Note from William Schreib: This contribution “The Size of God” covers the evolution of human culture, history and the expanding consciousness of humanity through time. Adams brilliantly tracts this evolution from the ancient cultures and civilizations, who gave humanity the beginning concepts of religion, as well as those of science. Adams then outlines how this scientific understanding expanded our view of a giant Universe, while its’ quantum physics revealed the micro-cosmos within. This is an awesome look at mankind’s ever expanding view of the size of God– enjoy!
THE SIZE OF GOD by Larry Adams
It’s 14 trillion light years to the edge of the Universe, which began about six trillion years ago with The Big Bang. The first tiny fragment of a second after the blast accounts for most of the universe’s subsequent expansion. The matter that would form galaxies flung itself evenly and uniformly across vast distances before it began to congeal and lose its initial symmetry. Its expansion, though reduced in pace to a paltry 620,000 miles an hour (the speed of light,) continues to the present.
Old as the Big Bang, even though undetectable except by those who possess it, is Consciousness. We experience our own existence, observes the existence of others, and assumes in them a consciousness like our own. Some humans posit a Consciousness larger than themselves which controls physical events. Many call this Consciousness God and assume the Consciousness to be in control of their environment. The size of God is determined by the size of universe that god can control. If there is a discrepancy between that universe and the one described by Science, believers in that particular god insist their version of both God and the Universe to be consonant, correct and not debatable.
From the time about fifteen thousand years ago Man evolved from his hominid predecessors, their intellectual capacity appears to have equaled that of their modern counterparts. Their ability to observe phenomenon, like ours, equaled their ability to draw conclusions. Drawing on their observations and extrapolating, they were faced with the same conundrum we confront today: Either Humans, by the act of belief, instilled their fantasies with Consciousness or the gods are real. If real, they must have great control over their environment. By implication, the physical location they control would possess a consciousness of its own. If a Grove is really Sacred, it might well harbor an entity that is more than a collection of biological cells. If this accounts for even one Nymph or Leprechaun, it would not be logical to balk at Zeus, Apollo or Athena, though the best modern detection equipment fails to acknowledge them.
Many gods and goddesses, worshiped for centuries, are now considered myths. Some lost their place like the battle gods of the Mesopotamian. Invented to be aggressive in combat, they were often more beast than human to frighten the enemy. Such manifestation did little to encourage bonding with the worshiper. Even if militarily successful, they were of little use on the more prosaic side of life. Militarily unsuccessful gods were ripped to shreds by the same angry worshipers who created them in the first place. Like most gods with minimal and specific influence, they embodied Superstition, not Religion.
Religion centers on the worship of specific gods. Superstition is self indulgence and wishful thinking based on misinterpretation of past events, both real and imagined. Two concepts separate them: Longevity and Identity.
The secret to Longevity, it’s said, is Length. The Egyptians claim title to one of the earliest genuine Religions, even though they limped on the standard of Identity. It’s difficult for humans to be on intimate terms with a hyena or a jackal, but political stability and good marketing will often counterbalance poor product. Two peoples from overlapping eras conceived of deities able to handle both Logevity and Identity: the Hebrew and the Greek.
The Greek gods were neither monster nor animal, but immortal perfect humans, superior in wisdom and strength to their mortal counterparts. Monsters in Greek mythology exist only for gods or humans to kill. Greek Gods procreated with humans, their offspring often godlike in many ways. That Greek gods were like immortal humans, as pointed out by Edith Hamilton in her classic text Mythology, made them accessible, thus enabling the Greeks to communicate with their Deities almost anywhere by bridging the gulf between god and man, not the maw between man and beast.
From Olympus, the gods could go just about anywhere on a moment’s notice unless otherwise involved or too lazy (a commonplace and lovable complaint.) As for the breadth of their influence,, if a Greek went there, so could his entire panoply of Deities. Their size encompassed the entire Greek world. Few surviving myths portray any of the gods as omniscient. Though they were capable of spying on anyone, both humans and other gods repeatedly supplied them with misinformation. This only increased the Greeks’ perception of the gods’ likeness to and empathy with humans.
The Hebrews, a Nomadic tribe with origins near Baghdad, did not claim their god looked like either a human nor an animal, but like Nothing at All. To clarify the matter, when asked his name, he said: “I AM.” Nearly three thousand years of argument and bloodshed have not made clear exactly what he meant.
Being invisible, immortal and undefined was a great career move, since he automatically assumed possession of the entire earth, including Olympus. Though some believers might not know what he was up to, his presence in Paris implied his existence in Persia. This god, with no definable shape and no catchy name, is still accepted as real by many humans.
The Romans stand testament to the Longevity and Identity of the Greeks. Renaming the Olympian Panoply to make it their own, they absorbed the Greek religion into their empire. Not so, the Jews. Before they were conquered and packed off to Babylon they ruled themselves, and even after their return to Israel they never gave up hope that one day David would return as the New Messiah to lead them to victory over Rome. Few Jews paid much attention to the New Messiah when he came.
Even those who arranged a mock trial and blackmailed the Roman satrap into condemning him, thought him a political firebrand who might disrupt the sinecures that made them rich and powerful. It turned out he offered the promise of resurrection, not political freedom.
Christianity started off small. Its initial growth was not among Jews. Greeks found the offer of eternal life acceptable. If there were spare seats in Olympus, they felt entitled. Romans came to feel much the same way. Eventually Rome and its empire became so saturated with Christianity and their old religion so outdated and encrusted with superstition that, by decree of Constantine in 312 AD Christianity became the Religion of State from India to Scotland.
This saturation did not include the arid vastness of the Middle East. Rome ruled several hundred miles inland from the Mediterranean Sea, but it was hard to conquer the Bedouins of the Saudi Peninsula and even more difficult to imagine what to do with them and their massive sand box.
Unfound and unconquered , the inhabitants of that rough land used their privacy to nurture a religion which borrowed freely from both Hebrew and Hindu. They became a society with a ravenous appetite for science, mathematics, ethics, philosophy, and literary and musical arts. While spiritually condemning many Western ideas, they acquired western learning, housed it and spread it across North Africa, north through Spain and into southern France. The Muslim absorbed the entire academic catalog of the known world and applied it in every practical manner they could devise. The remnants of the Roman Empire, operating on a jumble of unverifiable assumed facts because they passed rigorous theological tests based on tradition rather than reason or observation.
For several centuries the scientifically unfettered minds of the Muslim world far outstripped the Western. Militarily, Islam absorbed tactics that enabled them to withstand a series of Crusades launched by a Europe desperate to relieve itself of its own marauding armies by hurling them at infidels.
At the dawn of the fifteenth century, the conclusion seemed final: the gods were real. Reason must bow to the iron demands of Theology. Consciousness, even with its myopic vision, seized the high ground.
On his deathbed in 1543 Nicklaus Copernicus published the work to which he had devoted his life. He not only moved the center of the universe from Earth, as conceived by Ptolemy, to the Sun, but tore the carpet of Centrism from beneath the iron-booted feet of Man. Galileo Galelei (1564-1642) managed, despite every effort of the Inquisition, to lend mathematical proof to Copernicus’ observations and greatly improved the instrument for observing them.
In the middle years of the sixteenth century, Isaac Newton delivered the coup de grace to the presumed theological union between Consciousness and Reality. His Principia alone challenged the notion of matter as subservient to or rising from Consciousness. In spite of the fact he could conceive of it, Man was not the center of the universe. This remote and insignificant placement of Man stretched the cranial capacities of those who did not embrace Scientific Method. Organized religion became, when it was not already, a tool of statecraft and a method of crowd management. Empires had little interest in Consciousness, and their interest in the Scientific Method was limited to marketable matters.
Until Copernicus, it was relatively easy to relate Consciousness and the Size of God, for the size of Man and his solar system were fixed by Ptolemy. Presiding over a solar system with earth at the center, it seemed likely a god could recognize individual humans, even choose favorites. In a universe where man is one of many organisms on a small planet, man can either admit the universe exists and accept the implications of it or reject reality for an antique fantasy. The second choice obligingly substantiates a great many religious and political preferences without raising uncomfortable uncertainties. The difficulty arises when it fails to work. This continues to inspire theatrical displays of outrage, but doesn’t make reality any smaller.
From Gilgamesh onward, the most common function of religion was to establish and enforce interpersonal behavior rules. The Hebraic God, exasperated with his Chosen People’s behavior even after he aided their escape from Egypt, performed one of His most memorable acts, on which the rest of Judaism and most of Christianity depends: He issued the Ten Commandments. In the first, He settles the question of Religion. He’s It. The other nine are an instruction manual for living with other humans. There has been much bloodshed over the meaning and application of these edicts, but most Jews and Christians agree a society operating under them would be very good indeed, or at least an improvement.
Of course, there are many instruction manuals handed down by others gods, some of whom claim to be supernatural. No matter the origin, any god’s ability to function depends on compliance with society’s rules by the believer. These rules for a functional society and their support by the believer are the skeleton of all societies. From 312 AD, when the emperor Constantine embraced Christianity as the official state religion of Rome, a series of popes worked with the emperors, while disintegration of Rome’s power left all society at risk.
For several hundred years, through the Low and Middle Middle Ages, religion kept the discipline of order and the flame of knowledge from flickering out in the tsunami of barbarism. The Church and its Protestant offshoots simultaneously supported society and bound it with rules and rituals, many of which bore little resemblance to reason and rational thought. Throughout the Middle Ages, Religion was a bastion of rules and standards, maintaining a moral code in a world where nothing else restrained the powerful but the size of their armies.
In Europe, the Middle East and Western Asia, the size of God was debated between Jehovah, (I AM) and Allah using these armies. With the retreat of Islam to Africa and the Middle East, Christianity dominated the Western World until the fifteenth century and the dawn of scientific thought.
Military might sustained perception of the Size of God. Copernicus, Galileo and Newton brought new weapons to the battle. Since then, conventional theology has fought a rearguard action. Some sects admit to a Copernican solar system with the god they choose in charge, and largely ignore the stars, which are encased in a celestial ceiling of glass or a backdrop scrim. This cosmology continues to draw plenty of supporters and enthusiasts, partially because there is no universe full of galaxies, each with suns and planets much resembling our own.
Copernicus and Galileo were mere opening acts for Isaac Newton (1642-1727). Ultimately practical, he showed mathematically how the known world works. In the process he defined Gravity and explained how its force controlled the observable cosmos. His concepts have stood five hindered years of denial and abuse. Not until Albert Einstein introduced his two relativity theories, in 1918 and 1936, did anything alter his ideas.
In an unchanging three dimensional universe of limited size and scope, Newton’s vision was adequate for very sophisticated engineering, but the mere distance between two objects and the subsequent inverse square depletion of gravitational effect became lost in the mists of quantum mechanics and muddled when time itself became flexible when motion became a factor.
In 1927 Werner Heisenberg unveiled the Uncertainty Principle, which gave a glimpse of how much and how little Probability entered into the fabric of a quantum universe. This principle says, among other things, that knowing the location of a particle prevents ascertaining the velocity of the particle, and vice versa. The straightforward universe of Newton could no longer be considered dependable.
With the publication in 1859 of On the Origin of Species, Charles Darwin (1809-1882)announced an equally devastating concept: evolution. Pioneers in etymology from Linnaeus on had described and named animals by species, assembling an immense, reliable catalogue. Early geologists provided fossil evidence of changes in animal life. During his own trip around the world on the research ship Beagle, including his sojourn in the Galapagos Islands, Darwin assembled the work that debunked the myth of the four thousand year old Man assembled by God in the Garden of Eden.
Responsible theologians of necessity acknowledge the Biblical creation myth as a combination of Faith and Metaphor. It seems unlikely in a universe so huge, but Man may be an anomaly and this planet may nurture the Universe’s only biological manifestation of Consciousness. We may be the only seed from which Consciousness can fill the universe; or we may be as common as grain in a wheat field. Gods may be debated but not disproved, be they Jehovah, Allah, Zeus, Gaia or the local Leprechaun. They are neither particle nor wave, and their one claim to existence, Consciousness, we cannot measure. We only agree Consciousness exists because we ourselves possess it.
Consciousness is an entity aware of its own existence. Its presence cannot be affirmed or denied by any test known to Humans. Neither can any test deny it. Therefore, there is no intrinsic reason to deny a grove, a city, an empire, a planet, a solar system, a galaxy or a Universe the possession of Consciousness. If a portion of Mankind proclaims its conception of this Consciousness to be “God,” it is equally impossible for science to deny or verify its existence.
Like galaxies forming as a result of entropy, such conceptions of Consciousness acquire their own type of mass, a clump of Consciousnesses that represents The Size of God. Each new era of Thought expanded humanity’s concept of the universe, and each expansion demanded an increase in the Size of God. Each increase presents increased intellectual and moral challenges. Old principles must interact smoothly with observed fact. When principle and fact conflict, fact may suffer in the short term, but in the long, the telescope still trumps Ptolemy’s solar system.
This does not mean Fact sweeps the board clean of morality and principle. If the dictum of Morality or Principle have merit when correctly understood, they will interact with Fact without conflict. If scientific thought has done its job properly, it is usually the entrenched police of Morality and Principle who have to adapt to Fact, as the Roman Catholic faith eventually had to accept the Facts iterated by Galileo, Copernicus, Newton and even Darwin.
Quantum Mechanics has led us beyond E=MC2, past Schroedinger’s Cat and Heisenberg’s Principle to String Theory, M Theory and the TriBrane Universe. Inflationary Cosmology demands each of us strain to grasp the true Size of God.