I recently attended a lecture (in German) by Hans-Ruedi Stadelmann, a retired astrophysicist cum theologian, on the subject of ‘A contemporary image of God?’
Scientists have come to realise the inadequacy of a purely materialistic perception of the universe, he claimed. Schrödinger and Einstein abolished the idea of matter per se; everything that exists can be described in terms of quantum-mechanical waves – a mathematical construct – and thus understood in a spiritual sense. Stadelmann postulates an original impersonal cosmic spirit – he would prefer to describe it as a verb rather than a subject, if our language permitted it – which existed before matter. This primal spirit encompassed all the latent potentiality – the DNA, so to speak – for the universe to come into being and evolve in ever increasing complexity.
This theory thus rejects the traditional concept of a dualistic worldview, in which an all-powerful, omniscient God with intentions and feelings rules over His subservient Creation. Such a story is seen as an obsolete anthropomorphic projection arising out of some primitive antique culture. Instead, a complexity-enabling ‘spirit’ triggered the Big Bang. Random quantum-mechanical permutations and biochemical mutations yielded the quarks, the galaxies and all the diverse living beings populating the many inhabited worlds. And this process will continue, even after mankind has self-exterminated or been out-evolved.
It follows that good and evil are arbitrary human constructs and no traditional faith can be viewed as embodying truth. Blind evolution has become the new religion.
So, of course, the Bible can’t be taken as a true account of God’s dealings with mankind. Jesus isn’t the Son of God; He wasn’t born of a virgin and didn’t rise from the dead. Prayer, miracles, worship, and divine encounters are nothing but subjective self-consolations. And a human life has no more significance than that of the ant you just trod on. When we die, we merge into the cosmic spirit and have no further individual existence.
As a physicist myself, I understand Stadelmann’s reasoning, but I find his Weltanschauung most unsatisfactory. Yes, it was a spirit who initiated this universe. But what justifies the arbitrary decision to deny that spirit intelligence, purpose and will? I believe He – not it – designed human beings as the crown of His Creation, and out of love for His wayward children He sent His Son into the world to enable us to abandon our foolish ways and regain our lost relationship with Him.