John Bell, the Iona Community and Synchronicity

John Bell of the Iona Community in his thought for the day this morning on BBC Radio 4 referred to the mythical tree of knowledge as “the tree of the knowledge of good and evil”. It is my contention, and I think supported by quantum mechanics, that we are observers weaving existence from the stuff of potential. (Schroedinger’s cat..). The thought in the blog “evil, a problem of boundary” was only 6 hours old. It was attempting to address the theological issue of the “problem of evil”. The thought is simple. In this world we are born into boundary. Nothing can be experienced except in relation to it’s opposite or converse – thus experience is dependent on boundaries. It is we – who create both evil and good through our observations. (Niels Bohr..). Both evil and good are products of human kind and not of a creator. As a pointer toward the underlying love in the universe – Teilhard de Chardin’s underlying driver of evolution – could we get better than the example of Nelson Mandela. He integrated good and evil and spun them into something larger…

And then John Bell was on air – and put it charmingly, simply. As ever.

Evil, a consequence of boundary

The problem of evil is often cited as an argument against a loving creator. But surely…

Boundary is necessary for our experience. We understand “loud” by contrast to “soft” and so on. Some of the greatest writers and thinkers express existence itself in this context. Jung sets up contrasts and enjoins us to struggle toward their integration. Buber’s existentialist view is expressed as a “two-fold entity” Ich-Du (or the alternative Ich-Es which allows evil). I read an article recently (teilharddechardin) which eloquently stated religious insight as “relational”. Experience is relative and depends on “the other”. Martin Buber as a catholic? (Indeed he writes that Jesus Christ is the epitome of the jewish ideal).

And surely experience is what creates existence. That is at the core of quantum mechanics – it is observation that crystallises out this particular reality from the infinity of potential. I think of our role here as “observation engine” creating reality. At the heart of observation, again there is separation – a boundary between the observer and that which is observed.

It seems to me that evil is something we create, tolerate and live with. It is the particular reality we choose. It is we who crystallised out the holocaust, not the loving creator. As a result we experience good, by contrast and in relation. We know something is good by reference to all of the evil in the world.

But what is this evil and good that we create? Jung would enjoin us to attempt their integration. What then? Perhaps – joy?

The world is right now saluting the passing of that great spirit – Nelson Mandela. He was, apparently angry and violent as a young man. Yet he transcended this and became something else entirely. His will almost alone seems to have delivered reconciliation and integration out of an almost certain bloodbath.

Perhaps, a thought only, the charity of the loving creator is of a wholly different order from what we think of as the good and evil which we create. In that case, is the path back to our spiritual home (the loving creator) – the integration to which Jung refers? The living in the duality Ich-Du rather than the chimera of Ich-Es?