Monday, May 27, 2013

Intelligent Design

As a sexagenarian any conversation that doesn’t include current health complaints is a blessing and worth my time. A rather bright friend and I were recently engaged in a theological discussion. Now don’t let that last phrase chase you away. In any case, he gently placed the proposition before me that there is no outside to the universe, no transcendence, no God, no supernatural beyond the natural. He has good reason for this stance.

And though I am a religious person, I have no difficulty with this proposition. I did however offer a counter-position in that, though there may be no outside to the universe, I fervently believe there is an inside; an interiority, a subjectivity, in ancient days known as anima mundi or the Soul of the World.

The intelligent design (ID) debate is typically posited within a framework of Creator outside the universe (Intelligent Design) or no Creator outside the universe (evolution). The reasoning for ID that I most often hear is that when we look around and see such an intricate and complex design then obviously, common sense moves us toward a Cosmic Designer. For evolutionary biologists, a Creator is not necessary for the universe to be here only natural selection.

The root assumption beneath both these positions however holds to a model of cosmos as so much “stuff,” living organisms without interiority and lifeless matter available to be molded as potter to clay and operating mechanically in the manner of Newton’s clockwork universe. Matter tends to be viewed as inert and/or stupid, entirely without meaning, soul, or interiority.  

A slightly different, more organismic slant imagines cosmos as living being, found in ancient Neoplatonic thinking and in the modern Gaia hypothesis put forth by Lovelock and Margolis a few decades back. I suggest that for Buddhist, Taoist, various indigenous, ancient quarters and the edgiest perspectives in contemporary biology and physics, the issue of ID versus evolution is a non issue. These models imply no separation between Creator and Creation and that the universe is self-creating, self-organizing, self-sustaining, and self- transforming in continuous process.

The cosmos then is self-designed. We live in an intelligent universe. We are a particular expression of cosmic life. This is extremely hard for many people to wrap their heads around because we are culturally indoctrinated (both religiously and scientifically) to view the world as Other, a huge supply of resources and commodities for our use and stewardship without intrinsic life and value except as assigned by humanity. In the history of humanity, soul was withdrawn from everything except our species. We imagine humanity as the crown of creation rather than one species among many, interpenetrating and interdependent upon each other.

When the universe was de-animated in the Age of Enlightenment by the new Western worldview, we became increasingly separated from the natural world. Indeed, even  estranged from ourselves, the medieval Great Chain of Being was fractured and modernity began.

The organismic model of the universe is entirely consistent with astrological thinking and I would encourage those seeking more information consider reading The Death of Nature by Carolyn Merchant, The Self-Organizing Universe by Erich Jantsch, The Dream of the Earth by Thomas Berry, Journey of the Universe  by Swimme and Tucker, Where the Wasteland Ends by Roszak, The Archetypal Cosmos by LeGrice, and  The Sacred Depths of Nature by Goodenough.

Wishing you curiosity.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Dark skies greeting

This blog is associated with the web office of Brad Kochunas, astrology consultant at Published occasionally, I hope you'll check back for new rants and offer constructive commentary and informed opinion.

Why dark skies? Dark skies is the sign off that I have used over the years when writing emails and letters. Some people have questioned whether I was wishing them a difficult day, bad fortune, or troubling times, I reassured them that no, I held their best interests in my heart.

It's my understanding that one of the ways by which soul (psyche) was imagined during the medieval and Renaissance periods was as the entire night sky. This is a lovely image for our interiority. It lets us hold a cosmos within and is echoed by Origin, one of the early church fathers when he wrote, "Thou art a second world in miniature, the sun and the moon are within thee, and also the stars." And as an astrologer who deals with mythological deities like Venus, goddess of love, Mars, god of war, and Pluto, lord of the Underworld, the vast blackness of the night sky allows me to see these imaginal gods at work and at play in my life and in the lives of others when working with their astrology charts. Without the endless darkness of space the magnificent turning of the cosmos could never be experienced. The great lights both wandering and constant shine brightly and help instill humility within me knowing that I am but a small expression of a larger and wiser natural process.

All too often we focus on the starry light in the foreground and ignore the backdrop of the cosmic blackness failing to realize that without this darkness there would be no light. Though in many creation stories darkness often precedes the light into being, I think it more likely that  light and dark arise mutually into awareness.

In any case, dark skies awaken us to the fantasy that though our lives may at times feel out of our control, they are not necessarily out of control, there are larger guiding factors at work in the world.

So, should I wish you dark skies, it is my fondest hope that you'll experience an opening into your inner heavens and receive the deep blessing therein.

Dark skies.