Every human being—and every scientist—sooner or later needs to consider the nature of God.

During the Intelligence Squared debate about “Science Refutes God,” which has served as the framework for this series of BahaiTeachings.org essays, the nature of God came up often. For example, atheist writer Michael Shermer said:

If God is supernatural, that is, outside of the space and time, there’s no way for us to know it. Therefore, whatever God is, it would have to be a natural being or at least some kind of a being that reaches in to stir the particles, and if he does, then we should be able to measure it, because that’s what we do as scientists. We measure the motions of particles. And so far we have no evidence of that.

The history of science is replete with examples of scientists observing things and describing them erroneously because they didn’t know what they were looking at or failed to discern the correct evidence. In other words, when one has a hammer, everything looks like a nail, meaning that how we interpret information depends in large part on context. Of course, context sets expectations—a point the atheist Dr. Krauss made in reference to natural laws.

Shermer may not be aware of evidence that God ”stirs the particles,” but possibly that’s because he is one of the particles being stirred. I would submit that the very intellect which allows us to ask questions about reality and attempt to answer them is, itself, evidence of the particles being stirred.

Further evidence of God “stirring the particles” exists in the wisdom of such authorities as Krishna, Moses, Buddha, Christ, Muhammad, Baha’u’llah, etc. The transformation their teachings bring to human lives creates a striking parallel to Shermer’s stirring of particles.

Science deals in physical reality; religion deals in spiritual reality. The two intersect in the human intellect—the rational soul. We are the portal through which the supernatural reaches into the natural universe to stir the particles.

Dinesh D’Souza closed by providing a real-world context for the motion that science refutes God:

American botanist Asa Gray wrote Darwin a letter in which he said, “As a Christian, I was very inspired upon reading your book, because I have read in the book of Genesis that God made the world and God made man, but there’s no information about how this might’ve occurred. And when I read your book, I understood not only why God made humans, but why there’s so much suffering in the world…” 

… has science refuted God? And at some senses, we’ve been talking past each other. If I take a pot of water and put it on the stove … I’m trying to make a cup of tea. Now, Lawrence Krauss would come along and say that the molecules are heating up, he could give a full scientific account of what’s going on, but he would’ve completely missed the purpose behind what I’m doing. Scientific explanation doesn’t refute the purposeful explanation, it coexists alongside it, and so it is with God.

Einstein goes even further on this crucial topic:

It would be possible to describe everything scientifically, but it would make no sense; it would be without meaning, as if you described a Beethoven symphony as a variation of wave pressure.

Scientific/physical and spiritual explanations don’t just coexist, they are interdependent. I write books. If you ask me how I do that, I can give you two different types of answers. I can talk about sitting down at the computer and typing for hours, how the manuscript bounces between me and my editor before we have a final book. I can describe how the book is printed—what sort of ink and paper are used, and how the books are packed into boxes and shipped to bookstores.

book-binding

Or I can talk about inspiration, ideas, and characters who speak to me. I can describe how the ideas come together in my head, about ‘aha’ moments and feeling like I’m riding a creative roller coaster, and about how when that all comes together, it seems as if I’m taking dictation from a mystical source and the words pour effortlessly out onto the page.

One explanation focuses on the physical manufacture of the book. The other focuses on what’s in the book—the reason it exists in the first place. To be clear, one explanation isn’t right and the other wrong; they’re both equally valid. The book can’t come into physical existence without both parts of the process, but the essential part of that process is the imagining and writing of the book. Without that creative act, all the paper and ink in the world would be mute. No one would derive any benefit from that ink and paper without the creative act that preceded it:

Consider the lady beside me who is writing in this little book. It seems a very trifling, ordinary matter; but upon intelligent reflection you will conclude that what has been written presupposes and proves the existence of a writer. These words have not written themselves, and these letters have not come together of their own volition. It is evident there must be a writer.

And now consider this infinite universe. Is it possible that it could have been created without a Creator? Or that the Creator and cause of this infinite congeries of worlds should be without intelligence? Is the idea tenable that the Creator has no comprehension of what is manifested in creation? Man, the creature, has volition and certain virtues. Is it possible that his Creator is deprived of these? – Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 115.

When we look for proof that God stirs the particles, I think we often neglect to look at ourselves. This is a puzzling oversight, given how many sacred texts insist that we are created in the image of God. As Baha’u’llah puts it: “He hath known God who hath known himself.”

The opinions and views expressed in this article are those of the author only and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of BahaiTeachings.org or any institution of the Baha’i Faith.

7 Comments

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  • Lee J Panek III
    5 days ago
    Please allow me to offer the concept of creation as being the terms of a relationship with the Creator. The more I read the Baha'i writings the more I am convinced that the Baha'i Revelation is the revelation of relationships. In my meditations and reflections, I have been unable to perceive anything without it being in the contexts of a relationship.
    Allow me to offer the perception of Baha'u'llah being the Portal through whom creation is manifested. The Holy Spirit/Manifestations of God, were created first as the perfect mirrors through whom the Creators, unknowable essence is reflected as creation. ...Our distinction as human beings is the capacity to reflect all of the names of God within creation. It's all a relationship.
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  • Melanie Black
    Mar 20, 2017
    It seems to me this may be the end of your series since you sum up everything so perfectly here. I am in agreement with Mr Vinzens and Mr Cooper that every in the universe is a miracle, especially (to me) the way good can come out of a great evil. Only a Being of God's Might and Power could achieve something like that, though we are His instruments for bringing this about if we are willing to let ourselves be. It is a complex issue, I know. I have long realized how little I really do know.
  • Melanie Black
    Mar 20, 2017
    I don't know if this is where your series ends, but this essay seems like the perfect conclusion. I am in agreement with Mr Vinzens and Mr Cooper in that I view most everything that happens in the universe as a miracle, and maybe most especially that out of evil can come great good. It seems to me that only a Being of God's greatness and might is able to achieve that, on the large scale anyways. Once I start thinking about these things, I realize how complex and intertwined everything is....and how little I really do know after ...all.
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  • Mar 20, 2017
    I loved your analogy of the writer (you) and the finished book (evidence of a writer). This is a simple explanation and yet so profound! Sometimes I feel that what we are trying to teach about the oneness of God and of humanity falls on deaf ears, because the listener is not in tune with the existence of God. Thank you for this clear and simple discussion.
    • Mark David Vinzens
      Mar 20, 2017
      I incline toward the view that God is not a being among beings, but Being itself. God is the 'I amness', the consciousness and beingness of every being. The Infinite One Being.
  • Mar 20, 2017
    There is a lot of confusion because so many people, including scientists, have the idea that if there is a God he does miracles and miracles are about violating the laws of nature. I believe that the laws of nature are miracles in themselves and everything that happens under those laws is a miracle.
    • Mark David Vinzens
      Mar 20, 2017
      There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.