“Before we understood science, it was natural to believe that God created the universe, but now science offers a more convincing explanation. What I meant by ‘we would know the mind of God’ is we would know everything that God would know if there was a God, but there isn’t. I’m an atheist” – Stephen Hawking
This word “God” is a semantic hurdle. The word can mean many things to many people, including simply or complexly, the universe itself in abstraction. It is just a label applied to the great mysteries that abound, just as the phrase “the Big Bang” is. Words try to find meaning in the darkness. They are conveniences.
I do agree that science can discover great, underlying truths, and perhaps the mind of “God”. We may even discover if the universe is a hologram, and that we are the universe itself, enfolded infinitely. We may even discover, as some maverick scientists postulate now, that the universe is a simulation. We may discover then, that in the beginning was, indeed, the word.
What the mathematics of science brings to Truth is accuracy over the flowery flourishes of metaphor used by mystics. Yet, we must not be mistaken in thinking that the insights of mystics are any less valid and valuable for understanding Truth. I see no difference between the Big Bang and the Aborigines’ Rainbow Serpent dreaming the world into existence. No difference at all, except the words used.
I have always believed that mathematics may well be the language of God. However, the words of great mystics should not be diminished any less in their value for understanding Truth. There is much wisdom, poetry and insight to be found in the metaphors of mystics. Even the mystics themselves though have repeatedly pointed out the inadequacy of words to express the insights they have gained from their experiences of the divine. The Buddha was himself reluctant to try and explain what he had gained, because he doubted that his awakening could be adequately expressed through words. The Sufi mystic, Rumi said, “If I could repeat it, people passing by would be enlightened and go free.”
Arthur C. Clark once wrote, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” In defining something, we often fail to see things as they truly are. Indeed, if I must choose labels, I much prefer the poeticness of magic, over the coolness of technology, regardless of if they are an indistinguishable thing. Perhaps it is the poetry of the term God that makes it such an appealing label for the great unknown.
Dawn In Borom, Indonesia
Photography by El-Branden Brazil