– Happy New Year
In the previous blog, the Christmas one, which can still be
found as a link on this page, I discussed the importance of
good manners and politeness for helping us all understand
our existence and get through it. Choose how complicated the
world may seem, it all boils down to finding something relatively
simple to cheer us up and it’s the small things that
really count – such as someone saying “excuse
me” and the tiny world of quantum physics.
I thought it might be a good idea, therefore, to follow it
up with a sort of sequel to kick off the New Year. So this
time I will be discussing the antithesis of existence (no,
not being ignored) – extinction.
Throughout the world, animal species are going extinct –
this new year alone will see the extinction of many species.
This is the work of man, by over-populating the planet we
are driving everything else out. Mankind has been likened
to a virus or an epidemic, raging through a living body and
destroying its natural rhythms like some sort of cancer in
a human body. The problem is though that any parasite, unless
truly symbiotic, is living on borrowed time – killing
the host is not a good idea.
However, it could be argued that without humans, all these
species would never have been cataloged in the first place
– and they would probably never even notice each other
unless they represented a meal. At least humans, some of them,
anyway, have higher aspirations than just stuffing their face.
For instance, I have never seen an elephant compiling an encyclopedia;
choose how good their memory is. For that matter, although
some species are exulted for having great intelligence, I
have never seen a dolphin designing a safe tuna fishing net
that it can’t get accidentally caught in itself, or
opening its own version of “Seaworld’ and buying
a Beach home in California, or saying to the guys in the military
“This is a bomb on my back, isn’t it? I’m
not going”; and choose how great whales are at communicating
over long distances, I have never heard one offering ideas
on how to save itself, let alone the world.
About that tree that falls in the forest that doesn’t
exist if no one hears it – in some senses, it would
it be just as fanciful as God to an atheist if humans didn’t
tramp around in the jungle and take notes.
“Mmm, fallen tree number 4567, Henry, very interesting.”
“Indeed it is, David, very interesting, but according
to my notes it’s 4568”
“Really! Are you sure?”
“Reasonably certain, David.”
“Mmm, we will discuss this matter back in camp, later.”
“Did you hear it fall, Henry? That’s the important
“I did, David”.
“So did I, it's good to be sure”.
Perhaps these explorers will find God one day; perhaps they
already have but didn’t recognize him. “Was that
God, David?” “No Henry, it was Someone else”.
Maybe God need only be a thought anyway and anything else
more tangible might be less than comforting? You know how
annoying people can be when they think the world revolves
If anything, the only animal that can even attempt to make
sense of the universe, and probably even wants to, is a human
– that’s why we feel so alone and need God. Most
of the time though, God is put to one side and people just
pretend to be bewildered, it’s simpler that way. In
some ways, God is no longer the Lord of Life, but has taken
the probably more enduring role of Lord of Death, or extinction
– noticed, or needed, only at funerals, or when there’s
a war on – when the need for some sort of extension,
or meaning to life becomes more apparent.
Of course, we remember God at Christmas, but I’m never
sure whether it is in celebration or in anticipation of all
that extinction due in the year ahead. The problem is that
humans never take the blame for the mass extinction going
on just to make room for more of themselves, or more of their
particular race if they can get away with it via war, or even
better, genoside. Instead, they blame God – that convenient
Lord of Death – the universal fall guy – the one
who ‘moves in mysterious ways’ when all rational
argument fails as to “what the hell we are doing".
Let’s face it, people are naturally uncomfortable with
anything around them and try to elbow it out of the way. I
have even heard tales of people being in awe of the size of
the universe and feeling small and insignificant by comparison
– again they try to fill it with God, or equations,
or both in Einstein’s case (even Einstein chose to accept
the existence of God over quantum physics, or perhaps he was
being naturally protective of his Theory of Relativity
and thought it was being elbowed too).
The universe is bigger than any current equations or understanding
or even species to fill it. But why feel insignificant when
the size of something is it’s only notable attribute.
Humans are like that – they need to ‘make sense’
even when there’s no real need for it. My advice is
to lighten up and stop taking notes, or as David Byrne of
the Talking Heads put it: “Stop Making Sense”.
The average size human feels insignificant even beside a taller
human, so the unimaginable size of the universe can be a bit
daunting if you’re in that frame of mind.
Happy New Year!
Hague, 1st January, 2007 (so far, so good)