Penzias and Wilson: The Sound of Light

                     by Joe Masterleo                         





When the intellectual history of the 20th century is written, a few achievements will tower over all. Einstein’s theory of general relativity will be one; the laws of quantum mechanics will be another. The Big Bang Theory of the origin of the universe will be a third.

The 1964 discovery of the cosmic microwave background radiation (CMBR) of the Big Bang by Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson, set the seal of approval on the theory and brought cosmology to the forefront as a scientific discipline. It was proof that the universe was born at a definite moment, almost 14 billion years ago. Having originally set out to map radio signals from the Milky Way, like many others in science their discovery was serendipitous. It brought cosmology to the forefront as a scientific discipline, transforming it from being in the realm of biblical literalists and a handful of astronomers, to a respectable branch of physics almost overnight. Winners of the 1978 Nobel Prize in Physics for their discovery, Penzias and Wilson became to cosmology, what Watson and Crick were to DNA, Pierre and Marie Curie to radiology, or Edison and Tesla to electricity.

Few can argue against the principle of augmented reality, the notion that advances in technology have extended and enriched our human senses, over time deepening the environment around and above us. Developed by physicists Penzias and Wilson, the huge metallic Horn Antenna was to augmented listening what its visual counterpart, the Webb Telescope, is to seeing deep into space. We are indeed living in a wondrous and revealing deep-time world, whose hidden secrets are becoming more transparent through hi-tech innovations. Such allows us to inch ever closer to seeing and knowing things as they are, micro to macro, transcending our human limitations. And with more enhanced vision and hearing come more opportunities to tell the Big Story with greater clarity and comprehension. And as that story unfolds, a universal constant is coming into sharper focus as Creation’s theme, energy, and hidden protagonist rolled into one, the synthesis apex on the spiraling cone of history Teilhard (and Jesus) called Omega.

In the 1950’s there were two conflicting theories on the origin of the universe, and hence two cosmologies. One stated that the universe was created, and therefore had a beginning. The other was called the Steady State Theory that held that the universe was homogeneous in space and time, existed eternally and forever in “a steady state,” and therefore did not require a Creator. Since scientists allege to “always follow the data” rigorously, to thus state as fact the eternal nature of matter is dogmatic, stemming from presumption and unsubstantiated belief. So much for scientists and researchers who refuse to accept the observational evidence that the universe was created (and came into being from nothing), long since confirmed by the observable data of astronomy and astrophysics. Then and now, researchers are not immune to engaging in hype, overselling their untested notions, or being proven wrong. Notwithstanding, the conflict between the two theories was resolved by the CMBR discovery of Penzias and Wilson (click Resource tab for video short).

As for those scientific holdovers who remain unconvinced that creation came “out of nothing,” note that in the 1970’s there was an overwhelming belief among physicists that no one could speak about the Big Bang and stay within the boundaries of science. After all, how could something come from nothing? It was then universally accepted that no scientist could explain why there is something and not nothing. In a scientific paper published in the British scientific journal Nature in 1973, Edward Tryon, American scientist, and professor emeritus of physics at Hunter College in NYC, asserted how the universe could be created ex nihilo, out of nothing. Tryon solved the riddle (via zero energy, or quantum fluctuation of the vacuum) without contradicting the first law of thermodynamics, or the Genesis 1 account of creation. His findings not only explained how there could be a viable set of forces that predated the existence of the material universe, but further explained how said forces were (1) not physical, (2) act on the physical, and (3) created the physical from nothing. Following the work of Penzias and Wilson, Tryon’s discovery also became a key piece in assembling the origins of the universe puzzle, bringing Teilhard’s vision of a religio-scientific synthesis into even greater focus.

The unifying force of the multiple cannot be composed of the multiple (Teilhard de Chardin).

In March 1978, sometime after their Bell Labs discovery proved the universe had a beginning, Dr. Penzias made the following comments to the New York Times: The best data we have are exactly what I would have predicted, had I nothing to go on but the five books of Moses, the Psalms, and the Bible as a whole.

Such confirms the first verse of Scripture which states: “In the beginning (of time), God created the heavens (space) and the earth (matter.) Speaking of the universe based on the evidence he observed as a physicist, Dr. Penzias declared that his research into astrophysics has caused him to see evidence of a plan of creation. And commenting on the genuineness of the of the Old Testament prophecies of the Messiah, Penzias stated .  .  . I think a Messiah is necessary to achieve a purposeful world (article, “Noted PhD’s and Scientists Who Believe God Created the World,” by Robert Clifton Robinson).

Further, Dr. Robert Wilson, co-discoverer of the moment of Creation, made this observation regarding the realization that he and Penzias had discovered the beginning of the universe: Certainly, there was something that set it all off. . . I can’t think of a better theory of the origin of the universe to match with Genesis.

Though the two cosmologies, scientific and religious, remain mostly siloed and separate as distinctive disciplines to this day, common sense and an evolving noosphere dictate that a reconciling synthesis is in order. There simply cannot be two valid universe stories. Two of the chief advocates for same, Teilhard de Chardin and Thomas Berry are familiar to DTN members on the eve of celebrating the 60th anniversary of the Penzias-Wilson discovery. Such synthesis endeavors, along with other integration movements worldwide, seek to tell the FULL story by connecting the synergy dots in science, religion, education, and the arts. Cheered on by the exhortations of the late eco-theologian Thomas Berry, such indeed are timely movements, and a fitting anniversary to celebrate.

Note the historical progression: following the Age of Reason (the Enlightenment), the Industrial Revolution, the Age of Science, Medicine, Technology, and Information have all but rendered religion and theology “pie-in-the-sky” superstition. Not so fast, said Teilhard and Berry. Science and technology are confirming the mysteries of ancient wisdom literature on origins, and indeed have a central voice in telling the Big Story, the greatest story never told.

It is all a question of story. We are in trouble now because we do not have a good story. We are in between stories. The old story, the account of how we fit into it, is no longer effective. Yet we have not learned a new story (Thomas Berry).

With Big Bang notions confirmed by the Horn antenna, efforts to assemble a new Universe Story must consider having the centerpiece of the new narrative begin with the birth of light hurtling out across the universe in a massive explosion from a tiny, seed-like point called a singularity. No question, light and sound were (and are) figural in the constituency of the universe. Further, the entire process of constructing the architecture of the universe, as Plato, Einstein and others have theorized, is integrally related to sacred geometry, which Edward Tryon posited begins with that initial point (zero point of the vacuum) in either a straight line, circle, or as in the case of the author’s model, a generating spiral. The initial generating point is likened to a seed, the basis of Jesus’ parable of the mustard seed, an analogue for the singularity in which the mass and potential of the entire universe of space-time was contained at the first moment of creation.

Understand that CMBR (cosmic microwave background radiation) is but one aspect of the entire electromagnetic spectrum, a bandwidth of light which in increasing order of frequency (and decreasing order of wavelength) include, but are not limited to: radio waves, microwaves, infrared radiation, visible light, ultraviolet radiation (colors of the spectrum), x rays, and gamma rays. The spectrum includes and embraces them all, with consideration of light extending into, and cascading from the eternal, what Teilhard termed radial energy, preternatural in nature and substance.

. . . coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning (James 1:17-18).

The primary subject and focus of religion and spirituality worldwide recognize a constant in the universe called God, whose being is most often referred to metaphorically as light, and who in Scripture often appears literally as light. Likewise, in a post-Einstein world it is understood that energy, movement, and life itself are elementary particles and dynamic forces of a single constant as well – light. The notion of light (electromagnetism) in association with divinity recurs over and again at key points in the creation and redemptive narratives, revealing the hidden Spirit (Hebrew, ruach) that formed creation and all things in it. In the Semitic languages, particularly Hebrew, references to God as EL (singular) and Elohim (plural) have Sumerian roots, which translate as “The Shining One” (El) and “The Shining Ones” (Elohim) respectively, associating the very nature of divinity with light. Light is so foundational to beginnings, it appears in the creation story of Genesis 1 ten times as the catalyst in creation. Light also appears at the burning bush, on Mt. Sinai, over the Ark of the Covenant, and in the Bethlehem sky. Light is also figural in the Transfiguration, over the tomb of Jesus, on the angel’s face announcing his resurrection, in Paul’s Damascus Road conversion, and in the Book of Revelation, where the celestial city is described as bathed in it. And of course, in the fiery explosion of the Big Bang, its aftermath still ongoing and measurable, flooding the entire universe with CMBR from the very “Let Light Be” moment of Creation (Gen.1:3).

Light and sound vibrations becoming material form are further detailed in the Genesis account, clearly stating that God spoke creation into existence. According to Genesis, on the six successive days of creation God spoke and what he said happened. That is, the means that divinity used to create the universe was his spoken Word (Gen.1:3-26). In the New Testament, Christ is known by several names, among them the Living Word, and the Light of The World. The Word, Light, and will of God being synonymous, the Word willed creation to take place, using the invisible vibrational realities of sound and light that occurred in eight separate stages spread over six successive days. These stages are marked in Genesis 1 by eight separate “words” from God (introduced by the formula “And/Then God said . . .”). In this way, God accomplishes his purposes with no other reason or cause than s/he desired them to happen.

Dispersed sound, light, and all vibrational realities cascade from the One and undivided (entangled) at all scales in the Universe Story, quark to quasar. In science, Sonoluminescence refers to the process of turning sound into light, created when short bursts of light from imploding bubbles in a liquid are excited by sound. While converting sound to light is novel, experiments demonstrate that it can be done, as there is only a very narrow frequency range where sound and light waves overlap. There is no need to argue science vs religion. Both are different ways of telling the same universe story from different viewing platforms, using different language to describe them. Light and divinity make no distinctions between them, only dualistic thinking does, and with-it unsubstantiated mortal beliefs. And the synthesis story continues . . .

The combined evidence of science and the biblical record on light as elemental in both narratives are compelling. And save for differences in wavelength or vibrational frequency, are distinctions without an appreciable difference. Rather, they are integral components forming a new religio-scientific cosmotheology synthesis.

“Religion and science are the two conjugated faces or phases of one and the same complete act of knowledge – the only one which can embrace the past and future of evolution, and so contemplate, measure, and fulfill them (Teilhard de Chardin).

Since light and electromagnetism are basically the same thing, they are to be given primary consideration as  THE crucial point of intersection (or constant) between science and religion in the Big Story. Spiritually un-awakened, said light beings are Homo terrestrialsdualistic thinking holdovers of the Cenozoic Age devoid of unitive consciousness. Once awakened, as stated in Scripture, they become children of the Highest, an evolved phylum of spiritual beings (Teilhard), first-stage Ecozoics (Berry) recovering from separation consciousness. The author refers to the latter as Homo elektorevolved and evolving light beings and light workers inspired by higher vibratory frequency resonances. Having crossed a liminal threshold in thought and perception via unitive consciousness, the difference between them is not one of degree from their pre-evolved Cenozoic state, but of kind.

Again, note the progression in our evolving storyline: Advances in technology extend and enrich our human senses, over deep time augmenting more penetrating views of the environment above, around, and within things from center to periphery, outer to inner, totally in each thing. Such penetrating views ultimately lead to the evolution of individual and collective human consciousness, advancing along higher order (deeper) spiritual lines. This species-specific evolution is marked by centration, the interiorization of itself as radial energy in the spirit-soul, manifest in unitive consciousness. In turn, this higher order consciousness informs and updates the biosphere, gradually transforming it into the noosphere accordingly, leading toward Omega and a new world order (kingdom come).

Man is not the center of the universe as once we thought in our simplicity, but something much more wonderful – the arrow pointing the way to the final unification of the world (Teilhard de Chardin).

The corroborating truths inherent in science and theology can now reveal something once considered a misty, unknowable mystery. It is now known that the universe began in unity, light was foundational to creation, and all things share the same source and were one in essence before the Big Bang. The author contends that there can be no other plausible denominator leveling the playing field across all religions and disciplines other than this universal constant. This constant is God, and God is light (and love), connecting all things to itself, themselves, and each other along integral lines via their common center points. By no other measure can all persons be regarded sacred and equal.

The wellspring of the soul’s existence, and the highest part of matter, this spark of divine energy hidden in the depth of things dissolves (incarnates) into creation, manifesting in an assortment of visible forms. Spirit enjoys itself there as one admiring itself in a mirror. In the same enjoyment in which Spirit enjoys itself, it enjoys all things, for the Maker and made are one in essence and unity in the singularity/Godhead. Awakened or un-awakened, we ARE the universe. Awakened, we are light incarnate consciously aware of itself as divine offspring, truly “lights of the world.” All the multiplicity in creation is known in the simplicity of that locus. All the tangential energy of nature, of light and heat, sound and magnetism, and electricity reflects the energy which exists and streams continuously from the eternal via the still, small, silent singularity in empty space universally. There is not a particle of matter in the universe, neither a grain of sand, a leaf, a flower, not a single insect, animal, or human which has not its origin and existence in the One, is not jacketed in the One, or which is not known in the unitive vision of that One.

It is he alone who has immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see . . . (1 Timothy 6:16).

God and Light are One, seamlessly co-present to one another everywhere in the universe, hiding in plain sight as Jesus declared, “within and all around you”.  .  .  like leaven in bread” (Lk. 17:21, Matt. 13:33).

What Penzias and Wilson discovered is even more significant in the unfolding Big Story. CMBR offers a key piece of the synthesis puzzle on the origins of outer space extending into the far reaches of countless stars and galaxies. But creation itself is not a one-time, static event. It is ongoing, dynamic, evolving into ever higher forms in human consciousness, technological advancements, and transdisciplinary unity.

Teilhard envisioned the creative union of the universe assuming the form of a huge cone, whose base expands indefinitely to the rear in the primordial darkness of creation, while its apex rises and concentrates (centrates) even further into radial energy (spiritual light), the way a magnifying glass draws multiple rays of light into a single concentrated focal point. The first or Big Bang thrust is an evolution (unfoldment), the second movement is an involution (enfoldment) on the trajectory from Alpha to Omega, origin and destiny being one and the same locale, as in a circuit. Such a discovery is nothing less than the nexus linking inner and outer worlds, putting the capper (apex) on the Big Story synthesis cone. And that, on the threshold of planet Earth facing the realities of ecological unsustainability, turf wars, far-right politics, mass migrations, food insecurity, and the increasing threat of nuclear annihilation.

Completing the Big Story necessarily involves detailing how the invisible portion of light (electromagnetism) centrates, interiorizes, and congeals in inner space, appearing as higher wave frequencies in what Teilhard deemed evolved spirit-souls. Anticipating the next stage in psycho-spiritual evolution (convergence and centration), this revolutionary discovery (1) affirms the substance of the entire universe, visible and invisible, as existing on a continuum of light energy, introducing matter as veiled Spirit, the substance of all visible form universally, (2) reveals as one the interbeing nature of all things, innermost and outermost, on a cosmic frequency scale linking eternity with time. (3) will render separation-consciousness vestigial, and (4) provide an updated perspective on inter-faith theology and the biblical narrative by expanding the definition of God in Christ along Cosmic/Universal lines. In short, it would d o for religion what Edison did for lighting, Ford for transportation, or the Internet for communication. Most importantly, it would complete and detail the Ultra-Physics vision of Teilhard in our time, perhaps hastening the long-awaited Parousia.

This synthesis would also round out the Gospel message (a) by giving an organic definition to divinity (Spirit) as incarnate, not only in Jesus, but in the ENTIRE CREATED ORDER, rendered sacred by virtue of its constituency as wave frequencies whose origins in light are traceable to the God-head dating back to the Big Bang event, and (b) complement the moral, juridical, and redemptive elements (sin and judgement) of the Gospel, showing how, at root, all things are manifest as energy in material form, One and indivisible,  biblically identified as s/he “in whom all things consist and hold together” (Col. 1:17).

Everything that rises must converge (Teilhard).

Little could Penzias and Wilson realize that parsing out one-half of the 1% of static noise (CMBR), then audible on old F-M radio and TV set receivers, would be a major scientific advancement (augmentation reality) leading to further exploration into the deep-time mysteries of creation. And with them, an updated Creation Story synthesis. Ditto the discoveries of contemporaries Einstein, Teilhard, and Tesla. Stand we must on their broad pioneering shoulders, and with inspired gratitude finishing the work they began.

There is neither spirit nor matter in the world. The stuff of the universe is spirit-matter. No other substance but this could have produced the human molecule (Teilhard).

In a divinely ordered universe, the principles invoked that best frame and give clarity to the Big Story are: the lesser must proceed from the greater, and the lower from the higher; as above, so below, innermost and outermost at all scales. Then and only then will inner and outer space be unified in human consciousness, will the noosphere completely replace the biosphere, and will paradise lost be regained in the Omega Point of history. The cosmic story is a convergent story, that of two separate-appearing meridians (science and religion) meeting and reconciling at the poles. And the polestar is Christ, the magnetic still-point between them that sparks and divinizes (Christifies) all things. The cosmic story is therefore one of gradual movement over billions of years toward ever higher levels of unity — intellectual, philosophical, spiritual, and ecumenical — in a single universal constant. Today we are closer than ever toward reaching critical mass in that evolutionary process, transitioning from the Cenozoic to the Ecozoic Age in history. True to evolutionary form, divinity is developing itself into creation as a photograph, coming to us from the future with an end game in mind — Christogenesis, the divinization of consciousness that allows all things to be seen in their fullness. That future is now, as it was in the consciousness of Teilhard, and is in all light beings, indigenous folk, and mystics. A truly religio-scientific synthesis knows no time, tribe, or creed. It expands the boundary of time from bio-psycho-social reality to liminal reality in a totally integrated spirit-soul and noosphere along inter-galactic lines.

In the apocryphal gospels, a question is asked, How will we know when the kingdom shall arrive? The question is answered: When you make the two into one, and when you make the inner into outer, and the upper as the lower . . . then you will enter the kingdom (Jesus, Gospel of Thomas, saying 22.)

In summary, light relativizes time and space, making the latter part of the big and beautiful, timeless and mysterious, colorful and wonderful. In addition, light and divinity hold these quintessential properties in common: both are in the world but not of it, give of themselves freely without being diminished, seek nothing in return, and are inclusive. They distinguish not whether their recipients are saints or sinners, wise or foolish, friends or foes, animals, minerals, or vegetables. Though light has no image, it is that on which all images depend and receive life.

It presses on ever further into the vortex or whirlpool which is the primary source in which the spirit has its origin. Thus the spirit carries us ever deeper into our center, which is a vortex of divine depths (Meister Eckhart).

By light the flowers bloom, meadows green, divinity is known, ignorance is dispelled, unity is realized, transformations occur – and a timely paradigm shift is evolving that reconciles science and religion universally. Light gives a person the vivifying gift of itself and themselves at the same time, enabling good science, good theology, good psychology, and good cosmology (Spirit, soul, body, and evolution) to work in tandem without conflict.

As a constant in the universe, from light’s viewpoint there is no space, time, mass, or distance, so light doesn’t “pass” or travel anywhere. Light just IS, like CMBR, existing silently in the here and now, encompassing space everywhere, including the atmosphere we breathe. A visionary decades ahead of his time, Teilhard intuited “this rich and living ambience” by which spirit, matter, all disciplines and peoples might be reconciled and unified in the whole of creation. He left it for those who followed to give greater  specificity to the universal forces at work in the “mystical milieu” that all things inhabit. Knowing that divinity is hidden at the center of things, he aptly named his book The Divine Milieu, subtitled An Essay on the Interior Life, hoping that one day all will realize their identity as children and citizens of the earth, spiritual beings having a human experience swaddled in a divine milieu (ambience) joined by a common element, innermost and outermost. Today, with the data of science at hand, it is plausible to consider Teilhard’s unnamed ambience as light energy.

Seamlessly in the world but not of it, from the standpoint of light (Spirit) there is no space-time, though each action or interaction in space-time is mediated by it. What remains for us is to focus on the apex of the cone pointing to light’s interiorization (centration) in inner space, its convergence there (involution) as the singularity in Omega. As the world’s indigenous folk and mystics have told us, this constant (Spirit) is closer than breathing, nearer than hands and feet. Matter = energy = Spirit, the Shining One (El) moving into form and back again in ebb and flow fashion, invisible to visible in circuitous choreographies of oneness and separateness over deep time hurtling toward Omega.

What we have called matter is really energy, whose vibration has been lowered as to be perceptible to the senses. There is no matter. There is only light and sound (Albert Einstein).

We must continue to build on the foundation of Teilhard and Berry, Penzias and Wilson, Tryon, Einstein, quantum physics, electromagnetism, and the role of zero-point (free) energy, all within the framework of the biblical record and timeline. The health of the noosphere and with it the full telling of a new Universe Story depends on it. For the universe operates as a Cosmic Internet, electrically, vibrationally, digitally, and holographically, as we do. Everything in the universe is located on a quantum (spiritual) GPS, one vast and intricate network of vibrating, interconnected energy, otherwise known as God. Creation consists entirely of one essence appearing in many parts and innumerable forms, inmost and penetrating all things. This means that divinity is not so much unnamable as omni-nameable.

In the universe, there is only One source, one reality, one energy, and one constant with many apps inclusive of them all – Light. As every part of fire is fire, every aspect of creation is in or exists as part of this incandescent energy, totally in each thing, inside and out.

“For from him, through him and to him are all things” (Rom. 11:36).

The post-modern era is a call to a broader, deeper, and more unifying ways of knowing and understanding in wholes. One that transcends dualistic thought, and the mere accumulation of knowledge in all fields. The universe story is our story – the full story. A story told not in separate scientific and religious narratives, posed as black and white realities, projected from different lenses on different screens. Rather, it’s to be told as is, in stereoscopic technicolor, light and sound in all their full spectrum interbeing glory, playing 24-7-365 in the divine milieu everywhere. It is, after all, the true story of the inclusive One at work reconciling all things big and small, wise and foolish, visible and invisible, in heaven and on earth.

[for more details on Joe’s all-inclusive, trans-religious, transdisciplinary synthesis that harmonizes with all fields of knowledge, and the arts, refer to the website:, or his book, The Ambient Christ, The Untold Story of God in Science, Scripture, and Spirituality]