Monday, July 25, 2011

A Lot of "Big Bang" for the Buck


In my ongoing search for wisdom in our often unwise world, I came across Brian Thomas Swimme and Mary Evelyn Tucker's Journey of the Universe. The book is a companion to the authors' documentary and educational DVD project by the same title (see trailer below). What amazes me about their exploration of creation, from "big bang" to humans' headlong rape of natural resources, is the simplicity of the writing. This scientific-philosophical narrative is aimed at the lay reader for whom cosmology is mostly an off-the-radar area of awareness.

I was moved by the authors' conviction that the universe is alive, not inert, and that it is purposefully self-organizing,  rather than randomly. They present us as unlucky heirs of a totally opposite, materialist mind-set that began in the 16th and 17th centuries. Indoctrinated as we are today in a static cosmology, most of humanity today views planet Earth as our toy to exploit without regard for  consequences to ourselves and future generations.

Journey of the Universe is not a religious book. For example, it does not address the question of a "prime mover." Yet, it is a sacred book in the sense that the authors treat their subject, the universe, with utmost reverence. They are critical of current trends at play in human history, but offer hope for the future of all who carry "big bang" DNA. 

Tucker and Swimme remind us that the dawn of human intelligence allowed the universe to reflect upon itself for the first time. They go on to offer us three guides that we can securely rely on as we move forward into the universe's future: 
(1) Stars from which the elements of our bodies are made--"Wonder is a gateway through which the universe floods in and takes residence within us." 
(2) The ocean which, given time, will "dissolve things into itself"--Like the seas, we have the possibility of becoming empathetic beings, capable of flowing into and becoming one with the feelings of any being. 
(3) What we make with our hands--"Our destiny is woven into the mysteries of creativity and time."

In short, Swimme and Tucker offer a big picture of the universe and our place in its existence and progress. They call us to see beyond the social, political, and religious chaos and crises of the moment. They invite us to trust, as they do, that we are part of something wonderful--though as yet unseen--that will certainly emerge from the darkness. "If the creative energies in the heart of the universe succeeded so brilliantly in the past, we have reason to hope that such creativity will inspire us and guide us into the future."

As I bask in the good vibes of reading Journey of the Universe, a line from a Christian hymn plays at my memory: "This is holy ground. We're standing on holy ground."