Earth Day & Brian Swimme* 04-23-2013

As Earth Day passes I have been looking into the work of Brian Swimme. Brian teaches cosmology to graduate students at the California Institute for Integral Studies in San Francisco. Swimme often reiterates that the underlying reason that people abuse the earth is that they don’t think that it’s sacred. Swimme’s emphasis is not the divorce of Religion from Science but the marriage of the two. He says when we look deeply into our 13.7 billion year “cosmogenesis” that we cannot help but be filled with awe. The fact that the big band happened is in itself a profound improbability. No known laws of probability can account for it. It is both a sacred and a scientific miracle.

Swimme has produced a twelve part DVD series called “Canticle of the Cosmos,” which has been distributed worldwide. His work is most influenced by the French Jesuit, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, who believed that everything in existence has a physical as well as a spiritual dimension… The Universe is in a deep process of transfiguration. Love, truth, compassion and zest—all of these divine qualities are embodied in the universe.

Swimme seeks to place scientific technology in its context of the infancy of the earth community as it struggles for re-connection to its sacred source. For Chardin and Swimme the human being is the current culmination of a still-evolving universe.

For Swimme the disasters happening on our planet take place because the cosmos is not understood as sacred. A way out of this difficulty is a journey into the universe as sacred. Swimme is a mathematician by training, seeking a larger, warmer, nobler science story. The story of the Universe should not just be a collection of facts. It should sweep us into a grand world view, including meaning, purpose, and value, which is covered by world religions.

Swimme thinks that the popular view is that the earth is like a gravel pit or a hardware store, that the earth is just stuff to be used—that consumerism has become the dominant faith, exploiting the riches of the earth. His fundamental aim is to present a new cosmology that is grounded in contemporary scientific understanding of the universe but nourished by ancient spiritual convictions that the earth is sacred. “Indeed God saw everything that God had made and it was very good. (Genesis 1:31)”

I like Swimme because he offers a sacred understanding of the Universal Big Bang, which is the larger context of the Christian Big Bang. The Universal Big Bang is a miracle of science. The incarnation, which is the Big Bang of Christian tradition for me, is the miracle of faith. That through Christ, God is with us!

As we approach Earth Day may we approach the infinitely intertwined and complex array of creatures within the context of a Creator, who will always transmit wonder and awe!