Theory of everything? Metaphysics, God & evolution

Hi all,

Well, I’ve chosen an enormous topic to try and talk through - I genuinely hope it is one people will find interesting and meaningful. I feel quite excited I suppose at the idea of talking this through (“Neerd” I comically imagine someone saying :nerd_face:, not really ha). But if so I’d take it - feeling like a kid in a candy store thinking about all the many ideas connected to all this and hoping to learn a bunch.

Compared to many on this forum, I am but a mere babe among the many giants in the BioLogos scene. I want to say that I have a lot of respect for this forum - I see it as a place where many uniquely positioned, intelligent and informed people are placed to talk about very deep and interesting topics. You don’t really get that much in life. I actually feel privileged to be able to put questions out here for people to consider.

A bit of background as to why I’m putting this set of questions out there can I suppose be tracked in my first post (with all its unfolding, messy and often tomeishly long ‘I’m losing my faith, no’ feels). I’m still very much on a journey - and I love my Jesus but yeah, things are incredibly foggy and murky for me right now. This discussion will be really interesting for me personally amidst all that but I also think it’s just an incredibly interesting topic generally - one Christians and those with Christian minded thinking probably talk about very rarely. I suspect there is a lot of gold in the relatively untouched soil here.

I learnt a lot through the course of my first thread. One such take away was that to keep things more concise and avoiding ‘tomes’! (“Booo” to tomes I also comically hear). So I’m going to be disciplined here (edit: my initial boundary of how long each post would be didn’t work out :upside_down_face: but they have been shorter!)

So … what are people’s thoughts about how to understand the spiritual unseen world in the context of evolution? What is the spiritual unseen world? Is it a totally ‘other’ dimension or is it indeed part of our dimension … but beyond what our limited physical senses have evolved to detect? How do we distinguish what we (humans through time) think is real about metaphysical/the spiritual and what actually is real about it? And what about our friends the angels and foes the demons, not to mention spiritual gifts etc? Thoughts??

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The spiritual realm as we might try and call it is something beyond the physical realm that we know within the bounds of time, space, our senses and reality itself in my opinion. But also at the same time, this alternate reality/realms bleeds out because we have a God who wants relationship with us humans and thus we can expect some wacky events to take place such as the Gen. 28:10-17, espically the part in which Jacob see’s the ladder of angels going up and down and the vision that goes along with that. There is also my favorite verse in the Bible in Gen.32:24-32 in which Jacob wrestles with God which would have been interesting to watch. There are many stories of many of these beings and God Himself interacting in our reality but its also true with the fallen entities which we call “demons/devils” which i will answer about later.

Ever since the start of human migration out of Africa humans have been aware of something higher then them and this is the origin of religion outside of the Bible in my opinion. While Adam, Seth, Enoch, Noah and others had relationship with God, others grappled with the idea of deities and religion. Perhaps God may of came in contact with some of these people but they took on superstitions and fears of the times of the unknown and mistook God for creation out of ignorance. Even today we struggle to know about the supernatural and try to grasp at it but it is so out of reach. What i think we need to know is that there is something far beyond us and God is at the head of it all and He deserves glory, honor and worship.

The angels are beings that God made for some reasons or another (we get only a small glimpse of what God has them do within the Bible such as guardians, messengers and even leading worship but that’s probably scratching the surface i bet.) Demons are from what we can tell, beings that have rebelled against God (but are not out of His control) these beings seem to be hostile to humans for one reason or another, either out of jealousy of God’s love toward humanity or some other malicious purpose we don’t know of. The Satan/Devil seems to “maybe” be the ring leader of the whole lot of fallen entities, if not then the most “powerful” of them and seems to be leading the show along. The Satan seems to have had a position of a judge from what we can tell by his name "(Satan/Devil means the Accuser) and we seem to see this demonic activity rise during Jesus ministry on earth, as if they knew something was up and their time was short (many of them actually think the Day of Judgement is already upon them as told in Mark 1:24, "saying, “What business do we have with each other, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us?” and Mark 5:7, "and shouting with a loud voice, he said, “What business do we have with each other, Jesus, Son of the Might High God? I implore You by God, do not torment me!” On spiritual gifts, I personally believe that the gifts of the Holy Spirit are for the Church today for the building up and edification of the saints. These gifts are not from human will or nature but from God and thus we cannot explain how they come about asides from saying they are gifts from the Spirit but other then that its a mystery.

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I believe physical things are those which are a part of the mathematical space-time structure of the physical universe. They are what they are by the relationships they have with the whole. Spiritual things are not a part of this structure or any structure at all. And this is the only reason why it is “unseen” – not because it is invisible by nature but only because it isn’t part of this system of natural law that forces it upon everything else in that same system. Spiritual things are what they are by their own nature alone. Thus in that sense you could say that spiritual things are not in a different dimension or universe. It is more like… they are their own dimension or universe – existing according to their own rules created by our own choices. And therein lies the danger… the spirit is only alive if we choose life. Our self destructive habits makes for a spirit which dies rather than lives.

Our experience of reality is primarily subjective. The objective is an abstraction we construct by comparing our experiences to those of others. The methods of science is particularly good at this and gives us excellent reasons to think there is an objective reality out there. BUT there is no evidence whatsoever that reality is exclusively objective – i.e the same for everyone and completely uncaring of what we may want or believe. Indeed, I think the laws of nature are the only reason there is anything objective about reality at all. The spiritual not being a part of such a system of rules is quite different – nothing is forced on anyone and it is all essentially subjective.

If their is anything like a spiritual law it is because of simple logical facts about the nature of our desires. Are they ultimately worthwhile? For example, have you heard of a pet rock? I have no doubt that you can get a lot of enjoyment out of such a thing. But what can the rock do to respond to all the love and care you put into it? Thus I would say that it does matter what you pour all your love and care into. Not all choices are equal. As for God… not only is He more able to respond to everything you give, but there is no limit to what He has to offer us as well. Learning, growth, and realizing our potential is the very essence of life and it is in God we can find this without limit. This is why we believe and say that God is the source of life.

So what is real? All of it can be real to us. But that is not the only important question. Just because it is real doesn’t mean it is worthwhile. Regardless of whether demons are real, I don’t see how they can be worthwhile. I believe that angels are spirits created by God to act has His agents in the universe – a product of design and thus more like machines/tools than living beings. I do not believe they have authentic free will – only the kind of imitation you might find in a computer AI or computer game NPC.

Unfortunately many people don’t take the spiritual world seriously or they say there is no possible way to detect it. I have outlined in the Wgner’s friend thread here (my first thread here) that there is evidence for the soul’s immaterial existence (consciousness). Indeed, if quantum mechanics tries to incorporate multiple conscious observers in the analysis, all sorts of logical contradictions arise. Logical contradictions mean that the assumptions going into the theory are contradictory–I learned that in my grad work in philosophy. At least I got one good thing out of it. lol

Anyway these contradictions have been experimentally verified. And the conclusion seems to be that quantum doesn’t apply to human consciousness–and that is very interesting to me. It means consciousness is not subject to the laws of this world and if our consciousnesses are not of this world, then, well, what is the problem with the rest of the unseen world? Why can’t it exist as well? No, we don’t see it but that doesn’t mean it is there.

There is one other fascinating philosophical fact out there (I will not use any quotations, a technique I am famous or infamous for), and that is the holographic principal. It turns out that all the math we physicists use in a 3d universe can be converted to an equivalent 2 dimensional surface. which of course raised the question “What are we?” If every gurgle of my stomach is a set of mathematics on some two dimensional surface, …well, what exactly does that mean for metaphysics? I don’t know but I can say, It certainly calls into question our ability to say that this 3 dimensional world is reality. (I have simplified the holographic view a bit for understanding purposes, but it is basically correct.

Thanks for your thoughts. I’m trying to keep my replies fairly tight (the 4 paragraphs thing, eah, nigh impossible!) - there is just so much to say about this whole topic, so bear with me

This indeed is kind of where I’m at. In many ways, what I’m trying to work through here is something of an epistemology in relation to the spiritual realm. How do we truly know the things we think and believe about the spiritual realm are actually true? Like really? Part of this questioning is connected to my realising the Bible does not concord with actual reality but is very much a reflection of the thinking and belief systems that were around during the time it was written. So, for example, there are various references in the Old Testament that seem to reflect the understanding that the spiritual realm where God and the gods lived was up above. But we now know there is no such secret world up above - just clouds and such, and if we go even higher up, essentially just empty nothingness in space. In the same way, we know with fair certainty that there is no ‘hades’ or ‘Sheol’ like place inside or ‘under’ the earth. In this sense I would suggest that your comment

does not fit the understanding the Biblical authors had when they wrote about the things of the spirit. It is a later conclusion is it not? But what was the thinking behind your conclusion and how do you know it is right? I don’t disagree with you about it - I’m just trying to dig at people’s thinking as to why they believe what they believe about the spiritual.

So my thinking right now is this - if the Bible reflects ancient understandings of the physical and spiritual world (let’s not forget geocentricism while we’re here) and those views are not actually true - how can we rely on the Bible to inform us of what is true about the spiritual realm? In the same way that the Bible did not tell us about the most formative and essentially foundationally raw aspect of the natural world, in that everything evolved over billions of years … could the Bible also not have told us about deep and very foundational aspects about the spiritual world? We humans had to discover evolution independent of the Bible, the Bible actually suggested otherwise. As hard as it is to ask - how do we know a similar kind of reality is not the case for the things of the spirit realm? That’s a tough and kind of weird question but I hope it cuts through. In line with this, I respectively note much of what you have said about how the spiritual realm works is based on scripture - I felt the same way for a long time. But I’m reassessing now.

At the moment I am reading about the evolution of religious thought itself. It really is fascinating. If we believe in evolution - including the natural extension of evolutionary thought as it applies to humanoid development (over million to 100,000s of years), we can kind of trace religious thinking from an interesting perspective. I’ve been learning how there are two main factors about how religion developed through human evolution - 1) cognitive preferences and 2) the unique contributions to social cohesiveness that only religion can bring. Indulge me as I explain;

The cognitive preferences are basically summarised as a tendency to look for agency in outside stimuli, something which developed as a result of the benefits of always assuming a ‘rustle in the bushes’ wasn’t just wind but could indeed be a predator. If it indeed was just wind, no harm done, but if our ancestors were determined to think it was just wind, they’d be lunch. Natural selection then had preference for a brain that would always look for links between things, that would connect the dots etc, as this was an adaptive advantage. That switch never got turned off though and the left over aspects of this thinking formed the basis, slowly, of religious thought; thunder must be the gods being angered, strange phenomena must be caused by outside agents etc etc. Then there is the second aspect of the evolution of religion comes in - social cohesion. Back in ancient times, there was no way to entirely police whether agreed rules about right or wrong were being adhered to - and if people tried, they had the risk of revenge coming to them, which would not be an adaptive development. Policing was costly. Enter religion. It really is extremely adaptive for societies to develop the idea that gods and other such beings, ancestors perhaps, were watching and could punish social wrong doing. How convenient an adaptive way of thinking is that?(rhetorical). Religious behaviour also acted (and still does) as a very strong unifying factor for ancient tribes etc - where people could feel safe and as though they belonged if they adhered to the same set of beliefs as others.

It’s in this context I am trying to understand how we might go about knowing what is and isn’t real about the spiritual realm and therefore ultimate truths. Heavy duty. But I like heavy duty - “let’s roll up our sleeves and get stuck into it all” is my feeling. Like, if we believe and base our lives, actions and emotions on the belief that God lives in the spiritual realm and created all things from it; that our ultimate destination is connected to the governance of this realm (Kingdom of heaven) and that much of the darkness and evil on the earth is at least associated with an evil realm (the red dragon and his angels were cast down to the earth) - it’s kinda important to properly understand and be really convinced, rock solid of all that…
But doing so is faaar from easy talking into account all the above.

I don’t disagree with you but … I guess I’m curious to know what basis you’re working from to make those statements? Are your conclusions based on the Bible? General observation and logical deduction? Something else or a combination of all?

I’d ask the same question. Interesting also your comment about the spiritual realm and our choices - I believe there is a deep/strong connection between the two but I don’t know how it all works, at all. I’m hoping to try and tease out more understanding over the course of this thread. Really, for me, this is something akin to feeling my way through a dark room. I’d be surprised if anyone else felt they could clearly see through in that room (the room that is the things of the spirit) and if so, I want to hear from them and understand how and why

Can you say more about that?

Indeed, what is real? How does reality work and fit together? These are my questions right now. These are the questions of the ages - we humans desire to know how things work and fit together. As I described in my above post, in the past this has led us to come up - collectively across the world in different times and places - with all manner of religious thinking but now as we the ‘cold light of dawn’ sets in about evolution and all its implications - we still want to know: how, why, is there something more, something ‘outside’ and if so, how do I understand it?? I’d ask … is there some kind of ‘theory of everything’ where the way the physical world and spiritual worlds work are in fact not all that seperate - perhaps relating to the space between the proton and electron in an atom, relating to the electro-magnetic charge that holds those two ‘things’ together in perfect unison. What is electro magnetic charge and where did it come from? I mean really - what actually is it? This is some of my thinking right now as I feel through that room that is the spiritual world with my blindfold on. I guess we are all feeling our way through that room? Sometimes we bump into each other - plenty of fights have started through history that way. Many have virtual reality headsets on, of specific religious thinking and understandings too …

My conclusion is that since we have dug very deep in the earth we haven’t yet to my knowledge found little red devils dancing around a camp fire or that we haven’t broken the skies heading into space and seen Heaven and God. Thus, in my opinion, we must conclude that Heavens and Hell are places far beyond our own realm. The Biblical authors are at the same pit we are in, we are working in our environment in what we try and know about the spiritual realms and thus we are at a disadvantage as they are. I feel that the spiritual reality is far beyond our understanding and would prob leave us in shock in how foreign it would be to our reality.

I fine it interesting as well and see how religion formed outside of the Bible and how they evolved over time to the forms of major religions we have today. How I see it is this, while other people made religion out of a need to answer unknown questions of the nature of the universe or an answer to fears of superstition (and I feel it a mix of the two) the religion that we find in the Bible is unique as these ancient individuals came into contact with the Living God. In fact, I believe that God put in humans hearts to know Him and seek Him, thus the reason why we see early humans turn to many things to fill the void of God and why we today in the 21st century will turn to many secular things to fill that void in which only God can fill.

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Hi @gbob

Very interesting - I’m not very good/still learning to navigate my way around BioLogos, would you mind linking in that study or copy and pasting the key bits?

Consciousness is indeed a mystery. Interesting how you suggest consciousness itself is connected to the spiritual realm. I have in the last several months come into the general concept that all things may be conscious to some degree or other - and that the more complex the organism, the more advanced and detailed their state of consciousness. Personally, I can see the good sense in this, eg a Labrador as one of the more intelligent dogs, is aware of itself, aware of others and even others’ emotions etc, a gerbil is probably aware of itself but perhaps only very basic emotions? and a spider, well, that and similar level creatures I’d say would just live at the level of the instinctual, which is also in us as humans but we have a lot more software add ons, so to speak. It’s pretty reasonable to suggest humans are far and away above a Labrador in terms of conscious state buuut I’d hazard a guess that if they had a few more million years of evolution (I hate talking like this, my old beliefs about God actually creating creatures really are gone - sigh - truth is better then fiction though) and developed some form of [adorable] language etc (a high level barking language that incorporated deep states of mind lol), even they would be asking at some point
“where did we Labradors come from, who and what made us and our human masters?”. I wouldn’t be surprised if they used God like concepts to fill in the blanks (giant bones would probably be part of their mythology too haha). At some point us loving humans would come in on it all, pat them and tell them what we know with a smile. But we don’t have any “humans best friend equivalent” to tell us - we’re the top of the tree and we’re it (gee I’m rambling here). We have to figure it out ourselves.

Kinda weird isn’t it. Makes me think of lots of things actually. For example, I’ve come across the concept of ‘the 4th dimension’ lately which can be created using some (I have no idea what) mathematical algorithm- so perhaps the concept you mentioned can be applied up and down. Check out this video The 4th dimension
I wouldn’t be surprised if the spiritual world was some kind of combination of 4th dimension logic combined with electro-magnetic energy and somehow, whatever the essence of consciousness is (in as much as it is a spiritual - non material concept). I’d totally like to learn more about this area.

Hi Christopher. there are two sources you can find this. It was retitled on biologos. The work was done with Gordon Simons as co-author. Biologos site Wigner’s friend And on my blog Quantum Soul

It is long, not easy but, I ran it past my preacher, non-scientist son and he could understand it. We had to cover all the issue. There is another items on my blog indicating that consciousness isn’t subject to the laws of physcis and might be easier. Here The Quantum Soul/Wigner’s friend I conceived the week after my cancer got to my bones. I have looked upon that as a cheer up card, because when you know you are going to die, one would like a bit of assurance that you go somewhere else, and materialism leaves us a very bleak world.

I don’t know how it is connected. I only know it is there. I can’t even get from the immateriality of the soul any theology to go along with that data. It is, therefore, only the briefest glimpse into the next world from the data of this one. Eastern religions attach their theology to it, I attach Christian theology to it, but in both cases that is done buy faith.

One of the significant differences between us an animals is that our vocalizations come from the neocortex and theirs from the emotional centers. I think this is related to our language ability but how we made that jump is not clear, not even to anthropologists. Two quotes from guys who don’t want a creationist explanation for our language.

"Even the seat of human language in the brain is special. The vocal calls of primates are controlled not by their cerebral cortex but by phylogenetically older neural structures in the brain stem and limbic system, structures that are heavily involved in emotion. Human vocalizations other than language, like sobbing, laughing, moaning, and shouting in pain, are also controlled subcortically. Subcortical structures even control the swearing that follows the arrival of a hammer on a thumb, that emerges as an involuntary tic in Tourette’s syndrome, and that can survive as Broca’s aphasics’ only speech. Genuine language, as we saw in the preceding chapter, is seated in the cerebral cortex, primarily the left perisylvian region."Steven Pinker, The Language Instinct, (New York: Harper/Perennial, 1994), p. 334

“*How could we move from communication systems in nonhuman primates to human language *
in a manner consistent with evolutionary principles? Arguments that humans are fundamentally different from nonhuman animals either set the stage for creationist explanations or simply avoid the attempt to develop a persuasive evolutionary argument. Bickerton’s proposal of a single gene mutation is, I think, too simplistic.” Steve Bradt, “Nonhuman primates appear capable of understanding only very basic grammatical structures,” Harvard University Gazette, Jan 22, 2004

We have some very different software add ons from the rest of the animal kingdom. What it means is up to the individual. One can have faith that evolution did it, or engage in creationist explanations. materialists would be horrified at that but there is no data either way and no evolutionary pathway has yet been proposed. Maybe it will be maybe it won’t.

My view is that the spiritual realm is not imaginable by us. Dogs, when leashed to a pole may wonder around the pole one way or the other, but eventually have his neck at the pole because the leash is wrapped around the pole. It doesn’t occur to him to reverse course. He will sit there an whimper. It is outside his cognitive ability. I have often wondered if we humans are not the same way–failing to sense, or understand the true nature of this universe. Yes, science has brought us far, but there are fundamental mis-matches between gravity and quantum which seem insuperable. We should keep trying to solve those things but it is possible our leash has wrapped around the pole and we can’t figure out how to go the other direction.

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For that matter, why assume the spiritual world has one fixed quality for everyone? It might be that what we experience of it reflects the expectations we bring to it. That is not at all the same as saying it is just imaginal. But couldn’t it be that the form it takes for us depends on our culture and experience?

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A theory of everything. That’s sure to encourage concise posts. haha

I agree with your timing, but I don’t agree that there was a “biblical” religion and an “outside the Bible” religion from the start. Here’s my problem with that scenario: It immediately separates humanity into two groups – the haves and have-nots. I suggest that humanity arose as a population and “fell” as a population. We’re all in this together.

Look at the consequences of the Fall. All of the immediate, physical consequences are explanations of natural phenomena. Why do snakes crawl and people hate them? Why do human women suffer so much more pain in childbirth than cows, sheep, goats, and every other creature? Why is survival such hard work, and why do we die? The “spiritual” consequence is banishment from the garden of God’s presence. If the Fall is to have any consequence – in other words, if the Fall happened at all – it must be a spiritual consequence.

What was the consequence? As Chrysostom characterized it, an ever-increasing cycle of sinfulness (Gen. 4-5) was the inevitable result of God withdrawing his influence after the Fall. The Spirit of God left the building, and we were left to our own devices. Hence the problem of God’s hiddenness. Those who are evil cannot look upon a holy God and live. He hid from us for our own good.

Not long after the “Out of Africa” migration, humanity invented totemism, shamanism, magic, and idolatry. Following the analysis of Morna Hooker (who published most of her life as M.D. Hooker to avoid the charge that a woman was teaching men) in 1959, evangelical scholars have been aware that Paul in Romans 1 is reflecting upon the Fall in Genesis 3. J.D.G. Dunn, one of the originators of the New Perspective on Paul, noted the “obviously deliberate echo of the Adam narratives” in Paul’s sequence of events. He comments that “it was Adam who above all perverted his knowledge of God and sought to escape the status of creature, but who believed a lie and became a fool and thus set the pattern (Adam = man) for a humanity which worshipped the idol rather than the Creator.” As Hooker observed, it’s from “this confusion between God and the things which he has made that idolatry springs.”

Here’s an interesting TEDx talk on the Roots of Religion by Genevieve von Petzinger from 2012. It could use a little updating on the theory of Enhanced Working Memory, but she’s since published her work on the meanings of prehistoric graphic symbolism in book form: https://www.amazon.com/First-Signs-Unlocking-Mysteries-Symbols/dp/1476785503

When did “biblical religion” begin? Abram was called out of paganism. Joshua 24:2 – "Joshua said to all the people, This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘Long ago your ancestors, including Terah the father of Abraham and Nahor, lived beyond the Euphrates River and worshiped other gods.’ "

The Lord returned in stealth and started his re-education project small. The same held true when the Son of God made his entrance into the world. He returned in stealth and started small. He still works that way.

Now,@Christopher_Michael, I realize your mind is on fire, but hold off on the “Gish gallop” and I’ll finish my reply in the morning. It may seem like everything has to be figured out tonight, but you’re putting together a jigsaw puzzle of your own making. The final piece can wait until tomorrow, at least. :wink:

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If everyone gets what they wish for, then humans are the creators of our own individual afterlife. What evidence makes you think we humans are that powerful?
.

Classical Christianity separates people into two groups with Jesus’ statement, “No man comes to the Father except through me”. Now one can say he was in error on that, but if he was, why beleive anything else he said about metaphysics or religion?

Wasn’t thinking about any afterlife. I don’t think the spiritual necessarily entails such a thing. I could be wrong. Anyone could.

I’m just saying that the spiritual may have an essence that is constant if it is experienced differently by everyone. In fact, that seems to be the way of it in the world.

Combination to be sure… In particular, what it takes for the Bible to have any meaning for me.

Hmmm… any explanation is libel to be quite long… maybe endless.

There is the old nonbeliever complaint (after all that is how I grew up), that they would prefer hell over heaven simply because they see no attraction to being in the company of all those self-righteous people they have encountered at church. In other words, what makes a place worth being in isn’t the scenery but the company. There are people who make any place hellish just by being there and others who make a place heavenly by being there. The one thing we can never escape is ourselves. So our real problems are bound to follow us wherever we go. For this reason, I don’t think it is about going some place but about being what we are. And if you think about it, this is where real justice must ultimately be found as well – that we are stuck with what we have made of ourselves.

Jesus said, ““Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal.” Frankly, right there you see the basic outline of what I have just explained. In this world we are at the mercy of forces outside ourselves and in the next world we are not.

First some basic definitions…
objective: that which is the same for everyone regardless of what we may want or believe and thus can be demonstrated on demand for a reasonable expectation that others agree.
subjective: that which is not the same for everyone but likely according to what we want or believe and what we personally experience.

So the point is that the only reason there is an objective reality is because there are these fixed laws of nature governing these things we experience which are demonstrable by written procedures which anyone can follow to get the same result. It is only in things like this that we can have any reasonable expectation that others will agree because others do not generally have the same personal experience of things.

What is real is what we experience. What sense does it make to say that what other people experience is not real? …like in the movie “The Matrix”… “If real is what you can feel, smell, taste and see, then ‘real’ is simply electrical signals interpreted by your brain” That subjective experience is the most basic reality and it is the intellectual constructs which we stubbornly impose to say what reality is apart from and ignoring what we experience which is the most susceptible to delusion. Thus I think it makes more sense to simply divide reality into the objective and the subjective – that which is same for everyone and that which is not the same for everyone.

So with science we have best means of getting at the objective aspect of reality – written procedures which give the same results no matter what you may want or believe. But life is not science and trying to be an objective observer only is a formula for complete failure in life, for our life is very much about subjective participation where what we want and believe is extremely important. Thus equating reality with the objective only is not a good idea – not really even self-consistent because life simply doesn’t permit this, and so one can only insist on this by indulging in self-deception.

Forcing all of reality into the scientific framework is like forcing all of mathematics into the set of rational numbers. Sure you can do such a thing but only at the expense of blinding yourself to everything else. Thus the only real theory of everything is not a scientific theory which has some rather important restrictions, but a metaphysical theory – i.e. a theory about nature of reality and being. In my case, this is a adaptation of Aristotle’s hylomorphism following the suggestion we see in science that everything as a form of energy including both things like matter and actions like motion. This suggests a substance monism which sees all existing things as some form of a universal energy-like substance of being itself. The advantage of the monistic approach is that it seeks explanations for the differences between all different things… and thus I explained the difference between physical things and spiritual things in this way as having to do with whether they are a part of this space-time mathematical structure upon which all the laws of nature are founded.

Did you know that if you try writing Einstein’s Field Equations of general relativity in 5 dimensions that you will get something that describes not only gravity but electro-magnetism also? This suggests that all of the laws of nature may be reducible the geometry of space-time just as Einstein explained gravity in general relativity.

Yes and no. It was before he died and rose, so was not about His sacrifice. It was also before the new covenant came, and in its setting did not mean that automatically everyone in the whole earth from that point who was out of earshot would go to hell if they did not hear and believe. In context, the disciples asked him how they could know the Father, and he said that he was the representation of him. So, in context it appears that Jesus was teaching them the main gist of the kingdom of heaven on earth, as is consistent with the Beatitudes, rather than how to go to heaven after death. I think. At least, I believe NT Wright says that, and it seems to make sense. I can’t find that note of his, but here is a similar one. Thanks.

Indeed. Hearing this is somewhat disheartening really, isn’t it? If even the Biblical authors themselves, who had the spirit of God inspiring them as they wrote were, as you say, ‘stuck in the same pit’ we are - what hope do we really have of actually understanding how the spiritual realm works? It’s hard to because I feel stuck - asking myself, can I trust the Bible as a reliable source to tell us things about this spiritual world? I mean, if it didn’t tell us about evolution in relation to the natural world, what is it not saying about the spiritual world? I believe the visions in, for example, Ezekiel are actual windows into the heavenly realm … but then I think about the book of revelation and, sadly, how much of it indeed seems to be a spiritual response to the dark marching beat of the twisted world at the time under evil, anti-Christ like Roman rule - rather than an actual picture or prophecy of events (I’ve looked into the book of revelation a bit from several angles and this, many concur, is the overall conclusion). It’s like the biblical writings are some response to current context and we have to almost peer over that so see the actual truth of things :pensive: That’s tiring and disorientating.

In all this, I’d just so love to read a book - from a Christian perspective or otherwise, that accurately describes how the spiritual world works - about angels, demons, heaven, hell, ghosts, spiritual phenomena, how to understand witchcraft and such and all that. One that actually accords as closely as possible with what might be called objective. If anyone knows of any such works - please, let me know.

In terms of God and early human religion, I don’t know - I’m finding it difficult to believe in ‘one universal God’ when it comes to this. That’s just me being honest (I want to believe in this … but the evidence makes it hard, classic line there for the many of us on these matters, perhaps). Sure, there are some vague cross overs of religious thought in the relatively narrow band of ancient Semitic peoples … but … that’s kinda it; ancient Babylonian, ancient Egyptian, ancient American Indian, ancient Australian Aboriginal religion etc - all quite different. Different gods, different stories. I have a working hypothesis right now that all ancient religions were stuck in the same pit as the Biblical authors - trying to figure it all out as best they could from their point of view … which strongly suggests the lack of a consistent, outside unifying force and rather the human mind it’s various contexts just trying to work things out. I don’t know - just makes the most sense to me.

Hi again,
A lot to get into there, I like it :slight_smile:

Firstly, I again just want to acknowledge that deep journey you’re on @gbob, especially with your health situation. Praise God that he holds you all through it - but it must be very confronting at times and these topics no doubt take on a deeper meaning as you say in light of all that.

Second, woah - that Nobel prize Steven Weinberg physicist you quote at the beginning of your Wigner’s thread post - what a guy. I plan/hope to do a deep dive into his works at some point. When looking him up on Google and following the bouncing ball of trying to understand him in a nutshell (for now) - I came across a very interesting article where he was interviewed and gave some candid responses to very deep issues, along with commenting on all manner of physical theories I know not about. Here is the link to that article:
Nobel Laureate Steven Weinberg Still Dreams of Final Theory 2015 interview with Steven Weinberg about physics and a ‘final theory’
Ah, and excuse the swearing at the start - the whole tone of the article is ‘let’s cut to the real juicy bits and forget the rest’, so yeah - didn’t not want to include it just cause of that.

I want to draw out two quotes in particular from that interview with Weinberg that struck me:

Blockquote
Horgan: Do you still believe in the attainability of a “final theory” of physics, one that ends what you called “the ancient search for those principles that cannot be explained in terms of deeper principles”?

Weinberg: I still expect there to be a final theory, but I’m less confident that humans will discover it in this century.
(emphasis mine)

The implications of Weinberg’s answer to the question of a final theory are immense - Weinberg is pretty much hailed as one of the living, breathing gurus of the physical sciences alive on this earth today (and, just saying, according to the interviewer he looks like some kind of regal elf which only adds to the effect of him being kinda ethereally majestic). Nonetheless, despite his guru status and deep, hard to compare with knowledge of physics, he says there is no final theory yet - but there might be - sometime in the 2100s! The implication of that is a real knock out wave. This envokes imaginary musings, Simpsons style, of me wanting to pay however many $10,000s it will be to have my body put in a deep freeze with instructions “wake me up in 2150” to see if this final theory has been discovered yet. Indeed, this elusive final theory. and to it I can only find the word right now - Selah. This ‘theory of everything’ - which is kind of what I and I think you (if I’m reading correctly) are suggesting must exist but we just don’t grasp it yet - indeed as per Weinberg’s comment above, we collectively as the human race are not there yet. What a goal to aspire to.

Connected to this, I note Weinberg is hailed for winning a:

Blockquote
Nobel Prize in 1979 for helping to show that electromagnetism and the weak nuclear force are different aspects of an underlying electroweak force.

This does make me feel better about my own personal theory that this “force” Weinberg has studied has to be connected, somehow, to the spiritual realm as well as the natural realm. How, I do not know. Through the course of this thread, I’m hoping to at least throw out some ideas that might get knocked back here and by that process, at least work out some of the ‘well it’s probably not this’ elements. I was going to make some comments about ghosts and the electromagnetic light spectrum here but I’m going to split that off into another comment/post - gotta try and keep things concise.

Anyhow, I’ve gotten side tracked (awe struck maybe) by Weinberg here. Referring to your post above, I’d love to read and ‘get into’ your other threads and blogs - I am to be honest a little intimidated/overwhelmed by the deep thinking, deep brain work that would be required to do that justice though - the lazy but perhaps efficient side of me wants to ask whether you could (pretty please :pleading_face:) somehow summarise the key findings; to whittle all that amazing research to the real core, key parts of all those works … maybe into 700 words total?? [Imaginary musing: “700 words! He wants me to summarise it all into 700 words … who is this upstart, phfwarh, ha, he - hmm, hm”
I’ve learnt, in my own career much of which entails written communication, including having to write many a court report and many a memo to executive level people - readers want to know ‘the main points, stat, cut the detail’. I’ve had in years past what I’d call “red pen destruction” lines through my work that has carved up my ‘beautiful constructions’ that took me hours :weary: but that red pen taught me some good lessons. You have an awesome amount of knowledge @gbob, I think you are literally brimming with it and having that more accessible to a wider audience would just be great.

Well, before I come across majorly hypocritical- I better wrap this little post on up. But don’t go away @gbob - I know you won’t :stuck_out_tongue:- as there are more things I’d like to ask you as this thread unfolds and I really - seriously - appreciate having a physical scientist floating around to approach, one who is a Biblical literalist no less (pre warning - I will he hitting you up with a few specific questions about that, in relation to general metaphysical topics, soon - sooon (comically ominous tone).

Till then (hat tip emoji)

@gbob
Toward capturing the bond of understanding between tome smiths

Randy, I would say this. The article you cite says:

In the most straightforward reading of Paul’s evangelism, he’s telling the Athenians that what they worship as unknown is really Jesus!

I would suggest 1, they weren’t doing much worship of that unknown god, and most importantly, Paul didn’t say they were worshipping the real god by engaging in temple prostitution. He didn’t say those other gods are Jesus. They are not a way to God.

Secondly, John is not the only thing indicative that Jesus is the only way. Jesus begged God to take away the resurrection, as if, if there were any other way to get the job done, do it that way. To have an actual other way to come to God except through Jesus, means that God the father needlessly tortured his son on the Cross. Such a God is repugnant to even us sinful humans. No father of any worth would torment his son needlessly. Thus, unless one wants to have that kind of God, I think Christianity is an exclusive religion–one of the few exclusive religions.

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

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