Assume that over this whole post is a huge IN MY HUMBLE OPINION, so I don't have to keep saying it. This is a set of philosophical/metaphysical/religious musings brought on by seeing the movie Avatar and by a book I'm reading by Charles de Lint called Eyes Like Leaves. None of what I'm thinking here is entirely new, but carries a new clarity for me about the fundamental nature of the universe, who we are, and who we are becoming.
Avatar, in my mind, is an environmental movie. The overall feeling it left me with -and do remember that I'm Pagan, so it is in Pagan terms that I frame this - is that the movie Avatar is a tool of Mother Earth to fight back against those who would destroy her. It is tool to enhance awareness of something fundamental, that we are all interconnected. Thus we should be careful of what we destroy, because it may destroy a part of ourselves.
Another piece of the puzzle came from the book mentioned above. In it, wizards use magic, and do so by reaching into the stillness within themselves. Here is a place where language fails, but Pagans use the concept of "centering" before doing magick, and centering is, essentially, finding that still place within, because that still place is the center point of the universe, the place where everyting is connected. It is also very similar to Buddhism, which holds that individuality is an illusion, and which uses meditation to cut through the illusory nature of the world.
So, in trying to reach that still place, and in bringing together all that has made me the person I am today, a few things occur to me about the universe.
(10 The basic mode of operation is evolution. Everything evolves - the stars in the sky, life on earth, our minds, our societies, EVERYTHING. That which is static is illusory, and change is our fundamental constant. Trying to hold on and prevent change is like tying to stop the wind. The way to manage change is to keep that sense of connection that comes from the deep stillness. The word "religion" comes from a word that means "to link back" or "to reconnect", so religion is our way of finding the deep stillness, the connection point, and that is what mysticiam accomplishes.
(2) There are basic units in the universe which connect into units of greater complexity. Sometimes those greater units break down, but then reform into other units of greater complexity. Elementary particles form atoms, which form molecules which form cells which form organisms which form .... societies, minds, greater minds. I think that humans are like neurons in a greater mind, a mind that is All That Is. You can call it divinity if you want, but all terms of divinity have a lot of useless baggage attached to them that obscure what is real.
(3) Put these two together, and it seems that God/dess is evolving. Humans need security. So the idea of an all-powerful, all-knowing God that takes care of everything, including us, is very attractive. But this conception has a very big real problem of then why is there so much suffering? A scholar I greatly admire, Bart Ehrman, left Christianity over the question of suffering, and he explains it much better than I ever could in his book God's Problem - How the Bible Fails to Answer Our Most Important Question - Why We Suffer. The reason is that there isn't an all powerful all knowing deity - there is All That Is, evolving constantly. Equally, as humans evolve, our cultures and societies evolve. Slavery was an idea once widely accepted,for example, but once the idea of individual liberties took hold slavery was doomed. it still exists, because there are individuals who still practice it, but to more and more people it is fundamentally wrong, and so society evolves, and so does All That Is.
(4) Errors happen. Evolution is a process of trying something new. Some of these new things fail, some are improvements. A mutation that is maladaptive dies out. In this way life on earth has evolved over billions of years from one-celled organisms to human beings, and all the wonderful diversity of life on this planet. On other planets in other galaxies life has evolved in ways we can't imagine, though we try and those attempts are a part of our evolution too. If our errors become cumulatively too much to bear, then humanity will cease to be and probably take much of this planet with it. But life continues elsewhere and will arise elsewhere.
(5) Nothing and no one is ever lost. Just as all the memories of our life are still available in our subconcsious, All That Is contains the sum of all of us. It knows what it feels like to spend millions of years as a rock, feeling the warmth of the sun. It knows what it is to be an atom born in a star that travels over light years to a planet to be incorporated into a sunflower that dies and that atom becomes part of a human, over and over a new life, an end, then another life. So even if the Earth dies, and in the longest of long terms it will, All That Is will remember Shakespeare. And Kuan Yin. And Van Gogh. And Fannie Lou Hamer. And my cat Shannon, who was the most loving cat I've ever known. And on and on, til the stars now being born grow old and die, and yet longer to an end none can forsee.