New Cosmology based on a New Pneumatology for Sacred Development
By Fr. Jojo M. Fung, SJ
Overview of the New Cosmology
The new cosmology explained the genesis as an initial explosion or Big Bang. This sudden explosion brought all matter, energy, space and time into existence. The afterglow of this explosion resembles a cosmic microwave background radiation that Marcus Chown (2006, 147) described a whitish “like the inside of a light bulb” to the extent that “even billions of years after the event, all of space is still glowing softly with relic heat of the Big Bang fireball.”1
Michael Dowd (2009) preferred to call it “the great radiance.”2 A split second after the big bang, an extremely rapid, accelerating inflation (Davies 2006; Gribbin 2009) began.3 Thereafter a slow and steady development continued for billions of years. Some called this an eternal inflation (Primack and Abrams 2006, 190ff) which is a state of existence that is eternal.4
This eternal inflation occasions the possibility of a multiverse where there is more than just one universe. This multiverse, scientists (Steinhardt and Turok 2007) postulate is an infinite open universe without any beginning or end.5 The multiverse enjoys an “infinite duration” (Deutsch 2011).6 against the backdrop of the genesis of creation. This new cosmology has profound impact on pneumatology. A re-thinking of pneumatology is called for. This will be dealt with in the next section.
The New Pneumatology
The new Pneumatology explains the Spirit in terms of the action/activity since “God is an activity rather than a person” (Kaufman 2004, xi, 48).7 This re-thinking of the Spirit as action or “activity in the world” (Pannenberg 1988, 12)8) denotes the Spirit “as the marvelous depth of life out of which all life originates” and “as active in the self-transcendence of life” (O’ Murchu 2012, 39, 51, 5).8 In this sense, it is more relevant to describe “the Spirit in the physical universe, rather than the metaphysical; in time rather than the eschaton; in space and matter, rather than the supernatural; in movement, rather than in presence” (Wofgang Vondey 2009, 35-36).9
This immanent presence of the Spirit conveys the cosmic omnipresence of God as conveyed by both panenthesism – all things exist and subsist in God and ‘theo-en-pasism’, God in all things.10 Moreover, the new pneumatology understands the Spirit as activity or action of God in creation.
The Spirit (Gen 1:1) that hovers over the chaos (tohu va-vohu), understood as the unfolding wild and raw material, is the Spirit that “awakens from within the chaos a primordial profoundity that is understood as the “primoridial spirit power, a creative resilience, without beginning or end – a foundational, energetic wisdom” (O’ Murchu 2012, 29). The Spirit’s action is manifested in the “foundational creativity of ageless existence – eternal like the divine life itself – and it has definite connotations of exuberance, elegance, passion, wildness, and prodigious fertility” and even “marks the beginning” of everything – even that of the Godhead itself.” (Ibid., 158).
Sacred Development as the Future
The emergent cosmology and pneumatology calls for the practice of the spirituality of mystic moments. This spirituality is the foundation of initiating an era of sacred development as the future of humankind and the earth.
3.1. Spirituality of mystic moments. This spirituality enjoins each human to be an everyday mystic. As a mystic, each one is enjoined to enter the mystic state of “bodiciousness.” In this state, the entire body experiences the self as an organic part within an organic whole of the universe that is evolving, emergent, pervasively infused with self-organizing patterns and a dynamic sense of direction into the future. In this state of “bodiciousness” the self is also experiencing that which the earth and the universe are experiencing. In other words, “bodiciousness” is but a drop of felt experience in the sea of “earthiciousness” and ocean of “cosmociousness.”
3.2. Ritualized Development. Rituals have to be an integral part of any development plan. Economists, technocrats, industrialists and scientists need to learn from the religious farmers of Asia who begin the day with offerings at the shrine of the “god” of the land, seeking for blessings for their crops and soil in their organic farms. Important too is the lesson imparted by the indigenous peoples who ritualize with sentiments of begging the spirit of water and the land for forgiveness in midst of piping the water and offers rituals of thanksgiving upon a successful harvest. Indigenous peoples firmly believe that rituals make everything in nature and everyone in the village sacred. Rituals adds a sacred dimension to development. Development that engages rituals opens those in development to the Spirit’s action/activity in our midst, in nature, in our world/planet earth and the universe.
3.3. Sacred Development. Sacred development calls for the active practice of “bodiciousness” that intimates and attunes those in development to the communication and organic and psychic experience of the soil, the land, the ponds, the rivers, the fauna and flora. The practice of “bodiciousness” facilitates an experience of the “cosmic self-creativity” that experience God as “immanently present and active in and through the self creativity of the cosmos” (Gloria L. Schaab 2007, 138).11 This experience of God’s creative presence resonates with the experience of “the phenomenon of spirit” that “is the very thread of which the other phenomena are woven for us” (Chardin 1969, 93).12
This Creative Spirit constantly communicates with us through nature and the earth. At the same time, the practice facilitates the deciphering of the messages communicated to the humans. Once the communication is understood, sacred development takes on a spiritual dimension that allows the developers to be led by God’s Spirit.
The developers ensure that all economic projects become initiatives that open the human hearts to the fourfold activities of God’s Spirit in the cosmos. The hearts that are touched by God’s Spirit become the conduits of the Creative Spirit to engage in the activity of suffusing, sacralizing, sensitizing and sustaining all space and time on the face of the earth. In this way, God’s Creative Spirit guides the developers in the economic projects that uphold the sustainability of the human ecology and environmental ecology.
The universe and the earth are organic, spirited and sacred. The universe is an expanding organic web of interrelated and interdependent relations and imbued with self-organizing patterns and a sense of direction and purpose. The Creative Spirit is the action/activity within this organic and sacred web, guiding humans to greater flourishing through the practice of the mystic spirituality of “bodisciousness.” This practice enables humankind to initiate an era of sacred development that grounds all economic projects, scientific and technological advancement in an emergent spirituality of sacred sustainability of the earth and the universe.
1) For more detail, see Marcus Chown, Quantum Theory Cannot Hurt You (London: Faber & Faber, 2006).
2) See Michael Dowd, Thank God for Evolution (San Francisco: council Oak Books, 2009).
3) See Paul Davies, The Goldilocks Enigma: Why is the Universe jus Right for Life? (London: Penguin, 2006) and John Gribbin, In Search of the Multiverse (New York: Allen Lane, 2009).
4) See Joel Primack and Nancy Abrams, The View from the Center of the Universe (New York: Riverhead Books, 2006).
5) See Paul Steinhardt, “The Inflation Debate,” Scientific American 304, no. 4: 18-25 & Paul Steinhardt and Neil Turok, Endless Universe (New York: Doubleday, 2007).
6) See David Deutsch, The Beginning of Infinity: Explanations That Transform The World (New York: Allen Lane, 2011).
7) See Gordon D. Kaufmann, In the Beginning: Creativity (Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress, 2004).
8) See Wolfart Pannenberg, “The Doctrine of Creation and Modern Science,” Zygon 23 (1): 3-21.
9) See Wolfgang Vondey, “The Holy Spirit and the Physical Universe: The Impact of Scientific Paradigm Shifts on Contemporary Pneumatology,” Theological Studies 70, no. 1 (March 2009): 22.
10) Jose I. Gonzalez Faus, I’m Coming, Lord: Contemplatives in Relation, Cristianisme I Justicia, 144(2012), 15.
11) See Gloria L. Schaab, The Creative Suffering of the Triune God (New York: Oxford University Press, 2007).
12) See Teilhard de Chardin, Hymn of the Universe (New York & London: Harper and Row, 1969)