Shuck and Jive

Thursday, August 07, 2008

I Want to be an Ancestor

Two of the smartest people on Earth were at the Creation Spirituality Communities Conference last weekend. Not only smart, but fun! In a sense, that is their quest. They hope the rest of us will get, really get, the amazing story of our universe so that it becomes our story.

They want us to sing about it, tell stories about it, dance to it, make it mythical (in the highest sense of that word), so that we
homo sapiens understand our place in the Cosmos and then with that renewed sense of awe and purpose, pass this great story along with our best ethical behavior to our descendants.

Nancy Ellen Abrams and Joel Primack are the authors of The View from the Center of the Universe: Discovering Our Extraordinary Place in the Cosmos. This is from the book's preface:

Where do we really come from? What are we made of? Are we alone? And perhaps most importantly, do we matter? The answer to this last question is yes: we humans are significant and central to the universe in unexpected and important ways. We are discovering this fact at a moment in history when so much is at stake. It is our hope that this new picture of the universe will help convey the preciousness of the cosmic experiment on planet Earth. An understanding of our universe and our extraordinary place in it may reveal solutions to the problems that confront us personally and globally. We invite you to join the conversation and explore the view from the center of the universe.

They are even so nice, they let me have the hotel clerk take a picture.

Then Rebecca got jealous, so we had to take her picture with Nancy and Joel, too. Another nice person (on the far right), whose name escapes me, also wanted to be in the picture.

Yes we are holding balloons. They say, "Happy Birthday." I wasn't sure why. I think we were celebrating the birthday of the Universe or perhaps the birthday of the Universe's awareness of itself through human beings or perhaps our own "born again" experience of our place in the Universe and our responsibility for our future.

Or maybe it really was somebody's birthday and I missed the party.

You have to check out their website and order the DVD. Get the book, too.

Nancy was the keynoter and gave a powerful presentation on the origin and development of the Universe and our unique place in it. They use creative symbols to help us get a handle on the vastness of it all.

My favorite is the cosmic uroboros.

See that blue section in the middle? Nancy and Joel call this blue section Midgard. That is the spectrum of size that we can experience with our senses and intuition. This is our everyday awareness--where we live.

However, most of the Universe is far larger on one end and smaller on the other. That realm is lost to us through our senses. It is lost to us without science. We need mathematics and science to get there. Science is showing us a new story of origins that transcends any previous story of origins in any culture.

Here is another cool image. Most of the Universe is made of dark matter and dark energy (where dark means invisible). Only .01% is visible.

We are there. That little eye. Consciousness. Wild, eh?

The point is that in the emerging picture of the Universe that science is giving us, we matter. We are not insignificant and meaningless, but we are the Universe becoming conscious of itself. We are unique. We are worth keeping.

Nancy said in her presentation, "I want to be an ancestor."

So do I.

Check out this video of the Hubble Deep Field. The most important image ever taken:


  1. I first learned about the vastness of the Universe in my undergraduate astronony class. We watched the movie Powers of Ten. I've also have and read some of the book by Abrams and Primack. I thought it was a good book to introduce people to what scientists know about the universe, but I had a hard time finding spirituality from it. I guess for me I find more comfort in believing in something grander than the Universe alone. Knowing that the universe is due to die out in some 60 trillion years (second law of thermodynamics) has compelled me to put my faith in an even grander scheme for humans.

  2. ...but I had a hard time finding spirituality from it.

    I think that is OK. I think they are challenging us to look at the universe as it is and begin our spiritual or theological reflection from that standpoint.

    They are offering some symbols and metaphors as a starter to ignite the spark of our own creativity.

    I think it was Wendell Berry who said that our inherited religious traditions won't get us to this new understanding of the universe, but we can't get there without them.