Ming the Mechanic:
Evolution and the Creativity of God

The NewsLog of Flemming Funch
 Evolution and the Creativity of God2005-08-26 21:50
picture by Flemming Funch

Tom Atlee mentions The Great Story and the work of Connie Barlow and Michael Dowd in integrating science and religion into a bigger view of life, the universe and everything, where there's no conflict between evolution and consciousness. He's a former evangelical preacher and she's a science writer. Here's an article called "No more trivializing God!".

Do you believe in life?

Well, do you?

This is an absurd question, yes? Of course! It simply doesn't matter whether we "believe in" life or not. Life is all around us, and in us. We're part of it. Life is, period. What we say about life, however, is another story. If I say, "Life is wonderful," or "Life's a bitch," or "Life's a jungle," you may or may not believe me, depending on your own experience and the stories you've heard from others. What we say about life - its nature, its essence, its purpose, its patterns - along with the metaphors and analogies we choose to describe it, are all open for discussion and debate. But the reality of life is indisputable.

This is exactly the way that God can be understood, and is understood from the perspective of The Great Story - that is, from the perspective of those who see the science-based history of cosmos, Earth, life, and humanity in a sacred, meaningful way. And this is precisely why the question, "Do you believe in God?", is a non-starter.

* * *

Whatever earlier cultures may or may not have meant when they used the word "God" is not the issue here. Today, any understanding of God that does not at least mean "Ultimate Reality," or "The Whole of Reality," or "Reality as a Whole, measurable and non-measurable," is a trivialized, impotent, and inconsequential notion of the divine.

There are, of course, other ways to speak about the whole of reality, but if "God" is not a legitimate proper name for that which transcends yet includes all other realities, then what is?

This understanding of God makes questions like, "Do you believe or not believe in God?" moot. Like life, reality simply is - no matter what one's beliefs. What we say about reality, however, the stories and beliefs we hold about its nature, purposes, direction, and so forth, are wide open for discussion and debate. But that there is such a thing as "Reality as a Whole, measurable and non-measurable," and that "God" is a legitimate, proper name for this Ultimate Reality: surely, these assertions are undeniable.

In fact, it could be argued that this way of understanding the divine is, in our day and age, the only understanding of God worthy of the name. How so? Because this God so clearly trumps all other gods! Whatever any person or tradition might say or think about God, the undeniable fact is: Reality Rules (to use more traditional language, "Reality is Lord)!" That which is fundamentally and ultimately Real always has the final word. Everything bows to it, with no exceptions.

* * *

Supernatural, otherworldly images and concepts of the divine notwithstanding, when "God" is understood foundationally as a sacred, proper name for "The Whole of Reality, measurable and non-measurable," everything shifts: Theists, atheists, agnostics, pantheists, and panentheists can recognize common ground and move beyond the quagmire of old disputes. When "God" is understood as certainly no less than the Whole of Reality, new possibilities open for ways of thinking about Intelligence and Creativity that can go a long way toward ending the war between evolutionists and those who espouse "Intelligent Design."

Does "Reality as a Whole" exhibit, or evidence, intelligence and creativity? Of course! This is one of the most significant scientific discoveries (revelations) of the last few hundred years, and one that simply couldn't have been known (revealed) prior to telescopes, microscopes, and computers. Subatomic particles within atoms within molecules within cells within organisms within societies within planets and galaxies and so forth, like nesting dolls: Each level expresses its own unique form of intelligence and creativity. Stars create most of the atoms in the periodic table of elements. The Sun and Earth together created oceans and forests, dragonflies and dancers. Atoms bonded in partnership, such as hydrogen and oxygen, create water.

"God," then is a proper name, a sacred name, for "that Ultimate Intelligence and Creativity which transcends and includes all other forms of intelligence and creativity." God is the only Reality that is not a subset of some larger, more comprehensive reality.

This way of thinking sheds new light on traditional understandings of God's immanence and transcendence. As the largest "nesting doll," God - i.e., Reality as a Whole, measurable and non-measurable - embraces, includes, and is revealed throughout the entire cosmos and in all of life (is immanent and omnipresent). God is the great "I AM" of existence. Yet as the source and end of everything, God (the Whole of Reality) is also more than the material world (God is transcendent), and is revealed in what has been called the "quantum vacuum state," "Implicate Order," "Metaverse" and "Akashic Field," among other things.

"Intelligent Creativity" is perhaps a more accurate and useful way of speaking about the nature of emergent complexity than is "Intelligent Design." Consider: there is no inherent conflict between "Intelligent Creativity" and a mainstream understanding of biological, cultural, planetary, and cosmic evolution. As well, the phrase "Intelligent Creativity" doesn't imply, as "Intelligent Design" does, a mechanistic understanding of the universe - that is, a presumption that the creativity at work in the cosmos necessarily stands outside the creation, in the way that, say, a clockmaker or engineer is quite distinct from the product each builds or invents. Although the metaphor of a mechanistic universe helped birth the scientific revolution and served ably during through the prime of the industrial revolution, scientists working today and in virtually all disciplines have moved beyond the constraints of a mechanistic worldview. Emergent evolution, self-organization, complexity sciences: these terms exemplify the shift from a mechanistic to a nestedly creative worldview.

* * *

Scientists speak of the universe unfolding according to natural law and species evolving by adapting to selection pressures within the environment. Theologians speak of the cosmos and all living creatures as coming into being as a result of God's will and God's grace. Only now can we begin to appreciate that these are different ways of speaking about the same process. To argue whether it was God, natural selection, or the self-organizing dynamics of emergent complexity that brought everything into existence is like debating whether it was me, my fingers moving on the keyboard, or the electrical synapses of my nervous system that produced this sentence.

Of course, this way of understanding the divine begs the question: Does this "God" evoke humility, love, trust, adoration, reverence, or commitment? Is this a "God" anyone would want to worship, pray to, or devote one's life to serving?

Of course!

If we wish to have a meaningful relationship with "The Whole of Reality" (both that which we can see and measure and that which we cannot), it is natural to use personal analogies to describe the nature of this Ultimacy. The Creator, Mother, Father, King, the Lord God Almighty, The Triune God, Holy Wisdom, the Messiah, Buddha nature, Brahman, the Tao, Allah, Great Spirit, the Rock of Our Salvation, The All Nourishing Abyss, the Akashic Field: these are but a few of the countless images and metaphors used by people of different cultures and times to describe the nature of "Reality as a Whole" and our relationship to it. All such attempts to capture the essence of The Whole are legitimate. Most are helpful, and all are limited. Such are the deficiencies of human language.

Spiritual practices that have served many and have stood the test of time, as well as contemporary psychological research, have this in common: They suggest, at their core, that the peace that passes all understanding, recovery from addiction, salvation from sin, ongoing transformation, personal empowerment, enlightenment, dwelling in kingdom of heaven, experiencing oneness with God - each of these can be found right here (and nowhere else!). How? Simply, get that you are part of The Whole, live with integrity, take responsibility for your life and your evolutionary legacy, listen to your heart to discern God's guidance, and love the Whole of Reality with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength, and your neighbor as yourself.

Prayer, from this perspective, is truly an intimate process, and one that even an atheist might embrace. Prayer is no longer the act of petitioning a far-off Supernatural Being to miraculously intervene in the world according to my desires or wishes. With an understanding of "God" as a proper name for Reality as a Whole, prayer can now be understood analogously as a cell in a body communicating (or in deep communion) with the larger body of which it is part.

* * *

There is a profound difference between "believing in a personal God" and knowing God intimately, that is, relating to Reality personally. "Believing in" God - that is, giving mental assent to the existence of a Supernatural Being - may or may not make a difference. Relating to Reality personally, that is, trusting that you are loved and accepted just as you are and that everything real in your life can be seen a gift and blessing in disguise, will always transform your life.

* * *

To sum up: (1) Because the entire universe is evolving and we're part of the process, and (2) because "God" cannot possibly be less than a proper name for "Reality as a Whole, measurable and non-measurable," then (to use traditional language) "knowing, loving, and serving God" really is our way into the future! It really is our destiny as a species.

How does one "know, love, and serve God" in an evolutionary context?

PERSONALLY, it means that nothing is more important than fulfilling your evolutionary mission! By listening, noticing what's real within and without, and pursuing the path where your own great joy and the world's evolutionary needs intersect, you truly glorify God; that is, you bless The Whole.

COLLECTIVELY, as a species, "knowing, loving, and serving God" in an evolutionary context means, at the very least, re-organizing ourselves globally, nationally, regionally, and locally so that there are real and effective incentives for doing the right (just, ecological, evolutionarily beneficial) thing and equally effective disincentives against lying, cheating, dominating, polluting, or otherwise doing the wrong, or evolutionary harmful, thing. Humanity will realize its potential by evolving structures of governance at all levels that align the natural self-interest of individuals and groups with the wellbeing of the whole - that is, the whole of humanity as well as the larger body of life of which we are part.

PRACTICALLY, this means putting in place laws, taxes, and moral incentives that ensure that individuals, corporations, and nation-states benefit when they benefit the Whole and are harmed when they harm the Whole. And the more they benefit or harm the whole, the more they benefit or are harmed, in turn. This process of aligning self-interest with the common good is the way evolution has brought forth (i.e., the way that God has created through time) increasingly complex, interdependent systems. And if we humans are to continue the process, this same pattern of whole-and-part is surely how we will do so in the decades to come.

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4 Sep 2005 @ 16:41 by jerryvest : I appreciate your beautiful article
about God, Love and understanding our relationship with our creator and creation. I don't have much to add to this discussion, but there is a paradox that mskes sense and no sense -- that our spirit or essence has never been born and thus, can not die. I'm sure that this is not an exact quote, but, for me, reduces the *fear* of God, Sex and Sin promoted by religious zealots and others wishing to have power and control over others.

I feel as though I can make sense out of God by recognizing our divine nature and inter-relationship with all that is.

Thanks again for your thoughtful and intelligent discussion with us.  

12 Sep 2005 @ 18:33 by Hanae @ : THAT
"I believe in THAT. That which happened that made everything that is. It began the Dreaming. And the Dreaming the living..." http://www.newciv.org/nl/newslog.php?did=217&vid=217&xmode=show_article&amode=standard&aoffset=0&artid=000217-000061&time=1062311474 ;-)  

12 Sep 2005 @ 18:44 by jstarrs : Redream the Float....

12 Sep 2005 @ 20:03 by Hanae @ : THAT


22 Sep 2005 @ 16:49 by Cynthia Beal @ : GOD - the greater organizing dynamic
Little g or big G?
the greater organizing dynamic

Hello Flemming;

So much to respond to! How to choose? How to find the perspective that recognizes that all answers are, perhaps, the same, and yet that each one, while one's in it, while one's postulating it, is uniquely "the One."

You pose the question (one of so many, delicious, time-consuming "many"!):You ask: "Does "Reality as a Whole" exhibit, or evidence, intelligence and creativity?"

My immediate kneejerk answer:
"They" don't care." (I'll run some process on this one ;-))

Michael Dowd is helpfully describing the current potpourri of physically measurable postulates put forth by thoughtful scientists and proposing a possible bridge of common ground among them/us that works as a path for non-scientists who observe and think about the world around them. Uniting scientists and non-scientists in shared perspective is vital in this age of rapidly changing high-tech with its concrete and immediate manifestation in our biological field (among others).

Hopefully, our community of humanity will benefit by an improved (and more rapid) concensus-interpretation of that shared reality - certainly the living creatures we cohabit this planet and universal system with will benefit from a more mutual understanding, especially if there's expression in the legal as well as personal worlds.

For a lot of folks, a relationship with GOD is a ultimately and originally power struggle (remember, the "greater" organizing dynamic, g.o.d.) Who organizes? You or GOD? (and the "or" here either exists or it doesn't; if it doesn't there's no question, and if there's no question, perhaps we're done - and if so, why are we still "doing"?, etc.)

The useful metaphoric relationship between Lucifer and GOD illustrates this struggle over creative power on a very stimulating level. Complicating this, every person's concept of the GOD dynamic - due to its (the concept's) unique and personally intimate nature, a fundamentally existential experience that often leads to "belief", even if it's "only" the belief in one's own experience and one hasn't been trained out of valuing that - is purely individual, and confuses even further the task of describing GOD, much less communicating about GOD or even coming into partial agreement about what GOD is/is not.

Therefore, any conversation between two people that centers on GOD can become a power struggle between the two who are talking, GOD aside; whose "organizing dynamic" system will dominate? whose experience is burned more indelibly in the soul? whose GOD's rules rule? etc... Eventually, even the conversation about GOD can be a struggle with GOD.

Eliminating GOD from the public conversation hasn't worked; the power struggle is not any cleaner. In fact, it's murkier than ever. Consequently, bringing humanity's multiple experiences of GOD, both as collectives (religions and groups) and as individuals, back into the communal cognitive and emotional arenas, only serves the greater whole, as Self contemplates Self, generating Self, and creating new conditions in which to both mutate and even thrive.

The conversation doesn't get any easier from here, but at least it's a conversation.

And wonderfully, now that Dowd and others have got us talking again, discoursing on GOD, saying the word "GOD" (no matter how we spell it); now that the taboo's out of the closet(!): when we finally grok the question you ask that I restated in the beginning - "Does "Reality as a Whole" exhibit, or evidence, intelligence and creativity?" we can, perhaps, have intelligent and creative conversations about the *evidence*. The evidence is the landform. The shared evidence is the bridge. And if we succeed in sharing valid evidence, perhaps we'll cross that bridge and actually go somewhere new and novel.

In my story, GOD would enjoy that very, very much.

Thanks for the insight, and the opportunity to scribe here.



PS - Michael Dowd and Connie Barlow's "turtle tour itinerary" is online at http://www.thegreatstory.org/itinerary.html I'll be seeing them in my town in a couple of weeks. Their story really should not be missed. I especially encourage people to attend to Michael's "great story" embodied in beads. When we all do the work, identify our events and assemble our beads, the great chain of being will be a colorful strand indeed!  

29 Sep 2005 @ 01:21 by Ted Dolojan @ : God's existence beyond your knowledge
Hi Ming!

You have a very good explanation here.

But how much do you think of all knowledge in the world can one man hold, assuming that the totality of all knowledge in the world is the size of football stadium? 1/4, 1/3, 1/2 or the whole of the football field? And what if outside the knowledge of the real existence of GOD is beyond your knowledge.
What happens to your soul? What a great loss for you.

Besides no matter how you explain your belief on GOD is will never change a bit of who He is. No one can completely define God and that is His msytery, we can just know His characteristics. The book of Job as mentioned by Joel last August 28 is true.  

13 Oct 2005 @ 10:22 by rayon : I go with Jerryvest above
and include one point. Many arguments are posited towards the group idea (of religion). In actual fact, for me, this discussion very much relies on the individual talking about their relationship to this and trying to stay within this parameter. A person may with validity as part of a religion group discuss "them" being others in the group, because to each other they relate individually. In turn, I believe the fault of organised churches is that they talk to "congregations" as a group (them, vous/you plural, impersonal) whereas they should be totally addressing the individual while talking to many individuals. A preciseness in speech, with so much "learning" around, does not come easy, rushing to place quotes, within a set programme, before the grocery shopping. Nearly always people's comments address unconsciously, the "them" which means the "them" will redirect these immediately while wishing with all their might to relate, to pick the the exact idiom in talking to other "thems", all the while bypassing themSELVEs.

In other doing just what the Church does.

Just an observation, bringing me back to Jerryvest.

I also believe fervently that each and every person in their own evolution is unique in their own make up and position towards the realised self. This explains the diversity of our existence. There are different levels of religious appreciation and usage up and down the social scal. Whatever holds the community together is a form of good, a sort of shared belief. Coming from Catholicism it is hard for me to say to everyone else, must's and should's, and everyone to do the same, however well meaning. I can't do it. However, I have no qualms in having in a universal wish for each to achieve basic levels of responsibility, say, within their own structures. Part of the process of learning requires no responsibility; the acknowledged seven levels, at the least the first three, are of this bracket. Placing the seven levels on top of each other makes the dreaded pyramid. The only way through this connumdrum on our paradigm is to have infinite compassion. Books confirm this as we strive to achieve, individually  

23 Nov 2005 @ 12:58 by jonah @ : compasion my..
to have compassion on any thing or one is to judge ,..to judge another to be so trajic so below your advantagious vieuw so as to require pity ,in or by some material norm,,lest i sound cruel it is time you do god ers learned not all people by and large do not want nor need compassion ,even those clearly in need can resent their need ,even looking as if in need, need not evolved of god but of greed of men
god created in 6 days this means 6 periods of change ,the big bang distorts yet even today time and space ,e=mc2 means all mass in one place in one time where time is not a fixed unit of measure ,.see the universe expanding faster than the speed of light(first day),when light is forced to exceed its proper speed it loops back upon itself egzactly as ball lightening does when the light particles form into strings we get or dust out of the firment,day two ,eve
entually the deep ,inside the backpresure of the bang the presure achieves ,in todays time bilions of years ,but of gods measure of created change of state
acording the changesbut the third night before the third day and god said let ther be lights in the sky for signs,,,,our young shall see visions and the old men shall dream dreams
couple of quick ones eve is adams truly cloned sister ,simply double up on the x
xx get it ,god sought an equal that would recognise the greatness of her creation,but gods creation was not enough for our ancestor ,god herself and her love ,man wanted what the animals had a mate,thus god who did of hertself make her love gave her love his sister,he knew it not for the godess has loving grace eve was even forgiven when moses revealed the rules num 18;15 as first born of man ..thus holy18;17...eve broke no vow nor had the law read to her (x3)
she dis obeyed man,husband or father thus num30; plus isa 38;8-13..cor7;39 reinforce..further gen 3 satan hinself,both as snake and lawyer did ask of eve,
woeman,..yea,.hath god said.....eves reply ..we..signifies no god did not forbade eve .our mother is forgiven indeed always was under gods grace ,use it find it has all the power any one could need ,but it has highest worth ,do not throw thy pearl,gifts of love given of love from the omnly all love, before swine,but to judge other frames karmic balance  

7 Dec 2005 @ 20:05 by Fern @ : God
Everybody has there own opinion on GOD, why we are here, how did we get here. Technology is why we are here now, and why we will be always asking the GOD question. I thought I had everything figured out after one too many LSD trips back in highschool unfortunately I forgot it all and I have to accept that I am going to have to keep getting the same old questions answered the same old way.We forget that God is differnt if you are a North American, as opposed to the god in Eastern Europe, and in Asia. Which god is greater? Which relegion is the key to our eternal happiness in the after life, do you believe in the after life.There is too many questions answered with another question.Is there a Hell? Is there a heaven. I can answer those questions. Hell is a bad day in your life, heaven is a good day in your life. Hell- you got fired and just bought a new home--- Heaven- I just won the lottery !!! The little planet we are on, who made it , the Big bang theory. Well in order to have a Bang there has to be a Banger. Maybe we should stop referring to the reason why we are here as "god" and just call them the "Banger". Plus the name sounds cool. Maybe we should be asking the Autobiograper of "ADAM and EVE" what he thought of the process. He must have some first hand knowledge of what the hell happened, he was there and he wrote about it. How else do you think the information got passed on silly. Because of the world we created for ourselves and the safe little environment we are trying to protect and build all these walls to keep everything out just isn't working as we planned. The most disturbing thing about everything is if you believe in Jesus, the guy you believe is coming back to save everyone ( like the BIBLE says ). Well you better look busy my friend because the person he is coming to save you from is YOU. Honestly, if this guy comes back and starts doing his " I am Jesus and I am here to save you from eternal damnation" We are gonna lock his ass up and put him in with the other 1000 Jesus's we have locked up over the years.Oh and by the way I am not an anti-relegion person I am just as clueless as the rest of the world hiding behind their beliefs and hoping that I put my chips on the right number in the roulette game called life.But let me leave you guys with this question. Have you actually took the time and thought about the names of the Apostles and the other Characters in the Bible? For a story told in Jerusulem and egypt and other parts of the middle east have you ever noticed they had some pretty simple names. Peter, Paul , John, Mary, Joseph. Mark, Ruth, Jacob adam, eve . Now I find it hard to believe that some where down the road that some genius said . "Hey these names sound easy to pronounce, lets change it to hard to pronounce names". So you see the name of your God is important because it brings understanding to what you belive in . Buddha is not the same as Jesus AKA---GOD. Lets face it, we are a 13 year old child's science experiment that has been unkept. Thanks.  

27 Jan 2006 @ 10:20 by jonah @ : reply to fern
i must disagree regarding god being diferent ,i see god as the eternal unseen servant of all ,not a different god only seen diferently by every one ,there is only one ,with very many sons and daughters ,no one is not a sun of the sun ,ie god ,while men seek a son ,or a holy spirit a budda or a mosus they seek a lie a faulse god ,see god as the sun all suns expanding ever outward from the big bang ,out out untill the atoms loose the electrons ,until magnetic ,radioactive become mere specks floating beyond any time beyond but within the whole of space
eventually the specks develop momentum falling back ,air becomes dust/mass falling in ..in .in until it cant falli any closer ,a final change of state ,a big bang and the mass now expands outward till we get back to this time and space to repeat egsactly what i do now ,when you are yet again shown the book of life you are told it is the same book ,no one wrote it but its script has been true forever ,but and ,heres the big kikker ,it has one law each time a new spirit becomes you ,that you thought your life was lived last time and next time ,same for ever ,but you ,you only get one shot at it then i may try to be a different you ,and also fail to change even on hair of your complete ,free will life ,just remembered how much you have removed ming ,wont be back.  

13 Jul 2006 @ 04:16 by yaramalla sunil @ : god
durga bhavani has power in his hand what is the power name.password:-123456  

19 Dec 2014 @ 20:52 by Anne @ : AHQICaofRKPY
Articles like this really grease the shafts of knlegedow.  

23 Dec 2014 @ 12:19 by Trey @ : ZdFMzXprdZBiI
Wow I must confess you make some very trhnaecnt points.  

20 Jul 2015 @ 14:46 by Roger Jimlad @ : Just a thought
Reality is God, expressing itself physically. It is All That Is, experiencing itself as itself through us and every other individuation of itself that exists, be it bacterium, or galaxy. Everywhere. Throughout eternity.
God and Life are interchangeable terms.  

Other stories in
2014-11-07 23:12: Welcome to the 5th dimension
2011-11-07 17:22: Notice the incidental
2010-07-14 13:35: Consciousness of Pattern
2010-06-28 00:03: Pump up the synchronicity
2009-10-29 14:03: Convergent or Divergent
2007-08-05 23:45: Perverse incentives
2007-06-22 22:18: Elementary magic
2007-03-21 14:20: Cymatics and group formation
2007-03-15 01:06: Structural holes
2007-02-27 23:50: Leverage

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