Tuesday, October 5, 2010

M-Theory, M-Theology, and the Nature of God

Hawking and Mlodinow have, in establishing that the nature of the universe involves a functionally infinite array of different universes, inadvertently given viable rational ground for the existence of God.  But...err...which God?

The scope of the M-Theory universe is dizzyingly, immensely, terrifyingly vast, and contains the possibility of almost anything.   Among the panoply of possible modes of being, getting to a being that is omniscient and omnipotent is conceptually easy.  Such a being would be inseparable from the processes of creation that blort all things into reality.  It would be a self-aware and endlessly generative Reality Engine.  But is this the God that Christianity claims is the source and font of all being?

Such an entity easily passes muster as the Unmoved Mover of Aristotle, or the distant, abstracted Clockmaker of Thomas Jefferson and the Enlightenment Deists.   It's also precisely the sort of entity that might have I Am That I Am on its nametag at this year's Higher Being Society Annual Convention. 

So we can kinda work our way to a Creator, immortal, invisible, in light inaccessible, hid from our sight.  But though we may love that old hymn, this isn't enough.  Does the God of M-Theology manifest the single primary defining characteristic of the God Jesus kept on about?  Can we point to such a Creator and assert that God is Love?

Honestly, though the M-playing field has gotten a whole bunch larger, I don't think that's any more difficult an assertion to make than it was back when the universe was only our little linear sliver of spacetime.  The disconnected, unmoved, unfeeling, utterly uncompassionate god-cog of Deism has always been inadequate conceptually, and the One Step Beyond we've taken into the multiverse doesn't change that.

The assumption of a being that is "impassible," meaning beyond the passions and feelings of humankind, is one of the underlying presumptions of most Greek philosophy about the nature of deity.  The Stoic logos, for instance, is neither personal or "feeling."  But the omniscience we suggest as a necessary aspect of such a being incorrectly approaches knowledge as abstraction.  Our human assumption is that an eternal, all-aware being would know things as we know.  We assume that our Creator knows us in the same way that even though I'm sitting in my church office, I know the wall in my living room is red.   Or through our symbolic forms of language or mathematics. 

But this is such a limited way of knowing.   Omniscience has always seemed meaningless absent knowledge that isn't just conceptual in character, but that is ontological in character.  Meaning, the Maker knows all things...knows you...in the same essential way that you know that you now exist. Right now.  As you read this.

Though it's beyond our capacity for grasping, such a being's level of awareness would annihilate any meaningful distinction between itself and others.  In forming us, it knows us, and approaches us as not an it, or an "other," but as a "Thou." 

This being is and always has been the heart and goal of faith.  If love...the highest gift of our faith...is our yearning for participation in the other, and compassion for the other, then within the probabilistic boundaries of a functionally infinite multiverse, our capacity for reason can give assent to the possibility of what faith has always known.  That to which faith cries out, O God, is and always has been, love.  And now that faith is evidently necessary to understand the infinitely manifold providence of creation as it actually is, and infinite love can be discerned streaming up from that probability fountain, well, gosh.  Quantum cosmology and the deep yearning of Christian mysticism seem finally united.

But what does this mean for us?  What does M-Theology do for the way we live our day-to-day lives?

Further up and further in...