I was first introduced to quantum physics through What the Bleep Do We Know!?, a 2004 hybrid film and documentary that seeks to explain the connections between science and spirituality.
Living (and freezing) in Boston, I tried to find comfort amidst my weekly existential crises and I remembered the film recommendation from before. In my eight layers of warmth, I waddled down to the local library to check out the three-DVD set. As I walked back to my overly priced apartment, I had no idea that my life was about to change forever.
This journey down the rabbit hole, as the film suggests, started my obsession of discovering more about consciousness. Weighed down with books, I made it my mission to learn more about these mind-blowing concepts introduced in the film.
I also thought it prudent to go the other way and study religion. I wanted a full spectrum perspective. I studied the Bible and converted back to Christianity after years of separating from the Catholic Church. In hopes of finding “the answer,” I was baptized and started to do missionary work in Thailand.
Through much introspection and guttural outcries for God and the meaning of existence, I realized that church and Christianity were not for me. While I may have decided to live a life outside of church, my lifestyle could be considered Christian; I practice the underlying principle of loving thy neighbor, as well as general human rights ethics. However, the confines of the structure and some of the beliefs interpreted from the Bible do not resonate with me.
Still searching to understand, I delved deep into Jesus and the history of his life, outside of the Bible. I gained a deeper understanding of the sociopolitical climate in which he lived and was given context to what I was told growing up. I wanted to discern my own beliefs through knowledge and education, rather than accepting “truths” without personal analysis.
Naturally, the timeless philosophical question arose, what is truth?
I’ve heard a lot of people speak about Truth. From philosophy to New Age to organized religion, it seems to be a keyword that triggers a lot of ideas. Whether it is Truth or truth, every school of thought has, well, their own thoughts.
According to philosophynews.com, truth is “a statement about the way the world actually is.”
Whereas, psychologytoday.com proffers, to find truth one should look to the lies.
One way to understand truth is simply to look at its opposite, or opposites, namely, lies and bullshit. Lies differ from bullshit in that the liar must track the truth in order to conceal it, whereas the bullshitter has no regard or sensitivity for the truth or even for what his or her audience believes.
And the argument for religion claims “The Bible is indeed truth” and then goes on to say that “authentic, biblical truth is inextricably linked to the dependable, unchanging character of God.”
Truth is a hot word these days amongst recovery programs and spiritual communities. The search for individual truth and the overarching Truth still fills many bookshelves in stores.
For a long time, the Bible was The Word and the mysteries of the universe were declared unknowable and attributed to the omnipotence of God, the Almighty Creator. That is, until science emerged.
Science Became Truth
After the Scientific Revolution, Truth was only believed if it consisted of quantifiable facts. Experiences and intuition were seen as less reliable and, according to historyguide.org, the scientific revolutionaries such as Copernicus, Descartes, and Newton “attempted to understand and explain man and the natural world.”
From earlier thought of accepting God’s omnipotence over the world, the Scientific Revolution was more interested in dissecting the once previously accepted ideas in order to understand the source and process:
Some men became more interested in the form of the miracle. Knowing that the cosmos was of divine origin and moved according to the will of God, some men embraced that Faustian spirit that wanted to know more. It was not enough to simply accept the existence of miracles — the miracles now had to be explained. These men wanted to know what order, to what hierarchy the miracle conformed.
This change of man’s thought process shifted the paradigm from spirituality explaining the workings of the universe to science being the ruler of the cosmos. It was “a revolution in human knowledge” that still has hold today.
From the shift of an omnipotent God or gods that controlled every aspect of nature and life, to science, a new wave of spirituality has been recalibrating the cross of science and religion. However, this shifting of spirituality and refocused worship is a pattern that transpires every few decades.
The Pendulum of Beliefs
Much like fashion, it appears that old beliefs and persuasions are recycled and repurposed every few decades. Case in point: the hippie era of free love and drug experimentation has now evolved, or rather, revolved to create the current spiritual climate.
Modern day hippies have recirculated with the idea of free love through broadening sexuality and plant medicine being appropriated into everyday life. From Woodstock to Burning Man, it seems that the paradigm of the “free spirit” has never left us, but rather transformed for the 21st Century, not unlike other movements and sects of society.
The 21st century has brought back the feminist movement with new force and vigor. Although, it could be argued that the feminist movement is still in effect from before, it is just evolving to fit the times and has reformatted the vision statement.
Women are rising up in power and speaking up about injustices. There is a sexual revolution happening with women reclaiming ownership over their bodies. However, this isn’t as new and revolutionary as people may think. Every few decades there is a resurgence of female sexuality in some form or another that seems to be unprecedented, however, to the contrary, it is just a recycling of women empowerment:
The truth is that the past is neither as neutered, nor the present as sensationalistic, as the stories we tell ourselves about each of them suggest. Contrary to the famous Philip Larkin poem, premarital sex did not begin in 1963. The “revolution” that we now associate with the late 1960s and early 1970s was more an incremental evolution: set in motion as much by the publication of Marie Stopes’s Married Love in 1918, or the discovery that penicillin could be used to treat syphilis in 1943, as it was by the FDA’s approval of the Pill in 1960. The 1950s weren’t as buttoned up as we like to think, and nor was the decade that followed them a “free love” free-for-all.
Historians and statisticians may be the ones who more clearly see the trends where society repeats itself. Each generation has its own battles with how they were raised and idealistic endeavors to revolutionize the future. What they don’t realize is that their parents and grandparents had the same ideas.
Today, this concept of recycling beliefs and the desire to change the oppressive paradigms of our parents is seen in how religion is being handled. The church is portrayed as restrictive and Millennials are searching for a new God and a new way to revere creation.
The New Religion
As generations and societies (re)evolve, there is a call for the newest revolution. 21st Century spirituality is the newest religion on the block, with clearly identifiable vernacular and implementation. While most spiritual practitioners would argue that their customs are nonreligious, I would argue the opposite.
Merriam-Webster defines religion as “the service and worship of God or the supernatural.” With this denotation, I would posit that the daily meditation and acknowledgment of the universe and Spirit as the guides of life are, in fact, religious.
The categorization of spirituality into religion comes down to a question of semantics. God has been transformed into Spirit or The Universe, similarly representing this omnipotent structure that essentially plays the same role as a monotheistic paradigm. It provides something to believe in, with an acknowledgment of some higher power or force.
While the structure and belief systems of each religion are inherently different, Christianity being Bible-centric, and 21st Century spirituality welcoming multiple schools of thought, ultimately, they are to the same effect. They are both blueprints and perspectives to view the world. Both include practices and forms of worship, therefore, by definition, current spirituality can be labeled as a religion.
“Religion” has a connotation (and history) of church and elitism, which has led to the current trend of decreased religious zeal:
Millennials — especially the youngest Millennials, who have entered adulthood since the first Landscape Study was conducted — are far less religious than their elders.
With the ever-changing sociopolitical climate and the exponential growth of the internet and social media, there is still a need for spirituality. Interestingly, while religious affiliation has decreased over the years, there has been an increase in Millennials feeling one with the universe, and a recent study conducted by the Pew Research Center states that Americans are actually becoming more spiritual:
About six-in-ten adults now say they regularly feel a deep sense of “spiritual peace and well-being,” up 7 percentage points since 2007. And 46% of Americans say they experience a deep sense of “wonder about the universe” at least once a week, also up 7 points over the same period.
As spirituality is quickly rising in status, how can it compete with science? There has long been the argument between science and religion, but what if there was a bridge between the two?
Enter, the quantum field.
Quantum Physics, or Quantum Mechanics, is the study of energy and matter on the smallest scale.
While quantum physics may not provide undeniable faith in God, it does help to bridge the gap between science and God. Physicist Stephen M. Barr responds to the question if quantum mechanics makes it easier to believe in God:
It doesn’t provide an argument for the existence of God. But it does so indirectly, by providing an argument against materialism (or “physicalism”), which is the main intellectual opponent of belief in God in today’s world.
What he’s saying is that it is not religion or God that is the adversary of science, rather, it is the attachment and worshipping of the physical world. Quantum mechanics actually gives hypotheses about consciousness and the afterlife.
More recently in 2007, one scientist claims to have discovered a theory within quantum physics that provides and [sic] explanation for death and afterlife. Dr. Robert Lanza, developed the theory of biocentrism which states that the existence of life and biology are central to being, reality and the cosmos — our consciousness. In essence, it is that life creates the universe, rather than the other way around.
The importance of this statement is that it is not the material world that dictates our consciousness, but quite the opposite; it is our consciousness that explains and defines the material world. Therefore, without our consciousness, our reality would not exist. This opens up a brand new can of worms that is not easily delineated other than by delving more into a spiritual frame of mind.
So while the argument has been science versus religion, it is more appropriate to clarify; the argument is actually Science vs. Christianity. Religion in its essence is the devotion and observance of faith, which can be represented by different beliefs.
Quantum mechanics actually strengthens the connection to the divine. While the evolutionists and the “Believers” will continue to argue the creation of the universe, it is safe to say that there is more to life than what meets the eye. I’d argue that science is no longer disputing God, but rather shining a light on just how limitless God is.
The gaining notoriety of quantum physics is actually a push to boost the connection of man and the supernatural. Irrefutably, from the perspective of science or religion, there is something more out there that remains a mystery and eventually comes down to perspective, and some form of faith.