I’ve been fascinated for the past year or so with the concept of the multiverse; that is, the hypothesis that the former term, universe, may refer merely to our universe, one of billions out there in space. Just last week, PBS ended a 4-part NOVA series, The Fabric of the Cosmos: Universe or Multiverse? Theoretical astrophysicist and author, Brian Greene, examined the idea that there are perhaps an endless number of multiple universes in space rather than just the one in which we live.
To those of us with both an imaginative and open mind, the concept is most attractive and exciting. Yet, sadly, to many who are neither imaginative nor open to new ideas, this presentation must have seemed to have been a nightmare. And easily dismissed. Like those who already exist in their own multiverse- on the far-right side of the political spectrum.
Hell, there are some ‘over there’ who doubt that Neil Armstrong never set foot on the Moon. Or that there is climate change. Or that the world is round. Of course, many in that alternate bubble believe that a mating pair of brontosaurus were aboard Noah’s ark. Parallel and non-interactive multiverses. Examples abound right here on this 3rd planet from the star we call Sun.
For the past several months, I’ve been wading through Greene’s book, The Hidden Reality: Parallel Universes and the Deep Laws of the Cosmos. Wading ever-so slowly as my brain attempts to align itself with these seemingly unreal possibilities. Nonetheless, I do not summarily dismiss what I cannot fathom. Rather, I allow the ideas to bang around in my head and I find that the challenge of trying to understand them is refreshing, albeit ambitious.
I’ve always been attracted to the study of space and I can recall how, in some elementary grade class, I rattled of the ‘9’ planets of our solar system in perfect order. My father was an avid amateur astronomer who purchased an 8″ reflector telescope that he and I used in our backyard to explore the ‘heavens.’ I was able to see the ring[s] of Saturn and the 4 Jovian moons as well as various, complex nebulae.
To me, ‘heaven’ was not just above the clouds as many of the ancients believed [and many Americans still do!] The idea that that very concept permeates the pages of the Bible places that book in the dustbin of history. Yet, millions of our fellow citizens cling to that book as if it were Truth incarnate. They live in another multiverse to which I cannot communicate.
There is an interesting and frightening convergence of to multiverses which produce quite the entangled space-time interaction. Rather than a quantum leap into the future, this interaction stifles time and imagination. It propels one back in time to a dark and unpleasant time before the Enlightenment. Those two intersecting multiverses are Religion and Politics. Righteous people exist in both of these places and, at the intersection of the two, grievous results ensue.
Here’s an example that I discovered just yesterday as I peered out of my backyard telescope. Did you know this: The American Revolution was a success, but the French Revolution was a failure because the first was ‘of God’ while the second was not? I do realize that, after discussing all of those exquisite astronomical hypotheses above, this statement is terribly banal. But then, Brian Greene never claimed that the collision of two multiverses always produce something magnificent and interesting. Did I mention that the person who made the statement about the two revolutions was a right-wing blogger? And a ‘good’ Christian? Not only that, but a ‘history major?’ Triple concurrence!
You may have already guessed that this post is my usual Sunday sermon for those who find pews stultifying. Back to that curious intersection of religion and history. Oh, not that actual conjunction of the two that resulted in death and misery of millions of people over time, but the hypothetical interaction of a Deity in human history. No doubt at this very moment as I type, thousands of church-goers are listening to fantastical statements of the way that a Deity has and will save their souls and impact their lives. And will the ushers please pass the collection plate. A bevy of huckster preachers are on-air this morning as well, for those who choose to get-a-Deity from the comfort of their living rooms. They accept Visa and Mastercard.
If one wishes, one could fly to Mongolia to visit a shaman of the nomadic reindeer herders in northern Mongolia. It would be more cathartic and clearly more healthy than listening to a preacher here in the U.S. One must travel by horse for two days to reach the shamans, thereby exposing the faithful seeker to abundant sunshine and crystal clean air. A person can bathe in a sacred lake or drink from one of the sacred springs that feed the lakes.
And why not? Neither the reindeer shaman or the Christian preacher give a guarantee of effectiveness. It’s a pig in a poke. Roll of the dice. Religious hucksters have been plying their wares for millennia for the gullible and the distraught. Miracles. Incense. Chant. Drums. Sacred statements. Frogs, twigs and a special drink. Voilà.
History, politics and religion. What a toxic brew! All Hell can break loose!