The Sacred Yo FAQ IVa
How Do We Know that Yo Exists?
Proof of the Existence of Yo: Part One
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|Even though "Yo" does not refer to what most people think of, when they use the word "God," in the early days of Yoism, we did use the words "Yo" and "God" interchangeably. In order to avoid confusion, however, even then we were careful to redefine "God" and restrict our use of it so that it referred to the same thing as our new word, "Yo." "Yo," along with this restricted use of "God," was similar to some mystic and pantheistic (e.g., see Spinoza's pantheism), as well as modern scientific ways of referring to God. (For examples of the latter, consider E. O. Wilson's spiritual world view, or the religious sentiments of Albert Einstein that even Richard Dawkins can embrace!)
"My atheism, like that of Spinoza, is true piety towards the universe and denies only gods fashioned by men in their own image to be servants of their human interests." (Santayana)
However, in contrast to the use of such words to refer to "All-that-Is," to the scientist's "Universe,", or to Spinoza's "Pantheistic Universe/God," we believe that Yo refers to something else that is—not only not the Universe we experience—It is utterly unlike the world of our experience.
The most beautiful thing we can experience is the Mysterious — the knowledge
of the existence of something unfathomable to us (Albert Einstein)
A clarification: What Yo does not mean
Before we demonstrate a proof of the existence of Yo, a language problem needs to be acknowledged. The reactions of intelligent, thoughtful people to our terminology showed us that the word "God" was inextricably laden with problematic connotations that prevented many people from hearing the valid way in which we used it. When we claimed to prove the existence of our redefined, carefully limited, mystical notion of "God," many people simply could not shake off the associations they had formed from their experience with traditional religions.
Genocidal Stupidity: Yo versus
"The God that is getting people killed"
Despite our disclaimers, many people reacted as if we were were claiming that we could prove the existence of Yahweh of the Old Testament, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost of the Trinity, or Allah of the Qur'an. While others could follow our logic and embrace our use of the G-word, for some an anaphylactic reaction appeared to occur; it was as if we could artificially induce deafness in the people to whom we were talking! As an example, consider the reaction of Richard Dawkins in 1988 when the creation of Yoism was first proposed to him.
[Note that later, Sam Harris — the famous non-believer who, along with Yoism, crusades against belief based on faith — acknowledged to Bill Maher that "There is a core of truth to religion," and on the page discussing Dawkins' initial rejection of a precursor to Yoism, you can hear an interview in which he today accepts the essence of Yoism's religious mysticism.]
Because of this, we now primarily use the word Yo to refer to the unknowable Divine Mystery that manifests as (takes the form of) the known world. And, yes, we can prove that this Yo (or God, for those of you who still prefer to use that word) exists.
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||However, regardless of the words you choose to use—i.e., the noises you make with your mouth—to refer to the paradoxical marvel whose existence we are about to prove, it is important to re-emphasize that we are not presenting a basis for the belief in the existence of the God of the traditional religions. At the dawn of science, the British Empiricists (Locke, Berkeley, Hume) persuasively argued that the only world/reality/truth we know is the world/reality/truth of our experience.
In contrast, traditional religions argue the opposite—that, even if all the evidence indicates that a religious belief is patently false, one should still believe in the unseen, unexperienced, fantastic reality precisely because some divine authority or book "said so."
|And the divine infallibility of this source must be accepted without evidence solely because the source itself claims divine, infallible authority:
"We know our religion is true because its source is divine and infallible. We know the source is divine and infallible because it says it is divine and infallible. And since, it is divine and infallible, it has to be right; thus its claim of infallibility is valid. Because it is validly infallible, we should believe all that is claimed by this source, including its claim of infallibility . . ." (etc., etc.)
Authoritative truth claims based on such impeccable, perfectly circular logic—i.e., mere claims that are otherwise unverifiable—cannot be used to prove anything! (Also see Hume's discussion of the miracle claims made by unimpeachable authorities.)
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In contrast, modern science has proven the existence of Yo (or "God," as that word is used in certain mystic traditions). If this surprises you, consider the following proof of the existence of this "Yo."
Simply put (see The Word for another version of this proof), modern science has shown that the world we can touch, feel, taste, smell, and see—that is, the world we can truly know, sense, and experience—is composed of unseen, invisible arrangements of matter (mass and energy). These unseen matter constellations are described (and studied) by physicists who use words like particles (electrons, protons, neutrinos, etc.) or forces (gravitational, electromagnetic, nuclear) to talk about and create a model of the unseen world that gives rise to our experience.
There are those, like the Kansas Creationists, who would like you to believe that the world of science—which posits an unseen microscopic, atomic, and subatomic world or an ancient evolutionary history for all life—is just another unseen, unexperienced reality because some authority or book says so and, therefore, their creation myth (their "theory") is equally valid and should be taught in public schools alongside the scientific theory of evolution or the theory of The Big Bang. The difference is that scientific theories make sense of sensation. Science "explains" or describes how our different sensations/experiences relate to one another in a way that can be used to make accurate predictions of what will happen in the future. That is, scientific theories tell us what we will experience or sense after certain events occur or we act in a certain manner.
The unseen world of science is therefore consistent (or at least, aims to be consistent) with the world we actually experience. If there are inconsistencies, the science is inadequate and must be corrected. The unseen world of traditional religions, on the other hand, contradicts the experiential world. If you are troubled by the contradictions, this is an indication of your failing, of your lack of faith. What you experience directly with your own senses must be ignored or denied. Your direct sense of what is real must be replaced by what you are told to believe so that your beliefs jibe with what some authoritative source dictates. (Again, see Hume for a full discussion of how traditional religious beliefs contradict experience.)
Back to our proof: The "First Cause" argument fails, but . . .
Aristotle’s popular cosmological argument for the existence of God was based on the notion that all motion is caused; something cannot come from nothing. The "prime mover" that set everything in motion is the First Cause, which he called God. Atheists and agnostics are quick to point out that this does not answer the question created by a need for a first cause: Who caused or created this God? An uncaused or uncreated God who simply exists without creation is no less problematic than an uncaused universe. For most doubters, this ends any claim that the cosmological argument proves the existence of God (not to mention Yo). The universe just is, just as such a God would be postulated to exist without a cause.
Indeed, among scientists, this seemed to be the general belief about what science could claim about God based on empirical evidence. As far as we knew, the universe may well have always existed, more or less the way it is now. No need for something outside of it to bring it into existence. No need for an Uncreated Creator God, whose existence would pose the same problem as an uncreated universe.
And this belief that the universe may have always existed without a moment of creation was unchallenged, until the 20th Century. Then science began to develop some strange theories and some disturbing evidence was found. Einstein’s relativity theories produced notions that were very unfamiliar; they had no clear counterparts in everyday experience and seemed to contradict some commonsense notions. In 1922, Alexander Friedman, a Russian mathematician, discerned that Einstein's general theory of relativity implied a non-static, expanding universe; and an expanding universe implied that the universe could have had an origin, a beginning before which it did not exist.
The notion of a "beginning" of the universe had been deemed irrelevant, since there was nothing to indicate that the universe was not always the way it is today. Friedman's new idea would bring science around to confront a question that had been relegated to religion. With a legitimate scientific theory suggesting that the universe may have had a beginning—that there may have been a moment of "creation" when the universe came into being—it became fair game for science to address the same cosmological, religious questions about the origin of the world that had been deemed to be beyond the scope of empiricism.
Einstein's Blunder: The Cosmological Constant
Einstein—and most scientists at the time were aligned with him—appears to have been uncomfortable with non-static implications of his own general theory of relativity. The equations he had come up with that described the structure of the physical universe did, as Friedman had shown, suggest that the universe was changing unless one added a "cosmological constant" into the equations. Einstein did this in an act he called "the biggest blunder of my life." But why did he do it? What were the implications that he was trying to avoid?
Well, at the time, there had been no evidence that the universe was changing and that it may have been quite different in the distant past or would be different in the future. Ironically, it would have been another source of validation of Einstein’s theory, had he used it to claim the universe was expanding before evidence of its expansion had been found. Einstein’s fudge factor blunder may have been added precisely to avoid the implication that an expanding universe would have to have had a beginning. It was just too much like religious creation stories in which, once-upon-a-time, the universe was not, and then it was. Or like theologies, in which the universe will come to an end in the distant future. With the cosmological constant, the universe could be static, and it could have existed uncaused like this forever. A world without end, without a beginning with no need for a creator or a first cause. Science could forge ahead in agnostic unbelief and not even consider the question of "creation."
But in the late 1920's, Edwin Hubble presented evidence that the universe was, indeed, expanding. And in the 1940's, George Gamow, another Russian scientist, presented a theory that the universe began in a great fireball, a Big Bang. In this now accepted cosmology, our best theories consistent with the empirical evidence propose that—some 14 billion years ago—everything-that-is, "all the matter and energy and even the four dimensions of time and space, burst forth from a state of infinite or near infinite density, temperature, and pressure." Before that moment, there was nothing. No time. No space. No matter. Nothing.
Since everything that has a beginning before which it was not must have a cause to bring it into being or to get it started, the universe must have a cause. While atheists and agnostics are quick to point out that this is still no proof of the existence of the Old Testament’s Yahweh, the New Testament’s Trinity, or the Qur’an’s Allah, it does suggest the existence of something that is not the universe itself that brought the universe into existence, that got things started. Before the existence of the universe, before the existence of time—without anything to get things going—it would seem that the universe would have simply remained unmanifested.
Before the Big Bang, our best evidence-based scientific theories now tell us, there was "nothing." Or at least nothing intelligible; whatever "existed" had no dimensions or features. At the moment of the Big Bang, it is believed that all matter existed within a "singularity," a "black hole" of infinite density, without any dimensions in space or time; neither space nor time had yet come into existence.
"In real time, the universe has a beginning and an end at singularities that form a boundary to space-time and at which the laws of science break down," (Stephen Hawking in A Brief History of Time). Elsewhere, Hawking wrote, "The actual point of creation lies outside the scope of presently known laws of physics." Or as Alan Guth, the MIT cosmologist, said, "The instant of creation remains unexplained."
An ostensible proof based on modern physics: Close, but "sometimes a cigar is not just a cigar"
Hugh Ross, an astrophysicist, wrote that, by definition,
Time is that dimension in which cause and effect phenomena take place . . . If time's beginning is concurrent with the beginning of the universe, as the space-time theorem says, then the cause of the universe must be some entity operating in a time dimension completely independent of and pre-existent to the time dimension of the cosmos. This conclusion is powerfully important to our understanding of who God is and who or what God isn't. It tells us that the creator is transcendent, operating beyond the dimensional limits of the universe. It tells us that God is not the universe itself, nor is God contained within the universe.
If these implications of the Big Bang theory are true, then it would seem that a Creator God cannot be the same as the universe, as is the God of Baruch Spinoza’s pantheism (that Einstein ultimately adopted as coming closest to his religious sentiment). And if there is a God who was the creator or cause of the universe, such a God cannot be contained within the universe. The current theories of our best empirical scientists are now purported to show that there must be a God/Creator. Yet, if we examine what the evidence shows us, we will see that this still requires a leap of faith.
For example, in The God Particle, the Nobel Prize winning physicist, Leon Lederman, wrote:
In the very beginning, there was a void, a curious form of vacuum, a nothingness containing no space, no time, no matter, no light, no sound. Yet the laws of nature were in place and this curious vacuum held potential. A story logically begins at the beginning, but this story is about the universe and unfortunately there are no data for the very beginnings—none, zero. We don't know anything about the universe until it reaches the mature age of a billion of a trillionth of a second. That is, some very short time after creation in the big bang. When you read or hear anything about the birth of the universe, someone is making it up—we are in the realm of philosophy. Only God knows what happened at the very beginning.
While Lederman's words could be taken to indicate that a Creator God must exist, he actually makes no claim for anything other than a failure to explain the beginning of creation. Rather than Ross’s conclusion that there must be a transcendent creator (who is not within or the same as creation), or Lederman’s poetic expression of our ignorance when he said "only God knows," the evidence leaves us with only an unsolved problem, a mystery. Without going beyond the evidence, all we can claim to have proved is what Lederman flatly stated about the very early, initial state of the universe, "We don’t know anything," or "The actual point of creation lies outside the scope of presently known laws of physics" (Hawking), or "The instant of creation remains unexplained" (Guth). What we have proven is that there is as yet an unsolved mystery. We still have "a ways to go to get to Yo." We need a stronger argument before we can claim we have proven the existence of something beyond the experienced world, i.e., the existence of something unknowable out of which arises the known world of human experience.
The Yo FAQ
- What is Yo?
- Why "Yo?" Where does the word come from? What do you mean by The Divine Mystery?
- More on the Divine Mystery and Yo
- How do we know that Yo exists? Part One (this page)
How do we know that Yo exists? Part Two (conclusion of this page)
- Why do you call the "God" of the standard religions a fantasy?
- So what does that mean to me, why is that important?
- If Yo is the universe, then isn't Yo just another word for everything?
- The relationship between Yoism and Buddhism. Or, "How can Yo be irrelevant?"