From Star Dust to Angel Dust

[block_title title=”From Star Dust to Angel Dust”][/block_title]

JIM KEMP

Remember You are Dust and Unto Dust You Shal Return
A Whimsical Walk Around the Corner from Star Dust to Angel Dust

Introduction Phase

Round the corner
Into the box circle

Burnt Norton

In the first of Four Quartets, Eliot takes us into the rose garden, into the place of our beginning and our end. But he does so by leading us via a magical path, round the corner, through the magic place, the box circle, and then into the rose garden. In like manner, this paper takes a whimsical walk into contemporary culture via an imaginary parable in which angels preside over an exploration of the findings of contemporary science and what it is those findings tell us about the world we live in and our participation in it. Right off, that seems a bad row to hoe. Angels and science? The two do not mix very well.

In this new millennium, however, scientists and theologians show signs of a truce that might end the hostilities between their respective disciplines. Contemporary developments in the physical sciences have reached fundamental questions customarily left to philosophy and other disciplines including religion. Questions such as: What is space?  What is time? Even: what does it mean to exist? Many scientists do not like this non-empirical interrogation, and some see it as the end of science1. Others are comfortable with the interaction and some even see it as good for science. Carlo Rovelli believes that occasional confrontations with those fundamental questions are indispensable to science.

Newton and the founders of modern science debated those questions with passion and without that interaction with those questions, they would not have succeeded. Likewise, Einstein, Bohr, Heisenberg, Dirac and their colleagues wrestled with those questions when they laid the foundations for contemporary science. It is only the purest of the mid and late 20th century who believe that those questions sully science2.

That is pretty heavy stuff so let’s make it clear from the start that this paper assesses the situation from a layperson’s perspective, from the perspective of a non-scientist/non-theologian.  And that’s important because the experts’ efforts will be fruitless if they do not take root in the general public and, if the experts’ findings are incomprehensible to the general public, those specialists will have toiled in vain.  This is especially true in today’s pluralistic community: ivory towers may have housed the experts in the past, but they are now uninhabitable. If the experts are dealing with real realty, we ordinary folks will understand3. But we’ll need help. Perhaps angels will lend a hand. Still, we need a method, a procedure.

I. The Science Phase

Scientific Research Program

So how do we do that, how do we fashion a parable with both angels and science as players? Well to begin we need a method, a procedure to follow. Since science serves as today’s means for comprehending nature4 and, since angels are messengers, we could use angels as vehicles for a whimsical scientific research program following the model of Imre Lakatos5. Those programs start with a central thesis—Lakatos calls it the hard-core thesis. It unifies the program. A protective belt of auxiliary hypotheses surrounds this hard-core central proposal and those auxiliary hypotheses both define and support the core thesis. Relevant data test those auxiliary hypotheses. Potentially falsifying data work changes in the auxiliary hypotheses rather than the core thesis, leaving room for adjustments without altering the entire project. The auxiliary hypotheses can therefore change with new data but they must continue to define and support the hard core thesis6.

Hard Core Thesis

The hard-core thesis is this: ANGELS ARE MATURED UNIVERSES7. Angels emerge from the evolutionary processes that track the beginnings and development of universes—or better yet Allan Guth’s term: pocket universes—within creation. They are the assimilation of the material stuff of universes with each universe’s free, intelligent and conscious agents, as each universe looks to the ultimate source of its existence and the meaning of and the reason for its existence. Just as we humans have emerged from stardust in that same evolutionary process—stardust formed and constitutes the material for our human existence—we humans serve as the dust from which angels emerge. We are dust from which angels emerge in the same sense that heavy atoms formed in the interior of stars and explosively gave birth into the universe are stardust from which we humans emerged. Just as stardust evolved in such a manner that human creatures emerged, so we human creatures may evolve in such a manner that an angel will emerge. In that case, an angel is the experience and expression—the realization of the meaning—of the interactions between creatures at a lower level of organization but something much more than the mere sum of those creatures and their interactions. An angel is therefore a communion8 not simply an entity specially created by God. An angel too emerges from the evolutionary processes that mark the function of creation9.

Auxiliary Hypotheses

That is a challenging thesis for sure and, right away, it demands at least three auxiliary hypotheses. First of all, since tradition tells us that there are countless angels, there has to be a sufficient number of universes to populate the angelic host. Secondly, the thesis needs diversity.  No two angels are alike, so each pocket universe should differ from the others in some fundamental way. Thirdly, the thesis needs a process whereby those diverse universes can mature into angels. Contemporary science has done just that, it has covered all bases: in the first instance, with various theories or conjectures generally described as metaverse or multiverse10 consisting of a virtually infinite number of pocket universes, and in the second, the cosmic Landscape which accounts for the huge number of different possible environments in which pocket universes11 can exist and, in the third instant, cosmic evolution. We will briefly consider each.

Multiverse. The notion of many universes goes back to Hugh Everett’s ‘Many Worlds Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics’ that postulated that at each collapse of a probability wave function, the universe split into as many universes needed to accommodate each probability.  But then, that was back when some physicists still wondered about the meaning of quantum physics. Today, cosmology too is leading science to many worlds, to the multiverse or megaverse, or regionshidden from other regions, or pocket universes; scientists have many approaches to the issue and many names for these independent regions—part of the problem has to do with pluralizing the word ‘universe.’ We will start with Andrei Linde’s eternal or chaotic inflation: during inflation, like opening a bottle of soda pop, bubbles form and each bubble is an isolated region that evolves independent of the other bubbles, i.e., a pocket universe. Also, the multiverse expanded faster than light speed so each Planck region evolved independent of the others because light—information—did not have enough time to travel from one region to another.  We can therefore treat each of those regions as a pocket universe.

Next, black holes are the birth process of new pocket universes. So, pocket universes with black holes mother baby pocket universes. To change metaphors for the moment, the singularity at the centre of black holes acts as a sump pump drawing the information that fell into the black hole’s boundary, through the singularity, out into the abyss to form a pocket universe of its own. Lee Smolin introduces an evolutionary perspective into this picture12. He points out that if black holes are the birth process for new universes, then natural selection would favour universes with lots of black holes and since the initial conditions and laws and constants that favour black holes also favour conditions that support life, natural selection would favour life-supporting pocket universes. We should, therefore, expect to find many of these fecund pocket universes with conscious, intelligent life. This is not only an interesting hypothesis, but also a testable, falsifiable, hypothesis.

String theory and its mysterious progeny M-theory also contributes candidates for nascent angels, branes. Branes are multidimensional surfaces to which most particles and forces (but not gravity) cling, thus each, more or less, constitutes it own world. They are floating about in a higher dimensional spacetime called the bulk. According to Lisa Randall, there could be, or are, an infinite number of these branes floating about in this ocean of existence13. For angelistic evolutionary purposes, these branes serve the same purposes as pocket universes.

Well then, science assures us that existence consists of endless pocket universes, or their look-a-likes, and that auxiliary hypothesis supports our hard-core thesis: there are plenty of pocket universes to populate the infinite angelic host with an infinite number of angels. What about diversity? Are those endless pocket universes clones or even look-a-likes? If they were, that would not support our hardcore thesis, for angels are their own persons, uniquely different from each other. What about these pocket universes? If the laws of nature were absolutely fixed and inflexible, then each pocket universe would be redundant and each angel would be singing the same old song, ‘here comes another one just like the other one.’ Recent developments in physics and cosmology have turned on its head this hoped-for Holy Grail of a single unique theory that determines everything. Diversity reigns in what Leonard Susskind calls the cosmic Landscape.

Distinguishing Susskind’s Landscape from all those multiverse theories offers a good approach to the vastness of creation these two interrelated concepts open to us. The megaverse deals with the huge number of pocket universes, or regions, or bubbles, or areas—all existing isolated from each other whereas the Landscape deals with the huge number of different environments pocket universes can exist in. So, the Landscape comes first but it is not a time or a place nor does it consist in a huge variety of times and places. It exists as a huge variety of possible environments in which pocket universes can exist. Figuratively, it is a landscape of all conceivable mountains, valleys, rivers, canyons plains, etc., etc. Technically, the elevations represent vacuum energy levels and the relative stability of those energy levels. Those on mountain peaks are unstable as the slightest whiff can set them off in one direction or another. Those on slopes are already in the midst of rapid change. Only the vacuum energy levels resting in valleys are sufficiently stable to sustain a pocket universe and determine its various particles with various masses, charges, spins and all its laws and constraints. Currently, string theory, rather than providing the unique consistent theory of everything, has provided 100500 of these possible environments (theories?) and it’s still counting. The failure of string theory to come up with some elegant mathematical principle that uniquely and inevitably determines the laws of nature once and for all, offers us 10500 or 101500—or some other outrageous, unthinkable number—solutions to its equations that describe different independent universes or background spaces or environments to house universes. This inestimable plurality of independent regions or space/times all have different constituents, laws, constants; they each have their own set of interactions14. The Landscape is an infinity of possibilities; pocket universes are an infinity of actualities. That infinite landscape and its infinite population promise an infinitely diverse host of angels15.

So far so good: we have a huge population of pocket universes that are as different as chalk and cheese. What about the third auxiliary hypothesis, cosmic evolution? Does the way matters have evolved up to now suggest that evolution promises great things in the feature, perhaps angels? Yes, it does.

When inflation came to an end, the energy that had been driving the inflationary expansion was converted into mass and, in the high temperature at the time—about 10-10 seconds after the Big Bang—this resulted in a gluon-quark soup where all four fundamental forces were unified, and the quarks behaved as free particles. After about 10-4 seconds, the gluons trapped the quarks into triplets to form neutrons and protons. After about three minutes, the temperature had dropped sufficiently for the neutrons and the protons to combine and form nuclei, but things were happening so fast there was only sufficient energy and time available to form the lightest nuclei. Many of the protons remained free and eventually went on to form hydrogen. The neutrons and the remainder of the protons combined to form helium. So, at this early stage, only hydrogen and helium populated the universe. The heavier atoms had to wait for their own dramatic birth process.

Nothing significant happened for another 300,000 years because the energy of the photons remained high enough to prevent the electrons and nuclei from forming atoms. After 300,000 years, the photons had lost much of their energy and the electrons and nuclei were then free to combine into neutral atoms, and radiation and matter disentangled and the universe became transparent. Before then, it had been opaque, nothing could be seen in or through it.

Gravity was now the dominant force. Gravity gathered together the tiny primordial quantum fluctuations generated during inflation and they grew in size. The universe became increasingly lumpy and islands of relatively dense matter gradually developed throughout the universe. These islands were not precisely uniform and they fragmented into many separate mini-islands. The islands formed galaxies and the mini-islands formed stars.

The temperature of the matter in these mini-islands increased as they collapsed on their way to stardom. Their centres became so hot that hydrogen nuclei were able to fuse together to form helium. This conversion of hydrogen into helium released enough energy to prevent further collapse of the mini-islands and they became stars. The helium nuclei in the core of the stars then fused together and formed the carbon, nitrogen, oxygen and other heavy elements so essential for life on Earth. The massive stars finally exploded as supernovas blowing away their outer regions into empty space as the star dust of our metaphor. The stardust from one of those supernovas in turned coalesced and formed our Solar System about five billion years ago after which life and we, conscious, free, intelligent creatures emerged from the process. Are angels next? Are we, the conscious interacting relationship of that star dust, the angel dust of our metaphor? Will we evolve into angels? Perhaps.

That then gives us three auxiliary hypotheses to support our hard-core thesis: a host of universes, each universe diversely unique and a compatible evolutionary pattern. Since, however, this little ‘research program’ drags science well beyond the fundamental questions Rovelli had in mind into the depths of religion, the program needs a few words on the relation between science and religion. How, if at all, have science and religion interacted throughout the history of Western Culture from which contemporary science emerged and attained a global status?

We will therefore consider a brief overview of the historical interaction between science and religion before tracking this more religious process leading to angels. It will start with the Greek and Biblical perceptions on the issue, then Christian perspectives, and then move into the foundations and development of modern classical science and will end the survey with contemporary perspectives arising from relativity, quantum physics and 20th century cosmologies. The paper will then focus on religious issues. Love will emerge from this as the key player and the paper will propose kenosis as the fundamental basis of love, kenosis not altruism16. The paper will then attempt to demonstrate how its hard-core thesis just might serve as a synthesis for contemporary science and religion.

Science & Religion: A Quick Study

Religion played an upper hand in the Greek era particularly with the Pythagoreans who saw the universe as intelligible and necessary. One could, therefore, deduce its particulars from general principles without looking at the details of the natural order. This top-down approach to the natural order left science as a form of religious contemplation.

The Bible also teaches that the universe is intelligible, but it introduced the idea of a free creator and, therefore, a contingent universe that did not have to conform to some pre-existing form. Since nature could take on most any form, one could not entirely deduce its particulars by merely contemplating its intelligibility. We also had to look at her structure and function in this world if we wanted to know it. If nature could have been different from what it is, we have to pay attention to it, as it exists in this world, if we want to know it. This opened the door for empirical science.

The early Christian era, however, did not enter through that door. The early church—the age of faith—focused attention on humanity’s relationship with the divine and internalized that relationship. It dogmatically defined that relationship without looking at the particulars of nature. Earthly existence was just a sojourn on our journey to the heavenly kingdom so its particulars warranted little attention.

It wasn’t until the Middle Ages—the age of faith and reason—that the scientific investigation of nature through observation and reason was seen as an important component in our knowledge and understanding of reality. According to Richard Tarnas ‘Medieval theologians came to realize that an empirically rational exploration of the physical world could disclose nature’s inherent religious value17.’ Thomas Aquinas believed that an understanding of natural existence would fully connect the created world with God.

Unfortunately, that synthesis of faith and reason, of religion and science, barely touched the ground before the notion of a double-truth universe displaced it and led to the belief that there was one truth for religion and another truth for science and the two did not mix. William Ockham taught that there was no possibility of moving from a rational apprehension of the facts of this world to conclusions about God or other religious matters. Francis Bacon agreed. He discarded religious contemplation and propounded a new salvation for humanity within the natural order through the natural sciences’ pursuit of the truth of the natural order. But, we not only had to know nature, we had to possess her and control her and, if she would not freely reveal herself to us or obey us well then, according to Bacon, we had to put her on the rack.

Through the careful observation of nature and the skilful devising of many and varied experiments, pursued in the context of organized cooperative research, the human mind could gradually elicit those laws and generalizations that would give man the understanding of nature necessary for its control. Such a science would bring man immeasurable benefits and re-establish that mastery over nature he had lost with fall of Adam18.

That led into the Modern era in which classical science became the exclusive access for human understanding of nature and it reigned supreme until the 20th century. As Xavier Zubiri observed, science was our exclusive hope for an understanding of nature (see endnote 4).

Modern science then shifted our perspective from religious contemplation to empirical observation. We will therefore turn to the shifting foundations of this new secular science: First classical science, the Newtonian syntheses that followed Copernicus’ dismantling of the Ptolemy/Dante century’s old model of the universe, and then contemporary science which, some four hundred years later, undercut the foundations of classical science. We will not here consider how or why the dust disturbed by that contemporary disturbance has not yet settled. That requires its own paper.

Modern Classical Science: Secular Absolutes

Just as the early Christian era was a system of absolute dogma and in some instances Christianity still is, classical science—science from Newton to quantum physics—is a system of absolutes19.  The scientific absolutes include time, space, determinism, reductionism and realism.  Space was the absolute background against which the absolute fundamental entities that alone comprise everything that exists, played out their absolutely determined existence. Time was the absolute and invariant measure of change. Time measured change in location, and change in the states of systems in accord with the same tick-tock duration throughout the whole universe forever. The laws of nature were absolute. Absolute realism defined the manner in which we humans know the reality of that existence: scientific theory precisely represents reality on a one for one relationship. All these absolutes affected things—everything—but were themselves unaffected.

Absolute space and absolute time serve as the background against which nature is structured and functions, in which nature exists. Space and time are universals independent of any and all externals. Everyone experiences space and time identically without regard to their relative positions or their relative motions. This absolute space and absolute time was, and is, always there, always the same, and things occupy this absolute space and move and change within it in tempo with the absolute and invariable tick of universal time. Classical science held space and time as axioms: self-evident and universally recognized constants that needed no demonstration or experimental verification and outside of which nothing existed or could exist. This was very harsh on angels for angels do not occupy space nor do they wax and wane in time. Angels, if they exist, exist a-spatially and a-temporally so classical science had no time or place for angels.

Absolute reductionism and absolute determinism served as classical science’s axioms that define and explain the structure and function of reality. The entire universe—all reality—was a great machine20 constituted by the sum of its parts and nothing more. One could take the machine apart piece by piece right down to the fundamental, indivisible parts and that was all there was to it. Those irreducible particles, those little ball bearings, constituted the fundamental entities that fashioned all that exists; there was nothing else except the space they moved in, the time during which they moved and the forces that moved them. That was it.

Absolute determinism governs the operation and function of those parts and the machine itself.  Consequently every state of the universe and all its parts, at all times and in all places, is preceded by another state that absolutely determines what follows. It is therefore, in principle, possible to determine and know with absolute certainty the state of the entire universe at any time and place in the past or at any time and place in the future once we measure and know the details of its current state. Absolute reductionism absolutely determines the structure of the universe and absolute determinism unconditionally rules its function.

This bodes badly for angels. Angels, if they exist, exit as complexities that constituted far more than the sum of their parts and they function freely. Moreover, if we can predicate any attributes to angels, novelty is high on the list but classical science’s machine permits no novelty. Once we have unveiled the elusive elementary particle, absolute reductionism absolutely determines the constitution of everything that exists and, once we have determined their positions, masses and motions at any place and at any time, absolute determinism absolutely determines the past, the present and the future of existence. There is no time or room for novelty or for angels21.

Under this scheme of things, the arena (spacetime) was the fundamental thing, the game was secondary and the rules of the game preconditioned the entire course of the game. Try telling that to sand-looters who improvise arenas wherever and whenever they come together.  Try telling that to players whose interactions dance, bump, dodge, twist, turn, throw and catch in accord with their own unpredictable and surprising innovations. No, the game is the thing; all else springs from the game.

How is it that science succeeded in selling tickets to its absolute arena of predetermined positions and movements? There are good and sufficient reasons for this strange turn of events and, although they have deeper antecedents, science succeeded in selling those tickets after Copernicus displaced earth from its central resting place and set it in motion. Chaos followed.  In order to restore some sense of order, the world needed a new time and place for things to happen. Newton—building on Galileo, Kepler and others—did that brilliantly. His (their) example can help us adapt to the new disturbance that has dismantled classical science’s arena and stadium clock.

Contemporary Science: Secular Uncertainty

Contemporary science calls all those absolutes into question and opens doors through which we see creativity and novelty in nature. Perhaps, after all, there just might be room for angels. Relativity questions the concepts of space and time, and quantum physics questions the notion of existence itself. For relativity, space and time, or spacetime, expands, contracts and warps depending on the relative motion of points of reference; spacetime is gravity, it is the dynamic gravitational field. Quantum physics discovered that probability, indeterminacy and uncertainty lie at the heart of existence. Although noting an ongoing debate about what quantum theory really means, Brian Greene sums it up nicely

By 1927, therefore, classical innocent had been lost. Gone were the days of a clockwork universe whose individual constituents were set in motion at some moment in the past and obediently fulfilled their inescapable, uniquely determined destiny. According to quantum mechanics, the universe evolves according to a rigorous and precise mathematical formalism, but this framework determines only the probability that any particular future will happen —not which future actually ensues22.

Furthermore, the great successes of contemporary science have given rise to a sense of science’s limits and a realization of its involvement in the problems plaguing contemporary society. Richard Tarnas observes that ‘the aggressive exploitation of the natural environment, the proliferation of mass destructive technology, and the close association of scientific research with the political, military and corporate establishments belie science’s traditional self-image of detached purity.’ This opens the previously reliable scientific world to fundamental questions.  Tarnas goes on

That conceptual framework was evidently both creating and exacerbating problems for humanity on a global scale. Scientific knowledge was stupendously effective, but those effects suggested that much knowledge from a limited perspective could be a very dangerous thing23.

There is therefore a clarion call in contemporary culture—a globalizing culture—for religious, theological and philosophic perspectives from which to draw knowledge and some understanding of the nature of existence served up by contemporary science. It’s probably angels blowing their horns. They want to help cultivate the ground for an integrated, harmonious perspective.

This need for a new point of view also challenges science to revisit fundamental questions and move beyond its worn-out notion that at its foundational level nature consists of fundamental things moving about against a background of fixed and absolute space and time. The hard-core physical sciences face a new frontier and classical science’s machine model of the universe cannot carry it beyond that frontier. That machine still serves us in our ordinary explorations of nature on her local paved surfaces, but it is not the all-terrain vehicle we once believed. It cannot negotiate the terrain beyond this new frontier.

So then, relativity and quantum physics have led science beyond classical science’s rigid background of fixed and absolute space and time against which nature played out its role in invariant compliance with absolute determinism and absolute reductionism. A rather dull and unimaginative time and place with very little room or time for the transcendent. These contemporary discoveries have opened nature to exciting novelty, where it enjoys springing new and fresh harvests of existence into the universe24. It is quite playful, not at all stoic.

But, what about this new frontier? What might lie beyond it? Well, these two pillars of contemporary science—general relativity and quantum physics—although they for sure point out the proper direction, they will not play together on the same field25. While they do not contradict each other, they cannot apply to the same system at the same time and place. General relativity describes a smooth continuous flowing system of events whereas quantum physics describes a teaming system John Wheeler described as quantum foam. Quantum theory accounts for the discontinuous and uncertain nature of matter and energy at and below the atomic level, whereas general relativity accounts for a smoothly warping and bending time and space on cosmological levels. Consequently, each is incompatible with the other in their respective domains and science is struggling for a new theory that incorporates both. Its name is quantum gravity. A theory of quantum gravity is the holy grail of the contemporary physical sciences; Lee Smolin says that ‘The search for quantum gravity is a true quest26.’

That same Lee Smolin describes that effort in his earlier book Three Roads To Quantum Gravity (Basic Books, New York, 2001) and in Chapter Four he presents one of the essential cornerstones to any theory that could do the job: Entities—objects—like people and cultures are not really things, they are processes—the smallest units of which are events—unfolding in time.  They cannot be comprehended as static objects. This universe of events is a relational universe: networks of relationships between events constitute the universe. In this relational universe verbs reign, nouns serve. Smolin concludes the chapter:

In the earlier chapters I argued that our world cannot be understood as a collection of independent entities living in a fixed, static background of space and time. Instead, it is a network of relationships the properties of every part of which are determined by its relationships to the other parts. …This means that the world is not made of stuff, but of processes by which things happen. Elementary particles are not static objects just sitting there, but processes carrying little bits of information between events at which they interact, giving rise to new processes.

Well then, if Smolin is on to something, interactions are fundamental and inter-actors are derivative. So actions may replace objects as the fundamental element of our universe. Events, not things, lie at the most fundamental level of physical existence and their interrelationships constitute the cosmos and our participation in it. We are process!  Not ‘things in process,’ just process. Even space and time are manifestations of actions within those processes. As we shall see, this new terrain seems a lot more hospitable to angels than the world we travelled in the Newtonian machine. As Eliot tells us in East Coker, it’s more like hearing music than playing a game of billiards—and angels make beautiful music but poor pool players.

…or music heard so deeply
That it is not heard at all, but you are the music
While the music lasts.

Any such reversal of priorities between entities and events would lead to a deeper comprehension of who and what we are and who and what angels are and who and what God is and how they all interact and interrelate. And that leads us to issues usually left to religion.

II. The Religion Phase

Although Smolin will not allow for the transcendent—he’s the Dawkins of the physical sciences—this new approach in science27 has significance for those religiously inclined. Why?  Because in any coherent approach to an understanding of reality, the book of nature should tell us things about God just as the books of scripture do. And, our comprehension of nature tells us not only about God but also about our existence in creation. If, therefore, creation is a reenactment28 of its Creator and if creation is made not of things but rather the interrelation of events—happenings—then perhaps we err if we think of God as a being, as an entity or any object at all. If creation consists of interactions between events in relational processes, and if the beauty of creation points to a revelation of God, we approach a clearer picture of God by thinking of God as verb rather than noun.

Verbalizing God and Creation

Scripture points in this direction. Scripture tells us that God Is. When Moses asked ‘who shall I say sent me?’ the Word of God said, ‘tell them that I am who am sent you29.’ The Old Testament thus understands God as the verb ‘to be.’  Jesus too, in whom the true God is perfectly manifested in creation30, describes himself as ‘I am31.’  Well then perhaps God is unqualified verb; not a being, not something, or all things, or everything, or anything at all. God just is. If so, our traditional view of God as the substantive ‘being’ would be enriched by a complementary perspective: God is pure and simple isness.  God is no subject or object or any noun or pronoun at all. God is pure verb, pure isness; God completely contains and express what God is in the ‘Who God is.’ Consequently there is not what God is, there is only God is.

This ‘event’ perspective would then distinguish creation and Creator by contrasting the verb ‘to be’ and the verb ‘to exist.’ Only God is. So what about the reality that is not God? Well, it exists.  Consequently God is and all else exists. All that is not God exists; only God is. Good enough, but how, if at all, does existence relate to God? It does so just as the roots of the verb suggest.  ‘To exist’ is to await from that before which one stands. In light of this, all that is not God emerges into existence as a tendency to re-enact Isness and continues to exist by standing before Isness and receiving existence from Isness. In the verb based relational universe, everything that is not God stands before God and re-enacts the Isness that is God. It exists. The important point is that universes, human creatures, and even angels exist, but they exist only because they re-enact the Isness that is God32.

But how accessible is this God, who is apart from anything that exists? Pure Isness lies way beyond human experience, mental or physical. A lead from Einstein’s equivalency principle might help us out here. Recall that Einstein’s quickly formulated special relativity did not account for gravity and was limited to reference frames in constant linear motion. Years later, Einstein was still stumped in his attempts to include gravity in a more general theory. Then he had what he described as his happiest thought: gravity and accelerated motion are equivalent.  We cannot distinguish between their effects and, if we cannot distinguish between them, they are the same process. He therefore set aside the inscrutable notion of gravity as a force with unlimited instantaneous effects and focused his attention on accelerated motion, something we can more readily comprehend, and he formulated his general theory of relativity; the theory of gravity, the theory that equates spacetime and gravity and, since gravity and accelerated motion are equivalent, the theory that equates—unites—accelerated motion with spacetime.

The Equivalency of To Be and To Love

In similar manner, the equivalence principle can help us consider33 God. The naked, pure and simple verb ‘to be’ is way beyond our experience and therefore nigh impossible to think about. But, to some miserable extent, we experience love and we certainly give it a lot of consideration.  If then ‘to love’ and ‘to be’ were equivalent at the most fundamental level, the event perspective of love—God as the act, the complete yet always dynamic action of love—would provide us with access to God at a far deeper level than the usual approach of considering love as merely an attribute of a being—an entity—we call God. Although we don’t have the empirical data Einstein had to demonstrate the equivalency of gravity and accelerated motion, the biblical injunction that God is love allows us to use the principle with respect to love and to beand to comprehend the two verbs as equivalent. In that case, if we move from an entity perspective to an event perspective, we enhance our vision of God by viewing God as the pure verb ‘to love.’

Simone Weil looked to God from this perspective. She concludes her essay, The Love of God and Affliction, by pondering the question, ‘Why did God create? It seems so obvious that God is greater than God and the creation together.’ She sees light beyond the enigma by looking toward God from an event perspective:

At least, it seems obvious so long as one thinks of God as Being. But that is not how one ought to think of God. So as soon as one thinks of God as Love one senses that marvel of love by which the Father and the Son are united both in the eternal unity of the one God and also across the separating distance of space and time…God is love, and nature is…a mirror of love34.

So many things can be said about love. It is inexhaustible. But this contemporary era is coming round to seeing kenosis as love’s period point35. Not altruism, kenosis. Simone Weil leads the way on this road. According to her, God created through love, for love and created only love. The inseparable divine act of creation and salvation is kenotic love. Creation does not expand or extend God, nor does God command the existence of creation. Rather God withdraws from God, and into that opening ‘nothing’ emerges from which existence springs forth and that which is not God flowers into existence36.

This is wonderful stuff, but it is a bit negative. Is it possible to access kenotic love from a positive point of view? Yes it is, and this is crucial. A positive approach sees kenosis as opening: opening self to the other. It’s two imperatives then are attention and consent: attention as you must first know that the other exists and consent because you can love only what exists—or is—for otherwise you live in an imaginary world or, worse, you would have existence exist as you would have it exit and therein lies the roots of power and command.

From this kenotic point of view, God lets go of exclusive Isness by opening God to the existence of that which is not God, and God sustains creation in existence by consenting to and accepting the existence of that which is not God. As Weil puts it, God abandons existence, for if God did not abandon it, it would cease to exist. Creation then is not an exercise of power and might37, God does not command existence to exist. A god of power and might does not command the existence of creation. Rather, the true God, the God revealed in the life of Jesus of Nazareth, exercises consent not command. Desire38 for the other flows from the fountainhead of pure love and that desire engenders the existence of the other and then consents to and accepts its existence as it exists. We imitate the act of creation through a process of attention and consent.

The notion of a god of power and might has afflicted Christianity ever since Constantine’s blasphemy when he pulled the Cross of Jesus out of its grounding in the earth and lifted it to heaven as a sword. This experience with Roman culture has soiled Christianity with a stain that all the blood of its history has been unable to wash out. Power and might, the power of command, must go.  Seventeen centuries is enough. An event perspective offers us a view beyond power, might, command, force, violence and all their accompaniments—the list goes on and on; it would only end with total destruction, the undoing of creation39. Love, without exception, has nothing at all to do with power or powerlessness or anything else within that category. There is then no ‘power’ of love. There is the energy of love, but there is no power of love40. In like manner, love has nothing at all to do with command; consent is love, command is rape.

This process of attention and consent dismantles in us that which expresses power and exercises command; that which would recreate the cosmos in our image and likeness, as we would have it, (stones, be thou bread41) as we would love it. Kenotic love seen from an event perspective will substitute attention and consent for power and command, and thereby open creation to angelistic evolution.

But then this approach leads to all sorts of problems. It asks us to accept things as they are, even if they are not ‘right.’ Does this mean we may not go about setting things right? What about the miserable suffering that afflicts so many of us? Must we consent to and accept it? For sure, we cannot love that ugly affliction, but perhaps if we embrace those it strikes down rather than striking down those we believe cause the affliction, we might strike a match to illuminate the heart of affliction. If we love the afflicted more than we hate the oppressor, the energy of love might set things right. The energy of love will warm those frozen isolated events and let them flow. That is the true essence of faith. Faith is not some sort of submission to creeds, doctrines or dogmas; faith is trust in the efficacious action of love. Jesus demonstrated that clear enough.

The Energy of Love

When the interrelation of the events and processes in creation re-enact the action of love, the energy of love will transform existence just as radically as a drop in temperature transformed the universe from a soup of quarks and electrons into a system of interacting atoms. So long as those ugly self-centred events and processes are frozen and isolated into virtually static entities, love fails. They must interact; they must relate. Simone Weil tells us that existence in this world has meaning only in terms of relations:

…the part of the soul that has seen God must transform every relation with a created being or thing into a relation between that being and God. Every relation between two or several created things – whether thinking beings or matter—is one of God’s thoughts. We ought to desire a revelation of the thought of God corresponding to each relation with our fellow humans or with the material objects with which we are involved. …The end is to conceive each of them, specifically, as a thought of God.  (FLN 269)42

So then, as already mentioned, we can imagine such transformations with help from science’s notion of phase transitions; like water transforming into ice or steam at critical temperatures. Our universe underwent phase transitions when the temperature dropped to critical points at which forces of nature separated and radically transformed the makeup of the universe. It is therefore, not entirely unreasonable to anticipate future phase transitions. Future phase transformations occur when temperature rises to a critical point and all the forces of nature unite. Only this time the fundamental force/energy accomplishes this rise in temperature. That energy/force is love: the love that is the isness of God re-enacted in creation as existence.

This fits so nicely with an important work on Love by Pitirim A. Sorokin43.  Listen to what Sorokin has to say about ontological love:

Love is the universal creative force…[It] tends to make the whole universe one harmonious cosmos… (P. 8) … Such a love cosmos is now only at its beginning in the empirical world of man, (sic) at about the same stage as is reason in the animal world (10-11)

The energy of love is the key concept in his book but Sorokin focuses on altruistic love whereas kenotic love may be a step further toward a better illumination of the subject. In Chapter Three, Sorokin looks at the energy of love in the same way we look at energy in the physical aspects of existence. He considers how we generate, store and distribute the energy of love.  In the remainder of the book, he considers how the interactions of that energy/force transform all of existence.

The important point for our purpose is that we in our universe have not yet allowed this embryonic love to express itself in interactions within creation. As a result, this virtual absence of Love—the absence of God—has reduced those interactions to isolated frozen events. When, however, love melts those frozen events, they will release the enormous energy of love—like matter into energy—and we will find ourselves in a chain reaction exponentially releasing unimaginable energy. That is terribly important for the phase transition we will consider in a moment. But first, we need some understanding of the nature of love as we experience it in this world.

The Movement of Love: Separation and Unity

So we re-enact love through a process of attention and consent rather than power and command, but how does it function, how does it work in a relational universe? Simone Weil tells us that love has two movements: separation and union44. Through this paradoxical dynamic of love, Weil offers insights into an action-based reality.

Although with God inter se, these movements of separation and union movements of love are not distinguishable categories, from the creature’s perspective, we see both perfectly realized in the internal dynamic that is God: the dynamic that is the perfection of Love. The infinite oneness within God generates separate Persons—and, in this sense, a person is a principle of action—who perfectly realizes and perfectly expresses the perfection of that oneness by uniting in infinite union, into identity. This dynamic serves as the foundation for our concept of Trinity45. The inter se action of God—Isness, perfect Love—constitutes an indivisible, non-durational dynamic in which oneness separates into persons who unite in perfect union, identity.

When we focus on the ad extra action of God, creation is the perfect expression of the separation movement of Love46. But, what about the union movement of love here below in creation? How does creation re-enact the union movement of love?

Angels just might do that for us or, rather, the angelistic may be the mode through which we will approximate that perfection of unity as we move through ever more complex systems and an angel emerges from the evolutionary processes of this universe we inhabit; evolutionary processes in which we participate and from which we emerged.

III. The Angelistic Phase

So then, what and who are angels? What are these matured universes?  What do they do and what is their purpose? Angels are the realization and the expression of the union aspect of love in creation. The separation aspect is realized and expressed ad extra by creation—the generation of that which is not God and its separation from God. So, creation is the realization and expression of the separation aspect of love. Created love therefore starts with separation and the union aspect begins and develops with the evolutionary processes within each universe and reaches its full realization and expression in an angel. Angels are the ultimate realization and expression of the union aspect of created love. As the separate and diverse interactions of created reality—the interrelationship of events—evolve into ever more and more complex relationships, those processes become more and more united, all the while retaining their diversity and ultimately attain the full realization and expression of their diverse unity—or unitary diversity—in angels.  Angels continue the created act of love by uniting the diverse separation of created love in the essence that constitutes their existence as the ever more perfect re-enactment of the infinitely perfect act of Love that is God. The whole of the universe, including every human person, unites as the person and the nature of an angel re-enacting the Isness that is God in its existence. We humans are, therefore, brought together as one along with the rest of nature. And this coming together in communion realizes the unification movement of love in creation.

This, however, raises an appropriate concern: Do we lose our uniqueness in that unity? Does that unity dissolve diversity? That would not be a satisfactory state of existence. But again the answer is no. Instead, the process brings us to an exciting contradiction: unitary diversity or diverse unity. This is much the same contradictory diverse unity some express in their concept of Trinity. According to Simone Weil, contradiction is a sure sign of reality. She tells us, ‘The contradictions which the mind is brought up against form the only realities, the only means of judging what is real. There is no contradiction in what is imaginary47.’

At the human level, compassion is the key to the process by which we participate in the union aspect of love and kenotic consent fuels compassion. This process, therefore, correlates nicely with Murphy and Ellis’ hard-core thesis in The Moral Nature of the Universe:  Kenosis is the fundamental law of the universe.

True compassion requires our kenotic consent to the existence of the other. This includes our consent to the reality of affliction generally and, like the Good Samaritan, our consent to the existence of the afflicted, as he or she exists. That consent is kenotic because it involves a letting go of self; a projection of that self into the afflicted. That projection, in turn, brings us the surprising news that self is an illusion. Self is a frozen event, a bit of opacity that stands between God and God’s creation and when we consent to the afflicted we erase that opacity making it possible for God—Love—to enter into creation and love the afflicted, as the afflicted exits through us. It, like Eucharist, is true sacrament. So, it is not our self that enters into the afflicted, it is God who enters into her or him and that is made possible by our kenotic consent to the existence of the afflicted as the afflicted exist. Although our self does not enter into the afflicted, the passage of God’s love through us into the afflicted unites us with the afflicted one. That one-by-one union will eventually unite all human persons and that ultimate union constitutes an angel of diverse unity, unitary diversity.

Does this angelistic union, or communion, bring our existence to some sort of end point? Does it point to the same sort of boredom that Newton’s machine pointed toward at the end of the end of the 19th century? Not at all. Angels are never boorish. Only imaginary frauds bore us. The unity that constitutes angels does not bring us to a static end of the road. Rather, it opens to us many new diverse paths that endlessly lead to new understandings and new experiences of the inexhaustible Isness that is God, Love. Jesus tells us that eternity is to know God48.  To know God is impossible, but to experience deeper and deeper understanding of God is an endless joy that exponentially expands at each new level. Since the existence of creation is a re-enactment of the Isness that is God, the whole process begins with our understanding of nature and our experience of its beauty. As Simone Weil puts it, beauty is the explosion detonated when our sensibilities come into contact with the order of the world. This process will also include our experience of each universe in the eternal infinity of universes eternally generated by the Love that is God.

So the evolution of existence does not stop with angels. Just as the explosion of one generation of stars after another generated the stuff—the dust—from which we humans emerged, so too each angel, each matured universe, will unite into mega-angels—archangels? —and they too will unite in an eternal dynamic unendingly coalescing creation in ever more complex unity all the while coming infinitely closer and closer to the Face of God; eternally closer, but always infinitely distant.

Gregory of Nyssa described this evolution of the universe with his doctrine of epektasis, perpetual growth

The creation attains excellence by partaking in something better than itself; and further, not only had a beginning of its existence, but also is found to be constantly in a state of beginning to exist in excellence, by its continual advance in improvement, since it never halts at what it has reached, but all that it has acquired becomes by participation a beginning of its ascent to something still greater, and it never ceases.  Contra Eunomium 3.6.49

Gregory believed that evolution is the action of creation, consequently, an end of evolution would be the end of creation.

In keeping with this insight and with Smolin’s verb-based universe, Diogenes Allen sees perfection as a process not a state:

The Christian understanding of contemplation has to be freed from Platonic and Aristotelian assumptions that the goal of life is the contemplation of a static and never-changing reality…the question is this: do our lives, …attain perfection when they cease to change. [The answer is a resounding NO]. … perfection means a neverending increase in goodness and excellence, not stasis. …we never cease to grow in excellence and goodness. …Gregory…rejoices in growth and understands the goal of the Christian life as one of neverending growth and change, which is the meaning of perfection.…Gregory of Nyssa thus enriches our understanding of neverending joy, since contemplation is not merely looking at God but the continuing development and growth of our own person as we interact with the source of all that is good and desirable50.

We can’t close without acknowledging death. What about death? Death is the transition process leading to the angelistic phase of existence. This paper will not consider that transition in any detail or compare it with earlier phase transitions our universe experienced. It will settle on references to death from the bible and its favourite poet, references that equate death with birth just as Gregory did. Eliot begins East Coker with In my beginning is my end. and ends it with In my end is my beginning. These lines and this paper’s scheme of things illuminate the New Testament’s vague notion of a new birth: any end is always a new beginning, and those new beginnings are the eternal process of existence.

Conclusion Phase

This paper started in the first Quartet with Eliot’s ‘walk round the corner…into the box circle.’ At the end of the last Quartet, East Coker, Eliot points to the purpose of that walk. That purpose is ‘a further union, a deeper communion.’ With that line, Eliot references lines from Dante, lines which Eliot described as the highest poetry has ever achieved and the highest it will ever achieve; lines which graced Western Culture with its emblematic Rose

I saw within its depths how it enfolds
All things in a single volume
Bound by love of which the universe
Is the scattered leaves.
Paradiso, Canto XXXIII, 85

In Burnt Norton, Eliot used those scattered rose leaves to extend Dante’s model of the universe.

 

Notes

[1]Horgan, John, The End of Science, Broadway Books, New York, 1996.

2Callender, Craig & Huggett, Nick—editors—Physics Meets Philosophy at the Planck Scale, Cambridge Press, 2001, Chapter 4, Carlo Rovelli Quantum spacetime: What Do We Know, p. 102.

3For example, Lee Smolin expects that quantum gravity will be taught to high school students in this century. Three Roads To Quantum Gravity, Basic Books, New York, 200.  p. 211. Quantum gravity is the most esoteric problem currently engaging the physical sciences.

4Here’s what a contemporary philosopher said on the subject, ‘Aristotle rigorously distinguished science from metaphysics thus proposing the non-univocal nature of realty. The modern era, since about 1700, lost that wisdom. Since then, we are so persuaded that reality is discovered to us only by science that we have made science a constitutive approximation to reality. This is the result of a profound conviction that in science we are served the only portion of realty which is accessible to us with certainty.’ Xavier Zubiri, Nature, History, God, translated by Thomas B. Fowler, Jr., University Press of America, Lanham, New York, London, 1981, p. 71.

5Imre Lakatos is a philosopher of science who synthesized the apparently conflicting ideas of Karl Popper and Thomas Kuhn and demonstrated that all sciences operate from a common ‘methodology of scientific research programs.’  In On the Moral Nature of the Universe: Theology, Cosmology, and Ethics, (Fortress Press, 1996), Nancey Murphy and George F. R. Ellis claim that both theology and ethics can be dealt with as sciences because they also involve this same sort of research programs.

6David Peat describes the same process by distinguishing paradigm/theory and fragmentation/specialization and by debunking the notion of absolute truth. Bohm, David and Peat, F. David, Science, Order & Creativity Bantam Books, New York, 1987, Ch. 1.

7This is nothing new. In the 15th Century, Bruno looked to the heavens and saw a virtually infinite number of worlds out there each with its own soul. He was burned at the stake because authorities saw his vision as questioning orthodox understandings of the Incarnation and other religious dogma. They did not, as has been reported, execute him because of his science. Also I remember reading a story when I was quite young about someone who found a very special diamond and, rather than using or selling it as an ornament, he polished it into a lens through which he saw atoms as planetary systems with people on some of the planets. He fell in love with a beautiful young girl on one of the planets—he saw things with that much clarity, it was a wonderful diamond—and he was consumed by yearning for the inaccessible.

8In its attempts to suppress religious pluralism, the Vatican has soiled this word by applying it to those who blindly submit to the dogmatic statements it makes on religious matters—and often on other matters properly left to science, philosophy and other disciplines. I shall nonetheless continue to use it in its traditional sense so full of beautiful meaning and symbolism.

9Meister Eckhart sensed this angel interrelationship back in the 14th century: ‘Go away and sink deeply into yourself until you understand the angel and give yourself up to that with all your being and realize that you consist of nothing else than what you find in that angel. Then you will realize that you are one with the angels. And when you give yourself to this realization with all your being, then it will dawn on you that you are all angel and with all the angels.’  Quoted by Matthew Fox in Passion for Creation, The Earth-Honoring Spirituality of Meister Eckhart, Inner Traditions; Rochester, Vermont, p. 94.

[1]0See for example, Professor James E. Lidsey’s account in The Bigger Bang (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, England, 2000). Apparently, this proliferation of universes is a variation on the Anthropic Principle: Since life as we experience it is possible only within a very narrow range of constraints, is it pure luck that we exist or did some benevolence design our universe for us? Neither!  It’s probable because you have a large number of universes—certain, if you have an infinite number.

1[1]See The Cosmic Landscape: String Theory and the Illusion of Intelligent Design, Leonard Susskind, Back Bay Books, 2005. Susskind explains, ‘The Landscape is the term that I coined to describe the entire extent of these theoretical environments. The Landscape is the space of possibilities—a schematic representation of all the possible environments permitted by theory.’… ‘Each pocket [universe] has its own “weather”: its own list of elementary particles, forces, and constants of physics.’  Susskind credits this landscape diversity with his conversion to the Anthropic Principle.  p. 14.

[1]2The Life of the Cosmos, Oxford University Press, New York, 1997.

[1]3Warped Passages, (Harper Perennial, New York, 2005) especially Chapter 3.

[1]4Smolin, Lee The Trouble with Physics, Houghton Mifflin, New York, 2006, Chapter 10.

[1]5It may be a bit anti-Copernican to classify environments as lethal. Susskind’s grossly lethal pocket universes just may harbor some form of something akin to what we call consciousness and intelligence and we and they might  interact angelistically. Mere naked existence is a level of relationality.

[1]6Early on I thought of altruism as a flashing red light: caution, slow down, pause. Now I am convinced that it is a glaring red light: stop; it is always necrophagous. It always feeds off the dead flesh of the afflicted to nourish its own sense of self-worth.

[1]7The Passion of the Western Mind, Harmony Books, New York, 1991., p 177.

[1]8Richard Tarnas, The Passion of the Western Mind, Harmony Books, New York, 1991., pp. 272-273.

[1]9I look at the Promethean nature of Newton’s appropriation of absolutes from the divine into the profane—his immanentization of transcendent absolutes—in a latter chapter on modelling the universe.

20The contemporaneous industrial revolution played a role in fashioning this picture.

2[1]All of this is too negative. It’s too harsh on Newton (not absolutes). Newton’s synthesis of the chaotic motion left behind when Copernicus displaced earth from the centre and put it in motion is one of the greatest achievements of the human mind. He couldn’t have done it without absolutes. He saw Galileo’s relativity as a problem the Principia solved. Newton wrote a margin note near the end of the Principia promising to deduce absolute motion from relative motion commenting ‘For it was to this end that I composed it [the Principia].’ (See Physics Meets Philosophy at the Planck Scale, Craig Callender & Nick Huggett, editors, Cambridge University Press, 2001, Chapter 9, On General Covariance and Best Matching, Julian B. Barbour p. 200.) According to Barbour, Newton attacked Descartes’ relativity not Galileo’s. Descartes saw constant linear—inertial—motion as relative but assigned each moving object an absolute referent: its contiguous objects and thereby put earth at rest relative to the vortex that carried it around the Sun. (The End of Time, Oxford, 1999, pp. 61-2.)  False but necessary ideas fill the history of the physical sciences. For examples: Newton knew it was crazy to believe a force (gravity) could operate instantaneously over huge distances. And what physicist real believes in dimensionless ‘point particles’?

22The Elegant Universe, Vintage Books, New York, 1999, p. 107.

23Tarnas, Richard, The Passion of the Western Mind, Harmony Books, New York, 1991., pp. 364-365.

24Evolution opened the life sciences to this same excitement but that’s for another time and place; for now, it’s the physical sciences.

25Science successfully united SPECIAL relative and quantum physics in relativistic quantum field theories that account for the interaction of three of the four forces of nature, electromagnetism, the weak force and the strong force. But, gravity and quantum physics just wouldn’t mix.  GENERAL relativity is the theory of gravity.

26The Trouble with Physics, Houghton Mifflin, New York, 2006, p. 80.

27Process theology probably has a similar vision but it builds from rational discourse whereas Smolin builds from empirical data thereby opening religious awareness to contributions from contemporary science. Furthermore, for process thought, the divine has two natures: the primordial and the consequent. It sees a paradox in an immutable, all-knowing and all-powerful God who creates a contingent reality. It would relieve the tension of the paradox with these two natures: the unchanging primordial nature affects the world but is unaffected by it, whereas the consequent nature changes with the world as part of it becoming something? Or some event? Process thought succeeds by viewing God as verb rather than noun but it fails by importing duality into God. It fails by viewing this non-entity God as primordially simple, on the one hand, and, on the other hand, a changing process participating in existence in such manner as to develop with nature into some sort of Teilhardian omega point. See John A. Jungerman, World in Process, State University of New York Press, 2000.

28The bible speaks in terms of image ‘God created man in his image. In his image he created him.’ (Genesis 1:27) That imaging, however, is appropriate for an entity based reality but not an action based reality. Re-enactment better fits a verb-based world.

29Exodus 3:14.

30Although the perfect manifestation of the true God in Jesus is universal, for religion, the pressing question today is whether that manifestation in Jesus is exclusive or are there others. See Roger Haight, Jesus, Symbol of God, Orbis Books, Maryknoll, New York, 1999.

31John 13:19.

32From a metaphysical perspective, Frederick Wilhelmsen traces the history of thinking about the act of existing apart from things that exist, but he limits existence to ‘things’ thereby denying existence to the naked act of existence. See The Paradoxical Structure of Existence, Irving, Tx, University of Dallas Press, 1970. From a scientific perspective, David Finkelstein strongly advocates an action-based reality rather than an object based reality. See Quantum Relativity: A Synthesis of the Ideas of Einstein and Heisenberg, Springer-Verlag, 1996.

33Consider is a beautiful word. Its roots lie in the Latin ‘for with the stars.’

34Simone Weil, writings selected by Eric Springsted, Modern Spiritual Masters Series, Orbis Books, New York, 1998, p. 66.

35See for example, On the Moral Nature of the Universe: Theology, Cosmology, and Ethics, Nancey Murphy and George F. R. Ellis, Fortress Press, 1996. In the last paragraph they affirm that kenosis is the fundamental law of the universe.

36This same passive withdrawal permeates the Jewish mystical tradition on creation: ‘Luria pondered the question of beginnings. How did the process of emanation start?  If Ein Sof pervaded all…, how was there room for anything other than God to come into being? … the first divine act was not emanation, but withdrawal. Ein Sof withdrew its presence ‘from itself to itself,’ withdrawing in all directions away from one point at the center of its infinity, … thereby creating a vacuum. This vacuum served as the site of creation.’ Matt, Daniel C. The Essential Kabbalah, Harper, San Francisco, 1994, pp. 14-15. See also The Zohar, Volume One, Translation and Commentary by Daniel C. Matt, Stanford University Press, 2004, p. 110.
37What on earth have we Roman Catholics done to the beautiful Sanctus? Who substituted a god of power and might for the God of Hosts, and why? Saboath may be rendered ‘army’ but the heavenly hosts are not making war they are glorifying God. Michael did not vanquish Lucifer and drive him from the presence of God. Rather, God simply said to Lucifer ‘be it done to you according to your will.’ That’s how Dante has it.

38Desire has some wonderful nuances. Simone Weil tells us that desire is the presence of an absence and the dictionary tells us that desire comes from the Latin for ‘to await from the stars.’

39This is radical and not at all popular particularly in light of current notions of empowerment.  Furthermore, it would shatter our cherished notion of rights. It reaches right down into the foundations of our political, economic and legal systems. They are all based on ‘rights’ and ‘duties’ And that is part of the problem. The notion of rights is inherently contentious and can be implemented only through the exercise of power and command. Weil was aware of this and, in her proposed constitution for the new France that would emerge after WWII, she proposed ‘needs’ and their correlative ‘obligations; as the appropriate foundation for society. (The Need For Roots, Routledge, London, 1995.)

40Actually, energy is a rather attractive category for love. In the physical sciences, energy and matter are manifestations of the same underlying reality. We may thus see matter as frozen energy, a frozen event. The distance that separates God from creation cools the energy of love into frozen isolated things.  Here below we can warm them through love and, when we do, they melt into moving processes.

41Matthew 4:3.

42Springsted, Eric; Modern Spiritual Masters Series, Orbis Books, New York, 1998, pp. 89-90.

43The Ways and Power of Love, Timeless Classic paperback edition published 2002 by Templeton Foundation Press, Philadelphia, originally published 1954 by Beacon Press.

44Weil develops this in her amazing essay, The Love of God and Affliction. It can be found, with other significant writings concerning love in Simone Weil, writings selected by Eric Springsted, Modern Spiritual Masters Series, Orbis Books, New York, 1998, pp.41-71; see particularly p. 48.

45But it is well to keep in mind that trinity is a human construct that can only reflect the divine dynamic if we properly relate it to the interrelation and interaction between God and creation. Trinity does not define and limit the internal structure of God. Rather Trinity expresses the interrelation and interaction between God and creature from the point of view of creature. Roger Haight, Jesus, Symbol of God, Orbis Books, Maryknoll, New York, 1999. pp. 471-473.

46Did God choose to create and does God choose to sustain creation in existence? Well, yes God did choose to call nothing into existence and God does choose to sustain it in existence because God is free to do so or not to do so. God is free because freedom is embedded in the essence of love to such an extent that there is no love without freedom and, since God is Love, God is free. This means, at least in human terms, that God has a choice; God may create or refuse to create. Still, ‘to create’ or ‘to sustain creation’ isn’t simply a matter of deciding whether to do something or not to do it. They also are inherent constitutive properties of love. This gift of existence is therefore a paradox.  It is a free gift but it is also an unavoidable effect of love, an imperative of love.

47Weil, Simone, The Notebooks, translated by Arthur Wills; Routledge & Kegan Paul; London, 1952, Vol. 1, p. 329.

48John, 17:13.

49Quoted in Gregory of Nyssa’s Doctrine of Theistic Evolution, by Daniel F. Stramara. CTNS Bulletin, Vol. 22, Number 2, Spring 2002, p.13. Stramara calls this process epektasis; Roger Haight calls it apokatastasis (Jesus, Symbol of God, Orbis Books, Maryknoll, New York, 1999, p. 393).

50Allen, Diogenes, Spiritual Theology, 1997, Crowley Publications, Cambridge/Boston, Ma. p. 32.