Tuesday, March 5, 2013

A Contemplation on Religion and Science

The religious world is comprised of many different views and beliefs. From Christianity to Buddhism, Wiccan to Hinduism, religions have been a part of the human race since its birth. Religion has served to unite people as well as prove to be a catalyst for debate, argument, and war. How could something intended for such good become such a place of turmoil and hurt for so many? Often, the differences held by religions are more emphasized than the common threads that are shared. This unfortunate focus on the points that cause rifts between views is something that has held back followers from being truly unified with their fellow man. Although religious beliefs, like Christianity, are rooted in spiritual faith, technological advances and scientific discovery may prove the actuality of reality to be a conglomeration of many belief systems.

The Basics

The mysticism of God is portrayed differently in each religion, whether minutely or profoundly. Christianity, Judaism, and Islam are founded within in the same text of the Old Testament, yet differ greatly in not only their worship but in the catalyst of their origins (Fisher, 2005). These differences are as plain as black and white, yet when the beliefs are looked on a whole; the similarities are hard to miss. These three religions believe in a divine creator who spawned man in his own image, giving each man a spark of his divinity. Judaism is based on a promise made from God to make a great people from the son of Abraham, a people who would spread the teachings and love of God (Fisher, 2005). Similarly,

Christianity, although without any claim to a special promise, holds many of the same views in regard to acceptance and love of their fellow man. Christianity also recognizes the Son of God, Jesus Christ, as being the savior of man who died divinely so that salvation can be found merely in the acceptance of this sacrificial lamb (Fisher, 2005). This man, Jesus Christ, who fulfilled the prophecies laid out by the Old Testament, is not honored in Islam but rather has become a point of difference between the two religions. It is differences like these that separate religions of common origin.

The Actions of Man

Similar differences and arguments are sometimes responsible for the spawning of new belief systems. Buddhism and Confucianism, while different, teach a similar practice that reaches outside of the belief of salvation given through worship of the divine (Fisher, 2005). Like Islam, these religions believe that the actions with which a man lives his life is responsible for is salvation.

Although Confucianism is more about creating a heavenly state of being on earth, the teachings of proper conduct and treatment of others is reminiscent of those who follow the Bible and how God relayed his desire and instructions for interactions within mankind.

Daishonin Buddhism and practitioners of the Lotus Sutra, also believe in seeking harmony within mankind in order to achieve the goal of heavenly being (Gakkai, 1999). In this religious belief, the state of Buddha is achievable within each person and living the way of the Buddha is the path to enlightenment and release from earthly suffering (Patrick Lockwood, personal communication, May 12, 2010).

This concept of spreading love and interacting with people according to the Golden Rule, whether instructed to do so by God or because of the concept of a Karma debt cycle, is a strong common thread between many religions. These similarities may mean when compared to their differences, yet a closer look at the variances in these religions may reveal an entirely different, unifying aspect to their beliefs.

A Closer Look

One path to finding commonalities between religions is to view their core beliefs separately. In Christianity and religions that draw upon the Old Testament for religious teachings, the origin of man is found in the divine creation at which time the first man was created in the image of God (Fisher, 2005). This makes all of man a family of brothers and sisters who share the common thread of divine origin, regardless of current religion.
This idea of a common spark, thread, or vibration shared by every member of mankind is also found in religions outside of Christianity. In religions like Buddhism, this idea is represented as a vibration that is shared, not only with members of the human race, but also shared with all of creation (Patrick Lockwood, personal communication, May 12, 2010). While the Buddhist view may be slightly different from the view of Christianity in regard to the relationship between man and earth, advances in scientific studies of quantum physics may prove that reality is somewhere in-between.

Christianity’s view of man being made in the image of God implies a difference between the divinity and awareness of man and other life forms. Buddhism practices the idea that all things are connected in the flow of life. The existence of self is continuous in some sects of belief while, in others, the awareness that would distinguish a man from a turnip is a result of the karmic debt cycle (Fisher, 2005). Either way it is looked at, something connects life on this planet. This is an idea that is shared by many religions. As scientist delve farther into the study of quantum physics, the relationship between man, as the observer, and the environment of this earthly home becomes apparent in its intricate tapestry.

Quantum Relations

Studies regarding the behavior of photons indicate a surprising relationship between reality and perception. In a study involving protons, a single photon would be shot towards multiple slots in order to identify and track the behavior of the photon. This study produced a surprising and interesting result when the single proton produced a pattern that was caused by the photon passing through non-intended or multiple slots. When scientists tried to watch the photon to understand this odd behavior, the photon then passed through only one slot. This discovery gave credit to the theory of “the observer.” This theory states that the relationship between the consciousness of man and his environment is a product of his observations and intentions (Arntz, Chasse, and Hoffman, 2004). Could this be the distinction between man and beast as indicated by Christianity? What does this mean for religions that emphasize a common vibration or relationship between all of existence?

Science may also hold the answer to this question of commonality. All of existence is made of the same fundamental elements, atoms (Carpy, 2003). The difference between a table and a cat is the programmed purpose of the cells and atoms that make up their existence. The electromagnetic relationship of these components is a piece of the harmonious system that makes them hold their shape and form.

If the difference between the difference substances in existence is based on this relationship on an atomic level, the similarities could also be found on this level. String theory proposes that the minute parts of the atom vibrate at a levels that share common bonds and are capable of being effected (CosmoNet, 1999). This vibration would then exist in every piece of life or object in existence. The similarities between this hypothesis and religions, like Buddhism, that believe in a universal connection and vibration are strikingly apparent.

In an interview with Patrick Lockwood, a practitioner of Daishonin Buddhism, this vibration was the topic most readily discussed. The Lotus Sutra, a chant meant to align the self with the vibration of the universe, is a staple in the practice of this religious belief (Patrick Lockwood, personal communication, May 12, 2010). Used in conjunction with a visual representation, the Gohonzon, chanting the title of the Lotus Sutra, Nam-myho-renge-kyo, is said to realign the physical sense with the divine relationship with existence (Gakkai, 1999). Whether this method is the correct approach or not, this recognition of a universal tie is important when looking at how Quantum Physics views the relationship between man and the world.

The Quantum theory of the Observer serves as a middle ground between Christianity and Buddhism. According to this controversial science, everything is connected on a fundamental level, yet the human race controls the flux of matter and existence through observation (Arntz, Chasse, and Hoffman, 2004). This influence over existence that is the capability of man coincides with the Christian notion of a divine spark give by God. Being created in the image of a Divine Creator implies the ability of the off spring to create.

The Observer theory believes that because of the many different views that are in existence at the same time, an interference pattern occurs that is the conglomeration of multiple intents that result in a shared reality (Arntz, Chasse, and Hoffman, 2004). This thought is enormously controversial because, according to this theory, a corroborative effort of thought and intent would result in manifestation of the desired effect. Some would say that this choosing of reality and existence goes against the belief of fate and a predetermined destiny. In some instances, this would seem true yet life is mysterious in its intricacy and it is hard to ignore the possibility of a grand design.

Predetermined Randomness

A growing number of spiritual practitioners believe that, although there are determined stages, goals, and lessons in life, menial existence is a myriad of pathways. This theory is in line with the photon studies, where existence without the observer is a multitude of possibilities. Another scientific parallel is the cell. Though programmed to perform a particular function, cells first begin with the possibilities of programming and stem cells are capable of being programmed for a multitude of functions (University of Massachusetts, 2010). Consider this cell as a decision not yet presented or taken. It is sometimes startling and frightening to think of how much influence an individual can have over reality. Religions that compartmentalize different energies and attributes into various deities could be seen as a way to narrow and focus that creative influence into certain patterns and directions.

Divine Direction and the Power of Prayer

Guan Yin, the mother goddess also represented in Christianity as the Virgin Mary, is the embodiment of compassion and love. Calling upon the presence and help of this deity, according to a Fung Shui workshop in El Paso, Texas, will invoke the vibration and sense of her representative qualities (The Fung Shui Institute of El Paso, personal communication, May 29, 2010). This is true for many other deities within these religious views. Ganesha, for instance, is called upon to remove obstacles and provide protection, (Lady D, personal communication, May 30, 2010). Could the different deities and representations of tone and intent be an avenue to concentrate and embellish their respective thoughts?

Regardless of religious beliefs, when a group of individuals is worshiping in mass, the power and vibration of prayer is almost palatable. This collaborative direction of thought can be powerful on an individual’s perception of reality. Some religious practitioners even become so overwhelmed that they will speak in tongues as an expression of the divine spirit felt within (Lady D, personal communication, May 30, 2010). Considering the illustrated relationship between reality and the human consciousness as presented by Quantum Physics, powerful concentration of intent and thought has the possibility to alter reality according the group’s intent (Arntz, Chasse, and Hoffman, 2004). This theory collaborates the practices of Nichiren Daishonin Buddhism and their belief that the interconnectivity of the universe and the intent for the betterment of man could change the world as we know it and create a nirvana on earth as well as a release from the cycle of rebirth.

While religious beliefs can contain many differences, like the thought of rebirth or the Messiah Jesus Christ as the savior of man, there are elements of the human condition that are backed by an ever-evolving science. The exploration of existence and the nature of the planetary relationship could prove impactful to those willing to listen to the discoveries of man and change the face of religious beliefs as they are known today. Perhaps new religious and spiritual groups will form to adopt views from a mix of science and traditional religion.

Compared to views like those of Orthodox Christianity, who support mystic views as explained by the Bible as having divine origin, this new religious standpoint and possible rising group can combine both faith and reality as religious mysteries become fact and plausible theory. Knowing the complexity of a scientifically-explained event that is presented in texts, like the Bible, as divine could help reinforce the idea of a grand design, perpetuated by a divine creator. A particular example of this type of support faith could be found in the events of the Ten Plagues. According to data accumulated by scientists and archeologists, the Ten Plagues were a series of natural events caused by a volcanic eruption (Gray, 2010).

Although the Bible has described this series of events as an intervention from God, a look at the science illustrating the relationship between the events and the time period leaves the interpretation of divinity up to the individual. It is the intricacy design and the complexity of the interactions of these natural forces and incidences that lend credit to the claim of God and divinity. As the discoveries of man produce more insight into the world, the past mysteries and unexplained phenomenons are threatened with the light of scientific scrutiny.

It is possible that existing religions will find credit and illumination in these discoveries; finding the why and how to many questions and mysteries within the holy texts. Other aspects of the mystic faith base may crumble under the weight of the eye of science and technological exploration. The future of religion is difficult to predict, particularly considering that the existence of the state of religion is dependent on the will of man. Either way, science and technology promise an interesting future of discoveries that will change the way man perceives, not only himself and his religious beliefs, but the universe as well.


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