Friday, July 21, 2006

Real physics, real God, part 2

My goal never has been to tell everyone to believe as I do, though I am like anyone else in wanting some number of people to believe what I believe. I'm not sure what that number would be, at which point I wouldn't talk to those of other beliefs at all just for the sake of beliefs. I don't expect ever to be in that position in my life, as I do have a way of belief that rejects authority, rejects much of what is past, and rejects limited experience of life, not something that can have a lot of followers. I'm sure I have my moments of hostility in that, but my main concern is always to define my way so that I might follow it better. Of course like everyone, if my way is best for me, I would at least throw it out for consideration that it might be best for some others, too, truly as a gift.

My way is empirical. I wish charismatics didn't already have their stamp on "experience-based Chrisitainity", because I would like that term if it didn't already mean speaking in tongues to so many people and be associated with the rigid mindset of Pentacostal theology. And that experience is certainly inside oneself and outside of oneself.

I recently was discussing with someone where the presence of God that I have in my consciousness originated. Who knows where it really originated but I can trace my awareness of it back 35 years to when I took karate in college and we would meditate before class. The instruction was to let our mind become a quiet lake. I was pretty good at that. Later I tried other meditative techniques, then prayer, which led to this road-to-Damascus experience I described here recently. In prayer the presence of God grew and grew for me, first just as the target of my prayer with no sensory phenomena, then as someone who affects me, emotionally, even in how I move, then as someone who has some visual and somatosensory way to reach me, and finally someone who simply speaks in words, though such words always depend on what I'm willing to hear, things like that.

Yet my current awareness of God is very much like that quiet lake from 35 years ago, not that God is always quiet, but it is the same place within me that I can't identify as "heart" or something else that I know is a precise anatomical location. Now how do I integrate that with what I see in the world, that some people have experiences like this while many don't, as well as other issues? I would do that empirically again, but it's difficult with so much uncertainty. One needs one's intellect and intuition, as one does for any science. Any good scientist needs a good intuition about the next experiment to do.

So I'm not sure that any sort of experience is left out in what I think is the best way to understand God, the universe, life, and anything else. Yet I see people relying on some parts of that very narrowly, such as pure intellect with little to ground that in reality. The results of those other approaches are not anything that makes sense to me.

It's hard to talk about in the abstract, but as a concrete example, if someone tells me the central idea of quantum physics is parallel universes established by choice, I would challenge that. The textbooks I have on quantum physics say the central idea is that energy is quantized. There are experiments that go with that, a system of quantum theory that works to explain the results of many years of experiments with subatomic particles. There is only a mystical and speculative interpretation of all that that says choice has anything to do with any of it. Yet I can't prove there aren't parallel universes. Anyone is free to go that way, no matter how little that connects with experience, but I have to be honest that I see no value in that way. I just see people exercising their fantasies that way. There are many similar ideas in religion where I would anger someone by being so blunt about them.

So I think it's true that different kinds of experience are important. I also think they need to be integrated, which science does when one can be objective, but cannot be done scientifically when one is looking at subjective consciousness. Still one can follow the same principle of believing what comes to me in my own consciousness rather than some purely intellectual scheme that I can't reach personally. God may be Creator, but I can't stand at the creation with Him except by a vision, which I can't make too much of. I don't have enough context to know what to do with that. I can't assess the reality of some theological or philosophical scheme of seeing God that is so far beyond reality that I find no way to test it.

So I came across the idea that God is whoever and whatever answers when I call Him. That I like. That I relate to. I like it so much, I'm not sure why it wasn't taught to me by someone other than God, but it wasn't. And lots of people don't like it when I try to explain it. It does threaten other ways of looking at it. I don't see any way around that. Even if it were just a matter of the best restaurant in town, something unimportant and subjective as that, anyone who gets really excited about one restaurant and knows why he likes that restaurant above any other might be seen as pushing his choice on others. Well, OK, but I don't know what else to do but explain why I get excited and hope that some might understand.

I don't see all ways as valid. Can you see all ways as valid and include the way that says many ways are junk? I'm not sure it's worth going there. There is a phenomenon where a person discovers a way to live and says, "This is the way!" I know from experience that there are many in liberal religion who hate to hear that, even if that way is not fundamentalism. I find myself often saying, "But it is the way!" in various ways, mostly to see what I say and what others say back, because it is a curious phenomenon where someone rushes in and says, "Look guys, gold!" and someone else says, "I don't see any gold." You really can't guess at who's right in that situation. You just know it might be worth looking at if you don't have anything better to do. Then you can build up your own experience of who knows gold and who doesn't.

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