For over a year now, my wife and I have been part of a small group that meets once a week in each other’s homes. I would describe most of us as seekers who have a common interest in spiritual development. We come from a variety of backgrounds and most of us come with some religious exposure, and naturally, some bias. We start and close our gatherings with meditation. We share a meal every month. We have formed some pretty close bonds.
Typically, we agree to read a particular book and then we discuss it chapter by chapter when we are together. We have read books like The Seat of the Soul, by Gary Zukav, The New Earth, by Eckhart Tolle, Life After Death by Deepak Chopra, Uncomfortable With Uncertainty, by Pema Chodron and Conversations With God, by Neal Donald Walsch. We also share journal articles and other readings that have caught our interest. Our goal is not only to practice a spiritual discipline but also to try and stretch our minds out of the ordinary.
Last week we agreed to gather and watch the Nova production called “The Elegant Universe,” hosted by Brian Greene. For several of us, the readings have had an amazing impact on the way we see our lives and even the way we live them. But this PBS production has stretched every one of us in some way. It is a place where “reality meets science fiction,” as host Brian Greene puts it. Simply stated, quantum theory is radically changing the way we understand our world, our universe and in truth, our reality.
According to the best scientists in the world, our universe is composed entirely of vibrating strings of energy. Everything from the smallest measurable particle to the largest star in our universe is made from the same kind of ingredient. Just like the strings of a cello or viola can make a multitude of sounds, quantum strings of energy create a multitude of forms. In ways we cannot understand, at least at this point, all of these strings are inter-related and interdependent. In other words, the great spiritual teachers, including Jesus, were right. We are all one interconnected whole. The universe is like one grand symphony orchestra playing beautiful music. And we are part of that music.
If this is not enough to get your attention, these same scientists tell us that there are at least eleven dimensions of reality that are part of our universe that are all happening simultaneously. And we may be participating in some way in any of one these, at the same time.
What this means, according to the same scientist is that at any moment we are faced with an infinite number of possibilities that the course of our life might take us and this happening with every living creature.
I am clearly not a scientist and I barely got through my high school’s physics class a very long time ago. And it is true that this is all still considered a “theory,” but it is a highly regarded theory that is being adopted by the vast majority of active scientists today. Most of the disagreements, as I understand it, are more of a nuance than a challenge to the basic premise. However, there is enough solid science supporting this theory that it can’t help but test the limits of our minds, and even our hearts, if we really start thinking about it. It seems to me that the purpose of religion or spiritual practice is to draw closer to the great mystery of something we call God. Certainly that was the direction that Jesus was pointing, (although he would not have used the word, “God.”) We are hypothetically trying to get closer to an infinite mystery that, we have been told by all of the great teachers, is within. Maybe we need this kind of thinking before we can get out of our myopic and limiting ways of engaging life.
This experience has been on my mind more, I suspect, because I recently received an email from an individual who wanted to let me know that I was “destroying Christianity and was defaming Jesus.” He attached a copy of an article that was published on a very conservative and apparently a very popular blog site. I receive this kind of mail periodically but this person was a little more aggressive than most. The writer of the attached published article is Marsha West and it can be found at this website http://www.worldviewtimes.com/article.php/articleid-5103 as well as several others. It is titled “A New Religion Masquerading As Christianity.” She writes: “PCs (Progressive Christians) reject the notion that the Bible is infallible and inerrant but accept that it has some truth sprinkled throughout. When a PC comes to accept the orthodox view of Christianity, his or her worldview crumbles.”
The person who sent the article highlighted the text I am quoting here. “But in order to make the God of the Bible more acceptable to the popular culture, liberals must reinvent the wheel. To accomplish this they have to undermine Church doctrine. So doctrine is tinkered with, intentionally misrepresented, or scrapped altogether! What gets scrapped includes some of the essential doctrines of the faith for which the martyrs shed their blood!”
He also wanted to make certain that I did not miss this. I presume there was a message here: “And yet the Body of Christ has done little or nothing to stop liberals and cult leaders from taking over entire denominations. These men and women are false teachers! Usurpers! Heretics! Liars! Fakes!”
And finally then there is the punch line of what was a long article. “There is a terrible malady upon you and judgment is coming. Yes, judgment is coming. For this reason true followers of Jesus Christ must make God’s invisible Kingdom visible to the unsaved – before it’s too late.”
I wondered, as I read this material over a few times, what would this woman do with the “string theory?” What would her so-called world view become? How would her belief system and her operative myth line up in such neat little boxes with one set of clear cut and written rules and “truth”? How would she deal with the incongruities of her fixed, “inerrant biblical” perspective? And how would she handle the very real possibility that no matter how much she wiggles and squirms, we are all stuck together, playing one beautiful symphony and we are part of the same orchestra…although I must admit it feels to me right now, like she is clanging a very loud pair of cymbals that are not in sync and out of key. I suppose if I could develop a more expanded awareness, I would hear her as simply part of the contrast.
But what would anyone with her perspective do with the idea that time is not lineal? In which dimension will the judgment day occur? Who are the good guys and who are the bad guys if we are made of the same stuff and we are part of one big interdependent system?” How would they ever be able to get rid of the (them/us) tribal mentality that has tortured civilization since the early Mesopotamia Valley days?
If you would like to watch, “The Elegant Universe,” some time, it is on-line and is free. The site even includes comments by a variety of scientists who share some of their different perspectives on “string theory.” (http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/elegant/program.html)
Just ponder for the moment, the very real possibility that these scientists are correct. How might that change the way we look at our religion, our life, our understanding of reality and most of all our relationships? What kind of boxes have we created that keep us from “experiencing the infinite mind of God?” Which of these eleven dimensions might be heaven or is there such a place? If we are all made up of the same strings, which one is the God string? Could there be a difference between us and Jesus or Buddha? What is our relationship to all other life if we are all one and interdependent? What sounds of the strings can we make and do we have a choice? Where and what is God in this model? Why are we capable of asking these questions?
Or you can read Genesis again…nothing about “String Theory” there.