A theological question- What is the nature of Spirit?

If the Big Bang was not a random event but a purposeful event arising from outside spacetime (Spirit), then Spirit can be considered as the Creator of our Cosmos. What can we know about the Creator? Nothing that can be observed by science directly. But, perhaps, something of the nature of the Creator can be inferred from the nature of creation.

One of the most striking aspects of the material universe, aside from the fact that it had a beginning, is the fact that it is expanding and it has been doing so in accordance with the law of General Relativity from 10-32 seconds after its birth until the present day. The miraculously fine-tuned conditions that permit the material universe to have survived for 13.7 billion years were built into the singularity and the initial conditions of the Big Bang itself. The creative principles are still operative today in the form of physical laws that are knowable to human awareness through the observations and reasoning of science. There is no evidence that Spirit has ever interfered with or altered the creative principles instilled in spacetime from the time of its birth. It is only logical that Spirit, all that exists outside of spacetime, has no influence on that part of the material universe that exists completely within spacetime. There does remain, however, the mystery of how Spirit initiated the Big Bang – the mystery of Creation that is beyond human awareness and understanding.

But there is a part of creation that is not completely contained within spacetime – awareness. A thought may originate in the electromagnetic activity of the brain, but are thoughts or their products, ideas, completely material? Can they be measured or localized? Are our relationships with each other purely material? Is love purely material? Can the human appetite for the good, the true and the beautiful be completely explained by physics and chemistry?

From the dawn of human civilization people have given testimony to creation myths and to their belief in an afterlife not confined to spacetime. Human awareness came into its dualistic existence with one eye on the material world and one eye on the spirits. It is through awareness that Spirit, the Creator, influences and interacts with the material world of spacetime. This influence and interaction occurs through what we call inspiration or mystical experience.

For centuries the material eye of awareness has focused on the world around us and brought forth the beauty and wonders of science and art. At the same time the theologians of the world have focused awareness on inspiration and mysticism and brought forth the faiths and narratives (religious beliefs and ontologies) at the heart of the world’s cultures.The earliest consensus of the theologians is that Spirit is singular- the Creator, God, Allah, Brahman is the One and only.

If the theologies are true and the Creator is One, all theologies will arrive at the same truth. The theology I’m most familiar with is Christian theology. The inspiration at the heart of the Christian faith is that the Creator is Love itself. (1John 4, 16). Arguably the greatest of Christian theologians, Saint Thomas Aquinas reasoned in the Summa Theologica that “Truth is the equation of thought and thing” and so it follows that the Creator ” is Truth itself”. If awareness is the act of understanding producing the equation, it follows that Spirit, the Creator, is Awareness itself.

So the reason that Spirit can influence and interact with the material world through awareness is because Spirit is Awareness itself.

Another aspect of Christian theology that defines the nature of Spirit is the doctrine of the mystery of the Trinity that states that the Father,  the Son and the Holy Spirit all co-inhere as the One God. Generalizing this to the nature of Spirit just presented would argue that Spirit (the Creator, God, Allah, Brahman) is the co-inherence of Awareness, Truth, and Love as The One.

(This question is explored further in the three somewhat theological poems  “IHS”, “Flow of Creation” and “Ṛta” posted in November, 2011, on my Waypoints webpage.)

A metaphysical question – Was the Big Bang a random event?

I suspect most of my colleagues would naturally prefer to think of the Big Bang as a random event. But the only way for an event to be both random and miraculous is for there to have been a very large sampling of events. In other words, an event with a probability approaching zero is bound to occur in a population of events approaching infinity. The assertion of randomness implies that there are a large number (approaching infinity) of other Big Bangs in some larger Cosmos.

This is the observationally unverifiable metaphysics of the “multiverse”. From a physics point of view, this is a logical choice: especially considering that there are  plausible mechanisms for Big Bang type events – such as random energy fluctuations in an infinite quantum vacuum. (Note that this involves a leap of faith that the quantum behavior observed in our spacetime also exists outside of spacetime.) The choice of the multiverse is a significant challenge to Occam’s razor since it amounts to postulating the existence of a very large number of unobservable objects to explain the existence of one object.

But physics is not the only source of knowledge about our existence. What does your intuition tell you? Does everything about you and your life appear to be the result of randomness? Can randomness explain everything you see about you? Do you not sense that there is a purpose to your life (even if you’re not too sure what it is)?

Time (entropy) has an arrow. The discovery of epigenetics, the evidence of master genes, and symbiosis and cooperation in biology all argue that evolution is not a purely random process: it, too, appears to have a direction. The logical candidate for that direction is toward the evolution of ever more complex awareness.

On earth, biology mysteriously emerged from the material world of physics and chemistry. Microbiology reveals that the simplest forms of life demonstrate awareness: single cells process information from the environment and from each other and adapt their behavior accordingly. As multi-cellular organisms evolved, the brain developed, making possible the emergence of animal intelligence and awareness.  After the brain evolved to the level of complexity of the human brain (1011 neurons in a network of 1014 synapses), the self-aware human mind with all its amazing capacities mysteriously emerged. And the process continues. (What will mysteriously emerge from the linking of human minds in the network of the noösphere? Doesn’t your intuition tell you that it will be a higher form of awareness – like global consciousness?)

As a self-aware being with free will, I choose to believe that the purpose of the Cosmos is the evolution of awareness. And so I choose to believe that the Big Bang was a purposeful and not a random event. Furthermore, I choose to label all of whatever scientifically unobservable existence there may be outside of our spacetime with the name Spirit.

The Big Bang – a miraculous event originating outside of spacetime.

All scientific observations of the Cosmos made to date are consistent with the idea that our universe emerged from a single, vanishingly small object in an explosion that occurred about 14 billion years ago – the famous Big Bang. The coordinates of space and time that we use to describe our observations and frame our theories also began with the Big Bang.

The reason is easy to understand. Spatial coordinates measure the distance between objects and time measures change. In a universe that contains only one object, there is no way to measure distance and, if the one object remains one, nothing changes. So spacetime and the possibilities for observation began with the Big Bang and the subsequent multiplicity of material objects.

The single object from which the universe emerged is outside of our spacetime and the nature of that object is therefore unobservable – a scientific mystery. The nature and origin of the original object or the nature of existence outside of our spacetime are, of course, not outside the reach of our imagination, mathematics or metaphysics. But it should be kept in mind that any such speculations are beyond the reach of verification by scientific observation.

The fact that our universe contains stable matter in structures that have survived gravitational forces for almost 14 billion years is just one in a long string of facts that lead scientists to describe the Big Bang as being  “fine tuned.” By this we mean that the conditions present at the initiation of the Big Bang and the physical laws governing the stability and composition of ordinary matter had to be incredibly “fine tuned” in order for you and me to be here now. It’s hard to put a probability number against “fine tuning”, but just the one fact of the universe surviving gravity has a probability of only about 10-60. Our existence is so scientifically improbable that it can arguably be called “miraculous”. The Big Bang therefore qualifies, to this scientist’s mind, as a miraculous and mysterious event.