Ancient Physics, Modern Myths: Paul LaViolette’s Pathbreaking “Genesis of the Cosmos”
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The I Ching is similarly aligned with theory. Even legendary Atlantis finds a home in and as every galaxy’s core. In LaViolette’s view, the cores of galaxies are not black holes but rather the prolific sources of continuous matter-generation. This symbolic and generic positioning of Atlantis is a little startling, but at least it lies beyond the Straights of Gibraltar, as Plato insisted. These are touchy subjects, too easily ridiculed, and I’ll forgo further comment because I lack the background necessary to speak authoritatively either way. Let the reader decide, and good luck to you.
I have looked into mythology, however, and, insofar as most of us seem to have little knowledge and even less understanding of this ancient and complex art form, a few observations and comments might be helpful.
As the author is careful to say, “Genesis of the Cosmos” is concerned with the creation of the physical universe. The scientific method is based upon induction with respect to data which is derived from empirical observations which can be measured or somehow quantified. Scientific theories must conform to the way the universe appears (to scientists), regardless of any underlying, non-empirical presuppositions.
Science, therefore, has nothing to say about Consciousness Itself (aka “Cosmic Consciousness”). Unburdened by the scope-restricting limitations of the scientific method, however, ancient mythology and cosmology have, by contrast, a great deal to say about Consciousness Itself, despite the inherently paradoxical nature of such an undertaking. The unifying concept and commitment of ancient Egyptian culture, for example, is expressed by their word “Maāt”, which signifies both Cosmic Order and Harmony and Consciousness Itself. Any effort to correlate modern scientific theories of “creation” (or matter/energy) with ancient worldviews is necessarily concerned only with Cosmic Order and Harmony but not with Consciousness per se. This is as it should be, so even though I am pointing out a limitation in all such correlations, this inherent limitation should not be taken as a criticism. On the contrary, I applaud LaViolette for drawing our attention to this very limitation. I interpret his silence concerning Consciousness as merely the appropriate posture of a scientist talking about science.
The underlying theme of “order out of chaos” and the assumption of an all-pervasive, uncreated ether leads to an apparent contradiction or confusion which I will try to clarify. LaViolette views the ether as an “etheric substance” having the properties of uniformity, entropy, chaos, and disorder. This initial state is also characterized by “perfect symmetry”; hence, perfect symmetry is identified with chaos and disorder. This seems a queer and contradictory juxtaposition. A uniform field is not disordered or chaotic as we normally understand these terms, and calling it perfectly symmetrical doesn’t seem quite right either.
The idea that a uniform field is disordered comes from the notion of entropy and the second law of thermodynamics. Entropy measures the disorder of a physical system. The law says that complex physical systems, such as the universe, exhibit a natural evolution toward greater disorder. The progression is from order, which is highly structured, to disorder, the dissipation of structure and organization. The end-state of greatest disorder (high entropy) could be understood in spatial terms as a uniform field in which a multitude of homogeneous constituents are evenly or uniformly distributed.
Thermodynamics speaks of uniformity at the end of creative transformation, whereas LaViolette supposes an initial state of uniformity before creation proper has even begun. At the same time, he imports the contemporary scientific understanding of entropy into his scheme. This seems to be where the problem lies. If we begin with the idea of uniformity, or a uniform field, then uniformity is the first property (characteristic) to be introduced or “brought to order.” The idea of order itself has not yet been introduced, nor is there some prior or previous order which could inform us. Creation is all about the emergence of order, and it is this arising of order which introduces (or is accompanied by) the notion and the possibility of disorder. The initial uniformity is not disordered but rather unordered. It has no order, but it is not thereby “out of order”—it was never put “in order” to begin with. That is what Creation is going to do.
In fact, if one wishes to speak of order and disorder, as LaViolette has realized, the mind and its grammar demand that something—some things, objects—be introduced that can be put in or out of order. This is accomplished by introducing the ether’s subtle “constituents,” called “etherons”, which continuously react and transmute. Anyone who seriously thinks about cosmogenesis or cosmogony has to deal with these kinds of distinctions, just as they must recognize that a word like “chaos” may have meant something quite different “once upon a time.”
Nevertheless, LaViolette’s basic creation context of “order emerging out of chaos” fits the mythological narratives which he examines quite well, as does his identification of Zeus/Marduk/Horus as the victorious hero of the new world order. LaViolette’s understanding of Kronos/Saturn, however, is more problematic, for it conflicts with a widespread and traditional view of Saturn’s characteristics and function. Forced to fit the mold of an “order out of chaos” theme, Saturn becomes the dark side, very Seth-like, representing chaos and time (and therefore flux). While Saturn is a very complex mythological character who can be “stretched” to accommodate more than one interpretive bias (and LaViolette does present some justification for his view), the dominant view of the ancient world appears to be otherwise: Saturn was the ruler of humanity’s “Golden Age” preceding our present precessional age, the happy time when there was perfect Cosmic Order and Harmony. Corresponding to Ea/Enki, Saturn gives the measures; therefore, he represents order, not chaos. The golden age was understood to be “eternal,” and as the Lord of both time and the Golden Age, Saturn symbolizes eternity. When overthrown by his son Zeus, Saturn retired to Canopus/Eridu (the seat of Rita, or measure), where he “sleeps” (incubates) in a golden cave. By way of confirmation, the Egyptian Saturn is Ptah, the divine blacksmith—a creator, not a destroyer.
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Great article Ray!
I find this subject matter fascinating, and have read a few books on it. I have a particular love of Andrew Collins and Graham Hancock. Andrew’s recent book The Cygnus Mystery is one of my favourites.
It also fascinates me how closely some of the Hindu/Buddhist mythology echoes quantum physics, and astrophysics too. I remember being blown away when reading Capra’s Tao of Physics.
Us modern westerners are so arrogant, aren’t we, to think that we are the first ones to have found the answers.
Being an Aquarian, I am Saturn-ruled, and love structure and order! That goes contrary to what most people believe about Aquarians. I guess our idea of it jsut differs from the rest of you.. ;-)
Posted by Chandira
on 10/08 at 07:50 AM
Ancient Mythology is extremely interesting. Ever since I started playing mmo community type games I find myself wanting to know more about mythical beasts and creatures that the games put up against us. God of War really sparked my interest.
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