Tuesday, June 18, 2019

God, Religion and Biocentrism

       God, Religion and Biocentrism
         Rambling Thoughts on the Nature of Being

        My dad died in my arms when I was 15 years old; he died suddenly from a heart attack, gasping for air, sprawled on the bathroom floor. We were alone and I tried to revive him without knowing how.       
       I began a long journey of blame and self-analysis, searching for answers to all the ancient questions like, “who am I?” “Why am I here?” “Where do we go when we die?”  I dabbled in everything and rejected everything. I considered becoming a Trappist nun after reading Seven Storey Mountain by Thomas Merton when I was seventeen. I didn’t. But I did join the Roman Catholic Church and for a time became devout. I observed no meat Fridays, Holy Days of Obligation; I had my babies baptized before they were six months old.  
       But I continued to explore. I ran the gamut, studying every off-beat version of philosophy, science and religion. I thought of myself alternately as a mystic, a Pantheist, a half-hearted Buddhist, and ultimately, an agnostic.  
       I studied the big bang theory and in my mind became a bit of stardust, believing for a time that is where we all came from as a result of this cataclysmic event – an explosion 13.7 billion years ago that created massive energy allowing us to drift around until we began to form into atoms and molecules.  And all that blustery energy stirred the primordial stew until there was our earth and the seas and sea creatures who gradually migrated to land and trees and... 
        When I was a child, my WASP-ish parents dutifully sent me to Sunday school and then my grandmother had me dunked at her Southern Baptist Tabernacle by Dr. Huston when I was somewhere around ten. When I embraced Catholicism, I grappled with a God who was cool and distant, who would have condemned me to an eternity of hell, fire and brimstone had I sinned mortally and not had the good sense to go to confession before getting hit by a bus. (That god led me into a miserable marriage – yes, miserable, but it produced four wonderful children whom I love with all my heart.)      
       The idea that I was a jot of mystical stardust from heaven was warmly comforting for a while and I basked in the knowledge that I was a creation of light and energy, exuding that life force into the world.          
       The “God is Dead” period in my life was difficult and demeaning. I was lonely without a God – believing that if in fact He wasn’t really dead, He certainly no longer gave a damn. He became to me the so-called “clock maker God” who created the multi-verse and then turned his back on all that he created and sold us to a pawn shop.        
       But I hung on to a belief in miracles. Because in hard times they came to me at the precise moment I needed them – to help me find a job, a buyer for my piano in order to pay the rent, to keep the house my kids and I were living in; to avoid an on-coming out of control semi as it roared down the mountain in my lane. My life was full of them.  Still I searched.  I wondered. I doubted.            
        Then I learned about the Quantum Theory.       
        Oh, but Quantum Theory (Mechanics, Physics, etc.) excludes the big bang, doesn’t it?          So I asked myself: how did we come to be if there was no beginning? We created ourselves is Quantum’s answer. In the quantum system, reality is in the eye of the perceiver and therefore nothing is really real unless someone observes it.       
       Not too long ago, scientists began looking for the God particle or gene or VMAT2 which they said would explain everything to everyone and bring back the God of my childhood, He, who crammed all his creating into seven days and nights, the God of Genesis.           
       After the end of my marriage, Religion began to lose all meaning to me and I stopped going to church. I soured on it all -- that is, all traditional religions including Christianity, Buddhism, Judaism, Islam -- believing they do more harm than good. The Bible, a revered piece of God’s Word became no more to me than a fanciful piece of literature, an ancient text filled with stories of ancient people, compiled and edited by those attending the Council at Nicea in 325, to include only those events and characters that supported the doctrine of Christianity (sold, in my opinion, hundreds of years earlier by Paul, a talented mythmaker who never even knew Jesus).       
       I don’t mean to offend the reader, here. But really, how much of the Bible is myth, especially the New Testament?  I know that Jesus walked the earth because of Josephus, who was his contemporary and a major historian of the time.  I know that Jesus lived, but was he God?                 
       History of the Crusades, the boiling in oil of non-believers, antics of Catholic priests, terrorism by the Jihadists, distortion of the Koran, all added to my disenchantment with religion. Think about how our Evangelical Pastors manipulate their congregations and make money off of their flocks (yes they do – especially through “televangelism” with Television pastors who fly around in their “Jesus Jets” and live in tax free mansions they call parsonages paid for by their supporters).       
       Religion became a joke to me.  Belief, on the other hand, was still an important part of my life.
       From the time I was a child chasing a lost spider or ant around the bathtub to keep from washing him down the drain, I’ve always loved and protected animals and nature. I remember sitting for hours watching my goldfish twist from side to side, then float upside down in his fish bowl; I prayed that he would live. He didn’t.  I had a turtle named Ike who was eaten by my dog, Tony. My dad told me he had wandered out of the house to find his mother in the pond down the street. I was heartbroken, but still I prayed that he would somehow amble his way back to me. But,  I prayed -- to someone or something.       
        My love of nature led me to Biocentrism, the belief that we and our animals, all sentient beings have worth and that we humans do not necessarily have dominion over the animal world. It fit perfectly with what was then becoming my belief system.    

The term biocentrism encompasses all environmental ethics that “extend the status of moral object from human beings to all living things in nature.” [5] Biocentric ethics calls for a rethinking of the relationship between humans and nature. It states that nature does not exist simply to be used or consumed by humans, but that humans are simply one species amongst many,[6] and that because we are part of an ecosystem, any actions which negatively affect the living systems of which we are a part adversely affect us as well,[6][7] whether or not we maintain a biocentric worldview.” [6] Biocentrists believe that all species have inherent value, and that humans are not "superior" to other species in a moral or ethical sense.
                                                        (From good ol’ Wikipedia)

        Of Course! The statement above implicitly includes our environment.       
       But, back to my dilemma. How then did our world come to be? And, who’s in charge?         Are the earth and its creatures created by God or did we just randomly appear and assume our roles as a result of an incredibly long evolution from stardust to sea creature to land beings? How does one make sense of it all?       
        And, really, do I want to put God back in my belief system?       
       Better Yet, can I have my God without Religion?       
       Western science has always maintained dualism, back in the days of the Greeks followed by the Romans.  Our western gods were separate and apart and living a life of luxury and war in their pantheons, but still experiencing similar emotions as we, such as love, hate, jealousy and wars. Still, we looked up to them.  They were above us. Western physicists, including Newton, managed to keep the maker in their theories of Physics. Newton defined creation as a grand happening, but it was always understood that there was a higher intelligence behind it.
        In most, certainly many, eastern religions, we are one -- the divine is within us – we are God.  And since I started practicing Yoga and studying the ancients, I realize that may be where I’ve landed and will end my life-long search for answers. Maybe we are God or at least, we are partly God.  We are the Source. So everything we say, do or think affects not just our family and friends, but our community and the world beyond.  Perhaps the new Biocentrists (who do embrace some of Quantum Theory) are correct – that our consciousness is the real creator.

I regard consciousness as fundamental. I regard matter as derivative from consciousness. We cannot get behind consciousness. Everything that we talk about, everything that we regard as existing, postulates consciousness.” – Max Planck, the originator of quantum theory (source)
       In the last ten years, two young scientists (Dr. Robert Lanza and Bob Berman) seem to express what I’ve been grappling with all these years – a theory that allows me to believe in something that is more than just randomness, although still with an abundance of questions – which will probably never be answered.  
       Did the Big Bang happen according to Biocentrism? Yes.  How? This is what they say:

The laws of physics seem to be exactly balanced for life to exist. For example, if the Big Bang had been one-part-in-a-million more powerful, the cosmos would have rushed out too fast for the galaxies and stars to have developed. There are over 200 physical parameters like this that could have any value but happen to be exactly right for us to be here. These fundamental constants of the universe aren’t predicted by any theory — all seem to be carefully chosen to allow for the existence of life and consciousness. (Yes, consciousness raises its annoying paradoxical head yet a third time.) Although biocentrism supplies answers, the current model has absolutely no reasonable explanation for this.                                   Robert Lanza and Bob Berman from Biocentrism

       The universe is over 95% energy – dark energy and dark matter -- and we are all a part of it.  We are all connected – to one another, to animal life, to plant life, to the entire planet.  We do not die, because our consciousness, (no, not the brain) lives on.  
       So then, what is consciousness?  We don’t know. What is dark matter? Still unanswered.  What is infinity?  We don’t know that either.  What happens to us when we die?  No one knows.      
       Thank you Dr. Lanza for satisfying my need to feel relevant.  But no thanks that your perfectly perfect “theory of everything” does not answer much of anything.  There are still questions whopping around my head. More than ever.      
      Was God involved?      
      Yes.  According to Lanza, etal. There was some knowing Power that made the conditions simply perfect for our world to become.  Remember, There are over 200 physical parameters like this that could have any value but happen to be exactly right for us to be here.”        If so, isn’t that a good thing?       
       Knowing there is a superior power out there should compel us to be good. And suggests we might live on after death.  If there were no motivation that leads us to “do unto others,” why should we?  If not heaven, hell, the fear of retribution, then why should we try so hard to do the right thing? Is this religion talking? Or does it matter?  Will my moral behavior propel me into a higher and richer existence, or a lower, more demeaning life than the one I am now living?  
       And what brought me to this life?  Was it my immoral and unforgiving behavior in a prior incarnation? Or a bargain I made at some celestial bus stop before being born?  Since I’ve had a pretty challenging yet fulfilling life this time around, perhaps it was because I lived a decent, moral life before. Do we live in a system of rewards, then?  
       And. I know I am happier when I live morally -- when I am generous and giving and grateful for what I have.  I am unhappy when I allow myself to sink into resentment, anger, revenge or retribution. 
       Perhaps that means we are naturally imbued with a sense of morality, goodness and love. And when we reject those things, we are out of balance.  And so is our world.  Perhaps this is our moral imperative. To be good. Not because of fear or a possibility of reward, but because it behooves us to be good – to our family, our community, our world.  We can make it better just by being good.  How powerful that is!            
        Oh, my God.        
        Just think about it!  I have.          
        But I don’t have the answers.        
        Do you?