Feminist Diaries #3: HeForShe

I think there is a strong case for temporary female quotas to politics and all other leadership positions, in order peacefully to break up current behaviour patterns. I suspect that a world where the female part of the divine is properly expressed would be a marvel. War ? Torture ? The male/female imbalance is a grave threat to the world..

Sunday Reflection, Solemnity of Christ the King of the Universe (November 23, 2014): Teilhard de Chardin’s Universal Christic Vision

Didn’t know of The Feast of Christ the King of the Universe. Thanks ..

Teilhard de Chardin

cor jesu andromeda 1

This Sunday is the Feast of Christ the King of the Universe and the last Sunday in Ordinary Time. You can find the readings here.

I wrote last year about some of the background of this great feast, which was first instituted in 1925 but given greater prominence and a more cosmic dimension after the Second Vatican Council. As I stated last year:

The change in name to “Christ the King of the Universe”, the change in date to the last Sunday of the year and the elevation of rank from Feast to Solemnity all reflect the influence that Teilhard de Chardin’s ideas have had within the Church of the nature of Christ. Christ is not only the Greek Logos set forth in the first chapter of the Gospel of St. John or the incarnation of the form of Jesus of Nazareth. Christ also continues to be the prime…

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NASA’s “Remastered” View of Europa is the Best Yet

Dark Matter Space

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europa

(Click image to download) This newly-reprocessed color view of Europa was made from images taken by NASA’s Galileo spacecraft in the late 1990s. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SETI Institute

Europa, Jupiter’s sixth-closest moon, has long been a source of fascination and wonder for astronomers. Not only is it unique amongst its Jovian peers for having a smooth, ice-covered surface, but it is believed that warm, ocean waters exist beneath that crust – which also makes it a strong candidate for extra-terrestrial life.

And now, combining a mosaic of color images with modern image processing techniques, NASA has produced a new version of what is perhaps the best view of Europa yet. And it is quite simply the closest approximation to what the human eye would see, and the next best thing to seeing it up close.

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Physical Love

Someday, after mastering the winds, the waves, the tides and gravity, we shall harness for God the energies of love, and then, for a second time in the history of the world, man will have discovered fire.” Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

“When two people relate to each other authentically and humanly, God is the electricity that surges between them.” Martin Buber

“Success comes in cans; failure in can’ts”

.. great quote from Wilfred Bion. Our whole purpose is to make reality out of infinite potential.  I’m struck by similarity underlying Bion’s model of reality-creation and that of Alfred North Whitehead’s view of a “prehensile” crystallisation of reality in the present moment out of infinite potential.

“The art of being yourself at your best is the art of unfolding your personality into the person you want to be.” Wilfred Bion

“We cannot think first and act afterwards. From the moment of birth we are immersed in action and can only guide it by taking thought.” Alfred North Whitehead

 

Bion has this concept of our thinking as a candle actively penetrating the dark in a quest to mate with and discover the ideas or truths already there waiting.  If I understand aright Bion’s model of how this arises:

– there is a welter of “unthought” images, emotions and other stuff floating around – his Beta elements.

– if we are able to tolerate the pain of the unknown – then we begin to assemble these into the building blocks of thoughts – his Alpha elements. (Mostly we are able to do that because we’ve had a “good enough” mother and a holding environment as a baby).

– these alpha element thoughts then abstract into – pre-concepts which are “looking for” concepts to “mate with” to allow understanding of ideas. Importantly the ideas already exist and our mind and brain is a machinery that has evolved to allow us to think them.

Compare this with Whitehead’s view of the implications for reality of  quantum mechanics (see Process and Reality). The present moment – is like a zipper – moving from a past event into a future that the observer crystallises by selecting from the infinite potential. This then, the process by which reality is created. He calls the present moment prehensile, because there is an active searching or selecting of the future.

This concept (If my understanding is correct – the book is almost impenetrable) surely has resonance with Bion’s view. There is at the heart of both schemas a vital present force which is actively seeking a “mating” with a future that it is involved in helping create or crystallise.

Can we call this free will? Are we witnesses here and eternally now of all of creation?

“The foundation of reverence is this perception, that the present holds within itself the complete sum of existence, backwards and forwards, that whole amplitude of time, which is eternity.” Alfred North Whitehead

 

The Love that Reassembles the Fragments

“All manner of thing shall be well/When the tongues of flame are in-folded/Into the crowned knot of fire/And the fire and the rose are one” TS Elliot

I think that Elliot was pointing to a fundamental symmetry between the material (fire) and spiritual (rose) world. We have to think outside physics to find the answer to the apparent material asymmetry introduced by the dimension of time.

Time is the only thing that we know that is not symmetrical. We can travel backward and forward through space, but only forward in time. This flows from the second law of thermodynamics, where disorder (entropy, chaos), always increases. That in turn flows from the initial conditions of the Universe, which was highly organised.

There must, I believe, actually be a symmetrical partner to time. If you like – something that is running backward, creating order from disorder, which matches and balances the movement toward chaos that we observe in the material Universe.

Everything in the world is dual. Without boundary we could not know existence. Boundary defines by breaking one into two. Forces balance, every action has an equal and opposite reaction. When singular differentiates into dual (when one becomes two) it creates symmetry. Everything is symmetrical, and in a state either of differentiation or integration, separation or unification. This appears to me to be a fundamental truth – equally so in psychology (see all the writings of Carl Jung) and physics. Except for time. Time is different. It’s asymmetrical. It flows only forward. There is an arrow of time.

Why is that? After all – ever since Einstein’s special and general relativity was proved, we know that time is only the fourth dimension of space-time. We should in theory be able to travel forward and back in time, just as we can in space. But we can’t and don’t. We are all travelling forward at the speed of light through space-time. (Which is why there is time-dilation. If we travel rapidly through space, we use up some of the time component of that speed and therefore we travel more slowly through time). Since we’re in motion in space-time and with a direction – forward– we have momentum. Our momentum in time is simply mass multiplied by the speed of light. mc (massxspeed of light). We also know that E=mc2 (energy is mass multiplied by the square of the speed of light). That means that “we can consider energy to be momentum in the time direction” (Andrew Thomas). In turn that implies that it is the existence of time (and a time direction) that creates energy – and therefore mass and the material world.

Haven’t we heard this all before, but in a different language – long before the discoveries of physics. “Let there be light” – spoken by God, the word existing beyond time . Doesn’t this translate into – let there be a universal speed of light (168,000 miles/second) and time. From this energy and mass flows, and therefore the material Universe.

I believe that the flow of time in the material world – creating disorder from order, is matched by a flow in the spiritual world, where order is being created from disorder. I also believe that this creation of order can be observed in the evolution of consciousness. Ideas are not material. I believe, with Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, that at some point (his Omega point) we will evolve to a Universal consciousness of God. I believe that God, existing beyond time, is made manifest in this material Universe by Christ; and that manifestation is perfect Love.

That, I believe, is the answer to the apparent time asymmetry. Spirit is the symmetrical partner of Energy (=matter). This makes sense for me of that great Christian poet – TS Elliot’s final lines from The Four Quartets. The fire is the material world (energy) and the rose the spiritual (love) and it is in their integration through the loving unifying sacrifice of Christ through (the crowned knot of fire), that all manner of things shall be well.

Or perhaps more simply – as Derek Walcott puts it:

“Break a vase, and the love that reassembles the fragments is stronger than the love that took its symmetry for granted when it was whole”.

Plato’s Cave and Holographic Projection

Juan Maldacena published a paper in 1997 in which he showed that you could consider the Universe to be a form of holographic projection. (Apparantly – I’ve only read about it – he’s a string theorist so by definition almost incomprehensible). This seems to tie in to the principle of the holographic bound. In the 1970’s it was shown that the amount of information in any space was proportional its area, not its volume. Weird, since space is not two-dimensional. A theory evolved to explain this – that the Universe is actually a holographic projection from the outside and only appears three dimensional here, within it. It was Jakob Bekenstein who came up with that, and implied that the Universe we experience is actually the inside of a black hole in the larger Universe.

So, if that’s true then reality that we perceive as material and final is more like the shadows dancing on the wall of Plato’s Cave. In his Allegory of the Cave he postulated that what we perceive is only the shadow on a cave wall of the “ideal” reality beyond and outside. According to Maldacena and Bekenstein- what we perceive as 4 dimensional space-time is actually a holograph inside a black hole of what is outside and beyond.

” According to the allegory, man’s condition is one of bondage to perceptions. When man is chained up with only a fire behind him, he perceives the world by watching shadows on the wall. He does not realize that there is more to be seen or known, and as such leads a largely passive, disinterested life. So long as his basic needs are met, he does not ask questions. Many believe that this is a statement about people who do not overtly seek knowledge or truth, but rather accept what they are told or what they can immediately experience.” Philos.org, Plato’s Allegory of the Cave.

 

Imagine…

… that the universe is really one and that we and everything in it is connected, a part of the same thing – and so a part of each other. The loneliness and insecurity that is the subtext of all of our living would be illusory. So, indeed would be death. We would be all, part of each other. The making love, the smile shared with a stranger, the sense of one-ness within a brilliant landscape, the tenderness and awe holding your baby… all intimations and pale imitations of what existence would be. If we removed our blinkers. And, this is what scientific discovery points toward. So indeed does our brother, Jesus. What did he actually say? Love thy neighbour (as thyself), by the fruits shall ye know them, forgive over and over and over again (70×7), rich men shall not enter the kingdom of heaven. Christ would have been, in our modern world, a revolutionary – but not a divider of people against people. He would have been, and is, the true blueprint of a socialist radical.

Imagine, if the universe is really one and that we and everything in it is connected, a part of the same thing – and so a part of each other. After all its what the science points toward.

Emergence and Entropy

Science has been immensely successful in revealing the workings of the physical world. Understanding has come from dissection of systems, that is to say by reductionism. If you isolate small pieces fragments – smashing atoms, deconstructing ecosystems – then  you can test, experiment and apply mathematics.

Well and good, as far as it goes; but what of the understanding of complexity, where emergent properties arise from interactions – to form new entity? Society, ecosystems, intelligence, consciousness. Reductionism simply doesn’t help. Indeed it is becomes a little dangerous, because of false conclusions that it reaches about systems.

Think of a colony of ants, each of which participates in a larger society – which has new (emergent) properties, indeed a separate life. The individual cells in our body have their own life – but this does not speak at all to the life of our whole being.

The Universe is by definition a single system – with no known external absolute values and where all is therefore self-defining and relative. Within this we pretty much accept the laws of thermodynamics and mechanics – two of which state that “entropy always increases” (the Universe becomes increasingly disordered) and “for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction” (we find time and again that forces balance).

I’ve always been struck by the apparent illogic of the first – since it certainly appears to me that the material world is increasingly ordered. I wonder if the clue is in emergent systems. Perhaps whilst the Universe at the simple level is becoming increasingly disordered – there is a balancing increase in order arising as complex emergent systems arise.

I don’t suppose that reductionism can answer this, or the key mathematical tools apply. I wonder if we need a new approach to our investigation of the physical world – to complement the traditional toolset?

In a nutshell

From biologos.org. So much more succinct than my ramblings..

“Many arguments claiming to prove the existence of God have been proposed throughout the centuries. The response to many of these arguments, however, is: “If God created the world, what created God?” It suggests that certain arguments for God’s existence only push the question of beginnings one step farther back. The Bible and Christian doctrine address this question by defining God as eternal and uncreated, but such answers rarely satisfy nonbelievers. A philosophical response is that God is the ultimate first cause; the atheist is left with a dilemma of what or who that first cause might have been. In the end, an uncaused creator may simply be a more plausible explanation for the universe we live in. Our universe appears to have had a beginning, to be finely tuned for life, and to have a place for love and purpose. These appearances affirm as plausible a prior belief in God.”