Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Cosmic catechism

We can summarize what we know about why we're here in the Cosmos. For want of a better title, I would call such a résumé a cosmic catechism... but the name is of no importance, so long as the information is scientifically valid (indeed true), succinct and comprehensible.

The processes of Creation have unfolded in three giant steps, which would appear to be profoundly different in their respective nature. I say "would appear to be" because we might be short-sighted in looking upon each of these three dimensions of Creation as an autonomous process of a specific nature. After all, the end result has consisted of bringing the Cosmos (including us humans) to its present state of development, and this achievement (if it can be thought of as such) seems to indicate that the three giant steps unfolded, not independently, but rather in some kind of cosmic syzygy.

• The primordial dimension of Creation was the so-called bootstrap happening, leading from Nothingness to Being (somethingness) and characterized by the Big Bang, that I evoked in my article of 2 May 2008 entitled Boot story [display].

• The second dimension of Creation was the miraculous but spontaneous and perfectly natural development of a mechanism for replication and procreation, culminating in the presence in the universe of Life... at least on the planet Earth, but surely in countless other places too. I evoked this dimension in my article of 25 December 2006 entitled The meaning of life [display].

• Finally, the third (ongoing) dimension of Creation is the work of the spectacular phenomenon of natural selection and evolution, discovered by Charles Darwin. I evoked this dimension in my article of 28 April 2008 entitled God is an aircraft [display].

It's quite amazing that this three-step structure of Creation is symbolized beautifully, in a poetic fashion, by the fuzzy Christian dogma of the Holy Trinity:

• God the Father can be thought of as corresponding to the mysterious primeval "transformation" of Nothingness into Somethingness.

• The Son, Jesus, is a symbol of the creation of Life: an event that was so extraordinary that it might be described as quasi-miraculous.

• The Holy Spirit represents, as it were, the third and final dimension of Creation: the constant evolution of novel forms of life.

This vague parallelism between our scientific catechism of the Cosmos and the theological notions of Christianity is, of course, superficial, and I am not suggesting for a moment that there is anything of a serious scientific nature in the Christian dogma. On the other hand, in trying to amalgamate the three dimensions of the Creation process, we run into mysteries of an almost Byzantine kind.

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