Bruno Binggeli, born 1953 in Frick (Switzerland), studied physics and astronomy at the University of Basel, where he is now Titularprofessor for astronomy. Extended stays at Carnegie Observatories in Pasadena, USA, and Las Campanas Observatory in Chile. Research on clusters of galaxies, dwarf galaxies and binary stars. 1988-1990 Visiting fellow of the Osservatorio Astrofisico di Arcetri, Florence, where he had the opportunity to indulge in Dante studies. Author of the book “Primum Mobile: Dantes Jenseitsreise und die moderne Kosmologie” (2006) which attempts to reconcile modern science with Western spiritual traditions, i.e. to harmonize knowledge and belief.
The transition “from the closed world to the infinite universe” (title of a famous book by Alexandre Koiré) during the 16th and 17th centuries certainly marks the basic shift of paradigm in the Western conception of the world. Underlying this transition is the unfolding of rational thinking and its final dominance over mythical imagination. As we all know, this enlightenment has also a dark side for human life: the destruction of the “cosmos” is accompanied by a loss of meaning and orientation. –
Is there a way to recover our “cosmic connection” without betraying scientific knowledge in a regressive manner? Modern physics and astronomy are, in fact, giving us a lot of freedom (and inspiration!) to find a world view that involves us as spiritual beings. While the spiritual consequences of quantum mechanics are widely acknowledged, this is apparently much less the case for relativity theory and big bang cosmology. We still tend to extrapolate the space of our immediate environment to the space of the whole universe and believe in its infinity. However, owing to the finiteness of the velocity of light, space and time are coupled. We principally lack access to distant space simultaneous to “now”. From this point of view (and this is no more than a point of view!), the realm of galaxies is a “virtual reality” – not unlike the crystal spheres in the medieval conception of the world…
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