The Ground of Faith

Exploring Science Mysticism and Experience together

The Ground of Faith


June 2003[carnyx]
The One and the Many

Our Guest writer: John Williamson "So it is not surprising that in our scientifically sophisticated world many people have experiences that can’t be proved scientifically. There are many who regard all stories of supernatural experience as the product of a distorted mind or
. Read his article on  "TIME"  
Editorial:'Science-Mysticism-Experience together' The Ground from which religions and philosophies grow.

Physicists and Mystics open to Spirit, sing in harmony

For meditation Prayer, Psalm, Martin Buber
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
Brother David Steindl-Rast
Albert Einstein 

Simone Weil  

Iraq and Islamic Ummah (fromThe Guardian)



Science-Mysticism-Experience together

    This journal is addressed to those of us who have faith in a creative Spirit, in all, through all, and above all, whether or not we would agree to be called Christians, Buddhists, Jews, members of Islam, or whatever.
    Let us not quarrel about names of this Spirit, or about theologies.  We have faith, we have experienced the numinous, the presence of  That which is greater than ourselves.

    We may have come to Faith by ourselves, or as members of churches, mosques, synagogues or temples. We may have been inspired by our holy books, our traditions, or by shared worship with other devout people.  From our communities of faith we have absorbed a religious language with which to think about Spirit, taken part in rituals that help us focus on Spirit.  We need these communities of faith because experience of Spirit also involves relating to other people, and the rest of existence.
          Ultimately we must agree that all these communities of faith are founded on the direct experience of Spirit, with the Ground of our being. We know that it is absurd to say that that Ground, that God, that Spirit, is Christian, Buddhist, etc. This indeed is what we all have in common, this relationship with this Ground from which all faith, all  religion, all experience, all life grows.
    In considering this direct relationship, this journal affirms the unity of science, mysticism and experience.    
Let's think about this.
       Science is a methodology, a way of classifying and discovering how things work. Scientific findings are always up for challenge, in the light of new discoveries.
        Philosophy is different. It is about our beliefs
about the fundamental nature of things.
       The old mechanist and reductionist philosophy, looking to Descartes and Newton, has served science well, when studying the not-too-big and the not-too-small
. But Quantum Mechanics, with great theorists such as Einstein, Planck, Bohr, Heisenberg, Pauli, Bohm and many others, have shown  that the old philosophy is insufficient. They show that when we consider the very big and the very small we are constrained to hold a new philosophy that regards the universe as a psychophysical continuum, existing in far more than in only four dimensions.

   A considerable number of QM theorists in fact are affirming the very basis of all religions. Many of them write on spirituality, meditation, synchronicity and meaningful coincidence, about consciousness, life after death, love, and the process of creation. They give insight into the function of prayer.

       The great Christian (and other) mystics also affirm what the QM theorists affirm. .

Picture of Teilhard de Chardin
Toward a Science Charged with  Faith Chapter 5 of God and Science by Charles P. Henderson.

Excerpts from this chapter:

"Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1881-1955)
stands among the very few leaders of thought in this century to integrate pure scientific research with a religious vocation. At an early point in his career this paleontologist and Jesuit priest made it his personal mission to reconstruct the most basic Christian doctrines from the perspectives of science and, at the same time, to reconstruct science from the perspectives of faith. He would do this by overthrowing all the barriers that had been erected between science and religion in the past one hundred years. " Read on   Back...

picture of David Steindl-Rast Brother David Steindl-Rast

After twelve years of monastic training and studies in philosophy and  theology, Brother David was sent by his abbot to participate in Buddhist -Christian dialogue, for which he received Vatican approval in 1967. His Zen teachers were Hakkuun Yasutani Roshi, Soen Nakagawa Roshi, Shunryu Suzuki Roshi, and Eido Shimano Roshi. He co-founded the Center for Spiritual Studies in 1968 and received the 1975 Martin Buber Award for his achievements in building bridges between religious traditions.

Together with Thomas Merton, Brother David helped launch a renewal of religious life. From 1970 on, he became a leading figure in the House of Prayer movement, which affected some 200,000 members of religious orders in the United States and Canada. Read on....  


On religion and science

[Einstein's book The World As I See It. In this edition (Philosophical Library, New York, 1949), the essay appears on pp. 28-29].
     "You will hardly find one among the profounder sort of scientific minds without a peculiar religious feeling of his own. But it is different from  the religion of the naive man. For the latter God is a being from whose  care one hopes to benefit and whose punishment one fears; a sublimation of a feeling similar to that of a child for its father, a being to whom one stands to some extent in a personal relation, however deeply it may be tinged with awe. But the scientist is possessed by the sense of universal causation. The future, to him, is every whit as necessary and determined as the past. There is nothing divine about morality, it is a purely human affair. His religious feeling  takes the form of a rapturous amazement at the harmony of natural law, which  reveals an intelligence of such superiority that, compared with it, all the systematic thinking and acting of human beings is an utterly insignificant reflection.
     This feeling is the guiding principle of his life and work, in so far as he succeeds in keeping himself from the shackles of selfish desire. It is beyond  question closely akin to that which has possessed the religious geniuses of all ages.

Picture of Simone Weil     
Simone Weil
A saint for our time?

by Jillian Becker  
Read the article! (Here are some extracts:)
"August 23, 2002, will be the fifty-ninth anniversary of the death of Simone Weil, a French Jew revered by many Christians as an uncanonized saint. Exegetes of diverse faiths (and none) have written  at length about her mystical meditations. André Gide declared her “the most spiritual writer of this [twentieth] century.” Albert Camus called her “the only great spirit of our time.” "

"She refused baptism a number of times, the last as she lay dying. She regarded herself, however, as a true Christian, too true, by her  own understanding, to become a member of the Catholic Church (the only existing church to which she felt drawn). She felt she could be “faithful to Christ” without being a member of the Church; perhaps  even more so because she was outside it. “A few sheep should remain outside the fold to bear witness that the love of Christ is essentially something different.” "

"Let us consider this. Here was a well-provided-for, well-educated young woman who freely chose to regard herself as a slave and to  starve herself to death while war raged, hungry children helplessly wasted away in the streets of the Warsaw ghetto, the living skeletons of actual slaves dropped into the dust at Bergen-Belsen, and human bodies were consumed night and day in the ovens of Auschwitz- Birkenau.

 The young woman in question was a thinker and writer respected even in  her own time by intellectuals and leaders of opinion, but she said nothing about these atrocities. She let herself die in 1943 when millions of her  fellow Jews were being murdered in the name of the “final solution of the Jewish question,” and she who claimed to feel a deep sympathy with the afflicted and even a longing to bear their suffering for them protested only against being classed as one of them. If Fiedler is right that Simone Weil epitomizes the moral ideals of our time, then we are morally adrift in an era of darkness."
The binocular vision of the One and the Many

     You and I live our  separate lives, work with other people, live with our families, come with other people to church, and pray for others and for ourselves.     We are the MANY,  "all children of God."
     We are living in the normal world of see and touch, of cause and effect, of this and that. And most science has to do with this normal world.
     Mystics and QM physicists have to do with an alternative reality, the ONE.
    The mystic goes up to a mountain top, surveys the starry sky and the dark plains below, and feels One with the universe, One with God, One with the world.   Mystics feel lifted out of them- selves, into union with all that is.
    Most of us have had similar experiences.
   The QM physicist understands All-That-Is
as a psychophysical whole, where all affects all else. There is no local cause and effect. This view also belongs to the whole. The QM physicist talks about the void, the supposed vacuum of space, talks about dimensions beside those of space and time. The physicist thinks of mind as something to do with the whole. Very abstract and hard to understand, but describing a reality where prayer and wider orders of consciousness have their place.
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A physicist, David Bohm: "..it will ultimately be misleading and indeed wrong to suppose, for example, that each human being is an independant actuality who interacts with other human beings and with nature. Rather, all these are projections of a single totality." Wholeness and the Implicate Order, ARK ed. 1983, p. 210

A mystic: Simone Weil: "What is more beautiful than the action of weight on the fugitive waves of the sea as fall in ever- moving folds, or the almost eternal folds of the mountains. The sea is not less beautiful in our eyes because we know sometimes ships are wrecked. On the contrary this adds to its beauty. If it altered the movement of its waves to spare a boat, it would be a creature gifted with discern- ment and choice and not this fluid, perfectly obedient to every external pressure. It is this perfect obedience which constitutes the sea's beauty.
     All the horrors which come about in this world are like folds imposed upon the waves by gravity. That is why they contain an element of beauty. Sometimes a poem such as the Iliad, brings this beauty to light."
Waiting on God,  p72. Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1951.Read our feature on Simone Weil. Back...

An astronomer physicist: Sir James Jeans
(The universe is beginning to) "look more like a great thought than a great machine": The Mysterious Universe,Ch.5

 A Psychologist: Carl Jung wrote of reality as we perceive it as a "dream of a greater, to us unknowable, consciousness."
Essay on Synchronicity

    Sir Julian Huxley in summarising the thought of the Jesuit mystic Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, writes: "Though for certain limited purposes it may be useful to think of phenomena as isolated statically in time, they are in point of fact never static: they are always processes or parts of processes. The different branches of science combine to demonstrate that the universe in its entirety must be regarded as one gigantic process, a process of becoming, of attaining new levels of existence and organisation, which can properly be called a genesis or an evolution. For this reason, he uses words like noogenesis, to mean the gradual evolution of the mind or mental properties, and repeatedly stresses that we should no longer speak of a cosmology but of a cosmogenesis. P.12 The Phenomenon of Man Collins, 1951. Read our feature on de Chardin   
For meditation

Prayer of St Stephen
: "Lord, let me forget that I am me, Let me know that I am with thee, Let me not separate myself from thee Because I am me" The Stephen Experience, Michael Cocks. Kelso 2001.

Psalm 139: Lord you have searched me out and known me: you know when I sit down and when I stand up, you discern my thoughts from afar. 2. You mark my path, and the places where I rest: you are acquainted with all my ways. 3 even before there is a word on my tongue: you Lord know it altogether. 4. You guard me from behind and before: and cover me with your hand. 5. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, so high that I cannot attain to it. 6 Where can I go from your spirit, or where shall I flee from your presence? 7. If I climb up into heaven you are there: if I make my bed in the grave you are there also. 8. If I take the wings of the dawn and alight at the uttermost parts of the sea, 9 even there your right hand will lead me: and your right hand will hold me fast. 10. If I say 'Let the darkness cover me: and my day be turned to night,' 11 the darkness is no darkness to you, but the night is as clear as the day: for darkness and light to you are both alike…..Back...

Martin Buber:
An animal's eyes have the power to speak a great language.
God is the "mysterium tremendum," that appears and overthrows, but he is also the mystery of the self-evident, nearer to me than my I.
The world is not comprehensible, but it is embraceable: through the embracing of one of its beings.
When two people relate to each other authentically and humanly, God is the electricity that surges between them.

The ones who count are those persons who -- though they may be of little renown -- respond to and are responsible for the continuation