The Perspicacity of the Universe
The thing that baffles scientists the most is that the universe seems to “know” things. It is not only the scientist, however, it is the philosopher, the theologian and the wondering child who peers at the night sky and says, “wow!”
That the universe knows things would seem a little anthropomorphically over the top; ascribing to the universe a kind of sentience that heretofore has been reserved for humankind. Yet, when you consider that the universe has certain innate qualities that dictate how its constituent members behave, it is not so far fetched to say the universe thinks about what it does. How so?
In a former essay, The Constant Beauty of God, I talked about how there are universal constants, like the mass of the electron, the maximum speed of light, Planck’s constant, to name a few, which determine how the universe behaves and what is more defines human existence. If the values of these constants were other than what they are, life would not exist.
If you think about knowledge as information awareness, then it becomes even more reasonable to think of the universe as self aware. This mode of thinking, admittedly, is way, way outside the box of how we normally attempt to understand the universe. Yet we are a part of the universe that we are attempting to understand. In a sense, we as sentient beings are the universe trying to understand itself. This concept, however, is not new. Many mystics, including Christian and Jewish mystics have put forward variations on this idea. What I am proposing here is slightly different in the following ways.
The idea of human sentience as the universe trying to understand itself assumes a time dependent causality. Simply put, at a certain point in time the universe came into being (or as the universe came into being so did time). Then during the evolution of the universe in time complexity emerged out of the initial high entropy* chaos until sentient beings emerged capable of asking questions about the universe from which they evolved. The, why is there something rather than nothing? question was manifested most recently in a debate among scientists, theologians, philosophers and journalists during the annual Asimov Debate in New York. This is the common and popular way of thinking.
The alternative that I here put forward assumes that self awareness of the universe is a quality inherent within its very existence, with no beginning in time; rather it is eternal. In the context of, why is there something rather than nothing? or put another way, is there nothingness? the answer is simply there is no such thing as nothingness. Human sentience, which is posing these questions, is nothing more than a manifestation of the sentience of the universe as a whole looking at itself in a mirror as it were, and wondering at its own existence. Humanity is but one of an infinite number of reflections.
This “sense of wonder” is not only manifested in the questioning by the human mind, it is manifested in the very operation of the universe itself; whether its an exploding star, the formation of a planet or sun, or the creation of trillions of life forms most of which we have no knowledge. The perspicacity of the universe is the act of the universe knowing itself, by way of the information inherent with in it.
The solipsism that often accompanies human endeavors to understand the nature of the universe leads us to believe that we are some how separate from the universe when really we are a small, but no less significant, part of that universe. An even more dangerous and insidious result of this extreme self-centeredness on the part of humanity, is that because of our religious constructs of creation and God we ascribe qualities and characteristics to them that do not come anywhere near the truth. The metaphors we use are, at their best, woefully inept; and at their worse lead to social and moral conflicts that are the antithesis of the creative process.
There is extreme irony in this because it is our sentience, our conciousness of our existence within the universe that connects us to the eternal knowing by the universe of itself. As long as we don’t fall into the trap of separating ourselves from the whole by thinking that we are something apart from that whole, we can live a full and eternal life at one with God. Our separation from the universe is the beginning of our separation from God. Of all the things we understand from cosmology and particle physics, from biology and chemistry, is that the nature of God is contained within all of existence. Human biology, human chemistry, all of human existence ensues from the nature of God. And what is the nature of God but this knowing and containing of all the information that goes into the the existence of the universe. Does this mean that God is the universe? It means that and more. Because, as I made clear earlier, there is no beginning or end, the nature of God has no beginning or end. Therefore, the universe, made by information contained within the nature of God is just one of many manifestations of God; and we are a manifestation of God within the universe along with the trillions of other life forms.
The greatest joy for God is to have the various forms of his creation become aware of their existence and the origin of their existence. It completes the, “infinite whole” as Emerson observed in one of his poems. By the same token, there is no greater disturbance in completeness of the universe than when one of its members somehow believes it is separate from the whole. Religious people call it sin, some call it evil, others simply label it as freedom of choice. The latter being the most problematic. But recall from an earlier essay, Degrees of Freedom, I talked about why there are limits on freedom. Freedom can not violate certain rules that lead to order, unity and harmony. Without these rules the universe would fly apart. Electrons are “free” to take on a variety of probabilistic positions within specific orbitals within an atom. They are not free to occupy all possible orbitals. Human beings as sentient creatures have tremendous degrees of freedom. Yet, not all of those “freedoms” are optimal for our continued existence, as evidenced by the consequences of war, the operation of the so-called free market, or unbalanced exploitation of natural resources. Bringing this discussion back full circle, though the universal constants of the universe are free to take any value, only certain values lead to life.
It is important for all constituents of the universe to remain connected in a unifying and harmonious way if life is to exist and if we are to know God, which is the same as saying so that the universe can know itself. If this all sounds somewhat circular, it is. There is nothing more complete than a circle. It is why the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter yields ∏(pi) a number that contains every mathematical representation of existence, eternally.
We who are people of faith should be particularly joyful this “Good Friday”, and Passover celebration. Easter, Passover, Good Friday are all representations of the same thing. Regardless of religious imperfections, Jesus, Yeshua, Joshua(a Jew) was and is the Passover Lamb; and as with all Jewish feasts, Passover represented a prophecy pointing to a more perfect Way. A way that leads to the reunification of God and Man. That Way is Jesus and is represented in the Life he lives. Everything, from the universal constants in the universe to the struggles in our individuals lives are embodied in Him.
Though most religions of the world, particularly Judaeo Christian religions, have characterized God and his son(the manifestation of God’s LOVE) as omnipotent and often vengeful adjudicators of human activities, nothing could be further from the truth. The Revelation of John despite its often hyperbolic apocalyptic tone is really exactly what it professes to be: revelation. It simply reveals the way things were, are and how they will be concluded. The wrath of God, as portrayed in the Revelation, should have been more accurately represented as, “the consequences of Man’s separation from God”, or scientifically as, “the consequence of violation of degrees of freedom”. The “good news”, is that those who find the Way are reunited with God forever.
And that is also the “good news’ of Passover and Easter.
To God Be The Glory – FOREVER
*The measure of the amount of disorder in a system.