The new view of the universe

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By LEONARDO BOFF*

The universe and all creation constitute a kind of mirror in which God sees himself.

The question of the presence of God within the modern view of the world (cosmogenesis) arises when we ask ourselves: what was before the before and before the big Bang? Who gave the initial impetus for the appearance of that little dot, smaller than the head of a pin that later exploded? Who sustains the universe as a whole to continue to exist and to expand as well as each of the beings existing in it, the human being included?

The nothing? But out of nowhere nothing ever comes. If beings appear in spite of this, it is a sign that someone or something called them into existence and sustains them permanently. What we can sensibly say without immediately formulating a theological response is: before the big bang the unknowable existed and the mystery prevailed. About the mystery and the unknowable, by definition, literally nothing can be said. By its nature, the mystery and the unknowable are before words, before energy, matter, space, time and thought.

Now, it turns out that the mystery and the unknowable are precisely the names by which religions, including Judeo-Christianity, signify God. God is always mystery and unknowable. Before him, silence is better than words. Nevertheless, He can be intuited by reverent reason and felt by the inflamed heart. Following Blaise Pascal, he would say: to believe in God is not to think of God but to feel him from the totality of our being. It emerges as a presence that fills the universe, shows itself as enthusiasm within us (in Greek: having a God within) and makes us feel great, majesty, respect and veneration. This perception is typical of human beings. She is undeniable, it doesn't matter if someone is religious or not.

Placed between heaven and earth, beholding the myriads of stars, we hold our breath and are filled with reverence. Naturally, the questions arise: Who did all this? Who hides behind the Milky Way and controls the ongoing expansion of the universe?

In our refrigerated offices or between the four white walls of a classroom or in a loose conversation circle, we can say anything and doubt everything. But inserted in the complexity of nature and imbued with its beauty, we cannot remain silent. It is impossible to despise the breaking of dawn, to remain indifferent in the face of the blossoming of a flower, or not to be amazed when contemplating a newborn child. It convinces us that whenever a child is born, God still believes in humanity. Almost spontaneously we say: it was God who set everything in motion and it is God who sustains everything. He is the original source and the nourishing abyss of everything, as some cosmologists say. I would say: he is that being who makes all beings be.

Another important question is simultaneously raised: why exactly does this universe exist and not another and why are we placed in it? What did God want to express with creation? Responding to this is not just a concern of the religious conscience, but of science itself.

Serve as an illustration Stephen Hawking, one of the greatest physicists and mathematicians, in his well-known book brief history of time (1992): “If we find the answer to why we and the universe exist, we will have the ultimate triumph of human reason; for then shall we have attained the knowledge of the mind of God” (p. 238). It so happens that even today, scientists and sages are still questioning themselves and seeking the hidden plan of God.

Religions and Judeo-Christianity dared to respond, reverently giving a name to the mystery, calling it by a thousand names, all insufficient: Yahweh, Allah, Tao, Olorum and, above all, God.

The universe and all creation constitute a kind of mirror in which God sees himself. They are expansion of your love, because you wanted companions and companions with you. He is not solitude, but communion of the divine Three – Father, Son, Holy Spirit – and he wants to include in this communion all nature and man and woman, created in his image and likeness.

Having said that, our tired questioning rests, but in the face of the Ministry of God and of all things, our questioning continues, always open to new answers.

*Leonardo Boff He is a theologian, philosopher and writer. Author, among other books, of The new view of the universe (Vozes).


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