21 October 2018
Amis letter 08
Friendship as a metaphor for Creation
Today I am going to jump from the “spiritual” into some “scientific” thinking. This might be dangerous waters for me as a non-scientist. But please bear with me!
Last week I shared some thoughts about Friendship in the Bible.
The question is: what lies at the heart of friendship? What is the deepest reality in friendship? Well, of course it is a form of love. Any attempt to define that love will be incomplete and partial but let me suggest two things: the first is that love is attraction. With attraction I do not mean what adverts do to us – merely to attract our attention. I mean the fundamental draw we have in us towards something bigger than ourselves. It is a “longing” to reach beyond our own boundaries. The second quality of love is “openness”. With openness I mean the attitude of willingness to be reached out to. To accept the approach of another, to be open to strangeness, not to reject that which comes to us from outside whether it is a person, an experience or the unknown. With these to aspects of love in mind, I come to you today, wondering…: what lies in the heart of reality, of the universe, of existence, of everything that is? What makes everything tick? For many of us the first obvious answer would be: God. I too believe that. But what has God put in the universe that makes it “go”? What is the underlying theory? This question made me think of the movie “The Theory of Everything” - the 2014 romantic drama movie about the life of Stephen Hawking.
Albert Einstein, Hawking and many scientists have devoted their time, thinking and looking for a unifying theory of everything. The following two paragraphs are copied from The Conversation (18 March 2018) a French expertise magazine:
“Rumour has it that Albert Einstein spent his last few hours on earth scribbling something on a piece of paper in a last attempt to formulate a theory of everything. Some 60 years later, another legendary figure in theoretical physics, Stephen Hawking, may have passed away with similar thoughts. We know Hawking thought something called “M-theory” is our best bet for a complete theory of the universe. But what is it?
Since the formulation of Einstein’s theory of general relativity in 1915, every theoretical physicist has been dreaming of reconciling our understanding of the infinitely small world of atoms and particles with that of the infinitely large scale of the cosmos. While the latter is effectively described by Einstein’s equations, the former is predicted with extraordinary accuracy by the so-called Standard Model of fundamental interactions.”
So…what lies at the heart, at the very core of everything? We have subatomic particles and very complicated string theories, we have atoms sharing electrons, bonds and attraction bringing them together; gravity and the Higgs-Boson (to name just a few!) Between all these particles there must be proximity, the “sharing” of something, affinity, some attraction or “fundamental interaction”. These forces are known and have been described. A water molecule can only exist when one oxygen atom and two hydrogen atoms share their being! This strange unity between them creates something totally new. These laws of attraction and their effects resonate in everything.
Thus, for our journey, I propose another unifying theory too. Obviously, this is on a totally different level than theoretical physics! It is a more spiritual theory. Let us call it the “F-theory”. The Friendship theory. If we regard the sharing of electrons, simple atoms forming complex bonds, metaphorically as bonds of friendship, then “Friendship” could be the basic underlying and unifying principle of everything. Now bear with me - as you would with a friend! – I know this is extremely simplified, but it does give us a working theory to think about all that is.
If Friendship (as metaphor and principle) is the underlying structure of the universe it means that we are imbedded in it. In an interview, British astronomer Neil deGrasse Tyson was asked: “What is the most astounding fact that you can share with us about the universe?”
He replied: “The most astounding fact is the knowledge that the atoms that comprise life on earth, the atoms that make up the human body are traceable to the crucibles that cooked light elements to heavy elements in their core under extreme temperatures and pressures. These stars, the high mass ones amongst them, went unstable in their later years, they collapsed and then exploded scattering their enriched guts across the galaxy, guts made of carbon, nitrogen and oxygen and all the fundamental ingredients of life itself. These ingredients became parts of gas clouds that condensed, collapsed and formed the next generation of solar systems stars with orbiting planets and those planets now have the ingredients for life itself; so when I look up at the night sky and I know that yes, we are part of this universe, we are in this universe but perhaps more important than both of those facts is that the universe is in us. When I reflect on that fact, I look up – many people feel small because they are small, and the universe is big, but I feel big because my atoms came from those stars.”
We could apply this metaphor on the sub-atomic and atomic scale… but we could also apply it on the grand scale: planets circling a star, moons circling planets. With all these there are bonds of attraction and co-existence, openness. And balance. And beauty.
Moving on from this “theory”, I would suggest that “Friendship” is intrinsic to all existence. If this is the case, it leads to many other implications about life as we know it.
Until next week – which is the last Amis letter for this round.
In what ways could this rather playful theory be useful in your approach to life?
If your DNA were designed for “Friendship” what does it mean?
If we frame the basic structure of the universe as “Friendship” – what does it mean for our experience of joy?
If we frame the basic structure of the universe as “Friendship” – what does it mean for our experience of unhappiness?
If you know a scientist, you could share this idea with her/him. Any response?
If you are a scientist (there are some amongst the Amis!) please share your thoughts!