Of all the things that compose objective reality, none of them has meaning independent of any other thing that exists. This is known as relatedness or as I call it, relationalsim. What does it mean and why is it important. Two illustrations, one from my childhood educational experience and the other from general relativity theory.
When I took my first physics class and learned about velocity(what we commonly call speed), it was defined as the distance you traveled in a given amount of time, i.e. meters per second or miles per hour. An inquiring mind like mine wanted to know, what is distance and what is time? I learned that distance is a quantity of space measured in meters or miles or whatever units the measurement system dictates. That of course led to the question of what is space. The same was true for time. What is time? The simple answer given in a high school physics class is that time is a measure, usually in seconds, of the rate of change of something. In the case of speed or velocity you are measuring the change in position from one point in space to another point in space.
By now you are beginning to get the point. Time is measured in terms of space and space is measured in terms of time. Today, the more sophisticated concept is that space and time are not separate and we refer to spacetime, thanks to Einstein and others, which leads to our next example.
In Einstein’s general relativity theory, which explains gravity in terms of the geometry of space, mass and space conspire together to create the effects of gravity. It is said that mass tells space how to curve and space tells mass how to move in that curved space. Again, it should be obvious that one thing is being defined in terms of the other. But the link is stronger than that and that is where the concept of relatedness comes in.
On every level, from galaxies to stars and planets, to electrons, protons and neutrons and quarks, nothing exists or has any reality independently. It is only in the way that things are related to one another that reality begins to emerge. This is true in the deepest sense imaginable. Most of you have read about or heard about the discovery of the Higg’s boson, the wrongly and unfortunately nicknamed, God particle. The Higg’s boson is evidence that there exists throughout all of space a field (see my blog, Dreaming of Fields) that endows fundamental particles with mass. Without these particles having their unique mass, life would not be possible. Again, one is led to question, what is a field in space? Where does it come from and what is its nature? These questions can not be answered without reference to some other entity. You can’t talk about a field without invoking space and if you ask what space is. . .well you may as well be asking that ultimate question of why there is something rather than nothing, or why do we exist at all.
Another direct example from science comes from Max Tegmark in his book, Our Mathematical Universe in which he states, “The Mathematical Universe Hypothesis offers a radical solution to this problem: at the bottom level, reality is a mathematical structure, so its parts have no intrinsic properties at all! In other words, the Mathematical Universe Hypothesis implies that we live in a relational reality, in the sense that the properties of the world around us stem not from properties of its ultimate building blocks, but from the relations between these building blocks. The external physical reality is therefore more than the sum of its parts, in the sense that it can have many interesting properties while its parts have no intrinsic properties at all.” Lee Smolin, in his latest book, Time Reborn, sums it up this way, “Leibniz had a vision of a world in which everything lives not in space but immersed in a network of relationships. These relationships define space, not the reverse. Today the idea of a universe of connected, networked entities pervades modern physics, as well as biology and computer science.”
From this we learn from the scientist, as represented by the statement from Niels Bohr: “Everything we call real is made of things that cannot be regarded as real”; and from the equivalent statement made by scripture, “Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear”, that it is only through relatedness that all things emerge to ultimately create the universe and the life that reflects it.
This is further evidence for the glory of God and the importance of relationships on every level, including the relationships among human beings. How we relate to one another defines the reality in which we live. In every relationship we are either creating peace, love and harmony leading to spiritual transcendence, or we are creating discord, hatred and disunity among ourselves. Of course, no relationship we have has meaning without oneness with God. We and God the Father must be one, for all relatedness flows from the mind of God by his Spirit. If you ask, what is God? or what made God the answer is found both in the indirect evidence provided by objective reality and the more direct evidence of our existence as sentient beings who reflect the image of God. At our best, when we gaze into the eyes of another human being and gaze at the heavens in awe on a starry night we are seeing a reflection of God. Or as Liebnitz so aptly put it almost four centuries ago: “I do not conceive of any reality at all as without genuine unity.”
And for that, To God by the Glory Forever and ever,