A lot of scientists are beginning to think about ‘the edge of the Universe.’ A millennium ago, it was believed there was a crystal dome you would have to crack thru to enter Heaven, the Kingdom of God.
Today, some scientists think the universe is curved, so you will never reach the end, any more than you will fall of the edge of the flat earth.
Decades ago, the poet e.e.cummings said, “There is a hell of a better universe next door to this one.” Some scientists now believe there are an infinite number of universes, and each time a decision is made the universe splits in two.
Every time the University of Wisconsin plays the U of Minnesota — ‘the Big Game’ — and Wisc wins, the universe splits. And in a second universe, Minn wins. And there is no contact ever again between these two universes, and neither is aware of the other. And driving back to Wisc later that night, a car full of students that were drinking to their team’s victory have a smash on Highway 36 (as often happened), and Bobby and Bonnie and all the others die. But in the Minnesota universe they drove home in a glum mood, but got home safely. So it was best for these Wisconsin kids that Minnesota won and they lived to old age. Now imagine how many universes there must be.
I took high school physics in the early 1960s when the US needed rocket scientists to plan the moon landing eight years later. It was all math based and boring and I got D’s. But about 40 yrs ago I bumped into ‘The Tao of Physics’ (Fritjof Capra, 1975) and ‘The Dancing Wu Li Masters’ (Gary Zukav, 1978) and got my first exposure to the world of quantum physics as explained to a lay reader. ‘Mind-blowing’ doesn’t begin to describe the experience.
So a key area of physics now, a generation later, is the search for consciousness at quantum scale. Is the universe self-aware and self-directing? Is the universe itself the phenomenon we call “God” of which we are a part. And is that sad old man with bipolar disorder, 46 billion years away in another plane of existence shouting ‘Love me or burn in hell!’ or ‘My chosen ones, you are better than all others!’… Is he just a fiction created by very disturbed men?
Did matter emerge from mind, or did mind evolve from matter. Does it matter? Do you mind?
Galileo got in deep trouble saying the Earth was not the center of the universe. Imagine the horror many of our religious institutions would endure if they were told “God” is in Nature and of Nature; and not outside Nature or better than Nature. And since Nature is often portrayed as Woman, Mother Nature, then Woman has equal standing in the universe.
It is, after all, a uni-verse; a single story. Moses got it wrong: the Burning Bush didn’t say, ‘I exist. Now go prove it.’ Rather, ‘I am existence,’ a condition we all share in equal measure. Be calm and live into that truth.’
The tragic, horrible historical split between the physical (natural) and metaphysical (supernatural) that has cursed the Western mind for nearly two millennia, and been imposed by us on so many first peoples in the Western and Southern hemispheres, might at last begin to heal.
Einstein said the greatest question we will every ask ourselves is whether we think the universe is a congenial place; do we feel at home in the universe? When any belief system says ‘the earth is a vale of tears; a place of banishment and fears,’ that is a lie, a blasphemy, to be spurned and abandoned. A lie created over time by ‘the Church Fathers,’ a claque of body-hating, woman-hating, nature-hating, death-fixated old men.
Go in peace; leave behind your anxiety and depression, your lust for revenge or gain. It is right for you to be here now. The universe would be less without the grace of your presence.
How ironic if we did reach the edge of the universe and found the footprints of our ancients who got there in their minds long ago while their bodies were in caves in India, the outback of Australia, sweat lodges near the Great Lakes, the Mongolian steppe, and African and Amazon jungles…
Maybe they got there long before us, but spoke a language we no longer understand — where there is no divide between faith and reason; religion and science. And with our precision technologies at last we have finally arrived where they intuitive began, and must recognize it once again. Before time runs out. Amen.
PS: Curious coincidence, there are approximately as many atoms in each of us as there are suns in the known universe (about 10 to the 25th power).
© 2021, Thomas Mahon