Science Can’t Escape The Infinite

There are two main pillars of modern physics – Einstein’s general relativity and quantum theory. Each theory behaves as though it has nothing to do with the other, yet it is obvious to even the average man or woman on the street that the world is unified. Not only have these two great theories eluded scientists’ attempt to unify them, they lead to other things physicists detest – infinities.

General relativity leads us to singularities occurring both inside black holes and at the “Big Bang” beginning of the universe. In each case the force of gravity and matter swirls together into a space with an ever-decreasing radius, rapidly taking on infinite strength and density, until there is no longer any spacetime left – and nothing to mathematically describe.

Quantum theory also has problems with infinities when it is applied towards fields (like electric and magnetic fields). A field has values at every point in space and there are an infinite number of zero-dimensional points that can occupy any finite-sized space. This causes equations to quickly spin out of a physicist’s control when trying to make predictions.

So in both quantum and relativity theory physicists find themselves backed into a wall of infinities. They believe that infinities showing up in their equations point to a mistake and must be eliminated.

Theology embraces the infinite, but not in a scientific way. Religion tells us that the finite world was created from an Infinite God. However, once we move beyond religious faith, God’s Infinite Being leaves us with the big problem of finding a rational, causal nexus between the Infinite and the finite.

Scientist/theologian, Emanuel Swedenborg believed that rather than trying to eliminate infinities from our calculations, the Infinite must play an essential part and be factored into our formulations of reality. I will address his approach to the infinite and a deeper theory in my next book, Proving God. But for the purpose of this short post it is important to simply grasp that nothing can exist alone.

Finite things can only be created from things greater (and less finite) than themselves. Something has to be finited (limited) and given constraints in order to appear in time and space. More importantly, new things exist as prior things begin to coexist (the emergence of complexity). Existence is relationship, and over time, nature becomes more complex to more perfectly reflect God’s nature, which is Infinite Love.

Nature’s processes follow a spiritual principle, which is why the fertility of the universe is displayed not simply in the quantity of created things but in the orchestrated utility between all things (this is what unifies different things into an interrelated and interdependent complex).

God, from the principle of Divine Love, can only create forms of utility (which are physical analogs of love) and therefore, all finite entities must emerge to serve a particular use for a grand and eternal purpose. Every finite entity is connected from prolepsis whereby the “present” is oriented to the future (this dynamic also holds the key to the mystery of the “Arrow of Time”).

Concerning the causal link between the Infinite and the finite, both realities are self-similar and correspond to each other (God cannot create through dissimilarity which would represent imperfection). Secondly, God creates the ratio between the finite and Infinite – not from the finite but from the infinite. God is equally present in all creation but not equally received and conjoined.

In other words, the infinite forms a relationship with a rock from a different ratio than it does a human brain. The Infinite is more perfectly self-represented in the higher order structures of human brain and mind than in a rock. So religion is a divine strategy by which the human heart and mind can be more perfectly conjoined to, and reflect, the higher values of the Creator.

Both theories (relativity and quantum) are inadequate as they are now stand and need to be reformulated. The purpose of my writing enterprise is to show that this reformulation will be founded on the premise that (Infinite) Love is the ultimate science.

 

www.provinggod.com

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Miraculous cure – Is this possible?

miraculousA 74-year-old woman’s lower right leg was covered in waxy lumps, eruptions of angry red and livid purple. Tests confirmed the worst suspicions: it was carcinoma, a form of skin cancer. Despite receiving no treatment over a period of a few months the tumours miraculously disappeared. There was nothing in the biopsies, or the scans. The patient believed it was the hand of God; she had kissed a religious relic just before what she saw as miraculous healing set in. However, medics call this a rare case of spontaneous remission although they cannot account for it scientifically.

Like the patient, believers in faith healing assert that the miraculous curing of disease and disability can be brought about through prayer and/or other religious rituals that, they say stimulate a divine presence and power. The term miracle means an event that is contrary to natural law. There have been claims that faith can cure blindness, deafness, cancer, AIDS, and many other disorders and injuries.

Attitude of religious people to miraculous healing

Miraculous healing was said to happen in biblical times like Christ’s healing of the blind, deaf, lame and other diseased people. If it really happened then, why not also now?

One might wonder about the many millions of Catholics who have made their pilgrimage to Lourdes over the years where the waters are alleged to have miraculous healing powers. Some amazing recoveries have been claimed as miraculous cures but little is said about the vast majority who make no dramatic improvement.

When most don’t get miraculous healing does this make them doubt their religion? Or do they assume they are not good enough for God to want to heal them?

The lack of cure didn’t put off the 72 percent of Americans in 2004 who said, according to a Newsweek poll, they believed that praying to God can cure someone, even if science says the person doesn’t stand a chance.

Can this be true or is it just wishful thinking? Is this attitude just a historical remnant of a pre-scientific age when the Christian church depended on the belief in miracles and superstition? Aren’t people today in secular society more likely to be more rational about such things?

Miraculous events in biblical times

According to Emanuel Swedenborg, spiritual philosopher, in biblical times, there was less capability than now of perceiving the deeper side of life without myths to engage and illuminate the mind. These narratives were usually believed as literally true and people were more naturally-minded. Many needed to believe in miraculous events as a way of thinking about a higher power.

The followers of Christ believed in their leader’s bodily resurrection only because they said that he came to eat with them after his death. According to the Gospel account, one of them, Thomas, was not even convinced until he was allowed to personally examine the wounds in Christ’s hands and side that had been inflicted during the crucifixion.

If miracles were to take place today, such events would soon dominate the mass media and be regularly seen on television news, and nearly everyone would be compelled to believe in supernatural power even against their inclinations. Swedenborg argues that such compulsion would take away our freedom to think clearly about the pros and cons of a spiritual orientation to life.

Belief compelled by miraculous events

I would suggest that in the 21st century we live in new times when we are able to explore rational ideas and have the freedom to hold reasonable doubts. Swedenborg’s point is that it is only in this free way can we really sense and willingly take on board the idea of a higher degree of reality that transcends the material world. Belief freely adopted endures in the heart. It lasts because it is not based on what is sensational, or what others say but comes from an inner acceptance and commitment to a different way of life.

This freedom is said to be vitally important. It allows us to adopt what beliefs we choose and within social boundaries conduct our private lives as we please. It permits us to observe what we get up to and form our own assessment of our conduct as we wish either from the perspective of the world or from our idea of higher values. It allows us to take responsibility for what we do and feel remorse and try to reform only if we so choose.

This is the freedom of thought we have when looking up at the night sky to stand in awe at its vast majesty. To feel wonder at the spell of the sea with its fathomless depths. To marvel about the dreams that fill every period of sleep and what might be their personal meaning. For some people the very breath they take each day of their life is amazing and life itself is a miracle. They don’t need it proved to them by supernatural events that defy any rational explanation.

Seeing the miraculous in the ordinary

The body heals itself. When a virus invades it, the body sets up a process to repel the invader and, after illness, recovery sets in. Medicine and other therapies help this process that according to religious people originates from a God of healing love and wisdom. They say if you put your faith in this miraculous Source it opens your mind to an inner world that goes beyond time and place taking you to quite a different level. This is a kind of faith healing although not what is usually meant by the term.

Your spiritual beliefs may affect your chances of recovery from disease not through a miraculous cure but rather by connecting you with what you perceive as the loving essence of life, encouraging your moderate healthy life style and providing social support and thus emotional help that can only improve your mental state and immune system. Is it this spiritual inflow rather than a supernatural event that can nurture your healing?

“Miracles occur naturally as expressions of love. The real miracle is the love that inspires them. In this sense everything that comes from love is a miracle.” (Marianne Williamson spiritual writer)

Copyright 2016 Stephen Russell-Lacy
Author Heart, Head & Hands

Posted on28th February 2016CategoriesLatest post, Other aspects of spiritual healing,Spiritual healingTags, ,

Psychiatric illness

Harvard Medical School
Harvard Medical School

David Rosmarin Harvard Medical School talking about his study of 159 patients said:

“Our work suggests that people with a moderate to high level of belief in a higher power do significantly better in short-term psychiatric treatment than those without, regardless of their religious affiliation. Belief was associated with not only improved psychological wellbeing, but decreases in depression and intention to self-harm,”

Of the patients sampled, more than 30 percent claimed no specific religious affiliation yet still saw the same benefits in treatment if their belief in a higher power was rated as moderately or very high. Patients with “no” or only “slight” belief in God were twice as likely not to respond to treatment than patients with higher levels of belief.

Further information here

 

Despair – How to conjure up hope?

despairOn an off day, Stuart would privately think that life had little to offer him and he even sometimes felt that all he was doing was going through the motions of living. Money was tight, and in a time of recession there were poor prospects of job advancement. Although working as an estate agent, he had started to despair that he could do anything about finding any way of earning a living in a meaningful role in line with his youthful ideals.

Whatever he did wasn’t satisfying for very long and from time to time the feelings of hopelessness would return. He kept busy and this was his way of avoiding what he didn’t realize was a state of inner despair. He had been an idealist when younger, very keen to help bring about a world where the natural environment was protected, business people were honest, and social justice was the norm.

Now days he felt depressed whenever he read a newspaper or watched a newscast that clearly showed the opposite of his vision. He had switched from being very positive to very negative in his hopes. He was starting to feel like a failure and trapped by his situation, with a reducing willpower left for continuing the struggle with the disappointments of daily living.

How can someone like Stuart change this state of despair and find something to give hope and energy?

Despair resulting from lack of belief

There is nothing wrong with having a vision of a better world. Many of us like Stuart have imagined a human society uncorrupted by warfare and other social evils; or a natural environment with its beauty not exploited by greed; or a community of mutually supportive people with real concern for the public good, that gives everyone a sense of belonging and being included. Whatever idea of the future that excites us, it can serve to energise our best efforts.

I feel Stuarts’s problem however was that he had no deep belief to sustain his endurance when set-backs and adversity got in the way: nothing to hold on to that had the power to transform society: no spiritual framework of ideas to sustain his youthful vision, to give it credibility in the long run as an achievable objective, and to enable his wishes to survive a rational appraisal of what is possible. When there is nothing on which one can pin one’s hopes, then despair is likely to be the result.

If you despair, in what can you put your faith?

In other words, I am trying to argue that what is crucially needed is something beyond oneself, that transcends the material realm, and in which one can put one’s faith: an entity greater than oneself: that goes beyond the ‘little me’ with my petty concerns: that offers a timeless vision of life.

The way you think affects the way you feel. This is a psychological process known about by psychologists and used in CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy). Consequently, it is key to examine whether the belief that sustains your hopes is a reasonable one. Stuart’s despair seems to come from his denial of any divine spark within and beyond humanity that could help us think further than self.

But how to be convinced? How to find a rational faith that could challenge the setbacks and illusions that destroy hope? The illusions of meaninglessness, alienation and self-condemnation?

Persuasive belief and despair

One answer comes from the spiritual philosopher Emanuel Swedenborg. He writes about a limited type of belief that results from being persuaded by some ideology such as a political or religious teaching: often this is a belief of convenience so our attitudes unconsciously fit in with those of our family and friends. He claims that it is possible for such a belief to be  part of the thinking mind, but not also part of the feeling heart: if so he says it cannot endure. For example being persuaded that it is wrong to steal cannot transform a person from being a robber at heart unless there is a desire to be honest, so that thought and feeling are in harmony. Incongruity between head and heart accounts for the hypocrisy seen in some of the history of religion including Christianity. It can also account for lost hope and despair.

Swedenborg contrasts persuasive belief with a genuine faith in a higher power. He maintains real faith is to do with trust and confidence: it is knowing in your heart with an inner conviction for example that there is a divine providence behind the universe beyond all the ability of material science to observe. So just how can one find such an inner conviction that sustains hope? What do you do to be convinced deep down?

Despair or receiving confident hope through faith

Swedenborg’s answer is that such a faith is a spiritual gift – not something we can create for ourselves but rather something that we can receive: a gift only for those who are ready to receive it: who are willing to give something of themselves in order to receive.

But give what? Things that occur to me are:

  1. Giving an open mind to the possibility of a higher spiritual power that we can source to change things for the better,
  2. Giving the time to try to understand what this would mean,
  3. Giving our effort to try to lead a way of life in line with what we are persuaded is true.

If all this is correct then to find confidence in justice and peace, one needs to attempt to act  fairly with others. Likewise to have a deep trust in a creative force within the universe, one needs to oneself start nurturing the natural environment. Also to believe in the reality of the power of compassion, then one needs to begin practicing a caring attitude towards those with whom we come into contact. I believe this is the way to receive the gift of inner conviction.

Without confidence and conviction there can be no sustainable hope. Without hope there is despair.

“Give and you will receive”
“Search and you will find”
(Jesus Christ)

Copyright 2014 Stephen Russell-Lacy
Author of  Heart, Head & Hands  Swedenborg’s perspective on emotional problems

Self-respect — How to find it if feeling guilt?

self-respectWhat you did wasn’t that bad. A hasty ill-judged remark, an over-indulgence, a minor act of selfishness. You want to forget about it but the memory lingers. What if somebody else noticed? You feel uneasy with yourself. Is this the tiny prick of conscience? A sense you have done something wrong? You want to feel self-respect after doing wrong. You want to feel better about yourself but you cannot change what happened.

Joan had become preoccupied with her sense of guilt. She had badly let down her life-time friend Sally. Not gone to her best pal’s wedding. There was a good reason or so she had tried to tell herself. The conference was one she had keenly wanted to attend.  But she could have put it off until the following year. She knew she should have put her life-long friend first. Sure, Sally was still speaking – after a fashion — but Joan couldn’t forgive herself. Couldn’t get her self-respect back.

We all do some wrong things but there are actions that some people take that cause immense hurt and damage. But whatever it is we have done, we need to feel self-respect, to be liked and accepted without feeling bad about ourselves. So how does one get rid of guilt?

If you are not unfairly being hard on yourself, the first step is to stop making up excuses to justify, what deep down, you know you shouldn’t have done. Be honest and own up at least to yourself. And resolve to try not to do something like it again. If you want, you can be a different person from the time when you behaved badly. The self-respect can return.

Okay there are some things that can’t be remedied that we will regret for ever. Yet you can ask yourself, is there really nothing I can do to right the wrong? Sometimes you can and then a sense of pardon might be felt from the offended person after you apologise or attempt to make amends. This happened to Joan. Not only did she confess her selfish error to Sally, she did her best to make it up to her by later throwing a surprise wedding anniversary party. And that cost her a pretty penny and some valuable time but she was really glad she could do it. She and Sally were the best of friends again.

Reconciliation can be a wonderful thing, for example following marital breakdown, but how can this be achieved following serious crime. How on earth do people live with themselves after committing murder or abusing a child? I guess if they have little conscience then they suffer little guilt. But if they do have genuine remorse then sad indeed is their torment unless they can find a way to stop condemning themselves for that one mad moment when they completely lost self-control. Self-respect for this kind of person must feel like a mile away.

Some people have experimented with psychedelic drugs and report the experience of love and forgiveness, as well as benign and blissful moments of cosmic unity whilst under the chemical influence. But these effects don’t seem to last and the ‘trip’ can also include horrible visions of filth and torture.

So where can we get lasting help for a stricken conscience? Those with strong feelings of anxiety and guilt have been drawn to the promise of religion for their redemption. But traditional Christianity talks about the “forgiveness of God for the repentant sinner” thus using a language that has unfortunate connotations of punishment and judgement.

Instead, why not think of the image of genuinely loving parents? These have nothing to forgive when looking at their children who go off the rails. Just hope and encouragement for better days ahead.

Or think of non-judgmental counsellors who adopt an accepting attitude towards their clients. This stance allows confessions of guilty secrets and the encouragement of self-insight and attitude change. The aim of therapy is self-respect and self-esteem.

Counsellors don’t need to forgive, for it is not they who have been offended but they do foster self-acceptance. Likewise the divine Counsellor, as the origin of infinite mercy and compassion, does not need to forgive. For to forgive implies condemnation which Love itself is incapable of feeling. Such an idea of God as a Counsellor can be thought of as providing healing of guilt.

Emanuel Swedenborg taught that there is a huge mistake in an interpretation of the Christian doctrine of ‘justification by faith alone’ that correct religious belief is sufficient for salvation. Instead he said that what is wanted in the heart and what is done by the hands, in addition to what the head thinks, is what really matters. He claimed that to feel divine acceptance, belief alone is insufficient: one also has to put into practice one’s belief  and that this means  changing the ways one deals with other people by following Christ’s way. Through gaining a sense of God’s respect for what we do we can find self-respect.

In other words whilst in humble supplication we can pray for God’s mercy but in so doing  we need to remember our own responsibility for accepting other people. As the Lord’s prayer says:

“Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”

As HT Hamblin put it:

“If he will love, or hold in thoughts of good-will the one who has wronged him, then his life will become happy and peaceful, and in its highest sense, successful.”

Copyright 2013 Stephen Russell-Lacy
Author of  Heart, Head & Hands  Swedenborg’s perspective on emotional problems

Discontent – Why do I have this?

discontent
Brian Moore

Brian Moore the former English rugby international player sees something of discontent in himself. What he wanted was success. And he pushed himself really hard over and over again to do well. He now recognises that whether it be in sport, business or whatever field you are in, if you are too driven you can drive yourself into the ground.

Some people have high ambition and specific goals to match. But those of them who are too driven have discontent even when they get to where they wanted to be.

Discontent hankering after things

You also may hanker after things you haven’t got; fame, or fortune, people or possessions. For example perhaps all you think you need is just a new sofa and when you get it everything will be sorted. But when it arrives you find there’s something else you must have — a new holiday, a new job. For some people a basic discontent persists no matter what they get or achieve. Something else looms on the horizon and they long for that too. Sooner or later they won’t get what they want because nobody gets all they want in life.

Discontent hanging on to things

When people in India hunt for monkeys, they set out a heavy wooden box with a small hole on top just big enough for a monkey to squeeze a hand through. Inside the box is a banana. A monkey smells the fruit and reaches inside to grab it. The hunters approach to capture him. As it tugs and pulls, it can’t pull the banana through the hole. The strange thing is the monkey refuses to let go and run away before being captured.

Sometimes you may wonder if you too hang on to things no matter what the cost because you assume your happiness depends on having them.

Discontent of envy

In a ‘keeping up with the Jones’ type of society, envy can arise when there is a love of having more and more of the same things that other people have, only better and better things. In a competitive intellectual society, envy can also raise its ugly head. In both cases it is striving for anything which is owned, prized or wanted by others in order to gain their approval and admiration.

According to the major spiritual traditions, these sort of feelings arise when the superficial things of life are the sole centre of attention for their own sake, at the expense of deeper human values, human relationships and social obligations.

Story of Nasrudin

The Islamic mystics tell a story about Nasrudin out walking who found a man sitting on the side of the road crying. He wailed “I am so poor. I have no money and everything I own is in this little bag.”

“Ah-ha!,” said Nasrudin, who immediately grabbed the bag and ran as fast as he could until he was out of sight..

“Now I have nothing at all,” cried the poor man, weeping still harder as he trudged along the road in the direction Nasrudin had gone. A mile away he found his bag sitting in the middle of the road, and he immediately became ecstatic. “Thank God,” he cried out. “I have all my possessions back. Thank you, thank you.”

“How curious!” exclaimed Nasrudin, appearing out of the bushes by the side of the road. “How curious that the same bag that made you weep now makes you ecstatic.”

Discontent not noticing the valuable

Sometimes what is valuable is not noticed. It is hidden away in the simplest things of life but we do not see it or appreciate it because of the frantic pace of our lives. Overwhelmed by numerous commitments, activities and appointments, our lives are filled to the brim with things to do and little time to be – things to achieve and little time to appreciate. Greedy to accomplish more, we pack our daily schedules with things to do and places to go. Believing that achieving our goals is more important than being still to quieten the mind and appreciating the many treasures and simple joys stored up for us within the present moment.

Discontent not trusting in the Divine

Emanuel Swedenborg taught that those who trust in the Divine remain in equanimity whether they obtain their desires or not ; and they do not grieve over the loss of them for they  are content with their lot. If they become wealthy they do not set their hearts on wealth. If they are given social status they do not regard themselves as more worthy than others.

Is this not the route away from discontent and towards satisfaction and peace of mind?

Copyright Stephen Russell-Lacy
Author of  Heart, Head & Hands  Swedenborg’s perspective on emotional problems