The Imaginal Within The Cosmos: Natural Jesus (5): The Energy World & Information
The magic component in this story, whether it's about us or whether about the whole universe, is ENERGY.
It was Albert Einstein, the physicist best known for his work on Relativity, who altered our notions about energy. His effort changed our perceptions of space, time, motion, matter and energy. His formula that energy equals mass times the speed of light squared impacted upon old concepts and made us come to realize that we were dealing with a far more mysterious, far more multifaceted universe than we had previously supposed.
Earlier (in 1900), the German physicist Max Planck had originated the theory of quantum mechanics, a "theory of energy as emanated in discrete packets called quanta." And "Einstein took up Planck's ideas... [and] going a step further assumed that light was itself quantized." [Brian Swimme & Thomas Berry, THE UNIVERSE STORY, Harper Collins, 1992, p. 235.] and [Heinz R. Pagels, THE COSMIC CODE: QUANTUM PHYSICS AS THE LANGUAGE OF NATURE, Bantam Books, 1963, p. 50.]
Later David Bohm, also one of the world's premier theoretical physicists, described this "immense background of energy" as the plenum of the universe. For him, the energy of this ground was likened to be one whole and unbroken movement, which--within his theory of the Implicate Order--he called the "holomovement."
And it was the paleontologist and Jesuit priest, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, who described this cosmic energy almost in the mode of poetry:
"In the discovery of the sidereal world, so vast that it seems to do away with all proportion between our own being and the dimensions of the cosmos around us, only one reality seems to survive and be capable of succeeding and spanning the infinitesimal and the immense: energy...that floating universal entity from which all emerges and into which all falls back as into an ocean; energy... the new spirit; energy...the new god." [Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, THE PHENOMENON OF MAN, Harper & Row, 1965, p. 258.]
Teilhard was one of the first to consider that this underlying cosmic plenum, this energy world, though never apart from our universal reality, is a special realm. For Teilhard this energetic plenum that not only undergirds but penetrates matter is somehow that which also *informs* the explicate level of creation.
Teilhard refers to this energy world as the "Within in the heart of things." The exterior world is underlined with an interior one! He links this Within with enfoldment. He stresses that the very individualization of the earth suggests that "a certain mass of elementary consciousness was originally imprisoned in the matter of the earth." Teilhard is alluding to a kind of embedded cosmic intelligence or encoded information.
Teilhard's supposition evidently did not seem too "far out" for physicist David Bohm, who died recently. Following a venerable career at the University of California (Berkeley), at Princeton's Institute of Advanced Study, at Israel's Technion, Bohm moved on to become the Chair of Theoretical Physics at Birkbeck College of the University of London. During his later years he linked a formidable knowledge of the history and philosophy of science to his keen experience as a physicist.
But let us return to Bohm's theoretical support to Teilhard's idea of an elemental consciousness, of a kind of cosmic intelligence or information embedded within the energy that underlies and moves through matter.
Referring to quantum theory, Bohm's basic assumption is that "elementary particles are actually systems of extremely complicated internal structure, acting essentially as amplifiers of *information* contained in a quantum wave." As a consequence, he evolved a new and controversial theory of the universe--a new model of reality that Bohm calls the "Implicate Order," which is his term for this mysterious "Within," this plenum, this special realm that underlies all of the universe. And for Bohm, it is this special realm--this Implicate Order--that acts upon us, informs us who live in the explicate world.
For Bohm everything that is and will be in this cosmos is enfolded within the Implicate Order. There is a special cosmic movement that carries forth the process of enfoldment and unfoldment (into the explicate order). This process of cosmic movement, in endless feedback cycles, creates an infinite variety of manifest forms and mentality.
And Teilhard put it similarly: "In the world, nothing could ever burst forth as final across the different thresholds successively traversed by evolution which has not already existed in an obscure and primordial way." [Ibid, p. 71.]
By its energetic self-creativity, the Universe created its many varieties of macrosystems. Eric Chaisson puts forth this story nicely. An astrophysicist currently on faculty at Tufts University, Chaisson previously served as senior scientist and division head at the Space Telescope Science Institute of Johns Hopkins University and was also affiliated with the Harvard-Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory.
Earlier the state of disorder, chaos, in the Universe allowed for a maximum entropy and equilibrium was destroyed because of the then de-coupling of energy and matter. But eventually the very expansion of the Universe resulted in a transfer from the Energy Era into the Matter Era, a time when it became manifest in galaxies, stars, planets. Chaisson believes this cosmic evolution into the Matter Era was a result of *information* that "drives order from chaos."
Chaisson realizes that this information behind manifestation in the Universe has barely begun to be deciphered. But, he states that "we can now identify the essence of the development of natural macroscopic systems--ordered physical structures able to assimilate and maintain information by means of local reductions in entropy--in a Universe that was previously unstructured in the extreme." [Eric Chaisson, THE LIFE ERA: COSMIC SELECTION AND CONSCIOUS EVOLUTION, W.W. Norton & Company, 1987, p. 167.]
Moving from a thermodynamic equilibrium towards an increasing "negentropy" (information), the Universe began to give rise to complexity--albeit in a gross fashion during the Matter Era-- according to Chaisson. Now it is this negentropy (information) that led the way towards generating considerable amounts of order into the Life Era. For Chaisson this negentropy was necessary to "justify the emergence of structures as complex as a single cell, let alone the neural architecture of the human brain." [Ibid, p. 167.]
It is out of this new reign of the Life Era that Mind has emerged. Chaisson is not just considering Mind anthropocentrically, but rather that special ability that came forth through the evolutionary changes that produced "particles, galaxies, stars, planets, biochemicals, lives, and cultures."
Another way of illustrating this great cosmic progression of energetic information into Matter and Life is to follow the rungs of our great universal ladder, beginning with...Plasma unto Energy Particle, to Star, to Element, to Compound, to Crystal, to Informational Molecule, to Cellular Organism, to Multicellular Organism, to Ecosystem, to Learning, to Self, to Sentience, to Experience, to Mind, to Thought, to Person, to Society, to Culture, to World History.
In a nutshell, it would seem that ours is an informed, evolving universe!
But how does such information reach us? There's the idea of "cognitive maps," which philosophers and psychologists consider. Such cognitive maps boil down to our viewpoints, our worldviews (paradigms), essentially to a blueprint of our understanding and relationship with this special realm, this Plenum of the Universe.
Down through our own line of history, we have had our prophets and avatars who have intuited these imaginal seeds of information. They have helped us to define and refine our cognitive maps. And Jesus, too, can be counted as a carrier of this great unfolding blueprint that serves to help us more effectively to live with one another, to understand our role and place, to grasp better our cosmic home, and to relate with this majestic Plenum, this Special Presence, this ENERGY.
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