The power of the quantum lies behind the curtain of what cannot be seen, yet this elusive brand of science somehow ties together the threads of what we perceive as our reality. Quantum Theorists, such as Neils Bohr, Albert Einstein, and Carl Sagan found themselves searching for answers, no longer in the realm of modern science, but in the spirit, and the divine.
“Science without religion is lame. Religion without science is blind” - Albert Einstein (I don’t know why, but I find it hilarious that Einstein said lame).
“Science is not only compatible with spirituality; it is a profound source of spirituality”
- Carl Sagan
These are two of my favorite scientists and philosophers, and I am someone who once considered himself an atheist due to the lack of “proof”. In a universe so massive, compared to which we are so small, how could a divine entity roam about the universe, sitting on a cloud, protecting life from evil. To me, God sounded like a bearded Flash Gordon. With so much horror in our world, civil wars, genocides, slavery, and hate, it seemed that God may have jumped ship to find a more pleasant place to stay, or maybe he never existed at all, I found the latter more likely. I found solace in the hard explanations of physics, a universe that expanded and contracted, in a constant cycle of creation and destruction, birth and rebirth. Much like a forest, which after a fire, finds itself with all the material it needs to restart. It can be comforting to think of the universe this way, it makes what we do in life merely a tick of the clock on an eternal calendar. It brings down the stress and pressure of the mundane tasks which seem to haunt us throughout our day to day.
I believe that you cannot find purpose in life until accepting that existence has no inherent purpose. Only once you dismiss the ideas and doctrines bestowed upon you by outside entities, can you discover what you yourself want to do with the time you have.
At least that’s my opinion. After experiencing this in my own life, stripping away the excess identities and assumptions I had adopted over my time on Earth, I found myself feeling brand new, almost like a different person. I fell back in love with passions I had as a child, which I had come to ignore, as my path took turns toward the rational and practical. I returned to art, music, reading, and asking questions, and interestingly found myself beginning to understand Einstein and Sagan’s submission to spirituality.
I stumbled upon this in Quantum Theory, one of the tenants of which is that only in the dark can we find the light, only once we admit that we know nothing, can we begin to understand the reality in which we find ourselves. This idea is also prominent in Buddhism, with which Quantum theory has found an accidental friend. The Buddhist theory of emptiness states something similar, that in emptiness we find substance. In other words, we can only find truth when all the noise and distractions are blocked out. Only by forgetting everything we have learned, are we able to sort through the information we have and determine what is valid.
Another principle in Buddhism is Indra’s net. Indra’s net is depicted as an infinitely large web, and at each intersection of the web, called the “eyes”, there hangs a multi-sided jewel. The light of each jewel reflects off those closest to it, and then continues throughout the net bouncing off each successive jewel like a never-ending house of mirrors. In each reflection there is a trace of all the jewels that exist within the entire infinite net. This concept can be likened to the ideas of consciousness in Quantum Theory. The individual consciousness we all possess is unique to us based on the experiences that make up our life span.
However, our consciousness is also connected to a greater cloud of ideas that constitutes our societal consciousness. Although our thoughts and ideas are mirrored the strongest, in those we keep closest to us, they continue to radiate throughout the population as they reflect from person to person. Just as we may affect the experiences of people we have never met; we may be affected by theirs as well. It explains why you can meet someone from a completely different walks of life, yet relate, we all feel the reverberations of each other’s thoughts and actions somewhere down the line. This helps us to understand why ideas can have so much power, the brighter the light, the more intensely it will reflect throughout the net.
Music and art can change the world because when they resonate with us, we mirror their ideas.
This larger consciousness is the door to an even greater philosophy. If you do not restrict the “jewels” to solely include our own consciousness, but expand the idea to include dogs, cats, horses, dolphins, primates, and even trees, then we find the diversity of the net is much greater than we previously believed. We are not only reflecting the light of human society and behavior, but also the natural world at large, no matter how distantly, this is part of the Buddhist philosophy.
Now if you expand this idea to anything that contains energy, the net encompasses all of matter. This idea is common in tribal religions where gods are assigned to the energies surrounding forests, rivers, and mountains. However, it also reflects Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. The idea of one large encompassing consciousness derived from the light of all energy in the universe, sounds a lot like the holy spirit. Monotheism refers to God, Yahweh, and Allah as being around and inside of us always, just like this consciousness, comprised of the energy from all the matter in existence.
Schrӧdinger, the cat guy, referred to this consciousness as the
with a capital M, having
“erected the objective outside world.”
This is remarkably close to God with a capital G creating the world we see around us. James Jean, a physicist renowned for his work in Quantum Theory stated that,
“we discover that the universe shows evidence of a designing or controlling power that has something in common with our own individual minds.”
Perhaps the idea of being created in God’s own image has nothing to do with the shape of our face or even having two legs, but the way that our brain makes sense of and portrays the world around us. When we think of an overarching power giving us guidance, perhaps it is not the booming voice from the clouds we typically think of, but the thoughts that stick, when floating in and out of our minds, moment to moment. Like planting seeds to cultivate a crop, maybe we are being groomed and directed much the same.
After all of this, I have no real religious affiliation, I have no clue what to believe, if any one religion is “right”, perhaps every religion got a piece of the truth, or maybe none. What I have learned is to not think of spirituality as concrete and definite, after all we are attempting to comprehend the incomprehensible. I believe in Quantum Theory and due to its similarities with faith, I suppose I believe in faith as well.
By no means am I encouraging anyone to read the Bible, a Quantum Physics textbook, or the Quran if you are not motivated to do so. The case I am making however, is to assume less and listen more, to open your mind to the idea that maybe the world around you is not as definite and literal as it may seem. Say a prayer to no one in particular, but the air around you, you may just find yourself encountering the spirituality that so many different cultures and people throughout time have stumbled upon.