Tuesday, July 21, 2015

All was great light

It surprises me how reportedly ultra-intelligent scientists (and scientific theorists) can make statements such as these—‘It’s time to commit to finding the answer, to search for life beyond Earth. Mankind has a deep need to explore, to learn, to know. We also happen to be sociable creatures. It is important for us to know if we are alone in the dark.’ In an odd sort of way, this is very like the attitude that motivates the speculative spiritual seeker. ‘There’s no help for us, but we’re going to look for evidences of a God, or of spirits, or of angels, any way we can. It is important for us to know if we are alone in the dark.’

The boyishness of one other attitude that I saw today coming from a ‘top scientist’ also astounded me—‘A civilisation reading one of our messages could be billions of years ahead of us. If so they will be vastly more powerful and may not see us as any more valuable than we see bacteria.’ He was cautioning that we should only ‘listen for messages’ coming from advanced, alien civilizations, and not send them. In an entirely Godless, even purposeless, cosmos there is no morality—at least, we can’t expect anyone else ‘out there’ to behave any better than we do—and so, we’d better be careful. Don’t open a can of worms.

So it’s true! Scientists (and scientific theorists) are just as susceptible to picture-thinking and falling for self-generated entertainments as the rest of us! I mean, we’ve all read the same science fiction novels from childhood to adulthood, watched the same flicks, been mesmerized, wowed, and captured by the same imaginary ‘forces’ that have created, sustain, and eventually will destroy us, our world-view, and yes, even our world. Since there is obviously no God to ‘get us’ (as any child of ten can tell you), the aliens probably will—or would, if we didn’t keep ourselves from being noticed. We’re sitting ducks.

As I sit here ruminating after a quiet bowl of muesli and a Turkish coffee on a cool, cloudy morning, in my little house on the edge of a cliff in the Cascadia subduction zone state of Oregon, waiting for ‘the Big One’ to liquefy my volcano-laced city of Portlandia, deep down I somehow ‘know’ that the Universe is good. It is moral. Or rather, that even human beings, as bacterial and vulnerable as we may seem to ‘scientific’ minds, can expect more from ‘whatever or Whoever is out there’ than our fears threaten. Left to itself, nature, though sometimes inconvenient to us, is not ‘out to get us’, nor is God. But we are.

Yes, left to ourselves, we are ‘out to get us,’ even in a harmless universe. We are the very people whom our parents warned us about when we were little, ‘Be careful! Watch out for them!’ Again, the inescapable truth in camouflage attire stands as always before us. We are so much a part of that good, moral universe that we can’t see it, can’t seem to stay in step with it, mesh with it, integrate with it, that we fall out, or fall off, and in our mindless scramble to ‘manage things’ make the universe a bogey, or a wildness we must tame, an enemy to be subdued, or a menagerie of material resources to be plundered.

The whole world was shining with brilliant light and, unhindered, went on with its work; over them alone there spread a heavy darkness, image of the dark that would receive them. But heavier than the darkness, the burden they were to themselves. But for Your holy ones all was great light…
Wisdom of Solomon 17:19-20, 18:1 Jerusalem Bible

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