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Sacred Pursuits?

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  • mikebispham@aol.com
    An article exploring the notion of relating the new Large Hadron Collider at Cern to traditional sacred structures... Mike A temple to mystery and imagination
    Message 1 of 4 , Jun 30, 2008
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      An article exploring the notion of relating the new Large Hadron Collider at Cern to traditional sacred structures...
       
      Mike
       
      A temple to mystery and imagination
       
      The enormous constructions at Cern evoke great cathedrals and Egyptian pyramids, says Jonathan Glancey. Paradoxically, this extreme expression of modern science may be the most spritual structure of our time
       
      The huge underground complex of Cern is almost entirely hidden from sight. The presence of this wonder of the modern world is, to say the least, muted. Most of its buildings are matter-of-fact industrial sheds or concrete bunkers with none of the obvious allure or artistry of the Great Pyramid of Cheops, the Parthenon, Chartres Cathedral or the Eiffel Tower.
       
      And yet here is a place of mystery and imagination, as well as mathematics, physics and imaginative engineering, that promises to take us on a journey into the realm of the spiritual as well as the purely scientific and rational. In this sense, Cern is a modern equivalent of the great temples and cathedrals of the past. It aims to find the point at which creation began.
       
      God only knows what scientists will divine in the months to come. Will the origin and structure of the universe prove to be the product of some divine being, a colossal figment of our own imagination, a mirror of some parallel universe, or a quintessence of stardust, ultimately unknowable and incomprehensible, even as we hold it in the palm of our hands?
       
      Ultimately, Cern's scientists may come up against a truly mysterious nothingness - the very opposite of solid architecture - and discover that perhaps we cannot ever truly understand or come to terms with the elusive core and generator of the universe.
       
      This, by the way, is a part of the reason, although expressed very differently, why the Temple of Jerusalem, one of the great buildings of legend and religious faith, was based around a physical emptiness, incomprehensible to the worldly Romans who destroyed the great building in AD80. The temple, as latterly rebuilt by Herod the Great, might have been a mighty structure of stone, marble and cedar, yet its Holy of Holies, the shrine known only to high priests, contained nothing material or tangible whatsoever. What it did house, though, was the silent spirit of God.
       
      Many of Cern's scientists are well aware of the connection between their great underground temple and those of religions, ancient and modern. And, just as the quest for God, or the gods, encouraged the very first great works of architecture, so Cern, laid out up to 100 metres below ground like some inverted, latter day Stonehenge, has been constructed on a massive scale.
       
      The 3,000 scientists, technicians and other staff who work here, and the 6,500 particle physicists from at least 80 countries who visit Cern each year, are like some modern and global priesthood, the guardians of a place of hoped-for revelation that will divine the secrets of the universe and, perhaps, reveal the face of its creator.
       
      If this sounds fanciful, you might well change your mind after a visit to Cern. At the heart of this vast operation, straddling the Swiss-French border near Geneva, is the Large Hadron Collider, housed in an underground ring that may seem little more than a long, curving, concrete-lined tunnel, much like the eastwards stretch of London Underground's Jubilee Line, but its purpose, and the machines that serve it, are sensational - mind-blowing, even.
       
      One of the LHC's detectors - Atlas - weighs as much as 100 Boeing 747s. Looking like a cross between some improbably big communications satellite and the largest electric dynamo you can imagine, Atlas is the work of 1,900 scientists drawn from 164 universities in 35 countries. A true giant among machines, it fully deserves its name.
       
      A number of Europe's great medieval cathedrals were built in something like this same spirit. Teams of architects, masons, experts in geometry and Latin-speaking divines travelled across the continent gathering and sharing knowledge and raising immense, intricate and daring structures aimed at bringing humankind and the infinite together.
       
      Their most profound works, and especially Chartres, are aligned with the constellations, as if they had been built as observatories, but with prayer rather than radio waves beaming into infinite, and numinous, space.
       
      Back on the surface, our most ambitious contemporary buildings, whether in Europe or the rest of the world, tend to be vast office and hotel towers. Cities and states vie with one another to reach ever higher into the sky. None of these braggadocio designs, however, have any purpose beyond getting and spending. None has anything like the spiritual charge of a Sumerian Ziggurat, an Egyptian pyramid or a medieval cathedral, nor the sheer sense of wonder engendered by pure engineering marvels, whether the late 19th century Eiffel Tower or the early 21st century Viaduc de Millau over the River Tarn in the Massif Central.
       
      No matter how odd it might seem at first, the most profoundly spiritual structure of our time, housed for the most part in functional sheds and unadorned underground passageways, is the vast Cern laboratory, tucked away out of sight, although very much in mind.
       
      Here is a temple of our own age, a place and space where we will have a chance of understanding a little more of the Great Architect and the universe, or universes, he set blazing into perpetual motion.
       
      Jonathan Glancey The Guardian, Monday June 30, 2008
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
      In a message dated 16/06/2008 21:38:01 GMT Daylight Time, danw@... writes:


      Hi, Mike!
      Hi, Khem!

      Good to hear from you both.  Both posts were interesting.  I think that
      science vs religion is a valid debate but that a lot of
      pseudosckepticism creeps in and of course a lot of religious bias.   We
      have been over this territory a lot and I have learned a whole bunch, it
      has altered my world view considerable.  Epistemologically I think we
      have to accept the scientific method as our gold standard and judge
      paranormal/religious claims on the basis of the same rules we use for
      the various sciences.
      That said I think there is enough evidence to throw out the materialist
      theory of the world.

      Had an interesting thought the other day.  It used to be that they said
      god is dead.  Now I say that reality is dead.  The mathematics is so
      complex that no one can have a valid picture of reality anymore.  Since
      it is beyond our ability to understand it, there is no way to tell if
      supernatural entities exist or not.  We don't know what is natural so
      how can we say that we know the boundary between the natural and the
      supernatural?  Other worlds, parallel dimensions, the astral plane, all
      might appear in the math sometime in the future.  (As I understand it
      string theory is already providing a peek into parallel dimensions
      across the branes that separate us.)

      I have to apologize to the list.  I haven't been very available or
      involved for two reasons.  1. is my new six year old daughter adopted
      from Russia (6 mo and she is speaking english and even reading and
      writing some!).  2. is a set of fireworks in my brain about the
      historical Jesus.  I have written a 7 page preliminary sketch which I am
      going to post to the list soon.

      Meanwhile, chatter away (though we can do without names like Troll).

      Dan

      Khem Caigan wrote:

      >I see that our Troll is back and up
      >to his usual shenanigans, setting his
      >pigeons among the cats <yum>.
      >
      >While we are on the subject of Michael
      >Shermer :
      >
      >Pseudoskepticism
      >http://tinyurl.com/yojkth
      >
      >On Pseudo-Skepticism
      >A Commentary by Marcello Truzzi
      >http://tinyurl.com/4uerx9
      >
      >Cors in Manu Domine,
      >
      >
      >~ Khem Caigan
      ><Khem@...>
      >
      >
      >------------------------------------
      >
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      >




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    • SaraAnneC@AOL.com
      Thanks, Mike for sharing that article. I remain humbled and in awe of the collective intellect at this list... I live in America s lower Midwest in an area
      Message 2 of 4 , Jul 1, 2008
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        Thanks, Mike for sharing that article.
         
        I remain humbled and in awe of the collective intellect at this list... I live in America's "lower Midwest" in an area that most people call the Bible Belt and which I call the "Bible Tourniquet" and I write a weekly column on experiencing the sacred in the natural landscape. It is certainly not as erudite as much of what you folks are reading/studying... but my readers wouldn't get it if it was ... and even at my vernacular level of writing, I occasionally get castigated for my "new age" leanings....(as if).
         
        Anyway, I am attaching a file here (I hope it comes through OK!) that is the text of the column I published just this past Saturday that touches on the same subject brushed up against in the article about the super collider -- that of the possibly/probably impossible quest for the ultimate source... hope I am able to at least entertain you in my 500 words...
         
        SaraAnne




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      • Chris
        Hi, I would be interested in reading this but I think Yahoo won t allow attachments via email -- can you upload to the list? or send to me offlist? thanks in
        Message 3 of 4 , Jul 3, 2008
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          Hi, I would be interested in reading this but I think Yahoo won't allow attachments via
          email -- can you upload to the list? or send to me offlist?

          thanks in advance

          Chris

          --- In sacredlandscapelist@yahoogroups.com, SaraAnneC@... wrote:
          >
          > Thanks, Mike for sharing that article.
          >
          > I remain humbled and in awe of the collective intellect at this list... I
          > live in America's "lower Midwest" in an area that most people call the Bible
          > Belt and which I call the "Bible Tourniquet" and I write a weekly column on
          > experiencing the sacred in the natural landscape. It is certainly not as erudite
          > as much of what you folks are reading/studying... but my readers wouldn't
          > get it if it was ... and even at my vernacular level of writing, I occasionally
          > get castigated for my "new age" leanings....(as if).
          >
          > Anyway, I am attaching a file here (I hope it comes through OK!) that is the
          > text of the column I published just this past Saturday that touches on the
          > same subject brushed up against in the article about the super collider -- that
          > of the possibly/probably impossible quest for the ultimate source... hope I
          > am able to at least entertain you in my 500 words...
          >
          > SaraAnne
          >
          >
          >
          > **************Gas prices getting you down? Search AOL Autos for
          > fuel-efficient used cars. (http://autos.aol.com/used?ncid=aolaut00050000000007)
          >
        • SaraAnneC@AOL.com
          Hi Chris; Are you looking for Mike s article or mine? SaraAnne **************Gas prices getting you down? Search AOL Autos for fuel-efficient used cars.
          Message 4 of 4 , Jul 3, 2008
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            Hi Chris;
             
            Are you looking for Mike's article or mine?
             
            SaraAnne
             
             




            Gas prices getting you down? Search AOL Autos for fuel-efficient used cars.
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