Beyond Physics to the Real Genesis

There is always a Path

Genesis, Heraclitus, Plato


The true beginning of reality is beyond physics.

Physics can only intelligibly speak of the ultimate beginning of things in terms of the frame of reference we know as space-time-existence. In this version of Genesis, the Big Bang becomes the sole point of origin, although it may well be a local event that played out against a much larger space-time canvas; or it may be one of a series of events, the rest of which occurred (or are occurring) outside any one space-time reference. The Big Bang may not be the absolute beginning of space-time itself.

Consider a deeper account of Genesis: In the beginning, there was the extreme concentration of possibility, packed so tight that all future lines of possible development were squeezed into a single tension-consumed point.

The first “explosion” was the release of that tension, the beginning of the expression of space-time itself, which led to the sequential, branching instantiation of lines of possibility. Tendrils of emergent order congealed out of flux.

Enter Heraclitus (Herakleitos), the Greek philosopher of flux. Heraclitus (535-475 BC) was author of powerful maxims, fragments and aphorisms, like “Character is destiny” and used the term LOGOS (from the classic Greek ‘to speak’, ‘count’, ‘think’) to describe the source and contents of the core ordering features of the universe. This singukar Greek-speaking man named Ἡράκλειτος / Herakleitos (or as commonly spelled in English –Heraclitus) left us just 124 fragments. But these aphorisms have profoundly influenced thinkers, poets and writers in a variety of languages – Greek, German, French, Spanish, English, among them. His slim, but powerful legacy comes to us from a temporal remove of twenty-five centuries. The gems from the mind of Heraclitus could support major and still-relevant treatises on the human condition, but history left us no such works of his, just individual aphorisms whose very insight and conciseness still give them power to inspire us. We in the developed West are still trapped in “either-or” thinking, the style of thought that philosophers call “dualist”. But the universe is not like that; and we are just now catching up with Heraclitus, the hifalutin Greek who saw unity in everything under the sun. Heraclitus lived roughly between 535 and 475 BC, in the city of Ephesus, now a different city in present-day Turkey.

I have picked ten of his aphorisms, “Cosmic Tweets” if you will, for illustration, using the beautiful translation from the Greek by Guy Davenport, published by Grey Fox Press, in 1979.

[17] Nature loves to hide. [Becoming is a secret process.]
[21] One cannot step twice into the same river, for the water into which you first stepped has flowed on.
[23] Change alone is unchanging.
[42] No matter how many ways you try, you cannot find a boundary to consciousness, so deep in every direction does it extend.
[65] Man, who is an organic continuation of the Logos, thinks he can sever that continuity and exist apart from it.
[69] Character is fate.
[98] Opposites cooperate. The beautifullest harmonies come from opposition. All things repel each other.
[109] The beginning of a circle is also its end.
[116] The unseen design of things is more harmonious than the seen.
[118] Not I but the world says it: All is one.

Herakleitos’ flame (the image of order and form appearing in the midst of flux) presaged the arrival of mind-in-the-world.

In this space-time, flux generates order. And random flux generates novel order.

Plato’s cave captures an insight about pure form-as-relation, “imperfectly” expressed in material existence, apprehended through reflections in the senses; but it also is an insight about the apparent fragmentation of perfect unity within space-time-existence.

Plato’s conception of the realm of perfect form was essentially static. This was a Greek mind-set in which the boundary between static order and dynamic flux was between incommensurate realms. Physical reality was understood to be “imperfect” because its forms were in flux, and ultimately faced disintegration. [A descendant of this view: complex processes, especially biological ones are “messy” because they defy neat simplification.] Zeno’s Paradox is an exemplar of the mind set in which a dynamic appears to elude simple, static mathematical description. The Greek method of abstracting the static from the dynamic gave rise to the technological revolution. This extremely useful fiction enabled the discovery of the architecture of the mechanical world and led to its conquest by the mind. This useful approximation is still useful. But it is still an approximation.


These insights are just a teaser. A book length work by Jay Gaskill in this topic is on the way.

Copyright 2018, by Jay B Gaskill

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