Friday, February 5, 2016

Lennon to Newton

Imagine there’s no heaven, it’s easy if you try. No hell below us, above us only sky. –John Lennon
            We live in quite an amazing time. Instant everything it seems is at our fingertips and yet we still don’t know what is in our own oceans; or the full workings of quantum mechanics; or even how large our universe really is.
            Some say our universe is 46 billion light years in length and still growing. To put that in perspective, a photon, which is a particle of light whom I think I’ll call Gregory, if leaving our sun at this very moment and traveling at the speed of light, as is Gregory’s nature, then he would have to travel for 46 billion years just to reach the current edge of space as we believe it is now. I think Gregory should pack a picnic basket of food for this journey. However; since our universe is still growing, there is very little hope that Gregory would actually reach the edge of our known universe.
            I know, it stills seems a bit hard to visualize the immensity of the universe. So, hmm, okay, how about this, our galaxy, the Milky Way contains over 100 BILLION stars. You know, like our sun. Only some are larger, some are smaller but they exist. They are there. You see them every night you look up into the sky and make a wish. No, you don’t see all of them, you can’t. That’s like saying you can see your entire city from sitting on your front porch. You can’t do it. But, you can see some of the buildings near you. So, imagine our galaxy is the size of a grain of sand on a beach, how would that compare to the scaled down size of the universe?
            That answer is quite interesting. The universe would be the size of a cathedral. But how big is a cathedral? Well, Saint Peters Basilica in Vatican City is almost 50,000 square feet on the inside. Now, considering your average house in America is about 2,400 square feet you’d need about twenty one houses to even come close to the size of that Saint Peters interior space. That’s pretty big. I know from firsthand experience. Now, fill up every dump truck in the world with sand and then unload all that sand inside the cathedral. Can you imagine it? The entire basilica filled with sand from the floor to its 136 foot tall dome. That is a lot of sand. Also, I’m sure the Pope would have you excommunicated, exorcized, condemned, evicted, arrested, flayed, drawn and quartered, beheaded and burned at the stake but this is a mental exercise so none of that is going to happen.
            So, we’ve filled Saint Peters up with sand, because Saint Peters represents the size of the universe, and each grain of sand represents a galaxy. Now, somewhere in one hundred and sixty-five million cubic feet of sand lies our own grain of sand, the Milky Way. (That number is based on the fact Saint Peters dimensions are 730 feet long, 500 feet wide, 448 feet tall. With the exception of the dome which is 136 feet tall.) So, yeah, it’s almost inconceivable as to the size of the universe in comparison to us, but I hope this visualization gives you a good frame of reference.
            Now, another interesting fact is that less than fifteen percent of the smartest people in the world believe in God and the creationist story. (I say story here because I have yet to see evidence to prove the biblical tale.) This intrigues me. You see, I don’t think being smart, curious and eager to learn should be cause for a person to lose faith in religion. That is, if you had faith to begin with.
            Also, over the past few decades, scientists have started to give the theory of a multi-verse credit. No, there is no concrete proof or evidence that there are more than one; however; when you look at the universe, life, planets, suns, atoms, and everything, there is no such thing as one of anything. Even singularities, black holes, we know are not singular. Nope, they seem to be as plentiful as the galaxies they fuel, create and destroy. Which is kind of funny, because in a biblical sense, there is always more than one of anything; I’m not saying that this is a coincidence or even inferring it. This is just the way my brain works. It compares information.
            Where does this leave us? Well, we live in a pretty big place and a small piece of ground and go about our lives dealing with petty issues as if they are the most vital of all details in the grand scheme of things. When in truth, they aren’t.
            Even our loves, our wars, our trials and our success’s really don’t matter on a cosmic scale. I mean, think about it, our universe is almost 14 billion years old and we, mankind, have only been on this spec of space dust for about 2 million years. There have been births and deaths of entire galaxies even before we came around. Hell, even entire species on this planet have come into existence and then disappeared before we even started grunting at each other and bashing each other’s heads in with rocks and sticks.
            Yet when we finally did come into existence and when we finally calmed down, started building, communicating to each other and try to figure out why we were even here in the first place we came up with some pretty crazy ideas. Don’t believe me? Check out the Norse mythological gods, or the Greek ones or the Egyptian gods or the Native American Gods or any race that was around before Christians started spreading their news across the globe.
            Which is funny to me, because it seems that every time I read up on a religion or belief system that can be traced back before Christianity started, they seem to have some sort of creationist story in place; like some native Americans believed in a pair of feathered serpents whose very thoughts became reality and that is how the earth was created. In Greek Mythos chaos reined until love was born and order followed in creation. In Africa, one tribe believes the god of the sky lowered a chain down to the waters and a boy climbed down the chain and started dropping sand into the water to create the continents. I could continue on and on with different examples of creationism, but I don’t need to, you can do some simple web searches and come up with as many as you want.
            Through all these stories the Christians evangelized their own version of creation. They converted a lot of people to their way of thinking. Those old belief systems, those religions soon became myths in the light of the new truth.
            Now, in the 21st century, the Christian creation story is coming under scrutiny by the scientific community and losing. Okay, to be honest, this is not a 21st century predicament. This is only one of many biblical stories that have fallen under the logical thinking and testing of a systematic method. I believe most faith will fail when approached by logical means. But, then, Faith is not logical is it?
            No, how can it be? Hell, being human is not logical when you think about it and faith based systems are never logical. They can’t be. Because faith is more than logic, more than facts, more than understanding the how or they why of things; no, faith is more than the codified knowledge of all the genius’s in the history of mankind.
            Faith is the one thing that tells us to stand our ground when logic tells us to flee. Faith tells us to forgive when logic tells us to cut ties or seek vengeance when we are wronged. Faith affords us grace when logic tells us we deserve nothing. Faith fills us with hope when logic tells us there is none. Faith tells us there is something more to our lives and the existence of our universe when logic tells us we are doomed to die in a fiery crash with the Andromeda galaxy. Faith contradicts science without explanation or reasoning and in some cases, faith has given us miracles that science can’t explain.
            I understand the science of our creation. I accept it. I welcome it in fact and, I am continually fascinated by each new discovery we make. Faith however tells me that there is a great creator somewhere, some when and somehow making sure everything worked when this all started.
            Faith is the one thing I seem to have left at the end of the day, when I’ve read all I can, when I’ve written what I needed to, when I’ve worked as much as I could and when I doubt the future, the past and even my present. It is there, to assure me, to tell me I’ll be okay and so will you even in the light of all evidence to the contrary.
            Yes, I do believe in a scientific creation of everything, yet I also believe there is a larger force at work. One that started it all, I choose to call that force God. It is a belief I struggle with everyday and I’m sure a belief I will struggle with for a long time, however, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Because if I didn’t struggle with it, I wouldn’t hunger for knowledge or have the drive to learn, to understand, to question just about everything in existence and if I didn’t have that, my life would be pretty damn dull.
            So I guess what I’m saying is, I believe in a creator, but I don’t necessarily believe in how the story has been told.
            Have a great week.

 This most beautiful system of the sun, planets, and comets, could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent and powerful Being....This Being governs all things, not as the soul of the world, but as Lord over all; and on account of his dominion he is wont to be called Lord God -Sir Isaac Newton

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