In my early 20’s, I had the good fortune to read Myths, Models, and Paradigms: A Comparative Study in Science and Religion, authored by Ian Barbour, who won the Templeton Award for his work. He addressed through a Venn Diagram how the bridge of science and the shore of faith can “co-exist” through the medium of shared language. When science talks to or “at” religion in the language native to science, the language of faith cannot be accessed (no dialogue occurs). Conversely, if religion talks in its native tongue to or “at” science, then once again, futility reigns supreme.
But there is a space wherein both disciplines have a common language, an overlapping area between the two seemingly opposing disciplines. This general idea of common language or experience as a uniting principle intrigued me, and 40 years later, I’m still using the concept. I suspected there are overlaps between all people, systems of thought, and principles, wherein all healing and peace have a chance to thrive — as a Shaman Medicine Woman said — “in a balance of polarities.”
If the Tower of Babel was real, then I bet the problem was everyone thinking they are unique. They are right, and they clung to this “separation consciousness” until all communication broke down. In another setting where everyone spoke different languages (Day of Pentecost), they all understood one another through the Universal Gift of the Holy Spirit. The following example might seem like a stretch, but maybe in Quantum Mechanics, the language of spirit is emerging whereby religion and science have an opportunity to live in the present peacefully. Everything is connected, and even the molecules themselves are subject to our prayers (faith) and intentions (science) to know the truth and find mutual freedom.
You know, it seemed an easy thing to look for the good in “others” to look for the overlapping WE SPACE and to move forward from there. It’s not the Minnesota Nice head-trip thing whereby we employ passive, polite reservations to arrive at peace with others. Instead, it is leaving our acquired comfort zone and finding our strength through shared vulnerability. It’s more than just the art of diplomacy; it is arriving at a state of being teachable. Both science and religion can TRUST
themselves enough to trust one another. Go in with a clean slate. The overlap might be dangerous territory and appear quite narrow, but it’s the “biggest small place” in the world. It’s the ONLY place where we can all fit together perfectly, but know that the world and its institutions will try to distract you, call you out of the straight and narrow unity, to maintain its addiction to judgment (separation consciousness).
During the most challenging time of my life, a.k.a. the Dark Night of the Soul, I had everything burned away from me (the Gift of Fire) that wasn’t real, that separated my perception from the Unconditional Grace of God’s Love. Hence, the Seneca quote that encapsulates this for me: “Ignis aurum probat, miseria fortes viros.” Translated: “Fire is the test of gold; adversity, of strong men.”
My spending three and a half years in the “Dark Night” left my old self dead; “Self” emerged. All that was left of “me” was bare bones or bare metal, the skeleton of truth with which I could rebuild my life; an ultimate sense of innocence emerged, a sacred space where nothing could separate me from our Creator emerged. We are all created to experience this unity if we allow it. It is our Shared Space of Overlap, the part of ourselves we cannot screw up and no one “else” can screw up, either.
We were created with a clean slate, and it’s always been the case that we are innocent. Were it not so, we would not be directed to “be as little children,” childlike, which is not to be confused with childish. When a scientist has a pure intention set in search of truth, they are expressing that childlike innocence to which I refer. When a person of faith has a pure plan (prayer) in pursuit of truth, they also experience childlike innocence. “The truth shall set you free” was not just for people of faith.
Our common denominator is our real starting point. A quote from A Course in Miracles might be helpful: “Nothing real can be threatened. Nothing unreal exists. Herein lies the peace of God.” This same truth exists between all people, offender and victim, republican and democrat, and even between all religions and atheism.
Jean-Paul Sartre, an Atheist Existentialist (I lean to Christian Existentialism), wrote an interesting book entitled Existentialism and Human Emotions. A great book well worth the read, I might add. One of Sartre’s most famous quotes was, “Hell is other people,” which I uncomfortably dismissed when I first read it. Then a light bulb appeared over my head, and I realized OTHER people was the crux of
the objection I had. If I don’t see OTHERS as OTHERS and see them as they truly are, then hell itself disappears. C.S. Lewis pointed out that “The door to hell is only unlocked from the INSIDE.” Separation Consciousness is a sure version of hell.
What’s compelling about Heaven is that it can align with both science and religion equally. The sun shines on us all. An inspirational quote by Hāfiz about the value of Love: “Even after all this time the sun never says to the earth, ‘You owe me.’”