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From Issue Two, September 2010 « Previous Article

The Purpose-Guided Universe: Believing in Einstein, Darwin, and God

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Imagine a pyramid made up of stacked basketballs. Picture it a thousand feet on each side and a thousand feet high. That’s twice as high as the real great pyramid in Egypt. That’s as tall as a hundred-story building. To stack such a pyramid would require about a billion basketballs. It’s a big number.

Rounding off to the nearest billion, we live on a five-billion-year-old planet in a fourteen-billion-year-old universe. Our sun is one star amid a few hundred billion others in the Milky Way Galaxy. Our Milky Way Galaxy is one of a hundred billion or so other galaxies in the visible universe.

That’s a lot of billions.

Given this large-scale picture of things, how could there be any purpose in any man or woman’s brief life, amounting to perhaps eighty years or so on average, on one obscure planet? That is a question that matters a great deal to most of us.

As noted physicist Freeman Dyson said in his Templeton Prize lecture:

The greatest unsolved mysteries are the mysteries of our existence as conscious beings in a small corner of a vast universe. Why are we here? Does the universe have a purpose? Whence comes our knowledge of good and evil? These mysteries, and a hundred others like them, are beyond the reach of science. They lie on the other side of the border, within the jurisdiction of religion.

Is there a purpose behind the universe? There are two diametrically opposed answers coming from the two camps of science and religion, ensconced on opposite banks of the stream of life. In my view, neither is satisfactory, which is why I propose a third. But first the two opposing views.

There are those who believe in God. In the United States, the percentage of the population falling in this category has hovered around 90 percent for decades. The purpose of life for most believers is clear. It is to live the kind of life that will merit the reward of entrance into an everlasting kingdom of heaven. There, presided over by a heavenly, grandfatherly patriarch, with the able assistance of an angelic bureaucracy, choir, and legion of saints, the righteous will live in eternal bliss. Given the limited human attention span and the propensity to always want the latest and best, it is hard to see how the eternal-heaven business can actually satisfy the clientele for that length of time, that is, forever. One might worry that eternity could possibly become tedious. Still, that’s the reward, and it’s better than life down here . . . putting the eternity issue aside.

But you had better be careful, because one life chance is all you get in this view. Given the wide disparity of life circumstances and influences, this one shot at getting it right for all eternity may not seem fair. And indeed, I propose that it is most certainly not. That is one reason why I will suggest a more plausible and humane alternative.

On the other side are the secular humanists, meaning those who dislike and reject the idea of a God, who scoff at such a make-believe purpose as getting into heaven. Unfortunately, what they can offer in its place in the way of life purpose is rather limited.

The English poet Francis Thompson wrote: “An atheist is a man who believes himself an accident.” That does seriously limit the options available for the purpose-of-life question. Life merely for the sake of living is a risky philosophy that could logically lead to nothing greater than an objective of achieving maximum wealth and pleasure here and now. Some people in this camp do come to this conclusion. Fortunately though, most have no less altruism than the believers — perhaps even more because there is no expectation of a reward in the afterlife for doing good here. The problem is that in this view all purpose is ultimately transitory. Recall Nobel laureate Steven Weinberg’s, “The more the universe seems comprehensible, the more it also seems pointless.” Unfortunately, that would carry over to us individually as well.

The purpose I propose that life has is a grand one, and even, I think, a logical one: We are the means whereby God experiences his own potential, and this is why the universe has some of the amazing properties conducive to life that it has. Making the analogy of God as a vast bonfire, we are candles whose tiny flame is the same fire. We are sparks of God living in a physical universe of matter and energy, in which we are able to experience things, make things happen, live and love and climb up or ski down mountains and enjoy operas or rock concerts — take your pick. The adventures we literally live out were merely possibilities existing pregnantly in the infinite intelligence that is God prior to the creation of the universe. You might think of the universe as some of God’s thoughts, his daydreams. With the right combination of thoughts — the laws of nature — providing the basis, a universe capable of hosting life becomes possible. God then enriches himself by living through all the life-forms that the universe can provide . . . us included. Why shouldn’t God get to enjoy the World Series or the Super Bowl or the Indy 500 through the enthusiasm of us fans? Of course, first you have to dream up a universe. God can do that.

In this view, heaven is not a place; it is a state of reunion with God, from whom our consciousness has temporarily and deliberately separated itself to make physical existence and all its richness possible. The purpose of life is to let God make his own potential real. And of course, this cannot be limited to human experience. God in this view seeks the experience of all living things on this planet and wherever else life might exist and whatever else it might be like.

Kaballah scholar Daniel Matt writes in his God and the Big Bang:

In the beginning, there was Existence alone — One only, without a second. It, the One, thought to itself: “Let me be many; let me grow forth.” Thus, out of itself, It entered into every being. All that is has itself alone. Of all things it is the subtle essence. It is the truth. It is the Self. And you are that.

Or from a much more ancient text from India cited by Matt:

He manifested Himself as creation. It is He alone who is born into the world. He lives as all beings; it is only Him everywhere.

Let me be clear. This has nothing to do with so-called Intelligent Design. In the view I propose, Darwinian evolution is essential for fulfilling God’s purpose. The unpredictability and novelty afforded by evolution is absolutely necessary; otherwise, existence would be a preordained puppet show. It is the peculiar character of the universe itself — an issue that has come to the fore in astrophysics — and its origin in the big bang which I attribute to an infinite intelligence, not the microengineering of life-forms. It is, in fact, a more impressive feat of intelligence to dream up a few essential laws that can give rise to a universe in which life can evolve, than it would be to tinker around designing creatures like Santa in his workshop.

* * * * *

Reprinted with permission of the publisher from The Purpose-Guided Universe© 2010 Bernard Haisch. Published by New Page Books, a division of Career Press, Pompton Plains, NJ. 800-227-3371. All rights reserved.


Bernard Haisch, PhD, is an astrophysicist and author of The God Theory and more than 130 scientific publications. He was a scientific editor of Astrophysics Journal for ten years and editor-in-chief of the Journal of Scientific Exploration. His professional positions include deputy director of the Center for Extreme Ultraviolet Astrophysics at U.C. Berkeley, staff scientist at the Lockheed Martin Solar and Astrophysics Lab, and visiting scientist at the Max Planck Institut für Extraterrestrische Physik in Garching, Germany.

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  • 6 Comments
  • Xiakathy Sep 25, 2010

    I love this article. There is hope for a bridge between science and religion and science, not religion, will find it. Religion does not know how to omnipotise god into an intellect, because they are all busy believing that their god is better than their neighbour's. As Stephen Hawking found, information has a signature (Hawking's Radiation) which alone must tell us that information has a purpose and we are part of it. Life is an exchange of information, thought the catalyst for realisation in the universe. Everything that is : is built on cause and effect, and thought. There is every reason to believe that evolution is based in thought, that a being can think itself into existence. Does not the diversity of species / sudden appearance of Archaeopteryx (among other things) suggest it? Doing the will of the omnipotent intellect may not be as difficult as it seems - it seems the biggest hurdle is the ego's propensity for dissatisfaction.

    Maybe when we strike that balance between satisfaction and progress, we will learn what evolution really feels like. The simplest revolutions tell it all, and there has been talk sown down the ages that the devil's tongue speaks backwards.....!

  • laurenpk55 Sep 27, 2010

    Amen! I have always believed that: "It is, in fact, a more impressive feat of intelligence to dream up a few essential laws that can give rise to a universe in which life can evolve, than it would be to tinker around designing creatures like Santa in his workshop."

    It is an incredible, magnificent, ever evolving Universe, imbued, sustained and guided by God's essential laws, in which, as individuated consciousness evolves, it may play an ever greater part in the participation of the unfolding of this eternally evolving creation.

  • Anonymous Icon

    yasmin Sep 28, 2010

    I've been investigating a highly unusual case. yasmin.Birmingham. UK
    .......................
    from a public forum

    " Albert Einstein was a brilliant and very spiritual human being whose theories on electromagnetic Light waves provide a scientific explanation for the existence of an afterlife."
    ...

    "....Your physical plane of existence is reaching an evolutionary milestone. As the veil that separates our Light from your Earth becomes thinner, spirit will reach out to you; to guide you to our signs. "
    ............

    "...We are familiar with the concept of plans, and coordinating the lives of more than six billion people would certainly be a Heavenly feat. There are those that prescribe to a belief that God has a plan; that events are meant to occur, and do so for a reason. Some refer to this as destiny. Consider, however, that if every event were planned prior to your arrival, then suffering is not only inevitable; it is intended by our Heavenly Light. Were every action planned, as mentioned in a separate post, there would be no reason to help another in their hour of need, and no one on your plane of existence could be held accountable for his or her actions toward one another, as every one of these events would be predestined and therefore meant to occur. To prescribe to the concept of a plan is to accept that you have no control; that human cruelty and frailty are not only accepted, but condoned by our Heavenly Light, and there is no reason to attempt to overcome the adversities you will encounter while you are here. This is not the case though, Dave Allen. We do not condone human cruelty, nor do our children come to this frequency of Light to suffer the cruelty of others or the imbalances brought about during the course of the human journey. Many do, though. Mediums will predict events that often occur at a later date or time. This may suggest that these events are predestined or planned. In truth, these events are not planned prior to your arrival on this physical plane of existence, but instead, after. Through a combination of signs and intuition, those of us with you in spirit will try to guide you on a path that helps you either maintain or challenge your balance; this for the purpose spiritual growth. When we communicate through a medium an event that may occur in your future, later events may transpire that interfere with our plans. For this reason, some predictions do not come to pass, and this is the reason. We are in spirit, and you have family members in spirit with you while you are here. Your son is with you, Dave Allen. He loves you, and he is loved. Follow your intuition. The signs are all around you. We've channeled our presence in so many ways.
    We are here. We are here. We are here.
    ...

  • Anonymous Icon

    yasmin Sep 28, 2010

    more:
    .....

    from public forum

    "In November, 2003, a woman from a small Northwestern Pennsylvania town became the subject of a paranormal event when she felt the overwhelming presence of an unstable spirit in her midst; one that has remained with her ever since. The series of events that followed his arrival resulted in something few on your Earth realizes occurs:
    conscious channeling.
    Since his death, she has not only channeled his unstable, suicidal spirit, but numerous guides working through her to help both understand what led him to decide to end his life.
    I am but one of many guides channeling through her.
    Our communications with her have unlocked many mysteries of human existence, including the true purpose for being, a scientific explanation for the existence of Heaven and hell, and a Truth that awaits each of you in crossing.
    Your physical plane of existence is reaching an evolutionary milestone. As the veil that separates our Light from your Earth becomes thinner, spirit will reach out to you; to guide you to our signs."
    .........

    "When Spirits Speak Yes, and though you are all many, you are all of our Light, and those of our Light are One."
    .....

    "When Spirits Speak The messages given you through this discussion board are not garnered through intuition, but are instead channeled from spirit through the process of automatic writing. Our messages are meant to help you understand certain truths regarding human existence on your physical plane."
    ........

    " When Spirits Speak Each of these theories hold validity, Carrie.
    Consider, Carrie, that all living things are in a constant state of change, and your Earth is no exception to this rule. Every creature, every human being, and even the planet you live on, is governed by energy. A cell divides, energy is in motion, and the cell is in a perpetual state of change and growth. It will never return to its original state. As the organism evolves, its own balance must be maintained in order for it to contribute to the balance of all others, and balance is the key to the success of all things. Though nature has perfected the art of balance, human beings on this Earth still have much to learn. Consider the signs and the Apocalypse not as and end to be feared, but instead, as a new beginning; a time during which a greater understanding of the Truth of our Light is revealed"
    ............

  • Anonymous Icon

    yasmin Sep 28, 2010

    Bernard

    Do you wish to see more. ?

    yasmin
    Birmingham. UK

  • Anonymous Icon

    yasmin Oct 27, 2010

    From a chatlog file. This conversation took place in November 2008 and forms part of a much larger case study.

    " [OdaMaeBrown] This is gonna blow your mind..

    [curlysworld] go for it :)
    [yasmin] as always
    [OdaMaeBrown] You know how, when you're a kid, people always tell you
    God always hears your prayers, no matter what?
    [curlysworld] yeah...
    [OdaMaeBrown] And you always wondered how God can hear EVERYONE
    's prayers...
    [yasmin] And.....
    [OdaMaeBrown] God is every discarnate entity that has earned their wings
    while they're here.
    [curlysworld] wow
    [yasmin] We are ONE
    [OdaMaeBrown] Every person that stands in the Light and watches us.
    God hears your prayers on account of God is your grandmother or
    grandfather, or whoever passed before you.
    [OdaMaeBrown] And they're everywhere.
    [yasmin] They're as close to me as my jugular vein...............
    [curlysworld] i should really pray more often then :)
    [OdaMaeBrown] And they can work through us when we accept them into
    our hearts and souls, no matter where we are in this world, no matter what
    religion, or belief, if we accept them, they'll help us as much as they can...
    by channeling.
    [OdaMaeBrown] And when it's time to bring us Home, they can do that, too.
    [curlysworld] but not EVERYONE can channel surely?
    [OdaMaeBrown] No, not everyone on THIS side.
    [yasmin] I have no such skills
    [OdaMaeBrown] On the other side, THEY can channel.
    [OdaMaeBrown] They've earned their wings.
    [yasmin] That is so cool.................
    [OdaMaeBrown] They're people, guys. They're amazing people, not on
    account of they're "magical" or anything. They're amazing on account of
    they're beautiful, and kind, and empathic, and they love us, and they
    understand we make all kind of mistakes.
    [OdaMaeBrown] Someone tried to argue the point that they thought God
    was all knowing and all loving, and benevolent...
    [curlysworld] sounds like grandparents :) "
    ..............................

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