Are Science and Religion One?
I have identified the axiom of mysticism (TAM) as the scientific, religious and philosophical fact that there is only one thing that exists. Because the meaning of mysticism is commonly misunderstood this definition needs some clarification. The dictionary defines mysticism as a personal relationship with God. Given this definition it is easy to see why I have named the theory that, everything existent and non-existent is God, as the axiom of mysticism. If the theory is correct then a personal relationship with God is mandatory because God is all that can be experienced.
After being confronted with TAM for the first time my fundamentalist Christian friend said, somewhat flustered, But what are the consequences? The consequences are profound indeed. The reality of the unified God infuses us at all levels of our existence. Scientists talk about Grand Unified Theories (GUTs). These theories are possible models for the behavior of matter when subjected to the stupendous energies prevalent at the beginning of time. All of these theories predict that the structure of matter becomes less diverse at earlier epochs until at some particular temperature there is only one thing that exists. This prediction completely agrees with TAM ushering in the era of the Grand Unified Philosophy (GUPY). The scientific aspect of TAM is of particular importance because it relates the experimentally verifiable mathematical laws of physical science to many aspects of traditional religion that were previously supported by intuition and faith alone. Some of these areas include the existence and unity of God, moral law, immortality, the power of prayer and the infinite aspects of Divinity.
Some traditional religious doctrine cannot survive this marriage of scientific and spiritual ideas. The unifying vision of God revealed by the equations of modern scientific cosmology sanctifies the entire universe. The vision of modern physics directly links the origin of creation to the unified singularity at the beginning of time. I argue that this unified proto-cosmos, predicted by the equations, is the physical aspect of God known and described by the prophets of all monotheistic religions. No particular religion can any longer justly claim exclusive rights to God’s all pervasive spirit. In addition the common Judeo-Christian doctrine of separation, which sees the Creator as totally separated from His creation, must be abandoned in light of these new scientific discoveries. This vision of a God unified with the cosmos is the most fundamental spiritual doctrine of all. It is the base truth from which we build a satisfying and realistic working philosophy. Moses adamantly exhorts us on this subject:
Deu 6:1 Now this is the commandment, the statutes and the judgments which the LORD your God has commanded me to teach you, that you might do them in the land where you are going over to possess it,
Deu 6:4 Hear, O Israel: The uncreated Jehovah and the created Elohiym are one God.
Deu 6:5 Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.
Deu 6:6 These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts.
Deu 6:7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.
Deu 6:8 Let all the work of your hands be in accordance with them and bind them in your mind.
Deu 6:9 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.
Jesus confirmed TAM as the most fundamental spiritual doctrine when he agreed with Moses as recorded in Mark 12:2812:31:
Mark 12:28 One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, Of all the commandments, which is the most important?
Mark 12:29 The most important one, answered Jesus, is this: ‘Hear, O Israel, the uncreated Jehovah and created Elohyim are one God.
Mark 12:30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’
Mark 12:31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.
No other biblical scripture is emphasized in this manner. The Hebrews recognize the importance of these passages by giving them a special name; the Schema. The extreme emphasis placed on these scriptures by the founders of the Judeo-Christian religion make them akin to the importance of the definition of real numbers to the entire edifice of mathematics. All other mathematical concepts and theories are based on the structure of the real numbers just as all other aspects of the Judeo-Christian religion are built upon the base definition of the Schema. This unprecedented scriptural evidence for the supreme importance of the Schema in the Judeo-Christian spiritual tradition leaves the scholar and the believer alike with no other choice but to examine all of the consequences of this singular idea. Moses eloquently expresses this need in Deut 6:8, ?bind them in your minds. by which he means think about them constantly. The seeker must ask why this is the most important idea of Judeo-Christian theology and what are the moral, philosophical, practical and theological implications.
The importance of TAM is not confined to just the Judeo-Christian tradition. This idea is also the deepest teaching of the most important eastern religions. The Tao of Taoism, the void of Buddhism, the Allah of Isam and the Brahma and Atman of Hinduism are all expressions of this unified God permeating the entire Cosmos. Since both the search for God and the search for scientific knowledge are pursuits of truth, a rational mystic must constantly examine all old beliefs in light of new information. In this way religion can utilize the knowledge of science as a guide to understanding the nature of God. There is no longer a case of two different competing cosmologies rather science is a modern tool of true religion.
The Scientific Aspect of TAM
Let us review the scientific aspect of TAM so that we can properly understand how it supports many fundamental traditional religious doctrines. It is the predictions of the so-called Grand Unified Theories (GUTs) that lead to these profound religious implications. GUTs are based on the amalgamation of the two most successful modern scientific theories, general relativity and quantum mechanics.
The theory of general relativity is a theory of the large-scale structure of the universe. It describes the mathematical relationship between matter, space, time and gravity. Shortly after the publication of the theory in 1915 a Russian mathematician named Alexander Fiedmann realized that the theory predicted a dynamic universe which must be either expanding or contracting. Soon thereafter the expansion of the universe was confirmed by observation. As a consequence of this dynamic behavior the volume of the universe must decrease during earlier epochs. As the time parameter of the equations of relativity are turned further and further back to zero several interesting phenomenon important to religion and philosophy occur. The volume of space is reduced to zero, the temperature and density of matter increase without limit and the concept of time no longer has any meaning. Here is how Stephen Hawking describes this prediction in his book A Brief History of Time :
All of the Friedmann solutions have the feature that at some time in the past (between ten and twenty thousand million years ago) the distance between neighboring galaxies must have been zero. At that time, which we call the big bang, the density of the universe and the curvature of space-time would have been infinite.
This overwhelming state of matter and space at the beginning of time displays many traditional divine characteristics including creativity, formlessness, infinities and timelessness.
It is, perhaps, the quantum mechanical aspect of the GUTs that supplies the most profound link between the state of creation at the beginning of time as predicted by physics to the traditional God of religion. Quantum mechanics is a theory of the extremely small building blocks of matter. According to the theory, as the temperature of matter increases the number of fundamental forces and their corresponding particles decrease. First the electro-magnetic and weak nuclear forces merge. Next this electro-weak force combines with the strong nuclear force and finally the amalgamated electro-weak-strong force is merged with gravity. At each stage of unification the number of classes of fundamental particles decrease until at the grand unified temperature there is only one thing that exists. Thus the quantum mechanical theory of the GUTs predict the singular nature of the traditional uncreated God of monotheistic religions. Physicist Paul Davies makes this point quite eloquently in his book Superforce :
Two new conceptual schemes are currently forcing the pace. One goes under the name of grand unified theories, or GUTs. The other is called supersymmetry. Together these investigations point towards a compelling idea, that all nature is ultimately controlled by the activities of a singe superforce. The superforce would have the power to bring the universe into being and to furnish it with light, energy, matter and structure. But the superforce would amount to more than just a creative agency. It would represent an amalgamation of matter, spacetime, and force into an integrated and harmonious framework that bestows upon the universe a hitherto unsuspected unity.
There are many similarities between the state of matter, space and time at the singularity revealed by the equations of science, and the description of the traditional God of religion. If we associate the creative God of monotheistic religion with the singularity at the beginning of time then all of creation is directly descended from this awesome Divine essence. The details of the GUTs give a plausible explanation of the mechanism by which God expresses a multiplicity while retaining His unity. This direct relationship between the Divine essence at the beginning of time and the physical universe as we experience it in the current epoch sanctifies all of creation including man. This vision reveals a direct link between the consciousness of I in man and the universal I AM of God. This is one important meaning for the two scriptures:
Gen 1:27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.
Exo 3:14 And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.
Many scientists are not happy about the possibility of a singularity at the beginning of time. They are afraid that the presence of infinite values predicted by the equations mark the end of rational forecast and the beginning of metaphysical interpretation. Indeed this is the case but it is the equations themselves that suggest this situation. In fact the infinities are related to the foundations of mathematics and could have been foreseen even before mathematics was applied to a description of the physical world. There are many situations in mathematics where paradox appears as a natural consequence of logical deduction. The most profound and disturbing is the case of division by zero. This case has traditionally been glibly dealt with by mathematicians by declaring it as an undefined or illegal operation. The other case, which in my experience has never been commented upon, is the definition of a geometric line. It is said to consist of an infinity of points each with zero dimension. It seems hypocritical for scientists to rely on mathematics only as long as the equations display answers that fit into their personal ideas of what is. If we are to believe in mathematics we must be prepared to accept the entire spectrum of predicted possibilities. It is entirely possible that the infinite results predicted by the cosmological equations at time zero are real.
Regardless, the important result of the GUTs related to TAM is not dependent on the appearance of a singularity. According to the theory unification occurs at a finite temperature and a scale greater than zero. Even so, unification has its own physical parameters that suggest metaphysical interpretation. For example even though the temperature at unification is finite what can it mean for matter to have temperature if there is only one thing that exists? By definition temperature is the speed and frequency of collisions between particles. Thus we find ourselves once more in a paradoxical situation. On the one hand the equations predict a specific temperature greater than zero but, on the other hand, the unified state must be at temperature zero because there are no particle interactions. This tendency to paradox displayed by the equations of cosmology and built into the foundations of mathematics, if looked at squarely and taken at face value, is telling us something profound about the structure of the world. Paradox is built into the fabric of the universe in a profound and interesting way. It is this aspect of paradox that gives the universe it’s incredible, possibly infinite, logical depth and creative power.
Our analysis that the singularity at the beginning of time is the same entity as the creative God of monotheistic religions leads to the result that the pure essence of the uncreated God is the direct ancestor of the entire cosmos including man. If it is so that all of creation including man is sanctified as the direct descendant of God then what does our newly discovered unified vision of God and creation, as revealed by the equations of science and a proper interpretation of scripture, tell us about the universal religious doctrine of divine law? What does TAM have to say about the existence of evil, divine justice and mercy? For, unlike the barren common pulpit version of christian doctrine that forces the believer to accept the division of God and the universe with the threat of heresy, a unified interpretation of Deut 6:4 is pregnant with explanatory power.
The Moral Implications of TAM
It is, perhaps, in the realm of moral law that TAM reveals its most pertinent lesson for our time. Not in some abstract philosophical theory only important to scholars, but in a way relevant to the practical decisions of our daily lives. Once the unifying message of TAM is understood the truth of moral law becomes an obvious logical consequence. Since, at the root, there is only one thing that exists all consequences of moral actions are reconciled in the cosmic unity. Divine law includes both natural laws as specified by science and moral law as defined by religion. The evolutionary theory of the scientific aspect of TAM is the mechanism that unifies these seeming disparate elements. All of nature, including man and therefore moral law, is descended from the primordial singularity guided by Gods intrinsic laws governing the interactions of space and matter. Moral law is directly descended from the symmetry inherent in nature as it is reflected in the mathematical expressions of physical law. The heart of moral law is the doctrine of divine justice. Biblically, divine justice is defined in the following verses:
Lev 24:20 fracture for fracture, eye for eye, tooth for tooth; just as he has injured a man, so it shall be inflicted on him.
The punishment shall fit the crime. Of course, the corollary is the positive expression, the reward shall fit the sacrifice. The implication is of a mathematically exact relationship between a moral act and its corresponding consequences. This symmetry mimics the root regularity of the physical laws governing the creation of matter, i.e. all matter is created in matter anti-matter pairs. The conservation of energy and the complimentarity of quantum measurables are further examples of this beautiful symmetry manifest in the laws of nature.
Deu 32:35 ‘Vengeance is Mine, and retribution, In due time their foot will slip; For the day of their calamity is near, And the impending things are hastening upon them.’
Mat 5:18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.
No one can escape due punishment for sin. God is the keeper of the books. Man may be an agent of Gods justice but even if one is able to escape human justice, no one can escape Gods justice.
Death and Immortality
The question of death is the one place where science cannot support traditional religious theory. All religions agree that the individual self continues after death either as a reincarnated being living out another life in the world or eternally in heaven or hell. However, there is no scientific evidence for this theory. One possibility, perhaps more in accord with the physical disintegration of our physical bodies at death, is that at death our personal selves lose their differentiation from the universal I AM of God. A good graphic analogy of this re-absorption of personal ego is of an eddy in a stream. At first we observe the eddy as a strong swirl of water distinct from the general movement of the stream but as time passes the swirl slows and eventually gets lost altogether back into the overall movement. This theory of death is quite acceptable from our human point of view. Unity with the God of TAM is perfect peace. This must be so because where there is no differentiation there is no strife and therefore serenity. However, the problem of moral consequences remains.
If we accept the idea of an end to our personal ego at the time of death then the question remains, when does an individual experience the punishment or reward due according to our analysis of divine justice? One possibility is that the personal self immediately experiences the consequences for a moral act. Retribution can occur in an infinite number of creative ways and always results in the loss of any satisfaction resulting from the perceived gain for a sin. Again the positive corollary is that the personal ego also immediately experiences any reward due to an act of charity or righteousness. Thus according to this view, at death, the balance sheet of moral activity is in perfect harmony. Sin as experienced from Gods point of view is related to the above analysis of sin as experienced by humans. Since God is the direct source of all individual egos He directly experiences both the pain of the victim and the pleasure of the sinner. Of course, this also holds for the positive expression of righteousness and charity. From the point of view of God the books are always in balance.
Another logically sound explanation to the question of moral symmetry is the doctrine of reincarnation and its related concept of karma common to Buddhism and Hinduism. This theory is based on the mathematical relationship between moral acts and their consequences and therefor is in agreement with the biblical definition of divine justice and our analysis of natural law as the origin of moral law. The doctrine of reincarnation addresses the possibility that the account in our moral books can get out of harmony over a lifetime and therefor, require another incarnation to bring them into balance. The goal of the practice of these religions is to escape the wheel of birth and death and permanently become united with the universal Self or Atman.
Although all of these theories are logically sound they predict some rather uncommon philosophical consequences. For example, in these theories, evil and good are on an equal footing. Both bring one out of equilibrium with the moral ground state. In the case of reincarnation, being out of balance with the books on the good side will cause another birth just as will a bad record. The equal footing of good and evil predicted by the mathematical nature of these theories removes our traditional and, I feel, intuitive guide of goodness as a way of gauging moral activity. At this time I do not know how to reconcile this discrepancy between logical necessity and intuitive feeling except to say that if the books are out of balance on the good side of the ledger at least the time spent in another incarnation will be as pleasant as possible. Perhaps the biblical episode describing the ascension of Elijah is the record of a man who balanced his moral books and was released from the wheel of birth and death.
Our analysis of divine justice brings us face to face with the modern Christian doctrine of biblical in-errancy. This is the idea that the Bible contains no logical errors or doctrinal discrepancies. The usual argument for this theory is that if it is shown that parts of the Bible are discrepant then we cannot be sure that any of it is true. To my mind this outrageous claim is potentially the most destructive of all erroneous modern christian dogma. It is obvious to an objective and intelligent reader that the Bible contains many contradictions. Including this blatantly wrong idea into the mandatory body of Christian belief repulses educated, intelligent and freethinking people. The very kind of people that Christianity needs to continue as an evolving and vital religion.
Practicing Christians need not swallow this all or nothing doctrine to be convinced that the fundamental truths of God are revealed in the Bible. For us a conviction of Gods existence is more robust than the requirement of total biblical truth and can survive the fact that there are real errors in the Bible. We are convinced of Gods existence for more fundamental reasons like personal experience of the divine presence in ourselves and in the entire world. Gods power and manifest matter are the substance and life of this magnificent cosmos. Second is logical necessity. This is a world of cause and effect, consequently there must be a first cause. It is this mind-boggling and hair raising cause of time that we rightly call God. Third there is the confirmation of the predictions of scientific cosmology. Thus our conviction of the reality of God transcends any particular religious or philosophical system!
As we have seen, TAM cannot maintain the current Judeo-Christian view that a soul faces one judgment and then an eternal stay in either heaven or hell. This idea is contrary to the mathematical nature of divine justice that we discussed during our investigation of the moral implications of TAM. The amount of sin that can be accumulated in one lifetime must be finite, therefor, the infinite duration of punishment required by the theory of eternal suffering is out of balance with Gods perfect justice. But now we are confronted with a contradiction within the Bible because there is scriptural evidence for the eternal-suffering model:
Mat 25:46 And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.
This particular problem is no isolated example. The study of biblical theology is rife with contradictory arguments that stem from seemingly conflicting scriptures. I am not going to take the time, in this article, to make an exhaustive list of known biblical discrepancies. I refer the interested reader to Gleason Archers book The Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties. Even though Archer’s book is an attempted resolution to the cited discrepancies many arguments are inconclusive and there is no attempt at all to defend the deep problem of what Archer calls transmission errors. These errors have been introduced by the ancient scribes responsible for disseminating the Bible before the advent of printing.
There is only one other particular example of biblical errancy that I would like to mention before we end our discussion of this unfortunate doctrine. In Matthew 27:9 Matthew attempts a quote from the Old Testament. He claims that the words come from the book of Jeremiah but a little study reveals that there is no verse even similar to the one used. The verse most like the one that Matthew quotes is in Zechariah 11:12 through 11:13 and it is not even identical to the Matthew’s words. Here are the actual verses:
Mat 27:9 Then that which was spoken through Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled, saying, AND THEY TOOK THE THIRTY PIECES OF SILVER, THE PRICE OF THE ONE WHOSE PRICE HAD BEEN SET by the sons of Israel;
Mat 27:10 AND THEY GAVE THEM FOR THE POTTER’S FIELD, AS THE LORD DIRECTED ME.
The quote is not found in Jeremiah at all. Matthew’s quote most resembles these verses from Zechariah:
Zec 11:12 And I said to them, If it is good in your sight, give me my wages; but if not, never mind! So they weighed out thirty shekels of silver as my wages.
Zec 11:13 Then the LORD said to me, Throw it to the potter, that magnificent price at which I was valued by them. So I took the thirty shekels of silver and threw them to the potter in the house of the LORD.
Even one outright error like this is enough to put paid the idea of an in-errant Bible.