Saturday, September 11, 2010

Why is the sky dark at night? - Olber's Paradox

Here is an entry from my personal diary for Friday. Though it rambles on for a couple of paragraphs, the essence of it passed through my mind as a flash of insight lasting perhaps 10 seconds that struck me as I was on my way home from a reluctant evening walk. This is what I wrote about it when I got home (with very little editing). It is an example of the limited power of words to express what is in our mind.

The other day I saw a video – ‘Why is the sky dark at night? – about Olber’s paradox. It is a question that puzzled medieval astronomers: if the universe is infinite and has existed forever, the light from an infinite number of stars should fill every available spot in the night sky making it bright as day. The video explains that today we know that the universe is not infinitely old and therefore not all the light from all the stars has had time to get here. The narrator says ‘the darkness of the night sky is a characteristic that argues against infinity’.
Tonight as I was walking home from a walk (yes I wrote that), I had an insight as I remembered this video and phrase. The universe has not existed infinitely: it has a finite beginning. But the space existed. Something existed for there to be a big bang in. Where did those gases come from? Where did the space before the big bang come from? Wherever it came from is a place of higher being, higher intelligence, higher good. The paradox may argue against infinity, but it argues for God, for another essence beyond our comprehension. If we align ourselves with this essence, we align ourselves with creative powers and principles – with God – and we cannot go wrong. We will prosper. If not, we will not prosper (or not for long). In this we can rely, in this we can have faith. Not that we should expect everything to go our way without effort all the time. There can be no guaranteed results or there would be no life, no point, no merit. ‘Do not expect God to change the laws of nature for you’. But having faith is the correct attitude. Following the virtues as much as we can is the correct conduct. Courage, patience, love etc. Discipline also : discipline and courage are needed to harness virtue as the sailor harnesses the wind.
To know what one should do – for one’s health for one thing – and not do it is weak and stupid. To have gifts and not develop them – even moderate gifts that can become greater – is a terrible waste. To have the ability to understand virtue and not to follow it is against the intention of the higher essence, against the laws of nature, against the will of God.
To have faith in God is to have faith in oneself, since God is inside us. When we have faith in ourselves, we reward ourselves, as God. We allow ourselves to succeed, because in our hearts, our subconscious, we know that we have merited it by following the laws of nature and of God. And so it happens to us, according to our faith.

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Discover The Tale of Genji, the 11th Century classic of Japan (click image)

Discover The Tale of Genji, the 11th Century classic of Japan (click image)
Kiyomizudera Temple has a large veranda looking out over Kyoto and beyond