Ever since I read a book called The Tao of Physics years ago, I’ve thought that quantum physics will become the area where science and religion truly start to mesh.
Quantum physics won’t finally prove or disprove beliefs like the resurrection or return of Christ or the Assumption of Mary; rather, it will show that many of the ideas that the Eastern, India-born religions (Hinduism and Buddhism) and Gnosticism teach are actually functioning principles of the real world—ideas like
- uncertainty as true security;
- change as absolute and good;
- a continuously reproducing, self-sufficient, finite universe; and
- the presence of consciousness in everything, not just biological life.
These are less Eastern principles than they are mystical or esoteric principles. Eastern religions are just as dogmatic as our Western ones, but the founders of both Eastern and Western religions were mystics who sought the truth on their own—and then were grossly misunderstood by many of their followers over time.
Science and religion are two belief systems. Neither one really describes what’s going on here, although they have their respective corners on the “world view” market. Science is religion’s prodigal offspring. Whereas religion tends to make unverifiable pronouncements about the universe, science has striven to make verifiable predictions about the way things work.
Religion bred science, much like a holy-roller preacher might breed a pot-smoking hippie son: a result of the “pendulum effect.”
What I think we’re going to see as science and religion start to mesh is a unified, accurate description of Reality that is explained by the mystical among us (not the religious) and verified by the scientists. Somehow, some human beings seem to be wired in such a way that they can learn to perceive intuitively the workings of the universe without necessarily describing them in scientific terms or even knowing anything about quantum physics or general relativity.
We call these people “enlightened” or “awakened” or some such other term.
Maybe one of these people will turn out to be an influential scientist who can communicate equally well with both languages: science and mysticism, in the vein of Einstein. When examined beyond their differing descriptors, science and mysticism are really speaking the same language. They just look at things from different viewpoints.
To bridge the gap between science and mystical insight, we have to acknowledge the part of Reality that each describes: the outer (scientific knowledge) and the inner (mystic or esoteric insight). It’s very literally like uniting the left and right hemispheres of the brain. Each part has its function, purpose, and way of interpreting the universe, but it’s still one brain. Indeed, science is a left-brain function, while mysticism is all right brain.
It’s all one, if we can just see it! Both science and mysticism acknowledge this, in their own way. Science is seeking its “unified field theory” and mysticism seeks to unite the individual and God in some way. The end result is the same.
(Written in 2003 and freshly edited on December 19, 2016.)