Thomas F. O'Neill
I have been spending some of my pastime reading and writing about recent advancements in the area of science and technology. We all know how technology has been progressing along at lightning speed and how new discoveries are being made every day. I also like bringing up the topic of science in my cultural diversity classes at the Suzhou International Foreign Language School here in Suzhou, China.
I am not going to cover that topic in this month’s column though.
People who know me well know that I also enjoy reading the personal letters of Albert Einstein online. I would like to take the time in this month’s column to write about some of the things Einstein wrote.
When I read some of his various writings I find that there was a much deeper dimension to Einstein’s personality than his theories on Relativity. What intrigued me most about the letters was how spiritual he was. He wrote,
Editor's Note: the following was previously published in the August 2008 issue of this ezine, but is carried here for the interest of new readers.
"A human being is a part of a whole, called by us _universe_, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest... a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty."
Albert Einstein died in 1955, and since his death, we have come a long way in our technological advancements and in our knowledge of the Universe. However, we have a long way to go as human beings in widening our circle of compassion.
There are also those who have chosen to ignore our empirical understanding of the cosmos. I say this because of today’s debate between the Christian Fundamentalists who are espousing the Intelligent Design theory as being the ultimate biblical truth against the empirical evidence of Evolution. Some religious conservatives have also made claims that Einstein believed in the biblical creation story.
What I have found is that Einstein did believe in God and in an intelligent design within the universe. He did not however believe in the intelligent design theory that the Christian Fundamentalists want taught in the public school system.
Science should be an empirical method of discovery for students not a religious conviction. To say that God created everything in the universe without a method of studying the claim is not science but rather an emotional and irrational stance against Science. It is one thing to believe in God, to devote ones life to that belief, and to have a blind faith in the assumption that God is the ultimate designer of our Universe, but where do you go from there and where is the scientific method of study?
In one of Einstein’s letters he wrote,
"The further the spiritual evolution of mankind advances, the more certain it seems to me that the path to genuine religiosity does not lie through the fear of life, and the fear of death, and blind faith, but through striving after rational knowledge."
One of Einstein’s achievements was measuring the distance within our Universe by the speed of light. He discovered that light has a constant speed of approximately 186,282.397 miles per second. In veiw of this discovery it can take Millions and in some cases Billions of light years for the light of distant stars to reach the earth. The universe that we perceive is the universe of the past not the present.
When we look at the sheer vastness of our Universe with the Billions of Suns and Planets it is a statistical certainty that we are not the only intelligent life in the Cosmos. When we measure the birth and evolution of the universe on a scale of a 24 hour period humanity would have been born 10 seconds ago. Therefore, some intelligent life in far off galaxies could have had an evolutionary head start in terms of Millions and in some cases Billions of years before life as we know it existed on earth.
Some scientist would also go as far as to say that in far off galaxies intelligent life my have evolved without a DNA structure which is essential for intelligent life to exists on our planet. There could be intelligent life in distant galaxies that evolved far beyond our comprehension because of their lack of DNA and due to the vastness of the universe incapable or unwilling to visit our planet.
When you also consider how far evolved we have become as human beings in only three and a half million years we can presuppose that some intelligent life in the universe evolved far beyond our comprehension. Some intelligent life could have possibly evolved into what some Philosophers and Spiritualist would describe as spiritual beings due to billions of years of evolution.
This is also where science, spirituality, and Philosophy are beginning to merge and compliment each other in our pursuit for knowledge.
However, today’s Christian Fundamentalists would argue that it takes as much blind faith to believe in evolution as it does for the Godly people who believe in the biblical creation story.
I personally do not believe in the Judeo-Christian creation story nor do I believe entirely in the Darwinian evolution theory. I do however believe in evolution per se because of the scientific evidence that supports it. I do not see evolution as being contradictory to the Intelligent Design theory but rather evolution can be an intricate part of the Universes Intelligent Design.
Einstein also wrote in one of his letters,
“My religion consists of a humble admiration of the illimitable superior spirit who reveals himself in the slight details we are able to perceive with our frail and feeble minds."
Today’s Scientists recognize intelligent patterns within nature. That is why we continue to rely on Science and continue to develop scientific methods to help us gain greater insights in understanding nature’s intelligent design.
Humanity is also pushing to better itself with each generation. It is within that desire for self improvement that we have evolved to where we are today and will continue to evolve, socially, physically, consciously, and spiritually, for countless generations. With each generation humanity is gaining a deeper self-knowledge and becoming more self-aware of the essence of who we are as human beings.
The intelligent design of our own being is also a reflection of the intelligent design within all of nature. Empirical evidence has revealed to us that there is an evolutionary order to all life which some Scientists believe is an intricate part of nature’s intelligent design.
Always with love from Suzhou, China
Thomas F O’Neill
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