning” of the universe. There is no ex nihilo (out of nothing) origin of the universe. Everything just “Is.” There is no God who, “In the beginning [time] . . . created the heavens [space] and the earth [matter]” (Genesis 1:1). The universe is just a gargantuan holistic and monistic “Oneness”—as above, so below. Stephen Hawking states:

One could say: “The boundary condition of the universe is that it has no boundary.” The universe would be completely self-contained and not affected by anything outside itself. It would neither be created nor destroyed. It would just BE.[40]

In this view of reality, time becomes cyclical and repeatable. This ancient religious and philosophical worldview, common to eastern religions, believes in an

endless return of golden ages alternating with dark ages. All that had happened yesterday and yesterday and yesterday would happen tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow.[41]

Rewinding their reality to the past (as in The Seeker and The Shack), or fast forwarding it to the future, become real possibilities for the human experience. Backward or forward, we can become conscious time travelers. We can control our reality providing we develop via prescribed mystical-meditative techniques, a new consciousness through which we can manipulate our reality from chaos to order (i.e., fractal). The science of the Mind can triumph over matter. As the cyclical complements the spiritual and the mystical, physics becomes the handmaid of metaphysics. Having looked at chaos theory, we turn now to the transformational aspect of chaotic mechanics—fractals.


Fractals
Polkinghorne notes that, “chaos theory is an odd mixture of order and disorder, of randomness contained within a patterned structure.”[42] With his mathematically generated computer patterns, Benoît Mandelbrot (1924- ) discovered what has become the other side of chaos theory.[43] The self-similar images reflect, it is believed, the self-forming capability inherent to the universe. These cloned, repetitive, and patterned images are called “fractals,” the original Mandelbrot set being the most famous.[44] They are described as, “unique patterns left behind by the unpredictable movement—the chaos—of the world at work.”[45] Though appearing chaotic (a mess), the system, from the minutest to the grandest levels, exhibits design (fractal-ness) everywhere—in cells, arteries-veins, nerves, body organs, snowflakes, mountain ranges, shorelines, ferns, roses, fruits, broccoli, leaves, and so on. Fractals allow the observer to sense the process of nature’s self-organizing character and inherent infinity. Controlled by the numbers set into the equation, computer generated images can be observed replicating themselves ad infinitum.[46] The clones mimic infinity.[47] So it is theorized, from the chaos of the “Big Bang” [As terrorists know, explosions cause chaos], fractal emergence suggests that design, however random, can happen. The universe appears to possess an awesome power to replicate itself. Life is not doomed to end in chaos. There’s hope! Out of the chaos (confusion), design (transformation) may haphazardly emerge. A source describes:

Scientists have discovered that systems in transitional states between order and chaos possess certain patterns with unique, predictable qualities. These patterns are called “fractals.” In essence, they are visual images or pictures of chaos at work.[48]

In their relationship to the whole, both chaos and fractals seem partnered in the cosmic process. As Sweet states:

[We] live in a world that is ill-defined, out of control, and in constant flow and flux. We live in a world that is more weird than we ever imagined—a world that is fractal, self-replicating, inflationary, unpredictable, and filled with strange attractors.[49]

According to Jean Huston, a New Age advocate of human potential, “Fractals show a holistic hidden order behind things, a harmony in which everything affects everything else, and, above all, an endless variety of interwoven patterns.”[50]

So according to this aspect of quantum theory, the world is not as hopeless as at times it might seem. As interrupted by chaos, fractals are observed to be coming and going. Chaos is a necessary prelude out of which fractal design will emerge. Our system is in a perpetual process of transformational change from disorder to order, disintegration to design, and confusion to creation. Fractals become the clues, the images, suggesting that life’s reality is spirally evolving from a “mess” (chaos) into a “garden” (a fractal). Chaos is only believed to be a temporary phase of disorder that the self-transforming system, of which we are the conscious part, must pass through. Perhaps this explains why some evangelicals label their church emergent. The disorder that now seemingly besets Christendom only indicates the emerging of a new form of Christianity.

The whole process bears similarity to the Yin and the Yang of Chinese philosophy where, “the concept of yin yang . . . is used to describe how seemingly opposing forces are interdependent in the natural world, giving rise to each other in turn.”[51] Amidst the chaos engulfing this planet, there resides the hope of fractal transformation. Hope happens.[52] So where physicists observe the system disintegrating and assuming fractals to be more science than art, they also see design (a “garden”) emerging out of chaos (a “mess”) everywhere. It’s like looking into the patterns coming and going in a kaleidoscope.[53] As an aside, it might be noted that the geometric architectural constructions of Buckminster Fuller (1895-1983) also suggest his belief that design may emerge out of chaos.[54]

This brief description, from a layman’s point of view, is an understanding of quantum physics and its attendant aspects of chaos and fractal theory. Yet quantum physics has also given rise to a philosophy of life, a worldview.

To be continued. . . .


Endnotes:
34. Leonard Sweet, SoulTsunami, Sink or Swim in New Millennium Culture (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1999) 80.
35. Ibid.
36. J.M. Berger, “Flashbacks, Memory and Non-Linear Time,” Lost Online Studies (http://www.loststudies.com/1.2/memory-and-time.html).
37. M.H. Cressey, “Time,” The New Bible Dictionary, J.D. Douglas, Editor (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1962) 1277.
38. Lucas, “God, GUTs and Gurus.”
39. Fritjof Capra, The Tao of Physics, An Exploration of the Parallels between Modern Physics and Eastern Mysticism, 4th Edition Updated (Boston: Shambhala Publications, Inc., 1999) 62.
40. Hawking, A Brief History of Time, 136
41. Edward Harrison, Masks of the Universe, Changing Ideas on the Nature of the Cosmos, Second Edition (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2003) 104-105.
42. Emphasis Mine, John Polkinghorne, Quarks, Chaos & Christianity, Questions to Science and Religion (New York: The Crossroad Publishing Company, 1996) 67.
43. “Benoît Mandelbrot,” Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beno%C3%AEt_Mandelbrot). See too “Mandelbrot set” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mandelbrot_set).
44. Generated by computers, variations of the Mandelbrot set may be observed at the website Fractal Geometry. (http://mail.colonial.net/~abeckwith/fractals.html). Computer generated fractals are truly beautiful works of art that tantalize both the eye and the soul.
45. Borders Books’ definition of “fractals” in the locater-monitor’s description of John Briggs’ book, Fractals: The Patterns of Chaos (New York: Touchstone, Simon & Schuster, Inc., 1992).
46. As Lisle explains, “A fractal contains an infinite number of copies of itself . . . The Mandelbrot set is infinitely detailed . . . on the ‘tail’ of the Mandelbrot set . . . we find but another (smaller) version of the original. This new, smaller Mandelbrot set also has a tail containing a miniature version of itself, which has a miniature version of itself, etc.—all the way to infinity. The Mandelbrot set is called a ‘fractal’ since it has an infinite number of its own shape built into itself.” See Jason Lisle, “Fractals.” Fractals do not though, it seems to me, account for the variation within creation.
47. Ibid. In his analysis of the Mandelbrot set and asserting there exists in numbers a “secret code,” Lisle employs the words, “infinitely . . . infinity.”
48. Borders Books.
49. Sweet, SoulTsunami, 80.
50. Jean Houston, A Mythic Life (New York: Harper Collins Publishers, Inc., 1996) 7. As another defines them, “In the most basic sense, fractals are defined as small parts that represent the whole while displaying the same level of complexity at any scale. One other definition of fractals is that they are mathematical models that mimic nature.” See Dr. Horace Campbell, “Think Piece, Barack Obama, Fractals, and Momentum in Politics,” The Black Commentator (http://www.blackcommentator.com/265/265_obama_fractals_momentum_campbell_think.html).
51. “Yin and yang,” Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yin_yang.
52. In his book, Everything Must Change, Jesus, Global Crises, and a Revolution of Hope (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2007), Brian D. McLaren titles the first chapter “Hope Happens.” He frequently employs the statement in the book.
53. One can also observe kaleidoscopic and fractal-like designs in both Indian and African art. See (http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/8/8b/Buddhabrot-deep.jpg) and (https://maigida.com/).
54. The Unitarian R. Buckminster Fuller preoccupied himself with the question, “Does humanity have a chance to survive lastingly and successfully on planet Earth, and if so, how?” See Bill McKibben, Editor, Environmental Earth, Environmental Writing Since Thoreau (U.S.A.: Penguin Group, 2008) 464. Evidently, he found hope through his calculated geodesic and tetrahedral designs. In his 1968 book, I Seem to Be a Verb, he wrote: “I live on Earth at present, and I don’t know what I am. I know that I am not a category. I am not a thing—a noun. I seem to be a verb, an evolutionary process –an integral function of the universe.” In Fuller’s worldview, human survival depends upon design emerging from chaos. It should be noted that William Young approvingly quotes Fuller. (The Shack, 194) Scripture does teach that God will create the new heavens and the new earth out of the chaos of a fallen creation (Isaiah 65:17; 2 Peter 3:11-13; Revelation 21:1; Romans 8:21).

[Ed. Note: The title for posting this segment (Part 3) was derived from the text. Links were added to this text.]

Reprinted with permission. This article series is from a chapter in Pastor Larry DeBruyn's book, UNSHACKLED: Breaking Away From Seductive Spirituality, which is available from Discernment Ministries for a gift of $10.00 plus $2.50 for shipping. Orders can be placed by phoning: 903-567-6423. Bulk discounts are available. Book sales directly benefit "Eastern European Ministries," a very special mission project that is close to Pastor DeBruyn's heart.

Monday, October 25, 2010

The “Uncertainty Principle”

Part 2: FROM COSMOS, TO CHAOS, TO CONSCIOUSNESS

By Pastor Larry DeBruyn




Whereas—viewing the universe according to largest scales of measurement (i.e., from the top down)—the old Newtonian physics saw “the system” as ordered and determined, quantum mechanics—looking at the universe from the perspective of the smallest scales of mathematical measurement (i.e., from the bottom up)—theorizes the system to be unordered and undetermined. By calculating mathematical formulas so complex that only elitist physicists can understand them, the new physics will only postulate probabilities, not absolutes. The cause-effect interaction of the smallest quantities of matter/energy (i.e., quarks, gluons, and electrons) appears to be uncertain and therefore chaotic.

Werner Heisenberg (1901-1976), a German physicist, theorized that, “we cannot localize a particle with arbitrary high precision and at the same know its exact momentum.”[24] At the tiniest level of observation, accurate conclusions are impossible, for in the same instant of time—because both are constantly moving—a particle’s position and velocity cannot be precisely measured. In the same millisecond either the position or the velocity of particles can be calculated, but not both. At the subatomic level, the flux of the one renders getting a fix on the other impossible. So just when you think you have it, you discover you don’t. For example, maybe light is particle, or maybe it is waves. Depending on the experiment and who’s observing it, light exhibits the properties of either particles or waves.

So a system, once thought to be determined, measurable, and predictable, now appears to be undetermined, immeasurable, and unpredictable. At the micro level, the random interaction of quantities of particles/energy introduces uncertainty as to how those parts might impact the “happenings” of the whole. When viewed from the bottom up, the only certainty about the universe is uncertainty. Science becomes a game, and life a bet!

So as physics morphs into philosophy, the uncertainty principle emerges as the template against which the entire spectrum of reality or life must be evaluated, including spirituality. As the Hungarian scientist-mystic Arthur Koestler (1905-1983) reportedly stated of the uncertainty worldview, “The nineteenth-century clockwork model of the universe is in shambles and, since matter itself has been dematerialized, materialism can no longer claim to be a scientific philosophy.”[25] As New Age advocate Gary Zukav sees it:

The world view of particle physics is that of a world without ‘stuff,’ where what is = what happens, and where an unending tumultuous dance of creation, annihilation, and transformation runs unabated within a framework of conservation laws and probability.[26]


A Quantum Question
According to physicist Stephen Hawking (1942- ), reconciling certainty with uncertainty—as could be compared to the theological question regarding the relationship between determinism and human free will—is one of the great challenges facing modern scientific inquiry. “One of the major endeavors in physics today . . .” he writes, “is the search for a new theory that will incorporate them both—a quantum theory of gravity.”[27]

In the chapter “A Piece of π,” God asks Mack in The Shack about how freedom and determinism relate in life.

Does freedom mean that you are allowed to do whatever you want to do? Or could we talk about all the limiting influences in your life that actually work against your freedom. Your genetic heritage, your specific DNA, your metabolic uniqueness, the quantum stuff that is going on at a subatomic level where only I am the always-present observer. (Italics Mine, The Shack, 95)

By her remarks it can be noted that “God” (i.e., Papa-Elousia) views her relationship to reality to be that of an observer, and not the Creator and Controller of the universe; and to be like that of a physicist, not the Sustainer of the universe. Nevertheless, the disparate chaos and fractal theories appear to be an attempt to reconcile irreconcilable aspects of quantum mechanics.[28]


Chaos Theory
A few decades ago, Edward Lorenz (1917-2008), discovered the mathematical aspect of chaos theory when,

He inadvertently ran what seemed like the same calculations through a creaky computer twice and came up with vastly different answers. When he tried to figure out what happened, he noticed a slight decimal point change—less than 0.0001—wound up leading to significant error. That error became a seminal scientific paper, presented in 1972, about the butterfly effect.[29]

As Lorenz’s discovery might seem to indicate, some scientists now believe that the random interaction between quantities of matter and energy in the micro-cosmos can affect the behavior of matter and energy in the macro-cosmos. This perturbation is known as “the butterfly effect.” In the “dynamical system” in which human beings are the conscious part, a butterfly flapping its wings in the Congo could stimulate a wave/particle disturbance causing a tropical storm in the Atlantic Ocean. Looked at in another way, the first falling of a small domino somewhere in the system could eventuate in the falling of greater and greater dominos until the whole planet finds itself in state of chaos.[30] Though in a closed system it appears that the smaller does influence the greater, the magnitude of the impact of the smaller upon the greater remains uncertain.

This is one hypothetical aspect of quantum physics known as chaos theory, the theory assuming “that small, localized perturbations in one part of a complex system can have widespread consequences throughout the system.”[31] But I call it hypothetical because as the-physicist-turned-theologian John Polkinghorne defines it, “Quantum chaology [is] . . . the not-fully-understood subject of the quantum mechanics of chaotic systems.”[32] In other words, like the weather, one cannot assuredly predict the long range effects of quantities of particles/energy interacting at the sub-atomic level, and whether that interaction might affect the greater part of the whole. A butterfly flapping its wings in the Congo does not necessarily cause a hurricane in the Atlantic Ocean.

Though the Newtonian view of the system (order above chaos) is still viewed to be a player in the physics game,

The world view of particle physics is a picture of chaos beneath order. At the fundamental level is a confusion of continual creation, annihilation and transformation.[33]


To be continued. . . .


Endnotes:
24. Peter Schupp, “Particle Physics on Noncommutative Space-Time,” Physics in the New Millennium, 305.
25. Arthur Koestler, Research in Parapsychology 1972 (special dinner address), quoted by Dave Hunt, A Cup of Trembling (Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House Publishers, 1995) 373.
26. Gary Zukav, Dancing Wu Li Masters, An Overview of the New Physics (New York: Harper Collins Publishers, Inc., 2001) 217.
27. Stephen W. Hawking, A Brief History of Time, From the Big Bang to Black Holes (New York: Bantam Books, 1988) 12. de Laplace too surmised that, “Given for one instant an intelligence which could comprehend all the forces by which nature is animated and the respective positions of the beings which compose it, if moreover this intelligence were vast enough to submit these data to analysis, it would embrace in the same formula both the movements of the largest bodies in the universe [i.e., the old Newtonian physics] and those of the lightest atom [the new quantum physics]; to it nothing would be uncertain, and the future as the past would be present to its eyes [the concept of time becomes non-linear]. See “Science Quotes.”
28. See James Gleick, Chaos, Making a New Science (New York: Penguin Books, 1987). The terms chaos and fractal occur frequently in the book.
29. See “MIT prof Edward Lorenz, father of chaos theory, dies at 90,” Muzi.com. News, April 16, 2008 (http://lateline.muzi.net/news/ll/english/10066912.shtml?cc=11176).
30. Theoretically, the detonation of a nuclear device could lead to spontaneous and uncontrolled combustion melting down the whole planet.
31. John M. Last, “Chaos Theory,” enotes.com (http://www. enotes.com/public-health-encyclopedia/chaos-theory).
32. John Polkinghorne, Quantum Theory, A Very Short Introduction (New York: Oxford University Press, 2002) 97.
33. Zukav, Wu Li Masters, 216.


Reprinted with permission. This article series is from a chapter in Pastor Larry DeBruyn's book, UNSHACKLED: Breaking Away From Seductive Spirituality, which is available from Discernment Ministries for a gift of $10.00 plus $2.50 for shipping. Orders can be placed by phoning: 903-567-6423. Bulk discounts are available. Book sales directly benefit "Eastern European Ministries," a very special mission project that is close to Pastor DeBruyn's heart.


Friday, October 22, 2010

Quantum Physics and the New Spirituality

FROM COSMOS, TO CHAOS, TO CONSCIOUSNESS: Part 1


By Pastor Larry DeBruyn



Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.

(Emphasis Mine, Colossians 2:8, KJV)


[When Pastor Larry DeBruyn released his new book Unshackled: Breaking Away From Seductive Spirituality in October 2009 we planned to eventually publish this particular chapter on Herescope. With the rapid rise of the "quantum spirituality" movement in various sectors of neoevangelicalism, the time now seems ripe for putting out this important information. This isn't just about the popular bestseller, The Shack. This chapter is about an emerging spiritual "science" that is rapidly gaining influence and prominence.]


The Shack

About the supposed “garden” which represents the state of his life, Mack complains to the Holy Spirit, “Looks like a mess to me.”[1] (The Shack, 129) But from Sarayu (i.e., the “Spirit”) we learn that Mack’s self-evaluation is only a matter of his perspective. She informs him that his “messed up” life is really a fractal.

“Mack! Thank you! What a wonderful compliment! . . . That is exactly what this is—a mess. But,” she looked back at Mack and beamed, “it’s still a fractal, too.” (The Shack, 129)

The reader is left with the impression that God makes messes out of the lives of Christians which can, depending upon one’s perspective, be fractal too.

But just what are fractals? Sarayu informs Mack:

A fractal . . . is something considered simple and orderly that is actually composed of repeated patterns no matter how magnified. A fractal is almost infinitely complex. I love fractals, so I put them everywhere. (The Shack, 129)

Thus, The Shack incorporates aspects of quantum physics—chaos (your garden is a mess), and fractal theory (your garden is a pattern)—into its allegory. We will look at chaos and fractals, but before doing so, we ought to note how the New Age Spirituality has incorporated “chaos and fractals” into its worldview.

The Seeker

As evidenced in the movie The Seeker, quantum science has given rise to quantum spirituality.[2] Based on the book The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper, the movie The Seeker portrays the story of a adolescent boy, Will Stanton, the youngest of seven sons, who was chosen by the wise and experienced “Old Ones” to seek for six ancient signs that, if found, would enable the light to magically save the world from encroaching disaster and darkness, from chaos.[3] An ancient and mysterious book, which only Will the seeker possessed the ability to read, contained clues for discovering “the saving signs” that were hidden in past eras of world history. In one scene, which took place in the castle of light, Will read from the ancient book, after which both he and Merriman (one of the wise and experienced “Old Ones”) commented.

Will Reading the Book: “Six signs were created to contain the power of the light—from stone, bronze, iron, wood, and water. But the sixth was to be carried in the essence of a human soul? The signs were hidden and scattered throughout time. The seeker will find them.”

Will Commenting: “Okay. Look at this. This pattern is a fractal. Its physics—my dad teaches this stuff. Like . . . like a hiding place that goes on and on forever.”

Merriman Commenting: “Like a clue hidden in plain sight that declares the presence of a sign.”
(Emphasis Mine, The Seeker, Scene 11, The Book)

Will then asked for a hammer to shatter the object with the fractal design on it. After breaking it, he found a luminous stone on the inside—the first sign. Subsequently in the movie, fractal patterns indicated the presence of the other five signs that were vital to save the world from the chaos of darkness. Endowed with supernatural powers, and transcending time, matter, space, Will traveled into past eras of history to discover the other saving signs.

Because this book has been targeted for sale to a Christian market, some have accused The Shack of promoting New Age spirituality. On the face of it, when comparing the appearance of “fractal” in both The Seeker and The Shack, Paul Young does give the impression that, amidst the amalgam of other spiritualities woven into the fabric of his allegory, he is comfortable with the “science” of the New Spirituality. After all, the chapter in which the word “fractal” appears is titled, “A Long Time Ago, In a Garden Far, Far Away.” (The Shack, 128) This provides the impression that, like Will in The Seeker, Mack in The Shack becomes something of a time traveler too!

To understand the relationship of the quantum aspects of chaos and fractal theory the New Spirituality, questions—like what is chaos and what are fractals?—need to be addressed. As derivatives of quantum physics, how are New Age religionists incorporating chaos and fractal theory to explain their vision of reality? Can this scientific-spiritual synthesis be squared to fit the biblical worldview? To deal with these questions, and to become aware of how some are deriving quantum spirituality from quantum science, a layman’s knowledge of the quantum worldview and its disparate aspects of chaos and fractal theory will, I believe, prove helpful. After attending to these matters, we will biblically and theologically evaluate the way in which Aquarian spirituality is taking its quantum leap from physics to metaphysics and from science to spirituality. In order, we will look at the science, the spirituality, and the Scriptures. First, the science . . .

THE SCIENCE

The universe (Greek, cosmos) includes everything that exists, everything that’s just “there,” including human consciousness and understanding—though finite—of it all. The word “cosmetic” derives from “cosmos” which means “the world or universe regarded as an orderly, harmonious system.”[4] We note the definition refers to everything—“the all”—as an orderly system. Just as with the rotating and tilting of the earth as it predictably revolves around the sun, “the system,” on the face of it, appears to work orderly and methodically. But are things really that neat?

Well, it all depends . . . Who’s observing, and how they are observing it? Physicists agree that when looked at above, from the macro-perspective, the system appears orderly and predictably (like a fractal). But when looked at below, from the micro-perspective, the universe appears to behave disorderly and unpredictably (chaos). We turn to the two views.

The Old Theory of Physics (a clock)
Derived primarily from the British mathematician and physicist Sir Isaac Newton (1642-1727), the older view looked at the big picture of things, at how large bodies of material and gravity interact. Newton observed there to be a predictable cause and effect relationship in the universe—that “everything happened according to fixed physical laws.”[5] According to Newtonian science, reality was determined and ordered. Apples fall and, to use an earthbound expression, the sun dependably rose and set during a calendar year. By viewing the greater parts of the whole, the old physics appeared to confirm that God (the Clockmaker) originally designed, constructed, and wound-up the system (the clock).

When taken to an extreme, this view of reality leads to Deism, a belief that though a transcendent God created the universe, He abandoned it to let life work itself out on its own.[6] Built and energized in the past, the cosmos runs down in the present, and will, as determined by the laws of entropy, come to an abrupt halt sometime in the distant future. A universe that began will end. Newtonian physics viewed time to be linear.

The New Theory of Physics (a game)
But it is accused that the aging Newtonian worldview ignored contradictory evidence; that at the level of the smallest particles, the system behaves randomly. So a new quantum worldview has emerged postulating that the universe also behaves unpredictably and that time is cyclic, or nonlinear.

Stephen Hawking explains: “At the start of the 1970s . . . we were forced to turn our search for an understanding of the universe from our theory of the extraordinarily vast to our theory of the extraordinarily tiny.”[7] At the subatomic reality of things, physicists calculated that quantities of matter and energy behave disorderly and unpredictably. Thus, the mathematics of quantum mechanics was born.[8] Whereas the symbol of the old physics was the picture of the atom consisting of protons, neutrons, and electrons neatly orbiting about, the images of the new physics are the complex mathematical equations and formulas by which physicists calculate the movement and properties of sub-atomic particles, or the manner in which quantities of matter and energy interact at the subatomic level.[9]

The Universe Described
How can the universe be explained? Do the math. The science of mathematics has been called the language of God. Centuries ago, Galileo Galilei (1564-1642), revolutionary Italian astronomer and physicist who discovered that the sun, not our earth, was the center of the solar system, stated, “Mathematics is the language with which God has written the universe.”[10] Elsewhere he wrote that to understand reality, one needed to know the language of

this grand book—I mean the Universe—which stands continually open to our gaze, but it cannot be understood unless one first learns to comprehend the language and interpret the characters in which it is written. It is written in the language of mathematics, and its characters are triangles, circles and other geometrical figures, without which it is humanly impossible to understand a single word of it [i.e., the universe]. [11]

Dr. Francis Collins, longtime head of the Human Genome Project, in his book The Language of God, relates how, when he was a graduate student in chemistry at Yale, he took a course in “relativistic quantum mechanics” from Willis Lamb (1913-2008), who won the 1955 Nobel Prize in Physics. Spellbindingly and from memory, Dr. Lamb would move the students “through the theories of relativity and quantum mechanics from first principles.” Intentionally and occasionally, he would leave out steps and challenge the students “to fill in the gaps” before the next class. Collins remarks that, “this experience of deriving simple and universal equations that describe the reality of the natural world left a profound impression on me, particularly because the ultimate outcome had such aesthetic appeal.”[12]

At what point in mathematics, it must be asked, does the aesthetic become mystic? Rothstein observes that, “In both mathematics and music, there have been notions of connection, linking the soul and the universe.”[13] The German Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832), once stated: “The mathematician is only complete insofar as he feels within himself the beauty of the true.”[14] So in the monistic worldview of the New Spirituality, mathematics and music become sciences, aesthetic ways of knowing, by which people can develop a personal consciousness of feeling “oneness” with the universe, or with whatever else is just “there.”

Among many mathematicians and physicists, hopeful optimism exists that an “eloquent and unified theory of everything” will be discovered.[15] Lucas remarks that’s why “some physicists are busy trying to develop a Grand Universal Theory (GUT) which will unite quantum theory and the theory of relativity and become, as some put it, ‘a theory of everything’.”[16] The tool employed to discover a theory of everything is mathematics. Hawking remarks that should an equation or formula be discovered

Then we shall all, philosophers, scientists, and just ordinary people, be able to take part in the discussion of the question of why it is that we and the universe exist. If we find the answer to that, it would be the ultimate triumph of human reason—for then we would know the mind of God.[17]

So at that juncture, mathematics jumps to become metaphysics. In fact, and though they may be running ahead of themselves, New Age spiritualists have already merged science and spirituality. The New Spirituality is taking the quantum leap from physics to metaphysics, from what is below to what is above.

When combined with data culled from other sciences—biology, chemistry, etc.—mathematics, with its signs and symbols, has become the newest and most sophisticated adventure to discover the intelligence of whatever or whoever might be considered God. But through the lens of Holy Scripture, how should we view this development? Consider with me the rightful place that nature plays in pointing any observer to God, and then some cautions about approaching God only on this basis.

We need to recognize that legitimate inferences can be made by human creatures about their Creator. For reason of our mutual but separate existences, Paul states: “since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made” (Romans 1:20, NASB). The testimony is irrefutable, so much so that Paul states that any observer, from pre-historic to modern times, is “without excuse” (Romans 1:20b). In a limited way, physics relates to metaphysics. The physical evidence of the creation below points any contemplator of it to the Creator above. But we turn to consider some cautions and reservations regarding inferences about God that are derived from the study of nature.

First, God is infinitely intelligent. The Psalmist described, “Great is our Lord, and abundant in strength; His understanding is infinite” (Psalm 147:5, NASB; See Job 9:4; 12:13; 36:5.). As Paul first exclaimed and then asked:

Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who became His counselor? (Romans 11:33-34)

Are we to think that one day a physicist will develop an equation that will be an “eloquent and unified theory of everything”? Will physicist-mathematicians be able to fathom the unfathomable, to think equally God’s thoughts, and become His counselors? I think not. Through Isaiah the Lord told Judah:

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts (Isaiah 55:8-9).

A theory of everything? Believing in the Creator provides us with that! Why would anyone substitute a theory for God?

“I am the Alpha and Omega”
In the Apocalypse, the Lord God’s name—“I am the Alpha and Omega”—expresses “not only eternity, but also infinitude, ‘the boundless life which embraces all while it transcends all’.”[18] (See Revelation 1:8; 22:13.) The title of “I am” designates that in His being, the Lord God transcends time. He is not subject to the chronology and sequential events of history. In fact, He controls them. Yet He is also immanently involved in time, matter, and space. He is “the Almighty.” He is sovereign over the happenings of history. He holds “everything” in His grasp. One source remarks that the combination of the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet in ancient secular literature “came to designate the entire universe and all kinds of divine and demonic powers, so that . . . this title could refer to Christ’s dominion over the universe.”[19] So if physicists are looking for some Grand Universal Theory (GUT), then they need look no further than Christ. He says, “I am the Alpha and the Omega . . . who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty’” (Revelation 1:8; See 22:13.).

Second, Scripture informs us that visible nature bears an evident and adequate witness to God (Romans 1:20). Based upon the inferences and projections they calculate, and regardless what physicist-mathematicians might theorize or project about the design, order, or being of the universe, they too, like the rest of humanity, are accountable for what is plainly evident to them about God in nature. Yet some continue to pursue the science of mathematics not so much to bring God into the equation, but rather, to keep Him out![20] One scientist bluntly stated:

Science, fundamentally, is a game. It is a game with one overriding and defining rule. Rule No. 1: Let us see how far and to what extent we can explain the behavior of the physical and material universe in terms of purely physical and material causes, without invoking the supernatural.

Third, while the mathematics of physics can describe the design of the universe, it cannot account for the origin of it. Human knowledge is limited, even that of the most sophisticated observers who employ mathematics (i.e., the language of God) to explain the way in which they see the universe running. The scope of human knowledge is limited. The physics of the present cannot account for the metaphysics of the past. As God asked Job, “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding, who set its measurements, since you know? Or who stretched the line on it?” (Job 38:4-5, NASB).

Fourth, knowledge (i.e., science) about God is for all people, not for two classes, the physicist kings and then “just ordinary people.” Sophisticated scientists would do well to heed Paul’s warning that, “not many wise according to the flesh” are called (1 Corinthians 1:26). All humanity, explains the Apostle Paul, possesses sufficient knowledge about God, “so that they are without excuse” (Romans 1:19). People tend to idolize intelligence, and if and when that happens, then human beings, cognitive beings that they are, will become self-worshipers, and as we shall see, this is already happening among the New Spiritualists.

Formulaic expressions of the quantum physicists can appear as esoteric and neo-Gnostic code language that only the scientific elite can understand. A friend of mine, a Ph.D. in chemistry, recently agreed that even within this special class of “knowers,” there can be great ambiguity and disagreement about what’s being communicated in the equations and formulas. One speculative physicist might not even understand the other.

While we recognize that many modern inventions and conveniences have come about for reason of quantum research—transistor radios, microwave ovens, and so forth—it needs to be asked: at what point do the calculations and theories become futile speculation? (Romans 1:21). To me, it’s the point where physics begins to project into metaphysics. I know I will be scorned for saying this, but physics does not unlock metaphysics. While mathematics may support the intelligent design or teleological argument for God’s existence, the mechanics of what is below, cannot account for who or what is above. To think otherwise is presumption, for the prophet Isaiah questioned, “Who has measured the waters in the hollow of His hand, and marked off the heavens by the span, and calculated the dust of the earth by the measure, and weighed the mountains in a balance, and the hills in a pair of scales?” (Isaiah 40:12, NASB). We will do well to heed the caution of John Calvin (1509-1564):

“Therefore, let us willingly remain hedged in by those boundaries within which God has been pleased to confine our persons, and, as it were, enclose our minds, so as to prevent them from losing themselves by wandering unrestrained.”[22]

Fifth, physics, while highlighting the design inherent to the structure of the universe, will in nowise reveal to us the personal Designer and Creator of the universe. That has been done for us in Jesus Christ, the incarnate and living Word, who by the power of His miracles revealed His mastery over nature’s elements. Design points to Deism, and that’s all. Intelligent design gives no verification of the Christian God who became incarnate by the Lord Jesus Christ. Thus, intelligent design can be equally employed to prove Allah as Jehovah.[23] And as some Christians might become enthralled by a fractal vision of everything, such an infatuation could corrupt them from “from the simplicity that is in Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:3).

God has spoken. “God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son . . . through whom also He made the world (lit. ‘ages’)” (Hebrews 1:1-2). Though mathematics, anointed by scientists to be the language of God, may describe reality, it cannot account for the origin of it. No formula will provide to humanity a Grand Universal Theory. Only the Word accounts for the origin of “all things” (John 1:3), and this explanation of reality the Christian receives, not account of formulas conceived, but by the faith believed. Hebrews states, “By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible” (Hebrews 11:3). Only in the eternal Logos of God do we find the revelatory and reasonable account for the origin of everything. But into the perceived orderly working of the universe, some physicists have thrown a proverbial “monkey wrench.”


To be continued....


Endnotes:
1. William P. Young, The Shack (Los Angeles: Windblown Media, 2007).
2. Because of her interest in cults, Jennifer Pekich rented the movie The Seeker to see if it presented New Age spirituality. Upon hearing the word “fractal” in the movie, and noticing fractal patterns marking the presence of the signs, Jennifer remembered that she had seen the term before. After a brief lapse in memory, she remembered reading the word “fractal” in The Shack. At a conference in California, Jennifer informed Warren Smith of her discovery which he then communicated to me. Jennifer’s awareness of and sensitivity to this connection, and Warren’s communication of it to me, stimulated my inquiry into quantum physics, its aspects of chaos and fractal theory, and how the New Age/Aquarian religion was combining particle physics with spirituality. We are indebted to Jennifer for drawing our attention to the “fractal connection” between The Seeker and The Shack.
3. The Seeker—The Dark is Rising, DVD, 20th Century Fox, 2008 (http:// www. amazon.com/Seeker-Dark-Rising-Alexander-Ludwig/dp/B000XUUQRE). Reviewer Tami Horiuchi explains the plot: “Will learns that his destiny is as a seeker who must travel through time to collect six ancient signs [their presence marked by fractal patterns] that will somehow enable light to triumph over darkness and save the world as he knows it.”
4. The Random House College Dictionary, Laurence Urdang, Editor in Chief (New York: Random House, Inc., 1975 Revised) 303.
5. “The Ultimate Paradigm Shift,” Fractal Chaos Crashes the Wall between Science and Religion (http:// www. fractalwisdom.com/FractalWisdom/index.html#paradigm).
6. Unable to live with the theological tension created by the transcendence/immanence of God, theologians tend to swing from one extreme to the other, affirming either a creator God who is beyond nature (i.e., Deism) or a process God in nature (i.e., Panentheism). Both extremes deny Jesus’ incarnation: deism by not allowing that Jesus, for reason of God’s transcendence—His being removed from the world—could have come from above; and process-ism by demanding that Jesus, for reason of God’s immanence—His being involved in the world—can only have originated from below. This is the spirit of “antichrist” (2 John 7).
Corduan describes the two theologies: “Like the God of deism, the process God does not intervene in the world. He is strictly finite. In the football game of reality, He is the cheerleader. He presents the world with ideals to aim for; He entices the world to follow His plans; He grieves if the world strays; but He cannot make the world do anything. As the world changes, He changes . . . Whatever He wants done needs to be accomplished by the world apart from His direct help.” See Winfried Corduan, Reasonable Faith, Basic Christian Apologetics (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1993) 97. The process God bears close resemblance to “Papa-Elousia” in The Shack.
7. Stephen W. Hawking, A Brief History of Time (New York: Bantam Books, 1996) 54.
8. Comparing the universe to a municipality, Dr. Frank Stootman, in his excellent lecture “The Spirituality of Quantum Physics,” defines quantum mechanics to be, “the mathematics of the very small end of town.” His lecture is available at the truthXchange website (http:// www.
truthxchange.com/sermon/the-spirituality-of-quantum-physics/
). Another resource in understanding the relationship of particle physics to the new spirituality is, “QUANTUM MYSTERIES: Making Sense of the New Physics” (pp. 187-219), in the book The Soul of Science, Christian Faith and Natural Philosophy, written by Nancy R. Pearcey and Charles B. Thaxton (Wheaton: Crossway Books, 1994).
9. See J. Trampetić and J. Wess, Editors, Particle Physics in the New Millennium, Proceedings of the 8th Adriatic Meeting (New York: Springer). The three-hundred and fifty-five pages of this book are filled with symbols and equations.
10. Galileo Galilei, QuoteDB (http://www. quotedb.com/quotes/3002). “‘God is a Mathematician’, so said Sir James Jeans . . . in the 1930s, the British astronomer and physicist suggested that the universe arises out of pure thought that is couched in the language of abstract mathematics.” See F. David Peat, “Mathematics and the Language of Nature,” fdavidpeat.com (http://www.fdavidpeat.com/bibliography/essays/maths.htm). His essay was originally published in Mathematics and Sciences, edited by Ronald E. Mickens (Word Scientific, 1990).
11. Ibid. (http://www.quotedb.com/quotes/510).
12. Emphasis mine, Francis S. Collins, The Language of God, A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief (New York: Free Press, 2006) 61-62. Explaining the mystery that surrounds matter’s behavior, Collins asks, borrowing a phrase from Hungarian-American and mathematician-physicist Eugene Wigner (1902-1995), “what could be the explanation for the ‘unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics’?”
13. Edward Rothstein, Emblems of Mind, The Inner Life of Music and Mathematics (New York: Avon Books, 1995) 30.
14. Ibid. quoting Von Goethe, 135.
15. Collins, Language of God. Similarly, the father of modern mathematics, Pierre Simon, Marquis de Laplace (1749-1827) theorized that, “An intelligence which at a given instant knew all the forces acting in nature and the position of every object in the universe . . . could describe with a single formula the motions of the largest astronomical bodies and those of the smallest atoms. To such an intelligence, nothing would be uncertain; the future, like the past, would be an open book.” See “Science Quotes by Pierre Simon, Marquis de Laplace,” Today in Science History (http://www.todayinsci.com/L/Laplace_Pierre/LaplacePierre-Quotations.htm).
16. Ernest C. Lucas, “God, GUTs and Gurus: the New Physics and New Age Ideology,” Themelios 16:3 (April/May 1991) 7. Article is available online at (http:// s3.amazonaws.com/tgc-documents/journal-issues/16.3_Lucas.pdf). Likewise Carson observes, “that some physicists hope the discovery of the long-sought unifying equation will in principle explain everything in the universe mathematically . . .” See D.A. Carson, The Gagging of God (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1996) 199.
17. Ibid. Collins quotes S. Hawking, A Brief History of Time (New York: Bantam Press, 1998) 210.
18. Robert L. Thomas, Revelation: An Exegetical Commentary, Volume I (Chicago: Moody Press, 1992) 81. Thomas here quotes H.B. Swete, The Apocalypse of St. John (London: Macmillan, 1906) 11.
19. Johannes P. Louw and Eugene A. Nida, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament Based on Semantic Domains, Volume I (New York: United Bible Societies, 1989) 61.7, alpha, 611.
20. Ben Laake, “Our Quantum Reality: The Mathematics of the Mechanics” (http:// herescope.blogspot.com/2009/05/our-quantum-reality.html).
21. Carson, Gagging of God, 195, quoting Richard E. Dickerson, “The Game of Science,” Perspectives on Science and Faith 44 (June 1992): 137.
22. John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, Translated by Henry Beveridge (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Reprinted 1972) I. xiv. 1.
23. On this point I find myself at variance with Christian mathematician Jason Lisle who wrote: “A biblical creationist expects to find beauty and order in the universe, not only in the physical universe, but in the abstract realm of mathematics as well. This order and beauty is possible because there is a logical God who has imparted order and beauty into His universe.” True. In the abstract symmetry of the physical universe, one may be led to believe in a logical God, but it is not consequent that, as exhibited by Christ, the believer will view God to be personal and spiritual. See Jason Lisle, Ph.D., “Fractals: Hidden Beauty Revealed in Mathematics,” answersingenesis.org, January 1, 2007 (http://www. answersingenesis.org/articles/am/v2/n1/fractals)


Reprinted with permission. This article series is from a chapter in Pastor Larry DeBruyn's book, UNSHACKLED: Breaking Away From Seductive Spirituality, which is available from Discernment Ministries for a gift of $10.00 plus $2.50 for shipping. Orders can be placed by phoning: 903-567-6423. Bulk discounts are available. Book sales directly benefit "Eastern European Ministries," a very special mission project that is close to Pastor DeBruyn's heart.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

“Half-Baked” Christianity

A Meditation Upon Hosea 7:8


By Pastor Larry DeBruyn

"Ephraim, he hath mixed himself among the people; Ephraim is a cake not turned. Strangers have devoured his strength, and he knoweth it not: yea, gray hairs are here and there upon him, yet he knoweth not. And the pride of Israel testifieth to his face: and they do not return to the LORD their God, nor seek him for all this."
Hosea 7:8-10, KJV



In a previous generation, a churchman observed of the church's relationship to the surrounding culture of that era and said: "I looked for the church and found it in the world. I looked for the world and found it in the church." In the history of American Christianity there perhaps has never been a time when the criticism uttered by that Englishman against the church of his day is not also an apt indictment of Christianity in our culture today.

Admixing faith with culture--something we might call the Canaanitization of Christianity--is something that both testaments warn against. The Apostle Paul warned the Corinthians against allowing it to happen. He wrote: "Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty" (2 Corinthians 6:17-18; Citing Isaiah 52:11.). About allowing themselves to become blended with the culture, to become culturized by Corinth, the Apostle Paul called upon true believers to separate themselves from those who, by their actions and beliefs, violated the covenant of faith. He admonished, "Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God . . ." (2 Corinthians 6:14-16a).

Using an interesting metaphor, the prophet Hosea warned that, "Ephraim, he hath mixed himself among the people; Ephraim is a cake not turned" (Emphasis mine, Hosea 7:8). Hosea describes that Israel had violated God's call for them to remain a distinct people from the pagan nations around them (See Exodus 34:12-16.). Because Israel was in clear violation of God's command, Hosea compares Israel to an unturned pancake, an ancient version of fast food! Cooked upon hot coals, the cake had to be turned from one side to the other at just the right moment, else the downside, the side closest to the fire, would become scorched and burnt, while the upside, the side away from the fire, would remain unbaked, doughy, and odious. That is how the prophet likened the northern nation of Israel just before their captivity. Their courting of and alliances with the pagan nations, as exhibited by the men of Israel marrying pagan women and their gods, caused the prophet to picture the nation as a "half-baked" pancake fit only to be discarded into the fire of God's judgment.

The question must be asked, is there a sense in which, whether corporately or individually, we like Ephraim, are cakes not turned? The question is not irrelevant. In comparing the sins of Northern Israel--fraud, lying, adultery, alcohol consumption, unresolved anger and outbursts of rage, unfaithful leadership and prayerlessness--can it not be discerned that the sins which plagued ancient Ephraim are also evident in today's professing church? In short, the same sinful influences upon Ephraim in Hosea's day are observable in and amongst Christians today.

For allowing itself to become culturized, the consequence is that the church loses her credibility. What the church is (or is not) speaks so loudly that the culture cannot hear what she says, her prophetic voice as it were. In trying to reform society, the church finds itself in the hypocritical posture of first needing to reform itself; of needing to clean herself up before she attempts to clean up others. "We've met the enemy" Pogo says, "and he is us!" Such is the way worldliness impacts the church. It causes the church to be half-baked.

In the 70s and early 80s, Edward Dobson worked with Jerry Falwell's Moral Majority. Admitting that the cause was neither moral nor a majority, Dobson is recorded to have assessed the movement, striking at the nerve of the problem. From the movement's inception it was doomed to fail because as he stated: "It was an attempt to change values in the world at large when those values haven't even been changed in the community of faith."[1]

I fear for the Religious Right during 2010 and in the years beyond, that if its own values have not changed, any positive change foisted on America in the upcoming election will be short lived, and in the end prove to be "chump change." A culturized church cannot change the culture.



ENDNOTE

[1] Edward Dobson quoted by John Seel, "Nostalgia for the Lost Empire," No God But God, Os Guiness and John Seel, Editors (Chicago: Moody Press, 1992) 74.

Used with permission. The original article is posted here: http://guardinghisflock.com/2010/10/19/half-baked-christianity/. Be sure to see the other excellent articles posted at Pastor DeBruyn's website http://guardinghisflock.com