Home : WRITINGS Archives

The Search for God

E-mail Print PDF

A recent article in The Economist caught my attention. The European particle-physics laboratory (CERN) at Geneva is spending 2 million Euro on a research to find out the biological reasons why people believe in God and religion in general. The project is known as ‘Explaining Religion’ and CERN’s new machine the Large Hadron Collider (familiar to readers of Dan Brown) will search for the God particle.

I find this research intriguing because science and religions are normally two things that can never sit comfortably at the same dinner table as the former’s question of ‘Why’ will invariably get the answer ‘Just because’ from the latter, thus ending any potentially fruitful and enlightening discussion with frustration and bad air. Moreover, the mutual distrust and suspicions from either camp had always ensured a ‘stay out of my turf’ attitude that can only reinforce each camp’s blinkered outlook that hampers our, as humans, holistic understanding of life. Hence the constant pull between the need to understand the human being as both a physical vehicle (the scientific, the empirical, the laws of nature) and the ‘spiritual’ (the need for moral guidance, prescribed values whether secular or religious, the belief in God/gods and such like.)

According to the article ‘The experiments it will sponsor are designed to look at the mental mechanisms needed to represent an omniscient deity, whether (and how) belief in such a “surveillance-camera” God might improve reproductive success to an individual's Darwinian advantage, and whether religion enhances a person's reputation—for instance, do people think that those who believe in God are more trustworthy than those who do not? The researchers will also seek to establish whether different religions foster different levels of co-operation, for what reasons, and whether such co-operation brings collective benefits, both to the religious community and to those outside it.’

No doubt the impulse to do this kind of research is triggered by the global interest in religions and increased tension caused by the promotions of different religions as they elbow each other in their attempt at theological, ideological, moral supremacy and political much in the same way as communism and capitalism did in their efforts to master global power and influence. It would be interesting indeed to see what conclusion these types of experimentations come up with.

However, as someone with a propensity to be suspicious of any approach that is enamoured with its own method (whether the scientific, logical and experiment-based explanation or the religious, word of god, ‘things exist hence there is a creator’ explanation) my opinion of this type of experimentation to prove or disprove the existence of God or why people believe in a deity, is a bit like taking apart a television to find the source of the contents of the TV programmes. Knowing that religiosity originates in the brain’s temporal lobe is like knowing which wire of the TV set projects a certain light or sound while no nearer to understanding of why there are so many bad soap operas being aired or why people enjoy watching them to begin with.

Religious groups might object to scientists poking their noses in areas that are normally beyond their business (may be a response caused by faulty wiring!) however, any attempt to answer the why question is laudable even though at the end of the day the response ultimately gets lost in the chasm that separates the ‘how’ of science and the ‘just because’ of Word of God religions.

That’s why I find metaphysics much more convincing than conventional science or conventional religions as basis for understanding existence and the meaning of life. It does not separate the question from the answer but transforms knowledge into understanding and intellect into intelligence. In other words it raises our thinking to another level that enables us to see a better perspective of the reality. Much like standing on top of the pyramid looking down as opposed to being on the ground looking up. The one below sees the pyramid as a flat wall with a pointed tip. The one above sees a solid construction with four sides.

Only when we are willing to get out of the limitation of our thinking and go up a dimension will we be able to see that a lot of the issues that drag us down in a frustrating and complicated mess are nothing more than the result of our own messy way of thinking - the clashing of conflicting ideas, incompatible views and opposing values that are expressions of our inability to understand the universe for what it really is. The pattern will be clearer when we raise our perception and the issues (is there God? why do we believe in God? my God is better than yours) will no longer be relevant.

The fact is the universe is simply energies moving at different frequencies whether humans, animals, trees, other planets, sounds, lights even our thoughts, our dreams, our emotions, our intellect, our creativity and our beliefs. Only when we accept this fact can we move on to the next question of how to channel these energies to our universal benefit. And there will no longer be the need to search for God.