National Commentary

Not About Our Planet Alone

You think we’ve got problems with Trump and the pandemic? Try the fact, reported this week in a University of Insubria study in Italy, that “an ancient black hole as heavy as a billion suns and pointed right at us” has been discovered. This is something called a “blazar” that is “powered by a bright black hole that can blast a hole right through galaxy clusters.”

Granted, it is 13 billion light years away. But what if it’s supposed to matter to us?

What if we’re in a cosmic race with implications for the entire universe in all its mind-boggling vastness? Far beyond our capacity to fully grasp, what if the human mind — that capacity we all possess on this tiny orb, this third rock from the sun — constitutes one most advanced substance in the cosmos equipped to prevent its own ultimate destruction?

Black holes, of course, are not well known and have been the subject of serious study for recent decades. But it would not be wrong to conceive of them in metaphorical terms, as part of a universe-wide titanic battle between the forces of light and life, on the one side, and destruction, death and utter darkness on the other.

Perhaps science as far as it has been developed to date is simply not yet capable of getting a cogent conceptualization around this. Perhaps we come up against the limits of science and must resort to intuition, to poetic expression, to a kind of theogony to even talk about this.

Well, this is the season for that sort of thing, a season for looking upward into the sky, to see a star, maybe a convergence of known celestial orbs, but something which points beyond the circumstances and solutions of this earthly life.

It seems like the hardest thing to explain may be the most obvious and self-evident: that is, one’s own consciousness and capacity to think and reflect on with respect to everything else we can perceive.

The most obvious thing we all share — our consciousness — is something we have the hardest time putting into the context of this observable universe. The laws of science with respect to the material universe we study and observe are simply not big enough to include one’s own consciousness. Which is real, our consciousness or the objective universe out there? How, really, can they both be real?

So, as incalculable as the appreciation of the wider universe may be to us, so is our most immediate self-awareness of what’s happening in behind our eyes, in our heads.

From the standpoint of macro-thinking, maybe there is more in our religious traditions than perhaps we’re likely to concede.

Try this, just try it. We find ourselves alive in this universe seeking guidance on how to grasp it and to proceed.

We find ourselves with some ancient written record of what’s gone on before. The dominant one in the West is the Abrahamic tradition, that is, derived from the legecy of Abraham, resulting in the subsequently evolved traditions of Judaism, Islam and Christianity.

The most decisive reality accounting for the strand of Abraham was the command of cosmic messaging to reject the sacrifice of his son, Isaac. Originally compelled to sacrifice his son in a manner amazingly common in those days because it symbolized the willingness to sacrifice sons to the battlefield to advance the all-too earthbound goal of temporal gain. Without this radical rejection of this mode of tribal advancement, there is no Abrahamic continuity.

So, the survival of our species is rooted in rejection of fathers sacrificing their sons, as in wars of conquest. Needless to say, this is the onset of a tradition that was way too often ignored and violated. But think about it.
Viewing Abraham’s sparing his own son as a paradigm to reject war, and in fact, patriarchy, functions as the possible beginning of a pathway preparing us for winning the cosmic battle against death and darkness.

Our planet’s survival is not just about our planet, alone. Our planet hosts us, self-conscious beings operating at the cutting edge of our cosmos’ consciousness, and tasked with the survival of all the universe as we know it.

Nicholas Benton may be emailed at [email protected]