Sunday, 1 March 2009

The Big Bangers

Fred Hoyle (1915–2001) coined the term Big Bang as a descriptive tag for the theory of the origin of the universe first proposed by Georges Lemaître (1894–1966). Hoyle did not intend this term to be pejorative, merely as a means of outlining the difference between Lemaître’s theory and his own, the Steady State hypothesis, which held that even as distant galaxies were observed to be rushing away from each other, matter was being steadily created in the space between them.

It occurred to me that the same sort of difference exists between views, not necessarily of the end of the universe, but of how the Kingdom of Heaven may arrive. Some people believe that at a point in time (to be announced) Signs and Portents will start to happen (or have already started to happen) which presage the beginning of the end of the sinful, secular, Satan-led phase of humanity’s existence on Earth, as was foretold in the scriptures, especially in the Book of Revelations. Opinions vary at this point. According to some believers, God will raise the Faithful (‘Us’) up to Heaven – the ‘Rapture’ – while the Earth is purged of sin and sinners (‘Them’), making it fit for Him to establish His rule on Earth.

Personally, I think that the mistake here is to conflate the life of the spirit with some sort of cosmic political event. What worries me is that the End-of-the-Worlders seem to welcome the prospect of the end of all things, beginning with the Battle of Armageddon, and ending (they hope and believe) with the Truly Faithful receiving their just reward. They seem to be saying, “Bring it on.” For this reason, they may not be very concerned with the need to conserve the planet as a sustainable home for future generations, but may even be happy to let it all burn.

I have begun to believe that the second coming of Christ, or the arrival of the Kingdom of God, or however it is best to name it, may not be a simultaneous, world-wide event at all, but may happen here and now in one person, there and at a different time in another – a steady state, a gradual advance of the awareness of the spirit. I see myself as a Steady Stater, rather than a Big Banger.

I was delighted to find, in her introduction to ‘Islam – a short history,’ Karen Armstrong outlining this: “In the gospels, Jesus often went out of his way to explain to his followers that his Kingdom was not of this world, but could only be found within the believer. The Kingdom would not arrive with a great political fanfare, but would develop as quietly and imperceptibly as a germinating mustard-seed.”


Anonymous said...

Actually, the Quakers believe that the Kingdom of God (or the Rule, Covenant or Presence of God) has already arrived. Fox spoke of Christ had come (and is coming) to teach his people himself.

Gerard Guiton

Unknown said...

I'm not anonymous!

Gerard Guiton