Rev. Steve Sanchez

Rev. Steve Sanchez
Swedenborgian Minister

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Spirituality and Science - The Spiritual Meaning that the Universe is Expanding at the Speed of Light


Physicist discovered something very surprising about the big bang theory and the expansion of the universe. As part of the big bang theory physicist observed that space was expanding, but didn’t know at what rate. In the 80’s a great physicist devised an experiment to determine the rate of expansion of the universe. The test used light from supernovas, and the scientists were very confident in the results. But the evidence produced a result they didn’t expect.
They expected to find that the expansion of the universe was slowing down, but instead found that the expansion of the universe was accelerating. They also made another very interesting discovery. The universe does not expand from one central point as one might expect, but it expands from everywhere. ‘Atlas of the Universe’ reports:

There is no centre of the expansion, the universe is simply expanding at all points. Observers in any galaxy see most of the other galaxies in the universe moving away from them.
The only answer to the question "Where did the Big Bang happen?" is that it occured everywhere in the Universe (http://www.atlasoftheuniverse.com/bigbang.html).
One of the great challenges of astronomy and astrophysics is distance measurement over the vast distances of the universe. Since the 1990s it has become apparent that type Ia supernovae offer a unique opportunity for the consistent measurement of distance out to perhaps 1000 Mpc. Measurement at these great distances provided the first data to suggest that the expansion rate of the universe is actually accelerating. That acceleration implies an energy density that acts in opposition to gravity which would cause the expansion to accelerate. This is an energy density which we have not directly detected observationally and it has been given the name "dark energy" (http://hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu/hbase/astro/univacc.html).
In this article I will meditate on how these scientific theories might be interpreted using correspondences.
The universe is simply expanding at all points.  Swedenborg writes that every person or angel in heaven is a heaven in them self. They are a form of heaven, and as such possess a fully unique selfhood and agency from their own perspective that is useful and meaningful in relation to everything else. Every angel is a heaven because every angel is a microcosm of the grand man, the divine human. The creature (finite humans) are imbued with the qualities of the creator (infinite divine human), because it is a universal principle that the form and nature of God is reflected in everything he creates. Since God has infinite creative power and agency, each human is imbued with personal will and understanding, and useful attributes, and freedom.

That the Divine is the same in things greatest and least, may be shown by means of heaven and by means of an angel there. The Divine in the whole heaven and the Divine in an angel is the same; therefore even the whole heaven may appear as one angel. So is it with the church, and with a man of the church. The greatest form receptive of the Divine is the whole heaven together with the whole church; the least is an angel of heaven and a man of the church. Sometimes an entire society of heaven has appeared to me as one angel-man; and it was told that it may appear like a man as large as a giant, or like a man as small as an infant; and this, because the Divine in things greatest and least is the same (79, DWL).

If we consider that there is correspondence between everything in heaven and everything in nature, and that everything in heaven is imbued with intrinsic life from the lord, then it makes sense that every point in space would have a similar ‘soverienty’. In Arcana Celestia makes this point very clearly: “The whole of heaven is such that every one is so to speak the focal point of all, for he is the focal point of influxes coming through the heavenly form from all. Consequently the image of heaven is reproduced in everyone, making him a likeness of heaven and so a human being;”. This sovereignty or focal point in heaven (Which can be expressed anywhere and everywhere) manifests by correspondence in the material world of nature as ‘the universe expanding from every point’. Furthermore, Swedenborg writes that, “unless there has been a certain free will in all created things, both animate and inanimate, there could have been no creation” (TCR 499). Free will in all created things is the soverignty that corresponds to the universe expanding from every point. Every person, spirit, and angel is tethered to the Lord like a spoke on a wheel, and recieves their soverignty as a gift of freedom from the Lord. There is a story in the Bible which expresses this principle: the Lord tells the story of the Shepard that seeks to protect the one stray sheep just as much as He would a hundred sheep, it is expressing the unlimited value that is in the one, and the unlimited value in the whole.
According to the scientific theory stated above the universe is expanding primarily by galaxy clusters. I talked to two physics grade students at Cal Berkeley and they gave me a more organic understanding of how physicist see this. They explained that scientist believe it is not just that galaxies clusters are the only thing expanding, even though that is all they can observe; theoretically everything is expanding, even a basketball, because its space is expanding, but it is so miniscule it is unobservable. They said that the universe is so immense they cannot observe the expansion in our solar system or even our galaxy, but the same principle applies within our solar system and galaxy. They can only calculate the expansion by the red light put out by supernova’s in deep space.
In the above we mostly considered the correspondence in regard to living angels, but it is important to consider that infinite variety and sovereignty is also expressed in material things:

The Divine is also the same in the greatest and in the least of all created things that are not alive; for it is in all the good of their use. These, moreover, are not alive for the reason that they are not forms of life but forms of uses; and the form varies according to the excellence of the use. (80, DLW).

This is important because it helps us see why sovereignty and expansion are in things alive and in material things, though the material world is a much lesser or remote expression of the richness of life in the spiritual world. In the principle of uses we can see the infinite variety, and the soveringty in humans and all material things.  It is easy to see use in people because the human form is the highest form in all creation, and each person has a unique use for others, but everything that exists in nature also has use in the universe. Swedenborg demonstrates how everything that has use has an aura or energy field that proceeds from it because of its use, which corresponds to the aura that surrounds humans, and at the highest the Holy sphere that proceeds from the Lord in the midst of the spiritual sun. Our most direct way of understanding this from our own experience is in the way love, affection, and feelings radiate from our heart and body. It is only possible to express affections from a body. From the essence in the living body or inanimate object proceeds an aura, because everything in nature exists from the effect of its first cause in heaven, and everything exists from use. Science has shown there is an aura around plants, and even around things as inert as rocks. The aura proceeds from unique use, which is an expression of the soveringty in all things. In the light of this one could see how the principle of the universe expanding from all points applies to the things of nature. The nature of the divine human is infinite variety, and there are no two things in all the universe that are exactly alike and never will be.
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