It is not enough to say that humans are a part of the universe; We are, unmistakably, a driving force in what happens to that universe. The more we know about our connectedness to other organisms—and even galaxies—and our role in their continuation and ability to thrive, the greater our responsibility. That’s the premise behind Journey of the Universe, a new documentary that sets out to explain how advanced scientific understanding of our creation and evolution through mathematics, science and technology over the past two centuries has changed our very relationship to the planet.
The documentary is led by narrator and evolutionary philosopher Brian Thomas Swimme, a professor at the California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco who lectures widely on the cosmos, and has come about from his 30-year friendship with both Mary Evelyn Tucker, a senior lecturer and scholar at Yale University and co-founder and co-director of the Forum on Religion and Ecology and Thomas Berry, leading author on the environment and spirituality (who passed away, at age 80, in 2009).
“One of the aims of this project is to use the art of storytelling to capture the grandeur and drama of this epic of the universe—from the Big Bang, to where we are today in a moment of great transition,” relates the film’s website. If a companion book to the film is any indication, Journey of the Universe covers a lot of ground in its sweeping tale. Beginning with the universe’s earliest elementary particles—the first quarks and leptons—the journey takes viewers to the birth of stars and the emergence of the solar system, animals and humans, and delves into the concepts of matter and time and more.
The film explores the very purpose of humans in the larger cosmic picture. “We are in the midst of vast destruction, but it is simultaneously a moment of profound creation,” the book, by Swimme and Tucker, reports. “We are involved with building a new era of Earth’s life. Our human role is to deepen our consciousness in resonance with the dynamics of the fourteen-billion-year creative event in which we find ourselves. Our challenge now is to construct livable cities and to cultivate healthy foods in ways congruent with Earth’s patterns. Our role is to provide the hands and hearts that will enable the universe’s energies to come forth in a new order of well-being. Our destiny is to bring forth a planetary civilization that is both culturally diverse and locally vibrant, a multiform civilization that will enable life and humanity to flourish.”