Occasionally I meet someone and they say to me; I am an Atheist. I think to myself: What exactly do you mean by that? How can you be so sure of what you disbelieve? You my friend need a better word and a better “A -” with more definition. In today’s quantum world such a statement as yours is “passé.” Theism, Atheism and Deism are word descriptions from the prescientific past.
Seldom do we have the time to get into a deep discussion. So I often quickly respond like this:
How can you argue that something beyond your ability to observe it does not exist? The absence of empirical proof of the existence of something is not proof of its nonexistence.
Or, I could go into more detail.
I could start with Albert Einstein and David Bohm. Here we have two physicists reaching beyond our Axial Age God definition into a more subtle yet definitive definition. They speak to pre-determined inevitability of absolute order.
First a quote from Einstein:
“…harmony of natural law, which reveals an intelligence of such superiority that, compared with it, all the systematic thinking and acting of Human Beings is an utterly insignificant reflection….” The New Quotable Einstein, Princeton University Press and The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, 2005
Then we have a quote from Bohm: (as recorded at the end of this essay)
“The implicate order does not rule out God, nor does it say there is a God. But it would suggest that there is a creative intelligence underlying the whole, which might have as one of the essentials that which was meant by the word ‘God.’ ”
To begin to understand this God/Implicate order in all of the depth of its meaning, I reference here the following Video of the birds of paradise. (3 min.) It illustrates the complexity and delicate balance of nature and the creative intelligence underlying the whole, as seen by these birds in their mating rituals.
Now, to a short Bio on Bohm taken from my new book: Bohm introduced the terms Implicate order, Explicate order and Enfoldment into our vocabulary.
Bohm (1917-1992) and his friendship with Albert Einstein. (1879-1955) It is said Bohm met often with Einstein (38 years his senior) when they were both teaching at Princeton. This was unusual as it is also said Einstein in his later years had few close friends among the faculty. During that period Bohm was called before the McCarthy Committee to testify against some of his colleagues about their ties to communism. He, too, was active in various leagues. Bohm refused to testify and as a result was declared “persona non grata.” In 1957 he moved to the U.K. where he taught at the University of Bristol and spent the rest of his life. In recent years Bohm has gained great fame, as he was able to express very complex quantum findings in words that at least some could understand.
Bohm postulates that evolution advances by way of what he describes as “Implicate order” resulting in “Enfoldment.” For the birds in the video to continue their existence, a continuing enfoldment must be taking place. We are no different from the birds in that video. As for the birds to continue their existence on this planet, for our species too; a continuing “enfoldment” must be taking place.
This brings us to the question of whether our species is meeting our own enfoldment today. Are we part of it or at we not part of it? That is the question of our age. Our continued existence on this planet depends on the answer.
To find that answer we can turn to one of today’s great thinkers; Richard Tarnas, founding director and professor of philosophy and psychology at the California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco, and his book, The Passion of the Western Mind: Understanding the Ideas that Have Shaped Our World View. In his book he places our species’ “Participation” in Nature as necessary for “enfoldment” of Homo sapiens to take place. To become a part of nature’s unfolding truth Tarnas calls for us to participate in Nature. Below are several quotes from his book, The Passion of the Western Mind that speak to this:
Need for participation
“… nature’s unfolding truth emerges only with the active participation of the human mind.”
“… nature’s truth realizes itself within and through the human mind.”
Need for Cognition
“… it (Nature) comes into being through the very act of human cognition.”
Need for inner life
“A developed inner life is …indispensable for cognition.”
Need for Imagination
“… from within its own depths the imagination directly contacts the creative process within nature, realizes that process within itself, and brings nature’s reality to conscious expression.”
What is important for us to understand here is that for humanity to continue in its evolutionary progression there needs be participation in “Nature.” Without this participation there cannot be “enfoldment.” And without enfoldment we risk extinction.
The message from Tarnas is in many ways the message of Pope Francis in his recent Encyclical. See my Amazon review.
What all these great thinkers are telling us is that without our “enfoldment” the creative intelligence underlying the whole will reject us. Again I refer to the beautiful birds. Without their enfoldment into “Nature,” (their “Nature” environment) the creative intelligence underlying the whole will reject them.
For further detail and clarification I quote here relevant parts of a Louwrien Wijers 1989 interview with Bohm.
Question: Is it true that the scientific spirit comes close to a kind of religious awareness?
One of the most essential points of the scientific spirit is to acknowledge the fact, or the interpretation of the fact, whether you like it or not
The religious spirit requires the same thing, otherwise it will get lost in self-deception, as happens so easily
Question: Can I take you back to your own theory which you describe as implicate order? Where does it fit in?
I had the notion that one needs to understand the reality of the process, and that quantum mechanics gave no picture, no notion of what was happening. It merely talked about the result of measurements or observations. From such results you can compute the probability of another observation, without any notion of how they are connected, except statistically
I tried to get some idea what might be the process implied by the mathematics of the quantum theory, and this process is what I called ‘enfoldment’. The mathematics itself suggests a movement in which everything, any particular element of space, may have a field which unfolds.
If you look at the mathematics of the quantum theory, it describes a movement of just this nature, a movement of waves that unfold and enfold throughout the whole of space. You could therefore say that everything is enfolded in this whole, or even in each part, and that it then unfolds.
I call this an implicate order, the enfolded order, and this unfolds into an explicate order. The implicate is the enfolded order. It unfolds into explicate order in which everything is separated.
In the implicate order everything is thus internally related to everything, everything contains everything, and only in the explicate order are things separate and relatively independent.
Consciousness enfolds everything that you know or see. It doesn’t merely enfold the universe, but you act according to the content as well. Therefore you are internally related to the whole in the sense that you act according to the consciousness of the whole.
The enfolded order is a vast range of potentiality, which can be unfolded. The way it is unfolded depends on many factors. The way we think and so on is among those factors.
The implicate order implies mutual participation of everything with everything. No thing is complete in itself, and its full being is realized only in that participation. The implicate order provides an image of how this might take place
In participation, we bring out potentials which are incomplete in themselves, but it is only in the whole that the thing is complete.
We are not acting mechanistically, in the sense that we would be pushed and pulled by objects in the surroundings, but rather we act according to our consciousness.
If you are not conscious of them you cannot act intelligently toward them. Consciousness, therefore, is really our most immediate experience of this implicate order.
Ordinarily we aim for a literal picture of the world, but in fact we create a world according to our mode of participation, and we create ourselves accordingly.
If we think in our present way, we will create the kind of world that we have created. Then if we think in another way, we might create a different world, and different people as well.
Question: Does a creator God also exist in your implicate order?
I have an idea of an implicate order and beyond that a super-implicate order, and so on – to orders that are more and more subtle. I say there are many more subtle levels. The word ‘subtle’ has a root sub-text meaning ‘finely woven’
Now as regards the question whether you want to call that ‘God’, this depends on what you mean by the word, because taking it as a personal God might restrict it in some way.
The implicate order does not rule out God, nor does it say there is a God. But it would suggest that there is a creative intelligence underlying the whole, which might have as one of the essentials that which was meant by the word ‘God’.
To close our discussion with my atheist friend I could quote from a piece of mine placed in the IRAS (Institute on Religion in the Age of Science) web site (edited for brevity):
“There is a cosmic consciousness in everything material and immaterial. Within it is an Implicate order. This cosmic consciousness and Implicate order is inside of us and outside of us. The sole purpose of our lives from birth to death is to become at one with it by way of participation in it.”
Or I could end the conversation going back two thousand years with a few sayings of Jesus from the Gospel of Thomas found at Nag Hammadi, Egypt:
(3) … The (Father’s) kingdom is within you and it is outside you.
(41) Whoever has something in hand will be given more, and whoever has nothing will be deprived of even the little they have.
(77) I am the light that is over all things. I am all: from me all came forth, and to me all attained. Split a piece of wood; I am there. Lift up the stone, and you will find me there.
(94) One who seeks will find, and for one who knocks it will be opened.
(113) His disciples said to him: When will the kingdom come? He replied: It will not come by watching for it. It will not be said, ‘Look, here!’ or ‘Look, there!’ Rather, the Father’s kingdom is spread out upon the earth, and people don’t see it.