Two weeks ago I started a series on the best ideas and primary mistakes of Richard Dawkins.
For those not familiar with his work Richard Dawkins is an English scientist specializing in evolutionary biology. He is also a committed atheist, one of the most high profile and outspoken atheists in the world.
As someone who is committed to the idea that people are free to pursue those beliefs they feel most deeply called to explore and embrace, I have no desire to try to persuade him or any other atheist that they should change their views.
But, (that famous word) while I acknowledge the possibility that atheists are correct, I do believe they may well be wrong. In either case my view is this. To the degree that humans are able to find an answer to this question, I would dearly like to know which of these two views of life is correct. Is there a unifying life and consciousness in the universe that is the foundation of all existence? Or is the universe essentially a dead, lifeless place filled with random explosions, equations, atoms, molecules and various types of radiation? As Shakespeare put it so well, “…a tale full of sound and fury told by an idiot signifying nothing.”
To Dawkins’ credit, he acknowledges there is no way to prove that God does or does not exist. While he feels he has made the case the God probably does not exist in the way most believers say he does, Dawkins acknowledges the question of whether God exists or not is still an open question worthy of serious reflection.
In that context, let the exploration continue.
Here is one of the primary mistakes I feel scientists like Dawkins are making. First they focus on conservative and mainstream/progressive Christian preachers and their doctrines. Sadly for these preachers and teachers it is fairly easy for Dawkins and his fellow atheists to pick apart their beliefs. While some conservative Christians fully understand how formidable a challenge Evolution and natural selection represents to their creed, unfortunately for them their response of Intelligent Design is so ridiculous they lose all credibility from any but the most ignorant and atavistic members of society. For a critique of Intelligent Design by an evangelical Christian and a leading Scientist please see the work of Frances Collins in “The Language of God.” Chapter Nine.
Mainstream and progressive Catholics and Protestants have yet to fully appreciate how devastating a challenge Evolution and Natural Selection represents to their core belief that a loving God created the earth. One only needs to see the intense conflict between species and within species. Look carefully at the kill or be killed, eat or be eaten struggles played out millions of times every hour on earth as mammals, reptiles, and insects, fight kill and devour weaker beings. Look carefully at the infants born with deadly birth defects that consume their life in blind terror and pain in a few hours or years. Look carefully at the terror of paranoid schizophrenics and other mentally ill individuals as their malfunctioning brain, the result of random mutations in the gene code, leaves them crippled sometimes for life. Look at these phenomena without blinders. You will see why the vast majority of evolutionary scientists reject not only the conservative Christians views but those of progressive Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindu and others who claim a loving God created the earth.
It is not a mark against Dawkins and other atheists that they miss the fact there are a few researchers working independently on the question of whether God exist. The work of such researchers, such as that of mine and others, is still undeveloped and largely unknown. But in this work important questions are being asked and important new ways of searching and measuring are being developed. The most important is this.
Quite understandably Dawkins and others focus their research on living organisms with simple to ultra-complex biological structures. Looking at the suffering of many of these life forms it is not difficult to conclude there is no loving God creating and directing life on this world. But the mistake they make is to direct their focus only on living organisms and complex molecules. The focus needs to be on the sub-atomic realm that makes up all these molecules and living organisms and the rest of matter and energy as well.
More specifically one focus of research needs to be directed at discerning the nature of the energy that is the motive power of all sub-atomic actual and virtual particles. A second is to further probe the mystery of how mass is created in particles.
Quite understandably our senses and our instincts drive us to observe what we call the people, places, and things of matter. But energy at the sub-atomic level is the life of all atoms and molecules and therefore the life of all that we call living organisms. This energy that is the foundation of all people, places, and things constitutes a different reference frame from complex molecules.
It is the failure or unwillingness to explore more fully this reference frame, and in particular to explore in what ways the nature of energy may be a form of consciousness or thought, that is the primary mistake of Dawkins and other scientists and non-scientist atheists. Perhaps it is not a mistake as it is something they have overlooked.
In the final analysis I feel the critical mistake of atheists is their tendency to conclude prematurely they are not overlooking anything important.
To put it in the language of empirical scientists, the following is my hypothesis even if I admit I am not at all sure how to test or investigate this hypothesis.
Energy is the true nature of what we call matter. God is the true nature of all energy.
What we call God is the reality of infinite life somehow conscious of being infinite life however limited terms such as consciousness and life prove to be. We mortals get lost in the illusion of thinking we are separate finite chunks of reality. This is not the case.
As the ego is diffused and deactivated, in healthy ways, it becomes possible to understand there is a much deeper personality and consciousness to life. It becomes possible to experience the life within us that St. Paul alluded to when he wrote, “In whom we live and have our being.”
Of course I could be wrong. The atheists could be right. But I don’t think so.
Let me know your thoughts. All constructive comments will be posted.
Will Raymond Author of “the Simple Path of Holiness” host of MeditationPractice.com