Ancient Physics, Modern Myths: Paul LaViolette’s Pathbreaking “Genesis of the Cosmos”
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A pre-existing time and space is a simple statement of a given that cannot be derived by scientific theorizing, however acute the scientific minds that try to do so. Almost all mythological narratives dealing with cosmic origins begin with just such a posture, and LaViolette has the courage and insight to do the same. Instead, “Genesis of the Cosmos” simply introduces that which cannot be derived, elaborates upon that which can, and does not pretend to do otherwise. Because of this orientation, LaViolette is able to highlight an important distinction in the Babylonian story of Marduk: Marduk is not a proper creator god; rather, he “orders” the universe. He doesn’t create the primordial waters any more than do the Egyptian gods, but he does order the universe by making the necessary moves relative to what he is given. Implied in all this is a continuous creation and a continuous ordering. Therefore, Marduk is not so much an external entity pulling strings as he is the principle of order itself, coexistent with manifestation. Despite the requirements of grammatical story-telling, there is no ultimate conflict between “Marduk- ordering” and “self-organization”.
One of the most fundamental tenets of ancient thought is that any arising and persisting Cosmos is inherently harmonious and “well-ordered”. It is our responsibility to recognize and respect the music of the Whole, just as LaViolette has done, so that we don’t screw it up. That we have screwed it up, and are continuing to do so with unprecedented gusto, is perhaps the most fundamental reason why books like “Genesis of the Cosmos” deserve our serious consideration. Most of us know that we are in deep trouble but too few of us recognize that, at root, our metaphysical unconsciousness and our spiritual stupidity are allowing us to passively witness our own self-destruction. Or so it seems to me.
In Part 3 LaViolette presents a comprehensive refutation of twentieth century cosmology, an enjoyable romp into deeply heretical territory. I was surprised by the scope of his criticisms, but his views cannot be casually dismissed, for he has obviously done his homework and knows the territory. LaViolette is a Ph.D. with degrees in physics and systems science, and is also a well known and respected researcher who began formulating his unique cosmological theories over 30 years ago. “Genesis of the Cosmos” throws out more sacred cows per page than any physics book that I’ve ever actually finished reading: special relativity, general relativity, the speed of light as a constant and a cosmic speed limit, Big Bang cosmology, black holes, curved space, the expanding universe, our recently anointed new kids on the block (dark matter and dark energy), and, of course, whatever next week’s ad hoc, add-on, theory-saving contraption of epicyclic convenience turns out to be. I suspect that many actually sane people with clear heads have experienced impure thoughts concerning our almost inconceivably nonsensical Big Bang theory (which is not, incidentally, a theory of cosmic origins). Perhaps this theory is too ugly to be true, but LaViolette says that it is too untrue to be true and that no more of our endless “fine tuning” can save it.
If LaViolette has his facts right, relativistic cosmology is shockingly and chronically out of sync with the observational data. Because of this, as new, more accurate, and theory-damaging data comes in, various ad hoc fixes are inevitably introduced in order to realign the theory with the facts. As a result, it has become increasingly difficult to reconcile the presence of so many band-aids with the notion of a healthy and robust theory. Over the past 80 years, more than a few scientists have published contrary theories—some with cogent criticisms of Big Bang theory. Were they to become better known and seriously considered, our current cosmological thinking would effectively be upended.
Our author also mentions several facts which certainly got my attention and which might interest the reader. Tesla, for example, rejected “curved” space on the basis that space has no properties. I would say that space has the property of extension but that it has no constituents. Either way, the question arises: How could space be curved? What is it that is curved? To help us understand this, all we are given is an illustration of a sphere placed on a rubber sheet. Portraying 3-D space (or 4-D space-time) with a 2-D rubber sheet is as misleading and inappropriate as the related and commonly-used metaphor of “the fabric of space.” Space has none of the characteristics of a fabric or of a rubber sheet. A metaphorical illustration is not an explanation. There is no explanation for “curved space”, and this is why Eddington called it a dodge.
Brian Greene, a physicist who writes excellent books on string theory and cosmology, notes that the central element in the unfolding of cosmic history is one essential fact: the universe is expanding. The expansion of the universe, however, is not a fact. It is a conjecture made in response to the “red-shift” of galaxies observed and reported by Hubble. What is not often reported is that in 1936 Hubble publicly stated that the “expanding universe” interpretation did not fit the observational data and that he essentially favored the “tired light” model, a model which allows light to both speed up (blue-shift) and to slow down (red-shift). This directly contradicts the central and essential assumption that the speed of light is a constant, the theoretical basis at the heart of relativity theory.
Convincing us that the Big Bang is wrong does not tell us that LaViolette’s, or any other theory, is right. And, of course, there are other theories, such as Eric Lerner’s The Big Bang Never Happened. The latter’s criticisms of mainstream cosmology are similar to LaViolette’s, but his theory is a different theory. It is also one thing to dismiss status-quo theories, and quite another to offer an alternative that is both as comprehensive as the reject and, at the same time, a simpler “likely story.” I can’t speak for Lerner’s work, but with regard to “Genesis of the Cosmos”, this is just what LaViolette has apparently done.
The theory of subquantum kinetics does not itself stand or fall on the basis of any mythological correspondences. It could and should be evaluated on its own terms, as a scientific theory. For this reviewer, however, the mythological connections made the theory fascinating rather than merely interesting. That I could find a fault or two in this area should surprise no one. The proper interpretation of mythology is an open question, and even among professionals there is as much disagreement as agreement. All interpretations involve a bias, a behind-the-scenes context which bestows meaning. LaViolette’s approach is fascinating because it involves a bias or context (the microcosm) which is unique and which I had never seen or considered before. The scientific/mythological correlations are impressive because, with few exceptions, they make sense.
The historical implications of this microcosmic bias are unavoidable and probably even more heretical than the scientific theory which informs the bias. In the remote past there existed an advanced technological human culture more sophisticated than our own. LaVioltte writes: “This ancient science portrays modern scientific concepts such as entropy, order through fluctuation, circular causality, positive feedback, critical mass, spontaneous symmetry breaking, bifurcation, matter/antimatter creation asymmetry, wave pattern self-stabilization, stable periodic states, and sequential quantum jumps to successive steady states”.
This contradicts what most people believe and what many will even consider. We are supposed to be more “evolved” than our ancestors, an unexamined assumption which has probably caused more confusion and misunderstanding than any other. Our recent past and probable future should be enough to raise some doubts concerning our superiority.
Perhaps the greatest value of Genesis of the Cosmos lies in the questions that it raises and the presumptions that it challenges. In this respect, the validity of LaViolette’s scientific theory and the relevance of his mythological correlations, while certainly important, are secondary issues. Few of us are in a position to evaluate scientific theories or mythological interpretations, but all of us suffer the consequences of our most fundamental beliefs and assumptions—those deeply-rooted, core metaphors which are so familiar and broadly supported that they have become unquestioned, unexamined, and finally unconscious. Whether or not we agree with their conclusions, books that challenge these presuppositions are valuable assets because they force that which was covert to become overt. Aside from Hamlet’s Mill, several others come to mind in this regard: “Science and the Akashic Field” (by Ervin Laszlo) and “Cataclysm!” (by D.S. Allan and J.B. Delair). Any book which questions the unquestioned in an intelligent and comprehensive manner deserves an audience. “Genesis of the Cosmos is one of those books.”
© 2007 Raymond Lynch
Raymond Lynch is a composer and musician who has written and produced five albums, including the Platinum album, “Deep Breakfast”. He is presently in the last stages of writing a book on mathematics, “How Do You Get 2 When 1 Is All You’ve Got?” You can learn more about him and his music at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raymond_Lynch and http://www.raylynch.com
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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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