Basic Principles

Basic Principles of Cosmology and Theology – A Personal View

 

Introduction

 

This is a summary of my personal beliefs and opinions concerning the basic elements of cosmology and theology. The presentation is intended to be precise, simple, and clear, without any hidden meanings or assumptions. It is also intended to be culturally neutral, without reliance upon or reference to any particular school of thought or philosophical system.

The Universe

 

The universe is infinite and eternal. The universe has always existed and will always continue to exist, without beginning and without end. The universe exists within time and space, but it has no limits. It has no fixed or permanent boundaries. The universe has always existed in time,and it is capable, in theory, of infinite expansion into the void of space.

Time is real. Space is real. Time and space have no beginning and no end. Time and space extend infinitely in all directions and dimensions from any point. Time and space are eternal and boundless, without limit. Time and space are infinite and eternal, but the perception of time and space by the beings and entities dwelling within the universe is influenced and limited by the conditions and circumstances that exist at the point of perception. Time can be defined as duration, the duration of a state of being, or the duration of a set of non simultaneous events. Space can be defined as an emptiness, an emptiness into which something can be placed.

The universe is chaotic in nature. Everything comes from chaos and to chaos everything can return. Chaos is not an entity, or a being, or a god. Chaos is a condition, a situation, a state of being. The universe exists in a continous state of creation and change. No one created the universe. It creates and renews itself, continuously and everlastingly. No one can control the universe, but all the beings and entities that exist within the universe have some influence, whether great or small, on what the universe is and what it becomes. Order exists within the universe, but order tends to be local and particular, and is subject to change.

The greater universe contains within itself lesser universes and lesser worlds. The totality of the greater universe and its lesser universes might be more accurately described as the multiverse. The multiverse may vary in size, sometimes larger and sometimes smaller, never ceasing to exist and never expanding to infinity. There are worlds within worlds, perhaps to a very great number. These lesser worlds may have limits in time and space. They may have a beginning and an end. The totality of the universe exists forever, but lesser worlds may be created, or destroyed, or recreated, or changed beyond recognition. A particular world may seem to have been utterly destroyed, but the elements of which that world was made may still exist in one form or another. A world may seem to have been newly created, but the elements of which that world is made may have been part of a different world at a previous point in time and space.

The Gods

 

There are many gods. How many? Who can say? There are more than one, more than two, more than three, and more than twelve. There are many gods, and each of these gods may have many forms. There exists a multitude of deities, and each of these deities can have a multitude of forms. Divinity is multiple and various, both in appearance and reality. There exists a multiplicity of gods represented by a multiplicity of forms. No single god hides behind all the multitude of divine forms. The gods are individual divine persons, and each of these divine persons may possess multiple names, multiple personalities, many and varied manifestations and forms of being.

The gods have many forms and they can reveal themselves in many ways. They are both immanent and transcendent, as they choose. They are present in the elements and forms of being. They are manifest in the forms of nature, in matter and energy, but they are also transcendent beings not bound by any material form. The gods can reveal themselves in the human mind. They can appear as human or other beings, or as material objects. A god may become manifest in one’s thoughts, or as another person, as a plant or an animal, as a river or a mountain. There are very few limits of form or being upon the gods. They are what they choose to be.

The gods are great and powerful beings, the greatest and most powerful in the universe. Although the gods are vastly superior and all powerful when compared to human beings, they do not possess absolute power. No single entity possesses absolute power, and neither does any group of entities. The gods are not omnipotent, they are not omniscient, and they are not omnipresent. The gods can not destroy the universe, although they can change the universe. Do the gods possess varying degress of power and influence? Perhaps. It is a traditional belief that the gods possess different degrees of power and that there are hierarchies of rank and authority and different levels of influence among them.

The gods are immortal. There existence is permanent. They do not die, although they may choose to inhabit forms that may die or appear to die. The mythologies of the world are littered with stories about dying gods, but it should be noted that in these stories the god who dies sooner or later returns, in one way or another, in one place or another, and is manifest again.

The gods are objectively real entities whose continued existence is not dependent upon the beliefs or actions of lesser beings. They are not merely archtypes, or imaginary symbols of human thoughts and activities, or symbolic representations of natural events and processes. They are real. They exist. They are free and independent beings, equally divine, not controlled byany other entity or power. The gods create what they desire. Their wisdom and power give shape to the world. They create order out of chaos.

Humankind and the Gods

 

The gods are revealed through experience, tradition, and artistic vision. The gods can be reached within the human mind, and some of them may be of human origin. Your own experiences, and the experiences of others, can reveal the presence of the gods. Tradition consists of the remembered or recorded experiences, beliefs, and practices of our ancestors. The creation and contemplation of art is often a religious experience, and this can also reveal the presence of the gods. Beliefs are, or should be, based on experience, the experience of becoming aware of the many and varied revelations and manifestations of the gods, and the experience of engaging in practices that enable communication with the gods.

It is a traditional belief that the gods help those who call upon them. If you give the gods respect and consideration, they may look with favor upon you. If you disrespect the gods, they may look upon you with disfavor.

The gods are pleased by the gift of offerings and sacrifices, by temples, images, and ceremonies. They do not need these things and they are not dependent on them. Humans need these things if they wish to have the active and conscious presence of the gods in their lives. You do not have to worship the gods. If you ignore the gods, the gods will ignore you, usually. Do not expect the gods to answer your prayers if you have not offered them proper respect and consideration.

It is good to practice the cult of the gods, to offer them worship, and to ask for their blessings in return. A cult is a set of beliefs, practices, activities, rituals, and ceremonies that are associated with the worship of a deity or group of deities. Cult is activity directed towards the gods with the intention of offering them respect and worship and of asking for their blessings and favor. Cult activity can range from a simple prayer said by one person to a grand public ceremony with many participants.

Anyone can worship the gods at any time. You do not need permission from anyone else to worship the gods or to perform rituals or ceremonies in their honor. The act of worship can be formal or informal, very elaborate or very simple, depending on circumstances and the needs and desires of the people involved. Worship can be simple and informal, but it must not be careless and thoughtless. Approach the gods with respect and consideration. Anyone who knows the requirements of a particular ritual can act as priest or priestess in performing that ritual. A priest or priestess is a person who is knowledgeable about ritual requirements and who is skilled in performing rituals and ceremonies. Priests and priestesses can act as intermediaries between the human and the divine.

Immortality

 

The gods are immortal. They do not die. Their existence is permanent, although they may sometimes choose to inhabit physical forms that can die, or appear to die. It may be possible to distinguish between eternal gods and immortal gods. If this distinction is valid, then an eternal god has no beginning and no end in time, and an immortal god has a beginning in time and no end.

Humans also possess a degree of immortality. A person’s physical body will die and be destroyed, but a part of that person will continue to exist after the body is gone. The part of a human that survives death is traditionally called a soul or spirit. Many different things can happen to the soul after death. Some people may linger in this world as spirits or ghosts. Some people may be reborn in this world or in some other world, as a human or as some other type of being. Some people may find themselves, for a period of time, in a world that resembles one of the heavens or hells imagined by some religions. Things such as personality, memories, and thoughts may be temporary and may eventually fade away. The spirits of some people may hang suspended in the void, unconscious and unaware, drifting for aeons of time on the winds of chaos before they take shape again as conscious beings. At the very least, afrer a person’s physical body has been destroyed, the person continues to exist as a potentiality that can be called forth into conscious and material existence in the approriate circumstances. There are many possibilities, and different things may happen to different people. The fate of your soul is influenced by what kind of person you are, the kind of life you have lived,  the actions of other beings, random events and circumstances which can not be predicted or controlled, and even your own thoughts and desires.

The Purpose of Life

 

Life is its own purpose. To the extent that they are capable of doing so, living beings decide for themselves what the purpose of their lives should be or if their lives should have a purpose beyond living. That decision may be conscious or unconscious. Some creatures are controlled by their instincts and by environmental factors and are not capable of making a conscious choice. The act of living, in and of itself, can be reason enough to live.

Humans have the freedom and the responsibility to decide for themselves how to live and what to do with their lives. You were not placed in this world to serve some hidden master or to fulfil some mysterious unknown purpose. You are here to do what you choose to do, and to bear the consequences and rewards of doing so. There are some obvious limits on what you can choose to do. You are limited by your genetic inheritance, your physical and mental abilities, the environment in which you live, the amount of knowledge you possess, the kind of society and culture that you live in. Your life can be influenced by events and conditions over which you have no control, and of which you may not even be aware. Even though there may be limits on your choices, your life still belongs to you, and you alone have the ultimate right to decide what to do with it.

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Published in: on January 9, 2011 at 8:11 pm  Comments (7)  
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7 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I’m really glad you expanded on the previous post: this is quite brilliant.

  2. […] made some wonderful posts recently on polytheism, cosmology and ethics – which you can find here and here – that are well worth a read. It isn’t often that I find someone whose views […]

  3. Nicely done! I don’t agree word-for-word, but in general I can get behind almost all of what you’ve said here!

    • If you want to expand a bit on points of disagreement, please do! Your thoughts are always valuable. You might be able to change my mind about something! Theology, to a large extent, is a matter of speculation based upon the interpretation of one’s experiences, and can be shaped to a degree by subjective influences that the thinker may not be very much aware of. My previous post on “First Steps” represents my essential core beliefs (or opinions, I know the word “belief” is perhaps contentious) and “Basic Principles” is just an expansion of that. I have found it useful over the years to keep a short written summary of my basic theology and to review it once in a while, every couple of years or so, to see if still matches my view of reality. Overall, my theological opinions have changed very little over the last fifty years, although I like to imagine that their written expression is much more elegant than it was when I was teenager. The biggest change, and this is fairly recent, is moving from the idea that the gods are absolutely all powerful and omnipotent to the idea that they are not. I have not saved my earliest theological writings, they were very short and rather pompous and absolutist in style.

      • It’s a semantic point, mainly–I’m not sure that the phenomenal universe of time and space really is eternal, or if there is perhaps a “larger” thing in which the phenomenal universe comes into being and eventually fades again. Certainly, solar systems come and go, as do galaxies; and certainly “thought worlds” (in Alan Moore’s parlance) also come and go; but, I’m not entirely sure that the same processes aren’t at work in the larger phenomenal cosmos. If we want to consider the phenomenal world as “cosmos,” and then the larger “container” of all there ever is and was or will be as a more eternal “universe,” then I think that might work, but a bit more explicit definition might be necessary.

        So, as I said, it’s semantic really. Most of the rest is great as far as I’m concerned, and I wouldn’t have many (if any) semantic differences with the remainder.

  4. By “universe” I did indeed mean the grand totality of everything that was, is, or shall ever be. Perhaps I should add a more explicit definition of what I mean by the word. Our observable universe of planets, stars, and galaxies may just be a temporary construction existing within the greater universe. Our scientists tell us that our universe began with an event called “the Big Bang”. I think that the “Big Bang” may be an illusion, or a purely local event. It is impossible for us to determine how big or important our local universe is in relation to the totality of the greater universe. It might be enormously important, or maybe not. And, there might be a lot more to the universe than the phenomenal universe of space and time that we can observe. Well, I will work on a definition of “universe” that I can incorporate in “Basic Principles”. Thanks for your comments!

    • That is a matter I’ve been going back-and-forth about for a while now as well: namely, is the “big bang/big crunch” “theory” just a vaguely Christian cosmological/eschatological viewpoint read into science? If there is a beginning, must there needs be an end? If there is neither beginning nor end, is what is explicable via the big bang theory then simply a local phenomenon of our “section” of the universe? And, with the recent theories on the holographic universe, where the “interior” of the universe is the 3-D holographic projections of a smaller “exterior” universe made up of planck-length pieces of information…?!? Anyway…

      So, yes, they’re good questions, perhaps better contemplated by scientists and theoretical physicists than reconstructionist theologians, but in any case…! 😉


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