Me Myself and God?

Jeremy Sig
ex2

I have been reading a lot of books on the existence of God lately. It seems that the usual theological minutia just don’t stimulate like they once did. It started a few months back when I came upon the stunningly simple revelation that the existence of God was absolutely vital to the value of any theological endeavor.

Simple right?

Well as simple as this may be, it seems I have, by and large, taken God’s existence for granted. This should be no surprise as I have also taken my own existence for granted for most of my…life?

Anyways, as I have endeavored to understand the context for the multifaceted arguments for and against the existence of a transcendent figure, I have found that most of my theological presuppositions have been challenged. I don’t want to surmise my journey, as I am still on it. I feel far from adequate to speak authoritatively on the subject of God’s existence. None the less, theophiliacs and those who join with us in our ongoing discussions have been crucial in bringing clarity to my personal quest to find my own truth about God and the world. With this in mind, I have devised a way for everyone to join me on my journey.

The way that I will do this is by posting some of what I am reading and how it is affecting my thought life. I don’t plan on doing book summaries, though that might happen sometimes. I simply want to keep this community informed as I progress. At this point I do not know how often I will post. However, when I do your thoughts are most graciously appreciated.

With that said, I would like to make my first post on this journey toward knowledge of God. The book that this is coming from is “How to know God” by the well known Dr. Deepak Chopra. I can hear the cringes from this pseudo scholarly community now. Please refrain from stabbing blunt objects in your eyes.

While Dr. Chopra’s merits on this subject may be of question this post is not about him, but rather about what affect his book has had on me. Before I get into Dr. Chopra’s theory I should preface by saying I know nothing about the subject of physics. I barely past my physical science class in college. Thus, I will try to accurately summarize Dr. Chopra’s thesis, and then I will share my thoughts.

Dr. Chopra argues that reality can be split into three domains. These three domains are material, quantum, and virtual. This is basic metaphysics. Our material world is based on, for the sake of simplification, the illusion of light. Atoms, following basic physical laws, react to each other causing the illusion of materiality. Our five senses are ill equipped to detect these separations. Thus, for all intents and purposes, the illusion of materiality is objective reality. However, on a sub atomic level exists a different reality.

This sub atomic reality is what quantum physicists are always trying to understand. This is the world of black holes and particle accelerators. Here light is no longer perceived as such and thus reality is no longer sensory. Put simply, this is where energy turns into matter. In this domain atoms are constantly moving and transferring in space. So when your hand picks up a glass,in the quantum domain, the atoms that make up your hand transfer over to the atomic structure of the glass and vice versa. As transcendent as this domain seems, many physicists have conjectured that there lies another domain beyond the quantum world of energy conversion.

This domain of pure energy is coined virtual, as it is completly hypothetical at this point. This is the domain of God according to Chopra. The virtual domain exists outside of time and space. Because pure energy is all that exists there is no static space for movement which means passage of time is indistinguishable.

Chopra argues that God, being pure energy, is the essence of all reality. Energy passes through the quantum domain into the material domain constantly. Thus, in a very panantheistic way, God illumines all existence in the material world. Materiality is energy at its core. Thus, as the Hebrew poet put it, we are truly made in the image of God.

With this in mind my question is simple. If reality is God, what is consciousness? If the world is illusory based on perception, who is perceiving? Furthermore, if there is indeed a separation between cognisance and essence is this conscience singular and universal or multiple and unique? Like I said, simple.

I have always assumed that I am me based on a unique consciousness. Be it spiritual or more broadly metaphysical, I have always worked from the presumption that there existed a distinction between I and they. However,if we are all energy then that eliminates the material distinction. With that removed the only distinction left is spiritual. The problem is that all of the signs of individuality in this realm can be easily explained. Is my personal consciousness anything more than neuron firing patterns? In other words, is my conscious distinction simply another illusion? Even if there is a separate level of consciousness, how do I know that it is not universal? Maybe the divine mind is the only real mind after all.

I don’t have any answers to these questions. Most of them seem too big for me to fully grasp. That said, I have realized that the simple presuppositions that I have always held about myself and God can no longer remain unquestioned. I can no longer take for granted these ultimate questions while I argue the minutia of theology. I am not saying theology is irrelavent, but its value is a bit diminished when it is debated autonomously from these existential questions. I think I have rambled enough for today. I look forward to your thoughts.

Advertisements

19 Comments

  1. Jeremy,

    My thoughts were very similar to Reed’s.

    – Should not “the real” be wholistic? How is color un-real and energy real?

    – Does this mean that “the real” of interconnected energy to matter to energy is superior in some way? Or is it simply a statement of ‘fact.’

    – As I have to come to understand “the self” or, if you like, the “real me,” I believe that the self, real or un-real is a dynamic ‘thing’ always in process and contingent on history (memory), mood, diet, etc… Who I am is always on a journey and therefore cannot be reduced to a timeless changeless inner reality ie. soul

    – I’m a little confused about how you use “God” You seem to use quasi personal language, but obviously this is not how you think about ‘god.’ How is ‘god’ more real than your chemicals?

    – Finally, it sounds a bit like the buddhist view of an-atman (no self) Have you heard of this?

    I am excited for the rest of your posts!

    Reply

  2. Jeremy,

    “This domain of pure energy is coined virtual, as it is completely hypothetical at this point. This is the domain of God according to Chopra. The virtual domain exists outside of time and space. Because pure energy is all that exists there is no static space for movement which means passage of time is indistinguishable.”

    I’ll be upfront and admit that I know very little about Chopra, but how do statements like these (as far as they represent Chopra’s view) move us away from the accusation that humanity only uses “god” to provide explanation of the unexplainable (hypothetical)? This feels a lot like the “god of the gaps” argument used against religion to me.

    I’ll admit that the notion of God’s transcendence coming through consciousness as expressed in energy(though, I’m not sure that is a concept that is orthodox in itself – then again, I’m not sure when your terribly concerned with orthodoxy, so it’s a fair statement) is rather fascinating. Nonetheless, there does indeed seem to be a fair amount of our experiences as conscious beings that is still quite mysterious. Good Post!

    Shawn

    Reply

  3. Reed,
    The way that I read Dr. Chopra’s argument was that the virtual domain of energy is core. I think reality is a matter of perception. I don’t think he is establishing a hierarchy of reality. Rather, I think he is trying to dissect or deconstruct the universe. As far as the arbitrariness of his position, I sort of agree. I don’t think he is arbitrarily picking between the 3 domains. However, it may be arbitrary where he has chosen to stop his deconstruction. It is also possible, however, that this is the limits of current science in this area. Either way, I think that he would argue that all domains are equal. So whether you choose to see yourself as a human being, a collection of atoms, or unbridaled energy doesn’t really matter. It is sort of like the Matrix. Each domain of reality offers differant abilities. So the choice is do you wanna leap skyscrapers, bend spoons, or enjoy a piece of bloody meat.

    Roger,
    your link didn’t work for me

    Tony,
    I agree with you about “the self”. My question is, do you see “the self” as material or metaphysical? Are your memories, mood, and preferances simply chemical reactions, or is there more to you than synapses and chemical responses?

    As far as my quasi-personal God, I am still searching for answers. I don’t believe in a being, but I am not opposed to the idea that there are at the core of existance two objects. These two objects, being energy and consciousness, could be God (or a transcendant reality). I simply use the term “God” because I don’t yet have a better term to use. Also, this is vocabulary that is accessable to most and allows for more interaction. I apologize if it causes confusion.

    As far as buddhism, I am familiar with the concept of atman. Though I think that Chopra’s theory is more like the Hindu Atman instead. Hinduism sees Atman as ones true self, beyond all material constraint. buddhism sees
    atman as self identification that should be shed for the sake of enlightenment.

    Shawn,
    thank you for the comment. I feel like this is the first time that we have interacted. I think you bring up a valid point from the orthodox perspective. If one holds that God truly exists as a mystical being then Chopra’s definition would seem an attempt to placate both secular and religious crowds. I, as you noted, am anything but orthodox. In my worldview theology and science are after the same thing. I don’t hold to a personal view of god, so I have no problem with a scientific explanation for the existance of transcendance.

    Reply

  4. What is the Future of Faith? – Koukl/Chopra Debate (7 minutes)
    http://www.ccn3shop.com/video/leestrobel/Christianity/topic/wmv_M/strobelT1119_M.wmv

    Is there one correct religion? Koukl/Chopra Debate (8 minutes)
    http://www.ccn3shop.com/video/leestrobel/Christianity/topic/wmv_M/strobelT1120_M.wmv

    What is Faith? – Koukl/Chopra Debate (6 1/2 minutes)
    http://www.ccn3shop.com/video/leestrobel/Christianity/topic/wmv_M/strobelT1122_M.wmv

    In the above video, Chopra and Koukl briefly touch on the meaning of reality.

    What is Truth? – Koukl/Chopra Debate (5 minutes)
    http://www.ccn3shop.com/video/leestrobel/Christianity/topic/wmv_M/strobelT1123_M.wmv

    These are from the Lee Strobel Video Channels:
    http://www.leestrobel.com/channels/Christianity.php

    Reply

  5. Wow, Jeremy, stepping out of the echo chamber — Brave man! Remember, on your explorations, that Buddhists have a whole metaphysical system without a god. So to them, a godless universe still is full of energy and meaning, just no gods.

    Reply

  6. During the Koukl/Chopra debate Chopra actually embraces his own uncertainty and claims that his books teach the “wisdom of uncertainty.” At one point, Chopra says to Koukl, “That’s the difference between you and me… you’re certain and I’m not.”

    Koukl pointed out that Chopra’s books point to the fact that Chopra believes he is certain about many spiritual things. In light of this (or perhaps I should say, “In making light of this”), I think it would be humorous to consider how Chopra may have named his books if he was truly “uncertain.”

    Instead of “How To Know God” he would have written “How To Be Uncertain About God”

    Instead of “The Third Jesus: The Christ We Cannot Ignore” he would have written “The Third Or Maybe Fourth Jesus: The Christ We Might Not Be Able To Ignore”

    Instead of “The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success” he would have written “The Seven Spiritual Laws of Something” or perhaps “The Seven Spiritual Uncertainties of Success”

    Instead of “Jesus: A Story of Enlightenment” he would have written “Jesus: A Story That I Do Not Understand” or perhaps “Someone: A Story I Do Not Know”

    🙂

    Reply

  7. Jeremy,
    “No Self” is an important concepts in some “Eastern Philosophy”. I wrote this post to explain a version of No Self which helps remove some apparent contradictions.
    Also, I wrote a post on “Cat vs. Monkey God” which may help broaden your categories of the Divine.
    I must admit I have not read Chopra mainly because it feels like smooth marketing. But I thought my posts my give you hooks to grab on to other thoughts.

    Reply

  8. George,
    You will never be replaced as my ever present pain in the side.

    Roger,
    Though you cannot replace George, I must say that I feel I agree with your worldview about as much as I agree with his. Thanks for the links. I guess I am not sure what they are for, however. Don’t take this the wrong way, but I don’t really care if Chopra has been out debated by a Christian apollogist. Its not that I don’t find debates interesting, but they very rarely serve any purpose other than drawing a crowd. I would also like to highlight what I said in my post. This post was not about Chopra’s credentials. This post was about the effect his book had on my way of thinking. I don’t think anyone has all the answers. I am simply interested in the aspects of anyones writings that resonate with me.

    Sabio,
    Thanks for the comments. Though I appreciate the compliment, being the resident heretic that I am, I don’t know how brave this post really was. I think most people expect unorthodox/heretical thoughts from me. As far as buddhism goes I must admit that it is the metaphysical system of buddhism that attracts me most to that particular philosophy.
    I have read both of the posts that you linked and found both to be quite thought provoking. I find myself drawn to your monkey god analogy. As far as the “self” post, I am unsure if I agree at this point. Though your hypothesis is certainly plausable, I am not willing to throw away my Platonic dualism at this time. As logical as Fauerbachian rationale may seem, it still feels a bit cold to me. I feel myself slipping into nihilism when I head down that road. Your posts have been fascinating to read, and I hope that you continue to comment as I go along.

    Reply

  9. @ Jeremy — thanx for the reply. I just read on Feuerbach to try and understand your “as logical as Feurbach rationale may seem…” What part of Feurbach were you referring to?
    You know, I was in Asia for 12 years and did not have Christianity to deal with at all. For that matter, I rarely spoke English either. Most of my thinking at that time was in Oriental models of reality. I remember being totally taken aback when asked, “Are you a Christian?” within 4 days of returning to the USA when I started attending Duke University. I barely knew how to reply. I had been out of practice. My point though, that many of the people leaving Christianity do it in terms of those who rebelled — like Feuerbach. But it is sooooo refreshing to read those who have never even thought much about Christianity but are talking on their own terms. I am reading “Footprints in the Snow: The Autobiography of a Chinese Buddhist Monk” by Sheng Yen — it is such an example. I am sure you have done the same, but I thought I’d mention it.
    Gassho – Sabio

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s