Is God The Answer, For You?

The question often seems as though it is; does God exist?

With relative certainty you’ve probably discussed this at some point in your life; whether as an inquisitive child and left it at that, or more likely as a curious adult seeking answers as you grow up.

God can offer guidance in times of great difficulty, and arguably most importantly can comfort a lost soul in times of great loneliness, by making them feel not so truly alone. Like they are being looked after. Like they will be looked after when their days are done.

And yet, despite the positivity that the knowledge of a God can bring into your life; still there are men and women who do not believe in the existence of a God and their omnipotence. Still there are those who refuse his or hers guidance, and the wisdom they impart through their disciples and prophets.

Why? Why would you not choose to believe in a God who’s purpose is to ensure our well being through their divine intervention and grand plan?

Well – the answers to that it seems may come in multiple parts.

Omnipotence to many; is actually to a deity’s detriment. If one were to describe God as entirely in control; of every wave on all the oceans and of every wind within all of the airs on Earth – then surely that means nothing at all. In the same way if everyone is beautiful; then there would be no need for the word, because there would be no word for ugly, so there would be no requirement for the word for beautiful. If God is entirely in control of what will happen, then this is as useful to the average man or woman as saying God is in control of nothing. Either way, it offers no sustenance, no tangible answers. If God’s will is carried out, regardless of a Faith in them or not, regardless of a worship of them or not – then what is the point? In fact, what then is the purpose of humanity? To revel in the splendour they have bestowed upon us, but at the price of their glorification? To marvel in the wonders of the universe, but with the condition we are born of sin, and owe a higher power much more than we could ever give them? Why are we born of sin, if we were not there to make the choice to be conceived at all?

It seems then, the answer that a God is in control, offers little to us, as a consciousness.

Moreover, perhaps the answer “God is all knowing.” is not a satisfying one. Not in the sense that it is a difficult to swallow answer, but more that again, this means nothing to the “I”. If God is all knowing, yet our communication with them is entirely one-way in the form of thoughts and prayers, then what knowledge does this impart on us? If I need to have my plumbing fixed, the answer, “The plumber down the street knows how to fix that.” does not actually fix my plumbing. I would still require their knowledge to be put into practice, or have the knowledge myself in order to alleviate my circumstances from me. Surely then I should be able to call the plumber and have them respond? Otherwise I would become frustrated, and choose another plumber? Perhaps this applies to a God. Even maybe the choice of which God, also?

So God being in possession of all knowledge, again does not benefit anyone or anything in the universe, other than he or she of grand power who has decreed it to be so.

What’s more, if God is the creator of all things; the origin of the Universe – then surely this only begs further questioning. If God is the creator our universe and all things; “Why?” and “What Came Before That?”, are the only logical follow up responses to the original question.

Science is in an ever pursuit. There is no comfort to be found, that science will ever be complete, and than any one of us can understand it to the fullest extent. The notion that Science will one day finish, and solidify, seems rather foolish indeed, because science understands the notion of change; of a flowing river and how it transitions to that state. It understands that the universe is always changing. It’s stated in the common phrase, “Nothing is ever created or destroyed; only converted.” such as energy from electrical to light, with some heat and sound too. What this would effectively mean, is that while Science can define and categorise events that have happened based on past experiences, it can only help us to further predict future experiences. It is a fairly accurate prediction based on what HAS happened, that the thing WILL happen again. Which is the same as taking some comfort that because God protected us at some point (based on a belief) that they WILL protect us again (based on a Faith), and everything will be okay. At least Religion can offer some finite answer, rather than pose an indefinite number of further questions, which Science seems to and in fact relishes upon.

While the two, Science and Religion, seem as though they are distinct and polar opposites, they share remarkable similarity. The main similarity being, that they are both a pursuit for answers, for knowledge, and comfort. The key difference being that Religion is satisfied with the answer, that a deity, or a higher power has the answers, and with Faith we can assume they have it taken care of with a knowledge we do not possess, and with information we cannot comprehend. Science however, is not so satisfied. If science were to remain humble (which it always has been), and understand that it does not have all the answers and that something else does, it would mutter under its breath, “yet.” As in, “we do not have the answers we seek… yet.” And it does so in the understanding that once those questions have been answered, this will in turn only lead to further questions. Nut this is okay. This is progress; this is a desire for growth and for change, which the universe as we can observe it, is an example of. Science then, is surely an alignment with the universe, and a desire to understand the self; rather than where Religion sees humans as an inhabitant of the universe, placed there by some divine intervention, to be watched over and governed.

It seems then that Science and Religion are both about unification, but Science unify’s with the universe, and Religion unify’s with a God, whom happens to operate the universe in which they have allowed us to inhabit.

Science and Religion are both about Faith. Religion is a Faith in how their divine entity will govern the universe, and ultimately a Faith that they will do right by humanity. Whereas Science is a Faith that previously confirmed theories and experiments backed up by replicated evidence will continue to be replicatable. When in fact they could change on a dime, and all could be disproven, as the laws of Science readily admit.

As an addition; generally those who’s Faith relies on Science believe that it is the self who governs their own experience of the universe. For if a God is in charge of that, why would he or she allow such evil and iniquity in the world. It’s a common argument, that no doubt the religious will be sick to death of hearing, because they are sick to death of replying, “It is God’s will.” or “Have Faith in God.” or “It is all part of God’s plan.”

But it must be understood, that surely one of a reasonable kind and loving nature, would not want to worship a deity, who believes the soul purpose of a life is to experience anguish, pain, agony, and unkindness. If the plan is that someone must experience this, in order that another would not have to, then surely this is a bad plan. And surely one who would come up with such plan, should not be worshipped.

If a religious person were then to suggest, “No, all you must do is pray for God’s intervention, and they may choose to listen, and alter their plan according.”

To which it would be reasonable to say then, that there could not be some grand plan set in stone, which must mean it is changing and so therefore provides evidence that Science is perhaps more accurate. Additionally, why is the divine allowed to choose when to listen?

But finally… Surely thoughts and prayers do not work, because measurably they had not for the thousands of years humanity had been around. For hundreds of years that we can measure in literature, we prayed for plagues not to kill us, and yet they did. Our prayers went unanswered then, so why would he listen to your prayer for a new car? Or to pass a school exam? Is your exam more important than a life? Again if a God were to say yes, surely you would not want to worship that person, who may allow your significant other to die of some horrible illness or experience, because thousands of miles away another person needs a new car which they had prayed for so persistently

Thoughts and prayers do nothing; Science, measurably, does.

Pen

In the above image, you see our population increase exponentially thanks to the advancement of Science. As evidence of this, Penicillin was discovered in 1928. It’s mass production began in the early 1940s.

To believe and take comfort in Religion it seems, is perfectly the choice of the self. To believe in Science is equally so.

Religion can offer its answers in Faith of a higher power; by which knowledge and answers lie in the deity, and you can take comfort from that and their decisions they make surrounding that. Science offers its answers in Faith too, but in replicatable, measurable experimentation that allows humanity to assume the universe will continue to operate in such a way. It seems the prize of Science is answers and knowledge contained within the self, but at the price of comfort. Because ultimately we do not know all the answers or knowledge and perhaps never will. What’s more, is we must have Faith that as a society, some possess knowledge others will/do not, and that they too must use that knowledge appropriately for the collective good.

You may find this article provided no answers; but perhaps you were looking at it the wrong way. The question it was answering, was not whether Science was correct, or Religion was; instead it looked to at least partially answer, “Is God The Answer, For You?”. This assumes you must understand both sides, at least a little, to make that decision.

Whatever path you decide to choose; regardless of whether you stick to that path or not; be kind to others.

Remember; that while they are of different perspectives, and provide different answers, it is up to you which combination of which you choose to accept. You can discern your own perspective. They are not mutually exclusive, and you need not commit to both in their totality. No one does. It is up to the self; to make the sovereign choice.

And even if you don’t like the choice that another made, at least understand it.
And accept that it was their choice to make.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Discussion: Language, without barometer

Suppose that in ten million years, humanity has been long wiped off the face of the planet. Some life still remains, but it has regressed to a more primitive state, due to some cataclysmic event, caused by our own iniquity, or some element of chance.
No animal that could understand the basics of calculus has existed on the rock called Earth for a very long time.

When one day, entirely by chance, our no longer blue planet is discovered, by some nomadic civilisation, who managed to achieve travel into the stars without using that same technology to blow each themselves up. In the ruins alone, under the assumption that concrete has eroded into mere particles that blew in the wind, and pages from books lost their ink; this civilisation would be able to piece together very little of what we were. Even if somehow some homestead had managed to endure the withering of time – if it had been cocooned in a blanket of ice, for instance; where would you even begin to understand what objects were?

A slab of metal and glass filled with silicon lines, in the corner of a room, where every piece of furniture is pointed at it. Knives and forks on the dinner table, for fighting no doubt. Window frames on the second floor, because we could jump so high, and often used that for quick access. Cloth in wooden containers, powdered energy in glass jars, animal carcasses in large white frozen boxes. It would be a frightening world of guesswork without a basis by which to guess. Everyone has had that experience of trying to tell a story, that was funny at the time, but after telling it out loud you find the other person does not find it so. Think of this, except not only do you not speak the same language, but you share no history, no culture, no prospects, no allegiances, and perhaps not even the same galaxy.

Now let’s suggest that humanity as a collective decides that the idea of a future civilisation discovering our remains and not being able to fabricate who we were is just too harsh a thought to bare. So they decide to devise a solution to this, or at least to devise a means in which to help these future nomads. And as a collective, they have decided to accept applications from anyone on the planet, and accept any ideas anyone on the planet may have on how best to communicate with the future visitors.

The problem then becomes the focus of this article: How do you communicate with these visitors? How do you construct a language, without barometer? In our own world, translations of works are inherently different to the language in which they were originally written, mainly because there is no word which translates over 100% – but at least we have something by which we can vaguely relate it to. But with an alien visitor -you don’t even have a set of words, objects, animals, or plants, by which you could guarantee you share. Not only this, but you cannot even predict the senses this alien might use to perceive the world around them. It is not enough to suggest you could communicate in a language that is a concatenation of a number of languages that are most frequently used or most expressive; because you cannot guarantee this creature has ears. Or perhaps they do but do not hear in the same frequency as we do. Perhaps you wish to communicate in symbols? – Well it has taken us thousands of years to build up semiotics to the point we can look at something and register to which category it belongs to at a glance, and even now most humans struggle with all of them, they differ in time and they differ from culture to culture. Equally, as before, the visiting nomads may not have eyes. Or if they do, maybe they do not see colour in the same range that we do. Lets say that they do have eyes – well what do they even register as a note? Say they looked at English at a glance, they could interpret the white space between the letters as the symbols rather than the letters themselves.

The possibilities are near endless for interpretation. This would be fair to say of something that came from our planet, or even our galaxy. But this could be a visitor that we may not even recognise as intelligent life, and yet regardless, it is. So much so that it had travelled through the stars to find us.

Furthermore then, we have an obligation to protect intelligent life as best as we can. To avoid any kind of pain and anguish where we can. If something can intelligent understand the universe and perceive its own consciousness, it must be our responsibility to ensure it.
It is important then to have this discussion – say we are aware of what brought about our destruction. It is our obligation then, to warn these visitors of the dangers we could not avoid. Perhaps areas of contamination, physical or otherwise, should be left in the past and certain technologies either avoided or proceeded with caution. The question being, how do we do this?

How would you communicate to something that may not even perceive the world in the same way that you do? And on a more personal note… Would you? Would you personally make an application to share your thoughts on how best to do this?

Arguably our only efforts to communicate without language thus far, is music. For thousands of years, we have communicated celebration, happiness, fear and war to others through music. No lyrics required to communicate exactly how we feel. Perhaps this would be our best bet to begin. Perhaps the sound of children laughing, the rain forest, or the ocean reaching the shoreline. The times at which we as a species were most at peace.
But then, while this may provide an example of our environment – it doesn’t necessarily define who we were or are. When we were good or bad. When we loved, and when we hated.

If we continue on a scientific trend – would we leave behind a hologram of a child as an ark of information, to provide context to who we were? Would this be the most realistic option, to convey our messages of peace in as many images and as many words as we possibly could? Could this child hold out a hand, with the bumps on his hand spelling in braille, and his words echoed in every other language, and Morse code? Would what the child spoke even resonate on any parallel? Should we literally throw sounds and light in some form of pattern, and hope that something sticks? Data dump our history and languages in as many different patterns as possible? Perhaps an AI, that can use everything that we are currently to determine what COULD be encountered in the future? Statistically, this is probably necessary. As much as they would like to earn us, we may need to learn it first, in the form of some machine learning. To discuss topics not only do we not understand yet, but we may never even have encountered in our cosmically short lifespan.

What if we decided that we wanted to communicate, only that which we wanted to communicate. I.e. perhaps we would wish to leave out the horrid parts of our history, or tell much more embellished versions of it in myth, legend, and art rather than the much more hard to swallow science and objectivity. If we were to do that, how could we separate semantics from pragmatism? To say very clearly what is, and not what we meant to say. This applies to our language, and also our visualisation of our culture. Say we built, or painted, or sculpted a grand cathedral, and hid it in some frozen ark – we may try to convey how complex and grandiose we were in our architectural choice – only to find that our visitor friends interpret the use of space as inefficient. They may regard our distinct lack of compactness instead, as a sign we were not intelligent whatsoever. That we were too wasteful. Perhaps then, they would be right.

The questions are endless, and arguably you could discuss for the millions of years we are hypothetically wiped out discussing what we could and should do – if and when we should – why and where we should. In fact, this question, which its infinite possibilities seems to grand a task to bestow upon us, and too great a burden to endure.

But if something is important enough, you must always try. Even if the expected outcome, is failure.

However; the question remains: Would you? And if so, how? How would you begin to construct a language to speak beyond the stars, without barometer?

Go.

What Lies Beyond

As you look into the night sky; and remark on the beauty of the universe in the shape of stars and nebula, you may at some point if given enough time, come to a realisation. These beautiful wonders, that have guided humanity since the dawn of our time, that have inspired poetry and created great works of art; may no longer be there. Light is the fastest thing that we understand. Nothing we perceive is greater than the speed of light. And yet even it, is finite. And the great span of distance from where we are, to where the stars lie beyond, is so great, that it takes finite definable light considerable length of time to reach us, and display to us the grandiosity of the stars, and nebulae, and everything beyond our world.

Potentially, these works of awe may have existed a length of time so greatly long ago, that the stars have not only died – but have dissipated and spread the elements of life into the universe since then. They may have brought about life in other parts of the universe, a life that may be so intelligent they too have used it to guide themselves through the dark, and used it to create light in works of art. How fascinating it is to think, that balls of light, crucibles of elements and life may have in turn brought about more life in new form, in places we cannot even hope to see. They may have inspired entire civilisations worth of culture, in what lies beyond.

Image result for pillars of creation
Pillars of Creation – A long dead mix of star and nebulae. This is a real image, taken from the Hubble telescope. Courtesy of NASA.GOV

They have done this, and they have done it so long ago, that cultures we may never meet, have already came and went based upon them. Yet still we see their awe. With certainty – stars will come and go – and yet still they inspire long after their implosion. It serves as evidence – that long after something dies – it can still be experienced.

Imagine you are in a room, and you are with one other person, facing them directly, as it would not be uncommon for you to do. You’re talking about something trivial and generally just spending time with someone you enjoy. You may smile and feel so in the moment with someone at that time, which is beautiful and remarkable in every way. But on a scientific level – there is a delay.

There is a delay between what happens for the self, and what the other person will see. There is a delay in sound. Sound travels at the speed of about 345 m/s, meaning that if this was a particularly massive room, a ball room perhaps in some large palace in Germany, that was this distance from one end to the other, if you stood at one end and your companion at the other, then there would be a one second delay between what you said, and when they heard it.

Now, when we actually experience this in reality, talking to our friends in close proximity, this delay is remarkably small. So small in fact, that relatively it is negligible. However, let’s not forget… it is still there. There is a similar delay with light – except that light travels significantly faster than sounds, at about 3 * 10 ^ 8 m/s (30’000’000’000 m/s), meaning that the delay is even more negligible. However, it IS still there.

To reiterate, what this means is that every time you talk to someone. there is a delay in when they say it, and when you see and hear it.

The complexity intensifies however, when our understanding of the universe and technology increase greatly. Let’s suggest that some far away intelligent being can view that conversation you are having with your friend; that they can view it on their version of a telescope which can see unimaginable distances away, and perhaps even translate what you are saying via subtle movements in your mouth and vocals cords, into whatever language they speak, effectively meaning they can see and hear you. The problem is, that if they are doing this millions of light years away from you – by the time they see it, it will have happened a long long time ago. Millions of years ago in fact.

But they are seeing and hearing it right now, to them, and yet you and your friend would have lived and died millions of years before. So how can this be?

Well… actually… this is exactly what’s happening with humanity and the stars. The two examples differ in negligible ways. So why even provide the two examples to say the same thing?

The reason being, it is necessary to humanise the following question; if everything we do is technically in a delay – if everything that we see and perceive is technically a memory – if all of time is relative to the person observing it, and there is no definite point of certainty – when does something, or more specifically someone… die?

If your friend perished in some terrible accident, to you they would be “dead” and naturally you would be very sad about it, and yet at the same time, this intelligent being could be observing them in their now, and viewing some certain events that happened before they were killed off in the third act. So they are dead to you, but not to this other being, who still sees and hears them, millions of years later.

It would seem then, that as the problem continues, the true crux of the issue – is that the general person still views time as an absolute constant, rather than simply constant – to you. In other words, relatively constant. Which is of course is an oxymoron.

What lies beyond, is not only new worlds, homes, discoveries, people, and cultures, but also the past, present, and future, simultaneously and all at once. It’s all just based on the perspective by which you view it.

Some comfort you can take from this, is that friends and family whom you have lost, some time in the past. No matter how long ago it was, they are not truly gone. Sadly, they are only gone, to you. But they are still smiling, and being happy, and looking at you with adoring eyes, from someone’s point of view, somewhere. Someone, somewhere, may be looking at you both in the past, with wondering eyes, and thinking, “They look happy.” And if some future technology could transport you an unimaginable distance away in an instant ( perhaps some quantum entanglement one day may teleport us ) then you could too, sit and view this person and you, watch each other with those same adoring eyes.

What lies beyond, is the past, future, and present; it’s the now and then; it’s the you and I.

Think of that, as you look into the night sky.

 

 

Do You Think We’ll Ever Meet Them?

As you look up at the stars, in the dark of the night, you notice how many there are, and although they seem to go on indefinitely; you begin to count.

And after a while of counting, you will at some point, begin to wonder.

The observable universe is unimaginably gargantuan. The actual universe, is even larger still. Although, as sight fails us, we know only of a larger universe’s existence by the effects that outwith our sight is having upon objects, celestial or otherwise, that we CAN see. i.e. Perhaps a massive object outside of our range of sight, is so large that it’s gravitational pull is affecting objects we can see. But since we can’t physically see an un-observable universe,  for now, for the sake of the following analogy, let’s consider what we CAN see.

It’s estimated, by different sources and reputable scientists, that the number of stars in our observable universe amounts to anywhere between 1 to 100 million… for every grain of sand on Earth.

Think about that.

For just one beach, your favourite beach you’ve ever been to, imagine counting the individual grains, and multiplying it even by the lowest of that scale. You’ll no doubt theoretically devise a number so large you could not write it down in tiny numbers of chalk on any road in the world. Then add every other beach, and every other grain of sand on Earth; and be amazed more, still.

Then consider what stars, in a sense, represent. They represent a section; a little order in the large chaos. For where there are stars, there are clusters of planets. And as such, we can count a little more conveniently. But we’re not looking for convenience now, in fact we are tackling the big.

In our Solar System (The Sol System) there are 8 planets (Sorry, Pluto.) If we assume then, that every other star COULD have that many, of course they could have more and they could have less, but let’s just suppose they could – you could theoretically multiple your number again by anywhere up to 8. By the time you’ve done this, you have ANOTHER inconceivable number. A number that is so large, it actually has nothing we can compare it to.

We cannot compare it to grain, to salt, to blades of grass. To letters written, or perhaps even to thoughts, thought. We are now, astronomical.

But then… consider this. That inconceivable number… is a snapshot, of now. Stars, like we, go through stages of their life. And same as they are born, they age, and die. When they are born, their sheer scale grants them a gravitational field. All mass has gravity, it can just be so small that its force is negligible. However a stars gravitational pull is exquisite, and its existence will force them to inherit planets along the way. These too age and die. When a star dies, it guarantees the death of all other planets which orbit it.

This is because when a star dies, it enters a supernova state. This implodes the star, and at its most dense point, it bursts out again and explodes its heated guts containing gases all across the the solar system, and out into the universe. This crucible of gases, of planets, of minerals, and all of the elements that found and support life, is continually exploding and spreading itself all over the universe, every day, as time goes on.

So this crazy number, that when we last left it was a rough estimate of all the planets in our observable universe, is now only a snapshot. Think of all the planets that have been, since the beginning of time. The number is now not only incomparable, but it’s actually grown meaningless, for we can’t understand it whatsoever.

In keeping with the unimaginable, let’s expand our thoughts to the non-observable universe which could be infinite… and then expand our supposition to more than one universe. In fact… an infinite number of universes. Why would there be more than one universe? – Because the universe does not make anything in sets of one. There can be no action, without reaction.

What is the point of all this? What’s the point in even understanding or dreaming of these numbers. Of how the universe works. The point of all this; is consciousness.

There was no reason for the universe to give birth to life. It could have continued existing just fine without it. And yet, it did. Not only that, but even life itself could have stayed as small as bacteria. But it didn’t. It grew. Which means atoms, which had until that point all been working independently, now decided to work together to form something larger. And why might that be?

I would wager, that the universe was compelled to observe itself. And the way to do that, is consciousness. Perhaps my last statement a paragraph ago was incorrect, perhaps the universe couldn’t have went on fine without us, because without anything to observe it, it wasn’t able to exist anyway.

The universe couldn’t even have written this article, had it not made that decision at that time. Now let’s not even delve into the different question of how it could even make a decision or have a compulsion; let’s leave that for another time.

The most important thing we can take from this, is that the universe desires consciousness. A chaos that can in turn, decide to do things it should not or normally could not, and a chaos that can conceive of things which do not exist, and therefore expand the theoretical universe indefinitely. Perhaps life was just the universe’s attempt to continue growing.

This consciousness as we know it on Earth, consists of the elements of life. These are Carbon, Oxygen, Nitrogen, and Hydrogen. Which are four of the five most common elements in the universe. Which are found in every star in the universe.

If the universe never makes anything in ones, why would it make consciousness in one?

It’s just a case of it could be ANYWHERE in this universe… and at ANYTIME in its existence. Each consciousness has its own perspective. Its own take on the universe, and itself. Its own thoughts, desires, opinions, loves, hates, fears, and dreams. And if these conscious beings can dream, I bet they too, sit down, stare at the stars, and count.

So with that being said, do you think we’ll ever meet them?

 

 

Dear Dr Hawking,

If I could borrow your time for a moment.

As someone who is fascinated by the stars, by the infinite cosmos, all that way from the splendour complexity of galaxies and quasars, to the mischievous cheating of quantum mechanics, you inspired me. To learn. To grow. And to pursue a path of knowledge, everyday. I find myself fortunate to have many people in history whom inspire me, but I am undoubtedly touched by your universality.

There are names whom we hold dear in science, with the list exhaustive and debated.

Albert Einstein. Isaac Newton. Dmitri Mendeleev. Mary Curie. James Watson. Francis Crick. Maurice Wilkins. Rosalind Franklin. Alexander Fleming. Anders Celsius. Daniel Gabriel Fahrenheit. Jane Goodall.

However, one certainly lacking in divisiveness, was you You were iconic. You are iconic. You were wonderful.

An irrefutable example, of triumph by the mind, when the body fails you. A scientist, a physicist, a teacher, a student, an unstoppable force. You showed the world how a bit of stubbornness to the cause that is the universe, and positivity in the face of literal certain death, could go so far.

You fathered theories on how our universe concerns to conduct itself, and helped us understand our brief history of time.

There are certain people whom I am saddened for the world, when the opportunity for fresh adventures with them is revoked. And you were certainly one.

At the same time, I am humbled by the fact that you shared your knowledge, so that even in your passing, we are left enlightened. And we will persist. We will continue our pursuits.

In this life, work to leave some part of you left, when you pass. And you undeniably did this. The whole world over will remember your name, and as they share unique stories, and opinions with you in mind, we will be reminded that you never will truly leave us.

Thank you for your time, Dr Hawking.

See you among the stars.