Why do we try to destroy God?

Donald Winnicott (paediatrician and psychoanalyst) studied the development of the Self within the child. He found that an infant is reliant on a “good-enough” mother (he was writing in the ’40’s, ’50s and ’60’s) to reveal to the infant that their feelings are real. Initially an infant believes he/she is omnipotent. He/she does not know there is a Not-Me. The reality of the loving mother as an “external object” is established by her survival of the child’s attempt to destroy her – and doing this whilst continuing to love. It is a parent’s fundamental role in allowing their child to develop a sense of the their reality in relation to all-else that they provide a “holding” environment within which the child can develop.

God, of course, is the archetype of parent. So, perhaps it is necessary for-human kind that we try to destroy God, and it is  in the ever-loving survival of our destruction – that we finally perceive His (or Her) loving reality?

In Winnicott’s words..

“The self is first made real through recognition, the object is first made real through aggressive destruction; and this of course, makes experience of the object feel real to the self. The object is placed outside omnipotent control by being destroyed while, in fact surviving the destruction”. In an illustrative dialogue about the process “The subject says to the object: ‘I have destroyed you’, and the object is there to receive the communication. From now on the subject says: ‘Hullo, object!’ ‘ I destroyed you.’ ‘ I love you. You have value for me because of your survival of my destruction of you. While I am loving you I am all the time destroying you in (unconscious) fantasy’ ” (The Use of an Object and Relating through Identifications 1969).

Shall I say that, for a child to be brought up so that he can discover the deepest part of his nature, someone has to be defied, and even at times hated, without there being a danger of a complete break in the relationship” (Home Again 1945).

 

Consciousness, the rose and the fire

 

All manner of thing shall be well

When the tongues of flame are in-folded

Into the crowned knot of fire

And the fire and the rose are one

TS Eliot

Any static theory of consciousness feels incomplete. Reality is much closer to a process than a material. Whitehead’s “Process and Reality”, is impenetrable, but so much is clear. Consciousness, our awareness of self and the universe, is transitory, fleeting for most of us. This is to be expected if reality is the intersection of process and the material. It takes intense meditation and study to be able to hold oneself within the stream of the process that is reality as it pours through us. (I am told).

To quote Max Tegmark (New Scientist “Solid, Liquid, Consciousness”) “consciousness is a process that can occur in certain physical systems”. Whilst he invents new language (consciousness is for instance renamed as perceptronium) – it’s an old truth restated. As old, or older than zen. The mathematics are apparently called “Integrated Information Theory” or IIT for short. The system conditions necessary are interesting involving a fluctuation dynamic balance between various factors – system integration and internal separation for instance.

Reality may in fact be the same thing as consciousness (since observation crystallises out particular reality from the infinity of potential). In any case both are a process within a material setting. Matter doesn’t exist without the process of observation and the process can’t flow unless it is materialised. Just as gravitons need material to interact with to create weight. Matter matters – like the zip travelling through time, along the zipper. In this metaphor, what is reality? The changing space that the opening zipper reveals?

And what of the observer phenomenon? After 100 years of quantum investigation there is still no explanation of who or what the “observer” is. In the quantum world at least the observer certainly affects the observed – crystallising out one particular reality from the infinity possibilities that exist. Tegmark states “recent papers have argued that the observer is the key to understanding other fundamental physics mysteries, such as why our universe appears so orderly, why time seems to have a preferred forward direction, and even why time appears to flow at all”.

But is this not what we, each of us are? Fundamentally we observe. For me at least, the words observer and soul are interchangeable – as are the words observation and witness. As Teilhard de Chardin puts it – together we are the phenomenon of man and through us “the universe becomes aware of itself for the first time”. And Teilhard de Chardin also makes the powerful case that consciousness must have been a property of matter from the outset (his inner and outer), and that evolution has led along the path to emergent self-awareness and will eventually lead to (re)unification with God’s love at the Omega Point – when individual units of consciousness, our separate selves – unify and merge.

It seems to me that the separate strands of enquiry – scientific, spiritual and philosophical – are converging or possibly a better description is co-emerging; and toward a knowledge of the presence of God’s love. A rose is a rose by whatever name – love, connection, truth, God.