Finisterre: Wrapping My Head Around an Expanding Universe: Cosmogenesis

A pledge to keep walking beyond where I have once called home, onto where I am challenged to change, reconcile, surrender, and create in ways I hadn’t imagined.

I changed the pledge above of what I want this blog called Finisterre to mean. It had to include creativity and imagination now that the Universe dropped a book in my lap this past week and urged me to read it. The title is Cosmogenesis: An Unveiling of the Expanding Universe by Brian Thomas Swimme. I have so much to explore about this book that I am forewarning you that it may be the creative juice of several of my blog posts to come. Even today I began to make connections between the scientific discoveries of the universe with the mystical visions of Julian of Norwich. But that will have to wait until next time as I need to do more research.

Brian Swimme is a mathematician, a cosmologist, a philosopher and now what he feels he has been called to do for this time in our fourteen billion-year-history of this universe: to be a cosmic storyteller. What kept me reading his history of cosmology in the scientific world from 1968- 1983 was that he told his personal story. It’s a love story really about his wife and sons, his work, the universe and fellow human beings. After reading this story, I now am expanding along with the universe in my relationship to other humans, to the Earth and to the cosmos. I know. I’m gushing a little. But it feels like a turning point for me. Swimme asks his important question, “Is there a new form of trans-conceptual knowledge emerging–one that is rooted in science and yet is holistic and experiential?”

It has been nearly a hundred years since Edwin Hubble discovered that the universe is not a static given, but that it is expanding. In 1964, Penzias and Wilson discovered primal light–cosmic microwave background radiation that arrives here in all directions from somewhere near the birthplace of the universe. Our origin is in a “colossal sphere of light.” (25) It is the origin of us.

This statement alone is staggering to me. I have this simple mind that can’t really hold the thought of fourteen billion years, let alone that my origin–these very bones that can dance and the skin on my hands that can touch and my eyes that can see so much utter beauty all came from this beginning. And yet, it intersects with many spiritual teachings that God is Light; and that I am Light. I just never felt it viscerally. I didn’t connect my story with the birth of the universe. I am just these last 72 years of fourteen billion. Because I didn’t think I could comprehend the science of cosmology, quantum mechanics, black holes, string theory, etc., I didn’t allow myself to open to seeing myself as a development from the birth of the universe. That primal light to this being. This flow of energy in my body came from the beginning of time. “Our bodies churn with creativity rooted in the beginning of time,” Swimme writes.

I only know this because consciousness is expanding in this universe. And now knowing this, I am having an experience of it. It’s not just an idea; it is sensing an understanding of what it means to say ” I am.” Or as Thomas Berry, a priest , scholar and his mentor, said to Brian Swimme, “you are the universe in the mode of a human.”

I apologize to making most of this post a series of quotes, but I have to mention this one from Freeman Dyson, who was a colleague of Albert Einstein at Princeton’s Institute for Advanced Study. As Dyson put it, “In some sense, the universe must have known, from the beginning, that we were coming.” (78) Sit with that statement from an esteemed scientist. From the beginning of this universe, at its creation proven from mathematical equations that the universe knew what it was creating–us! Scientific fact that for me parallels the poetic story of Genesis. From the beginning of creating Light on the first day to the creating of humans on the sixth day, this Creative Force knew we were coming. I feel that loving intention for me to be on this planet at this time from fourteen billion years ago. Cosmological love meets Old Testament love.

My brain is struggling with all this, but my heart is not. To set my life experience in the context of the cosmos completes or satisfies or fulfills some yearning in me. And in some sense, it wakes something up I already knew.

I want to write more next week on what this new understanding means about death and grace and supernovas. Feeling a little Star-Trekky.

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