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Entangled God

by on September 22, 2014

                                                             Entangled God

                                                          by Marco M. Pardi

Note: All comments are appreciated, read, and responded to accordingly.  The COMMENTS sections for all previous articles have been opened for use.  I will certainly look forward to your comments.

The soul of man….is a portion or a copy of the soul of the Universe and is joined together on principles and in proportion corresponding to those which govern the Universe.” Plutarch (C.E. 46?-119?) “On Moral Virtue” (3) Moralia vol 6.

For decades I’ve been guarding a deep secret.  While still quite young I noticed that as I paged through the newspaper and glanced at photographs the captions often did not seem to fit with the pictures.  Then, after more carefully reading the caption I returned to the picture and found they did after all.  Wondering how I could have gotten that first impression from the photograph, I realized I see things differently.  In fact, aerial reconnaissance photo interpretation was one of the harder intelligence courses I took in the Air Force.  But I often wondered if the interpretive difference was in the photographic visual, the mental concept elicited by the caption or some subtle blend of the two.

As I’ve said elsewhere, I very early developed an interest in how people use terms carelessly and accept or reject concepts on stunningly superficial levels.  Myriad examples may be drawn from everyday life, but readers know my long term interests have largely included the scholarly examination of theology and the ever growing field of physics, particularly quantum mechanics.  The former provides views of what people think – or hope they are; the latter provides insights into what we (probably) are.

I should say at this point that throughout this piece I will use the term god in small case.  My insistence on this is not an attempt to belittle or disparage anyone’s theological views but rather to precisely reinforce the point that accepting and utilizing a convention, the capitalization as used in God, is, as will be shown, an unwarranted and misleading personification of a concept.   

The term quantum entanglement, as used in quantum mechanics, refers to one of the central principles of quantum physics. Basically, it means that multiple particles are connected such that alteration (through observation or measurement) of one particle’s quantum state (spin, etc) is instantly reflected in a corollary change (wave function collapse) in the possible quantum states of the other particles regardless of distance. This is demonstrated in the classic quantum entanglement problem argued in the so-called EPR (Einstein, Podolsky, Rosen) Paradox, since discredited.  Of course, before the act of measurement a particle does not have a definite state; it is in what is called superposition, the at-onceness of all possible states.  The classic thought paradigm here is the Schrodinger’s Cat example.  While it is in a closed box the cat is, to us, neither alive or dead, but in both possible states.  Opening the box, observation, brings the cat into a definite state – either it is alive or it is dead.  This is called “wave function collapse.”   But here is an example of how language confounds some people. The use of the word “possible”, for some, implies a state of unreality.  Thus, when an observation occurs and a definite state becomes established through wave function collapse, people who see their reality only through a fixed prism feel that reality starts only at that point.  They do not perceive that “reality” is superposition, all possible states at once.

However, before we rush to conclusions that since the entire universe is one single wave function – or superposition which can be manipulated by those in the know we should realize that this mathematical exercise has no known formula which, even in principle, could demonstrate such a relationship.  This false promise of power was the proposed and thoroughly spurious outcome of the egregious physics errors embodied in the popular The Secret, a mass market product modeled on earlier hocus pocus such as Creative Visualization.  Marketing maneuvers such as The Secret seem to depend on: Poor memory work; research laziness; or, a generation too young to do either.

Speaking of visualization, let’s try this:  Imagine a 60′ tall spreading Oak tree.  And, imagine its roots spreading underground – we’ve all seen that image.  If you wish, place yourself beneath the tree, listening to the wind through the leaves and sensing the roots spreading and feeding beneath you.   Now I come along with my MMTC (Marco’s Magic Tree Compactor, patent pending).  Beaming the MMTC at the tree, I absorb the entire tree, including every root and tendril into the compactor.  Indeed, in answer to your heart wrenching cries for your tree I can prove that I have not lost a single electron in the process.  After exactly four minutes and nine seconds of whooping, huffing, and another noise I blame on the machine a ding alerts me that, like one of those single serve coffee makers,  my tree is ready.  I stand aside as the machine ejects an object the size and shape of a hockey puck.  I proudly announce, “Here’s your tree back.”

You gaze at the puck and lament, “That’s not a tree.”  I respond by reminding you that no electron was lost and no electron was added from elsewhere.  It is the tree in all its completeness, neither missing something nor having been adulterated with anything else.   

So, why is it not a tree?  Some people will eventually realize that for them the concept tree embodies not only the vegetable matter of leaves, branches, trunk, roots, etc. but also the empty space among the leaves and branches, the “not tree” as well as the tree.  While there can be no denying the tree is fully present in the shape of a puck, for them it just isn’t “a tree” in that form.

So too, the hardened concepts applied in other ways, despite the very language they often employ, demand a formulaic composition to be taken as reality.  The concept of god is a classic example.  Years ago a rabbi friend explained that Jews use “the name for the name of god” and not the name itself because to do so would bring god into a separate existence from the speaker, thus separating the two and invoking the ultimate tragedy on the speaker – being separated from god.  This seemed similar in some ways to the Christian concept of god as omnipresent, although Christians have had a long and troubled history of deciding who was god and how they got that way.  In the earliest known traditions Jesus became the “Son of God” only after being raised from the dead (Romans:1:3-4).  Later, Psalm 2 awards this at the baptism by John.  But Luke 1:35 places it at the Annunciation.  And, finally John 1:1-18 made Jesus a pre-existing entity coming onto the Earth to save mankind.  These same revisions are reflected in Jesus” supposed last words: Eli, eli, lama sabachthani (Aramaic – My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?  Matthew 27:46 & Mark 15:34) which, to the Greeks made it look like he was not in on the plan, to Luke 23:34 and 23:43 – Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do – making him a full partner in the plan.

Doctrinal conflicts like these explain why Western Christians find they hardly recognize the Christianity of various far older traditions found throughout the Middle East.   In fact,  scholars have found that the phrase “I am the alpha and the omega” (Greek: “ἐγὼ τὸ Α καὶ τὸ Ω”), an appellation of Jesus in the Book of Revelation (verses 1:8, 21:6, and 22:13) does not appear anywhere in the earlier literature to which several current traditions adhere.

But looking closely at this phrase, and at the attribute “omnipresent” exposes conceptual problems most people seem to overlook.  Alpha, the beginning; Omega, the end.  Ordinarily this would signify a time differential.  Yet, the phrase does not say I was the alpha and will be the omega; it says I am.  Thus, past, present and future are one.  This comports nicely with the thinking in contemporary physics that Newtonian Cause & Effect, just as Time, is an illusion.  Cause and effect are entangled; it is only our mechanical conception which separates the two.  In the same way, omni (all, throughout everything) present dissolves the distinctions between here and there, then and now.  They are entangled.  To put god in the sky, in some approved act, some “holy” place is to negate omnipresence.  God is equally everywhere, in good acts and bad, in holy places and whorehouses.  God is entangled.  Even the mental act of conceiving of god, as was hinted by the rabbi, is an act of separating one’s self from the god.  And, separating this god from anything, the self included, is the act of profoundly diminishing this god. The transcendent state, the realization of At Onceness is often called Enlightenment for a very good reason.

When I hear a person refer to a god in a heaven, or I read a Near Death account in which the person claims to have entered into the presence of god,  I wonder which part of the caption the person did not understand.  How difficult is it to understand that when you experience Everything, you experience nothing in particular?  The issue is not the question of whether there is or isn’t a god; the issue is to realize that, according to the attributes the entanglement is so complete and so encompassing that even the creation of a delineated category, a concept of god,  is the act of negating the concept itself.

Alan Watts had a joyous way of reminding us of Tat Tvam Asi. (Sanskritतत् त्वम् असि or तत्त्वमसि), “That thou art”,  Chandogya Upanishad 6.8.7, meaning that the Self – in its pure state – is wholly identical with the Ultimate Reality that is the ground and origin of all phenomena. In a very real sense, it is only when we apply our categorical minds to the world around us that we “Fall from Grace”, we sort things into the good and the bad, the useful and the useless, the sacred and the profane thus assuring ourselves of endless conflicts with others, each running to our gods for ultimate authority.

Not long ago I read that Morgan Freeman, host of the amazing science program Through the Worm Hole, was discussing this very same topic in an interview and said something like “Realizing this, I have no trouble saying I am god.”  Of course, he was inundated with hate mail and threatening phone calls.  The amusing part, of course, is that the haters were god too.  We are all entangled.      

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14 Comments
  1. I am able to grasp the concepts you lay out here but not truly able to comprehend. Like with my readings on quantum physics. I get a glimpse of understanding but realize it would take extensive studying on my part to fully understand. I need my brain to put things in very specific compartments. There is the tree, and that which is not the tree. The puck would not be the tree. I do agree with the concept everything is connected. I certainly couldn’t put it so eloquently as you do here, but that is something my brain understands.

  2. Thank you, Mary. I hope I haven’t spoiled hockey for you. Let’s give our brains a rest and enjoy meditation. I imagine you have some marvelous vistas you can enjoy, and maybe our connection will enable me to share. Marco

  3. I’ll start with one of my favorite dictums: All things are possible until the truth is known. I have been known to quote it on many occasions. Schrodinger’s cat is my favorite example of this statement; I even have a tote bag which shows the cat (both alive and in spirit form) emerging from the box.

    You and your trees LOL. “If I ask you to bring me a tree, and you bring me roots, trunk, branches and leaves, have you brought me a tree; or is the whole somehow greater than the sum of its parts?” Now you ask me to imagine it compacted into a hockey puck. In both cases, it both is and is not a tree; containing all the parts of the tree, but in a form which does not fit the mental image that the naming implies. To name something is indeed to limit its possibilities.

    The same goes for God, I suppose. Some years ago, a friend asked me if I believe in God. I answered automatically in the affirmative (it’s what most want to hear), and was very surprised when he challenged my statement, telling me he didn’t think I knew what I believed. He’s wrong, you know, but he did get me thinking of my definition of god (small g this time). I believe we are all a part of what you have labeled the Ultimate Reality; an infinite pool of knowledge, wisdom, and empathy from which we fashion our version of truth. None of us is God, but that which is god is within all of us.

    • Thank you, Rose. Your prodigious memory elucidates the concept that Time is at-onceness. As you know, I dismiss questions of what I believe by making clear that belief is in no way part of my operating system. I would love to see that tote bag; it must be full and not full.

      • If choosing not to act, is an act; then choosing not to believe, is a belief. Think about it.

      • Oh, I have. I define belief as accepting without evidence or question. Since I examine everything for
        evidence, and question even myself on all things I’m comfortable in saying belief is not part of my operating system.

    • “You and your trees….” Rose, that made me smile. I have heard this many times!

      Trees are among some of the best friends for INTJ children who prefer to be outdoors (namely me).

      Another mystical experience, this time it happened out on the mountain at Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello. I was especially connected to a young weeping willow tree.

      It happens quite often that a certain tree will trigger a mystical experience. However, I will say that the hockey puck stone thing Marco passed around class very likely would not!

  4. Dana permalink

    Marco, as a child it was impossible for me to understand why so many people “found god” inside church buildings. This seems is so limiting (particular the fundamentalist “tin” churches we see all over).

    I did have a mystical experience a few years ago in the National Cathedral. The oneness and sometimes overwhelming connection I feel with everything during those moments (whether indoors or out), is what I could describe only as god.

    • Thanks, Dana. I’ve read some very exciting books on how the architecture of grand churches is specifically designed to evoke such experiences. And, as an example, my feelings in the very heavy and closed in St. Mark’s in Venetzia were very, very different from my feelings in Notre Dame in Paris. Gothic architecture is one of the more masterful means to this experience. I also had a near conversion experience (to the worship of Isis) while standing in her temple on a promontory overlooking the Mediterranean in Sabratha, a Roman town near the Libya – Tunisia border.

      Knowing these places evoke such feelings enables me to enjoy them without falling into the trap of the associated theology.

  5. Oh my ! this is one of your best ! (am i saying this every time ??) 🙂
    Again I will not go commenting on each segment, because it would be an overload for my puny mind !
    But the tree !! wow the tree !! You put it so visually and in such clear perspective that it feels like I always knew it, but had not really realized it .
    You say `that for them the concept tree embodies not only the vegetable matter of leaves, branches, trunk, roots, etc. but also the empty space among the leaves and branches, the “not tree” as well as the tree’ …. !!!
    The NOT-TREE !!! the empty space !! this is so Japanese in a way, a kind of Zen-like concept , but i had never really focused on its truth !!

    And Rose , your comment is as brilliant as always !!
    And Dana, you know how i love trees too !!

    I just would like to add that, although i do`believe` LOL (sorry, what other word can i use now 😉 ?) that God/god is everywhere, we can feel such Presence more deeply in some particular places, be it (some) temples or (some) churches or at the feet of a mountain or … of a tree , complete with space(hehe ).
    For lack of a better word, let me say that `sacred energy` gets definitely stronger and can be felt more powerfully in some `places` more than others. Or well, at least, in my experience !

    PS….hey, Marco, gosh ! but how can you know so much !! I am starting to feel close to illitterate 😉 . so good to be back in college and with such brilliant fellow-students too! By now, I do consider myself one of your students extra-curriculum 🙂

    • Thank you, FOAL. I share your wonder. I’m humbled by your thoughts and words. The thought of you enjoying your day, looking at the trees around you – and whatever else comes into view – with such awareness is very heartwarming.

      • Marco, now you have to tell us all about the near conversion to Isis !! your next blog post 🙂
        By the way, I have heard her call too. It has indeed a special place in my heart ❤

      • Okay, FOAL. I will do so. I do have one more about to hatch, but listen for Isis very soon. Marco

      • Sure ! THANKS !

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