The Marvel of Materialist Magic

The materialist description of the universe can easily inspire in us a sense of wonder, an attitude of awe so profound that it naturally trips the circuits  in our brains where mystical, religious and perhaps even magical sensibilities reside. The current ‘standard’ model of how the universe came into being rivals any religious or esoteric creation story. The tale of the emergence of life, from the soup of chemistry, is many times more complex than even the most baroque ancient myth of mankind’s origins.

"Space," it says, "is big. Really big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mindbogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the road to the chemist's, but that's just peanuts to space, listen..

“Space,” it says, “is big. Really big. You just won’t believe how vastly, hugely, mindbogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it’s a long way down the road to the chemist’s, but that’s just peanuts to space, listen..”

It was for just this reason that when Nikki and I wrote The Book of Baphomet (aka BoB) we wanted to start with this narrative. Hard science is always incomplete and provisional. There is always more to learn and any good scientist always admits to the possibility of new, paradigm-exploding evidence coming to light. (Like they say; ‘Nothing is True, Everything is Permitted’.) Yet this literal nuts-and-bolts, neutrinos-and-quarks view of reality is our best guess right now. A guess that emerges not from scholastic knowledge and ancient texts, but an understanding that comes from imaginative hypothesis, confirmed or refuted by experiment, by first-hand experience.

G. Ridgeway, generously reviewing BoB at Amazon says; ” The first chapter we get a sweeping epic of evolution, and the birth of the cosmos, which reads like a verbal description of a Stanley Kubrick film, Its very enjoyable.”

Here’s the first part of that opening chapter:

The Song of Life

The Stars are but thistles in that waste, pregnant seed heads that burst, releasing their strange cargo into vast space. From the heart of the stars, drifting outward from super nova and the dull trails of brown dwarves, emerge the elements. Forged in the fusion fires of titanic nuclear furnaces, as the ancient stars dwindle expand and explode, they scatter new matter through the cosmos. From this nucleosynthesis hydrogen begat helium, helium begat carbon, carbon begat oxygen. Stars a little more massive than our sun form iron cores by this process. Heaver elements are a job for flaming orbs orders of magnitude bigger, where gold and lead are liberated from the alchemy of the supernova and smeared across the sky in thunderous detonation.

Such is the stuff that we are made of. From whale to woodlouse, our bodies quite literally come from the core of the stars.

The vast particulate pentacle from which our earth was made was once a cloud of such star-stuff. The cloud thickened, gathered, and the central portion of this disk (which was at first over 3 light years in diameter) folded up, dense and hot. Gravity, that love of mass for mass, pulled the center tighter together until it ignited. Our sun turned on.

We captured something of this idea in the film trailers released with BoB, particularly the one HERE. Given our own project we were both enormously pleased to see this idea developing in other contexts. The most recent is in the publication of the first of a promised Seven Secular Sermons.

Daniel Böttger, the author of the project, writes:

I began the Seven Secular Sermons project in 2012, in an attempt to share the intense gratitude I feel towards this marvelous universe we are happening in. The sermons are (to be) a series of seven guided meditations on aspects of the universe. In verse and rhyme, they invite us into inner journeys towards a more profoundly satisfying appreciation of reality at large.

So settle into your favourite asana and check out the First Sermon. The whole text is available too. Having read it at our Zen-Odinist Mindfulness meeting, I can testify to its moving beauty and effectiveness as a means of being Here in this wonderful Now.



2 thoughts on “The Marvel of Materialist Magic

  1. Pete Carroll says:

    Ha, I just came to this delightful article by JV and the Sermon link after browsing
    And finding that the new Antarctic neutrino telescope has apparently captured two high-energy events above 1 petaelectronvolt (PeV), nicknamed Bert and Ernie, the first astrophysical neutrinos definitively recorded by a terrestrial detector. Bert and Ernie have energies about 10,000 times that of the putative Higgs Boson. What in heck made those?
    We inhabit an awesomely strange universe.

  2. […] I’m glad that Raymond Arnold has entered the first Sermon into his Secular Solstice ritual book, and grateful for the kind review at The Blog of Baphomet. […]

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