Baruch Spinoza and 'quantum' faith

Spinoza_crop.jpgWe warned readers, at least obliquely, that this was what had come to. Friend Scott promised an ‘InstaPost Packet,’ but I’ve been looking on the porch and searching the inbox in vain, and, given that it’s now past 9:00 PM I feel compelled to act.

Anyway, trolling the hard drive for inspiration – it’s amazing what you forget you tucked into those Great Terabyte Spaces – we came up with the following (warts and all), which I’d written as homework for a discussion group at church this past February.

In any case, we, meaning me, are simultaneously reading Richard Dawkins’ The Greatest Show on Earth and Robert Wright’s The Evolution of God (great title, no?) on the Kindle and been thinking about faith a bit, lately. Anyway from the HD:

My [favorite] Heretic: Baruch Spinoza

“I believe in Spinoza’s God who reveals himself in the orderly harmony of what exists, not in a God who concerns himself with fates and actions of human beings.”
-Albert Einstein

From my blog (October 21, 2006):

This is something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately, and, really for a couple years now. My therapist recently commissioned me to write about my faith, an essay tentatively tited ‘The Rules of the Universe’…. The essay… starts with a quote from Albert Einstein: “I believe in Spinoza’s God who reveals himself in the orderly harmony of what exists, not in a God who concerns himself with fates and actions of human beings.”

Spinoza is Baruch Spinoza, a rationalist philosopher and ethicist of the 17th Century, who was excommunicated from the Jewish community in Amsterdam for his view that God was not personal but, rather, the mechanism of nature. He also believed that the Bible was metaphorical and allegorical.

In quantum physics, there exists circumstance in which what the observer sees depends on where, when and how the observer chooses to look. The same phenomena , at the same instant, can have very different aspects. I find myself wondering if this isn’t a very deep spiritual insight.

From the blog, July 2008:

Spinoza advanced the idea of pantheism, the notion of ‘God or nature’ being equal descriptors of the universe and all that it contains. He rejected the personal, human-like Abrahamic God of the Old Testament (and was ejected from the Jewish community of 17th-century Amsterdam for his views). Einstein’s infrequent references to God seem to me to result from awe arising from his ability to see deeply into the elegance and wonders of cosmic machinery.

I share that awe: that creative intelligence can rise from so much stardust, that simple laws and a handful of particles can spawn the fantastic complexity of the cosmos leaves me quaking, and wondering ‘Is this God, or is this nature?’

Spinoza, a man of faith, wrote some 300 years before quantum physics was first posited by Niels Bor et al., yet he saw a duality in God and the universe, an argument that is still central to Western thought in the 21st century. Not bad for ‘post-in-a-box,’ eh?


About Chris Gulker

Chris Gulker, a self-described Infuential Blogger, lived in Menlo Park, California with spouse Linda. He passed away in late October 2010.
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2 Responses to Baruch Spinoza and 'quantum' faith

  1. Anonymous says:

    Blog material is a function of the economy. Less money = less stuff happening. The stock market can soar from reducing business investment & mass layoffs, but reduced invention of new products eventually kills the blogs. Not sure the spray can pancakes & online parking space trackers are cutting it in major league blogging.

  2. Mike Ridey says:

    Suggested read: “When I Heard the Learn’d Astronomer”, Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass.
    A favorite, and maybe a bit on topic.

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