Part I: Cosmogenesis
Everything that is, was, and ever shall be exists right now, all of it. If only we could see the world through the Eye of God, there it would be in front of us, all at once. Being human, though, we have to settle for the figmentation of time and space. To get even an inkling of what the world is, how it comes to be, and what it all means, we have to indulge in fantasies that it happened step by step in an ordered sequence and went through changes of size, shape, and texture. We have to imagine that life arose in stages and morphed in certain ways to become what we see it to be. In reality it is what it is and that’s it forever, but to grasp this miraculous fact we must resort to a feat of mental back-engineering. If the feat is successful, we can simply flip it forward to predict the future. This is because “past” and “future” are really just an infinite series of images reflected in a pair of parallel mirrors facing toward now.
Here now is a story of how the world began and evolved. It may sound like science fiction, but science is fiction, and the only real science acknowledges this fact, and starts from it.
1. Eternal Questions
All theories, myths, and narratives of cosmic origin begin with the same basic questions that have been asked through the ages, varying in form according to the prevailing cultural paradigm. For instance:
How did something come from nothing?
Religious creation stories hold that God (by any other name) made the world from nothing. This is sufficient for those with faith in the God of the given religion, but for everyone else the obvious question is: how the devil did he do it? (“He” is a convenient pronoun, not necessarily anthropomorphic.)
Most astrophysicists who posit a Big Bang as the genesis of cosmic evolution deny that it matches the religious belief of everything mysteriously emerging from nothing. So when laymen ask:
What came before the Big Bang?
they insist that the question is irrelevant and inapplicable, because time itself came into existence with the Big Bang, and hence nothing came “before” it. But oops, there’s the admission for anyone with an once of common sense ~ just omit the quotation marks! Thus we can tastefully fudge the assertion that science and religion agree that in the beginning, everything came out of nothing.
Religious believers have a ready answer for this new twist on the old question: obviously God came before the Big Bang. And many of them add that the Big Bang theory simply fills in the technical details of God’s creation of the cosmos.
But this elegant updating of the myth fails to answer the next question, which has been asked since long before science came on the scene: if God made the world, then
Who made God?
This question springs from the intuition as a reflex against the rational inadequacy of the “God Hypothesis”. I.e., it assumes (consciously or unconsciously) that the whole issue is just a product of the rational, logical mind, which perceives nothing beyond the world of the senses. The assumption is that when the mind tries to imagine how this world got here in the first place, it just conjures up a creator with the omnipotent power to do the job. Then the question “who made God?” corrrectly unveils this as the logical fallacy of an infinite regression, perhaps an endless string of creator-Gods going back into the deeps of the double mirrors. The same mentality mocks the Hindu myth that the universe rests on the shell of a giant turtle by asking: well, what does the turtle stand on? Oops, it must be turtles all the way down!
In order to pierce the mystery and answer these questions, we first have to ask some better questions ~ the kind that go deeper, take nothing for granted, and don’t hinge on cultural preconceptions. For instance:
Who or what is God?
And even more basic:
What is the nature of the primordial nothingness?
Clue: it ain’t just “nuthin’ there”.