Twelve Principles for Understanding the Universe and the Role of the Human in the Universe Process

Twelve Principles for Understanding the Universe and the Role of the Human in the Universe Process

by Thomas Berry

1. The universe, the solar system, and the planet Earth in themselves and in their evolutionary emergence constitute for the human community the primary revelation of that mystery whence all things came into being.

2. The universe is a unity, an interacting and genetically-related community of beings bound together in an inseparable relationship in space and time. The unity of Earth is especially clear: each being of the planet is profoundly implicated in the existence and functioning of every other being of the planet.

3. From its beginning, the universe is a psychic as well as a physical reality.

4. The three basic laws of the universe at all levels of reality are differentiation, subjectivity and communion. These laws identify the reality, the values and the directions in which the universe is proceeding.

5. The universe has a violent as well as a harmonious aspect, but it is consistently creative in the larger arc of its development.

6. The human is that being in whom the universe activates, reflects upon, and celebrates itself in conscious self-awareness.

7. Earth, within the solar system, is a self-emergent, self-propagating, self-educating, self-governing, self-healing, self-fulfilling community. All particular life systems in their being, their sexuality, their nourishment, their education, their governing, their healing, and their fulfilling must integrate their functioning within this larger complex of mutually dependent earth systems.

8. Genetic coding is the process through which the world of the living articulates itself in its being and its activities. The great wonder of the creative interaction of the multiple codings among themselves.

9. At the human level, genetic coding mandates a further trans-genetic cultural coding by which specifically human qualities find expression. Cultural coding is carried on my educational processes.

10. The emergent process of the universe is irreversible and non-repeatable in the existing world order. The movement from non-life to life on the planet earth is a one-time event. So too, the movement from life to the human form of consciousness. So also the transition from the earlier to the later forms of human culture.

11. The historical sequence of cultural periods can be identified as the tribal-shamanic period, the Neolithic village period, the classical civilizational period, the scientific-technological period, and the emerging ecological period (Ecozoic Era).

12. The main human task of the immediate future is to assist in activating the inter-communion of all the living and non-living components of the earth community in what can be considered the emerging ecological period (Ecozoic Era) of Earth development.

Used with permission of Thomas Berry

(This list also appears in Thomas Berry and the New Cosmology, ed. By Anne Lonegran & Caroline Richards, Twenty-Third Publications, Mystic, CT, USA, 1988, pgs 107-108)