Let me begin by saying that I was over Deepak Chopra decades ago. About the same time I outgrew Oprah.
But I have to give it up to him this one time. Because as a new and very vocal convert to Catholicism, I’m constantly being asked, “How can an intelligent woman like you believe in a fairy tale?”
I’m asked to prove, scientifically, that God exists. And how God “works.” And why God doesn’t stop bad things from happening—the usual questions.
Now, as I’ve said before, there is no acceptable answer. You’ve either experienced God, or you haven’t. That’s it. That’s all there is to it.
But Chopra recently gave me a rather elegant answer on a PBS special I almost didn’t watch. He was promoting yet another book full of ideas he borrowed not just from prophets but from scientists as well. Physicists, actually.
The book references quantum physics, which seems to turn the entire universe into little particles of matter that do magical things we don’t understand, governed by laws we sort of understand, which work perfectly whether we understand them or not.
Sound familiar? If you’re a believer, it should.
Chopra argued that science doesn’t obliterate religion, it explains it. And vice versa. And I’ve argued that before here, too. I realized it in college, when so many things I read in the various holy books I’d been pouring over reminded me of my science texts. And…vice versa.
In fact, when Carl Sagan declared that we were all “star stuff” on Cosmos, I thought, “Yes, I know, Carl. The kingdom of God is within you, too.”
Chopra said exactly that, on PBS. And then he upped the ante, declaring that that GOD is:
“A single unified conscious energy field that Generates, Organizes and Delivers the universe”
There it is. A combo plate of science and spiritual. And he challenged us to think about our own bodies not only as part of that, but also as little “examples” of it.
You aren’t just part of that universe, you are a universe. And just as your cells and organs and systems work without you having to think about that, so the larger, post-bang universe you’re part of keeps on ticking, too.
So our big bang is birth. And then off we go, everything working according to plan. Or sometimes, not so much. Like when those “bad” things happen, and God does not, according to my RCIA teachers, intervene.
Even then, the plan set in motion billions and billions of years ago (Sagan’s trademark line), is still working. We have to trust it. “Be still, and know that I am God,” Chopra said, to remind us of our sacred instruction book.
Of course, he’s right. Or I think he is. And yet, it felt so anticlimactic. And not just because I’d already thought of it.
It’s just that now that I’ve experienced God, I don’t want God defined or explained. It sucks all the “juice” out of a profound emotional experience.
I do love having a handy comeback for those who need the details. But the God who lives within me, who “delivers” for me time and time again is indescribable. Some scientists agree, which is why more scientists that you might think are also believers. Once you see how well things work, it’s hard not to be.
But it goes beyond how things “work,” for those of us who have fallen in love. There is a presence with which we deal, daily. A spiritual dialog between us and our Lord Jesus which even if logically explained would still be the stuff of miracles.
Perhaps we believers are deluded. A recent study published in the journal Social Neuroscience shows that we’re definitely “high” on something—love is a drug, they say. And now they’ve proved that our love is very strong stuff.
So the smile that won’t go away during Mass, or as I’m kneeling in Eucharistic Adoration, may be an endorphin rush triggered by a reward center in my brain. And God may have built us that way. Hallelujah.
But it seems to me that science is simply saying what we’ve always believed: God “surpasses all understanding.” (Philippians 4:7)
So thank you Deepak, for the one-sentence “smack down.” But what stirs my soul is beyond words.
Photo credit: By Waiting for the Word, Flickr