Why I Believe in God but Not in Fairies: Energy-itself as God

Roybob’s Book on Golf: The Hucks, A Golfer’s Divine Comedy, and a Religious Philosophy of Golf

The Golf Gods: Towards a Religious Philosophy of Golf

Why I Believe in God but Not in Fairies: Energy-Itself as God

In my religious philosophy of Golf, I have referred to God as Energy-itself, Reality-itself, Being-itself, and even Becomingness-itself, the essence behind all that is or the “Isness” of all that is. I recently found myself in the position of defending why we should refer to Energy-itself as God. Being familiar with the history of the philosophy of religion, equating God with the energy behind the unfolding of universe was not strange or unusual. I can understand, though, that those with a different understanding of God may question such an identification. I write, then, to explain why Energy-itself or Reality-itself may be identified as God.

Firstly, God has ordinarily been associated with the creation of the universe. Energy-itself is the creative force behind all that is. Without Energy-itself, there would be no energies. Without Reality-itself, there would be no realities. Without Being-itself, there would be no beings. Without “Isness,” nothing is.  Energy-itself is that without which nothing would be (the sine qua non or “without which not”). Being-itself is the reason for being (the raison d’etre or “reason for being”). Being-itself, in the manner of Paul Tillich, is “the ground of all being.” Energy-itself is the creative force behind the evolution of the universe and, therefore, may be referred to as God.

Secondly, God has consistently been conceived of as eternal, without beginning and without end. Being-itself, by very definition, “cannot not be.” Reality-itself “cannot be unreal.” If there were ever a time when there were absolutely nothing, then there would be nothing now. From absolute nothingness, comes absolutely nothing. Since there is something now, something, in some form, must have always been, and that something that has always been is Energy-itself. Further, since there is something now, there can never be a time of absolute nothingness. “Somethingness” cannot give way to absolutely nothing. Something, in some form, must always be, and the something that must always be is Energy-itself.

I often challenge my students to conceive of absolutely nothing. The image I most commonly elicit is the image of dark empty space. I remind my students, though, that dark empty space is something. I suggest that the fact that they cannot conceive of absolute nothingness is an indication that there is no such actuality. In the words of Alfred North Whitehead, in Modes of Thought, “… everything is something, which in its own way is real. When you refer to something as unreal, you are merely conceiving a type of reality to which the ‘something’ does not belong.” Absolute nothingness is real as an idea, but not real as an actuality. Fairies are real as ideas, but not as actualities.  Energy-itself is real as the eternal grounding for all energies, both ideas and actuals, and, therefore, may be referred to as God.

Thirdly, God has often been conceived as omnipresent, present in everything and everywhere. Energy-itself permeates all things; it flows through the universe. To borrow from William Wordsworth, Energy-itself is “deeply interfused” with all reality, “impels … all objects of all thought,” or “rolls through all things” (from “Lines Composed a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey”). As the power of being present everywhere and in everything, Being-itself may be referred as God.

Admittedly, there is one major attribute traditionally granted to God that Energy-itself does not exhibit, namely, the attribute of omnipotence in the sense of having the ability to unilaterally control the actual course of events. Yes, Energy-itself is the power of being in all that is and, in that sense, is omnipotent or all powerful, but Being-itself is not omnipotent in the sense of having the capability to unilaterally control the actual course of events.

Energy-itself or Reality-itself, is the structure of reality, and the structure of reality necessarily inheres certain components. These components are necessarily concomitant or constituent with Reality-itself. They, too, “cannot not be.” One of the structural components of reality-itself is a certain measure of self-determination or self-creativity. The measure of self-creativity manifest in humanity is great enough to merit the word “freedom” as a descriptor. In nature, though, the measure of self-determination may be negligible, and a descriptor like “spontaneity” may be appropriate. Humans can freely choose while rocks may merely react. Nevertheless, some measure of self-creativity is necessarily inherent to every expression of reality, and that necessity of self-determination owes itself to the very structure of reality. Each expression of reality is a center of power with its own freedom or spontaneity. Reality-itself cannot be construed as having the ability to violate or negate the self-creativity of finite realities, for, to do so, would be a negation of the structure of reality. Since Reality-itself necessarily involves a measure of self-creativity, this self-creativity cannot be nullified. Reality-itself cannot prevent or negate that of which it consists. A certain measure of self-determination is a requisite of existence. The power of Being-itself requires or guarantees that every “being,” to some degree, has its own power.

Reality-itself may be conceived of as a persuasive power, moving the universe onward to greater “complexifications,” but not a brute power that can, by itself alone, alter or control the actual course of events. Reality-itself may work through or with realities to actualize desirable goals. Such is the persuasive power of evolution urging us on to grander harmonies — higher levels of beauty, perfection, and goodness.

Further, Energy-itself cannot be construed as “a being.” Energy-itself may express itself as personable, but Energy-itself is not a person. Energy-itself may express itself in consciousness, but Energy-itself is not an individual. If “God” refers to “a being,” then Energy-itself does not qualify. If, however, “God” refers to ultimate reality, then Energy-itself most certainly qualifies.

Yes, I understand that Energy-itself is an understanding of God that may be different from the concept typically proffered in the Judeo-Christian-Islamic tradition. On the other hand, it is also a concept of God similar to what has been set forth from within Judaism (e.g., Benedict Baruch Spinoza) and within Christianity (e.g., Paul Johannes Tillich). Though I am unfamiliar with a similar concept of God from within Islam, it would not surprise me if there were such. The notion of Energy-itself as the ultimate principle of the universe is certainly a philosophical concept that has been entertained in the Hindu philosophy of India and in the Chinese philosophy of Taoism.

This concept of Energy-itself as “God” may be referred to as “empirical theology” or “natural theology,” a construction in which the concept of God becomes grounded in that which is real, tangible, and demonstrable. God is conceived of in terms of the natural world rather than in terms of a supernatural being.

This concept of God may also be referred to as panentheism (“all in God” or, conversely, “God in all”). Panentheism refers to the notion that God participates in all things, and that all things participate in God. In this case, Energy-itself is the energy behind all energies. Being-itself is the being grounding all beings. Reality-itself is the reality of all realities.  God impels all things, rolls through all things, flows through all things.  God is conceived in terms that can be described as more immanent and less transcendent.

Energy-itself is a concept of God that fulfills fundamental requirements for God. Energy-itself is the source and sustainer of all that is, the creative power behind the universe. Energy-itself is limitless in both space and time, the eternal unbounded fundament of all that is. Energy-itself, in other words, is eternal and everywhere. As the eternal, creative, and permeating power of the universe, Energy-itself qualifies as God. Energy-itself is that which is ultimate, and that which is ultimate equates to “God.”

Roybob’s Book on Golf: The Hucks, A Golfer’s Divine Comedy, and a Religious Philosophy of Golf

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