Journey of the Universe (2011) Movie Script

Many of the world's greatest stories begin
with a journey.
A quest to answer life's
most intimate questions.
Where do we come from?
Why are we here?
From the dawn of time, all
cultures have created stories
to help explain the
ultimate nature of things.
And perhaps a new story
is emerging in our time.
One grounded in contemporary science,
and yet nourished by the
ancient religious wisdom
of our planet.
What if the universe,
even the Earth itself,
has its own unique story to tell.
One in which we play a profound role.
We're on the Greek island of Samos,
just a mile off the coast of Turkey.
We could tell the story
of the universe anywhere.
Each place would offer its
own unique possibilities
for the telling.
But we chose Samos because it's one
of the great crossroads of human history.
Europeans, Asian and Africans
have all made their way here.
And by telling the story on an island,
surrounded by the Mediterranean Sea,
we will be reminded that we
live on this shining planet,
sailing through the great
ocean of the universe.
And there's another reason
we have come to Samos.
And that is because 2,600 years ago,
Pythagoras was born here.
Pythagoras, a mathematician
and philosopher,
was one of the first humans to realize
that the harmonies and
relationships in the universe
could be given expression using numbers.
The kind of foundations he
generated led eventually
to all of modern mathematical science.
He was also a great teacher.
In fact, legend has it that he invented
the word philosophy, a love of wisdom.
We'll spend a day here on Samos.
Before the clock strikes midnight,
we will have recounted the great events
of our 14 billion year cosmic evolution.
Our immense journey told in a single day
on one of Earth's magical islands.
How did it all start?
An awesome question, certainly.
But it appears there
really was a beginning.
Some scientists refer to
this as the Big Bang.
I like to call it the great flaring forth.
Imagine the universe beginning like this.
14 billion years ago,
everything in the universe,
all the bright matter of
the stars and galaxies,
as well as all the dark
matter no one has ever seen.
All of it existed in a single point
so energetic it was
trillions of degrees hot.
Instantly this micro-universal rushed apart
even faster than the speed of light.
The discovery that the
universe has expanded
and is still expanding
is one of the greatest
of human history.
The common understanding had been
that the universe is simply a vast space.
A vast space in which things existed.
Large things like galaxies
and small things like atoms.
Scientists knew that matter
changed form in the universe,
but everyone assumed that the universe
as a whole was not changing.
But no, the universe is changing,
and has changed dramatically.
The universe has a story.
A beginning, a middle where we are now,
and perhaps in some far
distant future, an end.
In the 1920s, the cosmologist Edwin Hubble
trained his 100-inch at the night sky.
He was trying to determine if our Milky Way
was the only galaxy in the universe.
Not only did he discover the universe
was filled with galaxies,
he also determined that
all of them are rushing
away from each other.
With Hubble's work, humanity learned
that the universe began
with a massive explosion
that has been carrying the galaxies apart
for billions of years.
Another special quality about the universe
is the rate of expansion.
If the rate of expansion had been slower,
even slightly slower,
even a millionth of a percent slower,
the universe would have
re-collapsed immediately.
That would've been it.
After a million years,
the universe would have
imploded upon itself and
formed a massive black hole.
On the other hand, if the universe
had expanded a little more quickly,
even slightly more quickly,
even calculations show one millionth
of one percent more quickly,
the universe would have
expanded too quickly
for structures to form.
It would have simply exploded.
There would have been no galaxies,
no structure, no life,
nothing but dust for all time.
So what we've discovered is
that we're living in a universe
that is expanding at
exactly the rate necessary
for life and structure to come forth.
It could be then, that even though we can't
call the early universe alive,
we can understand it as life generating.
One of the physicists who
was reflecting on this
is the celebrated Freeman Dyson.
And he, he mused that the more he reflected
on the structures of the early universe,
the more he became convinced
that in some sense
the universe must've known
from the very beginning
that life was coming.
The light from the beginning of time
has been traveling for 14 billion years.
Meanwhile, life has been evolving.
With the recent emergence
of advanced technology,
we're at last able to see the
story these photons tell
about the birth of the universe
and where we ultimately come from.
Morning on a Greek island is
like the first day of creation.
And wandering around here, you
feel like the first person.
Inevitably, humans would ask,
what gave birth to all of this beauty?
What was the form of creativity
that brought this forth?
Consider galaxies.
What brought the galaxies forth?
You know, even a century ago,
this was hard to imagine.
We didn't know if there were two galaxies
in the entire universe.
That was the main focus of
tension among scientists.
Now were know there are 100 billion,
maybe even a trillion galaxies.
What is the creativity that brought forth
a trillion galaxies?
Let's consider our own Milky Way galaxy.
It's a galaxy with huge spiral arms.
When we first began to discover galaxies,
we thought maybe these spiral arms
were composed of physical matter.
But actually, it's much more interesting.
The arms are actually waves that are
passing through the galaxy.
They're called density waves.
And as they pass through
clouds of hydrogen and helium,
they ignite star birth.
That's the way to picture
the Milky Way galaxy.
Not so much as a thing,
but rather as an activity.
It's an ongoing activity
of bringing forth stars.
We live in the midst of
this intense creativity.
Come into this little church.
I want to show you something.
The ceiling, as you can see,
is filled with stars.
The same is true of most of the churches
on the island of Samos.
The ancient Greeks, like Pythagoras,
thought the stars were alive, even divine.
Throughout history every
culture has been stunned
by the presence of stars in the
vastness of the night sky.
So deeply moved by the majesty emanating
from the brilliance of the stars,
we have built our lives around them.
We've even organized entire civilizations
upon their beauty and order.
Here's the essence of the universe story.
The stars are our ancestors.
Out of them everything comes forth.
Stars are dynamic entities.
They're born.
They develop.
They even die.
Star birth occurs when gravity squeezes
together a cloud of atoms so tight
that nuclear fusion ignites in the center.
In the process, hydrogen
fuses in the helium.
This nuclear energy expands outwards
and opposes gravity.
So stars represent an
amazingly creative balance
between the powers of
gravitational collapse
and nuclear explosion.
And once a star's nuclear fuel is spent,
there's nothing left to prevent gravity
from collapsing inwards, causing
the death spiral to begin.
This super-concentrated dot of matter,
which we call a supernova, explodes outward
with the power of 100 billion stars.
And as it expands, it creates
all of the elements,
phosphorous, oxygen, carbon, gold.
These are spewed out into
the Milky Way galaxy,
and then the whole process starts again.
They drift as a cloud
and then they collapse,
give birth to a star, the Earth.
It's by stupendous process that we can say
the stars are our ancestors.
It's just such an amazing discovery.
The carbon atoms of this
beet, and of the lettuce
and of you know, our brains, our skin,
all of it passed through an
intense explosion of a star.
In pondering the source of the Sun's power,
we can now reflect on something
no earlier humans could know.
The Sun is converting four millions tons
of its mass into energy every second.
All of life feeds on the
roaring energy of the Sun.
Our solar system then is a self-energizing
womb of creativity.
And all of this had its
start in a cloud of dust.
It was really difficult
for humans to realize
that we live on a planet circling a star.
I mean we were here for
hundreds of thousands of years
before Aristarchus, 2,000 years ago,
right here on Samos
realized we are spinning
around the Sun.
That was such an amazing insight
that it vanished actually.
And it wasn't until Copernicus
discovered it again
in the 16th century that humans really
began to absorb the fact that we are
on this planet.
Let me use these vegetables
to explain our solar system.
So here we have the Sun,
this cabbage as the Sun.
Now actually, if this were to be in scale,
this cabbage would have
to be a million times
the size of this pepper.
Budgetary considerations
made that impossible.
So you just have to use your imagination.
Now what we've learned in the 20th century
is about the composition of the planets.
First we have the large planets.
So we have Jupiter here,
and we have Saturn and Uranus, and Neptune.
These are large enough to hold on
to all the lighter elements so that
they actually are gaseous.
Too small to be a star,
but yet too large to be solid.
The other kind then, we have indicated here
with these rocks.
So we have Mercury.
Then we have Venus.
Jump over to Mars.
These are the rocky planets,
most of which are solid.
But there's one special rocky planet.
One that's not too small and not too big.
One that's not too hot and not too cold.
One that's not exactly solid,
but not exactly liquid.
We call it home.
Earth is very much like an egg.
The core of the Earth is like the yolk.
The mantle of the Earth
is like the egg white.
And the crust of the Earth
is like like the eggshell.
What happens is that early on
when the Earth is in a molten state,
all of the really heavy
elements like iron and nickel
sink into the core.
And then the elements like magnesium
form this outer layer around
the core, the mantle.
The crust is only 10 to 50 miles thick,
and that's the only solid part of Earth.
All the rest is in motion.
Plumes of molten rock will
rise up from the mantle
and harden into plates that form the crust.
As these plates slide around
the surface of Earth,
they collide and crumple into
majestic mountain ranges.
Or they're forced back down,
or they melt and sink
toward the center of Earth.
This discovery, which
originated with Alfred Wegener,
is called plate tectonics and is one
of the greatest of history.
Earth became encircled
by great tidal oceans
and held by a thin layer of atmosphere.
A churning volcanic Earth could now
bring forth the next wonder of existence,
the living cell.
How are we gonna tell the story of life?
How did it all begin?
What theory shall we offer to explain this?
The simple truth is that no one knows
with full certainty.
But even though the detailed
explanation still eludes us,
scientists have began to approach
the whole question of life from
a radical new perspective,
that of self-organization.
You see during the modern period,
we thought of the world as machine-like,
and that life was an accident.
But now, with the work
of a number of chemists,
notably Ilya Prigogine who won
a Nobel Prize for this work,
we are beginning to discover
the act of patterning
in matter itself.
It's intrinsic to matter.
From this new perspective,
life is not an accident.
Life is inevitable.
A planet weeks in a certain
complexity of its matter,
and then life at last comes
forth quite naturally.
Consider whirlpools.
This spiral swirling
action can appear anywhere
so long as there is a body
of liquid moving water.
It is not the water itself
that endures as a spiral,
because the water molecules are constantly
flowing in and out of the whirlpool.
It is rather the emergent
dynamic structure that endures.
Such is the nature of life.
The universe began as a great outpouring
of cosmic breath, cosmic energy,
but then swirled and
twisted and complexified
until it could burst forth
into flowers and animals
and fish and all of these
elegant explosions of energy.
But it's not just energy.
And it's not just living energy.
This is energy that is aware.
By awareness or sentience we mean something
that is more than what takes place
in the realm of elementary particles.
And yet, less than full
human consciousness.
So where do does such awareness arise?
Some biologists are beginning to speculate
that awareness has its foundation
in the very self-organizing
dynamics of the universe.
For cell biologist Ursula Goodenough,
this awareness is a kind
of primitive discernment,
and it reveals itself especially
in the membrane of each cell.
That thin skin-like layer
that covers every cell.
If we had microscope for eyes,
we could see it all happening right here
in these tide pools
where millions of cells are swarming about,
and they're encountering
molecules over and over again.
And with every encounter,
discernment emerges.
Why? Because a decision has to be made,
an intelligent decision.
Up in the cliff over here
there's an ancient castle
that will help me explain.
This church, which is called Metamorphosis,
is nearly 1,000 years old.
Above it is a castle that
once guarded entrance
into the magical Ptolemy Valley.
The castle is built to
do what membranes do.
Let your friends in, keep your enemies out.
The ongoing creativity
of the universe is seen
in the complex development of life itself.
After it had circled the Sun for hundreds
of millions of years, Earth's
most primitive organisms
developed molecules that
would resonate with the Sun.
How are we to picture this
process involving Earth and Sun
bringing forth photosynthesis?
As an engineering project?
I guess, but try a new metaphor.
Imagine two lovers longing for each other.
What is it they truly desire?
The relationship is charged
with energy and promise.
There is the Sun exploding with brilliance.
There is the Earth basking
in the Sun's rays.
But Earth is not passive.
Earth's systems attune to the Sun
changing their molecular structures
in order to draw in light
and convert it to food.
As the complexity of life deepens,
entwinement itself also deepens.
How are we going to tell the
story of the living Earth?
In particular, how are we
going to tell the story
of Earth to our children?
This is especially important because
in the last couple of centuries,
we have learned more about the Earth
than in perhaps the previous 100,000 years.
So the question is, how are
we going to convey that,
the essence of that to the next generation?
One thing is completely clear.
The Earth is very different
than what we thought.
The Earth is not a platform.
It's not a background.
In fact, the great discovery is this,
life doesn't exist on top of the Earth.
Life is a partner to the oceans
to the atmosphere, to the land.
For instance, if we look at the atmosphere
it is 21% oxygen.
This makes us unique among
all the known planets.
The only reason we have
oxygen in our atmosphere
is that life is pouring it forth each day.
So the very composition of our air
reflects the fact that life is here.
In that sense, life is
woven into the atmosphere.
But an even more radical
hypothesis is beginning
to emerge in the minds of some scientists.
Perhaps Earth is not only
an integrated system.
Perhaps Earth somehow maintains itself
so that life can flourish.
Consider temperature.
Life only exists in a very
narrow band of temperature.
So something like this
temperature has been true
of Earth for four billion years.
Now, scientists originally thought
this was because the Earth just happened
to be 93 million miles away from the Sun.
But during the 1950s, we learned about
the fusion processes taking place in stars.
And so now we know the Sun's temperature
has increased by over 25%
over the last four billion years.
Which means somehow Earth
has had to adapt itself
to maintain that stable
narrow band of temperature.
We know some of the details.
Early Earth had 1,000
times the carbon dioxide
as present-day Earth.
So during that time, the Earth's system
has drawn the carbon dioxide
out of the atmostphere
forming for instance the
shells of marine algae.
And then when the marine algae die,
the shells go to the bottom of the ocean.
So more and more carbon dioxide
is taken out of the atmosphere
which enables the Earth to cool down
while the Sun heats up.
But the question returns, is all of this
being organized by the Earth as a whole
so that life could flourish?
If that's the case, then the atmosphere
is not just stuff.
It's something like a membrane.
And we are not living on an Earth,
we are actually participants
in a vast intricate system
that is something like a living cell.
A living cell has the power
to learn through time.
This is what distinguishes the first cells
from all the other beings
that existed prior
to life's emergence.
A star for instance, has the
power to organize itself
for billions of years.
But throughout that time, it never needs
to learn anything new.
Life learns
for life can adapt itself to new situations
by changing its form and by
remembering these changes.
Life remembers the past
by storing information
in its DNA molecules.
It is this power of memory,
encased in each living cell,
that enables life to learn and thus evolve.
One of the ways in which
understand the nature
of life's memory is by using the ideas
of the mathematician/philosopher
You know a number of Pythagoras'
ideas were revolutionary.
And like a lot of revolutionary ideas,
they weren't that popular.
In fact, Pythagoras had to hide
from the tyrant Polycrates who was
in charge of Samos.
And tradition has it this
is where he hid right here,
halfway up the mountain in a cave there.
One of Pythagoras' central convictions
was that the essence of life is not air,
or water or fire as the other
Greek philosophers taught.
Rather, the essence of life
is number, pattern.
It seems such an odd idea.
I mean, life is so sensuous.
It's so complex, so rich.
How can the essence of
that be something abstract
like number or pattern?
It is precisely this deep connection
between life and pattern that enables life
to remember its crucial achievements.
That's what DNA does.
In the precise sequence of the nucleotides,
DNA holds the essence of life.
Life did not hand down the
actual molecules to my body.
Instead, life handed their essence
in the form of genetic information.
Because of this, our bodies can come alive
1,000 different ways each day.
Life has learned to learn.
One of the central ways of learning
for our species involves seeing.
Life has invented so many
different ways of seeing.
The amazing thing is, this
process is not yet over.
Come with me into Pythagoras' cave.
Begetting billions of years ago,
the earliest cells began to
develop a sensitivity to light.
They can sense it and move toward it.
And it was this capacity
that led eventually
to the development of the eye.
And the first eye which we
have any fossil evidence
is that of the trilobite
500 million years ago.
The trilobite, intent upon
piercing through the darkness,
invented an eye using calcite, a mineral.
The trilobite was able to see only
in the direction of these rods.
A primal form of seeing
that proved so successful,
we find it even now in the compound eyes
of flies and lobsters.
An entirely different form of seeing
was invented by the worms
and carried forward by the fish.
The type of eye is the one we know best
for it's the one we inherited,
the water-based eye.
Even after 500 million years,
eyesight continues to evolve.
In humans, the power of seeing deepens
with a new kind of sight, insight.
We see on the inner screen
of our imaginations.
Life has learned yet another way of seeing.
One with the power to transform everything.
With this new way of seeing,
we find ourselves blinking in a thrilling
and yet unsettling light.
Rooted in the center of immensities,
we open our eyes and see each thing anew.
Each thing ablaze with the
cosmic creativity millions
of years old.
With the insights made possible
with conscious self-awareness,
our vision now extends
back through billions
of years of evolution.
We see not only the scurrying spider,
but the entire cosmic journey layered
into the spider's body including
even a distant star out of whose explosions
its molecules were constructed.
And this capacity to see
into the depths of time
gives new meaning to death.
The universe throughout space and time
is filled with violence and chaos.
Millions of galaxies have been destroyed.
Trillions of animals have been killed.
Death and suffering are woven
into the very heart of the universe.
Usually such destruction
is massive and senseless.
A volcano erupts and
kills every living being
in its vicinity.
But it can also happen
that dealing with death
leads to more complex
coevolutionary relationships.
For a rabbit, an eagle wears
the face of destruction.
But in this relationship,
the eagle develops
more acute eyesight, and
the rabbit develops
greater speed for escape.
Interdependent communities arise
out of suffering and death.
The ultimate meaning of this
escapes easy explanation.
We are confronted with
a fundamental mystery
in which the small self of the individual
dives into and nourishes
the whole communtity.
But living beings are not
just linked together by food.
Passion, our urge to merge.
What could be more intimate to our souls?
Our passions determine
so much of our lives.
They are the wild explosive energies
of all of love and creativity.
And such desire resides at
the very center of life.
With fish, the female deposits her eggs
and the male later fertilizes them.
There's no contact between them.
100,000 million years later,
when the lizards have evolved
out of their fish and amphibian ancestors,
the passion to merge has
deepened considerably.
With mammals and birds, passions reach
yet a new crescendo.
Not only are they able to
co-mingle as one body,
they can become so profoundly bonded,
they remain in a relationship
their entire lives.
We are not just similar to animals,
we have been shaped by them.
Our passions come from
vertebrate evolution.
Even our compassion can be understood
as an expansion of what took place
hundreds of millions of
years ago in the ocean
with the early fish.
Biologists speculate that mutations
led to a mother fish who scared
away predators from her babies.
This behavior was new at that time.
What was more common among fish back then
was a mother who ate her young.
With the emergence of the
fishes' descendants,
mammals and birds, maternal care broadened.
Now the offspring were not
just protected from predators,
but were nourished
directly by their mother.
This care even included transmission
of survival information of their group.
And in some cases, this
required years of training.
We see them, the caring
behavior among vertebrates
expanding for 500 million years before
the emergence of home sapiens.
Earlier humans intuited
this deepening compassion
and celebrated it with images
of the divine feminine.
As we enter into evening here on Samos,
we approach one of the deep mysteries
at the center of every
traditional cosmic story,
the nature and ultimate
meaning of the human.
We humans have our origin in the birth
of the universe 14 billion years ago.
And thus, we are composed
of the same energy
and quanta as that which
composes everything
in the universe.
And we followed from the first cell
emerging four billion years ago.
So we're genetic cousins
to every living being.
So what is distinct about us?
What is uniquely human?
Our current best evidence suggests
that something took place between six
and seven million years ago in Africa.
Something happened to
ignite the human lineage
in the primate world.
A new line of energetic apes emerged
that would over several million years
bring forth massive brains and learn
to dwell in a world saturated with dreams.
Nothing like them had ever existed before.
So, what gave rise to us?
We don't really know.
We don't have the detailed knowledge
of that transformation yet.
But forces speculate on the data
and perhaps that's entirely
appropriate here in the night.
To be forced to dream about the origins
of this dream-making animal.
One theory offered by the scientists
is particularly fascinating.
It suggests that humanity had its origin
in the prolongation of childhood.
The idea is that mutations took place
which slowed down our development.
Humans went through the same phases
as say the chimpanzees, but they remained
in each stage for a longer period of time.
In particular, this meant that the humans
were childlike for more of their
lives than other mammals.
So, to understand what makes a human human,
we can study the children
of any mammalian species.
They jump to play.
They explore the world with their eyes.
And they taste the world with their mouths.
Simple existence thrills them.
Their actions are in some sense free.
So after nearly four billion years
an animal emerged that could remain free,
spontaneous, curious, flexible,
open, impelled to try everything.
So what was going to happen now?
Early humans awoke to an
incandescent consciousness.
But where other animals were
controlled by instincts,
humans were liberated
from such set reactions.
Captivated by the thrill of movement,
we could make dance,
or sports central to our lives.
Astonished by the sounds of Earth,
we could dedicate ourselves to the joy
of making music.
Or making love.
The greatest creation in human history
was what enabled humans to plunge into
and to share their
superabundant consciousness.
This new invention was language.
More simply, the symbol.
The symbols of language
and art and mathematics
opened up new depths of consciousness.
Each human began to carry
an entire universe within.
This new form of consciousness
called symbolic consciousness
would soon change everything.
A crucial step in the
process of becoming human
was learning to externalize consciousness.
To represent in the physical world
what we had experienced within.
This is the Archaeological
Museum on the island of Samos.
Come and have a look.
By creating marks on bone or on wet clay,
humans invented a way
to fix their knowledge
into an enduring form
outside of themselves.
The coding processes life were bursting
beyond the DNA molecule.
So with human culture, experience itself
can be remembered and passed down
for thousands of years.
Not just successful mutations.
Any valuable understanding,
even if experienced by a single human being
can become part of the enduring legacy.
Works of the mind and
spirit float into Samos
from every direction of the ancient world.
From Athens and Mesopotamia,
as well as Spain, Egypt, Persia.
You know in the early universe,
concentrations of matter led
to the emergence of galaxies.
And something similar was going on here.
In Samos and in other cities,
we find a concentration
of symbolic constructions.
What does this mean really?
It means that rare
insights and deep feelings
from around the planet and
from different eras of time
are all folded together here.
Out of this powerful alchemical mixing,
human consciousness
complexified into new forms.
Just think of it.
For billions of years,
rocks were just rocks.
And then, in a geological instant,
all of the planet that began to appear
with these scratchings on them.
Even more amazing, these little marks
were organizing entire civilizations.
With the appearance of the human,
the coding process of life
burst beyond the DNA molecule
and began carving its
information into stone.
Symbols not only enabled humans
to accumulate knowledge through millennia,
they also offered a final
and explosive possibility
for human emergence.
Symbols enabled humans to
concentrate their consciousness
upon consciousness.
This was a development with magnificent
and yet unexpected consequences.
Like a magnifying glass
focusing the sunlight
upon a leaf.
Symbols set fire to human possibility
that had slumbered for 100,000 years.
Look at this colossal form.
It's almost 15 feet high.
Now imagine dozens of such statues.
As the Greeks moved and lived among them,
their self-conceptions would be changed.
They would begin to imagine
they were godlike,
capable of anything.
Such systems we call in science
self-amplifying loops.
Consciousness giving birth to symbols
which then magnify consciousness.
In this way, humans were
not simply evolving.
They were consciously participating
in giving birth to themselves.
And what was coming forth was
a planet-altering species.
For this activity was taking
place not simply here
on the ancient island of Samos,
but actually throughout the planet
in every civilization.
Supercharged with confidence,
coming from the reverberation
of such symbols.
Human presence burst forth and altered
the very face of the planet.
Pyramids rose up from the African desert.
Ancient rivers were diverted.
Land as large as the eye could see
was watered by irrigation systems.
Even the forest scattered across the oceans
in the form of sailing vessels.
For the first time in Earth's history,
seeds were not subject to
the vagaries of climate
but received their watery nourishment
with the precision and
inevitability of logical thought.
Soon, even the inner order of the seeds
was captured by the science of genetics.
What does it mean when even the seeds
began to live not just in the Earth,
but in an Earth shaped
by human consciousness.
With their equations and
their measurements,
the early scientists discovered truths
none of the classical scholars had known
in astronomy, chemistry, physiology.
Humans began to understand the world
with their numbers and patterns.
The defining characteristic
of this new modern
form of consciousness was the decision
to employ our science and technology
to control nature for our own use.
The widespread conviction
of the industrial world
was that nature was inferior to us.
Such a world-view, in which only humans
have sentient feelings,
allowed all of nature
to become nothing more than a resource
we could exploit in anyway we wished.
Even Rene Descartes,
the most significant
philosopher of the modern age,
believed that when animals
made crying sounds,
they were not suffering.
They were simply malfunctioning machines.
Humans were gaining control
of Earth's processes
into what purpose?
To create a better world.
To eliminate hunger, to
provide for our children.
To have fun, and to fulfill this dream
we poured forth all of our energies,
all of our technologies,
and with stupendous results.
In the blink of an eye, we
exploded to seven billion humans.
The irony of it all,
housing and feeding this many humans
has already gutted our oceans and forests.
We've ended up achieving something like
the opposite of what we dreamt of.
It's not just that we're using
up all the energies of Earth.
It's much deeper than that.
We're changing life's dynamics,
and in an irreversible way.
We're just beginning to realize
that over the last few decades,
we have profoundly altered
the evolutionary dynamics of Earth,
the air, the
climate, the rivers,
the oceans, even the DNA.
We live on a different planet now.
A planet where not biology
but symbolic consciousness
is the determining factor for evolution.
This great reversal has taken place.
In the far distant past,
life drew forth a symbolic consciousness.
But now symbolic consciousness
has seized control of life.
With our languages and our machines,
we have become as powerful
as the planet itself.
Because of us icecaps are melting.
Because of us coral reefs
the size of mountains
are bleaching white.
But nothing shows this
disaster more clearly
than life itself.
Because of us, thousands of species
are going extinct each year.
Nothing this devastating
has taken place on Earth
since the extinction of the
dinosaurs 65 million years ago.
We are faced with a collective challenge
no previous generation even contemplated.
How are we to use this
symbolic consciousness
to create a human presence
that will enhance
the well-being of the Earth community?
We are beginning to understand
the profound powers
of the universe.
And just as these powers
have brought forth galaxies,
stars and life itself, perhaps the universe
is now unfolding towards some new destiny.
What if our ultimate
destiny is to experience
the universe so deeply we come to realize
that we are, in some
sense, the mind and heart
of the universe?
Our deepest yearning is for a
whole-hearted participation
in this flourishing.
As we float in the midst of
such mysterious immensities,
is there any deep wisdom that might
help us align our consciousness
with the grain of cosmic evolution?
Wonder will guide us.
The human species has a genius when
becoming astounded by almost
anything in the universe.
What can this mean?
The body of the universe
gave birth to our bodies.
The self-organizing
dynamics of the universe
gave birth to our minds.
We belong here.
We've always belonged here.
These deep discoveries of science
are leading to a new story of the universe.
It's a story that can be
summarized in a single sentence.
Over the course of 14 billion years,
hydrogen gas transformed itself
into mountains, butterflies,
the music of Bach, and you and me.
And these energies coursing through us
may indeed renew the face of the Earth.