"The Force Be With You"
Part 4: FROM COSMOS, TO CHAOS, TO CONSCIOUSNESS
By Pastor Larry DeBruyn
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.”
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. 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.” 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.
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 . . .
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.
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.
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.
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. Some even label the connection between consciousness and cosmos, Quantum Spirituality. 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.
Generally, the existential leap involves three phases.
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.
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. 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.
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.” 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.
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. Thus a reader of The Shack is introduced to the role played by consciousness in the worldview of the New Spirituality.
To be continued. . . .
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://184.108.40.206/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.
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.