Monday, July 6, 2015

A New God Paradigm


"The Internet offers immense possibilities for encounter and solidarity.
This is something truly good, a gift from God."
Pope Francis

There are three distinct views of how the universe and life came into existence. (1) Two are familiar while the third has virtually no public recognition.

  1. Creation: This view is that of the Abrahamic religions – Judaism, Christianity and Islam. It imagines creation as the work of an all-knowing, all-powerful being. From a transcendental dimension, the creator is believed to observe and judge obedience to his commandments handed down through sacred texts (as interpreted by religious hierarchies). This view is completely faith-based.
  2. Scientific: Only matter and energy are real. This builds on the determinism of modern physics that explains the origin of the expanding universe as a result of the “Big Bang”.  It does not explain what existed before the Big Bang. Life is seen as something that has evolved through a combination of chance genetic mutations and a competitive struggle for life, with survival of fittest for any given environment.
  3. Emergent: All of creation is the emergence of intelligence that develops, advances and realizes the possibilities through a continuing teleological process. Everything – the universe, stars, planets and life – is the expression of a pervasive, continually evolving force.  
This essay examines and develops the third view.

Shifting Patterns

In her perceptive book, Alone Together, MIT psychologist and sociologist Sherry Turkle talks about the ways technology is changing how people relate to one anther and construct their own personal lives. She discusses the psychological side effects of constant connection with the Internet.(2)

There are dramatic changes in the way people use and view computers. We no longer give "commands" to a machine; we enter into dialogues, navigate simulated worlds, and create virtual realities. Millions of people now interact with their computers on networks; they talk, exchange ideas and feelings.

In Turkle’s study of human identity in the age of the Internet, Life on the Screen, she reports that people are using networks to engage in new ways of thinking about evolution, relationships, politics, sex, and the self. Many talk of their online experience in spiritual terms. She cites one person who says: "To me, it's God coming together with science, and computers have made it all possible." (3)

In an interview with Time magazine for their Dec. 16, 1996 cover story, Jesus Online, Turkle explains that people experience electronic networks, like life itself, evolving by a force they can neither understand, nor control.  The Internet is one of the most dramatic examples of something that is self-organized. People feel that “God could be the distributed, decentralized system”. Turkle said this, not as a religious person, but as a scientist trying to understand what is happening in modern culture. (4)

Internet as a God Metaphor

In his meaningful and important essay, The Internet As A Metaphor For God, Charles Henderson brings up several insightful points.(5) I had just been discussing this very point with a philosopher friend over lunch and did a Google search as soon as I got home . This article (written in 2000, about 15 years ago) came up; it resonated deeply with me.

Most religious symbols were born naturally, through the everyday experience of real people. In the age of powerful kings, God was considered to be an almighty monarch who ruled from a throne somewhere beyond human understanding, issuing commands that could not be questioned by anyone, even emperors.

In the age of hierarchical government, God was considered to be beyond any human power. In the Industrial Age, God was thought of as the great designer who invented the very laws of nature. In the age of democracy, God was considered to live in the hearts and minds of individual believers.

Henderson continues: Likewise, in the Information age, God is being perceived by many as being present in and through that network which connects us with each other and with the world in which we live. Today, that network is the Internet. (6)

Connection to a Higher Power

Humans feel a need to consult a greater power. When they need advice or information, or some kind of help, they turn to a “higher power”. With no equipment, they simply “pray”. If they are connected to the Internet, they feel its power and derive knowledge, comfort, peace and almost always, all the assistance they may need.  (7)

The Christian view is that almighty God knows everything and can be accessed through the Bible; he can be communicated with directly through prayer.  Today, the Internet contains data that are vastly greater than knowledge that can be provided by any one person. And for most, it is easy to access online. Of course, what is found must be sifted through carefully. Clearly, the knowledge can corrupt (the equivalent of evil) as well as support and provide comfort.

Here’s a good question: In the current paradigm, when you need help, who do you turn to the most – God or Google?

Changing Paradigms

Marshall McLuhan and Quentin Fiore wrote in their prescient, 1967 book, The Medium is the Massage: "When faced with a totally new situation, we tend always to attach ourselves to the objects, to the flavor of the. . . past. We look at the present through a rear-view mirror. We march backwards into the future." (8)

The images of a Creator as a single, remote, almighty being is deeply seated in human consciousness. It can and will change very, very slowly. While it is changing, many faith-based adherents will consider different depictions of God nonsensical, or even sacrilegious. Even so, these new spiritual views will continue to spread rapidly.

Substantial and even revolutionary changes have come about within just the past couple of decades. Ray Kurzweil points out that change is advancing exponentially and cannot be slowed. (9)

Creation Allegory

You may have read my blog, Creation Allegory, published October 6, 2014 – it has generated about 1,500 views. In this essay, I quoted a short story, Sole Solution, written by Eric Frank Russell, a British science fiction author.  It made tremendous sense to me as a creation story and I hope I can motivate you to read it. You may wish to read my blog again. (10)

I concluded that blog with a summary of my own view of creation.

“God is not some remote creator, but rather the essence of the universe that brought it into reality. The moment of creation was what may be considered the ‘Big Bang’. No one has yet explained how and why that occurred. This allegory at least provides a rational back-story that perhaps makes sense.

“In the present moment, the here and now, God is not some remote observer or judge, but an active participant through you and I and every part of creation.”

Adherents to strict science agree that all the laws of the universe apply only after the Big Bang occurred. The time before the Big Bang occurred is undefined and beyond understanding. (11)

I have discussed this with my scientist and philosopher friends. We have agreed that the creation allegory at least provides some explanation of events prior to the Big Bang. Lacking any other theory, the Creation Allegory may indeed be valid until someone proves it is wrong. I must point out that this extrapolation is my own.

Let’s Engage

To expand on these concepts, please share your ideas by responding directly via the blog:

  1. Which of the 3 views of Life do you hold?
    1. Creation by God
    2. Science and Evolution
    3. Universe is God         
  2. What’s your view of God?
    1. Almighty Person
    2. No God – I’m an atheist
    3. Don’t know – I’m agnostic
    4. Hindu, Buddhist, Bahá'í, Unitarian, other
    5. God is everywhere
  3. Is the Internet a valid metaphor for God?
    1. Yes, I like it
    2. Maybe
    3. No – does not appeal to me
  4. How was the Universe created?
    1. Big Bang
    2. God created
    3. I have no idea – don’t think about it
References:

1.     Religion, Science, and Spirit: http://goo.gl/0DQfNv
2.     TED Talk - Sherry Turkle: Connected, but alone? http://goo.gl/vs3UTY
3.     Sherry Turkle book – Life on the Screen: http://goo.gl/BW5OBO
4.     TIME – Dec. 16, 1996: Finding God on the web: http://goo.gl/8XkxqV
5.     The Internet As A Metaphor For God: http://goo.gl/xZbPxW
6.     NY Times – Now, You Can Worship by Modem: http://goo.gl/dIOi6Z
7.     The Internet of Life: https://goo.gl/ZXXO8a
8.      Marshall McLuhan – March  Backwards Into the Future: http://goo.gl/kYI5tT
9.     Kurzweil – Law of Accelerating Returns: http://goo.gl/j7kD7b
10.  Creation Allegory: http://goo.gl/1cjo0t
11.  What Came Before the Big Bang? http://goo.gl/f6BdNo

..ooOOoo..

Jim Pinto
Carlsbad, CA.
USA
6 July 2015 

17 comments:

  1. 1. Which of the 3 views of Life do you hold?
    a. rev 1: Creation by God and God created Evolution and The Universe is God

    2. What’s your view of God?
    a. rev 1: Almighty Person, who is everywhere

    3. Is the Internet a valid metaphor for God?
    c. No – but I like it

    4. How was the Universe created?
    a. rev 1: Big Bang (Genesis 1:1 "...and God said, Let there be light!")

    ReplyDelete
  2. I love to read your blog. For your recent God-survey you should try
    https://www.surveymonkey.com
    Benefit : Easy input & automatic evaluation of the answers.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Ekkehard.

      I have used Surveymoney.com in the past, for sending out a lot of questions and tallying a lot of responses. For thus blog, I want to share all the responses with all the readers, so there is not need for further evaluation.

      I do appreciate your idea.

      Delete
  3. I think: Matter and energy are an all-powerful being which gives us a big bang from time to time evolvin us with some force. Or: I really don´t know at some times, what to believe... but pray or meditate in a quiet grand room sometimes gives peace.

    1. Which of the 3 views of Life do you hold?
    a. Creation by God
    b. Science and Evolution
    c. Universe is God
    a, b or c, depends on mood.

    2. What's your view of God?
    a. Almighty Person
    b. No God, I'm an atheist
    c. Don't know, I'm agnostic
    d. Hindu, Buddhist, Bahá'í, Unitarian, other
    Almighty person doing seemingly nothing even if necessary...

    3. Is the Internet a valid metaphor for God?
    a. Yes, I like it
    b. Maybe
    c. No, does not appeal to me
    nah, it is just a machine. a real big machine. benefitting us with knowledge, interaction to remote people. yet consuming our time and setting us under some pressure which generations before us never felt. knowing what is possible for other people, what you could consume if better off, giving the possibility for bullying, stalking up to being a broadcaster of intelligent, beautiful or whatever thoughts - possibilities most people before the internet never inclined to have and maybe did not miss...
    4. How was the Universe created?
    a. Big Bang
    b. Created by God
    c. I have no idea. I­ don't think about it
    I have no Idea, even if I think about it...

    ReplyDelete
  4. 1. Which of the 3 views of Life do you hold? a, b or c? ... (D) UNKNOWN - the 3 options offered do not satisfy my needs.
    2. What’s your view of God? (B) NO GOD - I'M AN ATHEIST until there is a credible proof of a god. Then I'll become a believer. I'm waiting.
    3. Is the Internet a valid metaphor for God? (A) YES, I LIKE IT. Because it has about the same validity as the other gods claims: i.e. NONE.
    4. How was the Universe created? (C) I HAVE NO IDEA - DON'T THINK ABOUT IT, since I have neither the information nor the pressing need to cook up yet another competing idea.


    Expansion:
    For an atheist like me, it is actually difficult to enter into a serious conversation about something for which there is no proof, with people who often have this conviction that there MUST be a god - how else to answer their questions? There is always the danger that I ridicule them personally, and of course that is not right. However I do find it to be quite acceptable, even mandatory, to ridicule the religions themselves, although perhaps not the people trapped by them.

    To me, religion is the vehicle that is used to guide the masses of people that can be made or forced to buy into the concept. If the Internet provides that same vehicle, then it may be the modern equivalent of what religion is. That also points out that the Internet can be used for good as well as bad - just like the other religions.

    If we accept the definition of religion as "the belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, especially a personal God or gods.", then we may conclude that as far as things on the Internet are blindly accepted as facts, and there are entities controlling those 'facts', then there is a very strong similarity between religion and the Internet, albeit not necessarily a desirable one.

    Closing thought about 'gods'. The blog, and probably most serious publications, do not entertain the possibility that life on earth was started by an alien entity, be it intelligent beings or some life-carrying spores arriving on meteors. I realize this just moves the dilemma of where and how the 'original' life started one step up the ladder. However as weighted against a 'Created By An All-Powerful God' metaphor, this concept has at least as much validity to me.

    Add to that the concept that, in the infinitesimal fraction of time that humans may be considered 'enlightened' (or even sentient) as measured against the 14 (?) billion years that the universe is thought to have existed, can we reasonably expect that the accumulated science of the past, say 100 years is ready to adequately explain all 'facts of life'? And yet in the even smaller smidgen of time since Al Gore invented "the Internets", we have already considered that the Internet is equivalent to the 'god' concept? All that indicates to me, is that we humans are very desperate to attach some non-existent meaning to things in an attempt to explain the things that are not (yet) understood. That's how man invented gods, and how man equates the internet with gods.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. In my opinion anonymous is expressing exactly my thinking - since I do not have the wordpower as he does (my language is German) I only would like to say that the most recent or past religions have been misused to suppress people for the benefit of the so called "elite". Religions and their gods have been invented only in the brain and then teached or forced to others. I do not like any ..ism!

      Delete
  5. You increasingly tackle Big Subjects, Jim. Bully for you. We lesser beings shy from them, perhaps feeling not up to the task. Particularly intriguing is your idea that the Internet is a paradigm for God, for something big that is not controlled by any one person. We've seen that in just two tech screw-ups in the sending and receiving of your latest blog.

    One thing that does bother me about the concept of God is that it may have roots in medieval thinking: We can't explain it, so God must have done it.

    "Who can explain it,
    Who can tell you why?
    Fools give you reasons,
    Wise men never try."
    (Lyrics from South Pacific, by Oscar Hammerstein III)

    Here are my responses to the questions:

    1. Which of the 3 views of Life do you hold?
    For me, the Universe IS God

    2. What's your view of God?
    Other

    3. Is the Internet a valid metaphor for God?
    I like it.

    4. How was the Universe created?
    I have no idea. Don't think about it.

    ReplyDelete
  6. So many questions. So what was there before the big bang, if that's where the current universe actually came from?

    The idea of all the universe coming from a small singularity is also mind boggling. How many other "singularities" are there or were there and for how long? Where does "space" end. But it cannot end? Or what is outside it?

    How many other dimensions are around us? Space and Time are probably much more complex than we can comprehend. What truly is "dark matter" and dark "energy"?

    Simply to much for the current human mind to handle.

    Religion:

    Seems like virtually all the various tribes of humans have acknowledged for all history, some "God" that is in control.

    Millions people believe or have believed also for "history" that you can talk or pray to "God" and that the "God" will answer those prayers, for even very small things.

    But how about all the millions of people over time that have been the subject of the wrath, killings, persecution, slaughter of other people just because their particular religious beliefs are "different".

    Those latter People surely prayed very hard for relief and protection, but have historically been slaughtered by the millions.

    The above three sentences appear to conflict with the idea of a loving God, since we are all from the same mold in the beginning.

    I still believe there is something out there that was the intelligent designer of it all, and it was not just scientific "chance or selection". But for what reason we ended up as intelligent beings with emotions on probably just one of billions of similar habituated planets is still eluding me.

    It is very hard to acknowledge that we are probably "on our own" as far as a God coming to set us straight and resolve the question of our religious differences. Would be very simple to do with today's communications compared with the biblical time of Christ.

    But then what would happen? Probably not all peaches and cream.

    I do pray daily for that to happen, at least something to mitigate the human suffering, but have to realize it has not happened for all the time of man. Christ and other "holy men" tried, but today, not much is different than it was in the very early times.

    God...what does the word really refer too? A single entity? A group of entities? So where did he or it or the group come from?

    Will we get the answer when we die or will we just end?

    I guess I did not add much to your questions, but just more questions.

    ReplyDelete
  7. 1. Which of the 3 views of Life do you hold?
    a. Creation by God
    b. Science and Evolution
    c. Universe is God

    Neither a, b, or c.

    2. What’s your view of God?
    a. Almighty Person
    b. No God – I’m an atheist
    c. Don’t know – I’m agnostic
    d. Hindu, Buddhist, Bahá'í, Unitarian, other
    e. God is everywhere

    I don't know - I'm agnostic.

    3. Is the Internet a valid metaphor for God?
    a. Yes, I like it
    b. Maybe
    c. No – does not appeal to me

    No - does not appeal to me.

    4. How was the Universe created?
    a. Big Bang
    b.God created
    c. I have no idea – don’t think about it

    No idea - I don't think about it.

    ReplyDelete
  8. It interesting how humans have a desire to believe. It is interesting that the universe seems to have no limits and the deeper we look at the atomic level the more particles we find, is there a end to the limit for both?

    To have a Big Bang, you still stuff (material, atom, etc) , where did that come from?

    I don't know about others but this makes me feel very insignificant and to think we are mini gods (Emergent) seems too arrogant. For example, how can very bad things happen to small kids ? I find it hard to believe they had negative thought to have done it to themselves. Too bad quantum mechanics is being high jacketed by Emergent to make a dollar, but looking at other theories like De Broglie–Bohm theory may shed some answers to the so called weirdness Quantum Mechanics provides.

    Sorry, to answer your question, I select God created the Big Bang. No one is perfect and hence we are all being tested in this life with what we have. Do we simply just follow our desires and wants at any cost ?

    ReplyDelete
  9. Your options about God and creation - none of the above.

    I claim to be a Christian, but I have doubts like all people who claim to believe.

    What I don't have any doubts about is that there is a spirituality in the universe we simply don't understand. Something more than just the matter and energy we seem to be getting a pretty good grasp on.

    There is without question good and evil which have no explanation based on Newton, Einstein or any other scientific theories. I have experienced these things, sometimes in a way I can't describe and sometimes in ways I can describe but cannot scientifically prove.

    Although it may sound really silly, my best guess at the moment is that it is like Starwars - there is a good side and a bad side. I hate the simplicity of this and the cult nature of what has evolved from the movies, but it does seem to explain a lot of things. Two forces neither of which we have any real understanding of.

    ReplyDelete
  10. 1b, 2b, 3b, 4a.
    Religion (almost all of them) has a history of opression, violence, hate but also compassion. The bad bit seems to have the upper hand.
    I am appalled to see the crimes even wars being comitted sponsored by some kind of religion.
    The internet may be the peacemaker we need. When people start talking and being educated the people who use religion to keep people stupid and under control loose power. Looking at the daily news I hope this happens fast.... The signs are there.
    As most religions are sure that the others end up in hell (or equivalent) God is out of work..... Bhudda may have some work...
    I sometimes get very sick of people who operate as... "You are not of our church so you are an unbeliever, so we can screw you or cut off your head".

    ReplyDelete
  11. If the Internet is God, it is curious that, of all the vast universe, it is confined to only one small place. To quote Carl Sagan, that would be a "helluva waste of real estate."

    Also, while the Internet may be "self organizing," that situation may be very temporary. A lot of powerful interests, such as Obama and the Chinese government, are trying to change all that. I don't think my concept of God can include a communications medium controlled by some political hack.

    ReplyDelete
  12. I do believe that the vastness of creation can be an overwhelming thought and everyday I struggle to comprehend the suffering and the evil that exists in the world. But I do have the confidence of my faith,

    "Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for. By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible. (‭Hebrews‬ ‭11‬:‭1-3‬ NIV)"

    I also know that the feeling I get when I look at a beautiful sunrise or sunset could not possibly come from a "Big Bang"

    "For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. (‭Romans‬ ‭1‬:‭20‬ NIV)"

    I believe our time here on this earth is but a mere breath compared to what we will spend in eternity and that God has given us the free will to choose in that brief moment of time who we will serve.

    "He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. (Ecclesiastes 3:11)"

    I returned today from visiting a close friend who most likely has very little time left on this side of eternity. I can't even begin to imagine not having the promise of seeing him or any of my loved ones who put there faith in Christ and passed once again.

    "For all who call upon the name of The Lord shall be saved ( Romans 10:13)

    I will conclude by saying again that I have confidence in my faith,

    " For we live by faith, not by sight. (2 Corinthians 5:7)"

    And although I am FAR from perfect I strive everyday to live my life in a way that will honor God and to try to make a difference in the lives of so many who are suffering.

    "Love The Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself'
    (Matthew 22:37-39)"

    ReplyDelete
  13. Joan (Stannard) FerrellJuly 16, 2015 at 2:48 PM

    1.Which of the 3 views of Life do you hold?
    a.Creation by God

    2.What’s your view of God?
    a.Almighty Person
    and
    e.God is everywhere

    3.Is the Internet a valid metaphor for God?
    c.No – does not appeal to me

    4.How was the Universe created?
    b.God created

    ReplyDelete
  14. My answers to your four questions:

    1. Which of the 3 views of Life do you hold?
    b. Science and Evolution

    2. What’s your view of God?
    b. No God – I’m an atheist

    3. Is the Internet a valid metaphor for God?
    b. Maybe

    4. How was the Universe created?
    a. Big Bang

    ReplyDelete