Sometimes the confluence of events in my life takes my breath away. I have one foot planted firmly in the Spiritual and the other in the Scientific. I have no problem resolving contradictions in the one, nor do I regard the ever-expanding knowledge about the Universe as a threat to my spiritual well-being. The more science tries to disprove God the more I find revelations of God. Not the Santa Clause God that so many rely on, but a God far bigger than the most radical imagination could conjure up. Instead of limiting my understanding, I try and maintain a willingness to be surprised. If it comes in prayer, or in reading the latest revelations around the Big Bang, I try and let it come. The last day or two has reinforced my belief that science and spiritual seeking are not mutually exclusive but are partners in the search for larger Meaning.
Every Friday, I visit Edmonds Bookshop on my way home from work. Every Friday payday, money burning a hole in my pocket as my grandmother would have said, finds me perusing the shelves for some intriguing nugget. Mary Kay the owner greets me and announces to the other staff, “it must be Friday!” I feel like Norm from Cheers. History, Sports, Fiction, Non-Fiction, I have an eclectic range of interests. Sometimes I’ll choose a book from a staff recommendation. Yes, this is also a ringing endorsement of Edmonds Bookshop.
This past Friday I was again faced with every reader’s dilemma. So many books so little time. I picked a book up, carried around the shop for awhile until I found something else and returned the original to the correct shelf and wandered around some more with my newest find. Last night I found Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil deGrasse Tyson. The jacket blurb said this: “…Today, few of us have time to contemplate the Cosmos. So Tyson brings the universe down to Earth succinctly and clearly…in tasty chapters consumable anytime and anywhere in your busy day.” YES!! This was going home with me, and since I was feeling particularly flush I also picked up Brad S Gregory’s Rebel in the Ranks, a book on Martin Luther. So, there you go, my spiritual and scientific sides coming to some basic agreement in my local bookstore.
I jumped into deGrasse Tyson immediately upon getting home, Luther will have to wait for another day. Sipping a glass of wine, I dug into the first chapter which is an incredible journey back to the day the universe began. As promised de Grasse Tyson provided a primer on the science behind the Big Bang. There was some issue taking with religious interpretations, but it was low key and tame and to my contemplative mind read as a reverential description of our origins. There were portions I had to read a couple of times, discussions of matter and anti-matter, neutrinos, hadrons and boson particles tend to befuddle me, even stripped down conveniently by the author. Yet, when he described the formation of the earth in “The Goldilocks Zone” around the sun, I got it immediately. Not too hot, not too cold, but just right for the billion-year process that resulted in humankind. Then came the zinger, “We are stardust brought to life, then empowered by the Universe to figure itself out- and we’ve only just begun.” Here was an admission of sorts that the universe might just be self-aware, and we are vital to the universe’s education about itself. Or to put it in a spiritual sense, God knows God through our sense of God in our surroundings.
The real confluence came this morning as I dug into a reflection by Father Richard Rohr on the Creation. Rohr is no literalist; he is a man of deep and abiding faith. His Center for Contemplation and Action is just what it sounds like, a search for meaning through reflection and contemplation coupled with a commitment to creative action in the world. There is more to it than that, and I could go on for hours, but the point is that this morning a line in his meditation caught my eye. “The created realm is not an artifact but an instrument through which divine life becomes perceptible to itself.” Wait, what? De Grasse Tyson and Rohr were echoing off each other and the confluence, as I said at the outset, took my breath away. Words from Carl Sagan, host of the Original Cosmos series and unapologetic atheist also echoed down the passageway between evidence and ethereal, “The cosmos is within us. We are made of star-stuff. We are a way for the universe to know itself.”
I can’t prove God, I only know what I know and what I experienced in the last 24 hours. I’m not sure that science will ever disprove God. I’m content to let Cosmos/God speak to me however She sees fit and not get hung up on the details.