I’d posted this image of the Universe—something put together by those wacky folks at NASA if I recall correctly—and mentioned that it was curious that it reminded me of the two hemispheres of a brain. I followed that up with an invitation to my friends to ask me about my definition of god, and they did, so here it is.
The prevailing theory about the origins of the universe (note the little “u” there) are based upon a singular, large mass of “something” which then exploded—perhaps you’ve heard the term “Big Bang.” I’m a huge fan of science and, specifically, the scientific method (look that up if you don’t know what it is.) I’ve spent the better part of the past forty years contemplating the nature of the universe. I started at Catholicism, moved to Christianity, went agnostic then jumped headlong into Native American spirituality, all the while absorbing as much information about the natural world around me as I could.
I suppose it’s important to mention here that I fully embrace Darwin’s theory of evolution. I remember reading about a particular bit of evidence (note I didn’t say proof, for in science nothing is ever proven, merely supported) that lent itself well to buying wholesale Darwin’s On the Origin of Species. At the turn of the 20th century during the industrial revolution in London, there was a species of moth that lived in the area and survived by having a mottled pattern that allowed it to blend in with the bark of a specific species of tree.
During the first ten or twenty years of the 1900s, the smoke pouring out of chimneys and plants all over London turned the bark of those trees black. For a while, the birds in the area had a field day, because the previously hidden brownish-white moths stuck out again the now blackish tree bark. If you don’t understand that all species are constantly changing through genetic mutation, a trial and error of sorts at the genetic level, then you really need to read more. Because what happened was that mutations of that species of moth had darker and darker patterns on their skins. The birds eliminated the brown moths, and the mutated moths that grew darker and darker were naturally selected to survive and breed more, reinforcing the genetic trait of black skin.
Years later, when London deliberately reduced the amount of soot pouring into the air, the trees became lighter and lighter, and the moths followed suit through that same process. Natural selection combined with genetic mutation provided a new/old species. If you can wrap your head around the pure significance that process, then what I suggest you do is apply that process to the entirety of the universe itself—everywhere all the time, and not just to biological systems. It’s actually a constant of the Universe (note the big “U” there), and the magic of genetic mutation appears to also allow organisms to become more and more complex over the course of long periods of time. Just study the paleontological record over the past billion years to see this in action.
Now, let me take you back to the big bang. So, there we have a large mass of energy, some would refer to it as dark matter, and I suggest that it is nothing more than that which is neither matter nor energy and both of them at the same time. There’s a spark, a catalyst, an aligning of moments in time that produce this explosion, and suddenly there is energy spreading out through void. Now, throw on top of that the constant of mutation. I’m not talking about genetic mutation, but atomic mutation of a sort. The energy, as it expands, begins to seek more and more complex versions of itself. So, the energy takes a proton and an electron and combines them to create the first hydrogen atom…. then it creates more… and then somewhere along the way the energy combines into the first helium atom. And thus begins the inexorable evolution of matter into the complex atoms that make up the elements you might have read about in Chemistry. Those elements combine into molecules and increasingly larger masses of matter, and those combine into suns and planets. On some of those planets the matter continues to evolve through chemical and electrical and energetic processes into the first simple protein chains, and those form into the first cellular organisms. That process gets us to the paleontological record on this planet—and countless others.
So why am I telling you all this? If it is one thing I’m certain of, one thing I’ve observed in the natural world, it’s the cycle of existence from birth to life to death and back again, with variations on a theme in between. Wrap all of that up into the single, simple notion that the original, singular mass of energy was an embryo of the Universe (some would say god) and that from the moment of birth (the Big Bang) the Universe began growing and evolving.
Now, take that to its logical conclusion. The Universe will live and then, ultimately, fold back in on itself to die as all that matter collapses together again creating a singular mass of energy to be reborn once again and start the cycle all over again.
The Universe is all the matter and energy that exists combined with the natural laws that bind them together. Does that imply that there is a conscious will behind the Universe that guides it and therefore us? I have to say that I don’t quite know the answer to that question. I’ve seen evidence that would support that there is no conscious will whatsoever. I’ve also had experiences that suggest a pattern, an equation or algorithm that has inputs and responses in the natural order of existence that one could possibly categorize as a pattern of behavior. I may never know the answer to that question, and perhaps that’s the whole point.
What I do know is that the Universe is alive and complex, infinitely more so than I am, and in that awareness of myself within the Universe, I’ve come to understand that existence at a conscious level is merely a stepping stone towards future iterations of the Universe itself within the grander cycle of being.