Deus sive Natura
I distinguish between nature and Nature.
The former is the nature we investigate objectively as scientists: the nature of cause and effect, of physical measurement, of chemical reactions, of biological life, and of cognitive states. The latter is the Nature we experience subjectively as human beings: when we are conscious, emotional, mindful, and, most profoundly, under the influence of psychedelic drugs.
Everything that happens in Nature can be correlated to measurable events in nature, though not be reduced to it. God, then, is not supernatural, not beyond the world, not a higher power, not personal, not some guy who answers to prayers; rather, God is Nature.
God is what every mystical experience is about. We can scientifically explain mystical experiences, but God has no meaning in science. This is similar to how we can scientifically explain romantic experiences, while Love remains irreducible to objective facts.
Still, if God is Nature, which does not metaphysically transcend nature, why even use the word “God”? Because “God” is a powerful word, and I like to use powerful words, particularly to describe powerful experiences. Simple as that.
I believe in Spinoza’s God, who reveals himself in the harmony of all that exists, not in a God who concerns himself with the fate and the doings of mankind.
Scientific research can reduce superstition by encouraging people to think and view things in terms of cause and effect. Certain it is that a conviction, akin to religious feeling, of the rationality and intelligibility of the world lies behind all scientific work of a higher order. […] This firm belief, a belief bound up with a deep feeling, in a superior mind that reveals itself in the world of experience, represents my conception of God. In common parlance this may be described as “pantheistic”.
— Albert Einstein
- Why I’m Not an Atheist: On Pagan Pantheism
- Does Open-Mindedness Make You Wiser or Weaker?
- The Power of Simple Words
- The Fundamental Problem of All Religious Teachings