Does Faith Threaten Cosmology?

Not only does religion and science disagree about how the universe began, or how life emerged, but they also disagree on how it will all end.  Since most of the debate has focused on creation and evolution I would like to address the “end times.”

Currently, astrophysicists tell us that because the universe is expanding (with increased speed) and its stars will eventually burn up all their fuel, everything will run down and we will be left with a cold, dismal, and lonely universe.

Christian doctrine offers a more positive and hopeful view. The Christian concept of the end times (eschatology) is that the Lord God will return and create a “new heaven and new earth.”

Cosmology and eschatology are at odds. Is there any room for a rational dialog between the two?

I believe there is. However, we cannot expect that there will be any success in such a profound endeavor without institutions crumbling – both scientific and religious. In other words, success will require a major shake up and paradigm shift. Everyone’s ox may get gored in the process.

But be brave. History has shown us that both science and religion has already undergone many paradigm shifts. What is needed requires bold new information and insights into the true nature of the ultimate reality, offering a framework broad enough that will permit science and religion to adopt a similar and unified worldview.

There are signs that this is happening – even if both sides of the issue may be unaware of it. For instance, science is quickly coming to a dead end in trying to explain the richness of the universe, its order, and mathematical rationality from reductionism or by any physical principles. The singularity of Big Bang theory and the probability waves of quantum physics points to a non-physical beginning of the universe.

If the God of heaven created the world, then it certainly had its beginning in a non-physical realm. Unfortunately, religion offers no further rational insight into this process other than God “wished it” and “made it so.” Science needs more than faith to work with, it wants LAWS. This is especially important concerning the physics involved that would both improve the current cosmological model and back up the theological premise that God will eventually reconstitute the universe so that humans can escape the tyranny of time and live in eternal happiness.

After studying these issues for more then three decades I have come to the conclusion that science must change many of its assumptions about physics, and, religion must change many of its assumptions about theology. So I will seem heretical to the standard beliefs of both truth systems. But the Lord God will make all things “anew.”

Since science will always maintain that the burden of proof must fall on religion, then that is where I shall start. In John 1:1-3 of the New Testament, it is claimed that all things created in the universe were created from the “Word.” Theologically speaking, the Word of God is the same thing as Sacred Scripture. Therefore, for this biblical statement to make any scientific sense, the Holy Word must somehow contain similar dynamics, laws, and patterning principles of the universe within the very architecture of its narratives.

This is the position that scientist/theologian Emanuel Swedenborg took in his systematic interpretation (exegesis) of Scripture. He believed that the Holy Word was a multidimensional document. This has immediate signification for scientists working on string theory, who propose that the universe consists of higher dimensions, called hyperspace.

The big difference between Swedenborg’s approach to the multidimensional nature of reality portrayed by Scripture and that of the current scientific models is that his model ascends from physical qualities to non-physical qualities. In current physics, everything stays physical – no matter how many new dimensions are added.

This is also of significance to scientists who are working with the idea that time and space has emerged from a pre-geometric condition, whereby dynamics and topological features are abstracted from their involvement with time and space.

Swedenborg claimed that through the science of correspondences, the narratives of Scripture could be transformed into their non-physical and psycho-spiritual equivalent.

Therefore, when you apply these rules of abstraction to Scripture, the biblical phrase that the Lord will “create a new heaven and a new earth” has nothing to do with cosmology. It represents our rebirth or spiritual re-creation. That is, the Lord’s return will not be a physical event but a spiritual one that will take place in our hearts and minds. A new heaven and new earth represents a profound change that will take place within one’s inner and outer realities (our spirit and its manifestations in the physical world).

So, will the physical universe still fizzle out despite humanity’s eventual success in becoming more spiritually focused? I would ask scientists to look into whether there is a way to determine if more stars are being born then are burning out. If more stars are being born than are dying, then this would suggest that the universe is growing, and that God is making more space and matter (from an Infinite prolific principle).

Of course, there is much, much more material that could be shared concerning this topic but it goes well beyond the scope of this humble post. This material includes how scientific laws can be found in the stories of Scripture, such as top-down causality, quantum discontinuity, spacetime structure, and what kind of dynamics are involved in our salvation and eternal life. If these ideas intrigue you, they will be flushed out in my next book, Proving God.

I will keep you posted concerning its completion on this blog.

http://www.provinggod.com

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About thegodguy

EDWARD F. SYLVIA, M.T.S. Philosopher/Theologian Edward F. Sylvia attended the School of Visual Arts in New York and received his Master of Theological Studies at the Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, CA and a Certificate of Swedenborgian Studies from the Swedenborgian House of Studies. He is a member of the Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences (C.T.N.S.) and the Swedenborg Scientific Association (S.S.A.). Award-winning author of "Sermon From the Compost Pile: Seven Steps Toward Creating An Inner Garden" and "Proving God," which fulfills a continuing vision that God’s fingerprints of love can be found everywhere in the manifest universe. His most recent book, "Swedenborg & Gurdjieff: The Missing Links" is an edgy collection of anti-intuitive essays for personal transformation that challenges and inspires. He has been a student of the ideas of both Emanuel Swedenborg and George I. Gurdjieff for over thirty years. Read more about TheGodGuy, his books and his ideas at http://www.staircasepress.com
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21 Responses to Does Faith Threaten Cosmology?

  1. Joan Waterbury says:

    Please keep me informed about any more or new info on this subject…..

    Thanks

  2. Joan Waterbury says:

    My response is: I’ve never believed in ‘creationism’ because it can’t be proven. I have no ‘faith’ in what every religion determines their God to be, except that I think it is what each individual has w/in thier own spirit. And I don’t put a name on mine………

  3. Joan Waterbury says:

    Let’s see if you’ll take this one.
    No ,I don’t think faith threatens cosmology.

  4. irishanglican says:

    Perhaps you will find some better light from the great French Jesuit philosopher and and paleontologist – Pierre Teilhard de Chardin?

    Fr. Robert

  5. irishanglican says:

    *less one and lol

  6. thegodguy says:

    Dear Fr. Robert,

    I have studied Pierre Teilhard de Chardin and I like his thinking. He has some similar ideas to Swedenborg in that they both divinize complexification and favor purposeful evolution. They both approached their research as an adoration of God.

    Whereas Teilhard saw evolution leading to consciousness (noogenesis) Swedenborg viewed evolution as the exaltation of conscious LOVE. In fact, in Swedenborg’s model, religion serves as a means by which the biosphere can be extended into a non-physical realm (called heaven) through the spiritual development (epigenesis) of the human race.

    Whereas Teilhard believed that nature is destined to become increasingly complex, Swedenborg saw God’s purpose in creation as to allow for spiritual bio-complexity, that is, a creation of a spiritual body within the human physical body.

    Thanks for the tip.

    Spiritually yours,
    TheGodGuy

  7. irishanglican says:

    Sir Ed,

    I myself do not follow theistic evolution, but I know some Christians do. I was taught this as a Roman Catholic however in their higher education system, etc. But I have long since become an old earth creationist.

    As to Chardin, he was always a maverick. I believe his views have been showin to be at best metaphysical. In doctrine however he always sought to be Roman Catholic. But I have read most of his work too. He was a devout R. Catholic priest. But he cannot be used theologically however in my opinion.

    Fr. Robert

  8. thegodguy says:

    Dear Joan,

    See my post entitled “The Purpose Of Creation.” Swedenborg believed in purposeful evolution. In my upcoming book I have described his approach as “Conjunctive Design.”

    Spiritually yours,
    TheGodGuy

  9. thegodguy says:

    Dear Fr. Robert,

    Current Christian theology is not adequate for unifying science and religion. If all things were created from the Word (John 1:1-3) and all theology is derived from the Word, then the two must have profound points of contact.

    I believe Swedenborg’s contributions to this difficult topic are extraordinary.

    Spiritually yours,
    TheGodGuy

  10. irishanglican says:

    Sir Ed,

    The Judeo-Christian revelation was never meant to unify modern science. This is simply a false presupposition! The Scripture teaches us spiritual truth, and the way to salvation, and to what God has revealed about Himself. Again and again, this is a “Salvation-history”! See, 1 Cor. 2:10-16 (note verse 14)

    Fr. Robert

  11. irishanglican says:

    “People hardly ever make use of the freedom they have, that is, freedom of thought, and instead demand freedom of speech as a compensation.” – Soren Kierkegaard

  12. irishanglican says:

    “I may be in error, but I cannot be a heretic; the former is a matter of the intellect, but the latter is a question of the will.” – Meister Eckhart

  13. thegodguy says:

    Dear Fr, Robert,

    You only tout your lack of knowledge. First of all, the “Salvation-history” of the Holy Word is infinitely augmented by its deeper levels of meaning. Every higher meaning portrays greater details about salvation.

    Spiritual truth rises above historical fact.

    I never said that the Judeo-Christian tradition should address science. I have only maintained that it’s theology is inadequate for doing so. God did not author the world one way and author the Holy Word another. The earth (when not overwhelmed by man) cleanses and purifies itself. The human body cleanses and purifies itself. This drive in nature for cleansing is a PHYSICAL ANALOG (correspondence) of God’s cleansing humans of sins. Natural law and process is derived from spiritual law and process.

    I have chosen to write a blog (and a new book) for people who have embraced science and reason over God. You cannot ask them to believe in things that they cannot verify. Swedenborg offers important insights to how God’s Word can be shown to have a scientific component to it (which St. John attests to). This would go a long way towards proving God’s reality to an unbelieving world.

    Salvation is a continuing process from God’s original act of creation and purposeful evolution. Their is lawful continuity from science to salvation.

    Your world-view is limited and stagnant. The Second Coming is a paradigm-shift. Both theology and science will be affected by this sacred return.

    Spiritually yours,
    TheGodGuy

  14. irishanglican says:

    Sir Ed,

    So explain to me what is the continuing nature of salvation? Saved from what..to what?

    My world view realizes that this world is broken and fallen, due to sin and evil. The only way out is with and in Christ! But we must be redeemed, from ‘the world, the flesh and the devil (Diabolus).

    And if the physical and real nature of the death of Christ is not important for us, then why is it over and over applied to us? And the elaborate reality of the Blood Sacrifice of Christ in the Book of Hebrews chapter’s 9 & 10?!

    “By this will WE have been sanctified through the offering of the BODY of Jesus Christ once for all.” (Heb. 10:10)

    “For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified.” (Heb.10:14)

    “How much more will the blood of Christ…cleanse!” (Heb. 9:14)

    Fr. Robert

  15. thegodguy says:

    Dear Fr, Robert,

    Yes, the Lord is the only way out. We disagree upon the nature of redemption and salvation. Our differences stem from whether God is one person or three. Also, I believe that the Lord calls upon us to change our ways. The Lord’s ministry is all about this change.

    Are you telling me that you are a perfected being as a result of the death of Christ? Has the Father inputed His Son’s righteousness to you, and sent the Holy spirit to give you the gifts of redemption – just because of believing something took place in history? What did you do to deserve this gift of perfection – simply have faith?

    By the way, this post is about faith AND cosmology. But you keep changing the subject to the topic YOU want to talk about – the blood sacrifice of Christ. So in order to cater to your favorite issue I wrote a specific post where this topic could be the focus of our debate. It is entitled “Salvation Gobbledygook.”

    You said you would go there, but instead you have chosen a post that I wrote to specifically address science and religion. Those who are intrigued by the topic of religion and science will come to this site and think they have been tricked into a “bait and switch” conversation.

    I do not want to start rejecting your comments, but I don’t want the main topic of this post to be disrupted either. See you at the “Salvation Gobbledygook” article!

    Spiritually yours,
    TheGodGuy

  16. Becky says:

    A lot of scientists are now leaning toward the possibility of a superior being, and life after death. I actually ran across a great website for a scientist named Leo Kim. This man has worked as a scientist for 25 years and has experienced first-hand science and spirituality working together. Apparently he has worked with cancer patients and has watched many die, and others being healed. He is actually coming out with a book next month (October) titled, “Healing the Rift.”
    A lot of what he has to say on his website makes a lot of sense.

  17. thegodguy says:

    Dear Becky,

    Thanks for your response. I am dedicated to promoting a serious dialogue between science and religion. So I am glad to hear that more scientists are jumping on board.

    I am sure the book you mention will be interesting. I also am writing a book that addresses life after death and a Divine Creator. What will be different about my project is that it will offer evidence of God and the spiritual world from a scientific perspective – pointing to the laws that that would bring a new understanding to faith.

    Spiritually yours,
    TheGodGuy

  18. Spyros says:

    Some comments.

    First of all the question concerning the finiteness or infiniteness (including any possible origin) of the universe as a whole cannot be answered by cosmology but is rather a philosophical question.

    Cosmology is a local science that can only tell us what happens in our local observable part of the universe. And no it cannot describe the origin (t=0) as General relativity breaks up below the Planck scale.

    So theology (or more generally idealist philosophy – or any other philosophical current) answer different questions from those that can be addressed by physics. In this sense they are not in contradiction (as far as predictions are concerned). What they contradict upon is that science can indeed predict the evolution of a dynamical system (by means of tested physical laws) but what religion can predict is rather dubious (to say the least).

    I don’t want to get into the discussion of whether religion can predict things or not because i am not interested in philosophies that cannot be scientifically corroborated. For me, saying that religion makes a prediction is the same as saying that the world lies on the carapace of a tortoise. I just want to make clear that science and philosophy (and religion as a part of idealist philosophy) are 2 different things.

  19. irishanglican says:

    It seems we need some basic philosophy, and as you Americans say..101.

    Cosmology: the study of the origin and structure of the universe.

    Cosmos (Gk., kosmos, order;cf.cosmetic) The whole world, especially conceived as ordered and law-governed, whether by destiny, fate, justice, divine command, or rational necessity.

    And here we should bring in Logos, first from philosophy. Logos (Gk. statement or word, principle, law, reason, proportion). In Heraclitus, the cosmic principle that gives order and rationality to the world, in a way analogous to that in which human reason orders human action. In Plato and Aristotle a similar function is performed by “nous.” In Stoicism the seminal reason (logos spermatikos) is the cosmic order; its aspects are fate, providence, and nature. Subordinate “logoi” seem to perform something of the function of Plato’s forms. Logos also has another aspect: it is what enables us to apprehend the principles and forms, i.e. an aspect of our own reasoning. The view becomes fused with Christian doctrine when Logos is God’s instrument in the development and redemption of the world.

    Finally, the Biblical data, kosmos is used 79 times in St. John’s Gospel. It is there used of the world – the world as created, ordered, and arranged. And here there is no evolution, Darwinian theory and style.

    And in St. John 1:1, the Logos is already pre-existent. And creation comes in at verse 3, and the Logos is that agent and “person.” And as the logos, the spoken word reveals the invisible thought, so the Living Word reveals the invisible God. (Compare verse 18). And this is the central revelation of the Triune God!

    Fr. Robert

  20. thegodguy says:

    Dear Spyros,

    Thanks for jumping in. The idea that science and theology are two different things results from trying to mix inadequate scientific models with inadequate spiritual doctrine.

    That current scientific models are inadequate is evidenced by the admission of physicists that they lack a fundamental understanding of quantum theory and the interpretation of the measurement process. Even more embarrassing is the failure of science to unify relativity theory with quantum physics. Therefore, a deeper theory awaits us.

    That current theology is inadequate is evidenced by the merely corporeal/sensual interpretation of the Holy Word, which only embraces the literal sense of the narratives. Sacred Scripture is actually a multi-dimensional document containing the top-down patterning principles of universal process.

    Unfortunately for physics, first causal principles and the key to the mystery of agency in the universe represent pre-space dynamics and metrics (when t=0). What will blow the doors off of the current models in science is that LOVE is fundamental substance.

    I am writing a book about such things entitled “Proving God.” It will offer a SCHEMATIC to show how the spiritual principles of Love provide a universal science – with explanatory and predictive powers.

    By the way, the ancient idea that the world lies on the carapace of a turtle has been amended. The world lies on an “infinite tower of turtles.” At least this ancient mythical idea now confesses that the finite universe is held up by an Infinite principle!

    Spiritually yours,
    TheGodGuy

  21. thegodguy says:

    Dear Fr. Robert,

    Yes, the Logos is pre-existent. But it contains the simultaneous order of God’s plan that must unfold itself successively in time and space. The Holy Word contains both theological doctrine and the patterning principles behind physical law.

    Spiritually yours,
    TheGodGuy

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