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February 13th, 2013

In the Beginning / Week 4

In the beginning was the word.

And the word was forgotten.

It was lost, but we like to imagine we've found it: God, Bang, print (“space”)

In the beginning was a who, what, when, where, why, how that we cannot ever possibly know, and yet we still postulate. We postulate and speculate because it feels better to attempt to understand than to admit to our own limitations. I won't feign superiority on this front; I'm just as guilty as the rest. Because, I want to know; I need to know.

How can I just keep spinning ellipses on this third rock from the sun without some reason?

February is cold in Maine. It's cold enough that I am stretched out on a frozen pond staring at the dome of the heavens. The rest of my companions are close, sitting 'round the crackling fire.

I have chosen to be separate.

It is so remote here that I swear I can see the curvature of earth's atmosphere. My body shudders. I try to calculate how much body heat I'm losing to the sheet of ice below me. The physics of heat transfer is beyond my knowledge. I give up.

I give up.

The ice doesn't crack. The pond won't accept me into its wintry abyss. Life ticks on one second at a time. Seven years old in church, I would ask for a sign. It never came. I don't ask anymore. Stubborn. Hardened.

A meteor smears the inky night with an impermanent blaze as it burns in the mesosphere. I wipe my nose on my mitten, leaving a streak of snot that will harden to a greyish crust, less obvious on wool than the velor of my childhood. The fire dies down. We all rise.

I return to school. I return to school. I return to school.

One day Professor H says “You don't want to believe.” The impulse to laugh gags me. I insist that I do.
One day Professor H shows me how a light cone does not tilt. For a moment I understand.
One day Professor H tells me that light does not experience time. In theology class they said that God is timeless.

My trade paperback discussing topology is dog-eared. The universe exists in more than three dimensions. Maybe as many as twenty-six. Which one holds heaven? I get frustrated. We can take a photograph of light from thirteen billion years ago, but we still can't test for D-branes.

Professor H says that guy is an idiot anyway.

Two black holes of equal magnitude prepare to collide. As their event horizons begin to intersect, the fabric of space-time is ineffable. While pondering this, two become one.

The soul could be an energy signature, a complement to our body's matter. It's blank to start. Only as we begin to accumulate life experience, to develop a personality, does it become something special. Energy can come into being on its own, which means that Humanists can enjoy all the comfort of a soul, without necessitating any of the baggage of a creator.

I want to believe.

Faithless. There are too many unknowns. My legs weren't built for leaping.

Where did God come from? Where does energy come from? What happened in that first yoctosecond after the Big Bang? What was there before God, before the Big Bang? And before that? And before that? And before that?

In the beginning was the word.

And the word was forgotten.

It was lost, but I might be able to find it.

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