Tuesday, June 11, 2013

"Codes for Reality"

Here's one of my devotions for this month (my church sends devotions via email to those who sign up for them)

Psalm 8

1 O Lord, our Sovereign, how majestic is your name in all the earth! 3 When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars that you have established; 4 what are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals* that you care for them? 5 Yet you have made them a little lower than God,* and crowned them with glory and honor.


One of my favorite podcasts is Krista Tippett’s interview show called “On Being.”  A recent guest was physicist S. James Gates who specializes in super string theory, which, I found out, is based on something called super symmetry theory.  The title for the podcast was “Uncovering the Codes for Reality.”  Dr. Gates and his colleagues have discovered codes inside the equations for super string/symmetry theory.  He likens these codes to how DNA is a code that makes us who we are biologically.  The difference is that these codes are sitting inside equations about the nature of all reality. 


What’s fascinating is that these codes are made up of zeroes and ones, just like a computer program.  They’re used in precisely the same way that computers use ones and zeroes to send digital information, bearing a striking similarity to a web browser’s  “error correcting codes” which allow our computer browsers to work accurately.  The scientists were so stunned that it took them months to really admit to each other how bizarre this discovery really was. 


Gates cautions that just because they’ve found these codes sitting inside the equations about the nature of reality doesn’t mean that at our most fundamental level we and our reality are computer programs.  (Remember the movie “The Matrix”?)  To leap to that conclusion would be a logical fallacy—mathematics can’t be used that way.  Still, he said, and I certainly agree with him, it is a deeply intriguing discovery. 


As I listened to this interview—and I was listening intently—I remembered that one name for God is “Ultimate Reality” and that “in God we live and move and have our being.”   That reminded me that although Dr. Gates’ words were bringing the MYSTERY of reality to me in a powerfully visceral way, I also experience God in a way that is easily recognized and identified as the movement of God in my life and my relationships.  Yes, ultimate reality is a huge mystery, something that we with our human limitations will always have to approach provisionally, with humility.  But God is also known to us through Jesus, the man from Nazareth.  In Jesus we can be confident that we see and know something of the divine mystery. 


Thank you, gracious God, for the Mystery that you are.  May we approach Mystery with respect and humility, but also with deep trust, remembering always that it’s the gift of your love, so knowable, that sustains us, grows us, and carries us into the future with confidence.  Amen.


Katherine Godby

Associate Pastor for Spiritual Life


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