Of Cosmic Mysteries and Mysticism (2)

This is the conclusion of the blog Of Cosmic Mysteries and Mysticism (1)

The discovery of the Black Hole in space means mystery is reborn in science and something beyond the empirical universe is admitted even by those who deride those who believe in a Creator.  And this mystery beyond our empirical universe is acknowledged as perhaps being not only the source of the empirical universe – the Big Bang – but also of somehow influencing (controlling?) our universe.

Brian Greene, “The Hidden Reality,” in June 2011 DISCOVER MAGAZINE continues by indicating work that has continued in theoretical physics:

“The work culminated in the last decade, and it suggests, remarkably, that all we experience is nothing but a holographic projection of the processes taking place on some distant surface that surrounds us.  You can pinch yourself, and what you feel will be real, but it mirrors a parallel process taking place in a different, distant reality. …  reality—not its mere shadow—may take place on a distant boundary surface, while everything we witness in the three common spatial dimensions is a projection of that faraway unfolding.  Reality, that is, may be akin to a hologram.”

Maybe the ancient pre-scientific Byzantine Christians understood reality a whole lot more that we credit them for.  They didn’t use words like hologram or holographic images or metaverse or event horizons, but they spoke about heavens, shadows, bodiless powers.  And they certainly understood our universe as somehow reflecting a greater reality – our world being real, but when compared to this heavenly Liturgy, this reality is still a shadow because it doesn’t contain, limit or reveal the entirety of the universe.

As Nikolai Velimirovich expresses it in THE UNIVERSE AS SYMBOLS AND SIGNS:

“That is to say, the earth or the universe generally, is nothing but a symbolic picture of heaven.  …  Thus we Christians understand the earth, the sun and the stars as the symbols of spiritual reality and in no way as the reality itself.”

And the mirror (the Black Hole’s reverse), which was known from ancient times, continues on its surface to reflect what information comes its way.  And scientists now think the information inescapably sucked into the Black Hole is stored on its surface, the event horizon.  These scientific and mathematical theorists now imagine that perhaps:

“Our familiar three-dimensional reality… would then be likened to a holographic projection of those distant two-dimensional physical processes.    … then there are physical processes taking place on some distant surface that… are fully linked to the processes taking place in my fingers, arms and brain… Our experiences here and that distant reality there would form the most interlocked of parallel worlds.”

How very similar is such thinking to the Byzantine notion of the Liturgy.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

As Qoheleth marveled three centuries before the time of Christ  (Ecclesiastes 1:9-10):

What has been is what will be,

and what has been done is what will be done;

there is nothing new under the sun.

Is there a thing of which it is said,

‘See, this is new’?

It has already been,

in the ages before us.”

Of Cosmic Mysteries and Mysticism (1)

The more things change the more the stay the same.

I do remember studying the Byzantine ideas about how the Liturgy on earth was a mere reflection of the real Liturgy that was ongoing in Heaven.  We on earth imitate what is happening in heaven.  As we pray in the Lord’s Prayer, “on earth as it is in heaven.”  That is what the Byzantines thought liturgy was supposed to do: make present on earth what is in heaven.

Our earthly Liturgy not only makes present on earth what is in heaven, it simultaneously elevates us to that real heavenly Liturgy – we mystically imitate the Cherubim in our earthly liturgical actions but in so doing lay aside earthly cares so that we may receive He who comes to us escorted by the angelic hosts.  It was an ancient idea embedded in their worldview – in fact the entire world, the entire Byzantine empire was in some way imagined as a reflection of what was happening in heaven.

On some level I can accept that idea about the liturgy, but I must admit my modern mindset does not continue that thinking into world politics or what is transpiring on earth today.  The pre-scientific ancients may have believed such ideas but it hardly conforms to our Post-Enlightenment rationalism.

But then along comes modern mathematics, quantum physics and information theory looking into the Black Holes of the universe, and suddenly the ancient worldview isn’t so antiquated any more.

We are in this blog going to explore a few seemingly unrelated threads and then in the next blog tie them all together.

A Black Hole, as far as I can understand it, is the polar opposite or reverse of a mirror.  A mirror simply reflects everything before it.  According to Stave Nadis, “Beyond the Event Horizon,”  in June 2011 DISCOVER MAGAZINE:

“Black Holes are massive objects that have collapsed in on themselves, creating a gravitational suction so intense that their insides become cut off from the rest of the universe.  A black hole’s outer boundary, known as the event horizon, is a point of no return.  Once trapped inside, nothing—not even light—can escape.  At the center is a core, known as a singularity, that infinitely small and dense, an affront to all known laws of physics.  Since no energy, and hence no information, can ever leave that dark place, it seems quixotic to try peering inside. … Black holes are vaults harboring some of the most fundamental truths of the cosmos.” (p 30)

A Black Hole irreversibly absorbs and contains information.  A mirror on the other hand, contains no information, it simple reflects it.  The mirror’s ‘surface’ upon which we see the reflection has no depth, yet it reflects so much.  The mirror holds no information because it reflects it constantly.  A mirror, known in antiquity, shares a relationship with Black Holes, known first in the 20th Century.  The relationship may be an obverse one, but it is there.

Because of computers, binary thinking, digitalization, and quantum mechanics, the sciences of physics, mathematics and information theory have come to understand the entire universe as information or capable of being quantified as such.   Thus the Black Hole which allows no information to escape is the new Mystery of the universe and even a possible doorway to what lies beyond.

Beyond the universe?  Aren’t we talking about God?  Brian Greene, “The Hidden Reality,” in June 2011 DISCOVER MAGAZINE, explains:

“There was a time when the word universe meant ‘all there is.’ Everything. The whole shebang.  …  The word’s meaning now depends on context.  Sometimes universe still connotes absolutely everything.  Sometimes it refers only to those parts of everything that someone such as you or I could, in principle, have access to.   …  universe has given way to other terms that capture the wider canvas on which the totality of reality might be painted … the metaverse, megaverse or multiverse…”

Science has the empirical universe which it can study, and at one time as a direct confrontation with Theistic believers  (‘faithists” is the pejorative term), science denied there is anything worth knowing beyond the empirical universe – not heaven, not God.  Suddenly however those Black Holes in the space-time continuum are convincing scientists there is mystery: there is more to the universe than meets the eye, more that we can know or explain.  And our universe may be but a tiny part of this greater whole that remains a mystery to us and yet may be influencing everything we do and say.

Next, tying it all together:  Of Cosmic Mysteries and Mysticism (2)