|Everything is implicated in everything else, nature transforms random nonsense
into structure; and in humans, each and all, are inscribed fifteen billion years of
evolution. Conjoined to nature at the hip, we must dare to convert matter/energy into
|When Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Jesuit order, left his desk in
sixteenth-century Rome after a hard day's work, it is said that he would often retire to
the roof of his headquarters and gaze, rapt in contemplation, at the stars. For Ignatius,
as for any Renaissance citizen before the age of Galileo, star-gazing could be a spiritual
exercise. In fact, Jesuit lore has it that on such occasions Ignatius was simply
rehearsing the climax of his Spiritual Exercises - the "contemplation for obtaining
the love of God." In this famous meditation, which comes after approximately thirty
days of meditations on the life and passion of Jesus, "the Word made flesh," the
exercitant is bid to taste and touch the deeds of the Creator - signs of love-in-action -
in all created things, stars included. "Love," says the text, "manifests
itself in deeds rather than in words." And above all, God's deeds of love are to be
found in the works of creation. "Consider how God dwells in creatures; in the
elements, giving them being; in the plants, giving them growth; in the animals, giving
them sensation. ... Consider how God works and labors on my behalf in all created things
... in the heavens, elements, plants, fruits, flocks, etc. ..."
The frame of this meditation is, of course, the first chapter of Genesis and the prologue of John's Gospel: the aboriginal Beginner hovers over the void, pouring out, emptying, informing, quickening, breathing into chaos, bringing light to darkness. Or,
In the beginning was the Word:
Thus God is to be found in all things, all processes of nature. The early church
Fathers, in amplifying the meaning of the doctrine of the Holy Spirit, had made this
clear. As Alfred North Whitehead once put it, in deciding for the direct immanence of the
Spirit in the material world, the great fourth-century theologians of Alexandria and
Antioch "have the distinction of being the only thinkers who in a fundamental
metaphysical doctrine improved upon Plato."(1)
In the minus department, however, the ingenious Lawgiver who (at least for the theistic
Newton) stands behind such laws is not the Holy One that Jews and Christians worship as
immanent in all creation and "closer to us than we are to ourselves." Rather, it
is the Absentee Landlord of deism. For once Newton's God creates the cosmic machine, it
will run by itself - and God can retire. The otherness of God thus becomes an abyss no
longer crossable by means of nature. For an inert, mechanistic landscape is not semiotic,
a set of numinous signs, as the medieval material world had been; it is a silent expanse
that signifies nothing and of which we can hardly feel ourselves a part. All analogy or
kinship of being is broken - and we are effectively shut out (or shut up within our own
bag of skin). In such a world, one can no longer contemplate the elements, the stars, or
any other feature of nature, as Ignatius Loyola did, and expect to taste and touch the
Spirit immanent in these things. What Newtonian cosmology suggests is a Great Engineer who
constructs the cosmic clockworks, but thereafter retreats beyond the heavens, sealed off
from creation and thus inevitably superfluous in history and daily-life.
Clearly, self-organization, interconnection, process, fluctuation, and openness mark
the dynamics of human culture. But if the dynamics of nature are also characterized by
these same features, then, as Jantsch observes, "the dualistic split into nature and
culture may now be overcome."(16) We no longer need
that double-accounting procedure of putting the physicist's energy systems in one box and
the energy systems of our life-world in another. Distinctions may still have to be drawn
to avoid reducing the human to an electron or a "selfish gene," but what we have
here is continuity - or something like the ancient notion of an analogy of being.
Moreover, as we survey the principle features of this post-Einsteinian world in what
follows, step by step we will be moving into the Hebrew prophets' eschatological world.
At that point, most astronomers followed Fred Hoyle in thinking that our universe
existed in a "steady state" and was virtually eternal. But then, in 1929, Hubble
made the additional landmark observation that distant galaxies are moving away from us, in
every direction, at a rapid rate. If so, argued Abbé Georges Lemaitre, a Belgian
priest-mathematician, space-time must be expanding from an original
"singularity" some 15 billion years ago - which Fred Hoyle would name the
"big bang." It seemed, after all, that maybe the universe had a beginning. In
1963, two Bell Laboratory scientists, Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson, confirmed this
suspicion by accidentally picking up the primordial sound-wave of the birth of our
universe on their big radio antenna. Suddenly, the cosmos had a history, going from almost
nothing to a very big something in very short order.
Big bang theories - and there are several - do not necessarily imply a Creator, or an
absolute beginning of time.(19) Our universe may just be
one of many existing simultaneously (the others being unknown to us). Or our universe may
have ballooned out of a prior universe; it could be just one of many in a series - and the
whole works could be destined to collapse into a dense black hole, from which - who knows?
- another universe might spring. (We do not really know yet whether the universe will
continue indefinitely to expand.) Or, if Hawking's theory is correct and finite space-time
has no boundary or edge, the universe may be completely self-contained.(20)
The case is the same with the nuclear bonding properties: if the "strong
force" that holds atomic nuclei together had deviated from its actual strength by as
much as 1 percent, no carbon atoms, the basic building blocks for DNA, would have been
able to form inside stars. In turn, if the nuclear "weak force" responsible for
radioactive decay had been a mite stronger, all hydrogen would have immediately dissolved
into helium - and without hydrogen there could be no carbon, oxygen, or nitrogen. Again,
if the binding force of electromagnetism responsible for light and all electrically
charged particles had been even marginally stronger than it is, stars would have remained
too chill to explode as supernovas - and since exploding supernovas seed the planets with
the heavier, life-giving elements, our planet (and any other) would have remained a dead
But our planet is not a wasteland. Somehow, from the very outset, the universe was
exactly calibrated so as to favor life. Is this mere coincidence? Or is something more -
and something very akin to teleology - afoot here? There are actually two versions of the
anthropic principle. The so-called "weak" version, which emphasizes the vast
number of galaxies besides our own, limits itself to saying that the conditions necessary
for intelligent life are met in certain limited regions of time-space - and accordingly,
since we (and our physicists) are here, we find the conditions that produced us. As
Hawking wryly quips, this "is a bit like a rich person living in a wealthy
neighborhood not seeing any poverty."(22)
In the "strong" version, however, teleology re-enters cosmology (much to the
horror of many scientists): the fundamental features of universe are the way they are because
of mind. That is, from the very beginning the cosmos has been silently working toward us,
distilling a sounding board and a voice that might speak for it. We belong here, are a
vital part of the universe's immense journey.
To suggest that the evolution of 50 billion galaxies exists simply for our sake seems a
bit much - anthropocentrism gone wild, in fact, and an invitation to self-inflation. (The
believer has a different way of putting it: the universe is the way it is for the glory of
God.) What one can safely say is that when a modern star-gazer reflects on the startling
initial conditions of the universe, he or she contemplates once again an amazing grace.
Quite literally, we are the fallout of the stars, and unless Carl Sagan discovers
extraterrestrials, we are the only ones in the cosmos who will be able to tell its story
and say what it shall mean.
B. The Unpredictability and Interconnectedness of Matter
What we think of as matter - whether it be a subatomic quark, a yellow star like our
sun or a bee hive - must be thought of as bound and condensed energy, captured in an eddy
out of the torrential, buzzing flow set loose by the first chord of our cosmic symphony.
We, the plants and the stars are warps or disturbances in the field of this ballooning,
random energy. The ancient Greek atomists and Hindu mythologists were on target: all
object-like entities in the universe are vortices or whirlpools in a vast cosmic river of
free energy that flows through them and simultaneously creates them. And, as we discovered
with the atom bomb, the potency of this bound energy is almost unimaginable; to measure
it, one must multiply mass by an enormous constant, the velocity of light squared E=mc.
Moreover, when not contained, this random flood of energy is impossible to pin down; it
simply dances and is fundamentally indeterminate. Should you try to locate a subatomic
particle's position in a nuclear cloud chamber, its velocity will elude you; and
conversely, if you try to determine its speed, its position will remain unknown (Werner
Heisenberg's "uncertainty principle"). As Stephen Hawking puts it, quantum
mechanics, which formulates the laws of this subatomic domain, "introduces an
unavoidable element of unpredictability and randomness into science."(23)
The problem for a classical, deterministic physicist is that this elemental stuff acts
like both wave and particle. On the one hand, early in this century Max Planck
demonstrated that subatomic phenomena exhibit particle-like behavior; they come, like
monetary denominations, only in certain-sized packets or quanta. On the other hand, these
particles also behave like sound or light waves; they are diffused - and cannot be
localized. Hence scientists are unable to predict a single definite outcome of an
observation. Instead, all one can do is predict a number of possible outcomes and tell how
probable each one is.
Hard science has thus been forced to recognize two major consequences. First, Newton's
laws of motion and the orderly grid of the periodic table of chemical elements have to be
understood as exercises in statistics. Lawfulness at the macroscopic level, it now
appears, rides in fact on a wildly chancy underworld of vibrating, oscillating, aleatory
clouds. Hence the great nineteenth-century dream of scientific determinism - that if we
knew the complete state of the universe at any one time we could then predict whatever
would follow - is a delusion. The subatomic underworld does not resemble a geometric
diagram; it looks more like a painting by Turner or Jackson Pollock.
Second, since elemental matter exhibits the characteristics of a field or wave, the
universe is radically interconnected. Through their fields, the atoms of one thing
entangle themselves with the fields of another - and thus everything is internally related
to everything else. The mutual impact may be negligible, but the new star being born near
the constellation Aquila doesn't make a move without affecting you or me, nor do we make a
move without affecting it. In this understanding, the word "atom" should connote
just the opposite of what Newton supposed. At the most basic physical level, at least,
everything is implicated in everything else - the one in the many, the many in the one.
The truth is that matter\energy is profoundly social; communion, not isolation,
is the rule
C. A Semiotic Universe
In a Newtonian universe of big scale phenomena, matter is inert and dumb - the mere
repetition of the same prosaic routine by a "closed system." In such a world,
perfect equilibrium is the norm. The redundant swing of a pendulum or the reiterated
pattern of wallpaper, therefore, would serve as paradigmatic examples of lawfulness in the
timeless Newtonian scheme of things. In a post-Einsteinian universe, however, most systems
are "open," active, and wildly or moderately exchanging energy with their
environment. In this context, matter\energy is an information system that gives
signs - is semiotic. Anything - from a quasar to a DNA molecule - constitutes itself as a
time series, a sequence of signals that govern its behavior and vary according to some
sort of statistical regularity. The understanding of such processes falls under the sway
of information physics - the theory that underlies the functioning of the transistors and
integrated circuits of our television sets and computers.(24)
It has been shown, for instance, that information, which is equivalent to organization, is
a form of counter-entropy - a warp in time-space that works against the odds-on trend
toward incoherence or sheer "noise."
Molecules and stars - and everything in between like ourselves - do not operate like
wallpaper. We are all thermodynamic systems (heat users), and that means we are precarious
balancing acts, moment by moment converting random energy into information\organization
and, in the enterprise, losing structured energy in the form of waste or noise (i.e.,
producing entropy). If there is too much randomness, the result is mere chaotic buzz - the
system simply dissipates into unbound energy that does no work. On the other hand, if, as
in Newton's ideal, there is too much redundancy, the result will be ironbound rigidity -
the wallpaper effect or something like the monotone of a stuck telephone signal that
communicates nothing. Complex signal systems balance between these two extremes and are
thus neither completely regular nor completely irregular. They exist far from equilibrium.
Necessity and chance - or order and disorder - intermingle in them. They are essentially
ambiguous, and the more complex a system is, the more unstable and innovative.
In effect, everything that we spoke of as weaving itself out of the random energy of the big bang is self-organizing or "autopoetic."(25)
And how does such self-organization proceed? Things maintain themselves in being - that
is, order the disorder they devour - by using a standard code or protoalphabet that
regulates their signals. The protoalphabet is analogous to a set of grammatical rules
which generate, within limits, a wide variety of programs or messages. The code of the
spiral DNA macromolecule discovered by Crick and Watson in 1955 is a good example. An
"alphabet" consisting of four nucleotides forming three-letter "words"
for 20 amino acids is arranged into "sentences" that will specify one of
thousands of proteins necessary for organic life.
The implications? Information physics has returned us by a detour to a semiotic
universe, a nature that - like the medieval sacramental universe - carries messages. The
universe is a gigantic communications network, a complex circuitry of instructions - most
of which we can barely decipher. Consequently, the gap between nature and human culture
has narrowed considerably. We no longer need to carry the physicist's energy and the
humanist's signs and symbols in separate accounts. One balance sheet will do.(26) The natural sciences, we may now say, do archeological
digs into the primitive signs and protolanguages of atoms and DNA molecules; the
humanities deal with the more developed sign systems and meanings of the animated star
dust we call human cultures. An analogy of being is back in place - and will be more
firmly in place with what follows.
D. Order Out of Chaos
The word "nature" (natura in Latin, physis in Greek)
suggests birth and engendering the new - and as we saw at the outset, this sense of
nature's promise was vital to a biblical (and especially a prophetic) cosmology. A
classical deterministic physics seemingly put an end to this biologistic way of thinking.
Newton focused on what physicists call "integral systems," stable, closed
systems whose final state would not differ from its initial conditions. Psychological time
- in which present and past differ from each other - was therefore viewed as a mirage. He
thus gave us a science of dead things that recopy the same writing in the same atomic
letters - and hence a frozen, unpromising world in which there could be nothing new under
As we just saw, however, the new, post-Einsteinian physics has begun to pay more
attention to the nonlinear, erratic side of things - and with such phenomena we tacitly
re-enter the eschatological universe of the Hebrew prophets. Along with molecular chemists
and climatologists, physicists are now looking at systems of middle-range size and of some
complexity which exist "far from equilibrium" - for instance, the galactic
clustering of stars, the microscopic intertwining of blood vessels, or the shapes of
clouds and lightning. This new focus has not only forced them to recognize how changes in
larger wholes - of, say, a solar system, an atmosphere, an ecosystem, or a brain - can
reorganize molecular and atomic structures (top-down causality); it has also given them
new insight into how disorder functions in nature to give birth to more complex levels of
organization. In this manner, physics at last has a way of understanding how some complex
systems move uphill against the tide of entropy - to a future that is richer than their
pasts. It has a handle, that is, on the evolutionary arrow of time.
Unlike the closed, linear systems examined by classical physics, which for the most
part are found only in a laboratory, the new physics pays attention to nonlinear
thermodynamic systems whose dynamics are marked by relative instability. Here the rule is
that the outcome of the dynamic process is so sensitive to initial conditions that a
minimal change in the situation at the beginning of the process results in a large
difference at the end. Time counts, is intrinsic to the process. And so do small numbers
count. A small imbalance in the particle-antiparticle ratio of the early universe, for
example, leads to a cosmos of 50 billion galaxies and a habitable planet Earth. A small
change in cholesterol content can produce disproportionately large changes in cell
functioning. The flapping of a butterfly's wing in South Asia may alter the ensuing
weather over San Francisco.(27)
Physicists call it complexity theory or, somewhat misleadingly, chaos theory. What they
really have in mind is the germ of a new order that is present in near random activity -
and which acts as "strange attractor" for the whole system. Complexity\chaos
theory focuses on open systems that exchange lots of energy with their environment. Some
of these systems, for instance dying stars, are wholly dissipative; entropy is dominant
and they are wearing out. Others, like that nascent star near the constellation Aquila or
the blue-green algae which first created a breathable atmosphere on planet Earth, are
equally unstable, but exhibit an extraordinary feature: they break symmetry by flirting
with the disorder or noise they constantly take in. And it is apparently this chaos in the
system, a minor fluctuation at first, that triggers the emergence of an often beautiful
and thoroughly unpredictable novelty that reorganizes the whole system and keeps it moving
uphill, against the odds of dissipation and death.
That is, in some but not all instances, the minor fluctuation overcomes the weight of
large numbers - and thus the redundancy - of the prior system and reorders it. The signal
changes. And when this happens, the direction of the time arrow changes - from negative
(degrading, aging, entropic) to positive (upgrading, complexifying, negentropic). Nature's
story, then, is only partly grasped as one of determinism. Redundancy there is, but it is
only part of the picture. The other, complementary part is the story of turbulence or
fluctuation that begets continual metamorphosis. Irreversible time - a present and future
that differs from the past - is thereby written into the fundamental script of nature.(28)
Examples of the eating habits of nonlinear, open systems abound in nature. The
interstellar gas left over from the big bang in the course of time manufactured carbon and
various organic compounds, and when supernovas exploded, their meteorites very likely bore
these vital "waste products" to earth where they proceeded to convert the energy
of the sun to new uses. To the sun, of course, the photons it casts off are waste, sheer
noise; but to emerging blue-green algae, busy with the alchemy of photosynthesis, such
waste is nutriment to be converted into information\organization. In turn the
algae break down carbon dioxide and give off excess oxygen, again so far as the algae are
concerned sheer waste, but the staff of life for emerging animal organisms. In sum,
complex nature devours noise, and transforms its random nonsense into information or
structure. In the case of the star this process directs thermonuclear operations, in the
case of plant life it controls photosynthesis, and in animals it turns up as DNA code and
enzyme production. Open systems are converters of random energy into order, the original
self-organizing, alchemical agents.
The basic rules for such open energy systems seem to be that (1) they never give back
energy in precisely the same form in which it has been taken in; (2) big numbers don't
always win out; small numbers and minority reports matter; (3) it is precisely the
ingestion of chaos or noise - an irregularity - that catalyzes a potentially new level of
organization (a chance variation); (4) the more complex the system is, the more unstable
and innovative it is. Are we describing nature's process of surprise, or that of human
beings? It is difficult to tell. From the very beginning, nature, too, has been
metamorphic, a technological transformer of raw energies into more diverse and complex
organization. In short, there is plenty of prefigurative precedent in nature for changing
water into wine, or bread and wine into one's body and blood.
So where does this put us cosmologically? It puts us, I think, in a universe that would
have been familiar to the Hebrew prophets - one on the move, rich in possibility, rich in
promise. The subjunctive mood has a secure place again in the nature of things. And
paradoxically enough, it is all that turbulence and fluctuation in the cosmos that does
this - that gives all of nature's maybe's and might be's a chance to
become true. In its own tacit, latent way, it as if the universe dreams big, promises big,
and stands fully behind human hope.
IV. The Anthropological Fallout
How do organisms - living systems - appear within the above perspective? First, an
organism is an information and thermodynamic system, receiving, storing and giving off
both energy and information in all its forms, from the light of the sun to the flow of
food, oxygen, and heat passing through it. It is not at equilibrium, neither static nor
homeostatic; as we said above, it is a vortex ferrying both order and disorder in a state
of imbalance, and it tends to maintain this imbalance, struggling upriver against the
entropic drift of decay. As the French philosopher of science Michel Serres puts it,
"the organism is a barrier of braided links that leaks like a wicker basket but can
still function as a dam. Better yet, it is a quasi-stable turbulence that a flow produces,
the eddy closed in on itself for an instant which finds its balance in the middle of the
current and appears to move upstream. ..."(29)
And what are we - we human organisms? Like the stars or the weather patterns of our
atmosphere, we too are open thermodynamic "wicker baskets," quasi-stable
turbulences in the field and flow of energy and information stretching back to the big
bang. Indeed, as the most complex creatures that we know of in our region of space-time,
we are the most unstable - and that means the most recycled. Though we cannot regrow major
organs, we do regrow nearly everything else about our physical being constantly. Nothing
in our genes was present a year ago. The tissue in our stomach renews itself weekly, the
skin is shed monthly, and the liver regenerated every six weeks. Every moment, a portion
of the body's trillions of atoms is dissipating to the world outside, and 98 percent of
them are replaced annually. Each time we breathe, we take in a quadrillion atoms breathed
by the rest of humanity within the last two weeks, and more than a million breathed by
each person on Earth.(31) So much for the strictly
bounded, separate individual!
Like other organisms, we cannot be defined except globally, indeed cosmically. As Lewis
Thomas was fond of pointing out, without the huge swarm of plant chloroplasts and
mitochondria swimming in our cells, we could neither breathe, move a muscle or think a
thought.(32) Quite literally, of course, we are
descendants of the stars, for without star factories to convert helium out of hydrogen,
there would be no oxygen, carbon, or iron; and without these there would be no amino acids
or proteins for life. Fifteen billion years of evolution, a proliferation of forms out of
chaos, are inscribed in our bone marrow, in our nerves and tissue. Each of us is a
distillation, a condensed centrifuge of cosmic energy. We may leak like a sieve, but we
dam up the whole sidereal river.
Order, complexity, and arrangement on one side; chaos, noise, and disorder on the other
- there is nothing that separates us structurally from a crystal, a plant, an animal, or
the whole order of nature. Together, we struggle upward and drift toward death. And like
the rest of nature both determined and riddled by chance, we too give signs, leave our
mark or scrawl here. The poet can be at home in such a universe, for it is riddled with
correspondences and parallels between the human and the nonhuman - a veritable gold field
for mining metaphor.
Coming at the end of a vast chain of conversions of chancy energy, we are simply the
final alchemists, the last transformers and interpreters, the ultimate black box of
nature. We do not hear its thermal din - all the raucous noise random energy makes -
because it is filtered out by the enormous chain of energy-converters that came before us.
As Michel Serres says, "We are submerged to our neck, to our eyes, to our hair, in a
furiously raging ocean. We are the voice of this hurricane, this thermal howl, and we do
not even know it."(33)
V. The Fallout for Spirituality
How does one pray and act in such a setting? There are no dragons here, but it is
awesome enough. A post-Einsteinian universe is unimaginably vast and ancient, is blessed
with steadfast stability; still more remarkably it is also graced with process,
self-organization, interconnection, communication, fluctuation, and openness. This is a
universe whose fullness, diversity, promise, and risk simply dazzle. Given all that, it
has to make a difference to our conception of God, our prayer life, our work and action.
Let me spell this out - speaking out of faith. News from the Hubble Space Telescope or
from a nuclear accelerator will not give you the interpretation that follows. Here, while
building on the preceding analysis, I follow the news I get from the Hebrew and Christian
Scriptures and from the depth probe of my soul's experience - which in the final analysis
reaches farther than scientific apparatus into the secret design of things. I have four
points to make regarding a basic question: What is all this cosmic circuitry for? What, if
anything, is the message of the Ultimate Dispatcher?
1. A Big Enough God and the Spirituality of Ascent
Yes, the universe we have just surveyed is far different from the one Celtic Christians
or Ignatius Loyola thought they dwelt within, but even more than theirs, it declares the
glory of God. The grounds it gives for seeing "how God works ... in all created
things, ... in the heavens, elements, plants, fruits, flocks" are staggering. For in
a static, Ptolemaic "block universe," the Creator may very well seem like a
boring old emperor. A post-Einsteinian universe, on the other hand, offers signs of grace
and gives birth to diversity on a scale never dreamed of by our medieval ancestors. More
than Ptolemy's tightly concentric cosmos, this is the world-in-movement of the Hebrew
prophets - of a God who acts.(34) The sheer scale and
immense generativity of the cosmos can serve the believer as an icon of the greatness,
creativity, and generosity of the Holy One who breaks our boundaries, with whom we must
stretch, whose "thoughts are not your thoughts" and whose ways are "as high
as the heavens above the earth" (Isa. 55--59).
My first conclusion is that the kind of God we imagine ourselves in communion with
cannot be a small tribal or household god, much less one confined to feeding hyperthyroid
consumer desire. After all, if you were to condense the whole 15 billion-year evolution of
the cosmos into one year, all of recorded human history would fit into no more than that
year's last ten seconds! Humans are late-comers, still trying to hire on for a bit part in
a very big, cosmic drama. But what is the play about? Only God knows - and there's the
rub. For given the huge time scale and 50 billion galaxies, the Author of the script
stands beyond reckoning, has to be big and unfathomable. Thus the Ur-Mystery we worship
must be the Unnameable One\Ancient of Days of the mystics, of whom one can only
speak negatively (not this, not that), a "wholly other," hidden God of Glory, of
the tremendum et fascinans, of unsurpassable centripetal and centrifugal
radiance. To use other than metaphorical language of such a God (i.e., to use
literalistic, descriptive terms) is to lose our way. The nuclear generators we call stars
provide signs, halting metaphor - no less for us than for Ignatius of Loyola.
But contemporary physics supplies other appropriate metaphors - metaphors that correct
the impression (created in part by classical Newtonian physics) that the Holy One is a
static "thing," a kind of remote, super spy satellite "way up there"
orbiting Earth, that might be defined by a noun. No, transcendent Spirit - essentially
verb, not noun - is better imagined as the Great Initial Conditioner and Ultimate Strange
Attractor of this or any other universe, and hence as limitlessly charged energy, bonding
force, vibrant field, and creative chaos - none of which, like wave-particles, can be
pinned down and defined. Our Hebrew and early church ancestors knew this - that God is no
idler but the great Energy Field in whom all creation lives and moves and has its being.
They also knew that this is the God of the rainbow covenant - and we must remember
that. The God of our Scripture is primarily concerned with renewing - or re-membering -
the whole of creation, and is not simply preoccupied with the human race. Redeeming the
Israelites as a "light to the nations" ultimately serves a larger design,
involving the whole cosmos. The Noah story is paradigmatic. In that mythical time out of
time, after having almost repented of creation when, because of us, it went so haywire,
God made the primordial rainbow covenant with earth, equivalently with all creation.
"Never again will I curse the earth because of man," God said (Gen. 8:21). The
covenant was not just with humankind but "also with every living creature to be found
with [Noah], birds, cattle and every wild beast, every-thing that lives on the earth"
(Gen. 9:10). Human redemption thus appears as a subordinate clause within the larger
matrix of creation theology.
From the very beginning, the Unnameable wore many names - Brahman, Tao, Yahweh, No-Thingness, Unconquerable Sun, Allah, Grandfather Spirit, and so on. We keep dreaming them up. From the beginning - and continuously since - the Ultimate Strange Attractor overshadows random energy, breathes into what passes for established order and that peace which is no peace. The Strange Attractor stirs things up, is the Restless One.
Now I am revealing new things to you,
Yes, the Ruler of the Universe must be a God of order - and of beauty, subtlety and
compassion beyond telling - but to square with the kind of universe we have just surveyed,
the Holy One must also be one of "holy discontent" who manifests as fire and
whirlwind, devouring lion and enemy, to disrupt and displace the reigning order of things.
From the vantage of the putatively powerful, this can only look like Holy Terror, creating
sheer chaos rather than planting the germ of a new order in the old. But so it is that the
God of the whirlwind works to transform and make new - whether that be with
self-organizing stars, planets, paramecia and species of finches, or with autopoetic
emissaries like Moses, Lao Tzu, the Buddha, and on down to Gandhi, Rosa Parks, and Andre
God is Creator\Destroyer - a revolutionary. "Lift up your eyes to the heavens,
look down upon the earth. The heavens will vanish like smoke, the earth wear out like a
garment ... but my salvation shall last forever and my justice have no end" (Isa.
51:6). The Just God exhibits few signs of a restorationist mentality, looking back to some
Edenic bliss. The movement is ever forward-thrusting - to the extent that, even in the
Book of Revelation's vision of the end-time, God's last word is: "Now I am making the
whole of creation new" (Rev. 21:5).
In terms of spiritual practice, then, the many-named Ur-Mystery we have just evoked
demands distance from our small personalities. That is, it suggests the way of detachment
and ascent from the busyness and chatter of earth, a strategic withdrawal, as it were, for
later re-entry into the world. Solo flights of the "alone to the Alone," at
least for beginners, are not recommended. A religious tradition, with creed, ethical code,
and communal ritual comes to our aid here, mapping the territory of peak experience,
providing guides and critics, setting our neural pathways to the frequency of the
Creator's music - slowly. For, as all seasoned ascenders know - but individualistic
Americans tend to forget - contact with the divine energy field can be "too
much," can blow all your circuits. The challenge is to learn, step by step, how to
stand such intensity, be a conduit for that energy and the big dreams it begets - without
immediately dissipating it by breaking down under the burden of dashed hopes or flying off
into bliss-out, outer space. A religious tradition, if it does its job, grounds us, and
thereby enables Blessing to radiate earth.
The Source of the radiance is beyond all, far out, way up (metaphors that have as
reference point the human body); here is the Lawgiver of Sinai's peak, Plato's Good, the
Big Sky God of the ancient desert monks and holy women (for whom you needed a ladder of
ascent), the supreme Beauty pursued up the chain of being in St. Bonaventure's classic itinerarium
mentis in deum (the journey of the mind to God). Historically, this is the
"wholly other" God of the mountaintop and far horizon, who has been imagined, at
least in the West, primarily in masculine terms. "He" encourages a kind of
top-down social order. As the Hebrew tradition's Abraham and Moses stories have it, the
Holy One is the Aboriginal Dispatcher who calls us out from a settled life to find or
create a new world. Classically, therefore, human spirituality is inward\upward that it
may finally be outward-bound and world-changing. Moses is paradigmatic: When he glowingly
descends the mountain, he brings a new code that will fashion together a people and take
them to a land they had never previously imagined. He embodies God's imagination for the
elements, for the world.
2. Pneumatology and a Spirituality of Descent
There is a more down-to-earth approach to the Author of the cosmic script. It might be
called the way of descent or immanence, and it is picked up and embraced by the male seers
of the Wisdom Books of the Hebrew Bible. "Alone," says the book of Sirach when
it personifies the hidden Wisdom of God as female and giver of new birth, "I have
made the circuit of the vault of heaven and have walked in the depths of the abyss. In the
waves of the sea, in the whole earth, and in every people and nation ..." (Sir.
24:5--6). This is, of course, the wind-breath-sound that the Creator breathes forth into
primordial, big bang chaos, the "gentle breeze" that walks with Adam and Eve in
the garden, Elijah's "small, still voice," the Shekinah\Glory of the rabbis, the
Advocate-Spirit that "blows where it will" through the Gospel of John, and of
course, Gerard Manley Hopkins's Holy Ghost that "over the bent / World broods with
warm breast and with ah! bright wings."
This God sounds very different from the Roarer of Sinai who spits lightning and
thunder. Serene and infinitely subtle, the metaphors are primarily feminine. She is first
of all poet-muse, one who takes meaningless matter\energy and breathes meaning
into it. She rejoices and dances - and so is to be found around hearth and full table, in
laughter and, as the Song of Songs has it, in intense love trysts. In contrast to the
commanding mountain-peak God who is obsessed with ethics and more familiar to top-down
men, it turns out that, disguised as a thief in the night, the Aboriginal Dispatcher has
entered the world secretly from below - ever so quietly, anonymously, and erotically.
(There is more to Id than met Sigmund Freud's eyes.) Feminine wisdom identifies with
groaning earth; "more mobile than any motion," she "pervades and penetrates
all things" (Wis. 7:24). It's something to make the mountains clap their hands.
Women, I suspect, have always been especially sensitive to this path, a more bottom-up
spirituality than the ascension approach preferred by men. The earth and all of nature,
women know, is holy - made so by the fact that the First Poet "above and beyond"
also moves in the atoms, in the "deep down freshness" of all dappled things. And
hence it is this underground Current that women - and some men - try to tap into in their
spiritual practice: in prayer, reading and retreats, wilderness trips and jogging,
listening to classic jazz, Mozart, or Gregorian chant. It sometimes feels quite
impersonal, this Current does - but it's like a vast cleansing river, bringing
unaccountable love and forgiveness, enabling a new beginning. Fire and water at once.
But let me backtrack a bit and pull a few things together. A post-Einsteinian cosmos
reconnects us - both men and women - with "the strength of heaven, light of the sun,
radiance of moon, splendor of fire, speed of lightning, swiftness of wind. ..." In
contrast to the iron cage of classical physics, we can now understand ourselves as no
longer alien intruders in the cosmos, but belonging. The universe's history, its groaning
to give birth to something glorious, comes together in us, becomes conscious in us. The
great outdoors is inside us, and we are its interiority, its cave of winds. Our adversary
relationship to nature, then, is the hangover of the pernicious half-truths of a
mechanistic era; it is no longer justified. We, too, like Ignatius and Francis of Assisi,
are joined to nature at the hip. Indeed, our connection and belonging lie so deep that we
cannot even define our identities without including - or should I say, paying grateful
homage to - the whole great sweep of cosmic evolution. "I am that," we can now
say with the Hindu Upanishads - star dust, earth stuff, a being literally conceived in
far-off parts of the universe and seeded here on this planet to make a difference to the
cosmos, to strike a chord, play a variation on the great themes of its music that has
never been heard before. Before we ever babbled a word or took a step on our own, this
truth and its challenge defines us.
It's as if all the star dust in our DNA, the microbes that swim in our cells, the
humble algae that gave us a breathable atmosphere - yes, all of nature - were expectant,
waiting on us to finish the cosmic symphony well (certainly with the injection of more
than a little blues and jazz). "It was not for any fault on the part of
creation," says St. Paul, "that it was unable to attain its purpose, it was made
so by God; but creation still retains the hope of being freed, like us, from its slavery
to decadence [entropy], to enjoy the same freedom and glory as the children of God. From
the beginning till now the entire creation, as we know, has been groaning in one great act
of giving birth ..." (Rom. 8:20--23).
We can now read this text, penetrate it, in light of complexity\chaos theory
and the strong anthropic principle - and reread that principle itself not in a narrowly
anthropocentric sense but as an intimation of the great design of which we are a part. We
are members of the orchestra, the choir, in a great project, a "mystery hidden from
the foundation of the world" (Matt. 13:35; Ps. 78.2; Col. 1:26; Eph. 1:9).
But what is that mysterious design, that great project? Try this children's story about
a great experiment: The dizzy subatomic particle-waves spinning wildly out of the big bang
didn't know what to make of themselves at first (no fault of theirs, God made them so),
but the initial conditions were such that as they joined forces, split and joined again
and again and again, corralling energy to form atoms, galactic clusters, molecules, chains
of inorganic and organic compounds, simple life forms - and on and on to homo sapiens
- they were implicitly carving out an inside, an interior to ferry and hold the energy of
their Initial Conditioner - the message of the Aboriginal Dispatcher who set them loose in
the first place and never ceases to sustain the diversifying process forward. From the
very beginning, the trouble was that quarks, atomic nuclei, molecules, plants, and
bacteria, as finely woven as they are, could contain only so much of the divine energy
field. It came across like static; no clear message. They weren't up to it, didn't have
sufficiently complex circuitry, to hear what this whole buzzing and proliferating
confusion was about - the God-Sound in their midst. Animals were an enormous improvement,
of course, but whatever they knew they couldn't say. Only with the emergence of the
species homo sapiens did you have the complex hard wiring - nervous system and brain -
that could possibly tune in to Cosmic Mind and thus become mindful of the meaning of
things. In short, it took the atoms awake, mindful and free in us to begin to decipher the
"mystery hidden from the foundation of the world."
Offspring of stars, children of earth, we are great mothering nature's soul-space, her
heart and vocal chords - and her willingness, if we consent to it, to be spirited, to be
the vessel of the Holy One. When we fail in this soul-work, nature fails\falls
with us. But when it happens, when we say yes to the Spirit who hovers over our inner
chaos, the mountains clap their hands, the hills leap like gazelles. They and the quarks
have a big stake in us. Remember, though, to be patient: in the condensed astronomical
time of a cosmic year, our species has only been around for a minute or two, and for much
of that time we've been sleepwalking. Our cosmological task takes some waking up to, and
getting used to.
Nonetheless, we represent a turning point for nature, and a turning point for the Great
Dispatcher as well. Two significant events happen simultaneously, or converge, once humans
emerge from the prebiotic soup. First, as the team of Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, and
Aquinas would say, consciousness or mindedness - of whatever fleeting sort - would not be
there except for participation in the mindfulness of the Poet-Maker of all things.
Darwinian evolution only explains our hard wiring, not how it is that we are aware or
minded. Secondly, as I have said, consciousness is also nothing else than great nature
more or less awake and reflective. That's a beginning; the spiritual task is to deepen our
inwardness and, therewith, our imaginations. In this sense, we are nature's black box, her
soul-space - and hence her last chance to become spirited, to be the vessel of God, the
carrier of the message that all creation is not only "very good," but to be
glorified. That's the script, the big drama.
3. Christology and the Dream of Earth
In light of the above perspective, spirituality - whether ascending or descending -
acquires a new context. Spiritual practices, we have to understand, are not undertaken out
of curiosity or for our exclusive private benefit; they are undertaken for the sake of
registering in our bones the primordial rainbow covenant: All is blessed; nothing is to be
lost. As the Mahayana Buddhists have it, the point - God's point, we would interject - is
to save all sentient beings. For it is through cherishing them that we redeem the meaning
of the inanimate universe that sustains and buzzes within them. As a species, one human
race, we hold in our hands the fate of the cosmos. Man or woman, the trick is to learn how
to open to the Spirit - to say with the earth-born virgin mother, "Be it done unto me
according to your will." In short, let Spirit-Energy flow through our sieve-like,
For me, the decisive clue to all that I have been developing in this last section is, of course, Jesus of Nazareth, God's anointed. He is the pattern for our lives, Christians are used to saying, and that is right. But given our individualism, this saying tends to have a narrowly anthropocentric focus. No, as Scripture testifies, Jesus has to be taken as prototype of our species, and better yet in cosmic-ecological terms, as the archetype of what the quarks and the molecules, from the beginning, were predestined to become - one resurrected body in and through the path he opened up. This is clearly how Paul of Tarsus thought of the matter.
He is the image of the unseen God
Who is Jesus of Nazareth? Born of woman and the Hebrew gene pool, Christians insist his
life makes no sense unless we also understand him as primarily born and borne up by the
Spirit's wind. He is earth-stuff doing the will of the Father of Mercies. The assertive
(masculine) God of Sinai and the (feminine) Spirit of humble, earthen things intersect in
him. Thus the church has viewed him not only as God's immanent Spirit\Wisdom personified
but as heir of prophets, the itinerant preacher of good news to the poor, liberty to
captives, sight to the blind, freedom to the downtrodden, the jubilee year of the Lord's
favor (Isa. 61:1--2; Luke 4:18--19). In hindsight, the church has also seen him as the
axis of cosmic time, and the prefigural embodiment of our species-role: the carrier and
vessel, the fleshing out of the Creator's great dream for the universe. He embodies the
rainbow covenant, reveals what from the outset the Poet-Creator imagined for the profusion
of quarks that over the course of 15 billions years would take the form of human beings.
Our leaky sieves are to dam up more than a sidereal river.
Like us, Jesus is the cosmos become conscious; he provides it with soul-space. But in
him the cosmos finally finds adequate soul-space, a cavern of interiority big enough to
contain the fullness of divine love and compassion. (Unlike us, he isn't a shallow
container; he doesn't babble nonsense or go haywire under the strain of the dawn that is
trying to break through in our species.) The Torah, the big dreams of the Hebrew prophets,
and the poetry of the Wisdom literature stand behind him, within him; Jesus is
intelligible only within this lineage. He represents an intensification of what God has
particularly chosen the people of Israel to meditate and mediate: the meaning of
everything from quarks to cities; nothing is too small or big or unclean as not to merit
passionate interest and attentive understanding. Through this son of Israel Christians
discover that the Ur-Mystery lives in human blood, would act through us, speak through us
- to a world (where today, fully a fifth of the planet's population is starving) desperate
The era of "lording over" another is declared at an end. The message is one
of plenty, of abundant life for the impoverished and the broken, those who mourn and those
who thirst for justice. The lowly of this earth are to be lifted up, brought into the
story. "Blessed are the poor ... Blessed the gentle ... Blessed those who mourn ...
Blessed those who hunger for justice ... Blessed the merciful ... the peacemakers ... the
persecuted" (Matt. 5:3--10). Let all come into the big drama and be fed with what
earth longs for and what the Father of Mercies desires to give - abundant life.
For those who followed him, it sounded as if the desire of the everlasting hills had at
last surfaced in the throat of a man, and that in hearing him, they were listening to the
voice of the Creator who would have the very atoms of their bodies leap in ecstasy. The
primordial Word, they cheered, "was made flesh, he lived among us, and we saw his
glory ... full of grace and truth" (John 1:14). A minority of one, a miniscule
disturber of the field in first-century Palestine, would alter the course of history.
Notice what happens in the denouement - at Jesus' Passover supper. No theatrics, no
magic, simply the highly charged, polyvalent symbolics of what a human body can contain
and dispense. Two great movements converge in what Jesus shows us here - the everlasting
desire of cosmic dust to mean something great and God's promise that it shall be so.
Jesus, both conduit of Spirit-Energy and cosmic dust himself, freely but simply identifies
with the fruits of earth - the ash of a dying star present in bread and wine - and
converts these gifts of earth, the work of human hands, into another story than the
nightmarish one we have been telling with them. On one level, you might say, he takes a
form of matter\energy and, like any good poet, metamorphoses it, transmutes it,
breathes new meaning into it. Inanimate earth-stuff is converted into a common table, a
feast of unconditioned love and forgiveness - a sign that communicates plentiful, tangible
Implicitly as well, this simple rite models a new polis - which the Book of Revelation,
chapters 21 and 22, imagines as a wild New Jerusalem, a radiant Ancient of Days at center,
inner city, emanating the river of life down Main Street. Certainly this is a big part of
what is going on: the making over of earth into a charged symbol of what the Creator, from
the beginning, imagined for star carbon to become - a truly human city that hums with
Spirit-Energy. A great eschatological vision, surely, but how to embody it - let that sort
of energy flow through us here and now?
We can go deeper. When Jesus says, "This is my body ... This is my blood,"
and, "Take and eat ... and drink," he is bidding us to take in, to discover in
our own soul-space, the same Spirit that works in and through him. "Do this in memory
of me," he commands. Equivalently, that is an invitation to remember ourselves, who
we are and what we are here for. In effect he is saying that the great work of
transfiguring earth stuff in accord with the Creator's dream is not his work but
fundamentally the work of "the Father in heaven." "May they all be
one," as John's Gospel has Jesus praying at the end. "Father, may they be one in
us, as you are in me and I am in you ..." (John 17:21). The Father\Creator gives
himself away in Jesus, as He would give himself away in all of us.
Swallow this, Jesus effectively declares, I am God's promise for the elements, the
exemplary inside of nature, its secret wish fulfilled. Assume my role. Swallow me and you
will have taken in what God imagines for matter - that it be spirited and at peace.
Swallow my words, let them resonate in the marrow of your bones, and you will tap into the
same current of Spirit that moves me. We shall then be one body, matter and spirit
reconciled. Come, he says, here is everlasting life - and the way, through an
all-encompassing charity of God, to give birth to new music in the world.
It is against this background that the Easter liturgy's Exsultet proclaims,
"Exult, all creation, in shining splendor ... Christ has conquered [the forces of
death]." For in him the 15 billion year-long odyssey wherein great nature struggles
to find its own voice and meaning as the Creator intended is proleptically fulfilled.
Christ is that voice; star carbon and earth stuff that in him finds its purpose, its point
- and, in the resurrection, its glory. That's the vision, however mediated, without which
the universe is doomed to futility.
4. Converting Matter/Energy into Sacrament
The universe's bets are pinned on us. So, in a way, are the Creator's. We are the voice
of nature - "the voice of this hurricane, this thermal howl." With this theme,
we return to Steven Weinberg's pointless cosmos. It needn't be so. But often is, since
from the perspective we have reached in these pages, when we fall, nature falls with us.
Our spirituality is not simply what we do in church or in private meditation and reading
good literature; it is also our daily work at plant and office.
Human history - what is it except the story of what we have made of matter\energy?
Matter, Aristotle and Aquinas thought, is sheer potency, means nothing until it has been
filtered through the human imagination. We know more clearly today that this is not quite
true; the vast galaxies, the chancy subatomic underworld, the forests and the bacteria
give their own signals, carry their own sets of internal instructions, have their own
organizational agendas, and do magnificent work. But it remains true that at least on this
spiral arm of the Milky Way it is we - the last in the great chain, the final transformers
and interpreters - who voice nature's story, who are given the great chance to make
tragedy and comedy of it all, make a mess of it or make something meaningful of it - by
how we live, by what we do with our science and technology and cultures. Waste conversion
alone is one of the major issues of our time - lest we turn the planet into a dump. The
challenge is to recycle as the rest of nature does, turning chaos into new order. The
stakes are high, the risks great.
My fourth conclusion: We are here to make sacraments of nature - signs that give grace,
life, hope - whether in raising a family, educating children, running a corporation,
governing a city, searching for a synthesis of all physics, or collecting garbage. All
such activity takes nature's energy and transforms it, tries to pour soul into it, make
poetry of it, a thing of beauty. Liturgy is the big clue: here we regularly take fossil
fuels, stone, metals, silicon, water, fire, grain, grape, animal stuffs, air waves, and
sound - indeed, as much of space-time as we can sensuously lay our hands on - and convert
it into a gathering of voices, a ceremony of praise and thanksgiving. Material things are
thereby made new. When liturgy works in us, we glimpse light in the darkness, Christ's
transforming vision of earth and cosmos. It is a work that cannot be performed solo; it
requires a congregation, do-good institutions, a nation, a global network.
In its own way, inanimate nature has been about this transforming work from the
beginning - and now it's our turn, our chance at the job. This is, after all, an
unfinished and possibly absurd universe. What have we made of our piece of it, the Earth,
thus far? Look at the record, the bloody mayhem, the sound and fury, the widespread
ruination of the environment. Yes, but notice the beauty too. What will we choose to make
of our part of it in the time to come, in the time allotted to us? The mark, the stamp,
the graffiti scrawl that individually and collectively we leave on earth by what we build
up or tear down - here is our sign of what nature means. If nature's great tale is one of
absurdity, if it is blessing or curse, it depends on us. No less than on the seventh day,
it is we who name creation - who tell the quarks and the spinning atoms what they shall
2. For the world in which a medieval person - and presumably Ignatius Loyola - dwelt, see Owen Barfield, Saving the Appearances: A Study in Idolatry (Middletown, Conn.: Wesleyan University Press, 1988 ), 76--77.
3. For the distinction between the modern and premodern sense of cosmology, see Stephen Toulmin, "Cosmology as Science and as Religion" in Leroy S. Rouner, ed., On Nature (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1984), 28. For an overview of theology's relation to science, see Ernan McMullin, "How Should Cosmology Relate to Theology?" in Arthur R. Peacocke, ed., The Sciences and Theology in the Twentieth Century (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame, 1981), 17--57.
4. Timothy Ferris explains the strict limits of a "theory of everything" in "On the Edge of Chaos" in The New York Review of Books, Sept. 21, 1995, 40.
5. Arthur R. Peacock has clarified these two directions of causality in Creation and the World of Science (Oxford University Press, 1979), and again in God and the New Biology (London: Dent, 1986).
6. Jacques Monod, Chance and Necessity (New York: Vintage Books, 1972), 172--73.
7. Richard Dawkins, The Blind Watchmaker (London: Heinemann, 1986), 126.
8. Steven Weinberg, The First Three Minutes, updated ed. (New York: Basic Books, 1993), 154.
9. John Polkinghorne, Science and God's Providence: God's Interaction with the World (Boston: Shambala, 1989), 35.
10. For Newton's science and its cultural impact, see Timothy Ferris, Coming of Age in the Milky Way (New York: Doubleday Anchor, 1988), 104--22. Also Ilya Prigogine and Isabelle Stengers, Order Out of Chaos: Man's New Dialogue with Nature (New York: Bantam, 1984), 27--99.
11. Democracy in America (New York: Doubleday Anchor, 1969), 508.
12. Heschel, The Sabbath: Its Meaning for Modern Man (New York: Farrar Straus & Giroux, 1951), 8 et passim.
13. See Oliver Revault D'Allones, Musical Variations of Jewish Thought (New York: George Braziller, 1984), 67
14. Cited in Thomas Cahill, How the Irish Saved Civilization (New York: Doubleday, 1995), 116--19.
17. For this line of thought, see Michel Serres, "Turner Translates Carnot" in Hermes: Literature, Science and Philosophy, ed. Josue V. Harari and David F. Bell (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1982), 54--62.
18. Hawking, A Brief History of Time: From the Big Bang to Black Holes (New York: Bantam, 1988), 36--39.
19. See Ian G. Barbour, Religion in an Age of Science (San Francsico: Harper & Row, 1990), 28--40.
20. Hawking, A Brief History of Time, 141. Cf. 132--40.
21. Cf. John D. Barrow and Frank J. Tipler, The Anthropic Cosmological Principle (New York: Oxford University Press, 1986). For a discussion of its theological implications, see John F. Haught, Science and Religion: From Conflict to Conversation (Mahwah, N.J.: Paulist Press, 1995), 120--41.
22. Hawking, A Brief History of Time, 124.
23. Ibid., 55
24. For a clear account of information physics, see Jeremy Campbell, Grammatical Man: Information, Entropy, Language and Life (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1982).
25. The term "autopoesis" was developed by Chilean biologists Humberto Maturana and Francisco Varela in 1973. See Jantsch, Self-Organizing Universe, 29--41.
26. See Michel Serres, "The Origin of Language: Biology, Information Theory and Thermodynamics" in Hermes, 71--83.
27. For an intelligible account, see James Gleick, Chaos: Making a New Science (New York: Viking, 1987). For discussions of the theological implications, see Robert John Russel, Nancey Murphy and Arthur R. Peacocke, eds., Chaos and Complexity: Scientific Perspectives on Divine Action (Berkeley: Vatican Observatory\Center of Theology and the Natural Sciences, 1995).
28. See Prigogine and Stengers, Order Out of Chaos, 131--209, 213--32.
29. Serres, Hermes}, 75.
30. Serres, Ibid.
31. See Larry Dossey, Space, Time and Medicine (Boulder, Co.: Shambala, 1982), 72--81.
32. Thomas, The Lives of a Cell: Notes of a Biology Watcher (New York: Bantam, 1975), 2ff.
33. Serres, Hermes, 75.
34. For a subtle account of God's action in the universe at the subatomic level, see Nancey Murphy, "Divine Action in the Natural Order: Buridan's Ass and Schrodinger's Cat" in Chaos and Complexity, 1995, cited above.
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