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King: How random — and friendly — is our universe?

POSTED: April 8, 2014 1:00 a.m.

I have a note taped up over my computer that reads: “Be prepared for synchronicity in your life. It grew out of some unnamed force somewhere in the universe. Acknowledge it when it appears. Be grateful and give thanks, for if you think deeply, you will find it is not random at all.”

(By the way, I did not find this quote in a book or hear it from a teacher. It came to me one day while I was in the bathtub, an epiphany of sorts.)

According to Merriam-Webster, synchronicity is the coincidental occurrence of events that seem related but are not explained by conventional mechanisms of causality. The concept was developed by Carl Jung in the 1920s, and it postulates relationships that are not governed by cause and effect. They appear random, but because they are meaningful, they are not — at least not for the individual who experiences them.

Most of the important occurrences in my life were synchronistic. That is, they appeared to be accidental.

Does that mean they were random? The dictionary definition of accidental does include “random,” but the reverse isn’t true. Random is something else, and therein lies a question. Is there another system or structure at work in the cosmos?
Einstein said, “God does not play dice with the universe.” This seems to rule out accidents, but not synchronicity.

Einstein also posed his own question, “Is the universe a friendly place?” Apparently he wasn’t sure. He said it depends on how the world uses its resources, its scientific discoveries and its technology. Misused, they will most assuredly destroy us.

If the universe is neither friendly nor unfriendly, our fate depends on chance, on a toss of the cosmic dice, which Einstein apparently rejected. He said, “If we decide that the universe is a friendly place, we will use our technology, our scientific discoveries and our natural resources to create tools and models for understanding that universe.”

This leaves us with two different futures for mankind, and this is where synchronicity enters the picture. One can bring God into the equation if they like, but both Einstein and Jung were scientists. They did not “believe.”

I suspect the word itself was alien to them. They were thinkers. They questioned. They searched for patterns and order. They developed hypotheses. They constructed theories that would be tested. When they did speak, it was out of something deeper than belief.

Physical change through time is universal, but it is not random. It follows certain natural laws. If cause and effect are the only factors involved, if nothing is random; if everything is predetermined, then there is no free will. (Let me warn the reader, there is a very good case for this).

If there is no free will, if we can’t change the path we are on today, the human race is in trouble because the forces at work in society today are controlled by money, ego and the drive for power.

If there is another system at work, one based on relationships and meaning, perhaps we will use our technology, our scientific discoveries and our natural resources to change the path humanity is on now. It doesn’t matter if you believe in a personal God or an evolving human spirit. It matters how you act. And how you act depends largely on how you think.

Is the Earth here for you to exploit, or is it here for you to protect and nurture? Do you stand alone against the forces of nature, or are you part of a vast network of sentient creatures?

I’m not sure what role synchronicity plays in our lives, but I do know it depends upon individuals who are open to it when it happens. I would like to believe we can change the path we are on. I want to believe the universe is a friendly place.

Joan King lives in Sautee. Her column appears biweekly on Tuesdays and at gainesvilletimes.com/viewpoint.


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