Matter and Spirit in Science and Religion

I. What Is The First Cause Of The Universe?: Although every creation must have a creator God is the Creator but not the Cause of the universe. A cause implies a dependency with its effects. Since God is unchangeable God cannot be a cause. As Baha’u’llah explains, it is the “Word of God which is the Cause of the entire creation, while all else besides His Word are but the creatures and the effects thereof.”(Tablets, p 140)

Baha’u’llah said that “Once in an age the Mighty God sent a Soul to earth endowed with the power of the Great Ether and that such a Soul had all power and was able to do anything.”

II. What Is The Reality Of Ether?: In 1887, physicists Michelson and Morley tried to measure the difference in the speed of light while the point of measurement moved towards the sun in the morning as well as away from the sun in the evening. This experiment assumed that if space was filled with ether, the measurements should indicate a higher speed of light as the earth moved through the ether towards the sun as well as a lower speed of light as the earth moved through the ether away from the sun. But no change in the velocity of light was ever observed! Later, Einstein declared the speed of light is constant regardless of the velocity of the observer. He also proposed that ether does not exist. Abdu’l-Baha, however, explained that ether does exist as an intellectual reality but is not measurable. He stated that ether is known through the forces it exerts such as electromagnetic radiation. The all-pervading ether is a spiritual reality filled with an infinity of attributes that give rise to particles and energy and whatever else is born. Ether is a spiritual manifestation of the Word of God that is the basic substance and potential generator of all created things, both material and spiritual. It is an eternal reality that is spiritual in nature and corresponds to the constituent substance of all things including that of the human spirit

“The substance and primary matter of contingent beings is the ethereal power which is invisible and only known through its effects, such as electricity, heat and light – these are vibrations of that power, and this is established and proven in natural philosophy and is known as the ethereal substance. This ethereal substance is itself both the active force and the recipient; in other words, it is the sign of the Primal Will in the phenomenal world… ” (translated from the Writings by Keven Brown, p 28)

III .What Are The Attributes Of Creation?: “What is the origin of this world? `Ether’, `he replied. For all these beings take their rise from the ether and return into the ether. Ether is older than these, ether is their rest.” (Upanishads, vol. 1)

The Creator creates through the Word of God the existence of creatures that manifest Its attributes. The Word of God possesses all of the attributes of God, where each is of infinite capacity. Ether, an intellectual substance, can also be thought of as consisting of all the attributes of God, where each is infinite in potentiality.

There is a possible equating of the Word of God with ether. However, as Baha’u’llah says in His Tablet of Wisdom, the Word of God “is higher and far superior to that which the senses can perceive, for It is sanctified from any property or substance. It transcendeth the limitations of known elements and is exalted above all the essential and recognized substances. It became manifest without any syllable or sound and is none but the Command of God which pervadeth all created things. It hath never been withheld from the world of being…”

“Brahman [The Word of God] is that from which the origin, subsistence and dissolution of this world proceed . . . an omniscient, omnipotent cause.” Further, “the world originates from Px7 primal flow Brahman by thought. He wished, may I be many.” (Taitt. Upanishad 2,6) Then, “Brahman emanates the world from Itself by thought and enters into it as the Self of all – It is omnipresent”.

Causes are always changed by their effects, as the Upanishads state: “Mind, impelled by Brahma’s desire to create, performs the work of creation by modifying itself, thence ether is produced… Om means ether (akasa) and that ether is the origin of all things may still sound to us more physical than metaphysical; still the description given ether or akasa shows that more is meant by it than physical ether and that ether is in fact one of the earlier and less perfect names of the Infinite, of Brahman, the Universal Self.” (Upanishads vol. 1)

“Let every Brahamana, concentrating his mind, fully recognize in the Self all things, both the real and the unreal, for he who recognizes the universe in the Self, does not give his heart to unrighteousness…The universe rests on the Self; for the Self produces the connection of these embodied (spirits) with actions.” (Hindu, Laws of Manu)

“How resplendent the luminaries of knowledge that shine in an atom and how vast the oceans of wisdom that surge within a drop! To a supreme degree is this true of man who among all created things hath been invested with the robe of such gifts and hath been singled out for the glory of such distinction. For in him are potentially revealed all the attributes and names of God to a degree that no other created being hath excelled or surpassed. All these names and attributes are applicable to him. (Gleanings, p 177)

“He therefore who meditates on Om, meditates on the spirit in man as identical with the spirit in nature…but that meditation on Om alone, or that knowledge of what is meant by Om alone can procure true salvation or true immortality. Thus the pupil is led on step by step to what is the highest object of the Upanishads, viz. the recognition of the self in man as identical with the Highest Self or Brahman.” (Upanishads, vol. 1)

IV.What Is Primary Matter?: Plato stated all contingent things consist of both primordial matter, the primary substance of the universe and a subtle counterpart, the form or fashioner which fashions the primary substance into specific observable things.

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