What I believe

Recently at lunch my stepson asked me, somewhat sheepishly, “I don’t really ask people about their beliefs but I would like to hear what you believe.” He knows I am a Christian, scientifically minded, somewhat attracted by meditation, knowledgeable of Buddhism and Hinduism. So I tried to explain it. not with much success, i fear, since it is a long series of things which make up the totality of my spiritual system. So I will try to summarize the ideas that I hold dear here.

God Exists

I believe in a being apart from the being of the universe. But “apart” is not really correct, because I believe both in an immanent and transcendent, both outside of time and the universe and intimately intertwingled with it. I am comfortable with calling God any number of names, or defining it as a divine consciousness. I do not however think God is equal to all that there is in this universe. He is more than that.

On the use of genderized pronouns for the deity I am agnostic if others prefer feminized divine symbols. I think of God as “neither male nor female” as Paul said it in Galatians 3:29. I believe that we are in our inner souls both/and, neither/nor. However, having grown up in the Western Christian tradition I usually use the male pronouns for the deity. Please understand that I don’t think that God is any gender.

An Information theory of Creation

Since I was small I resonated with the image in Genesis:

And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.

Genesis 1:2 King James Version

I love the idea of the dark and formless void which still has a face which looks up at the Spirit of God which breathes or moves on the face of the waters. This describes poetically something that physicists try to get at as well (with less poetic imagery) as here:

The cosmic singularity, that was the Universe at the beginning of time, is shielded by the lack of any physical observers. But the next level of inquiry is what is the origin of the emergent properties of the Universe, the properties that become the mass of the Universe, its age, its physical constants, etc. The answer appears to be that these properties have their origin as the fluctuations of the quantum vacuum.

The properties of the Universe come from `nothing’, where nothing is the quantum vacuum, which is a very different kind of nothing. If we examine a piece of `empty’ space we see it is not truly empty, it is filled with spacetime, for example. Spacetime has curvature and structure, and obeys the laws of quantum physics. Thus, it is filled with potential particles, pairs of virtual matter and anti-matter units, and potential properties at the quantum level.

 At some point all-that-is was without form and empty, and then something happened. I like to think that that something was conscious, and directed – it was a work of Creation by a Creator. Not one we can grasp or understand though.

Contra Reductionist Materialism

Much of physics and much modern thought is infected with a particular form of reductionist materialism. One can read this in Daniel Dennett, Richard Dawkins. Wikipedia sums it up thus:

all things are composed of material, and that all emergent phenomena (including consciousness) are the result of material properties and interactions. In other words, the theory claims that our reality consists entirely of physical matter that is the sole cause of every possible occurrence, including human thought, feeling, and action.

For me this ignores a long history of information theory and general systems theory. You can’t ignore the information in any material system. I believe that the information is the reason for the system, not just an epiphenomenon. Matter in a form is information. This is not just playing with words. Everything that we think is information – not just matter.  The structure of DNA is information, not just molecules of amino acids. For me the Universe is a computing organism – and the program is something that is in immanent, transcendent and continually evolving.

Another biblical quote gets at this sense of the primacy of the information content of the Universe that God created:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.

Think of the Word that the Spirit of God uttered over the formless face of the deep, and wonder at how it formed all-that-is and how even we are the working out, the evolution, the unfolding of the Word spoken.

I will post more as and when I can concentrate to do it.

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