Study, Dark Energy and Prayer

The study of the universe is in its own way
an act of prayer.

As you can see from the last few posts I’ve had the opportunity to get into some reading that I’ve been wanting to get to but have not been able to tackle due to time constraints.

I’m not well-read in cosmology and theoretical physics. I was educated a generalist. Liberal arts. This isn’t preparation for these two specialties nor any other, for that matter.

But as a generalist, I dip into areas I’m interested in, even if I’m not versed in them. My only regret is that I don’t have the in-depth tools to comprehend how energy converts to matter, for example. Or, how energy can disperse, as it fills space. These mysteries are beyond me.

But something struck me last night as I finished reading an article about dark energy and got ready for bed. I felt a sense of peacefulness and comfort that I had not consciously cultivated. As I read, it seemed almost as if it were in an act of prayer. Attempting to understand the mysteries of the cosmos, even with my admittedly elementary knowledge, led me to deep appreciation for the order of the creation. I don’t understand it, nor do the scientists–cosmologists or physicists–who are theorizing about it.

This lack of understanding doesn’t unsettle me, it leaves me deeply appreciative. There is so much more to learn. I’ve long thought this. There’s just more to know than I have time to absorb. That’s not self-inflation, it’s just to point out that we (or I) know so little and sometimes it seems I am only dipping my toes into the pool of knowledge.

In any case, it strikes me that it’s an act of faith to search, not merely for fixed answers, but for a sense of direction, purpose and comprehension of the universe. And living with the mystery doesn’t prove or disprove anything. Tentative “answers” don’t undermine a thing. Certainly not the Creator, nor the place of humankind in the cosmos.

In fact, the mystery only reminds us of the expansiveness of the creation and the limits of our own knowledge. This is the spirit that inspired the Psalmists and led them to sing praises to the Creator. It’s the spirit of inquiry that has led to an openness toward the Spirit of Creation for millenia. Facing the mystery leads many to affirmation, not doubt. It leads to a search for deeper meaning. To believe there is deeper meaning is, in my opinion, an act of faith.

Instead of picturing God as a medieval monarch on a marble throne, imagine God as the living awareness of the space between the atoms, “empty” space that makes up about 99.99 percent of the universe.
Thinking of God that way gets us past some of the great theological divides of the past. Is God immanent or transcendent, internal or external, composed or compassionate? Like the question of whether the atom is wave or particle, the answer is: yes.

–Tom Mahon
“The Spirit of Technology”
from The Hand of God:
Thoughts and Images
Reflecting the Spirit
of the Universe

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