Friday, December 30, 2011

Transcendent Moments

Still writing (and driving) in her 90s, my mentor and friend Muriel James, is one of the wisest persons I have known. She is a psychotherapist and an ordained minister.  Over the past 20 years,  she has also been the  #1 fan of all my books. We still meet occasionally at California Writers Club meetings (Mt. Diablo Branch). She is currently reading my latest novel, The Saint of Florenville: A Love Story. Can't wait to hear her reaction to the story of an American priest and a Belgian nun who are kidnapped and tortured in Bruges, Belgium.

The following quote is from a 1992 book she co-authored with her son. It contains remarkable human and spiritual insight, especially in light of the rapid emergence of Evolutionary Christianity.

“Occasionally we experience transcendent moments when there is a merging of the cosmic, holy, and human spirits. Everything seems united. These are mystical experiences in which, for the moment, we forget ourselves and feel at one with all that is. There are no boundaries, no distinctions of time and space. Transcendent moments such as these, when everything seems to be one, can happen at any time, in any place—perhaps when we stand in awe of the magnificence of the ocean waves, the wind blowing across a wheat field . . . At times like these, we may awaken to the sense that we are merging with some form of spirit beyond ourselves, a cosmic spirit.”—Muriel James and John James, Passion for Life: Psychology and the Human Spirit

Alfred J. Garrotto is the author of the suspense novel,

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Cosmology Is the New Mythology

[Ever on the prowl for modern wisdom, I came across the following article by Bruce Tallman. I hope you'll find it as interesting as I did. I see it as a companion post to my entry of Monday, July 25, "A Lot of 'Big Bang' For the Buck."]

Dear Friends,
On November 26 the London Free Press  published my article "Cosmology Is the New Mythology" with the same title I sent them! It's only 600 words, so why not print it off and, when you have 2 minutes, give it a quick read?
Bruce Tallman, Dr. Min.
Spiritual Director and Marriage Coach
"Helping people grow in faith and love since 1983"
*  *  *

The mysteries science is coming across are getting bigger and bigger. On both the smallest and greatest scale, science is completely stumped. String theory, the most promising theory of physics of the past thirty years, since it was meant to explain everything, cannot be tested or proven. Basically, the theory is that underlying all particles discovered in cyclotrons like the Large Hadron Collider, there are infinitely tiny particles called "strings" whose vibrations at different rates produces all other particles. However to test string theory, according to Dr. David Goldberg, a leading astrophysicist, you would need a cyclotron the size of our solar system. It can’t be done.

Goldberg was speaking at Starfest, the annual gathering of about 800 professional and amateur astronomers north of Mount Forest which I’ve attended for the past four years. Another famous astronomer said telescopes are time machines. When we observe the Andromeda galaxy, we are seeing it as it was two million years ago, because it is two million light years away and it took that long for the light we are presently seeing to reach us.

If you looked back far enough, beyond the furthest galaxies, you would eventually see nothing in every direction except the cosmic fireball produced by the Big Bang, the explosion that began everything. There is no seeing beyond this. Scientists cannot say what caused the Big Bang. Physicists tell us that at the quantum, subatomic level the universe operates in unexplainable, irrational ways. No one knows how the same particle can be in two locations at once, how light can be both a wave and a particle at the same time, or how particles come out of a complete void.

Similarly, at the largest level, Goldberg told us that astrophysicists have "no clue what the universe is expanding into, why there is more matter than antimatter, or why there is anything at all." They also have no idea what "dark matter" and "dark energy" are, even though scientists know they make up 95% of the universe. Only 5% of the universe is visible.

At a previous Starfest an astronomer said "when scientists have no clue, they give things a name and that makes everyone feel better." For example, scientists have no idea why there was 380,000 years of complete darkness after the Big Bang, but they called the first appearance of photons "First Dawn" and that calmed everyone down.

Also, when they have no clue, they start theorizing, and if there is no way to test their pure theories they call it "cosmology." Cosmologists have theorized that the Big Bang was caused by "branes" colliding, but they have no way of testing this, and it just pushes the problem back another step. Where did the branes come from? A native Canadian who had become a professional astronomer told us that, according to aboriginal lore, the universe is floating on the back of a giant turtle. They also believed this in ancient China, which gives added weight to the argument. It seems to me to be as valid a myth as the theory of branes.

More science equals more mystery. Still more science equals still more mystery. Projecting down the road, further science will result in even more incomprehensible mysteries, ad infinitum.

Astronomy has completely blown apart many peoples’ former belief in God. They had to find a much bigger, more mysterious, more glorious God if they wanted to keep believing. So, believers are indebted to science for helping us to know God more fully.

However, since some scientists think all religion is mythology, and since their smallest and greatest theories can’t be proven, it would help if they realized cosmologists are really doing mythology under the guise of scientific explanation, and if some scientists say science proves there is no God, they are really doing theology disguised as scientific authority.

(Bruce Tallman is a London spiritual director. ; )

Alfred J. Garrotto is the author of the suspense novel,