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Reality: God's Secular Name
"Reality is that which, when you stop believing it, doesn't go away." —Philip K. Dick
For all of human history, cultures have created gods, and stories about them, to explain the powerful natural forces that were beyond our control, comprehension, and often ability to cope. For millennia "God" has been little more than an catch-all cosmic concept for everything from thunder bolts to comet trails.
But as science began to show us what really caused natural phenomenon, bit by bit, God faded into the distance, and our supernatural notions became irrelevant or trivial. Real answers to ancient mysteries emerged, and we were left with old stories that didn't quite make sense or ring true in any deep, this-world, realistic way. Until recently...
In the last decade a new way of experiencing God has emerged from within religious traditions around the world, grounded in our best scientific understandings of physical, biological, and cultural evolution. Millions of religious folk have moved from merely thinking about God as some unnatural, otherworldly entity to experiencing God as natural everyday reality filled with awe and mystery—no religion required. It's one of the reasons why so many people polled say they are "spiritual" but not "religious."
For evolutionaries, God is no less than a sacred proper name—a meaningful personificaiton—of ultimate reality, seen and unseen. God is the "Abba" or cosmic father that Jesus knew he was one with and we were all children of. God is the rainbow we can see with the naked eye and the infrared light we can't see. God is the fabric of reality, the very matter and energy of which we are made and the empty space that allows it all to be. As I discuss briefly in Chapter 6 of Thank God for Evolution:
God is the Mystery at the Center of our amazement that the Universe is here at all, that it is what it is, and that it is always becoming, yet always somehow whole.
God is the Mystery at the Heart of consciousness, conscience, compassion, and all the other forms of co-creative, co-incarnational responsiveness of life to life.
God is the Mysterious Omni-Creative Power through which the Universe is and ever becomes more intricately and wondrously fulfilled through the interactions of all its parts (each of which contains a spark of the Whole).
Science is now how we seek truth about the nature of reality, of which we are an inseparable part. Anything short of serious group inquiry into the nature of reality is nothing more than someone just sitting around thinking about God.
Those who speak on behalf of reality are the true prophets of our age, whether they be religious, nonreligous, or even anti-religious. I'll say more about this in future blog posts.
"Science is, at least in part, informed worship." —Carl Sagan