It is said that certain Gnostic sects which flourished in North Africa during the first few centuries of our era not only encouraged but actually required candidates to give a written or verbal account of how they thought the universe began (Note 1). It would be interesting to know what these people came up with and, most likely, amongst a great deal of chaff there were occasional anticipations of current scientific theories. It is mistaken to imagine that great ideas go hand in hand with experimentation and mathematical implementation : on the contrary, important ideas often predate true discovery by centuries or even millennia. Democritus’ atomic theory (VIth century BC) could not possibly have been ‘proved’ prior to modern times and he certainly could not possibly have put it in quantum or even Newtonian mathematical form. Similarly, one or two brave people put forward the germ theory of disease while the ‘miasmic’ theory was still orthodoxy ─ and were usually dismissed as cranks.
As a body of beliefs, ‘science’ is currently entering a period of consolidation comparable to that experienced by the early Church after its final victory over paganism. Materialism has decisively vanquished idealism and religion is no longer a force to be reckoned with, at least in the West. Along with increasing potency and accuracy goes a certain narrowing of focus and a growing intolerance : science is now a university phenomenon with all that this implies and no .longer a ‘pastime of leisured persons’. To some extent, this tendency towards orthodoxy is inevitable, even beneficial : as someone said it doesn’t matter too much if a poet departs from  the prescribed form of a sonnet, but it may matter a great deal if a bridge builder uses the wrong equations. Nonetheless, there are warning signs : ‘scientific correctness’ has replaced not only free enquiry but the very idea of scientific validity. Professional scientists worry, not so much about whether their results are flawed or their theories tentative, as to whether they are going to get in trouble with the establishment, and offending the latter can have grave career and financial consequences.

        It is true that free, indeed often extremely erratic  speculation, is still allowed  in certain areas, especially cosmology and particle physics. But it is subject to certain serious constraints. Firstly, it is only permitted to persons who already hold more than one degree and who are able to couch their theories in such abstruse mathematics that journals find it difficult to find anyone to peer review the work. Is not this how it should be? Maybe not. Certainly, you are likely to need some knowledge of a subject before cobbling together a theory but there is such a thing as knowing too much. Once someone has been through the mill and spent years doing things in the prescribed manner, it is well nigh impossible to break out of the mental mould ─ and this is most likely the reason why really new ideas in science come from people in their twenties (Einstein, Heisenberg, Dirac, Gamow et al. et al.), not because of any miraculous effect of youth as such.

        So. Where’s all this leading?  I didn’t do science at university or even at school which puts me in many respects at an enormous disadvantage, but this has certain good aspects as well. I have no vested interest in orthodoxy and only accept something because I am convinced that it really is true, or is at least the best theory going for the time being. Almost all current would be innovators in science, however maverick they may appear at first sight, take on  board certain key doctrines of modern science such as the conservation of energy or the laws of thermo-dynamics. But one might as well  be killed for a sheep as a lamb and I have finally decided to take the plunge and, instead of trying to fit my ideas into an existing official framework, to swim out into the open sea, starting as far back as possible and  assuming only what seems to be essential. I originally envisaged ‘Ultimate Event Theory’ as a sort of ‘new science’  but now realize that what I really have been trying to do is give birth to a new ‘paradigm’ ─ a ‘paradigm’ being a systematic way of viewing the world or reality. Should this paradigm ever come to fruition, it will engender new sciences and new technologies, but the first step is to start thinking within a different framework and draw conclusions. In other words, one is obliged to start with theory ─ not experiment or mathematics though certainly I hope eventually experiments will give support to the key concepts and that a new symbolic system will be forthcoming (Note 2).

       Four Paradigms

 To date there have been basically four ways of viewing the world, three all-englobing ‘paradigms’ : (1) The Animistic paradigm; (2) the Mechanistic paradigm; and (3) the Information Paradigm and (4) the Event Paradigm.
According to (1) the universe is full of life, replete with ‘beings’ in many respects like ourselves inasmuch as ‘they’ have emotions and wills and cause things deliberately to happen. This conception goes far beyond mere belief in a pantheon of gods and goddesses : as Thales is supposed to have said, if a lodestone draws a piece of iron it is exercising ‘will’ and “All things are full of gods”. This world-view lasted a very long time and, even though it is largely discredited today, it still has plenty of life  left in it which is why we still speak of ‘charm’, ’charisma’, ‘fate’, and so on and why, despite two centuries of rationalistic propaganda, most of the population still believes in ‘jinxes’ and in ‘spirits’ (as I myself do at least part of the time).
The countless deities and “thrones, principalities and powers” against whom Saint Paul warns the budding Christian eventually gave way to a single all-powerful Creator God who made the world by a deliberate act of will. In its crudest form, Mechanism views the universe as a vast and complicated piece of clockwork  entirely controlled by physical and mathematical laws, some of which we already know. No living things of any sort here unless we make an exception for humanity and, even if we do make such an exception, it is hard to see how free will can enter the picture. Modern science has dispensed with the  Creator retained the mechanistic vision somewhat updated by quantum uncertainty and other exotic side effects.
The invention of the computer and its resounding success sometimes seems to be ushering in a new paradigm: the universe is an enormous integrated circuit endowed with intelligence of a sort and we are the humble bits. Seductive though this vision is in certain respects, it is not without serious dangers for the faithful since it looks disturbingly like a sort of reversion to the most ancient paradigm of all, the animistic one ─ the universe is alive and capable of creating itself and everything else out of itself.
The paradigm that I am working with harks back to certain Indian Buddhist thinkers of the early centuries AD though I originally discovered it for myself when I knew nothing about Buddhism and Taoism. No Creator God, no matter or mind as such, only evanescent point-like entities (‘dharmas’, ‘ultimate events’) forming relatively persistent patterns on a featureless backdrop which will eventually be returned to the original emptiness (‘sunyata’) from which the “thousand things” emerged.

Broad schema of Eventrics 

Following my own instincts and the larger cosmology of Taoism and other mystical belief systems, I divide reality into two broad categories, what I call the Manifest and the Unmanifest, each of which is further divided into two, the Non-Occurrent and the Occurent. If one feels more comfortable with a symbolic notation, we can speak of K0  and K1 with further regions K00 and K01, K10 and K11.  Of the Unmanifest Non-Occurrent, K00, little need or can be said. It is the ultimate origin of everything, the original Tao, Ain Soph (‘the Boundless’) of Jewish mysticism, the Emptiness of nirvana, the vacuum of certain contemporary physical theories (perhaps).

To be continued)

Note 1  As soon as Christianity, or a particular version of it, became the official religion of the declining Roman Empire, all such cosmological speculation was actively discouraged and penalized.