The Unfolding Universe

From Its explosive beginnings 13.7 billion years ago, the Universe has slowly and dynamically unfolded Itself. It has Its own unique style of doing so. It takes Its time, eons if necessary, and unfolds new developments and creations so that they fit perfectly and completely into the existing framework previously created. There may be some trial and error involved in this process, but the incorporation of the new, when finished, is perfection itself. The old and the new are infinitely collated together. Order emerges out of chaos. Perfect balance is achieved as all parts, old and new, are correlated with each other. The results are self-transcending. The process continues, inexorably and eternally, to create a breathtaking work of resolved art.

The story of the Universe is the story of this unfolding drama. It has chapters of violence and cataclysm, but after a run of 13.7 billion years, It has worked things out pretty well, as we can see when we look around our world.

The first chapter in the story, after the spectacular burst of the beginning, was the creation of galaxies. The gases and particles blown outward by the Big Bang first traveled at too great a velocity to coalesce into material forms. Over time, however, as they traveled into expanding space, they slowed to just the speed necessary to allow aggregations of matter to form. The conditions had to be perfect. A faster velocity would not have allowed the gases and particles to coalesce into matter. A slower velocity would likewise have disallowed their formation. In these necessarily perfect conditions, billions of galaxies formed. The expansion has now slowed, so that the ideal conditions for formation no longer exist. There will be no new galaxies. We will have to make do with the billion, billion galaxies that came out of this transient, perfectly balanced set of conditions.

The next step in the unfolding was the creation of stars. Gravity collapsed the gases and particles of matter in the galaxies into coherent entities that caught fire. Converting hydrogen atoms into helium atoms, perfect conditions allowed the developing stars to shower their light and warmth out into the black deep. Planets coalesced and took up regular orbits around the stars. Bits of extraneous matter became moons, and they took up orbits around the planets. The system was now ready and waiting for life. The stage was set. The next stage of the unfolding could begin.

Our sun was, of course, one of those stars, As the planets in our solar system came together and fell into their orbits around the sun, only Earth was a fertile field for the next act of the drama. The Earth was exactly the right size to unfold life. Its gravitational forces, a function of its size, were strong enough to hold it together, and to form a crust on the surface while the center of the planet remained molten and mobile. Mars was too small. It became a dead rock, solid clear through to the center, and so unable to support life. Jupiter was too large. It could not pull its gases and material together with its gravity, and so remained almost entirely gaseous.

Around Earth, an atmosphere of gases formed, shielding the surface of the planet from the harsh intensity of the sun’s rays. This allowed life to begin. On Earth, the rains began. It rained for a very, very long time, forming the oceans. This water was crucial to the next step in the unfolding, the development of life. Like sunlight, water is life. Living organisms are, in part, living water.

Living bacteria appeared in the oceans. The gathered water then provided a perfect environment for the creation of single-celled organisms. One cell moved invasively into another to form a nucleus, and that made possible multi-celled organisms made of nucleated cells. The nucleus of the cells functions like a storage bank of DNA, which provided a form of memory. Now the multi-celled organisms could reproduce themselves.

A great variety of marine life blossomed, Then life moved out of the oceans onto the land. There the unfolding continued apace. Life-forms metamorphosed over millennia, and today, here we sit as the result. This story, this unfolding, is our story. It is our heritage and our personal history. The biography of each of us includes a phase as a galaxy, a star, a planet, a single cell, a multi-celled marine organism, an animal, and a primate line of antecedents. We are the Universe Itself, unfolded through eons and metamorphosing Itself in shape and nature to what we are today. The process is not finished. The story is on-going. The miraculous unfolding continues eternally.

The latest act in the story is, like the other acts, surprising, unexpected, and even astounding. Having created a multiplicity of life-forms on a perfectly balanced planet in a solar system conducive to life, one of those life-forms, in a breathtaking leap of metamorphosis, developed self-awareness and then language. These remarkable events allowed that privileged life-form, ourselves, to observe and become aware of the story of the Universe. This is precisely where we are today. We are now registering our history, our identity as the Universe. The Universe, through us, is revealing Its story to Itself, becoming aware of Its own glory. Having exuberantly created and unfolded the drama, Being now turns back, through us, to look at Its handiwork.

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