The real substance of this conversation does not take place in these posts, but in how we incorporate these discussions into our hearts and minds.
Lately I have heard a lot of mention that that the burden of proof is on theists, not atheists, because their claims are more the “extraordinary” ones. “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof.”
I disagree that a theistic claim is inherently more extraordinary than an atheistic claim regarding the origin of existence.
The biggest problem seems to be that we all, theists and atheists alike, try to shape the data to fit what our hearts want to see. This is the definition of “maya” (illusion) and everyone will always be in maya – be it maha-maya (great illusion) or yoga-maya (bonding illusion). The consciousness CAN NOT percieve things without shaping them, this is the purport of our being always under the influence of maya, and is evidenced in the inseparability of observer and observation empirically demonstrated by experiments in quantum physics.
Proponents of both theistic and atheistic camps shaping facts to be what they want. Atheists will righteously claim superior objectivity, but the evidence of their absolute subjectivity is in the language they use to describe theistic claims. When explaining atheistic concepts of the origin of existence, they use scientific words, rational sequences, and intellectual nuances. But when explaining theistic concepts they use irrational words, with disjointed flows of reasoning to make theism appear very silly and “extraordinary” or irrational.
This is maya – the illusion enforced by the inseparability of the observer from the observation. Under the same maya I could do exactly the opposite, painting theistic claims as highly rational and atheistic claims as highly irrational. Here I will exemplify this, using the standard Vedantic understanding of the origin existence as the basis for my theistic explanation.
“Science says that we all popped out of NOTHING, or out of a tiny dot. They say everything in the whole universe fit inside a tiny dot smaller than an atom!!! and then, for no apparent reason, that tiny dot EXPLODED. Everyone knows that explosions cause destruction, but they say that this explosion caused creation!?!?!? How rediculous! Have you ever seen an explosion cause creation? Then they say that LIFE itself was created from this explosion, which originally was lifeless! How rediculous! Have you ever seen something without intelligence create anything else, much less in an explosion? Have you ever seen a living thing spring from a dead thing?”
As you see, I just took some very rational and well researched ideas and made them sound extraordinary, irrational and silly. Now let me take what could be irrationally described as a four armed god cracking a golden egg and paint it in a way that reveals rather than obscures its deep rationality:
Theistic-Vedantic Origin of Existence
Before the beginning there was ONE ENTITY, this was in a “moment” beyond the element of time, for time itself and all things are within that ONE ENTITY. The one entity was full of awareness, but lacked happiness because it was all alone. Therefore there was a spiritual big bang during which “eko bahu syat” the one became many, and caused the manifestation of other entities so that they could share their existence with one another and thus experience the purpose of existing: happiness, joy, and love.
Being that the emanations of a thing contain the qualities of the thing they emanate from, some of the entities considered themselves akin to the original ONE ENTITY in such a way that precluded their willingness to share themselves lovingly with the rest of the differentiated unit of existence. To facilitate the satisfaction of these entities, as well as their eventual ability to participate in the differentiated unity of spiritual existence, the one therefore manifested an area of reality into which the light of the unit would not shine. In this dark area, the unwilling entities could sleep and dream of the types of lives they desired. To facilitate the dreaming of these entities the ONE extended a faculty called “Mahamaya” (great illusion), and to facilitate the eventual waking up and healthful integration into the real unity of existence, the ONE created a faculty called Karma (the law of reaction).
Within the waters of their dream state, the ONE appeared as the authority who oversees the correct operation of Mahamaya. He too entered slumber on the oceanic emotions of that state. From the tiny pores of his skin emerge bubbles within the dream ocean which expand as he exhales and contract when he inhales. These bubbles are each a separately enclosed “universe” of dream space. Backgroun microwave radiation measurements and other modern experimental instrumentation confirm the non-stability of our bubble of dream-universe.
Each enclosed quantum of space (“universe”) requires its own overseeing authority to see to its smooth functioning, therefore the ONE again expands into the dream-space within each. Again the ONE manifests “waters” to reflect consciousness of dreams and lays down thereupon to sleep with his emanations. Like them, he initiates creation by dreaming.
In this dream a flower emerges from his naval, so that the first entity to partake in this particular dream can take a “physical” dream-shape. Flowers reproduce asexually so this dream-metaphor is highly appropriate and consistent with the parameters of the dreamland. This flower produces the first embodied being, who then receives instructions from the ONE on how to assemble the dream universe from the constituent parts provided by the overseeing ONE.
The physical and subtle constituant elements of dream-creation emerge from a singularity (pradhan).
These parts are solids, liquids, energies, gases, and their container: space. Subtler parts form the bridge from these “physical” elements to the “mental” elements: these are manas, budhi and ahamkara (mental state, intellect, and ego).
The order of their unfolding from the singularity is that first the element with the least constraint by dream-laws of time and space emerges: ahamkara (ego). Then, later, from ego evolves the ability to plan (the element of intellect). From this ability evolves the emotional reaction to the success or failure of plans, and the emotional quantum to inform the creation of plans – we can call it “Manas” or “Mind.”
The emotions desire tangible expression, so from them evolves SPACE (akash) – the container of all tangible things. Space emits a vibration, being influenced by the mind. Thus the interface between the mind and physical mater is a particle wave (you can call it “electrical brain waves” if you like). These waves create the capacity for the experience of SOUND, which will later cause the evolution of physical species of life possessing the power to hear.
The wave patterns in space also create vibration, which causes movement, which creates “air” / “wind” or all the naturally gaseous periodic elements. The movement of air generates the capacity for the experience of TOUCH / SENSATION, which will later cause the evolution in living species of various types of skin, epidermia, and their connected nervous systems.
Movement of air also creates friction. Friction generates heat. Thus energy or “fire” evolves. Fire manifests light, which allows the evolution of the experience of SIGHT, and later on all the visual organs that will evolve in the various life forms within the dream-creation.
When there is a differentiation of temperature, condensation occurs. Thus from energy/fire evolves liquids/water. Water dissolves substances and carries them. Thus water will later evolve the capacity for TASTE, as well as the water-covered tonuges of various living species who will come to experience the dream-world through the medium of taste.
When the dissolved substances within water settle, sediment occurs. Thus earth evolves from water – solids evolve from liquids. Earth creates the capacity for the perception of SMELL and the eventual evolution of appropriate sense organs for smelling.
Thus all the fundamental elements of the dream-universe unfold from the singularity point (pradhana). The first being (We can name him “Brahma”) oversees the evolution of these elements so that they generate appropriate forms, etc. so that our universe as we know it gradually comes (over billions of years) to take the shape that we know it today.