Monday, July 31, 2006

The Eternal Fire that creates all universes

Ideas didn’t always change as quickly as they have in my lifetime. When I was born there were still serious physicists who thought the universe would turn out to have always existed and always will exist. They interpreted Hubble’s finding that the universe is expanding as the creation of new space and new matter so as to maintain a universe of a steady density of matter, the “steady-state universe”. One of the proponents of this was Fred Hoyle. He is credited with giving the other view its name. Hoyle was mocking the idea that the universe of such beauty and complexity could have begun with a Big Bang. So many people listened to this and didn’t hear a convincing argument, but, “Wow, Big Bang, that’s it!” I understand Hoyle was not the marketing idiot/genius who later gave The Coca Cola Company its idea for New Coke, but it was something like that, an unintentional stamp on history.

Then in the sixties came a dagger to the heart for the steady-state universe. Microwave researchers discovered that everywhere around us is a pattern of microwaves that corresponds to what would happen if you had a hot body that then cooled all the way down to just 3 degrees above absolute zero in temperature. Hmmm, I wonder what that could be, coming from every direction uniformly. Gee, when might there have been a fire that involved everything that was so long ago it has now cooled to 3 degrees everywhere. And anyone with a TV set could see this radiation. Turn down the brightness and the steady patter of the brightest dots in the snow is these very photons of cosmic microwave background radiation hitting the TV. Of course, everyone who had Fred Hoyle’s image of the Big Bang in mind knew very quickly what this was. Coupled with the expansion of the universe, only the most stubborn people thought there was any possibility now other than the Big Bang.

I remember when I studied physics in the seventies how some were theorizing how the Big Bang could have happened. Cosmologists are on solid ground tracing back our current universe to how it was just a tiny split second after the Big Bang when the four forces of physics had started to separate. Before that is murky. Were forces created somehow that had forced the energy into existence de novo? Was there energy available from some preexisting structure that fed into the Big Bang? From the way theorists talked I had the feeling that they thought that if they could find the perfect Theory of Everything mathematically, the mere possibility of such perfection must have forced the universe into existence, with all of its energy, too. Others thought about something less mystical.

One image stuck with me, a researcher who was describing how the energy of our universe may have come from a different universe. It could have been some home hobbyist compressing mass in his basement that started our universe. Maybe he was caught up in the black hole he created. Maybe this was God, His substance distributed all across our universe, as some see God. God says no, if that were it, He’d recognize Himself in this story.

Science can only come at this from our side of the unknown. Theologians and philosophers see it differently. They think their words can see outside of the universe looking in, and with such arguments they see that something must have created the universe. So they call that God. God tells me He doesn’t see Himself in that story either. He doesn’t remember exactly what happened. It was a long time ago. He’s not even sure He was there. Until science came along, He assumed He was, but science has convinced Him He might not have been. He hasn’t needed to act on the universe physically to get all this we have today. He doesn’t remember setting up such a perfectly self-regulating system. Yet here it is, and physics can’t explain where it ultimately came from, just the last 14 billion years, that’s all.

So I’ve been content that whatever the ultimate origin of the universe is, it’s far away from here. I care about who God is for me now. Theologians and philosophers are forever missing the point that a first cause to the universe might not care a thing about us, might not be like God in any other way, even if someone calls Him God. Why argue then?

Yet recently I was going through potential names for something else, and God stopped me on “Eternal Fire”. That’s it. That’s what. The Eternal Fire that creates all universes. What is that? The Creator. What happened? I don’t remember.

So I don’t know. Is it something that would make physicists understand where the energy of the universe came from? Is it something theological? It is what it is, the Eternal Fire that creates all universes. I hope that’s better than the eternal fire some believe awaits people in hell. The scale sounds very different, though.

I like the ring to that, even just Eternal Fire. It is Creator, whatever else it is, but it is in another place. God remains the ultimate being here, as far as He knows. He says there is more though. There is a child of the Eternal Fire, son of the Most High God. He doesn’t lord His identity over others. Others call Him Lord, but He calls another Lord. It’s good for everyone to have a lord, to tell one what to do, lovingly, not as a tyrant. It’s not easy to have a structure to allow that, but with the Eternal Fire not here, that allows for some freedom in roles. God says it’s coming back to Him. He wouldn’t try to explain more than that. Suffice it to say that the structure of the spiritual world is not hierarchical, but collective or maybe as a rim connected by spokes to a hub. The one closest to the Most High God in one way is the most distant in another. There is one Spirit, many voices, one team, and many players.

People want more details than that. There aren’t a lot. Who needs a lot of names when everyone knows they are one, but many? The names are all superfluous compared to knowing that one is in need and many will help.

Big Bang, Eternal Fire, I know the latter will never take off in popular culture like the former. They mean different things. Big Bang is what we can see. Eternal Fire is what we can’t see. Big Bang is exactly what physics says it is. Eternal Fire is whatever created physics, whether it loves me or not. It works for me.

God loves me. There are many ways to see that. He doesn’t remember being Eternal Fire before He was my God. I accept that. Maybe He was, maybe He wasn’t. It was a long time ago. Maybe something will trigger His being Eternal Fire again, if He was that before. He’s sure He would get some warning before anything like that. Good, I’d hate for that home hobbyist to turn out to be someone who was fooling around with having a conversation with God.

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