Thursday, November 30, 2023

Hopeful Thinking - Saturday, November 12, 2022 - Consubstantiality

What does it mean to be “at one” with something? We often think of our compatibility with someone or something when using a term like that. The term must be at least a bit of an exaggeration, though. Because two things cannot really be one. Right? 

Not so fast.

There is a fascinating paradigm in the scientific world referred to as quantum entanglement. Albert Einstein referred to it as “spooky action at a distance.” It's when two entangled particles are not really two separate particles, even when literally separated from one another. No amount of distance technically separates them. They are not simply in communication with one another, they literally are one another. When something happens to one of them, it happens simultaneously to the other, regardless of their distance. 

Einstein was baffled at how this could be since it violated all the known laws of physics and causality as he understood them. It definitely violated his belief that nothing can travel faster than the speed of light, yet simultaneous action at a distance seemed to prove him wrong. Smartly (and humbly), rather than declare the observation to be false, he concluded that we must have an incomplete understanding of quantum mechanics. 

In religion, specifically Trinitarian Christianity, the belief is held that the son, meaning Jesus, is consubstantial with the father, meaning God. Consubstantial means that they are “of the same substance” according to the Council of Nicaea in the year 325 CE, which voted to acknowledge it as dogma. Admittedly, that’s a slight oversimplification of what was actually a four-century process of adoption and acknowledgment between the First and Second Councils of Nicea. But the idea of Jesus being at one with God, rather than the offspring of God began its theological life 1,697 years ago.

This brings up an interesting way of looking at it which we often do not closely examine today. Whether or not Jesus was (or is) factually consubstantial with God is technically somewhat beside the point. It is a matter of faith that he was, but it’s not the type of thing that can simply be voted into truth. Our belief does not make it more or less so. It is what it is. The Council of Nicaea made a decision to hold an article of faith to be true. That’s not necessarily the same thing as it actually being true. 

However, just like those Bishops who participated in the First Council as well as its sequel 462 years later, I can offer no proof one way or the other. I am here to neither affirm nor deny the consubstantiality of Jesus and God. I have no more information about celestial goings-on than those Bishops did. A bit more of Einstein‘s humility on the subject is warranted here. 

But we can empirically conclude that two entangled particles are literally consubstantial with one another. That much is certain.

So, if that’s true, is it possible that quantum entanglement is at the heart of the physical mechanism God used to present Itself here on Earth? Some might faithfully conclude yes. 

Jesus is recorded to have taught that we could do everything that he did. It was just a matter of getting out of our own way and sublimating the parts of our human shortcomings which prevent it. If so, why and how might that be? Is consubstantiality and quantum entanglement the same thing? Is it another way of describing having been “made in God’s image?”

I propose here that there may be something to this notion we’ve only narrowly misinterpreted. What if we are entangled with God? Or, perhaps more specifically, with one another? With the earth? With the Universe at large? All of the above?

Is there an unacknowledged part of us that is as metaphysically powerful as Jesus is reported in the Gospels to have been trying to get us to acknowledge? And what of those who have demonstrated miraculous healing abilities over the centuries? Are they more fully embodying this entanglement than most? Is there a thread of connection we are not acknowledging, and therefore, not making the best use of? What are we missing?

The answer is: I don’t know. But I hope.

Faithfully, I’m concluding that we are far more than we appear, with abilities only the spiritual masters of our known history have hinted at. I’m accepting a notion as an article of personal faith that we see the Ultimate Reality through sludge-colored glasses at best, and that our capacity for embodying our own consubstantiality with God is only as limited as we make it.

Consider meditating on this possible entanglement with the Great I Am. Perhaps there is a benefit to be had in simply acknowledging its theological possibility. Perhaps there is a reward of a greater sense of connection with our neighbor that makes goodness flow between us simply by thinking about it. Seems worth it to me to find out.

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