Black Holes to the Rescue

This month’s Scientific American (August 2012, pp 22-27) has an interesting article entitled The Benevolence of Black Holes. The article is interesting from a scientific point of view, and is another example of the so-called Goldilocks’ phenomenon. In this case the size of the particular black hole at the heart of our Milky Way Galaxy is just the right size to keep the galaxy the way it is, and to provide conditions propitious for our emergence. If it were too small there might be too many young stars exploding as supernovae; too big, and too few stars would have formed, with the insufficient production of  the elements necessary to produce life.

This is interesting science, but what struck me more was the subtle religion slid in under the radar. The title gives the game away: The Benevolence of Black Holes. Implicit in the word ‘benevolence’ is agency and compassion, as though the black holes were purposefully bestowing some boon upon us for our benefit, to which we are indebted for our very existence. This is the role formerly assigned to God the Creator in the religious sphere. But of course the title is a tease. No such benevolent agency is implied, as the opening paragraph makes clear:

‘Our existence in this place, this microscopic corner of the cosmos, is fleeting. With utter disregard for our wants and needs, nature plays out its grand acts on scales of space and time that are truly hard to grasp. Perhaps all that we can look to for real solace is our endless capacity to ask questions and seek answers about the place we find ourselves in.’

The article then goes on to describe the phenomenon of the black hole itself and its implications.

But let’s examine the statement above and see what it infers. A perspective is being taken on our existence. We live in a ‘microscopic corner’ of the universe.  We are thus marginal and small, insignificant.  We are specimens on a slide being viewed from the outside by something else, something much larger than we. We are certainly not the ‘centre’, the  ‘I am’ of which the mystics speak.

The perspective the author takes is a third-person one, and we are being seen as an ‘it’ or ‘its’ by something else.  And whatever the nature of implied viewer, it beholds us with ‘utter disregard for our wants and needs’. Moreover, the ‘grand’ acts of this play are on a scale that is truly hard for us to grasp.

Anti-religionists scoff at the anthropomorphic gods we create. And yet here we have the same movement. We are being viewed from a distance, from a great height, by a creature of our imagination who dwarfs us in size, both in space and time. This creature is formless and indifferent. It is the source of our existence, whose presence or activity is necessary for our being, but although it seems to be aware of us it holds us ‘with utter disregard’. In other words it looks away from us, ignores us, and it clearly doesn’t care for us. A version of the grand indifferent, emotionally-distant patriarch.

Since the time of the Enlightenment, in our arrogance and rationality we have thrown out the God of Isaac and Abraham, and replaced him with another God. Unfortunately for us we don’t have a covenant with this one, as the Jews have with theirs, and the Christians and Muslims who followed.

This new God is necessary for our being here, but it has no intelligence, no purpose, no concern for us, and no compassion. If anything, it views us with derision or indifference, and sees us as fleeting and insignificant.

I believe we must go beyond the traditional exoteric versions of the Jewish God, and the Christian God, and even the Hindu gods. They have served us well enough until now, but they have exceeded their limits. I would go so far as to say, that as well as being the source of meaning and consolation for us they have also been a source of hatred and division.

So we have to continue to grow and evolve. Many highly evolved people on the planet today are making an attempt to do so, with Buddhism and Neo-Advaita, and some deeply spiritual Christians, Jews Muslims and secularists, being in the vanguard.

But there is a more sinister movement occurring within the scientific community, of which the above is a classic example. Endorsed and approved of by ‘Science’, voiced in the scientific press, and receiving its imprimatur, this is the shit we have been given to replace the mythic religions which we have out-grown. And this crap is being unconsciously being fed to our children.

You probably wouldn’t have even noticed it had it not been pointed out. Any youngster reading this article would have been conscious only of the overt content, concerning physical phenomena in the universe at large. The underlying religious beliefs being proselytised would probably have gone unnoticed. But by repetition they are being unconsciously assimilated.

If questioned, the author and editors would probably deny the very existence of such an epistemology and ontology. But just because it is unconscious does not mean it does not exist. It just means it can go about its shadow work unconsciously, undetected by either by its purveyors or the gullible faithful to whom it is addressed.