Quantum Physics, Eastern Spirituality, and Christianity
I’ve just received a response to a recent article of mine on the relationship between quantum physics and spirituality. This is from David Knott:
Thanks Graham for a very interesting piece. As a Christian I find much of these quantum physics observations and quotes consistent with the Bible, such as John 1:3,10 talking about the Word (Logos), and also Colossians 1:16,17. I was wondering why you focus so much on Eastern spirituality rather than the Bible? Also what do you think about the Christian view of Jesus, as the Word (Logos), i.e. “thought” of God, being the creator and sustainer of the universe? You may have already addressed this in one of your articles, in which case please point me to it. Thanks David.
I think that these questions are so interesting that they are worthy of a brief article. So here goes. I’ll address this to David personally.
Thanks for your response. The simple answer to your question as to why I focus so much on Eastern spirituality is that this is what the physicists themselves do. Very noticeably, in The Tao of Physics Fritjof Capra has chapters on Taoism, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Zen, but there is no mention of Christianity anywhere. Even if they mention the word ‘God’, I’ve never come across a physicist who, starting from a non-Christian position, was persuaded of Christianity because of quantum physics. He is not an exception, but one interesting case is John Polkinghorne who has been both a professor of physics and an Anglican priest. I don’t think it’s true to say that he was persuaded of Christianity because of physics, however.
Moving onto Christianity itself, I am very interested in it, but in the form now presented to us, I find it deeply problematic. I’ve written much about this in the past, and there is more to follow. I can’t go into all that in a response like this one.
You say that you find “much of these quantum physics observations and quotes consistent with the Bible”, but then offer only two examples. One of these immediately hits one of the problems with Christianity that I was referring to. We don’t know for certain who wrote John’s gospel, although the early Church claimed it was the apostle. This gospel is in the Bible, but to me that merely means that the Church chose it because it fitted the theology that they wanted to promote. Furthermore, according to the scholar Bart Ehrman, the prologue you are referring to is written in a different style from the rest of the text, so that he suspects it may have been a later addition. Church editors often amended texts after the event in order to make them conform to the theology they wanted to impose. So that may be what has happened here.
I personally don’t think that the human being Jesus was the Logos, rather a spiritual teacher, probably an Essene, who was turned into a god by the Catholic Church. They were seeking, at the Council of Nicea in 325, to create a religion which would fulfil the wish of the Emperor Constantine to have a single religion to unify the Roman Empire. It was therefore helpful to incorporate the pagan idea of a dying-and-resurrecting saviour god into their ‘mythology’.
All that said, there is a ‘God’ (ultimate ground of being) which ‘created’ and sustains the universe, thinking it into existence many trillion times per second. I personally don’t find any need to identify Jesus with that entity.
The problem is that the Jews have transformed that ground of being into an anthropomorphic figure, with personality, one who has chosen them as his special people, who is jealous, who sanctions genocide etc. Christianity likewise has transformed that ultimate ground of being into an anthropomorphic figure, a personal God, who cares about us, answers prayers, and so on.
I probably haven’t read as much of the Bible as you have, but the one place I do find parallels with quantum physics is Genesis chapter 1, where almost the first thing God does is to create light. I take this to mean that light, which may be the same as what Einstein called energy, is the basic building block of the multi-levelled universe. Out of this, God creates higher waters (spiritual realms), lower waters (psychological realms), and eventually dry land (the material universe). (It’s interesting that one of the physicists I referred to, Fred Alan Wolf, thinks that matter may be merely “gravitationally trapped light”.) I find close parallels in Genesis 1 with the ideas of David Bohm — the holomovement, implicate and explicate orders. One chapter isn’t enough, however, to persuade me to embrace Christianity in the form in which you understand it.
I hope you have enjoyed this article. I have written in the past about other topics, including spirituality, metaphysics, psychology, science, Christianity, politics and astrology. All these articles are on Medium, but the simplest way to see a guide to them is to visit my website (click here and here).