I was listening to a Jesuit on the Neil Tyson show the other day, that show does some pretty interesting segments sometimes, for sure. One part of that Jesuit show that was interesting was the priest talking about how Einstein often used the word "God" and Tyson tried to explain to the priest that science's concept of "God" is not what you think it is.
This essay will use three instances of popularizers of science and try to further explain what Tyson was trying to explain to the priest. The popularizers of modern science will be A) Buck Fuller, B) Carl Sagan, and C) Albert Einstein.
We'll do Einstein last to talk about his definition of "God" after the other two popularizers are explained to help delve into what Einstein's concept of "God" was.
Alright so first my boy Fulla...
Buck Fuller on "God"
I've read most of what Buck's written and there's a lot to work with in using his texts to try and explain how people of science view the concept of God, but, one clear-cut easy to work with example is Buck's re-writing or "re-thinking" rather of the "Lord's Prayer" which was composed in 1979 and reads as follows:
To be satisfactory to science
must be stated
in terms of experience
I define Universe as
all of humanity’s
and communicated (to self or others)
In using the word, God,
I am consciously employing
four clearly differentiated
from one another
Firstly I mean: —
Those experience-engendered thoughts
which are predicted upon past successions
of unexpected, human discoveries
of mathematically incisive,
physically demonstrable answers
to what theretofore had been misassumed
to be forever unanswerable
cosmic magnitude questions
wherefore I now assume it to be
and therefore experientially reasonable that
scientifically explainable answers
may and probably will
eventually be given
to all questions
as engendered in all human thoughts
by the sum total
of all human experiences;
wherefore my first meaning for God is: —
all the experientially explained
or explainable answers
to all questions
of all time —
Secondly I mean: —
The individual’s memory
of many surprising moments
of dawning comprehensions
of an interrelated significance
to be existent
amongst a number
of what had previously seemed to be
entirely uninterrelated experiences
all of which remembered experiences
engender the reasonable assumption
of the possible existence
of a total comprehension
of the integrated significance —
the meaning —
of all experiences.
Thirdly, I mean:–
the only intellectually discoverable
a priori, intellectual integrity
indisputably manifest as
the only mathematically statable
of generalized principles —
thus far discovered and codified
and ever physically redemonstrable
to be not only unfailingly operative
but to be in eternal
of the complex
of everyday, naked-eye experiences
as well as of the multi-millions-fold greater range
of only instrumentally explored
infra- and ultra-tunable
micro and macro-Universe events.
Fourthly, I mean: —
All the mystery inherent
in all human experience,
which as a lifetime ratioed to eternity,
is individually limited
to almost negligible
twixt sleepings, glimpses
of only a few local episodes
of one of the infinite myriads
of concurrently and overlappingly operative
cosmic scenario serials
With these four meanings I now directly address God.
“Our God —
Since omni-experience is your identity
You have given us
overwhelming manifest: —
of Your complete knowledge
of Your complete comprehension
of Your complete concern
of Your complete coordination
of Your complete responsibility
of Your complete capability to cope
in absolute wisdom and effectiveness
with all problems and events
and of Your eternally unfailing reliability
so to do
Yours, Dear God,
is the only and complete glory.
By Glory I mean
the synergetic totality
of all physical and metaphysical radiation
and of all physical and metaphysical gravity
but nonunitarily conceptual
in whose synergetic totality
the a priori energy potential
of both radiation and gravity
are initially equal
but whose respective
behavioral patterns are such
that radiation’s entropic, redundant disintegratings
is always less effective
than gravity’s nonredundant
Radiation is plural and differentiable,
radiation is focusable, beamable, and self-sinusing,
it is interceptible, separatist, and biasable —
ergo, has shadowed voids and vulnerabilities;
Gravity is unit and undifferentiable
Gravity is comprehensive
inclusively embracing and permeative
is nonfocusable and shadowless,
and is omni-integrative
all of which characteristics of love.
Love is metaphysical gravity.
You, Dear God,
are the totally loving intellect
and ever daring to test
and thereby irrefutably proving
to the uncompromising satisfaction
of Your own comprehensive and incisive
knowledge of the absolute truth
that Your generalized principles
adequately accommodate any and all
special case developments,
involvements, and side effects;
wherefore Your absolutely courageous
omnirigorous and ruthless self-testing
alone can and does absolutely guarantee
of the integrity
of eternally regenerative Universe
Your eternally regenerative scenario Universe
is the minimum complex
of totally intercomplementary
nonsimultaneous, differently frequenced
and differently enduring
of a finite
nonsimultaneously conceptual system
in which naught is created
and naught is lost
and all occurs
in optimum efficiency.
Total accountability and total feedback
constitute the minimum and only
perpetual motion system.
Universe is the one and only
eternally regenerative system.
To accomplish Your regenerative integrity
You give Yourself the responsibility
of eternal, absolutely continuous,
tirelessly vigilant wisdom.
Wherefore we have absolute faith and trust in You,
and we worship You
(video version of an older version of Buck Fulla's "Lord's Prayer": http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jJKLs6zEU8g&t=2m8s)
This, I think, is a good intro into understanding how people who deal with science view the concept of "God" and even though Buck mentions God in his prayer....he is not invoking the same concept as a religious person is when they use that term. God to Buck is simply Universe....nothing more and nothing less. God to him is "a series of integral truths which are a combined plurality of generalized principles."
Carl Sagan on how Spiritual this "Universe" is
Ok, so in trying to explain this rational yet spiritual view of "God" we are going to continue on with the definition of "Universe" to be a synonym of "God." If Universe is deified to represent "God" can people thus have spiritual experiences from this plurality of integral truths known as Universe?
Sagan has a book, I think it was a post-humous printing of talks he gave, which is called Varieties of Scientific Experience: A Personal View of the Search for God.
Since this essay is trying to show that Universe can be spiritual in itself this book is a good place to go to next. The topic of spirituality derived from the beauty of the "Cosmos," on the radio show the other day where Neil Tyson debates a Jesuit priest he does cover this. At one point Tyson stated that while looking off a tall mountain and seeing the world under you and the clouds under you....a person can feel this sense of awe inspiring emotion from the beauty of the world. The beauty of Universe itself can surely be a spiritual experience in and of itself without the need for deities.
A guest on the radio show was also Richard Dawkins, a evolutionary biologist, who once described Sagan's book Varieties of Scientific Experience as....
"Was Carl Sagan a religious man? He was so much more. He left behind the petty, parochial, medieval world of the conventionally religious, left the theologains, priests, and mullahs wallowing in their small-minded spiritual poverty. He left them behind, because he had so much more to be religious about. They have their Bronze-Age myths, medieval superstitions and childish wishful thinking. He had the Universe." -Dawkins
First off, I don't know why he refers to Universe as "the" Universe...it looks really odd that "the" there. What he's saying makes sense though. I mean why when you're looking off a mountain enjoying how awesome your world is should you need to thank some voodoo "god" or stone-age deity for it? Why can't you just enjoy it? Not only enjoy it but let it invoke a sense of wonder about it that urges you to study it and understand it?
Who needs those "Bronze-Age" myths and texts anyway? There's parts of those books that are not very uplifting for today's society. A good chunk of the christ book is on how to properly punish sinners that's rife with eye plucking and terrible terrible burning, there's parts of the muslim book on what's the proper procedure for having relations with a child slave, there's parts of the jew book about what a jew isn't allowed to do and what you need to force "goyim sub-humans" to do that stuff for you. These old religious texts are ATROCIOUS and FUCKED UP. They don't instill a sense of wonder or awe in me....the bible, talmud, quran, etc. are super-duper depressing! I wouldn't allow children to read these books....they are 100 times worse than today's most violent movies and video games.
Not to burst your bubble but people like Carl Sagan and Neil Tyson are MORE religious than conventional religious people. These Bronze-Age myths aren't edifying or awe-inspiring in the least...there's nothing spiritual about them. They are just offensive and gross. Sagan and Tyson and others, can enjoy the beauty of Universe without the bull-doo-doo that goes with organized religion.
Since we're laying out the quotes hard up in here...we'll throw down a Sagan one too:
In its encounter with Nature, science invariably elicits a sense of reverence and awe. The very act of understanding is a celebration of joining, merging, even if on a very modest scale, with the magnificence of the Cosmos. And the cumulative worldwide build-up of knowledge over time converts science into something only a little short of a trans-national, trans-generational meta-mind. - Sagan
Science is all of humans' combined understanding of the "Cosmos" (which thanks to Tyson has become a popular word again.) Science is thus a "meta-mind", an all encompassing log of all humans' opinions/thoughts/feelings/generalizations/principles over all of trans-generational time.
"Cosmos" is a pretty good synonym for God too. I'm not so crazy about "Nature" anymore because over the last decade that word has been bastardized and ruined by the "organic food" and "organic medicine" people. "Natural" is quickly becoming a word solely used by jabronies in modern times so "Nature" with no "the" isn't a good go-to word for "God" these days.
Cosmos is written with a "the" so it can't be the best replacement word for "God"....it seems "Universe" with no "the" is still the coolest word at this point, I think.
Einstein and his Concept of "God"
So, coming back around to the main point, where the priest on the Tyson show claimed Einstein believes in God and Einstein is like the smartest guy so therefore smart people believe in God. As we can see from the previous two popularizers of science/rationality it is unlikely that this claim is gonna hold true. Einstein's concept of "God" is much more like Buck's concept of "Universe" and Sagan's concept of the "Cosmos."
Here is Einstein on religion:
"Scientists believe that every occurrence, including the affairs of human beings, is due to the laws of nature. Therefore a scientist cannot be inclined to believe that the course of events can be influenced by prayer, that is, by a supernaturally manifested wish.
However, we must concede that our actual knowledge of these forces is imperfect, so that in the end the belief in the existence of a final, ultimate spirit rests on a kind of faith. Such belief remains widespread even with the current achievements in science.
But also, everyone who is seriously involved in the pursuit of science becomes convinced that some spirit is manifest in the laws of the universe, one that is vastly superior to that of man. In this way the pursuit of science leads to a religious feeling of a special sort, which is surely quite different from the religiosity of someone more naive."
From these words it's not hard to deduce that yes he was a religious guy and did believe in "God" yet after reading Fuller's concept of "God" and Sagan's concept of "God" can you maybe begin to suspect that Einstein is more in that area as well?
The final statement is him saying that, yes, he is religious but not in the "naive" sense of reading the bible/quran/talmud and praying to voodoo gods in the sky for a plentiful harvest this year or to make it rain. His belief in "God" is of a "special sort" which is based on the "laws of nature."
His view of God is an amalgamation of the laws of nature....the combination of all generalized principles in Universe and the trans-generational meta-data of the Cosmos....nothing more and nothing less. Yes he uses the word "God" but that doesn't mean he thought he's going to "Heaven" when he dies or that he can ask a magic man in the sky to give him a thousand bucks if he thinks really hard to him...no....he believes "God" is a set of natural laws.
The views of rational thinkers on religion and spirituality is not that much different than that of non-rational thinkers. Rational dudes/chicks just cut away the bull crap to get to the good part.
It's like chipping away at a rock until you are left with the diamond stuck in the center. Rational thinkers cut away all the silly crap associated with spiritualness....they cut away all the silly passages from books written two thousand years ago about floods n' slaves n' castration n' flying human-faced donkeys who kill entire armies of infidels...they throw ALL that GARBAGE away and focus on the meaty part of spirituality....the ever-invoking awe and wonder of the cool-cool world around us.
They find comfort in how cool the Natural Laws are that govern the Cosmos of our Scenario called Universe. You know what I mean?
End note: I'm not always sure Carl Sagan was that less naive than conventional religous-types as Dawkins was saying. With Sagan's alien bull-doo-doo, he did believe that there was a force "out there somewhere" that we can talk to and entrust our hopes and dreams to and this force in space would end up being our salvation.
His views on finding Aliens with radio signals really is a conventional religious experience, no doubt. The yearning for science people like Sagan, Hawking, SETI Institute and others to search for these "aliens" is definitely a replacement for religion for them. Sagan recorded messages for these Aliens which, I dunno 'bout you, but listening to them...it pretty much sounds like he's "praying" to these alien deities "out there." The alien stuff might be a very conventional religion for the non-religious types to use as a replacement for their discarded religions.