Reverence, Awe and the Divine Language of Science

When you realize how perfect everything is, you will tilt your head back and laugh at the sky. ~ NOT a Buddha quote

Laughing Buddha


I follow a facebook page called Kissing Fish: christianity for people who don’t like christianity. The page’s owner is a pretty spry thinker, as are many Christians — which shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. There’s evidence enough in the discussions which accompany his posts. Kissing Fish posts frequently, and most are thought provoking. Like this quote from an article he linked to.

Our biggest problem is not that the church’s theology is irrelevant but that we have forgotten how to use theology appropriately. What was and is intended to create a framework that gives us language to talk communally about the mysterious, consistent, and transformative interactions we have with the Divine and with one another and all of creation has become, in too many cases, a set of rules.


Kaiser’s observation touches on this blog’s central theme. Set aside our theological differences, including the seemingly impassable gulf between theism and atheism. Then bore down through the dogma to our core beliefs. What we discover there, in our heart, in our consciousness, is how common our experiences of awe are. And we always ascribe the nature of that awe as a profound reverence for whatever it is we believe to be the source of that awe. For theists, that source is always God.  For atheists, agnostics and non-theists, it’s something else. Science, nature, the universe, Gaia, Mother Earth, it doesn’t matter what.

What does matter is the fact that the awe-inducing source is always much bigger than we are. It’s something we don’t fully comprehend. We believe at some level we will never fully comprehend it (or it wouldn’t be bigger than us) but that never stops us from trying. What most interests me is how similar the language we use for expressing ‘awe’ and ‘reverence’ is, despite the theological underpinnings of reverence. I touched on this in Bodhisattvas of Science. That post features a video by Symphony of Science called We Are All Connected. Give it a listen and enjoy the expressions of reverence by several of our most famous and distinguished scientists.

Reading the Kissing Fishes post, with all these thoughts swirling in my mind, it took just a few moments to jot down a comment on the post. (This version is slightly edited from the original.)

God Beauty Perfection Love :: Synonyms

Atheist, agnostic or true believer, we tend to use these words in ways that are synonymous, with each other and with words like ‘divine’ and ‘sacred’. Most theologies teach us that God, beauty, perfection and love are ‘in’ everything. But I believe that those who master their faith — or their science, for that matter — come to see everything is God, Beautiful, Perfect and Love. Not just think it, or be able to remind themselves of it, but to see everything, everyone, every action as a beautiful, perfect expression of love. Buddhism refers to this level of insight as enlightenment.

So the next time someone asks you, “How could a loving God allow such terrible things to happen?”… Buddha has your answer for you. He and God have a Bodhisattva’s ability to love.

Once you realize how perfect everything is, you will tilt your head back and laugh at the sky.
~ NOT Buddha
Love said to me, “There is nothing that is not me. Be silent.”
~ Rumi

In that Symphony of Science video, Carl Sagan observes

The cosmos is also within us.
We’re made of star stuff.
We are a way for the cosmos to know itself.

In a fundamental way which cuts across dogma, whether religious or scientific, it doesn’t matter whether you use the word ‘cosmos’ or ‘universe’ or ‘nature’ or ‘God’ in that stanza. Sagan’s observation holds.

Mmmm… OK. I’ll take Rumi’s advice, and be silent. Love you all.

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