We should maintain that if an interpretation of any word in any religion leads to disharmony and does not positively further the welfare of the many, then such an interpretation is to be regarded as wrong; that is, against the will of God, or as the working of Satan or Mara.

Buddhadasa Bikkhu, a Thai Buddhist Monk

Friday, August 2, 2013

The Reality of God

In the Age of Science, the question of the reality of God cannot be escaped.  Science defines reality as ultimately physical and argues that if God is real then God must have a physical presence of some kind.  The challenge is to discover the physical presence of God in the real world.

The question is whose challenge is this?

There is such a thing as the human spirit, which clearly manifests itself in the real world.  Science, however, is hard pressed to explain what it is.  There is not a physical measure for it.  There is such a thing as love, and science is again hard pressed to explain love or measure it even though it is a powerful reality in our lives.  How does one quantify or measure the power of music to move us?  Where precisely in the real world does that power lie?  Even convinced atheists claim to feel a sense of awe in the face of the reality of the universe.  What is "awe"?  How does one quantify it?  Quantum physics stands as a warning that even in the physical world "reality" is an increasingly difficult thing to quantify and capture in mathematical formulas.

If science cannot account for orders of reality that lie beyond the physical then it cannot account for God.  If it cannot account for the fact that a mystical experience is something more than the sum of what goes on in the brain then it cannot even begin to speak about God let alone to assert the un-reality of the divine.  When science is eventually able to measure love and account for the human spirit, it will no longer be science as we know it today.  When it can account for awe then it will stand on the verge of being able to account for God, but it will no longer be science.

Future science will be something like poetry...like a form of theology that also does not yet exist...or, maybe, it will be both meta-physical and meta-theological.  Just as science proves that our pre-scientific theologies are inadequate in the face of reality so will we find that scientific reality is also inadequate to define the true reality of what is really true.

The challenge of God then belongs to us all.  It is not likely to go away anytime soon...if ever.  Amen.