Albert Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity was published in 1915. Since then, we have refined the theory and tried to reconcile it with quantum mechanics, to put together a “theory of everything.” We still haven’t accomplished that, or even been able to define what space really is, although physicists like Stephen Wolfram are working on it.

Philosophically, we might say spacetime is the ground of being of the cosmos, the basis from which literally everything emerges. We may as well accept this idea as the basis for our mythology, until a better idea is established. That makes spacetime a kind of god, similar to the god of deism, an abstract construct that generates the universe but has no personality to interact with. Father Time does not and cannot care. There is no conscious plan; things happen as a result of what came before. Effect follows cause with no allowance for free will.

I find this concept liberating. There is no heavenly father to hold accountable for the horrors we encounter in this world. There is no need to ask why. Things just happen; the rain falls on the just and the unjust, randomly. Many people have short, sad lives, but there is no terrible divine overseer punishing them for mysterious reasons. There is no spiritual being from whom to beg mercy. It remains for us alone to try to make our world better.

At some point in time, and at this rather nebulous point in space, we will create two additional pages to address the fascinating and needlessly contentious subjects of Cosmology (including the Big Bang and the evolution of the universe) and Abiogenesis (leading to the evolution of life). Look for the “∇” symbol on this page to indicate that the links have become active. For largely religious reasons, these have become hot-button issues in a way that hasn’t been seen since Galileo Galilee showed that the Earth revolves about the Sun, and that Jupiter has moons of its own.

Galileo and the moons of JupiterIronically, Galileo’s telescope did not lead him to question his faith. He wrote this: “I give infinite thanks to God, who has been pleased to make me the first observer of marvelous things.” One has to wonder, though, how well his faith held up later, when he was imprisoned under sentence of the Holy Office of the Inquisition.

Credit for title image of the local universe: 2MASS, T. H. Jarrett, J. Carpenter, & R. Hurt.

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