a branch of study concerned with the origins and nature
of the universe. Verbs related to the Greek ‘µ’ mean to put in
order and to adorn, hence our words ‘cosmetic’ and ‘cosmetologist’. In
referring to the universe as cosmos rather than as chaos,
Greeks defined reality as a homogeneous, ordered whole. In contrast,
modern Western culture has tended to view reality dualistically, splitting
it into subject and object, humanity and nature, mind and matter.
Contemporary thinkers who attempt to reclaim the universe as cosmos
have all but abandon the fixed structure of classical
cosmologies in light of the pervasively evolutionary character of the
universe revealed by modern science. Nonetheless, such thinkers -- whether
they are religious or secular -- share the desire of the ancient Greeks
to provide a consistent and meaningful framework for the world of human
experience, by relating it to the principles governing all of reality.
The cosmos is a complex and orderly system, and the word cosmos can refer
to the world of human experience and to the universe as a whole.
For people of faith, the very word cosmology raises issues of
time and creation, beginnings and endings. Antique cultures ascribed creation
to the realm of the divine. But according to contemporary cosmologists
the universe began with a great explosion known as the Big Bang, after
which the stars and galaxies slowly formed over billions of years. Just
as Darwin proposed that the evolution of life was a long, slow, and gradual
process, so cosmologists now believe that our
universe evolves by long slow processes.
Mythology, religion and science all suggest that the universe came into
being out of nothing, a finite amount of time ago. Indeed, many contemporary
religious believers see the Big
Bang as providing confirmation for the Christian notion of creation
nihilo (creation out of nothing). Interestingly, when evidence of the
Big Bang was first discovered in the late 1920's with Edwin
Hubble’s finding that the universe was expanding, many scientists rejected
the idea because they thought it smacked of religion. If the universe had
a beginning they felt, then it must have had a creator. But that would
be unscientific. At the time, the prevailing view was that the universe
had existed in much the same state forever and that it therefore had no
Hubble's discovery that the universe
is expanding put an end to this static notion of the universe and suggested
that the cosmos had a definite starting moment. Moreover, this view was
supported by Einstein's General
Theory of Relativity, which provided a beautiful set of equations to
describe how a universe could arise out of nothing. Ironically, the tables
have now been turned with some scientists today arguing that the Big Bang
demonstrates that the universe came into being by purely natural processes
needing no supernatural power.
The English physicist Stephen
Hawking, in his best-selling book "A
Brief History of Time", suggested that if current cosmological
theories turn out to be true then the creation of the universe will
have been completely explained by the laws of physics. In that case, Hawking
asks, what role would there be for a creator? But again, where Hawking
sees science as writing God out of the picture, others take a different
Paul Davies, for example, has written that the beauty and order of
the laws of physics themselves suggests there must be something behind
those laws, something driving the mathematical beauty and order in the
universe. Physicists John
Polkinghorn and John
Barrow believe the incredibly finely balanced mathematical order of
the universe suggests there must be some kind of intelligent force responsible.
Both Hawking and Davies have associated God with a so-called "theory
of everything" - a single theory that physicists hope will one day
unite general relativity with quantum mechanics, thereby bringing the entire
universe under one grand mathematical umbrella. This theory is a major
goal of contemporary theoretical physics, and it is this which Hawking
has famously linked to "the
mind of God". Perhaps more than any other science, cosmology is a case
where one can either see God reflected in the picture, or not. In the end,
science neither proves nor disproves the existence of God. More often than
not, the scientific evidence can be read either way.
Ferguson wrote the Aquarian Conspiracy, a lot of us breathed a sigh
of relief. She made it seem that the millineum would indeed usher in a
New World with sanity somehow still intact. Just for fun, try re-reading
her and you might be amaised how our perspective has changed she wrote
But at least some of her hopeful notes for the future
New Age are still exstant. One was a spiritual perspective known as Gaia,
which is a belief that Earth is a living being and that all life forms
are its offspring. "The
Gaia hypothesis points to stable conditions, such as oxygen levels
and climate, as evidence that living organisms maintain a life-sustaining
environment. The theory has been defined and argued in numerous ways, and
has as many critics as adherents. It is in need of more explicit formulation
before it can be examined as a true scientific theory.
GaiaLINK Project celebrates
human magnificence, growth of consciousness, spiritual evolution and ingenuity,
as a "heroic journey to an unparalleled future and to participate in the
process of discovering and responsibly inventing solutions to problems
we have created in a state of innocent hubris." They declare that it is
possible for Humans on earth to live harmoniously with each other and all
living creatures and systems, to create a contextual shift. This group
wants to reach the general public to create an environment of joy and well
being for generations to come."The best way to predict the future is to
invent it." -- Alan Kay
HYPOTHESIS, originated in England by scientist James
Lovelock came up with the perception that "the entire range of living
matter on Earth, from whales to bacteria from oaks to algae, could be regarded
as constituting a single living entity... endowed with faculties and powers
far beyond those of its constutuent parts." GAIA is the name given by the
ancient Greeks for the Goddess of the Earth, mother of all living beings.
Today GAIA represents all the living planetary systems which support our
existence on our small spaceship.
Utopia is a term coined by Sir
Thomas More in the early 16th century. Derived from two Greek words:
Eutopia (meaning 'good place') and Outopia (meaning 'no place'). Thomas
More intended the irony when he wrote his genre-setting novel, Utopia .
"The word now conjures up the vision of an ideal society." --Henry
The word utopia
is usually followed by a lot of 'shoulds,' beginning with something
to the effect that "Utopia should be Humanity's guiding philosophy." Next
you can often find a declaration of the abolution of religion and an almost
immediate attempt to re-invent it. A well known guru
was known to say " don't should on me!" But what is involved in a
humane sustainable culture - and how we might get there? Our capacities
to deal appropriately with ecological limits obviously requires that people
will act with an awareness of and concern for the larger natural and human
world around them.
Marx Hubbard has written A
Personal Guide to a Positive Future which appears at a time when it
is deeply needed. There is today an abundance of confusion and apprehension
about the future. The questions now being asked about ourselves and the
world in which we live are deep and disturbing: How will we solve the seemingly
insurmountable social, economic and ecological problems we have created?
Is the progress of our society towards inevitable disintegration and destruction?
Is there, in fact, any chance at all of a positive, creative future?
"Barbara Marx Hubbard sets out to provide an inspirational content in
which the issues underlying these questions can be faced with hope and
joyful expectancy. She provides a supportive foundation for us all and
offers a view of reality that touches the heart, opens the mind and inspires
hope." [jacket blurb, UK pbk, 1983]
The Hedonistic Imperative
outlines how genetic engineering and nanotechnology will abolish suffering
in all sentient lifeans sets forth the prospect that what we describe as
psychological pain, could be banished by applied science much as
surgical anesthetics have alleviated so much trauma.
The New Being Project
is a division of The Institute for the Intensification of Non-Linear
Intelligence (IINLIT) that explores the strong likelihood that our species
may be headed into a rapid evolutionary jump, one of comparable impact
to the momentous and sudden leap from anaerobic to aerobic bacteria, or
from asexual to sexual reproduction. We may even be at a juncture where
we can invent such a leap. NBP's present task is to identify and study
people who may be "edgelings";
those who might give us hints as to how to amplify or modify the direction
the leap takes. One of their pages reminds us of Gautama Siddhartha's three
cardinal questions: 1) Where did we come from? 2) Who are we? 3) Where
are we going?
offered a hopeful new scenario. He wrote that the icon of the new Space
Age Paradigm is the photograph of the earth taken by the astronauts on
the moon. He felt that a paradigm sufficient to engage the hearts and minds
of subsequent generations would necessarily be one that unites our entire
species, perhaps even, as one among many possible extra-terrestrial species.
"Optimists estimate that there could be millions of inhabited
planets in the Galaxy; pessimists estimate only one (us). Turns out
main uncertainty is how long a civilization lasts before it destroys itself."
If ET does phone home and get an answer, it seems fairly likely
that, if they really are all that advanced technologically, then they may
be ethically and even aesthetically superior as well. If so, they may be
no more disposed to socialize with us than we would a bunch of insects.
Unless and untill we show some evidence of being able to treat them better
than we have been treating each other, why would the want even to bother
with us? Can you imagine making a very long journey to a brier patch in
order to speak to an ant-hill?
After two thousand years or more of seeing ourselves as the chosen species
of all God's creation, with dominion over all, suddenly our field of action
has become almost infinitely larger with the advent of quantum physics
and space travel. We have been thrust into a New
Age, feeling quite diminished. This begs the question: will we rise
to the occasion? Or, perhaps more aptly, how might we go about this?
"The traditional western approach to any problem is to break
it into parts, analyze those parts, and develop solutions or improvements
for those parts. It is taken as an article of faith that we can then reassemble
these parts into a new and improved working whole.
Science is not the only way of acquiring knowledge about ourselves and
the world around us. Humans gain understanding in many other ways, such
as through literature, the arts, philosophical reflection, and religious
experience. Scientific knowledge may enrich aesthetic and moral perceptions,
but these subjects extend beyond science's realm, which is to obtain a
better understanding of the natural world.
This approach can be quite useful in certain realms, such as when working
with mechanical assemblies like machines or clocks. However, it is much
less useful in other areas, such as when dealing with living beings."
"A purpose organizes our intelligence and makes it meaningful.
You have to take that step, and the step is actually to say to yourself,
what can I do?"