Gods Footprint-The Significance Chap 4 End Of Story


Originally, I thought I would add a couple more chapters to my story, but, after some thought, I’ve decided to end it here, with some last words by Paul Davies, Professor of Theoretical Physics. It appears that when he and I look up into the heavens, we do not see an aging universe—death by fire or ice; rather, we see that we are not alone. Even though my story ends here, my next post, entitled A Meditation for the 21st Century, will officially end my Footprint story.

“Should we conclude that the universe is a product of design? The new physics and the new cosmology hold out a tantalizing promise: that we might be able to explain how all the physical structures in the universe have come to exist, automatically, as a result of natural processes. We should then no longer have need for a Creator in the traditional sense. Nevertheless, though science may explain the world, we still have to explain science. The laws which enable the universe to come into being spontaneously seem themselves to be the product of exceedingly ingenious design. If physics is the product of design, the universe must have a purpose, and the evidence of modern physics suggests strongly to me that the purpose includes us.” (Paul Davies, Superforce, 1987).

Freedom And Nothingness

I believe the concept of freedom’s structured dialectic allows us to better appreciate who we are. I also believe it allows us to make understandable the unbroken wholeness implied in Relativity, quantum physics, and in the mystical experience of some people. A big step in this process, however, is to postulate a free God.

In the year 1277, Bishop Tempier of Paris admonished: “It is inadmissible to suppose that God is defined and circumscribed by boundaries,” and he then went on to condemn any idea that attempted to restrain the power and presence of God. How are we to understand God’s freedom when freedom, on any scale, implies otherness, freedom by degrees, and/or an unfulfilled purpose or goal? Bishop Tempier gave fair warning concerning the pitfalls in attempting to limit the omniscience, omnipotence, and omnipresence of the great Creator. If we ascribe to God the freedom to not be God, however, we sidestep all of the good Bishop’s concerns.

Everything– past, present, and future, — with respect to freedom’s structure, implies God, or, more to the point, the logical space of God. Indeed, the logical structure of freedom (~~b, ~bb, b~b~bb) preserves God’s implicative space as it encompasses everything that God can know, do, or be. This state of affairs circumvents any challenge that might arise concerning God’s omniscience, omnipotence, and omnipresence and, again, with respect to freedom’s structure, God remains free in the process!

There is a great deal of testimony to support the notion that God sprang from nothing/emptiness. In Genesis, for instance, we read, “In the beginning of creation, when God made heaven and earth, the Earth was without form and void, with darkness over the face of the abyss…” Again we read in the Gospel according to John, “In The Beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…” The first time I read these words I thought “Ten Commandments,” but that’s not what they mean in the Gospel of John, the most mystical of the four Gospels. All I want to point out here, though, (I defer to the Christian interpreters for the contextual meaning of the Gospels’ words) is that from these words follow both freedom’s dialectic and God the Creator. Before I begin this discussion I need to talk a bit about what nothingness isn’t.

After watching the egg disappear from the magician’s hand, the astonished onlooker replied to the magician’s question, “What’s in my hand?” “Nothing!” That is not what I mean by the term nothing or nothingness. That kind of nothing is what Professor Nishitani, in his book Religion and Nothingness, understands as nihility or the negativity that lies opposite existence. In the Mahayana Buddhist tradition, sunyata represents the nothingness that grounds being. That nothingness is different from what is implied in the nothingness/existence dichotomy. Nishitani explains:

“Nihility is an absolute negation aimed at all “existence,” and thus is related to existence. The essence of nihility consists in a purely negative (antipodal) negativity. Its standpoint contains the self-contradiction that it can neither abide in existence nor abide being away from it. It is a standpoint torn in two from within. Therein lies its transitional character. We call it the standpoint of nihility, but in fact it is not a field one can stand on in the proper sense of the term… The standpoint of sunyata is another thing altogether. It is not a standpoint of simply negative negativity, nor is it an essentially transitional standpoint. It is the standpoint at which absolute negation is at the same time, in the sense explained above, a Great Affirmation.” (1982, p.137)

In freedom’s dialectic this Great Affirmation is encountered twice, at the ground of being and in the participatory moment of the human being—as the source of language, imagination, conscience, inquiry, and analysis.

Leaving the authoritarian world of religion behind for the moment, I now want to turn to another account of nothingness, one that some physicists say lies at the center of another creation story—the Big Bang creation story. In the book The Cosmic Code, the physicist Heins Pagels answers the question, “Where did the universe come from?” Pagels says:

“…it came out of the vacuum. The entire universe is a reexpression of sheer nothingness. How can the universe be equivalent to nothing? Look at all those stars and galaxies! But if we examine this possibility carefully we learn that the universe, even in its present form, could be equivalent to nothing.
A remarkable feature of the present-day universe is that if you add up all the energy in the universe it almost adds up to zero. First there is the potential energy of the gravitational attraction of the various galaxies for each other. This is proportional to the mass of the galaxies. Since one must supply energy to push the galaxies apart, this counts as a huge negative energy in our energy bookkeeping. On the positive side of the ledger is the mass energy of all the particles in the universe. This adds up to another huge number, to about a factor of ten smaller than the negative energy. If the two numbers matched, the total energy of the universe would be zero and it wouldn’t take any energy to create the universe.” (Pagels, 1982, p. 283)

Science literature speaks of the beginning in terms of the Big Bang, the evolution of stars and galaxies and, ultimately, in the formation and evolution of life. Richard Dawkins gives us this reading of evolution:

“In the beginning was simplicity. It is difficult enough explaining how even a simple universe began. I take it as agreed that it would be even harder to explain the sudden springing up, fully armed, of complex order—life, or a being capable of creating life. Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection is satisfying because it shows us a way in which simplicity could change into complexity…” (Douglas Hofstadter, Daniel Dennett, The Mind’s I , 1981, p. 124)

Here we see that evolution proceeds in the direction from simplicity to complexity, but God’s freedom in not limited to just one dimension (although Dawkins would like us to believe it is).

After a sufficient complexity is achieved, science informs us that life becomes possible. Reproduction, growth, irritability, and self-regulation, the distinctive characteristics of life, are all, or at least in part, identifiable in the simplest life forms. In freedom’s dialectic, life retains all of these characteristics and becomes, in a higher dimension, the participatory moment of the human being. The human expression of freedom, as has already been noted, permits self-consciousness. Once again we turn to Cassirer who, perhaps more than anybody else, has taught the substantiation of conscious objectification. Here he informs us of a whole new symbolic dimension:

“Obviously this world forms no exception to those biological rules which govern the life of all the other organisms. Yet in the human world we find a new characteristic which appears to be the distinctive mark of human life. The functional circle of man is not only quantitatively enlarged; it has also undergone a qualitative change. Man has, as it were, discovered a new method of adapting himself to his environment. Between the receptor system and the effector system, which are to be found in all animal species, we find in man a third link which we may describe as the symbolic system. This new acquisition transforms the whole of human life. As compared with the other animals man lives not merely in a broader reality; he lives, so to speak, in a new dimension of reality.” (Cassirer, An Essay On Man, 1944, p. 25)

In the creative interplay with its environment, human consciousness reaches out for the accouterments and the necessities of life and creates new meanings. This creativity, in our cosmopolitan world, gets identified with modern technology, but technological advances, when measured against the significance of freedom’s dialectic, are only scratching the surface of freedom’s potential. Someday, perhaps, the day will come when people will thirst for cooperation, education and shared resources in the same way that today they thirst for power, wealth, and fame. Paul Davies might agree with me on this, or he might not. I’m pretty sure, though, that we are in agreement on the God driven universe. He says:

“Here’s another romantic (and similar) view of evolution: ‘The search for life elsewhere in the universe is therefore the testing ground for two diametrically opposed world-views. On one side is orthodox science, with its nihilistic philosophy of the pointless universe, of impersonal laws oblivious of ends, a cosmos in which life and mind, science and art, hope and fear are but incidental embellishments on a tapestry of irreversible cosmic corruption. On the other, there is an alternative view, undeniably romantic but perhaps true nevertheless, the vision of a self-organizing and self-complexifying universe, governed by ingenious laws that encourage matter to evolve towards life and consciousness. A universe in which the emergence of thinking beings is a fundamental and integral part of the overall scheme of things. A universe in which we are not alone.’” (Paul Davies, 99)

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