“Physics isn’t the most important thing. Love is.”
~ Richard P. Feynman
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It’s encouraging to note how many scientists, like Feynman – quoted above – come to realize through their research that the universe has a beating heart.
Science and religion used to be at war with each other. Even a cursory review of human history exposes the dark divide between the two. But, times change and there’s a reason why the two camps have moved steadily closer to each other. “Scientists and theologians are discovering that their shared conviction to pursue truth has the potential to make them more allies than enemies. The result has been a greater willingness to engage each other.” 1
What is truth? For both science and religion, the answer is often theoretical and far removed from the pragmatic realities of daily life. Philosophers are often said to live in ivory towers, isolated above and beyond the drama of everyday life. Scientists labor in laboratories and offices; gurus may sequester themselves away in monasteries, caves, or ashrams.
“How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?” is a term that dates back to the 16th century and was postulated to be a question debated by scholars in ancient Constantinople… while Turks besieged the city. It’s thus considered to be “a metaphor for wasting time debating topics of no practical value, or questions whose answers hold no intellectual consequence, while more urgent concerns pile up.” 2
But both science and spirituality have major contributions to make in addressing the urgent concerns of this 21st century. Science, especially the field of quantum physics – which is the domain where Dr. Feynman does his work – is revealing the magical nature of creation. Feynman said, “Poets say science takes away from the beauty of the stars – mere globs of gas atoms. I, too, can see the stars on a desert night, and feel them. But do I see less or more? 3
In other words, “knowledge about” needn’t diminish emotional impact. Seeking to understand the mysteries of the universe does not inevitably lead to skepticism about its innately spiritual nature (although scientists would immediately argue with that descriptor).
As we burrow our way into the details of our lives, we can both understand more and be increasingly awed by the deepening mystery of it all. And, again from quantum explorations, it’s becoming obvious that we will never succeed in fathoming all the mysteries and understanding everything. The human mind is simply incapable of containing the vast complexity of that which created it.
It is encouraging to witness a rapidly converging alignment of scientific and spiritual viewpoints, well expressed in a recent book that pitted a new age spiritualist, Deepak Chopra, against a scientist, Leonard Mlodinow. In War of the Worldviews, they wrote: “Our best hope for a better future, then, is through the development of values that encourage caring for one another, cherishing knowledge and learning, preserving natural resources, and minimizing harm to our environment. It is only this kind of evolution, which is cultural rather than biological in nature that can save us.” 4
Such a statement can indeed give us hope, because its coming from the heart, not just the head. It’s a perspective that looks forward, not towards modernizing theory but to improving the human condition. It’s wonderful to know that certain scientists and some of those more spiritually inclined are making this a priority and further proving what Feynman said in our opening quote, that “love” is the real priority.
When we share that personal priority, we are less inclined to assume positions that provoke competition and argument. In fact, we can respect our different viewpoints and seek to learn from each other, acknowledging that all of us are seeking truth, while exercising our personal preferences for navigating that journey.
And, as scientists have demonstrated and articulated through such theories as The Observer Effect, we always influence whatever we observe. That’s what makes it so vitally important to look through the eyes of love. When we do, we tend to see a universe of love… and that makes all the difference in how we treat each other.
4. War of the Worldviews, by Deepak Chopra M.D. and Leonard Mlodinow