Blood moon

If the third in the current tetrad of lunar eclipses happens, as predicted, it is my own firm prediction that the world will not end. And this, even though I am fully aware that the Moon is near perigee, and therefore “super.”

Why am I so confident? It is a form of theological reasoning on which I rely. It goes like this. We know not the day nor the hour of His Coming (see Bible). But we do know the day and the hour of the eclipse.

The same argument applies to all Bible-based end-of-world predictions. I have seen some impressively sophisticated reckonings. But if the calculators have it right, they are able to know the day and the hour. Whereas, they cannot know. It follows, they are wrong, every time.

Often, common sense is useful in these matters. I suspect it applies to more than we think, in the realm of the cosmological sciences. (Note that I’ve put the Bible aside, for the moment.)

This, notwithstanding a point was reached, in the development of physics, around the time of Planck and Einstein, or a little earlier, when algebra ceased to be the auxiliary to language, and language became instead the auxiliary to algebra. Until finally, language was ruled out of court. We began to make counter-intuitive discoveries; and now that’s all we make.

A crass example would be the speed of light. Granted, it will go no faster. But send two beams of light in opposite directions. Are the photons not parting from each other at twice the speed of light? And the answer is, of course, Yes and No. From our frame of reference, all is well: each has sped off only at the speed of light. And should two photons whiz past each other in opposite directions, from the PoV of either photon, the one whizzing past is going only at the speed of light. And anywhere you go in the universe, nothing is receding, nor approaching, faster than the speed of light. So: No, nothing is exceeding the speed of light. And Yes, the distance between the photons is growing at twice the speed of light. All clear?

That was a simple example: Relativity is much easier than Quantum Theory. Alas, once we are in Planck-land, we are in Planck sea. The photon itself is incomprehensible. At the sub-atomic scale, everything is incomprehensible; or in so far as it can be understood, quite absurd. What follows after Planck gets worse and worse, as we explore with math what we cannot observe, and pile one inference on another.

Not only is it very difficult to quantify or measure anything about a sub-atomic particle, such as its location; but supposing we have done that, every other measurement becomes vague. Nail, say, the momentum instead, and the location becomes vague, &c. We are up a tree with the lesser primates, dining on the “uncertainty principle.”

We might long to return to the basic ideas of “classical” physics (things like: inertia, motion, force, acceleration, kinetic energy, work) and yet, the closer we investigate each of these things, the more obscure it becomes. The math gets farther and farther from the language; the capacity to describe and visualize is lost; and we are confronted with multiple propositions that, while apparently true in themselves, are counter-intuitive in relation to each other.

Common sense requires some part of the universe to hold still. But the universe is entirely in motion. Something truly still could not be in the universe. The whole universe would be whizzing by at once. It is, to my mind, in our apprehension of stillness — of “the still point in the moving world,” both immanent and transcendent — that we partake of the Divine. And this, even on the most mundane level: that “idleness” or “stasis” within the mysterious workings of our “common sense.”

Stat crux dum volvitur orbis, goes the old Carthusian motto. “The Cross is steady while the world is turning.” This could be read as a nice eleventh-century anticipation of Relativity, and Quantum Mechanics; except, it goes beyond them. It is also the defeat of physics, or rather, the frontier beyond which we pass into philosophy, or metaphysics.

A true science would, I think, proceed in a different way, than our speculative science, by recognizing the frontiers. It would not claim to understand, actually or potentially, what is beyond our understanding. It would insist on recursions to common sense. It would pause and explore each counter-intuitive proposition, waiting for language to catch up; rather in the Scholastic manner. It would acknowledge that inner intuitive stillness. It would speak less, and contemplate more, in the course of which it would exhibit the humility that modern, godless science has discarded.

The greatest scientists have been like this. So many have in fact been monks. Their advances came seldom from algebra but in the old-fashioned way: by thinking through apparent contradictions. One thinks, and one thinks, with the human equipment, endowed by God; then suddenly — eureka! — one finds sense. For a moment, one “sees” it. The extraordinary math then follows.

Let me tell gentle reader something from Common Sense. We cannot “feel our way into” sub-atomic particles, because they are just numbers to us. We could not make sense of our own everyday environment if all we had were numbers. Were we superb mental computers, we might be able to predict, sometimes, what would happen next, yet it would not make sense. We’d be surrounded by the “counter-intuitive,” and beaten by reality again and again. We wouldn’t last five minutes, as computers.

For a quantified universe is a reduction, even a misrepresentation of the real one. Flesh and embodiment is required; a “materialism” different in kind from the desiccated, “scientific materialism” of the prevailing scientistic ideology — a materialism that is much too abstract. For our sensory perceptions, and capacities of mind, are not limited to numbers. They give us many dimensions at once. They show the way through apparent contradictions. They make sense of things — the sense that “pure empirical science,” and only experimental methods, through jungles of mere data, can never make.

They allow us to imagine. They provide a form of revelation.


Now, returning to the blood moon, the whole thing is readily predictable. For any location, we know when it begins and ends. Having pung this file, I will go up on the roof of my building to watch it. Even if the clouds get in the way, I will not doubt what is going on above. Indeed, I feel more confident than I do most evenings that the world is not going to end, tonight.

But had it been some other night, and I looked up and saw a blood moon — a lunar eclipse that had not been predicted — I would be less cocky.

In a dream once, I noticed a thin crescent moon of a size to arc across half the sky. Also, I noticed it was growing. In my dream logic, sound in its kind, this struck me as a serious indication of trouble to come. Another point, of which I took note: that I was levitating. Upon waking, I was in some confusion whether I was going to the moon, or the moon was coming to me.

Upon further waking, I became convinced that this was a moot point.