Once Upon a Time

CUF Admin
April 10, 2017

Once Upon a Time

Robert DeFilippis
April 8, 2017

Our theme this month is transformation. And while I’ll talk about transformation on a broader level, my immersion in this topic has made me acutely aware of all the transformations in my life. Not the least of which has been stimulated in the last several years by my reading and only partially absorbing lots of scientific information about the true nature of the universe and more importantly our relationship to it.

I have changed from seeing religion and science at opposite ends of the philosophical spectrum as a matter of fact to seeing the void in the middle as one of the great failings of human inquiry. I’ve come to believe that we will learn more when we combine our scientific methods with the wisdom insights found in the great religions of the world.

That said, I’m not offering a money back guarantee that you’ll agree with what I say, but if you need more data to support what you hear today, I can give you dozens, if not hundreds of highly qualified sources so you can investigate the facts on your own.

So how are we children of transformations?

They started a long, long time ago, 13.7 billion years ago. There was this big event that started everything in the universe today. It’s called the Big Bang. And it was a transformation of enormous proportions.

There was nothing and somehow it transformed into the building blocks of everything, you, me, your washing machine, Miley Cyrus, your family pet and this building you sit in today.

More recently, a new theory has shown up. Instead of the Big Bang, it’s the Big Boing.

It says the explosion was the result of a collapsing universe that pre-existed this one. It too had a big bang moment preceded by another collapse then an expansion and then another collapse. I think you get the picture. This universe is just one more in an infinite series of big boings, expansions, collapses and big boings.

The bottom line here is no one knows what started the universe. Yes, we have a theory about what happened a second after it started but there is no knowledge about what preceded that instant of transformation.

So, I must agree with ethnobotanist Terrance McKenna when he said, Science requests, “Give us one free miracle and we’ll explain the rest.” And the one free miracle is the appearance of all the matter and energy in the universe and all the laws that govern it from nothing at a single instant.

What we all learned at school and thought of as fixed laws turns out to relate to only to 4% of the matter and energy in the universe. And we don’t know the relationship between that 4% with the rest.”

Sounds like a miracle to me.

Whether it was the Big Bang or the Big Boing, from that transformational Nano-second 13.7 billion years ago, out of an infinite number of possible random events, purely by accident, a specific and unique series of those events created each one of us as we are today.

This is what Carl Sagan was speaking to when he once said, if you want to make an apple pie from scratch, you need to start the universe all over again

So really, not only is the universe miraculous but so are we. And I might add, pretty old.

Each of us is the child of an almost infinite number of transformations.

To be explicit, a seemingly infinite number of transformations from the hot plasma of the big bang, to the formation of stars, to the creation of the elements, to the accretion of debris into planetary orbs, to the evolution of liveable conditions, to the joining of inanimate materials into living single cell organisms, to the evolution of multiple thousands of living species, to primates, to homo sapiens, to consciousness, to formations of societies and cultures, to theories about everything around us, to the creation of scientific and religious explanations, to the formation of dogmas.

Or if you prefer a simpler explanation, I quote writer Robert Brault, “According to science, the universe began as a swirl of gas that, as it cooled, spun off the Ten Commandments.”

Seriously, that’s a lot to absorb so, let’s jump ahead several billion years.

Around 500 BCE, a pre-Socratic Greek/Phoenician philosopher, named Thales was the first individual in Western civilization known to have entertained and engaged in scientific philosophy.

And even though he took the first leap in the direction of a scientific explanation of reality, it took another 4000 years and a man named Francis Bacon to philosophically advocate and practice the scientific method starting the scientific revolution.

And finally, everything was settled and we had the clear lens of science and religion, right?

Not so fast. Let’s talk transformative processes again.

It seems that science and religion have had their own hiccups. Religion in the form of inquisitions, reformations, apostasies, and heresies. Some developing into full blown transformations and others just noise in the system.

This might be a surprise to some but science has had its inquisitions, reformations, apostasies and heresies too.

Sometimes those disagreements arise because repeating human experiences clash with scientific faith. And that’s when some transformations end and some are continued by brave people who risk their careers for truth.

Yes, there is a thing called scientific faith and it happens when science becomes an ideology, rather than a tool of human inquiry.

For purposes of today’s talk, one element of the scientific model seems to not only resist transformation but permeates all others. I’m speaking of the current model of science and proposing that deeply buried in our ontology and epistemology this model permeates everything including religion.

It’s the theory that organized Sagan’s ideas when he told us how to make an apple pie from scratch. It’s the theory favoured in the explanation of the entire universe and even how it got started.

It is the Newtonian theory with Einsteinian enhancements and it not only organizes science and religion, it organizes all Western society in ways that are destroying it. I know that’s a bold statement but please hold off dismissing my point until you hear my reasons.

This theory tells us the universe is a cold, dead, indifferent, void where every action has an antecedent and a predictable reaction. Where there are absolute right and wrong answers. Where every problem has a rational solution. Where we are separate and distinct from each other and the rest of the universe.

This theory has been co-opted by religion and shapes the belief in a master watchmaker God who created this clockwork cosmos and can adjust it as he sees fit. So it’s a giant machine with components like every other machine, only much bigger. And we are also complex machines with component parts that can be identified and measured.

This has led to a form of reductionism buried in a destructive dualism that puts the sacred in another place, a supernatural level where the clockmaker god and his spiritual beings live.

And by simple minded deduction, if the sacred is there, it’s not here.

It allows for the dichotomist religious belief in autonomous good and evil, classifications within which we can place people based a rigid set of criteria.

And that we live in an age of evil as we wait for the second coming that precedes an age of grace and goodness.

Another dualistic separation between what is and an ideal of some imagined nirvana when all the good people will be rewarded and the evil will be punished.

Not only is time broken into separate and distinct ages, it says people can be classified into those deserving and those not.

It allows us as individuals to think we can stand aside and peer into the universe and examine it objectively as though our observations are not affecting the reality we observe. And as though we are observing things as they are.

This belief in being separate and distinct from others and the universe has allowed us the justification for the development of radical individualism and all the damage and destruction that we see around us every day.

It fosters our development of classifications like deserving and undeserving, qualified and unqualified. Of those possessing dignity and worth and those without.

It allows us to invent races, sexual orientations, national borders, which in turn allow us to take inhumane actions as though what we do to them is not damaging us as well.

Here’s a big public secret: We found out our explanation of the universe was incomplete, sometimes completely erroneous, a century ago.

Thanks to Max Planck the father of quantum theory. He opened the door to the next great transformation and revolutionized human understanding of the basic mechanics that govern the entire universe.

With the help of other physicists like –Erwin Schrödinger, Werner Heisenberg, Niels Bohr and Wolfgang Pauli we now have a more accurate explanation of how the cosmos functions. And with it an opportunity for the next major transformation, or in Thomas Kuhn’s words, a paradigm shift.

Fortunately for us, these brave scientists didn’t ignore the philosophical ramifications and refused to obey the dictum, shut up and calculate. They thought about the oddities they were finding at the basic level of reality.

As Lynne McTaggart in her book The Field: The quest for the secret force of the universe, writes, “These pioneers of quantum physics–Erwin Schrödinger, Werner Heisenberg, Niels Bohr and Wolfgang Pauli–had some inkling of the metaphysical territory they had trespassed into. If electrons were connected everywhere at once, this implied something profound about the nature of the world at large.

They turned to classic philosophical texts in their attempt to grasp the deeper truth about the strange subatomic world they were observing.

Pauli examined psychoanalysis and archetypes and the Qabbalah;
Bohr, the Tao and Chinese philosophy;
Schrödinger, Hindu philosophy; and

Nevertheless, a coherent theory of the spiritual implications of quantum physics remained beyond their grasp.

Niels Bohr hung a sign on his door saying ‘Philosophers keep out. Work in progress.”

But, as we will see a new paradigm was born.

A new paradigm where the dead, cold, empty mechanistic universe is replaced by the connected, fluid, mysterious and indeterminate.

Where black and white is smudged into infinite shades of grey.

Where absolute determinism is replaced by incredible possibilities.

Where competition is replaced by cooperation.

Where individualism is replaced by community.

Where the scientific method of objective reduction is joined with the subjective insight of faith to find a more complete truth.

Where science and religion re-join to discover what they each offer us to build a liveable, safe, peaceful and sustainable society.

Where maybe questions about the 96 percent of the universe science can’t explain, might be better understood with insights from subjective experience. Much like the prophets have been telling us for centuries.

Even a little known 30-year-old Spanish actress Astrid Berges-Frisbey gave us this to contemplate, “We live in a vacuous world, yet we do so with a feeling of urgency.”

Why?

I’m going to venture a guess.

Because we know deep down in our heart of hearts, Western civilization is guided by a fallacious Newtonian understanding of reality. We know it because it just isn’t working.

It is misguided and the evidence is everywhere.

Tune into the news and you’re bombarded with the many examples of our destructive meddling as though there are no consequences to us.

Look deeply into the motives of terrorism. I doubt they hate us for our freedoms. I think it has more to do with our meddling with their national borders and exploitation of their natural resources.

Tune in and listen to all the horrendous things we do in response to a profit oriented manufactured fear of differences or otherness.

Listen for the embedded belief in scarcity that stimulates a kind of greed that exceeds any rational understanding.

This is not how the universe functions at its most basic level. We live in a different place than we ever imagined. A place that is far more benevolent than the manufactured social tragedies we perpetuate every day.

As writer Charles Eisenstein says, “If the discovery of the quantum level of the universe has done nothing else, it has shaken classical physics loose from its foundations.

In doing so, we now know that the universe is of one substance, coherent and non-local. We can no longer use classical physics as the basis for our illusions of separation”.

Let’s go there. Take an imaginary tour with me. Think of the universe as a gigantic ocean.

Like the water in the ocean, we are all connected with each other and everything in the universe. Like waves on the ocean, we exist for a time, never really separate from the ocean, returning when our time runs out.

Think of how that wave dissipates when it hits the beach. It dissolves back into the ocean it never left.

Like the waves, we are spatial extensions of the basic ocean of the universe. At the quantum level, we are made of the same material as the planets and stars. At the sub-quantum level, we are made of the same vibrating fields of energy as the rest of the universe.

As Nicola Tesla said, if you wish to understand the universe, think of energy, frequency and vibration? This includes us. Each of us is a unique set of frequencies vibrating while connected to everything else.

We co-create the outcomes of our personal observations. We see what we believe. We don’t see reality as it is. We see reality as we are.

We participate in the co-creation of our reality. We are constantly interacting with it. This is not science fiction, or wishful thinking. It is a scientific discovery made by both theoretical physicists and cognitive scientists.

The very term, religion, comes from Latin meaning to bind or reconnect. Sadly, today the Newtonian model has perverted some forms of religion as they try to classify and keep us apart. But the deeper message is being revealed in scientific discoveries every day.

We don’t see the true nature of the universe any more than we see the true nature of a computer file represented by an icon on our computer screen. That little blue rectangular icon that you click on to retrieve a file looks nothing like the true nature of the file in your computer.

We can go through life believing reality is represented by that little blue icon or we can realize that we have the power to see deeper into our own social constructions. This gives us a gigantic responsibility.

This says our reality is dependent on us to assist in co-creating the kind of world we want. The universe is our canvas and we are the artists. Even when we are overcome with the negatives that inundate us every day, if we remember that we have the power to transform that negativity, we can make a positive difference for everyone.

There is much to blame for how we are destroying each other and the planet we live on. But I believe the Newtonian model is the core of this Western illness. We can see it more clearly if we just consider how it even complicates efforts to achieve the first principle of our faith.

Respecting the inherent worth and dignity of every human being requires that we see others as connected and deserving. As of one entity, one family, our own. That there are no differences in value or worth other than the illusions created by society. That we are one with each other and everything else that exists. That we cannot escape the effects of the damage we do to others, because we doing it to ourselves. In very simple terms, there are no others.

This is the transformation I hope for. This is the transformation I’m committed to. I hope you’ll join me. I pray that this dark time in our country is a wakeup call.

An abrupt affront to decency so profound that it calls even the most uninvolved and unconcerned people to action.

That all people see the fallacy of a philosophy so unnatural and opposite of the way the universe works that it can only lead to its own destruction.

Here I’m reminded of the words of Astronomer Robert Jastrow, “For the scientist who has lived by his faith in the power of reason, the story ends like a bad dream. He has scaled the mountains of ignorance, he is about to conquer the highest peak; as he pulls himself over the final rock, he is greeted by a band of theologians who have been sitting there for centuries.”

To sum up, the transformation I want to foster, is the one that brings religion and science back together again. Where Jastrow’s scientists and theologians sit down for a long conversation that benefits all humanity.

And finally, if you’ll indulge me a reference from my Roman Catholic past, St. Francis of Assisi told us, preach the good news at all times….and if necessary use words.

He must have been a Unitarian…just like the current Pope.