Living Today In Our Universe Requires More Than Science

Love is in the air
Everywhere I look around
Love is in the air
Every sight and every sound.
– Harry Vanda and George Young
Bidden or unbidden, God is present.
– Desiderius Erasmus
The day of my spiritual awakening was
the day I saw – and knew I saw – all things in God
and God in all things.
– Mechtild of Magdeburg

This morning I awoke from my sleep with the melody and refrain in my head from “Love Is In The Air,” the popular disco hit song sung by John Paul Young. Maybe it was because I had been working earlier in the week on this post. Maybe it was because I was having a really good week, and it really did seem like love was carrying me, and my subconscious mind was celebrating that.

As humans – for every human – there is something in us, often unconscious, that knows the more that we do not yet know in our conscious mind. It is more than a knowing, really, it is an at-one-ment, a communication, a communion with something larger than ourselves, and that in so many ways seems to be seeking the very best for us.

The psychologist Carl Jung had the quote by Desiderius Erasmus I put above inscribed over the doorway to his home, and on his grave stone. Once asked if he believed in God, Jung replied: “I don’t believe. I know.”

That this experience of the more is real is confirmed for me by people like Jung and through the writings of the great mystics like Mechtild of Magdeburg, but also through the telling by scientists in our time of our Universe Story with its radical new message of at-one-ment.nasa photo 1

I am convinced that the great social reformers and religious prophets through the ages brought about change and great social movements that fostered Life not because their message was new but because it was true, in the most ultimate sense of that word. Their challenging and prophetic words awakened those who heard them to the deep knowing of at-one-ment that lived within them. Their words also found a resonance in those who came to hear them speak because they sought words of affirmation for what already was in their conscious awareness but seen “through a glass, darkly.” (I. Cor. 13:12)

One of my colleagues at work came to me this past week with questions about the difference between “faith” and “religion.” He is concerned, he said, that his young students seem to have equated faith with religion, and in dismissing the religion of their childhood as irrelevant in their secular, 21st-century world, they have no place – no beliefs, no convictions, no resources – from which to draw the values upon which they will base their choices and actions.

Some of today’s scientists insist that no “God” is responsible for the existence of our Universe. They try to prove this by pointing to emerging scientific theories of how it came into being. To my own reasoning mind, however, though today’s scientists may have proven adequately how some aspects of our present Universe came about – space, time, clouds of gas, stars, planets, oceans, grass, flowers, trees, birds, elephants, you and me – they have not addressed  — have sidestepped all together really – the question of why or even that it happened.

The oldest and often quoted question concerning the existence of our Universe is: “Why is there something rather than nothing?”  Plato, Aristotle and Thomas Aquinas wrestled with this question in their pondering of the “uncaused cause.”  I am not about to put myself in their intellectual category, but until someone does answer the question of the uncaused or first cause of all we see around us, those of us on the sidelines – we who each morning have to arise from our warm beds after another night’s slumber – need a context to place ourselves into that makes it possible for us to enter with energy and enthusiasm into another day.

My point is this: perhaps some day the scientists will unlock the final door and give us a simple answer to how and why our Universe came into being, carrying the seeds of our birth along with it. But, as yet, they have not.

In the face of that “as yet,” what am I going to do today to address my need for meaning and to make sense of what I experience? What will help me with the fact that my experience cries out to me that there is so much more to existence than our best scientists (and I would add theologians) are able to explain to me?

Whether the ultimate and final needed discoveries come a week, a year, a decade, or centuries from now has no relevance for me today. I need a story today that holds together and gives meaning to what I know to be true today. Right now that story for me boils down to two basic things:

  • I am here, and don’t know with certainty the ultimate answer to why or how I got here, so I’m willing to trust that the “something more” does;
  • Love doesn’t follow any of our rules.

So, if you want to call it “faith”; if you want to point to an “uncaused cause”; if you want to argue for belief in a “God” or a “Supreme Being,” or an “Allah,” or “The Tao”; the important thing, it seems to me, is that whichever you choose, you make it fit your experience and trust that. Today, trust that.

At the same time, get ready, because just about the time that your trust helps to ground you and put you in a place where you feel comfortable and can cope, it’s all going to change. But when it does, just start humming, and remember the words of the song, or click the link:

Love is in the air
In the whisper of the trees
Love is in the air
In the thunder of the sea

And I don’t know if I’m being foolish
Don’t know if I’m being wise
But it’s something that I must believe in
And it’s there when I look in your eyes

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