I am a Universalist. I am also a Unitarian. I cannot be one and not the other, because I believe that there is one God, and that there is one Creation, and that I am not so special that God would separate me from Creation when the experiment is over, and it is time to clean up the mess that the Universe has/will become.
You see, I believe there is One being. For all intents and purposes related to human existence, there is one Universe, and that Universe is greater than the sum of its observable parts. This Universe is Creation, but also creator. Science tells us that we are made of the stuff of stars, and that the universe is growing more complex as the eons pass. Stars fuse small atoms into larger ones, creating more complex elements. This is the progress of the universe, and one day it will play out, and everything will collapse back in to a singularity. Then, just maybe, it will all happen again.
That is God, experimenting with being. That is God, creating the universe a molecule at a time to see how it plays out. Quantum Physics tells us that the “Big Bang” didn’t require supernatural intervention to happen, sure, but it also says that nothing can happen without an “observer”; some other thing or entity for it to happen in comparison to. Thus, the Big Bang could not have created the Universe without something being there in the void that the Universe was created in. So goes my pseudo-scientific rational for believing in God.
In the beginning, there was God. And for some unknown reason, the stuff of the Universe was created. Maybe it was an accident; maybe it is a purposeful experiment; maybe some combination of both. But in that moment, the seeds of everything that ever would be were present. All the matter/energy (for we now know them to be interchangeable in much the same way that Ice and Steam are both Water) that exists in the Universe now and forever existed then. And so, the consciousness, and curiosity, and the creativity that would come to reside in Mankind also existed in that moment. That is the spark of God that was spread through the Universe, which most religions see as Omnipresence. God is in everything, because the creation of everything required God’s observation. God echos through every corner of Creation, attention being everywhere and nowhere at the same time. Just as you are not aware, consciously, of what your liver is doing right now, even though there are so many biological systems keeping track of its functioning, so is God both aware of and oblivious to the happenings of the Universe on the scale that a single human can perceive it.
Yet, we are special, in that we have inherited a greater portion of God’s creativity and curiosity than any other creature we’ve encountered. Our capacity, though, is unique only in scope. We are not alone in using tools or exploring and adapting our environment. That spark may well be universal, and we just can’t measure it on a small enough scale to see.
But, the current theories point to the idea that this may not last forever. The universe will be come more complex, but at the cost of energy. It may stop expanding, gravity will collapse Creation on its self, and return to pristine singularity in time. There is likely no escape from this, as it will encompass all matter, and all energy. No one will be cast out; all will be with God.
One simplification of Buddhist thought is that the whole of creation is just a fragmented God trying to experience Creation for Itself. We are bits that can do the exploring, among the bits that are there to be explored. The goal, though, is to understand that it is a game, and that we cannot win until we stop playing and realize our nature as a fragment of God. There have been many figures throughout history who may have understood this, and tried to move us towards that kind of relationship with the divine; a quiet, personal relationship. The various men who have been recognized as Buddha, and much of the recorded teaching of Jesus of Nazareth,(if that is indeed the origin of the Rabi) seem to indicate that they were “with God but not God” and that we could be, too. The thing is, they told us how to get there on our own, while implying that, eventually, we’d figure it out anyway.