Every day of this week felt like it should have been Friday. And now it
finally is Friday and I’m still sitting here at work. I’ll be heading
home soon to work on some music and get some rest. There was something
I’ve been thinking about and now I can’t remember what it is.
My brain has a sign posted on it that says “Gone for the day. Be back
…” and then there’s a clock with the little hands positioned
accordingly for tomorrow. I’m blaming it on the Chiplote meal followed
shortly thereafter by a chocolate milkshake. That was a mistake. But
a delicious mistake.
I’ve been thinking about intelligent
design. ID4. Minus the 4. I think we, as human beings, are totally
friggin’ crazy. And I mean in both directions. First, a disclaimer.
I believe in God. I can’t fathom God. I can’t fathom time and space
and existence and not existing. What will it be like to not exist.
That seems like it could be boring except for the fact that there won’t
be a boring if you don’t exist. There won’t be anything. I can’t get
my mind around what eternity and infinity really mean. I can’t. I try
but I can’t. Like, I think about dying (a lot more than I want to) and
the possibility of not existing panics me.
us that the universe was once a singularity. Everything you know of
that exists — planets, space, time, galaxies, solar systems, the
universe — once inhabited a single point. All condensed to something
only minute bigger than nothing. The Big Bang. String and M-theorists
now say that we may exist on a membrane of a sort, albeit a
three-dimensional membrane, that is one of an infinite number of
membranes. Another universe, another reality, may be less than an
atom’s breadth away from us at all times but in another plane of
reality. As real as the computer you’re looking at but in another
dimension curved around or inside our own. This is modern day
astrophysics, by the way. I’m not just making this up. It’s too crazy
to just be made up. The mathematics, the physics suggest how reality
may be structured.
On the quantum level of existence — the
particles that sub-atomic particles are made of — reality exists as
probability. For instance, there’s a coffee mug in front of me. If I
were to reach for it right now, the mere act of looking at it would
cause it to move and change the probability of it existing. It may or
may not and I wouldn’t know for sure until my hand got there and the
mug was either there or not there. On the quantum level of existence I
could have this mug full of coffee and whenever I drank all the coffee
another mug somewhere in the universe — no matter where in the
universe; it could literally be on Mars or Pluto or in another solar
system altogether — would suddenly be full of decaf coffee.
There are people studying the very nature of reality as we know it.
What is empty space made of? Is gravity such a weak force compared to,
say, magnetism because a portion of it is leeching off of our
four-dimensional plane into other dimensions? Could we use gravity to
send signals, messages, to other dimensions then?
Are we the
only sentient beings in the universe right now? In the entire
universe. Is there one other a zillion light years away? So far away
that by the time they would receive our primitive communiques our sun
would dead and gone? Okay, say we’re the only ones. My rationale is,
if there’s one of something, why not two. And if two, why not a
bunch. But maybe, say, a few billion years ago before there were any
organic devices that actually stored and processed information on
Earth, maybe this galaxy was bustling with intelligent, advanced,
sentient life. And they all died out billions of years before we even
existed. Every trace of them gone, reduced to atoms and solar
wind-strewn throughout space. They were here and we missed them. Or
maybe our universe makes up one sub-atomic particle in an electron in
the mind of an alien that exists on a scale of size, time, and space
that’s infinitely beyond us.
However you look at it, life is a
miracle. It sure is rare. Can’t argue with that. Even if you added
up every living thing that ever existed on planet earth throughout its
entire history (trillions? trillion-trillions?), each one could have
had its own galaxy. Imagine each ant with its own Milky Way.
But somehow life thrives here and has developed and the universe, for
all we know, has come up with a way to know itself. To perceive its
own existence. It has evolved and is attempting to conceptualize
itself, to remember itself and … what. We are the eyes and ears and
hearts and minds of the universe, literally. We’re the neurons and
impulses, the brain, of existence. We, as a collective, gather,
process, reflect and archive the phenonomenon of being.
What will it mean when life on earth ceases? Existential silence.
It’s not difficult for me to imagine that the universe was created with
intent. Or that life on Earth was seeded. As chaotic as it is, it
sure does seem to have direction or focus when intelligence is
involved. Complexity increases, entropy — well, that one’s up for
grabs. There’s an exponential kind of intelligence in the making. Ask
those guys trying to create artificial intelligence, y’know.
Everything in us strives to know more, to do more, to be more, to
create tools to facilitate the seeking. And we don’t even know what
we’re looking for. We just know to keep asking and looking and
It’s small-minded for those of a certain
religious ilk to ignore empirical data. There are those who say that
if you don’t take the first chapter of the Bible literally then you
can’t/don’t believe the rest of the Bible and you’re pretty much
hellbound and that’s that. Therefore, if reality conflicts with that
literal interpretation … the only option they have is to restructure
reality with language until it fits what they think they have to
believe. That’s dangerous. All kinds of evil can and will spew forth
from that way of thinking because the means to achieve the ends will be
dictated by whoever holds the most sway over the language at the time.
One dictator and power-monger plus fear and we get the Inquisition,
slavery, the Holocaust, internment, the Crusades, institutionalized
child rape, every cult with every wacky idea … you ever notice how
all of these cult leaders end up after the same thing? Sex with minors
(power differential?), money, and a pathological drive to communal
self-destruction. See what I mean?
On the other hand, we’re
so reactionary to the aggressive religiousts (yes, I just made up that
word) that we miss the point. If you listen to the news and talk shows
you’ll hear people completely ragging on the idea of intelligent
design. Though I can’t blame them because Christians are saying some
ignorant mess. To my ears, at least. Like, the religious right claims
that the penguin movie is a prime example of intelligent design, what
with the purposeful monogamy and honed instincts involved. And their
antagonists have their way with that reasoning, saying that if the
design were so intelligent why don’t those darn penguins lay more than
one egg. Or why can’t they fly, for goodness sake. Maybe longer legs
would be useful. How about not living in the Antarctic? That doesn’t
seem too smart when there are places that are a lot warmer.
both cases, the critical error in reasoning is that we attempt to
anthropomorphize nature and God. We assume that the ultimate good or
positive is the happiness and comfort of each individual being. And
God is a nice old omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient Grandpa in the
sky so he wants us all to be rich and happy and healthy, right?
Here’s the problem. We assume that our intelligence actually qualifies
as intelligence. The drive to satisfy creature comforts is not
intelligence. I believe that we’re just barely realizing what it means
to be conscious and aware and sentient. If a few million years ago we
were mono-syllabically grunting cave dwellers, where will we be in a
few million more.
I think it’s arrogant to assume that we know
God and God’s will. That we can even understand what that means. And
it’s arrogant to presume that we came from nothing, because we don’t
understand what that really means either. If I took a trip to Mars one
day and found some Rube Goldberg-like contraption or a robotic dog, I
sure as hell would wonder HOW it got there, WHO put it there, and WHY.
To me, that’s what philosophy, religion, art, and science are.
I’m hoping that some day we’ll realize that and stop fighting about
who’s more pious and who’s right so we can step up a notch in the game
and do some evolving of our own.
Maybe I’ll put that on my Christmas wish list.
By Octavia E. Butler
Release date: By 08 September, 2005