Jay B. Gaskill
Executive summary: Science is almost ready to support the legitimacy of the religious/spiritual enterprise. Why? …Because the universe is not the neat, tidy, predetermined or anti-spiritual place that early scientists once assumed. The tide is turning because it seems that all reality is relational…and unified.
We tend to learn relationally, that is to say, our awareness of ourselves and the world around us is acquired as we are able place things, ourselves included, into relationship with some kind of contextual field. There really is no such thing as the innate “knowing” of something without the context from which the knowing arises. This means that even in our very first stages of awareness, the first tiny spark of self-knowledge arises in a mix of differentiation and contextual relationships.
As infants, our field of awareness gradually acquires the sense of “I am-ness” as we each achieve a degree of relational awareness, that is: of yours/my own conscious being and of that status as a local being, a center of awareness where “things happen” and we are tasked to achieve an increasing grasp of spatial and temporal location.
Because we are first thrust into this “event space” realm dominated by exchange relationships as infants, the dual discovery of our own awareness and situation in the world is always dominated by the imperative to figure out and master the “exchange processes” that sustain our very life, especially how to be fed by the “mother being”. Throughout our subsequent life and development (and we can assume that of any newly born conscious being) our particular sense of “I am-ness” can be pictured as an expanding field that assimilates an increasingly rich array of relational detail, prioritized by one imperative: I want to live and am motivated to connect (i.e. form a relationship) with any other being that will help me live.
The developing array of relational details that begin to enrich our “I am-ness” fields, consists of special, significant aspects of the local “event space” surrounding us. Very early on, we are in an interactive relationship with one of more local “I-ams” (persons), and we start to generate an increasingly well integrated and complex set of internal cognitive forms, principles and “thinking models” (world pictures).
This is an abstract and awkward way of stating that you and I, having developed an awareness of our own “selfness” can begin to recognize (model) other living, breathing selves and persons like ourselves.
Note here that we, even as growing babies, come into the world pre-equipped to grasp beauty, to experience awe, and to recognize when we are dealing with another person, and to experience empathy for that other person. No machine, however sophisticated, can do that. Sadly, not all babies can do that either, at least not without developing the needed abilities. The moving account by the late Dr. Oliver Sax of the autistic genius, Temple Grandin (read his Anthropologist on Mars) poignantly describes the limits of a mind that can only abstractly entertain beauty and the interior life of another human being.
Our innate “mother and other beloved person recognition” abilities are among the “reality modeling” powers most of us come pre-equipped with (allowing for the referenced developmental issues).
Our self-awareness “models” eventually are nested in our master organizing models of “I-am in the world.” These are the nascent, developing Global Reality Models we each form, whether consciously or unconsciously, the reach and integration of which ultimately define the our interface with our physical environment. Writ large, these Global Reality Models become the developing human interface between every local “I-am” and “the world.” What philosophers call epistemology is the systematic study of commonalities between the Global Reality Models we make for ourselves (a lifetime project of all “local” conscious beings) as we/they learn to interact with the world and each other.
Early physical science “messed with” these models by trying to tell us that there was a complete mechanical explanation for everything.
As (our) local consciousness matures, it quickly develops one of its most important faculties: the empathetic faculty by which we begin to include within our Local I-am Fields the existence and normative (i.e., “caring”) significance of the other “I-am” states.
Without that development, we can become uncaring monsters.
This empathy faculty permits us to generate internal models that replicate the internal states of other thinking and feeling beings (or put another way, to get to “know them”). In effect: our Local “I-am” Fields learn to detect the presence of other Local “I-am” Fields in a way that actually matters to us.
All social interaction and all interpersonal ethics are about one’s Local “I-am” field and someone else’s Local “I-am” field, and the relational exchange / “mutual mattering” relationships between and among them. Science can describe these exchanges in arid, physical-mechanical terms, but we should not be misled. Caring is real, because the so-called subjective life – the contents of one’s local “I-am” field – has the same reality status in the universe as gravity.
By the way, when we use the terms local and non-local, these are concepts borrowed from quantum field theory, in which the weird phenomenon of quantum entanglement can instantly connect separated non-local events as if there were no distance between them at all. This is how physics, however clumsily, might diagram love relationships. But mere diagrams are to understanding as notes on a page are to a thrilling musical performance.
At some point in the development of any mature Local “I-am” field, many people will detect the presence of a Very Large, Very Great non-local Being or “being-ness.” This is the experience of contact with the numinous level of existence. Most, but not all people have had this “mountaintop” revelation at least once, but many dismiss it as “not real”, apparently on the grounds that it is inexplicable in materialistic terms. The numinous and the apprehension of a greater Personality outside normal interpersonal contact is something real and profound that science will eventually come to accept.
Any dismissal of the reality of “non-local Being” is “non-sense” because the cognitive faculties by which we extend our own Local “I-am” Field to other Local “I-am” Fields (achieving the capacity to love another) cannot be explained in strictly materialistic terms. What is at work here is one of those unexamined biases or core assumptions that have been allowed to creep into the accepted “scientific” Global Reality Model: the a priori rejection of non-local reality, including non-local Being as unscientific superstition. Yet it is obviously real to every receptive human being.
Surprisingly, the demolition of this materialist notion is taking place at the level of quantum physics. The larger implications will eventually find their way into the popular understanding of a Supreme Being capable of instantly relating to “local beings” like you and me.
For now, let me point out that modern theoretical physicists and mathematicians (few mathematicians fully bought into extreme materialistic thinking in the first place) are just beginning to rediscover the non-local aspects of reality and to appreciate the profound implications of that rediscovery: the strict materialistic picture of reality is discredited and there is a solid scientific basis for spiritual perception, empathy and love.
Many mystics and spiritual leaders stop at this point, assuming that it is enough to have glimpsed the ultimate being-ness that lurks just behind the curtain of the mundane, to meditate on that discovery, to derive solace and ethical guidance from the implications of unity of being that it discloses.
But that stage, as important to human development as it is, remains analogous to the infant’s nascent Local I-am Field, just after it has accommodated the reality of the beloved “food lady” and the possible value of a competitive sibling as important elements in the life-support exchange web. As we develop as God’s children we expand our awareness to a much, much larger reality.
We can list the additional stages of deeper Awareness in an approximate developmental sequence, one that will play out among individuals and in the larger culture.
1. Non-Local Being is recognized as real as one’s own Local “I-am” Field; Non-Local Being is recognized as more real and as self-integrated.
2. Non-Local Being is seen as containing powerful elements in common with one’s own Local “I-am” Field, and all other Local “I-am” Fields.
3. Non-Local Being is in active relationship with my Local ‘I-am” Field and all Local “I-am” Fields.
4. Non Local Being is in active relationship with the world.
5. Non-Local Being is supreme in the normative sense.
6. It is the source of the creative tendency in the world.
7. It is the source of the creative tendency in all worlds.
8. It is the source for all local being and is the binding agent between and among all conscious, living beings.
9. It is the originating architecture and development of the world and all the worlds.
10. Non-Local Being is Supreme Being, the supreme personality beyond all time and space and within all time and space.
11. Supreme Being is the creator and sustainer of all that is seen and unseen, source of all moral law and all being in this and all worlds now and forever
12. This is a neo-traditional description of G-d.
We might say, using the somewhat dry language of science, that religions are tradition-supported, shared software tools designed to facilitate our contact with this Ultimate Being in the context of communities of co-seekers who share normatively rich Global Reality Models that are congruent with the religious software. Or we can just say, with common-sense confidence, that the goal of religious practice is to bring us closer to God, and to each other as God’s children.
Spiritual believers of the world, have patience. The materialist/mechanical models of natural science are just abstracted, formally scripted, provisional Global Reality Models that track the event contours of physical processes. They work as a practical matter because they have redacted humanity’s deeper knowledge base. Give it time. God is close and will be found even by scientists. As formal science incorporates Non-Local Being, and its normative (i.e., caring) alignments, a revolution will take place. The empirical (i.e., field-tested) reality models do not themselves tell us whether it is a good thing of a bad thing to do everything that it is possible to do. Recall the brutal hubris of the 20th century Nazi human experiments. The Global Reality Models of the spiritual moral disciplines and of the physical sciences will become increasingly congruent.
Put in plain English: Science and philosophy, having been alienated from religion, are on a path to reunification.
God’s will be done. TBTG.
COPYRIGHT © 2006, 2017 by Jay B Gaskill, Attorney at Law
Visit – The Policy Think Site – www.jaygaskill.com
One Reference - Quantum Physics and Theology, by the Rev. Dr. John Polkinghorne
 Temple Grandin is a brilliant example of someone who was/is heroically able to model morality and caring without actually feeling it as empathy.
 To do so would be to accept that mathematical theorems are invented constructs, not discovered aspects of deeper reality.
 More and more scientists are entertaining the “spiritual” transition on a private personal level, but remain inhibited in “coming out” because they expect professional ridicule.