Friday 30 April 2021

More about Religion

I wrote here some time ago about religion and my Christian faith. I guess I have experienced two main phases in my Christian journey. Firstly it was big evangelical meetings when I was in my teens, then cathedral services which of course could not be further from my original experiences. One great influence was the music of Bach and all the other great composers who wrote such wonderful spiritual church music.

But during the past year or two, I have started thinking a lot about beliefs which I have taken as read for many years. And I find myself rejecting some traditional Christian ideas such as redemption (maybe it came from Paul) but at the same time being totally believing about the Resurrection, life after death, healing and miracles in general. For many years, I accepted the idea that Jesus died for my sins. But I wasn't even born. It is suggested that I require forgiveness for something that happened 2000 years ago. Maybe that was a weight that I carried around with me for many years.

I don't believe prayer is a supplication to be given a negative or positive reply, I see it as peer to peer. I don't see how Christianity is a kind of ticket to everlasting life whereas other religions (or even agnostics) don't qualify. We are all made up of atoms and are subject to the same physical laws (many of course which we don't understand, so we call them "supernatural"). I believe in God but as part of the whole mass of living cells and inanimate objects in the world and in the universe. Therefore I don't believe that God acts in the world (hence no problem with, "How does God allow...") Theodicy (I just learnt a new word!) 

I read recently that the atoms which make up our bodies change completely over a period of about 7 years. And I also read with interest about the vast empty (?) space between the nucleus of an atom and its electrons, not to mention the almost impossibly small size of an atom. This has made a big impact on my spiritual beliefs, strangely enough. It makes it more credible to me that we are all part of the same world and that the border between me and the outside world is not a hard barrier of skin but rather.. well nothing much at all!

I believe our minds are outside the constraints of our skulls, I think we are all connected. Memory interests me greatly, is that outside the head also? (In a block universe maybe, where we can re-experience the moods and smells of events many years ago). When I die, I like to think of myself just taking a step sideways into the part of me that was always outside my body and not subject to its atrophy. So my main fear of dying is leaving behind lots of junk in my home for someone else to clear up!

I started reading about quantum mechanics, firstly about Erwin Shrödinger's famous cat and then I followed other books by the same author. Then I discovered "What is Life?" written by Schrödinger which talks a lot about God whereas one would expect it to dismiss the idea. I bought The Perennial Philosophy by Aldous Huxley because Schrödinger refers to it (but it is really heavy going!) And then, as a result of reading his obituary recently in The Times, I discovered John Polkinghorne who also worked in particle physics and who later in his life was ordained as a Church of England priest. I bought a small paperback of his (it is not available on Kindle). But of course, there is much of his work that I can read online or in my Kindle. I will be interested to see what he says because I think I am travelling a similar path. I realise now that I could easily have found him with a search "science and religion". 

Placebos and Dark Matter

What do these two terms have in common? Well, they are both bandied about by believers and sceptics alike as being real. Placebos are an accepted part of research into a new drug, for example. But how is it possible? That believing that one will get well, actually makes us better. But this seems to be accepted in general. So in that case, pain that is "in the mind" - in other words psychosomatic illness should also be accepted by everyone. If the mind can make us better then presumably it can also make us ill. But many people dismiss the latter as not being real. I believe the pain is real and the cause is something that is occurring in the mind, it is not an injury or something such as arthritis.

I have a friend who is content to live under the label of fibromyalgia until I say that it is the doctors saying that they don't understand the cause, maybe it is in the mind. Then he gets annoyed with me because he says that the pain is real. Of course the pain is real, I am not saying otherwise but, because the cause may be psychosomatic, he considers this to be an insult. Nooo, nothing to be ashamed of. The mind is very powerful, more powerful that we can understand.

For most of my life I have had a pain which it is almost impossible to summarise - sometimes it is mental and it makes me depressed, sometimes it causes physical stress, which is obviously real. Sometimes its effects change withing seconds, depending on where the pain is situtated (usually in the region of my head or neck). Sometimes it blocks all feeling which is the worst feeling of all. I suppose you are expecting me to tell you the cause but even at my advanced age, it is still a mystery. Sometimes I think it is because for much of my life, I have lived as a guy but inside I feel female. I just don't know. And it has defeated the various psychologists who I have visited over the years. Now I have lost my feeling for painting, which makes me sad. I wanted to buy a studio in Lanzarote but, if I have no desire to paint, then it would be a waste of money. For many years it was a dream but such a place would have been too expensive where I live in Catalunya.

Now where was I? ....

Dark Matter is another of those terms which are used by most people, many of whom are not really considering the implications in what they are believing - rather as in the case of placebos. How is this possible? That about 27% of the universe is made of of something that we are unable to detect except by gravity. As if we can see the shadow of something but we are unable to see the source.

I cannot understand people who say that what we see is all that there is, that there is very little more to discover. People have said that through the ages and have been shown to be embarrassingly wrong. It is clear to me that we live in a world which is truly amazing and, despite the huge advances in science and technology, that by comparison we know nothing.

So I believe that the greater knowledge I have gained by reading about quantum mechanics for example, has taken me closer to God. But it is not the God of the Garden of Eden, it is a God very much alive through Jesus. It is not the God that I was taught about in my teens, it is a God that I can almost touch!



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