In this post I hope to convey a way of understanding what I believe the universe is really like and also why the understanding of this is of key relevance to our lives. Bold claim I know but here goes!
There is a theory of the creation of the universe gaining credence within the scientific community, which describes the universe in terms of vast convoluted membranes (see introductory post). However there are precious few people who stand any chance of understanding the true nature of the universe directly. Gifted theoretical physicists, such as Stephen Hawking, have a deep enough insight to truly explore it’s mysteries, but to convey their knowledge to the rest of us they, needs must, turn to analogies.
Myself, with a vastly poorer mathematical pedigree (though extremely interested in the postulations of such men), can merely follow their theories at a distance and talk of these only in the language of analogy. Never-the-less, I believe that it is important that we ordinary mortals do consider the true nature of reality.
So basically, this theory states that we have two membranes (which they call branes) that have collided and intertwined at one point to form a bubble of space and time that we call our universe. Already this is hard to comprehend so here’s the first analogy:
Imagine a vast fluid planet with an atmosphere, floating in space. Then imagine a large meteor drifting through space, bearing directly for this planet, travelling through the atmosphere and striking the oceanic surface (you could equally imagine a stone dropping into a pond, it’s just that the scale is wrong). In the cosmic splash that ensues, the meteor pushes a gigantic hole in the ocean dragging the atmosphere down to mix with the water, forming a vast array of bubbles that take eons to float to the surface or disperse. The rock represents the energy of the big bang. The bubbles are like our universe – a structure that can exist only as the boundary of two mediums. They come into existence because the air and water collide. The air and the water define the bubble; the bubble is not air or water because it could not be a bubble with one medium only. In our celestial intertwining of branes, our universe is formed by the interaction of the properties of both giving space for time and time for space as the material and etherial mix.
As with all analogies, there are flaws. I think it is closer to the truth to think of our universe as one big convoluted bubble membrane, rather than lots of little bubbles (I am at the edge of my understanding here), but the important concepts to keep hold of are the intersection of two mediums (or branes) defining a structure and the relative smallness of the structure compared to the branes – a tiny splash in a vast ocean. Also you could replace the meteor with a vast bubble welling up from the planets aqueous core. Somehow this feels more fitting for reasons that are shadowy to me at the present time, but has something to do with the meteor being an unnecessary external contrivance.
This is all very well but where do we go from here and what possible practical impact can this have on our lives?
The significance of this model is the intertwining of two spheres to create a universe dependent on their intersection. The fluid and the air combine to form the convoluted bubble that is our universe. Now the two spheres of our universe are not fluid and air but rather a combination of the material and the etherial (or from my point of view, matter and spirit). It is this duality that is significant to us as human beings. That our universe, and all that lives within it, is both material and ethereal. We are a material body of exquisite complexity, but more remarkable still, bound with this is our spiritual core – our soul, held like the speck of air within a bubbles membrane.
Now I want to place us in context with this universe and I would ask the indigence of allowing a further analogy to combine with the first. Let us go back to the vast fluid planet that has, in one small sector, a splash and spray of bubbles from our explosive event. Indulge me in imagining this to be in the form of a majestic tree with a myriad of bows and branches all formed from a spray of shimmering bubbles.
It helps to imagine a tree structure here because of how they grow. Allow me to explain. The trunk of a tree, you will know is made up of annual rings. Towards the outside beneath the bark is the growth ring. Every year, in favourable conditions, this grows. The inner growth forms the next ring of the trees core, whilst the outer growth forms the the base layer of the bark of the tree. The top layer of bark, subject to the sun and the rain, is constantly being worn away, crumbling into nothingness.
We are born as new cells in this growth ring. We dwell within this ring during our mortal lives. But what of when we die? The tree has two options for us; we can be absorbed into the heart wood and become part of the structure of the tree or we can be pushed out as bark to crumble away into the outer nothingness.
We have the duration of our lives to grow and develop character, good or bad. Whether we acknowledge it or not, we are part of the larger entity, that would draw us to itself and incorporate us as a living cell for all eternity. But in this growth ring, this mortal life, we are free to develop as we will and it is our choices that will determine whether we grow towards the heart or drift towards nothingness.
In terms of our bubble, we can drift towards the surface of the planet and pop, releasing our soul in to the outer nothingness; or we can be absorbed into the aqueous core, one with the greater whole that the church would call the bride of Christ.