Richard Rohr talks about God as the “unified field.” This unified field is what connects everything physical and metaphysical (and here the metaphysical is not supernatural, it’s simply “meta” in its truest sense—that which underlies everything else). For Rohr and other people of faith, especially those of us with a mystical bent, the unified field is God.
Einstein spent much of the latter half of his life looking for the scientific equivalent of this unified field—the force that connects electricity, magnetism, gravity, time and space. In his day, quantum physics was just becoming a discipline, and some of its important theories seemed astonishing to Einstein. You see, when Einstein published his theory of relativity, it created a bit of a schism in the scientific world. For centuries, physicists operated under the notion that Newton’s laws described everything in the universe. We all remember some Newtonian physics from elementary school: levers, action and reaction, gravity—these are all described by Newtonian physics.
The problem is that with the discovery of atoms and things smaller than atoms, Newtonian laws no longer worked. This is how the science of quantum physics developed. Quantum physics discovers and states laws about the subatomic world—a world very different from the big physical world we inhabit; a world that does not obey the laws of Newtonian physics.
So, for a long time now, physicists have been struggling with a way to find and prove what it is that ties the big, Newtonian physical world, and the small, quantum world together because you can’t have a universe that operates under two sets of different (and sometimes opposing) laws. This means that Newtonian and quantum physics are subsets of a larger law—again, we can think of this overarching law as God (although scientists are thinking of something else).
The best idea in science right now is known as string theory (Click here for a short string theory primer video). In a nutshell, the theory is that everything that exists is made of atoms (which we know is true) and every atom is made of smaller and smaller particles (which we also know is true, these particles are called quarks, muons, gluons, etc.) until you finally get down to what is essentially an energy vibration that looks like a string (this is where we run into theory). Hence the name string theory. The problem is that we have yet to find any physical evidence of strings, probably because we simply don’t have tools that can see that small. Yet.
People like Richard Rohr and I contend that the unified field Einstein looked for and that many quantum physicists today call strings is the energy we often call God. All those invisible little energy strings combine to make larger things like us, planets, solar systems and universes. All of it is the very being of God. It is highly likely that energy is the fabric of the universe—both the creative force and the force that holds it all together. Isn’t that how God is described in the Bible, and even in literature that predates the Bible? Isn’t that how we’ve traditionally thought of God? As creator and sustainer? Isn’t it possible that God accomplishes these things by simply being, rather than manipulating?
The difference—and it’s a biggie—is that God as the fundamental string—as energy, makes God a very intimate part of us, rather than the big bearded man in the sky. This is a very good thing. Even if string theory ultimately remains unproven, as a way for us to expand our notions about the being and nature of God, it’s incredibly helpful to think of God as the vibrating energy that creates and sustains everything.
Why is it helpful to think of God this way? Because, if God is the creative and sustaining energy of all things, then all things are God. You and I, our friends and perceived enemies—it’s all God. If we look at someone, we think of as an enemy as part and parcel of the being of God, that should change the way we react. How can we abuse or enslave each other if we’re all God, all beings of love? It’s a matter of awakening to a different point of view, one that prevents us from treating each other abusively.
To understand this fully we have to have a different mindset. We need the mindset of Jesus, of Buddha, of Lao-Tzu, of others whose expanded consciousness allowed them a glimpse of the Infinite Oneness. Jesus, in particular, had a mindful awareness of God not only within him but within all things—within everyone. Jesus understood that he and God were the very same substance—as are we all. That’s why he never turns anyone away and gets angry when his disciples start fighting about who’s the greatest. It might be a good idea for American Christians to remember that lesson. Jesus never builds walls. He obliterates them.
There is no “us” and “God,” or “us” and “them,” there is only God, and levels of awareness of our being one and the same substance with and of God. This is why Jesus talks about God within. It’s a difficult concept to comprehend and maintain, especially when we’ve grown up in an era when we’ve been told we’re nothing like Jesus and can never be anything like Jesus. What a pity. Being like Jesus is exactly what Jesus wanted. In fact, as a Rabbi, he would have expected his students—disciples—to not only learn from him but also to emulate him in every way. That’s what students did in the 1st Century. They tried to be exactly like their teacher—in Jesus’ case he wanted his students to mimic the nature of God. I think emulation of endless, unconditional, creative love would be a good place for postmodern Christianity to return. It’s a fundamental that overrides any fundamentalism.
Meditation: I will emulate the nature and being of Jesus.