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by Elisabet Sahtouris, Ph.D.
A friend, who is a very open-minded Episcopalian priest, asked me, as an open-minded evolution biologist, for suggestions in regard to his efforts at redefining God in our profoundly changing times. Now, that is a subject I actually think about a great deal, and one that I love, so I sent him my thoughts as follow:
In my dialog with Willis Harman, published as Biology Revisioned (North Atlantic Publishers, Berkeley 1998), I reversed the scientific story I was taught from seeing consciousness as the end product of evolution to seeing consciousness as the source of evolution. In other words, the universe, to me, is fundamentally Consciousness -- alive, aware and intelligent. This Consciousness is non-local, i.e. everywhere, and is what different cultures variously personify as God, under many names. It is also what physicists now call "zero point energy" -- the infinite energy existing at every point in space. They are discovering that it is conscious and that it non-locally records all information ever produced in the universe. This Conscious non-timespace energy is vaster than our local universe. It can and does transmute itself into electromagnetic energy, and, in turn, matter, in the creation of universes such as ours, though it can also create itself into other pure energy patterns in a myriad ways (they include angelic realms, for example, and all the "worlds" we exist in between lives, and eternally).
This All-That-Is God Source is perceived as I-Am from the perspective of the local consciousness created in beings such as you and me, when we go into meditation, expanding our little consciousness into the Great One we are all part of. In this state we not only perceive union with God, we transcend our local selves such that we recognize ourselves as God.
Our universe appears to be a learning universe. I like to say its basic principle is "Anything that can happen, will happen," and so it learns what works well and what doesn't. Evolution is an improvisational dance, keeping the steps that work and changing those that don't. As I cannot separate God-as-Cosmic-Consciousness from God-transmuting-into-material-universes, I believe our learning universe implies a learning God -- God learning to know the nature of Self through exploring its possibilities and learning to reflect on that Self. Exactly as we, God's human reflections, learn to do! In other words, Cosmic Consciousness begins as Unity and divides into Complexity a stage at a time -- at least from our human linear time perspective -- as it embodies itself in vast varieties of energetic and material forms. In non-timespace, which physics now knows to be the more fundamental nature of the universe, all possibilities exist together in complexity inconceivable to us humans.
I believe we exist as non-physical beings which incarnate intentionally, according to particular intentions for learning in each life, but that our "higher selves" are present non-physically throughout our lives. We weave our birth-to-death lifelines through the endless possibilities by the choices we make from moment to moment, each constraining the succeeding choices. From the perspective of non-timespace, all our lives together are like a kind of lotus flower, with each life one petal, one way of playing out a theme chosen by our soul entity or higher self. Some of our incarnations may be simultaneous in the linear timeframe, others are a historical sequence. Each "petal" is in soul communication with each other; thus our many lives can influence each other. Recall that early Christianity included the belief in reincarnation; I believe the Church changed that to gain more control over people's lives, just as Jesus told us we could reach God directly and the Church made priests not assistants but necessary channels to God.
All nature is thus conscious in my worldview, and all of it has access to non-timespace; all of it is an aspect of God. The acorn knows the oak tree it will become. Only we humans of western culture have played the game of cutting ourselves off from the Great Conversation that our very cells can still hear! Soils, waters, organisms, ecosystems, Earth, even DNA itself, all know their composition and that of the Whole as the cells of our bodies know each other and our whole bodies, behaving intelligently to maintain themselves and that whole (that's why our bodies work!).
Our human task now is to wake up and recognize ourselves as parts or aspects of God-as-Nature and behave accordingly. All are One, all harm harms each of us, all blessings bless each of us. What a guideline for choice! The ancients knew it and taught it. But God, through us, is trying out the most dangerous game of all -- the game of truly forgetting our nature. A great risk, but it had to be done to try all possibilities!
On a recent Sunday, I gave the sermon at three services in a Unity Church, for a minister friend who needed a break. I urged the three congregations to remind themselves occasionally to see themselves as the creative edge of God (a phrase I learned from a dear friend) -- as God looking out through their eyes, acting through their hands, walking on their feet, and to observe how that changed things for them...
I concluded my letter to my priest friend, hoping this would be of some use to him in his own deliberations. After all, I can only describe the worldview/Godview that makes sense to me at this point in my lifetime of exploration. We have only our stories to go by, and each must necessarily be at least somewhat, if not radically, different -- for God has become very complex, though an eternal Unity! I pray that all the religions will recognize the importance of the uniqueness in each story and the unity of All That Is. I pray that scientists, who have been given the role of priesthood -- the right to tell us "how things are" -- will soon officially recognize that there is one alive, intelligent universe in which spirit and matter are not separable. I pray the indigenous people who never separated science and spirituality will be honored for that. It is time for the true communion which alone can save our species and all others, which alone can bring about the perfectly possible world we all dream of -- a world expressing this understanding of ourselves as the creative edge of God!
Elisabet Sahtouris, Ph.D. is an internationally known American/Greek evolution biologist and futurist, author, speaker and consultant on Living Systems Design. She has taught at the University of Massachusetts and M.I.T., was a science writer for the HORIZON/ NOVA TV series, a United Nations consultant on indigenous peoples and is a member of the United Religions Initiative. Her current focus is on evolution biology as a model for organizational change; her recent books are Biology Revisioned, co-authored with Willis Harman, and A Walk Through Time: From Stardust to Us.