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Tuesday, May 12, 2015

To My Theist Friends

I have been pretty clear that I don't need "God" in my life or language. (click here) Besides being an unscientific and irrational proposition, I have concluded that belief in God often squanders opportunity and responsibility and that religions, especially those of the monotheistic brand, bring with them a lot of evil into the world.

Radical Islam, Fundamentalist Christianity, Righteous Judaism attack each other as infidels while requiring strict adherence to their immovable principles. They are paternalistic and hierarchical. They fear novelty, justify violence, and sacrifice the others on the altar of the Absolute. They eschew critical thinking because they are in unique possession of God's revelation. They claim infallibility because of their special relationship with the Almighty. They practice exclusion of aliens and make aliens of those who disagree with them. In doing so they feed fear, ignorance, and hate. While condemning idolatry by affirming that there is no god but God, they make idols of their God, their Prophets, their Scriptures, their Laws, their dogmas, and their institutions. And they are willing to sacrifice their perceived enemies to their idols.

However, I work closely with Christian, Jewish, Muslim congregations committed to social justice. I understand that historically each of these three religions of the Book were founded by advocates from and for the lower classes in society with visions of social equality, freedom, and justice which I share. I also have many friends and colleagues for whom God is an important part of their life, their stories, and their commitment to peace through justice. With them I see that God brings a lot of good into the world.

So when I hear my friends and colleagues talk "God," this is what I choose to hear. I hear them affirming Transcendence, i.e. their willingness to pass beyond idols by continued questioning and criticism. I hear them affirming the Worth of persons over things. I hear them committed to the Future of the world by acknowledging but letting go of the past. I hear them desiring to act with optimism out of Abundance, rather than with gloom out of scarcity, focusing on the possibility in nature and humanity rather than on its limitations and evil.

So when they talk "God," let me think not of a powerful entity over nature. Let me think of the Power that is being engendered in human concerted action. Let me think of the way the mystics experienced the Void: God is the Nothingness from which all things come--ex nihilo.  Neither matter, nor energy, God as the Universal Void is Cosmic Consciousness. God does not exist, but is the condition or context for all that does. Or let me think God as the Universe in all vastness united as a Whole with interacting parts. Or let me think of God as Universal Consciousness Becoming through matter's complexification and through our interaction with it, a sort of Omega point in the human experiment.

None of these propositions are falsifiable and so not verifiable. However, the advance of science may lead to these propositions either by demonstrating that they are not incompatible with the laws of physics or through new testable theories. I especially mean quantum information theory that may surpass and unite both classical and quantum mechanics by understanding all of reality as information processed by a universal computing complex.

In this theory all information can be understood as made up of quantum bits--positive and negative matter/energy points all of which cannot be without being in relation to one another. God is that universal computing complex in which all information (including that of its processor) is contained and processed thus being the union of positive and negative energy/matter. But then, according to information theory, God as the sum total of information is Entropy. And God as the Whole of parts that exist only in relationship is Love or Empathy.

Entropy and Empathy, the Yin and the Yang, Negative and Positive.

Again, all that is pretty far out and seems fit more to science fiction than science. It is more suggestive poetry than true knowledge. We as yet have no way to test these speculations through experimentation and observation and so to give them usable meaning.

However what we can observe and test, at least phenomenologically and even neurologically, is human consciousness as transcending.

Human consciousness as observed in its varieties of religious experience, in its poetry and image making, and in its drive to know develops by passing beyond its products, its goods, its truths, its self. So while we can come up with no concept of God or Universal Consciousness or Great Void or Omega Point or Universal Information Processor, we can perhaps have a notion of God which is but the experience of our own transcending consciousness existence in the world.

Human consciousness is thus the stretching towards greater subjectivity through greater objectivity and so constituting space. Human consciousness is also temporality, a stretching to past and future and so constituting time. Human consciousness is the stretching between the individuality of the self
to the society of persons and so constituting community. Human consciousness is the "no-thing-ness," the void within, that is the ability to negate and so refute imagination's products: the idols to be transcended.

So can I affirm the existence of God? No. But I can understand the notion of God that my friends and colleagues use. I can affirm their openness and willingness to transcend, to put themselves with all other persons acting for a better world, for a future in which we all share, for a hope in universal love.

Can I affirm that such a love, future, transcendent truth does exist or is indeed coming? No. But here is where Pascal's wager makes sense for me. I choose to bet on it, not because of some game theory reward, but because the wager of faith itself makes such a transcendent future possible.

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