By Steven Bancarz| Everyone claims to have their own way of understanding God, experiencing God, defining God, and relating to God. But the seemingly subjective experience of God within individuals has led many people within the New Age to believe that God is a subjective being that can be defined however we like or however makes the most sense to us.
But when we talk about “God”, we have to keep in mind that we are talking about an objectively existing Being that created the universe who has objective qualities and properties that exist as part of His (or It’s, or Hers) essential nature.
For example, God either willed the universe into existence, or the universe is a necessary creation that emanated from God. God either loves us or is indifferent to us. God is either an impersonal mechanistic entity or a personal being, God either has an objective will for our lives, or is indifferent to what we do, and God is either morally perfect or morally neutral. We may not know all the characteristics of God, but the point is that can’t ALL be true. Some must be true and some must be false.
For example, we have good reason to think that the universe did not emanate from God, because if it did it would be eternal like God (as the cause of the universe) has existed eternally. Our best scientific understanding of the universe points to it having a definite beginning a finite time ago (roughly 13.4 billion years ago), which means that God initiated the creation of the universe a finite time ago as opposed to the universe being a necessary emanation from this eternal source.
Whether or not you agree with Big Bang cosmology, the point is essentially this. If God actually exists as a real Being independent of our mind’s opinion’s of Him, then God has a definite nature and essential properties that are intrinsic to Him and are to be discovered by us, as opposed to thinking that God is whatever we subjectively define God as being.
God is a transcendent being, and as as being, has properties that are true of Him. The point of this article is to look at the difference between the basic theological concept of “God” and the New Age concept of “Source” and the experience of these two things to see if they can be used interchangeably. Are they the same thing?
Should we use “God” or “Source”?
“God” has been replaced with terms “Source” or “Spirit” to refer to the creator within the New Age movement. God is even sometimes used interchangeably with the word “Universe” which is so problematic that it deserves it’s own article and will be left alone for another time. It’s common for people to think that by calling God “Source” they are saying that same thing as “God” by virtue of the fact that God is the source of creation.
But the word “God” does not JUST imply the source of creation. When we talk about God, we are essentially talking about an unembodied mind who is necessarily eternal, self-existing, endowed with free will, omnipotent (all-powerful), omniscient (all-knowing), rational, self-aware, and morally perfect…who also happens to be the source of creation.
The classical concept of “God” in theology and Western philosophy entails the greatest conceivable being, for if we could think of a being greater than God, then THAT being would be God.
Source, on the other hand, is a word that only implies the creator of the universe. Since the word “source” means “a thing from which something else comes”, the source of our universe could hypothetically be a transcendent computer, a mad scientist in a lab, a level in a virtual computer game, a dream in the mind of someone in another universe, an alien from a higher dimension, a quantum fluctuation, or even Satan himself and the word “Source” would be equally as accurate.
The problem with calling God the same thing as Source is that the very definition of “God” implies a supreme being of infinite perfection and maximal greatness, where “Source” doesn’t even imply a being at all. It only refers to a general ‘source’ that is responsible for the universe existing, which as mentioned earlier is totally ambiguous and can apply to a variety of potential sources.
As opposed to the morally, spiritually, and metaphysically rich concept of God, the word “Source” is empty and inherently vague. To use God interchangeably with Source is already a mistake because God refers to a transcendent morally-perfect being with certain intrinsic properties, and Source refers only to a generic ‘thing’ that produced the universe. In fact, many definitions of “Source” are compatible with an atheistic worldview (as we will explore more in a bit).
While the properties of God are contained within the very word itself, there are literally no properties contained within “source” other than the fact that it produced a single effect. “Source” says literally nothing about its intention, metaphysical nature, moral nature, properties, characteristics, intelligence, it’s relation to the universe or its relation to us as souls.
This is troublesome, especially when so many people are claiming the get in contact with Source.
The New Age definition of “Source”
Because the word “source” contains no precise meaning, everybody has a different definition of it. You can ask 100 New Age gurus and teachers to define source and you will get some answers that think Source is outside the universe and some think it’s the collective whole of everything within the universe.
Some think it is pure consciousness, and some think it is a Universal Energy that flows through the cosmos. Some think it is an impersonal Field of Intelligence at a fundamental level of reality, and some think it is a “Spirit” that wanted to get to know itself through separation. Some say Source is a divine sound, and some say Source is a divine principle.
Some say the universe was created by Lucifer who created the universe as an experiment of duality, and some think the universe emanates from a being of pure love. Some believe we are all fractals of Source and therefore are a part of God’s identity, and some think we are metaphysically distinct beings from Source.
Some say that Source is a vibrating energy field that the universe arose out of, and some say Source is a spirit who freely willed to create the universe. Some say Source is the Void, and some say Source is the All. Some say Source is the Now, and some say it is the space in which life unfolds.
We are left with a “God” that is a mishmash of mind science, Hinduism, Buddhism, mysticism, Deism, pantheism, panentheism, autotheism, luciferianism, Taoism, theoretical physics, with sprinkles of soft polytheism and classical monotheism. Everyone believes a bit of everything as long as it is convenient for them, even though some of these beliefs are extremely philosophically problematic and even oppose one another as contradictions.
For example, Source cannot just be “All that is” or the collection of everything in the universe because cosmology tells us there was time when nothing existed. If Source is just the collective of the universe or a collective of all the conscious minds, then it’s not possible for Source to exist apart from the universe. If it can’t exist independently from the universe, then it didn’t exist prior to the universe existing, which is absurd because then Source wouldn’t have even been around to create the universe in the first place. Therefore, the source of the universe must transcend the physical universe.
Or sometimes people say things like “Source is everything and nothing at the same time. It is the All, and it is the Void” which it metaphysically impossible and is a self-contradiction, but is used by New Agers to point towards some mystical unspeakable substance that transcends reason itself and can’t even be spoken of.
This is another self-contradiction because by saying it’s unspeakable, you are ascribing a property to it. And in order for it to even be unspeakable, ‘it’ has to exist in the first place. Plus, Source cannot be unspeakable, nothing, or a void if it caused the universe to come into being. It has to be something that actually exists and has causal powers to produce an effect. So what is Source?
Is Source an unembodied spirit, pure consciousness, a personal mind with free will, a universal mind, an impersonal quantum field, a collective whole, a frequency, a transcendent energy field, an abstract creative principle, a Void, or a divine sound? There is no clear way in which “Source” is defined in the New Age.
We are ultimately left with a mandala of vagueness, incoherence, and uncertainty that is unfortunately resolved by shutting off our intellectual faculties and settling with whatever “resonates” with us most, regardless of whether or not it is true or even coherent.
The differences between God and “Source”
The problem with this is that we are talking about the literal creator of the universe and of our souls. This creator actually exists objectively and has definite properties and a definite nature. The entire purpose of life itself could slip by us if our idea of God is inaccurate and if we aren’t actually experiencing God but we think we are.
It’s because of these possibilities that this article is being written. Let’s take a look at some of the common qualities and characteristics attributed to both God and Source so we can see how they are two totally different concepts.
I am going to be as charitable as I can and define “Source” as follows: “A universal field of consciousness that caused the universe to come into being and expresses itself in all of creation”, and will do my best to represent Source as I have come to understood it through my past affiliations with the New Age. And God will be defined as “the greatest conceivable being” in a classical monotheistic context and will reflect God as understood in Western philosophy, classical theology, and Biblical Christianity.
God: Holy. Perfectly righteous. Pure. To be revered as the Supreme Good. God is the paradigm of moral goodness and is source of morality itself. Any behaviour of ours that contradicts His righteous nature is classified as “sin” or “wrong-action”, and it separates us from God. Sin grieves God. God is perfectly just and therefore rewards the righteousness and punishes wickedness. (PS. God is not a “He”. It’s just a frame of reference.)
Source: Concepts of holiness, righteousness, and moral purity don’t apply to Source. Source is only to be revered in terms of wonder and mystical admiration. It is morally neutral and there is no such thing as sin and righteousness in the eyes of Source. In fact, there are no eyes of Source because it is not watching over us. It’s just a field. There is nothing you can do that can separate you from Source. There is no reward for righteousness and no punishment for wickedness because these concepts are simply non-existent within this paradigm.
God: A Divine personal being with free will, rationality, and self-consciousness that exists outside and within the universe. God has a personal presence. We can come into relationship with God through faith on Jesus, prayer, repentance, and worship. Our moral behaviour is directly linked to our ability to be connected to God. God desires fellowship and relationship with us more than anything. God cares when we suffer and is a shoulder to lean on, a Father, a master, and a friend.
Source: A non-personal field of impersonal consciousness. Source doesn’t have a personal presence, but is instead a universal field that we can “tap in to” as a vibration through meditation, psychedelics, chanting, and silence. Since sin does not exist, we can behave however we want and can still tap into Source. Source does not desire fellowship or relationship with us. Source is a consciousness field that is indifferent to our sufferings. It is not a comforting shoulder, a Father, a master, or a friend. It is just a field that is indifferent to all possibilities.
Their desire for our lives
God: Wants us to spend eternity with Him and wants a loving relationship with us as His children. God wants us to remove everything that prevents us from living holy lives so we can be as close to Him as possible. God wants us to bring our pain and struggles to Him. God has a will and a distinct purpose for each individual soul.
Spirit: Has no desires for us, other than that we experience all things for the sake of experience. It is indifferent to our relationship to it. This field of consciousness doesn’t care how we live or if we “tap into it”. It’s just an impersonal source. It does not respond to our pain and struggles. It has no will or distinct purpose for each life.
We could go on and on, but as we can see, the concept and nature of God is nowhere near similar to the concept and nature of Source. They are two totally distinct ideas that have almost nothing in relation to one another.
To call God “source” is to express a totally different concept that actually has nothing to do with the idea of God in any way, shape, or form. They are just or entail the same things. One is a maximally great transcendent being, the other is not.
How the New Age claims to experience “Source”
People who claim that God and “Source” are the same things have a distinct way they claim the experience God. For example, some say that “consciousness” is God because it is the fabric that the universe is made out of. This “consciousness field” is fundamental to the universe just like matter, space, time, and energy are fundamental. According to some theoretical physicists, consciousness is the ground of being. It is the most basic and deepest level of nature, and we can experience this field (and therefore God) through meditation.
The problem is that, even if this theory accurately describes reality, we are still operating within the physical universe. Consciousness, in this model, is a fundamental property of the universe. So to meditate and experience a deeper level of consciousness by altering your brainwaves is really no different than connecting with space, time, or matter.
It is not a connection to a transcendent personal creator of the universe, but is instead a deeper experience of a dimension within the container of the physical universe, just like you can meditate and connect with empty space or meditate and alter your experience of time.
In fact, this concept of God could be as equally true in an atheistic universe:
We could live in a meaningless universe that hiccuped into existence from purely natural causes and this concept of “God” being a field of consciousness at the base level of nature would still apply.
Let’s take this idea and apply it to other common ideas and experiences people claim to have of God as being “Source”.
Concepts and experiences of God being “life”, “the space life unfolds”, “the ever-present Now”, “the space in between thoughts”, “the silence within all things”, “the universe”, “universal love”, or “the truth” could all apply to Atheistic universes in which God does not actually exist and there is nothing beyond the natural material world.
We could have arose accidentally in a purely material universe where there is nothing outside of space, time, and matter, and “God” as defined above would not be effected. Atheism could be true, and this idea of “God” would still exist.
If our definition and experience of God can apply to a universe in which God does not actually exist, then it’s not actually “God” that we are talking about or experiencing.
This means that in the actual world God cannot possibly be these things and the experience of God is not equivalent with the experience of these things, since in the absence of God we would still have these same experiences. The word “God” is only being used here as a metaphor and does not refer to a literal being.
Are we really experiencing God when we experience “Source”?
So when we say we experience “Source”, what do we really mean? How do we know we aren’t just experiencing mystical wonder and admiration for the processes of life? How do we know we aren’t just experiencing a different brain-wave state and a more fundamental connection to the natural world?
Is it possible that we could just be experiencing existential humility combined with inner stillness, or a love for creation combined with a gratitude for human experience?
What if we are just experiencing the spaciousness of an empty mind mixed with having attention focused within the present moment? Or the realization of “self” as a mental construct mixed with the experience of entering into a space of no-mind? The truth is, these are things experienced by atheists all over the world experience, and these experiences would all be able to be had within a material atheistic universe where God doesn’t exist. So what do these experiences really show?
These experiences don’t require anything to exist beyond the natural physical universe and therefore are not experiences of God.
There is nothing about transcending your “self”, having a clear awareness, experiencing the primacy of consciousness, being present in the spaciousness of a moment, and having a gratitude for the experience of life that implies or requires the existence of God.
There are many atheistic transcendentalists who understand this quite well, including atheistic neuroscientist Sam Harris who practices and teaches transcendental meditation and mindfulness:
Although the insights we can have in meditation tell us nothing about the origins of the universe, they do confirm some well-established truths about the human mind: Our conventional sense of self is an illusion; positive emotions, such as compassion and patience, are teachable skills; and the way we think directly influences our experience of the world… It is quite possible to lose one’s sense of being a separate self and to experience a kind of boundless, open awareness—to feel, in other words, at one with the cosmos. This says a lot about the possibilities of human consciousness, but it says nothing about the universe at large. And it sheds no light at all on the relationship between mind and matter.
He has also said:
“There is nothing that you can experience in the darkness of your closed eyes that will help you understand the Big Bang or the connection between consciousness and the physical world. Look within, and you will find no evidence that you even have a brain, much less gain any insight into how it works. However, one can discover specific truths about the nature of consciousness through a practice like meditation. Religious people are always entitled to claim that certain experiences are possible — feelings of bliss or selfless love, for instance. But Christians, Hindus and atheists have experienced the same states of consciousness. So what do these experiences prove?”
The point is, the experience of God is not a state of consciousness, a sense of clear awareness, an experience of self-transcendence, or an experience of a more unified state of being. We know this because these experiences can all happen within Atheistic universes and are had by atheists all the time.
Transcending the ego and reaching a state of being that is more connected with nature is not the same as having a relationship the transcendent Creator of the universe, because these states of consciousness don’t even require God to actually exist.
These experiences are trans-personal at best, not supernatural.
My experiences of “God” used to be exactly as described above. I would go into nature and go within myself and cease thinking and fully immerse myself in the contents of the Now. Life would start to come alive a little more, a space would open up within me, and my consciousness felt like it was beginning to unify with the world around me.
These experiences, combined with the idea or concept that I was experiencing God, convinced me I was really experiencing the Creator of the universe. I would called God the ‘Universe’ and ‘Source’, and really did believe I was spending time with God in nature. But the problem was, it did bare any good fruit in my life.
I was angry, depressed, confused, greedy, selfish, an addict, a liar, a cheater, and a manipulator. I felt empty, dark, and like I was constantly looking for something. I felt incomplete. I had no humility, soundness of mind, discernment, or self-discipline. I would go spend time with “God” by meditating and then would masturbate right after.
I’d go connect with “Source” in nature and then would smoke a cigarette and swear at my parents. I lived godlessly, had no concept of holiness or righteousness, was obsessed with my lusts, and actually justified them all based on my experiences of “Source”.
I did not have any love or peace inside me, and if you were to ask me if I knew God I would have said “In nature sometimes I experience God”, which I now know means I experienced presence and spaciousness alongside the idea of God.
Or I would tell you “Yeah but I haven’t meditated in a while. I’m on my journey with God (my metaphor for “life” at the time) and I’m still in the process of finding God”. I was alienated from the life, joy, knowledge, and Spirit of God. My heart was heavy, I had an unprincipled and debased mind, and my spirit was constantly missing something.
The difference now is that I have 100% assurance that God lives inside me and I in Him. I have love, comfort, and peace in my spirit always. He is with me always and he never leaves me, regardless of what state of consciousness I am in. I wake up and I feel Him and I go to bed and I feel Him. He is not a field or vibration I tap into through brainwave states. He is a person, and has revealed himself in Jesus Christ.
The main experience happened when I first felt the presence of Jesus Christ for the first time. Long story short (to be saved for another time), I was brought to my knees and heard and felt everything around was glorifying Him. I KNEW He was the Son of God as taught by the Bible. He wasn’t a consciousness, an archetype, or a metaphor.
He is the King of heaven and earth. I was unable to stand and every time the wind hit my face I got overwhelmed with tears because it felt like it was infused with the Holy Spirit and it was forcing me into surrender while also surrounding me with the undeniable presence and authority of Jesus.
It was personal and unmistakably supernatural. I was forced to face Jesus and it was absolutely overwhelming and life-changing. It broke me down and built me back up in a new way in a matter of minutes.
Since then I have had experiences of the Holy Spirit that have been just as powerful and radically life transforming. I will save my full testimony for another time. The main difference between my altered states of consciousness in nature and my experience of the one true God is that I was instantly infused with moral responsibility, a realization of sin, a personal presence in my spirit that testifies to me, and a deep desire to please Him, glorify Him, and honour Him with my life. And for the first time in my life I have a deep inner assurance of a relationship with the Holy Father of creation.
I now realize I never knew who God was. I had no idea of what sin or righteousness was. I was bitter, full of lusts, and felt totally lost. I didn’t know who or what I was talking about. I used to think God was a universal Source that everyone experienced in their own way, and that I could “tap into God” regardless of my beliefs or moral behaviours by entering into an altered state of consciousness.
This is simply not the case and I know this from being a New Age teacher for 3 years and the experiences I have now from the inner presence of God that I feel always as a born again Christian. I know this just as much as I know the reality of the world in front of me and this is the real ministry of this website. To expose false teachings that delude us away from the one true God and salvation through his Son Jesus Christ.
God is real. He is a personal being and loves you more than you realize and wants a relationship with you more than anything.
I will try to make sense of Jesus, God, and everything else in future articles and videos, but whether or not you believe my experience the main thing to take away from this is to ask yourself who or what you are really connecting with when you say “Source”. Does this experience of source bear good fruit in your spirit?
Do the experiences you have require or imply the existence of a transcendent Creator, or do they also apply in an atheistic universe where God does not exist? Does this “Source” have a moral nature and a purpose for your life? Are we equating the experience of God with a state of consciousness, clear awareness, or mental stillness?
Tying it all together
In conclusion, “Source” is an entirely different word and concept than God. “Source” doesn’t even imply the existence of a conscious creative force. All it implies is that it is a thing which produced the universe. The word “Source” can apply to even an atheistic universe. “Source” is vague and does not carry any of the moral, spiritual, and metaphysical properties or characteristics that God does as a maximally great being.
They are, by their definitions, totally separate ideas. Furthermore, the experience of “Source” is always described in ways that don’t even require that we live in a Theistic universe. The experiences don’t require anything divine or transcendent and are as equally as true and real in a world in which God does not actually exist.
Spaciousness, clear consciousness, present moment awareness, boundlessness, heartspace, reverence for life, unity consciousness, and self-transcendence are not experiences of God since these experiences are possible even if God does not exist. Atheists experience these things every day.
It’s not the Spirit of the transcendent Creator of the universe that they are experiencing though. It’s just an altering of consciousness and a focusing of attention, and the experience of clarity and spaciousness that arises out of these states of being. Just because we accompany these experiences with the idea of “Source” does not mean we are experiencing God. It means that we are imagining God in our minds and are adding this imagined concept of “God” with the trans-personal experiences of life which puts us under the impression we are experiencing God.
I know this because I was an evil person for years but thought I was experiencing God or “Source” each day through mindfulness and meditation, and I know this by personal revelations that I have now.
This article is not to discourage or to be condescending but to encourage those reading to separate the ideas of God and “Source” since they are not the same thing, and to look inside their hearts and lives and really consider the following questions, “Do I REALLY have a relationship with the all-loving perfectly holy personal Creator of the universe? Does the Spirit of God live within me and guide my every action? Does my relationship with God bare any evidence or fruits in my spirit? Has it changed my relationship to sin, unholiness, and ungodliness?”.
If the answer might be no, then keep seeking diligently and He will draw you to Himself if you keep an open mind and open heart. A relationship with God is what ever spirit longs and searches for. This is really what life is all about. I hope that everyone who has read this far will feel drawn to seek out a personal loving relationship with the God of all creation, because God loves you infinitely and wants more than anything to having a personal loving relationship with you.
He is not a field, a collective mind, or an energy blob. He loves you as an individual, he sees you, he has a purpose for your life, and he wants to spend eternity with you. And only when we find God does our life really begin.
“For I know the plans I have for you. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” Jeremiah 29: 11-14