Lately, my awareness has been curious about little similarities between science and spirituality. Maybe it’s the fall lineup of science/spirituality conferences that populate Northern California’s Bay or my regular curiosity about how science connects into deeper reality.. anyway, here’s what I have been pondering.
Scientific thought: All space is contained and finite.
Spiritual thought: All is vast, infinite spaciousness.
To my awareness, these two ideas are essentially the same thing. Sure, they seem to be opposites at first glance, but here’s what I see:
Infinite = all there is.
Finite = all there is.
In the view of contemporary physics, the universe is made up of energy in various forms. Some of it is what we typically think of as “energy”: electromagnetic current, gamma rays, light. Much of it is condensed into matter—this is what E = Mc2 means: Energy = Matter. We call this energy form, or the material world. But all of it takes up a tiny, tiny fraction of the space in the universe.
In a way, then, physics is the study of space and how the energy in it defines the material world, at various scales…
Astrophysics: Big black holes, planets orbiting stars… and space, so much vast space.
Quantum physics: Protons magnetically charged to an electron, spinning around each other in atoms that are actually more than 99% space.
We instinctively identify with the material world more than the underlying space, but in the view of modern physics, energy and matter are meaningless concepts in the absence of space.
Albert Einstein, once thought of as radical and fringe, said: “Physical objects are not ‘in’ space. These objects are spatially extended, as fields [and matter]. In this way, the concept ’empty space’ loses its meaning.”