Conservation of Souls

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In an earlier, fairly Geeky post, I mentioned my fascination with Science in general, and physics, in particular.  I have an almost identically powerful interest in Theology, and the philosophies which arise from religion, and it galls me no end that so many people of faith, and so many men of science, seem to believe the two are mutually exclusive …

It makes no sense. None at all.

Look, if, as I believe, God created all things, then he necessarily created gravity, and light, photons, electrons, chemical interactions, physical interactions, biological interactions, and every single other phenomenon that we see around us … you can’t say you believe in an all-powerful Creator, and choose to ignore his creations!  Nor will it avail you to claim that these ideas are merely constructs of humanity: when you walk into a room and flip a switch, a light comes on. That isn’t magic, nor is your faith lighting that lightbulb – electrons are doing it, according to laws so intricate and elegant and dependable that they simply can’t be working by coincidence.  On the flip side of that coin, those of a science-only persuasion, the ones who say that, since we can’t prove the existence of God, it’s simpler to just assume he doesn’t exist are engaging in the most foolish distortion of logic that’s occurred in the 10,000 or so years that we’ve been keep track of things in writing!

To those people I would ask, is it really simpler to assume everything just occurred by random chance? Your own detailed study of nature and it’s laws must have hammered the point home a zillion times: there is symmetry of the most amazing precision in everything that has ever been an object of study: from snowflakes to spider webs, to the symphony of neuronal activity that constitutes thought! All by complete accident? Occam’s razor states that all other things being equal, the simplest solution is probably the correct one: but all other factors aren’t equal! The elegant structure of a snowflake does not happen by chance, any more than the moon orbits the Earth randomly:  both the snowflake and the Moon are responding with precision to natural law that is more elegant, by far, than anything we can construct or conceive. It is not simpler to assume it all just happened to happen – which is why, for the last 10,000 years, and very likely the last 250,000 years, humans of various species have considered the simplest solution to be that an immensely powerful being caused everything to happen!

To both sides of this argument, I say, you’re being idiots, and behaving like ignorant children!  Does it, in any way, diminish God to assume he set things in motion and used these intricately crafted laws to insure that his design came about? Does it, in any way, diminish the power of natural law to assume that they were crafted with intelligence (um, sorry Lord, I meant to say ultra-mega-hyper-intelligence!)

It’s like every other freaking polarized argument men can have! The truth isn’t with one side or the other, but somewhere in between – something that some people just seem to stupid to realize, despite their daily experience of it!

Light must be either a particle or a wave – except that it isn’t either:  it’s something that shares the properties of both.  And act must be right or wrong – except that it may be neither:  is it wrong to kill a person to protect other people? Is it right for one human to condemn another? Jesus said cast the beam from your eye, before you concern yourself with a speck in someone else’s – and “Let he who is without sin among you cast the first stone”.

Absolutes in physics were destroyed by Einstein.  Absolutes in morality and piety were pretty much destroyed by Jesus Christ. Both said, in effect, that everything is relative. Motion through space, and the nature of sin.

You don’t believe that last bit? Well, answer this:  what is the greatest crime Religious Law recognizes? The one that Jesus was executed for – blasphemy. But Jesus never committed that crime:  go back and re-read the New Testament – he implied many times, in many ways, that he was the son of God, and divine in his own right – but he never actually said it. That was deliberate and purposeful: so that, in the end, when the inevitable occurred, it would occur because of the pride, and spite, and ignorance of men, rather than any objective form of justice! Indeed, even if Jesus HAD proclaimed himself God incarnate, it is something that could only be shown to be blasphemy if it could be proven that he wasn’t!

In other words, blasphemy is, like all other sins, relative to who is committing it, and why:  for me to make a claim to divinity, it damned well would be blasphemy – for Jesus, it would have simply been the truth.

Jesus condensed the Ten Commandments into two very much simpler ones: Love God as much as you are able to, and love your fellow man as much as you love yourself. Both of these laws are designed to address the shades of gray that lie between the white and black of right and wrong.

I said I believe God used natural laws crafted by himself to construct the Universe and insure it behaved consistently. I believe that. I begin also to believe, however, that there is at least one principle that existed before the crafting of natural law:  it seems to me that the principle of conservation, the bedrock of our Universe, and one of the only ways in which Relativity and Quantum Theory agree (albeit it in different ways), may be so basic that it effects God, as well.

The argument goes like this:  something cannot be created out of nothing. Conservation says that mass and energy cannot appear in one place without being lost in another. EVERYTHING that now exists, in the whole of the Universe, existed in some form in the titanic energy of the big bang (“Let there be light!”)

But where did that huge mass of energy come from? Where do our souls come from? The spark of life that is in every living being, from protozoans to human beings, where did that come from? These things are part of the Universe and, by bedrock solid law, couldn’t just appear out of nowhere! (Which is the very biggest reason that Occam’s razor should come down solidly on the side of a creator – to assume there is no God is to assume the most fundamental concept in science can be violated once but never again – something any scientist or mathematician should concede is pretty freaking unlikely!)

All of it came out of God, himself. Like a star giving birth to photons – and being diminished in a minuscule fashion by it – everything that exists, including life, and souls (the existence of which can’t be either proved or disproved) came directly out of the energy that is God.

What is our value to God? What’s the point of this whole battle between Good and Evil, with our souls at stake?  Why the hell would Lucifer give a damn about gaining human souls? Why should God go to all this trouble to save our souls – even to the point of letting a portion of himself be born as a man, and tortured to death, unjustly?

The answer lies in what happens at the end:  Hell is not a literal lake of burning fire. There is no supernatural torture chamber where the souls of the damned will be tormented for all eternity!

What there is, is worse.

God is present in the Universe. In our lives, even the lives of the most evil among us.  ‘Hell’ is not a physical place, but a void where God chooses not to be present. Damnation is not consignment to the flames, it is banishment from the presence of God … That could be an eternal torment, if souls truly are immortal in the sense that even God can’t unmake one – but I don’t believe that to be the case. If God is all-loving, and all compassionate, consigning a being he created to eternal torment seems out-of-character, at best.

I think, rather that the damned are unmade. I believe they cease to exist. I believe nothing can exist, outside of the presence of God.

And, if I’m correct about Conservation (God knows, I don’t) – the ending of all those souls will be, for God, a sort of amputation … a permanent loss of part of himself, albeit an utterly insignificant part of himself. Those who are saved, on the other hand, are taken back into himself, cleansed of evil …

In line with the idea of Conservation, the point has been made at various times, by various Theologians, or Philosophers, that, if only God can create, and if all that exists comes from God, then evil, too, must have existed, in some form before the beginning of the Universe, in the immenseness that is God.

If that’s true, permanently destroying the damned, and welcoming back the saved, may be God’s way of purifying himself.

It just might be that the whole point of our existence, good folk and evil alike, is to make God even better than he already is …

::: Shrugs ::: Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe this is heresy and blasphemy of the worst sort. But if I’m not, it’s damned well worth suffering the woes of a human life for!

I really can’t think of a more noble point to existence – or any other justification for the existence of evil in the world.

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~ by dourscot on October 6, 2012.

9 Responses to “Conservation of Souls”

  1. Loved your post. It was extremely well-written and thought out. A few random thoughts that I jotted down as I was reading your post:
    (1)Science has always had to deny the existence of God because they have never been able to prove that he exists. Science typically requires observation. Even theoretical sciences are usually some mathematical formula which is an extension of what is already known. Since God is unknowable, at least scientifically, science will be hard pressed to ever recognize his existence.
    (2) Evil doesn’t necessarily have to be part of the immenseness of God. It could simply be the absence of God(in our hearts); just as cold is the absence of heat or darkness is the absence of light.
    (3) I liked your analogy of observing nature to understand God – sort of like analyzing a painting to try and understand an artist that you don’t know. But consider that our physical senses are severely limited and therefore our perception of reality could be way off. Quantum physics has made some remarkable strides and their research/findings would strongly suggest that our physical world is but a visible manifestation of a deeper level of reality. How then does that affect our understanding of God?
    (4) A question about the law of conservation: If everything in creation came from God, where did God come from?

    • All excellent points, and worthy of consideration! I appreciate the thoughtful way you wrote this! Some thoughts in response:

      1) while it’s true that science requires evidence of the existence of something, it does not, at all, require proof of that thing’s existence to make it part of a theoretical framework – as examples, I’d offer superstrings, dark matter, dark energy, the Luminiferous Aether, phlogiston, the Higgs Boson, and a huge number of others … observation produced results that could not be integrated with what was known unless one assumed the existence of these theoretical entities … the Aether and phlogiston both turned out to be non-existent, but the others may well exist: one must assume that some of them do, in order to make the math work. It’s not necessary to assume the existence of God to make the math come out right … but it IS necessary to satisfy the symmetry principle (which is basically the only reason to suppose strings and superstrings might exist: they provide an elegance of solution that transcends the standard particle model, and promise Four-fold Unification — provided one assumes the existence of 7 extra dimensions which can neither be observed, nor experimentally manipulated … yet super-symmetry and super-string theory are both accepted as valid theoretical approaches. As I said, the math comes out fine without assuming the existence of God — but his inclusion in a theoretical framework provides a certain elegance, despite the fact that he can’t be directly observed, experimentally manipulated, or in any way quantified … I could easily be wrong — but I sincerely HOPE I’m not!

      2) It’s tough to wrap my head around the concept of evil. If the Judeo-Christian ideas of the origins of evil are correct, a HUGE number of Angels, standing directly in the presence of God, made a deliberate choice to rebel — that’s REALLY tough for me to understand! It may easily be, as you say, that evil is a lack of God’s presence in our hearts, or exclusion of him from our will. God created his servants, both on Earth and in Heaven, with free will — the adoration of sock-puppets is worthless, but heart-felt praise from a thinking being who has the ability to choose whether to offer it or not … I can understand God’s decision to give us that freedom. I just can’t understand how any being who knew for a fact that God exists, and is holy, could choose to turn away. More and more, it seems to me, that there was a plan, that it should happen: that some of God’s creations were imbued with the darker parts of himself … those parts exist, for certain: if you accept the truth of the Bible, you can’t choose to accept the parts that speak of God’s love and holiness, and completely forget about the chilling parts of the Old Testament, where God puts a stamp of approval on David, calls him “a man after my own heart” and then you see some of the nastier things David was capable of (putting Uriah in a position to be killed, so as to take his wife, for instance), and some of the AWEFUL things Joshua and his troops were commanded to do, things that we today would consider barbaric, and crimes against humanity — genocide. I cannot stand in judgement of God, but, if those tales are true, there IS a dark side to the deity — perhaps one he wished to be rid of!

      3) Ooooh! Studying a painting to gain insight to the artist! Great one! Wish I’d thought of that! Your point is very valid: there’s an old saw about three blind men asked to describe an elephant, from the one part of it they were allowed to touch … the one who felt the trunk said it was like a snake, the one who felt a leg said it was like a tree, and the one who felt the body said it was like a mountain … none of us has the capacity to understand, or even perceive in it’s entirety, something as immense and complex as God … MOST of us don’t even have the perception and brain power to understand higher math, or visualize non-Euclidean Geometries, like the constructs of Gauss and Reimann that so fascinated Einstein. And that’s a real tragedy: the people who DO have the brain-power, and imagination, and perceptiveness to best evaluate God, tend to deny, at least in their professional writings, that he exists! I know there are a great many scientists, who do hold deep convictions of faith — but a great many do not, and that seems a real shame to me … if only because a person who could help me understand the structure of the Universe, could probably also help me reach a better understanding of God!

      4) LOL! Conservation in the mathematical sense — not the spiritual one I referred to — is, like all physical law, bounded within THIS universe, along with all the mass and energy produced through the big bang. God, if he exists, exists outside the reality of this universe, as well as inside it: the very simplest way I can put it is that the Universe is a subset of God, containing a portion of, but not the entirety of, the Deity … none of us can possibly know what exists outside of this universe (except for the vague intuition that God, and perhaps OTHER Universes lie outside it’s boundary. By definition, we, and to a huge degree our imaginations, and ALL of our perceptions, are bounded within the One Universe we can access … I’m pretty sure God has no such limitation! Physicists and more especially cosmologists, refuse to speculate on where the cosmic egg that gave rise to the Big Bang came from: the Theoretical math that describes our understanding of things comes to within the tiniest fraction of a second after the bang — but cannot describe even the uttermost tiny fragment of a second BEFORE that event. So the question is treated as unanswerable. If they can cop out on explaining the cosmic egg, I can cop out on explaining the origin of God! Fair is fair :P~~~ LOL! I’ve really enjoyed this discussion! Thanks!

    • — if you enjoyed this post as much as you seem to have, you might also enjoy an earlier post in this blog titled Physical Education … it addresses certain events in the history of physics, though without much in the way of theology…

  2. Science and religion both have an agenda with neither one wanting the masses to know the truth. – and it’s ultimately about control. Religion clings to its dogma in order to allow it to continue to sell salvation (Christianity is the worst offender) and insist on how people lead their lives (Islam is the worst offender). What good would it do them to tell the average Joe that he can have a direct relationship with God because there would then be no need for religion or the church. Science, on the other hand, doesn’t want to even admit to the existence of God. Check out the Declaration of Independence of the United States which says that men were endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, which means that the principles of liberty arise from man’s god-given rights. Ergo, no God, no rights; how convenient. So science and religion are not acting like idiots – quite the contrary. They are protecting their own selfish self-interests.

    • LOL! True, true, true … I just get so sick of people on the extremes pretending they have all the answers when the rest of us aren’t even sure of all the questions – and both sides of the great debate take that position with equal arrogance!

  3. Read your blog again and it raised an interesting question. You say, that nothing can exist outside the presence of God. I assume that that is the same as saying that nothing exists outside of God. Otherwise, there is a whole world outside of God that no one is addressing (sort of the corollary to the question, “And who created God?”). I also assume that since the Law of Conservation states that something cannot be created out of nothing, then the opposite is also true; namely, that something cannot be unmade back to nothingness (i.e. matter can not be either created or destroyed). So if it is true that nothing exists outside of God, then the damned souls must , by definition, also return to God at some point. I’d be interested in your thoughts on such matters. With respect to evil, the theory apparently is that evil must have existed in God at the beginning. I would propose that that is true only in part. As I mentioned in my previous response, nature probably mimics the Creator. So for example, hydrochloric acid exists in the material world even though it can not be found among the building blocks of the universe (that would be hydrogen and chloride). So too, evil might possibly not be part of God’s essence, but instead would manifest in the physical world due to a combination of factors (similar to the hydrogen and chloride combining into hydrochloric acid). Just food for thought.

  4. Darn, I was hoping no one would notice! I saw that flaw in the idea when re-reading it to correct typos – I must say, your solution is an elegant one! One that I’d never considered … I think I’m sold! But, while solving a major problem, it re-introduces another: if the point of all of this is NOT to purify God of an innate evil, it sort of leaves us back with the original question: what’s the point of all of this?

    LOL! It was insanely arrogant of me to think I could solve in one blog post the question of the ages … but your replies have given me plenty to think about! Thank you!

    • Dang, and now you want me to give all the secrets of the universe! Just kidding of course. To respond to your final question, I wrote a series of five blogs (labeled Secrets of the Universe) in September 2011 – January 2012. I’d be very interested in your feedback.

  5. LOL! Cool! My work day is crawling by, as it often does when I don’t have enough to do … This sounds like an awesome pass-time!

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