From Science to God
The Journey of a Devout Skeptic
That we are conscious beings is the most obvious fact of our existence. Yet as far as Western science is concerned, there is nothing more difficult to explain. Why should the complex processing of information in the brain lead to an inner personal experience? Why doesn’t it all go on in the dark, without any awareness?
This paradox—namely, the undeniable existence of human consciousness set against the absence of any satisfactory account for it—suggests that something is seriously amiss with the contemporary scientific worldview. I believe that rather than assuming consciousness somehow arises from the material world, as most scientists do, we need to consider the alternative worldview put forward by many metaphysical and spiritual traditions in which consciousness is held to be a fundamental component of reality. When we do, everything changes, and everything remains the same.
As far as contemporary science goes, nothing is lost. Mathematics doesn’t change, nor do physics, biology, or chemistry. What changes is our understanding of ourselves.
Those who have devoted themselves to a personal exploration of consciousness have repeatedly discovered a deep inner union with the divine, expressed most radically as “I am God.” To traditional religion, this sounds blasphemous. How can any lowly human being claim that he or she is God, the almighty, supreme deity, the eternal creator? Meanwhile to modern science, the notion of God is unnecessary. Science has looked out into deep space to the edges of the universe, back into “deep time” to the beginning of creation, and down into “deep structure” to the fundamental constituents of matter. In each case science finds no evidence for God; nor any need for God—the Universe seems to work perfectly well without any divine assistance.
When mystics refer to God, they do not speak of a separate being existing somewhere in the physical realm; they point toward the realm of personal experience. If we want to find God, we have to look within, into the realm of deep mind—a realm that science has yet to explore.
The worldviews of science and spirit have not always been as far apart as they are today. Five hundred years ago, what science there was existed within the established worldview of the Christian church. Following Copernicus, Descartes and Newton, Western science broke away from the doctrines of monotheistic religion, establishing its own atheistic worldview, which today is very different from that of traditional religion. But the two can, and I believe eventually will, be reunited. And their meeting point is consciousness. When science views consciousness as fundamental to reality, and when religion understands God as the light of consciousness within us, the two worldviews start to converge.
Today this meeting of science and spirit is critical, not just for a more comprehensive understanding of the cosmos, but also for the future of our species. We desperately need a worldview that validates spiritual inquiry, for it is the spiritual aridity of our current times that lies behind so many of our crises. ————- Peter Russell is the author of ten books. The above article is based on his latest book From Science to God: The Mystery of Consciousness and the Meaning of Light. For more information the book and Peter Russell’s work visit www.peterussell.com
I also interviewed Peter in my book To Believe Or Not To Believe: The Social & Neurological Consequences of Belief Systems” available on my website at www.RahasyaPoe.com