Newtonian and Quantum “Religion”
Our world view is determined by our consciousness and affects every area of life, including religion. As we survey human attitudes towards religion we are also observing consciousness. The predominant world view since Cro-Magnon man has been the common sense one, which Newton later measured. As consciousness began to change so did the world view. The Quantum world view finally takes us out of the Newtonian world view and into a new understanding of a universe with consciousness in its deepest fabric. The changes in “religion” that this has birthed are tremendous and set the human race into a new future.
Newtonian physics has been with us a very long time. We almost take it for granted. The laws of gravity and motion are very much a part of our daily lives. The Newtonian view of the universe is a vast space filled with real particles called matter. That apple that fell on his head was “real.” In the Newtonian world view, things are separate and real. The universe is a collection of “stuff” that bumps into itself according to laws of motion and gravity. People are also seen as separate from one another as much as a bunch of rocks. In Newton’s world, time is viewed in a linear way, past, present and future all separate though related in causality. This world view is really a scientific description of the “common sense” view of reality that we work in every day. Things and people are separate and they bump and grind on one another. I am being colloquial here because this is not intended to be a lecture on physics per se, but rather an observation on how our world views affect every part of society including religion. So we would have to say that this common sense world view came into human consciousness around the time of Cro-Magnon Man, our dear ancestor. He too saw the world as bits and pieces, some of which wanted to eat him!
If we use the ancient astronaut theory, then earth has been visited many times by aliens intending to help the growth of mankind. Each time they came to a civilization they challenged the common sense view of the world to a certain extent. The civilizations on earth they visited flourished for long periods of time and enjoyed greater technology. Just try building a pyramid today! Nevertheless, their visitation and help did not move the human race out of the common sense view of the universe. Ancient man simply viewed these ancient astronauts as “gods” and viewed them as separate beings. The sense of the separation of all things spilled over into religion. Actually it had been there since early cavemen began to draw pictures of what they thought was an afterlife. From the very beginning of homosapiens “God” was viewed as a separate, big, powerful being, or group of beings, who lived somewhere in the heavens and whose favor early man wished to curry. In India, a different world view was being formed, unexamined by the West. The basic common sense world view prevailed through early Western civilization including the beloved Western mythologized version of Israel as “God’s chosen people,” who worshipped a God they called “Yahweh” and to whom they had to offer sacrifices to curry favor with him. He was a hard god to work with, impetuous and full of vengeance. He destroyed the world with a flood and then said “oops. ..I’m sorry. I won’t do it again.” But the basic, common sense world view as separateness would not allow any investigation into this “god.” It would not allow conceptions of connectedness.
Newton simply took this world view and measured how it worked. Classical Newtonian physics gives us the laws of motion and gravity by which the separate pieces of stuff (including you and me) bang into one another. WE ASSUME THIS WORLD VIEW IS TRUE BECAUSE THE PHYSICS VERIFY IT! Newton’s common sense view of the world works. The philosophical term that describes Newton’s world view is DUALISM! What comes up must go down. For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Resting objects tend to stay at rest. Moving objects tend to stay in motion…and hit other objects like cars or people. It explains how you get into your car and go to the grocery store. It explains your attitude towards your noisy neighbor who has nothing in common with you. You are both so separate. The common sense world view has built all of our ideas about one another, about society, about economy, about human consciousness, which in the common sense view is the result of an electrical-chemical reaction in the brain.
When Constantine merged Christianity and Mithraism to keep peace in his army, he extended the common sense world view into the heavens in a gigantic way. God was viewed as an Emperor. (Gee, I wonder where he came up with that?) God was viewed as living far off in heaven somewhere, and all the little separate selves had to curry favor with him by joining the Roman Catholic Church, going through the rites and staying faithful to mother church their whole lives…or else this God would damn their souls to terrible punishment after death. The wickedness of this system finally roused a young priest named Martin Luther, to rebel and post his 95 theses against the Catholic Church in 1517. That began the reformation movement. Most of the sects within the movement left undisturbed the common sense view of God and the world. They just wanted to remove Catholicism.
The common sense world view as it interacted with theology gave a picture of a three-storied universe with God and Heaven at the top; earth in the middle and hell on the bottom. Every human being was created as unique and separate by God and each created person was separate from God. Each person experienced himself as imperfect and in need. People offered sacrifices to the image of gods they projected from their own consciousness. They longed for a savior. In the Judaeo-Christian tradition that consumed the West, his name was Jesus. Luther’s reformation stated that mankind did not need the rites of the Roman Catholic Church to access the grace of God that came through Jesus. Mankind only needed personal faith. By personal faith the separate individual could come near to God. That was revolutionary! Some of the more pietistic sects, the radical reformation, began to experience that they could personally experience God. The Shakers and Quakers, the Mennonites, all made a start at a new world view. Revivals took place where people shook and quaked under the power of God. This was a new sociological/theological development. The severe piety of Jonathan Edwards was met with a revival as emotional and as full of miracles and wonders as has ever been seen. Edwards was non-plussed. His own wife was having manifestations. He could not deny it. The Wesleyan Revivals, The Welsh revivals, the Cain Ridge revival in Tennessee, all brought a challenge to the common sense world view. In England and the frontier United States another huge challenge to the common sense world view came from Spiritualism and Pentecostalism. People suddenly felt the presence of God. God was no longer so far away and so separate, and the more they sensed that, the more they felt a connection one to another. It did seem in those revivals that AGAPE love was being felt and exchanged and a new world view could be just around the corner. This report from the Cain Ridge revival of 1801 makes the point:
“Although only ministers preached prepared sermons, literally hundreds of people became spontaneous exhorters, excitedly giving spiritual advice or tearful warnings. Almost anyone—women, small children, slaves, the shy, the illiterate—could exhort with great effect.
“One 7-year-old girl mounted a man’s shoulders and spoke wondrous words until she was completely fatigued. When she lay her head on his as if to sleep, someone in the audience suggested ‘the poor thing had better be laid down to rest.’ The girl roused and said, ‘Don’t call me poor, for Christ is my brother, God my father, and I have a kingdom to inherit, and therefore do not call me poor, for I am rich in the blood of the Lamb!’
“In many ways, Cane Ridge was a very human affair. At times, emotional excess reigned, and the revival split denominations and gave birth to not a few sects. It’s also clear, as historians have shown, that powerful social and cultural forces played a large role at Cane Ridge.
“Yet the Christian historian cannot help but see something else at work. What appeared at Cane Ridge looks startlingly like the events of the Great Awakening of the 1740s, and of the revivals in medieval Europe, and of the day of Pentecost in first-century Jerusalem. All were moments when people fell and whirled and praised and groaned, when faith and culture and passion were tossed together in a wild, messy, and unimaginable way—when people, at least momentarily, no longer saw God through a glass darkly but face to face.” (quoted by Mark Galli, editor of Christian History Magazine 1995)
We see these movements now as movements in consciousness which eventually even moved science!
Nineteenth century Spiritualism had birthed a new science called “Parapsychology.” What was once beyond investigation became a science!
Then came Einstein, whose theories challenged or smashed Newtonian Physics. First he showed that time was relative, and that mass and energy were equivalent by the formula E=MC2. Our ideas about the world were slowly changing. Next came Alfred North Whitehead ] (15 February 1861 – 30 December 1947). Whitehead was as great a mind as Einstein but his interest lay in the philosophy of the cosmos which he took just as scientifically as Einstein. Whitehead saw the cosmos as an organism, not a collection of stuff as Newton had. Whitehead was thinking and writing before the discovery of Quantum Mechanics, but his theories were in line with later quantum development. By this time we knew that Newton’s ideas about electrons, as solid particles, was wrong. Each electron is composed of packets of energy and each part of the packet, Whitehead termed “actual entities.” These living bursts of energy make up the universe. The upshot of Whitehead’s discovery is that consciousness is at the very foundation of the cosmos. The actual entities actually choose from possibilities offered to them by God, who is there with the actual entities as the “unique actual entity.” From eternal potentials God presents to the actual entities possibilities for choice. Here we have the beginning of A Quantum view of the cosmos. God is not far off. He is imminent within the deepest foundation of the cosmos. The cosmos is not a bunch of junk floating in dead space. It is an organism which grows by quantum choice. God is the World’s Fellow Traveler who grows and becomes more as the cosmos grows. Charles Hartshorne developed Whitehead’s philosophy into theology.
The basic tenets are:
God is not omnipotent in the sense of being coercive. The divine has a power of persuasion rather than coercion. Process theologians interpret the classical doctrine of omnipotence as involving force, and suggest instead a forbearance in divine power. “Persuasion” in the causal sense means that God does not exert unilateral control.
Reality is not made up of material substances that endure through time, but serially-ordered events, which are experiential in nature. These events have both a physical and mental aspect. All experience (male, female, atomic, and botanical) is important and contributes to the ongoing and interrelated process of reality.
The universe is characterized by process and change carried out by the agents of free will. Self-determination characterizes everything in the universe, not just human beings. God cannot totally control any series of events or any individual, but God influences the creaturely exercise of this universal free will by offering possibilities. To say it another way, God has a will in everything, but not everything that occurs is God’s will.
God contains the universe but is not identical with it (panentheism, not pantheism or pandeism). Some also call this “theocosmocentrism” to emphasize that God has always been related to some world or another.
Because God interacts with the changing universe, God is changeable (that is to say, God is affected by the actions that take place in the universe) over the course of time. However, the abstract elements of God (goodness, wisdom, etc.) remain eternally solid.
Charles Hartshorne believes that people do not experience subjective (or personal) immortality, but they do have objective immortality because their experiences live on forever in God, who contains all that was. Other process theologians believe that people do have subjective experience after bodily death.
Dipolar theism, is the idea that God has both a changing aspect (God’s existence as a Living God) and an unchanging aspect (God’s eternal essence).
Here finally we have moved away from Newtonian Physics and Newtonian Religion. It is important to keep in mind however, that both the Newtonian view and the new Quantum view are true, but from different perspectives. Your car will still work the same. And if you go out into traffic thinking that truck in front of you is just energy, it will still flatten you as flat as a pancake. The Quantum view is more complete and it can contain within it the Newtonian view as a “special case,” by which we mean that it appears to hold true at the macro level. But the Newtonian view cannot hold the Quantum view. In the case of religions based on these systems, we have to realize that the Reformation brought us a church that is still valid, but it has a very limited perspective. Those of us involved in Quantum religion must be compassionate for our brothers who hold so tightly to their Newtonian religion. Even though they may call us bad names and pray for us as heretics, we must embrace them in love, especially when they can’t return it. It does us no good to bash them as “ignorant,” “fear-minded,” “bigoted,” et. al. The human journey takes time, in terms of consciousness, and we have the World’s Fellow Traveler to help us.
Here at last in Whitehead and Hartshorne, we have a world view where consciousness is at the very building block of reality. Reality is not hard, non-malleable stuff. It is mutated by consciousness. God is not an Emperor in the sky. God is the unique actual entity guiding quantum choice at the deepest level.
C. Robert Mesle, in his book Process Theology, outlines three aspects of a process theology of liberation:
There is a relational character to the divine which allows God to experience both the joy and suffering of humanity. God suffers just as those who experience oppression and God seeks to actualize all positive and beautiful potentials. God must, therefore, be in solidarity with the oppressed and must also work for their liberation.
God is not omnipotent in the classical sense and so God does not provide support for the status quo, but rather seeks the actualization of greater good.
God exercises relational power and not unilateral control. In this way God cannot instantly end evil and oppression in the world. God works in relational ways to help guide persons to liberation.
Process theology affirms that God is working in all persons to actualize potentialities. In that sense each religious manifestation is the Divine working in a unique way to bring out the beautiful and the good. Additionally, scripture and religion represent human interpretations of the divine. In this sense pluralism is the expression of the diversity of cultural backgrounds and assumptions that people use to approach the Divine. The Christ of process theology does not represent a hypostasis of divine and human persona. Rather God is incarnate in the lives of all humans when they act according to a call from God. Jesus fully and in every way responded to the call of God and so the person of Jesus is theologically understood to be “the divine Word in human form.” Jesus was not God-man in essence, but fully identified with God at all moments of life.
Now as this monumental work was being carried out, at the same time a French Jesuit Paleontologist named Pierre Teilhard De Chardin (May 1, 1881 – April 10, 1955) was coming up with a cosmic view of his own. He was both a respected scientist and theologian and just the right man for the job. He viewed God as active within the development of the natural order. As with Whitehead, God was in the process. De Chardin saw God evolving nature and man through evolution and consciousness changing towards an OMEGA POINT in evolution, which is Christ consciousness and Christ likeness.
Here we have two parallel streams, Whitehead/Hartshorne, and De Chardin, who were both scientists and theologians challenging Newtonian religion with new views of an imminent God working within a consciousness controlled cosmos at the deepest level.
Then came Quantum Mechanics and a full quantum world view. In this world view, past, present and future are all displayed at once in the cosmos. In the quantum universe, consciousness is changing the cosmos. We first found out about this as we noticed that light could be both a wave function and a particle. Light functions as a wave form of potential until it comes in contact with our sensory organs which collapse the wave into a particle. Then we learned that the observer changes the experiment. Our consciousness during observation changes the experiment. We are not detached from everything as poor Newton thought.
Then we learned about “entanglement.” Quantum systems can become entangled through various types of interactions. If entangled, one object cannot be fully described without considering the other(s). They remain in a quantum superposition and share a single quantum state until a measurement is made.
The implications of entanglement began to be explored by Quantum Physicists themselves. Finally, science and religion were catching up to one another. Actually two other elements in thinking were working in parallel and making contributions.
The most influential theologian of the twentieth century was Paul Tillich. Tillich united philosophy and theology into one. This was quite remarkable since they had previously been enemies. Tillich was the first Christian theologian to offer an Eastern view of God. Tillich boldly proclaimed that God did not exist. God was existence itself. God was not a particular, personal being or he would be just a being alongside others; perhaps the most powerful being but still a being alongside others. Tillich, drawing from the deep well of the East, referred to God as the ground of all being, or being itself’
Tillich offered the West a revolution against the monarchical monotheism of the past; the literal Yahweh or Jehovah, or the Constantinian Imperial god. In so doing he defied the West’s most cherished theology of St. Anselm, Thomas Aquinas, Duns Scotus, and William of Ockham. He truly opened the eyes of the West towards the East which for three thousand years had understood God abstractly. As you can imagine, fundamentalists of all persuasions were quick to attack Tillich. He had messed with their most cherished literal beliefs.
Two of Tillich’s most important books The Courage to Be and Dynamics of Faith were published in 1952, just at the same time other writers were bringing the wisdom of the East into America. This migration of Eastern thought to the West has been well documented and need not be rehearsed here.
Perhaps the most important of the writers involved in this education of the West was Alan Watts. Watts had begun as an Anglican priest with an ear for the East. At first he tried to find a happy syncretism of the Eastern wisdom with Anglicanism. But happy it was not and soon “Father” Watts left the church to become his own man. In a vast panoply of books, tracts, and lectures, he became the most skillful popularizer of Eastern wisdom for the West. He was not a lightweight thinker but he disliked formal theology and philosophy and preferred to find his own course. He was not a “joiner” but a commenting observer. His books are brief and have more of the nature of Zen koans than of belief systems. Deeply suspicious of all formal religions, he did not want anyone to “believe” his books. He wrote in a way to “scratch the inner itch to know.” He wrote to reveal truth rather than hide it in complex forms. His forms are those of witticisms, Zen koans, and story-telling, all designed for the reader to be able to get the point. “Substance” found it hard to hide itself in Alan Watts’ form. He could not have conceived of any “student” re-reading his books hundreds of times in search of deeper meanings. He would have been amazed at such stupidity. He often said that every mass should end with a solemn burning of the Bible, because you should have gotten the message already and when you get the message you hang up the phone! You don’t build a shrine around it!
In 1964 he wrote an extraordinary book called Beyond Theology – The Art of Godmanship. In it he used a new hermeneutic to offer a fresh analysis of Christianity. He used a hermeneutic he called “The Chinese box.” The term is taken from the construction of boxes within boxes. As a hermeneutic this meant that Watts was going to look at Christianity from the perspective of the East, purely as an artistic and enlightening endeavor. In a relatively short work he made clear the fallacies of monarchical monotheism, the problem of seeing oneself as an ego, and the solutions the East offered. Christianity was reinterpreted in light of Taoism, Hinduism, Buddhism and Zen. The result was an explosion of meaning in the minds of the Western readers. Christians, especially fundamentalists, were outraged that anyone would try to “explain them.” Persecution they could stand. What they could not stand was that they should be explained!
Another movement in consciousness awakening took place in 1975 when Dr. Raymond Moody published his first book, Life after Life, a collection of stories and musings on the experiences of people who have been clinically dead but later were revived to tell about it. They spoke of leaving their bodies, floating above the doctors; being drawn into a tunnel and coming out into an area of light that was also love; being met by dead relatives, experiencing a life review in the presence of a being who knew everything about everything. They experienced a love so deep it made existence on earth seem mundane and shallow. Soon a whole fleet of doctors and scientists were studying the NDE. For old doctors practicing medicine out of the mechanistic Newtonian view, these experiences were severe threats to their whole system of thought. They tried to explain them away as hallucinations brought on by oxygen starvation, but none of their explanations held water. An NDE researcher named P.M.H. Atwater published a book in 1999 called Future Memory, which I consider a truly important book in the 20th century. Atwater showed that survivors of near death experiences can experience a brain shift. When they return to this world they may have experiences that shatter Newtonian views of time. They may pre-experience future events. This would be impossible in the Newtonian system but not in the Quantum system. There, past, present, and future are all available for perusal.
New doctors with new medical models based on the Quantum view came forth, like Dr. Larry Dossey: “I used to believe that we must choose between science and reason on one hand, and spirituality on the other, in how we lead our lives. Now I consider this a false choice. We can recover the sense of sacredness, not just in science, but in perhaps every area of life.”
– Larry Dossey, M.D.
from Reinventing Medicine
Dr. Dossey and others like him have shown that healing at a distance does work and that it works by connection in consciousness. As consciousness becomes more aware of its movement, more of the Quantum world moves into our every day Newtonian world. The Quantum view of “entanglement” has moved into Main Street in an awareness of connectivity between individual consciousnesses. This movement is accelerating and will grow our brains bigger and better to enable us to process a much greater reality than we ever imagined.
During this discussion of the universe, there is not one consensus whether we can call it “real” or “unreal.” It is part of both. There is a universal quantum wave which collapses into sensory data as we observe it, and as we observe it, it changes and grows.
Soon the new Western views of the East, and the information on near death experiences, merged into the new Quantum view. A whole fleet of books flew out of publishing houses combining these elements: Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, The Tao of Physics, The Medium, the Mystic and the Physicist and hundreds like them.
Dr. Fritjof Capra became one of the educators in the new Quantum reality. Dr. Fred Alan Wolf, another Quantum Physicist, became a popular educator to the new world view. Consciousness was presented as the controller of the cosmos. “As fantastic as it sounds, the new physics called quantum mechanics posits that there exists, side by side with this world, another world, a parallel universe, a duplicate copy that is somehow slightly different yet the same. And not just two parallel worlds, but three, four or even more! In each of these universes, you, I and all the others who live, have lived, will live, and will ever have lived, are alive! (Wolf 1985).”
Here we have the final breaking away from the small, limited Newtonian view of reality. As people became more aware, consciousness began to change the world. Isn’t this the essence of what Whitehead taught in his Process Philosophy? Now, all of a sudden, consciousness changing systems are everywhere. J.Z. Knight channeled a master called Ramtha and started a school. Suddenly there were channelers everywhere. Psychics were no longer viewed as fake. Even shows on television and movies began to reflect the change. As consciousness became aware of its own movement there was a cosmic speed up! New churches developed out of the Quantum model, new spirituality. If you practiced “religion” you were seen as practicing a Newtonian based older theology. If you practiced “spirituality” you were seen as practicing from a Quantum model.
There is always a drag on evolution. Within the evolution of consciousness we grow as a society (again following Whitehead). The drag on this speed-up of consciousness evolution has not come so much from Christianity, as one might have thought, but from a powerful form of social manipulation known as “America pop culture.” American pop culture tried to replace serious thinking. Superficiality and hedonism were offered as the only needs in life. But even pop culture has been infiltrated by consciousness. New Quantum churches arose in Los Angeles. Psychics, channelers, mediums, all sprouted up in L.A. Now the pop culture is being changed. The movie, “What the bleep do we know” had a tremendous impact. J.Z. Knight channeled Ramtha for it and Quantum physicists were brought in to clarify Quantum mechanics in an amusing and enlightening way. It is a must see movie.
One of the new spiritual texts called A Course in Miracles was scribed from 1965-1972 by a research Freudian psychologist named Helen Schucman. The work claimed to be from Jesus and was intended to re-write Christianity, at least for Helen.
Dr. Helen Schucman was a research psychologist at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital which was a part of Columbia University’s School of Medicine. She had only one other colleague in her department, Dr. William Thetford who had hired Helen. Helen had a troubled childhood and developmental years. Helen’s parents were half Jewish but neither practiced their faith. Helen’s mother seems to have resented her Jewish faith and experimented with other spiritual paths. Her father was not interested in religion at all. Helen seemed continually to recall an experience that happened to her in toddlerhood which became a symbol through her life of anxiety. She asked her father to teach her Judaism but he was not interested. For a while Helen identified herself as a Jew. Her parents left her care in the hands of a Nanny who was a Catholic and Helen went with her to mass. She was fascinated with the mass and its forms. She later visited Lourdes and was tremendously impacted. At various times she experimented with Christian Science and with Baptist Protestantism. Her family’s maid was a Baptist who read the Bible to Helen frequently. At her maid’s encouragement, Helen was baptized when she was 13 years old. However, after her baptism she soon stopped going to church, saying “It was no use. I do not have faith.” She became an agnostic and then an angry atheist. She completed her PhD in psychology in 1957 from New York University and the following year was hired by Dr. William Thetford to join him in the department of medical psychology at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital. They worked together for seven years in an environment that Helen called “oppressive.” Her relationship with Bill was clouded with all sorts of personality clashes and personal agendas. Finally, in June 1965 Bill gave a little lecture to Helen that “there must be a better way to work together than this and I am determined to find it.” Instead of attacking, Helen said, “You’re right Bill. We’ll find it together.”
In June of 1965 Helen began to have psychic experiences and lucid dreams. She reported these all to Bill. In one dream she was in a boat floating down a canal. There was a hook in the boat and she reached into the water with it and snagged a big chest. On the chest was the word “Aesculapius” (which was the name of the Greek god of healing). She entered a big cave and opened the chest. Inside was a big parchment scroll which she unrolled. In the middle were the words “God Is.”
This psychic period ended as abruptly as it began. Then later in 1965 Helen began to hear an “inner voice.” She told this to Bill who encouraged her to write down whatever the voice said and they would look at it together. Helen was very ambivalent about this process. She prided herself on being a scientist, not someone who heard inner voices. She was conservative in psychological theory, by her own words, and a Freudian. Eventually she gave in and wrote down the text as she heard it. The voice kept saying, “This is a course in miracles. Please take notes.” Helen, after all, was a teacher in a school of medicine. From 1965-1972 she took down the whole dictation. The text from October 21, 1965 – October 10, 1968; the workbook for students: May 26,1969 – February 18,1971; the manual for teachers, April 12,1972 – September 71, 1972 Later a Preface was written and A Clarification of Terms.
The Course seems to have helped many people, including me.
“The Secret,” both as a book and as a movie, has had a tremendous impact. The relationship between thought and sensory manifestation was explored, showing that matter is a manifestation of thought! How Quantum! How unlike Newton? Near death experiences keep growing and getting fuller. The veils that separate the many quantum worlds are being thinned by our conscious intention to do so, to grow, to know. And our ideas about God are growing. In “What the bleep do we know” God is defined as “all spirit everywhere, existing in superposition.”
Now consciousness is zooming and booming. We have set for ourselves a goal of enormous consciousness shift which we believe will begin Dec. 21, 2012. It doesn’t matter about the Mayans. This is a date that we have set for us as a species. What may happen? It is all in our intentions. The veils between the quantum worlds may vanish so that we can experience our other selves in other worlds. We may make first contact with superior beings. We may make the shift and “feel” ourselves as part of God. It is a new day, a new universe, a new God, and we are all growing together.