We are permanently interpreting evidence as it becomes available to us, and it is obvious from the wealth of information that we are amassing, that the poetic portrayal of the creation of the world in the Bible is just that, a poetic and symbolic interpretation of how the world presented itself several thousand years ago, with its inconsistencies portrayed as punishments for the ever present failure of mankind to live up to its own standards. Since then, we have realised that much of this changeability in the world has natural causes and has been ongoing even before humanity ruled the world, and it has been our struggle to cope even before we could read or write. The fact that our mythology sees a correlation between our behaviour and our trials may help us correct our behaviour, but it doesn’t help to promote the truth to reduce our understanding to that.
The discussion about the portrayal of gods and other supernatural forces in our ancient texts seems to split into two main groups, one the fundamentalistic understanding that these are true entities, and the other that they are primitive descriptions of forces beyond human influence. The problem seems to arise from the fact that the fronts are hardened and there is hardly any acceptance on either side. In the middle of this are people like Whitehead, who in various ways, try to reconcile and bring together both sides, but as a result, we are attacked by both sides.
The propositional assertion of each side oversees the truth that facts alone are not understanding. Whether in scripture or in scientific papers, the words that portray the corresponding perspective are not the understanding we need to proceed but are mostly restricted to specific areas of investigation. As Iain McGilchrist says, understanding always means interpretation and he quotes Whitehead:
“The production of a scheme is a major effort of the speculative reason. It involves imagination far outrunning the direct observations … Millions had seen apples fall from trees, but Newton had in his mind the mathematical scheme of dynamic relations: millions had seen lamps swinging in temples and churches, but Galileo had in his mind his vaguer anticipation of this same mathematical scheme: millions had seen animals preying on each other, vegetables choking each other, millions had endured famine and thirst, but Charles Darwin had in his mind the Malthusian scheme. The secret of progress is the speculative interest in abstract schemes of morphology.” (Process and Reality 56-8)
In a similar way, religionists tend to observe the world in the scheme of their scriptures, and we often see how strict observation also means a restricted view, overlooking the other facts of existence and interpreting experience only from scripture. We see continually how religionists attempt to bring experience in line with their scripture rather than scripture in line with experience. We have philosophical traditions that sound modern in some ways, despite coming from a distant past, and we also have traditions older than the biblical that reflect that, so the reconciliation is not impossible.
Iain McGilchrist says, “In the Tao Te Ching, it is said that ‘being and non-being produce each other’. The Chinese is notoriously such that it cannot be pinned down to just one interpretation. In this word-form it seems peculiarly abstract. The insight behind this saying, it seems to me, is one that I have touched on repeatedly; that creation is the precipitation of something out of unlimited potential into limited actuality, which then inevitably interacts further with potential, in such a way that potentiality influences what is further actualised. In other words, there is a continuous reciprocity or calling-forth between the potential and the actual, the unbounded and the bounded, in Whitehead’s terms between God and the World, each helping to shape the other. This meaning is perhaps more apparent in another translation: ‘what is and what is not create each other’. (The Matter With Things (pp. 1935-1936).)
Theories of Everything have been said to be “around the corner” for some time now, and religionists try to push their scriptures as such, but the observation of a continuous reciprocity or calling-forth between the potential and the actual, the unbounded and the bounded, is very old.
Erwin Schrödinger discussed the concept of the continuous reciprocity or calling-forth between the potential and the actual in life in his essay “What Is Life? The Physical Aspect of the Living Cell,” and in his chapter ORDER, DISORDER AND ENTROPY proposed the idea of “negative entropy” or “negentropy” as a way of understanding how life sustains and organizes itself. He argued that living organisms are able to maintain order and complexity (in the face of the Second Law of Thermodynamics, which tends toward entropy or disorder) by drawing upon a constant flow of energy and information. (Schrodinger, Erwin. What is Life? (Canto Classics). Cambridge University Press. Kindle Edition.)
In the chapter THE ARITHMETICAL PARADOX: THE ONENESS OF MIND, he summarises that the reason why our sentient, percipient and thinking ego is met nowhere within our scientific world picture can easily be indicated in seven words: because it is itself that world picture. It is identical with the whole and therefore cannot be contained in it as a part of it." This reflects a perspective that shares some similarities with panentheism and holistic philosophies, because Schrödinger’s statement suggests that the conscious and thinking self is not something separate from the universe but is, in a sense, the universe itself.
In My View of the World, Schrödinger says, “…call to mind that sense of misgiving, that cold clutch of dreary emptiness which comes over everybody, I expect, when they first encounter the description given by Kirchhoff and Mach of the task of physics (or of science generally): ‘a description of the facts, with the maximum of completeness and the maximum economy of thought’; a feeling of emptiness which one cannot master, despite the emphatic and even enthusiastic agreement with which one’s theoretical reason can hardly fail to accept this prescription. In actual fact (let us examine ourselves honestly and faithfully), to have only this goal before one’s eyes would not suffice to keep the work of research going forward in any field whatsoever. A real elimination of metaphysics means taking the soul out of both art and science, turning them into skeletons incapable of any further development.”
So, we are not talking about separation of these fields, but realising that it is a matter of soul, it is, as Iain McGilchrist wrote, that science and religion must observe nature with the wonder of poets:
Matthew Segall notes that ‘Nature was no mere appearance for Schelling, but rather the living ground and visible body of an eternally incarnating divinity.’ Not a divinity that had incarnated once, note, but one that is always incarnating itself in the evolving cosmos. For Schelling, and it is a position to which I subscribe, the imagination is not, as for Kant, a faculty that creates merely the best we can manage as a re-presentation of the world; nor is it making the world up from scratch. It is collaboratively allowing the world to presence, bringing the world into existence; and if it is the case that the soul is not separable from the God that is the ground of all that is, this is entirely in keeping with the imagination helping to constitute the world as it really is. This is remarkably similar to Eckhart’s deep insight that ‘the nature of God … is to give birth,’ and that the birth happens in the soul of each one of us.
McGilchrist, Iain. The Matter With Things: Our Brains, Our Delusions and the Unmaking of the World (p. 1914). Perspectiva Press. Kindle Edition.
Elohim’s identity is then, a projection of metaphysical speculation, which needs poetic consideration rather than the interpretation as an entity.