For the final time (for now), let’s think again about the fascinating fact of a different level of ‘reality’. Let’s consider a picture that should make immediate sense to us. Wherever we are right now, passing through us, are radio, television, and internet ‘waves’. They are real, but we can’t see them. Common sense would say there’s nothing there! How do we know, for sure, that this isn’t the case?
We’ve equipment that’s able, because so designed, to receive these ‘waves’, and transform them into audible sounds, and visual images. This enables us to ‘tune into’, to hear and see, selected items from an otherwise inaccessible flood of electromagnetic ‘waves’. These audio\visuals somehow correspond to, but cannot be said to ‘resemble’, them! There’s no ‘direct’ correspondence.
Most of us probably have little understanding of what actually happens inside our radios, tv sets, and computers. We don’t know what their components do, or how they interconnect. We may have heard about silicon chips, transistors, CPU’s and RAM etc., but all we really know is that (usually) they do what they’re designed to do, and facilitate communication, instruction and entertainment.
Why paint this picture? It’s another way of helping us grasp that the everyday reality we access via the ‘equipment’ of our senses, is real enough at one level, but not at a deeper one. That deeper reality has to be interpreted, and ‘represented’ by our brains\minds to enable us to make sense of it, and function within it. Again, however, there’s no way in which the one reality ‘resembles’ the other. There’s no direct correspondence.
What’s the nature, then, of the deepest reality? You and I are made of the same atoms as everything else. These atoms are made of electrons, protons and neutrons. The latter two are made of quarks. When they’re ‘observed’, they all ‘appear’ to be compact ‘particles’ that make blips on computer screens. They’re not, however, material objects. From our human perspective, they’re intangible and invisible.
Of what, therefore, does fundamental reality consist? We’ve discovered that it consists of a multi-layered, universe-wide, energy field. The main constituent is the electromagnetic ‘force field’, which ranges from radio waves, microwaves, infrared, visible light, ultraviolet, and x-rays to gamma rays. There are two more ‘force fields’ which operate inside each atom. In addition, the sub-atomic ‘particles’ mentioned above have their own universe-wide ‘particle’ fields, though these ‘particles’ are more like ‘ripples’, or ‘energy clumps’, or ‘packets of charge’.
So what’s fundamental reality ‘really’ like? It’s like a universal ocean of dancing ‘fluid-like’ energy fields, including the above three ‘force’ fields, and the ‘particle’ fields of the electrons, quarks, and many other sub-atomic ‘entities’. It’s like a multi-faceted, unimaginably dynamic ‘sea’, full of different ‘patterns’ and ‘shapes’ of energy. (Take a look at the image above). It’s compatible data from this mind-blowing maelstrom, that’s selected and transformed into the mental images and inner experiences that create, for us, a ‘reality’ that’s visible, colourful, meaningful and habitable. It somehow ‘corresponds’ to the deepest reality but, again, the one cannot ‘resemble’ the other. Our ‘reality’ is our own creation, so let’s value it and enjoy it to the full.
I want to end by deploring the idea that religion (or spirituality) and science are necessarily irreconcilable. There are prejudiced minds, and entrenched attitudes, on both sides. Growing numbers of scientists, however, are recognising that mind or consciousness too long has been neglected, due to an emphasis on ‘objectivity’. Quantum physics, however, has shown that the observer can’t be separated from the observed. Though there’s no proof, there’s at least validity, since there are other irreducible givens, in adding Mind to their number. This opens a door to intelligence, information and design, though not necessarily to a personal creator, and certainly not to a literal reading of the Bible.
People who do believe that God is the creator of everything, should surely have mind-space for popular, quality, explorations of the astounding findings and possible implications of quantum mechanics (*). If God’s the creator, why should believers be hesitant about exploring the nature of his creation? History suggests they’ll eventually have no choice. Should they not be suggesting that it’s he who has designed the ‘decoding equipment’ that’s our five senses?
If the best of religion is about ‘awe and wonder’, so is the best of science. Taken together, in my view, with an open mind and heart, they are potentially, mutually, greatly enriching.
(*) The perfect brief starter, for curious people of all ages, is “Quantum Mechanics” by Jim Al-Khalili, physicist and broadcaster – a Ladybird Expert Book.