Contemporary science asks us to believe that the entire universe – indeed the laws of Nature themselves – just popped into existence one day out of nothing. How can anyone in their right mind accept such a thing?
We take physics as a kind of magic and don’t question that 14 billion years ago over a trillion quadrillion tons of matter suddenly appeared from – zilch? We’re told that space and time also magically appeared as well.
From the Big Bang to Sarah Palin is an enormous distance. It would be well to remember the experiments of Redi and Pasteur – experiments that put to rest the theory of spontaneous generation, the belief that life arose from dead matter (for instance, maggots from rotting meat, mice from bundles of old clothes) – and not make the same mistake for the origin of the Universe itself. We imagine time extending all the way backwards to the Big Bang, before life’s beginning in the seas. But experiments with real particles show that before matter can exist (or have properties) it has to be observed. Something must sustain it above the void of nonexistence and hold the world together in the midst of change. That something is the human (or animal) mind.
Past generations believed the world was a great ball resting on the back of a turtle; now science would have us believe it’s a fairy universe that appeared out of nowhere and that expands into nothing. Angels used to push and pummel the planets about; now everything is a meaningless accident. We’ve exchanged a world turtle for a Big Bang. By reminding us of its great successes at figuring out the mechanics of things, and fashioning marvelous new devices out of raw materials, science gets away with patently ridiculous ‘explanations’ for the nature of the universe as a whole. If only it hadn’t given us HDTV and the George Foreman grill, it wouldn’t have held our respect long enough to pull the old three-card-monte when it comes to these largest issues.
“One does occasionally observe,” Loren Eiseley wrote, “a tendency for the beginning zoological textbooks to take the unwary reader by a hop, skip, and jump from the little steaming pond…into the lower world of life with such sureness and rapidity that it is easy to assume that there is no mystery about this matter at all, or, if there is, that it is a very little one.”
Science has sought to extend space and time beyond our own emergence. It followed our footsteps backwards until they disappeared into the sea. The cosmologists picked up the story of the molten Earth and carried it backwards in time through the lower forms of matter to the Big Bang.
But physics has learned that the world doesn’t exist in a definite state independent of the observer. Tracing life down through simpler stages is one thing, but assuming it arose spontaneously from nonliving matter wants for the rigor of the quantum theorist. I have seen the test-tube-like contraption that’s said to mimic the geophysical environment of the primitive earth, and that attempts to explain the origin of life in mechanistic terms without reference to any observer. While a variety of organic molecules can be synthesized in many ways – and it can even be done in your bathtub – the experiments do not fail to have an animal subject. Our intercourse with the molecules is necessary for them to exist as real objects. Half of the experiment is the scientist, who doesn’t recognize that their consciousness renders possible the space, indeed, the very reality of the vessel itself.
There is no invisible matrix out there that explains our origin. Rather, for each life there is a universe, its own universe. According to biocentrism, each of us generates our own sphere of reality. We carry space and time around us like turtles with shells. The Universe is comprised of billions of spheres of reality, a mélange whose scope is breathtaking. Strikingly, anything you don’t observe directly exists only as potential – or more mathematically speaking – as a haze of probability. “Nothing,” said John Wheeler, the great physicist “exists until it is observed.”
Since time doesn’t exist on any level before observers, traditional pre-Earth explanations of the universe can’t explain our origin. Think of the universe like one of those globes you see in the classroom – it’s merely a tool that represents everything that’s theoretically possible to experience. But like a CD, the music only leaps into reality when you play one of the songs. Instead of the Universe having an absolute beginning, imagine, instead, that existence is like a recording. Depending on where the needle is placed you hear a certain song. This is the present; the music, before and after is the past and future. All songs exist simultaneously, although we only experience them piece by piece.
“Let man,” declared Emerson, “then learn the revelation of all nature and all thought to his heart; this, namely; that the Highest dwells with him; that the sources of nature are in his own mind.”
Scientists have failed to see beyond their equations, to see the birds and butterflies husbanding their colors above the grass and trees against the sky. If only, coming home from the laboratory, they would look out upon the pond, and through the bulrushes, watch the schools of minnows rise to the surface to behold that vaster universe of which they are an intricate part.
We’re living through a profound shift in worldview, from the belief that life is an insignificant part of the physical universe (and sprung into existence from the Big Bang or bundles of old clothes), to one in which we – not the Big Bang – are the origin. Only for a moment, while we sort out the reality that time and space don’t exist without us, will it feel like madness.