Richard Dawkins is a well known scientist in the field of evolutionary biology. He is a committed atheist and a published author. One of his best known works is “The God Delusion.”
As a scientist he takes particular offense at Christian Fundamentalists who harass and seek to censor scientists who teach evolution in high school. It is easy to understand why his attack on most aspects of religious beliefs are so relentless given the ignorant comments and beliefs of many Christian fundamentalists on the subject of evolution and their attempts to block evolution from being taught in public schools. He sees many Christian Fundamentalists as the mean-spirited bullies they are. Like any good Englishman he knows it is important to stand up to bullies and to take the fight to them and also like any good Englishman he knows how to throw a punch. Unfortunately it is also true that he belittles his cause and displays certain weaknesses of character with an over-fondness of sarcasm and ridicule. Sadly, in his efforts to fight bullies he also reveals that at times he too is a bully. O well- as any serious religious person knows, we all have our faults to work on. Richard Dawkins is no exception to that rule. Certainly neither am I.
Yet as a scientist he candidly admits he cannot prove God does not exist. What he does say is that he can make the case that the likelihood of God existing is very, very small.
In his various comments on the subject he does make one statement that is a very valuable contribution to the dialogue between believers and atheists.
That is his belief that the existence or non-existence of God is a legitimate question for natural science to work with. I paraphrase, and at some point will find the exact quote, “A universe that has an infinite conscious being as the foundation of all existence is a very different universe that does not have an infinite conscious being as the foundation of all existence.”
I could not agree with him more. I believe the following thought experiment goes to the heart of the matter.
Is the universe dead or alive?
Does the universe exist as a random heap of sub-atomic particles and radiation mixed in with gravity and related forces such as electro-magnetism and the strong and weak nuclear forces?
Or does the universe somehow have an experience of being the universe?
However limited the word consciousness may be, is the universe conscious somehow of being an infinite reality?
It is true we may not be able to answer such questions. Or, if we can find an answer it may be a very long time before a satisfactory answer is found.
What is known is this. We may be able to measure gravity’s effect, but no one really knows what gravity is. Tell me Mr. Dawkins, exactly how is it that all objects in the universe exert a pull on all other objects? Also, we may be able to posit that our present universe began with a “big bang” 13 billion years ago. But can anyone say they can really imagine they understand how 100 Billion galaxies were once compressed into a tiny single spec of existence? Do we really have to endure the obduracy of most physicists who refuse to deal with the unsolved question of where the tiny spec came from?
Can anyone really explain how light can travel hundreds, even thousands, of trillions of miles across the universe?
Can anyone explain how the Higgs field gives particles to mass?
Can anyone listen to the speculations of even the most sober strong theorists without realizing how incredibly far we continue to be from any “Unified Theory of Everything?”
Can anyone even explain something as basic as what is mass?
Mr Dawkins makes the same mistake that most religious fundamentalists make. He and they convince themselves they are right. They convince themselves they know enough to speak with definite answers about the great questions of life even though it is clear that what any of us does not know exceeds what we do know by at least a thousand to one.
Many of the critiques that Mr Dawkins and others make of traditional views about God and human existence will prove to be lasting contributions to human knowledge. But the most important contribution Mr. Dawkins has made is his insistence that the question of whether God exists or not is a legitimate field of inquiry for natural scientists.
I do believe Mr. Dawkins and the vast majority of scientists who are atheists, and those atheists who are not scientists are in for a bit of a surprise.
I believe someday the knowledge that the universe is an infinite and conscious living being will be as common as the fact that the earth is not the center of the universe.
I believe the answer to the great questions of current physics will be only be found by exploring the hypothesis that human consciousness is not the only form of consciousness in the universe.
Look at the night sky sometime when you are far from the cities and towns of the earth.
And ask yourself “Is the universe alive and somehow conscious, or is the universe like some dead lifeless brick?”
I pose this question in the tradition of thought experiments such as Schrodinger’s Cat and Einstein’s musings of what happens to a body if were to approach the speed of light.
If it turns out that the atheists are right, then so be it. If it turns out the spiritualists are right well then…so be that as well. In fact, I believe it will turn out that a revised understanding of God’s nature will prove to be the “Unified Theory of Everything.”
Even if you are not a scientist, there is a way that you can explore this question for yourself. That way it is to learn the skills of offering love to all who live as a centerpiece of your daily life and reflections.
For love shall open the doors to truth.
Let me know what you think.
All constructive comments will be posted.
Author of “The Simple Path of Holiness” & Host of MeditationPractice.com