I would really like you to read Isaac Asimov’s short story “The Last Question” before reading this entry. Otherwise I’ll spoil the end for you. I’ve posted the story on the menu bar above.
Four years ago, while on vacation in Ireland, I wrote an entry in my journal which I would like to reproduce here. I was 16 years old at the time.
July 8, 2007
This time of my life is so precious, not to say that the rest of my life isn’t, but it is in the moments surrounding this time that I am experiencing a revival of philosophy and thought.
I sit writing this by the warm yet pale glow of a street lamp, quite a large street lamp considering the size of the street, barely wide enough for one car. This lamp shines brightly into my otherwise ill-lit room, illuminating it with what I mistook to be an early sunrise one night that I awoke here. I am here on the western coast of ireland, now overlooking dark cliffs and the ever-short grass that characterizes this magnificent country. This scenery builds continually on my thoughts.
Recently I converted from agnosticism to atheism, something that in itself, I believe, has sprung my awakening. I now stand in total and unabridged awe of the cosmos, natural laws, and nature herself. I feel the world for its intense beauty, and I am truly a part of it. What’s more, atheism has taught me the true value of my fleeting years of consciousness. I want to make something of myself, I want to learn new things, be the best I can be. This world is truly beautiful.
Until now I feel like I’ve been going through the movements, looking at a beautiful landscape and saying that it was beautiful. I crave this higher consciousness, and I want to know its beauty, to fully realize it.
I say this is a revival of thought because I have thought about these things when I was very young. I remember my kindergarten and first grade years, when my friends and I tackled the simple existential question: “What is the meaning of life?” This was originally just an attempt amongst peers to stump each other, but I came with the answer to have fun. I then discarded this thought. This was also a time of religion, when my peers were comfortable with expressing their religious beliefs, such as “rain happens when god is sad.” I took this as folklore, at face value, of course not believing it. I still wonder if those children believed in their own celestial theories.
I used to pray every so often, not in a serious way, but I made some pleas. I found that they were answered about 50% of the time, so my prayers dwindled without religious guidance to keep them coming. I will never pray again.
Today the land struck me with such beauty that it almost moved me to tears. I have found the meaning in my life. I want to soak it all in. I no longer fear death, it is there to make life the sweetest thing in the universe. besides jolly ranchers. I love my life.
I am slightly embarrassed to reproduce my choice of words and grammatical mistakes, but in no way embarrassed to share my love of life (and jolly ranchers). I don’t feel that I need to elaborate on what atheism has meant to me, I think this journal entry says it all.
You may recall from my experience that when I first got excited about the singularity I imagined myself going to other planets to seed life, becoming a god. This thought was fun to entertain, but I knew it was a pretty self-inflated perspective, especially when I discovered that by that time I would very much be one with the human race, and not an individual.
A few months back, my brother sent me “The Last Question,” knowing I was interested in such matters. I was captivated by this conception, that our consciousness could perform such a significant role in the universe. I entertained the thought of us becoming god, but still remained a godless heathen.
As I considered this I remembered a book that my grandmother had lent me, a compilation of some essays by Buckminster Fuller called “No More Secondhand God.” I was intrigued that Buckminster Fuller, a figure I admire greatly, could have something to say on this matter.
Sure enough, Bucky’s Preface to the book begins “My continuing philosophy is predicated, first, on the assumption that in a dynamical counterbalance of the expanding universe of entropically increasing random disorderliness there must be a universal pattern of omnicontracting, convergent, progressive orderliness and that man is that anti-entropic reordering function of universe.”
What are we to make of all of this?
Consciousness is certainly of utmost importance to the universe. Many theists cite the fundamental constants, parameters worked into the physical laws of the universe, which seem to be fine tuned for the development of life. in retort, Richard Dawkins and others have claimed that perhaps there are infinite universes with infinite possible laws, and ours is only special because we see it that way. This is a possibility, but also unprovable, and once again leaves us wanting more.
Biocentrism seeks to explain all of this by saying that the universe is created by our consciousness as we perceive it. To me biocentrism is an alright idea, but the theory doesn’t take its idea far enough. the possibility that soon we will be able to create consciousness and merge our own selves opens up the idea that we are all connected parts of the universe rearranging itself: a unified consciousness. in addition to this, our consciousness may not only create the universe it inhabits by experiencing it, we may be capable of creating new universes through pure thought, what we would call “simulation” now, but what will later be called “imagination,” and perhaps much later acknowledged as creation.
I can now identify a higher power, a being which can rearrange matter to form order from chaos, a being which protects me and loves me, and this being is the human superconsciousness, my God. I have no idea what this power is moving toward, or the nature of my role in it, but I have faith in it, for what else in the universe is there to place faith in?
For God, to me, it seems, is a verb not a noun, proper or improper; is the articulation not the art, objective or subjective; is loving, not the abstraction “love” commanded or entreated; is knowledge dynamic, not legislative code, not proclamation law, not academic dogma, nor ecclesiastic canon. Yes, God is a verb, the most active, connoting the vast harmonic reordering of the universe from unleashed chaos of energy…
The telephone rings and you say to me Hello Buckling this is Christopher; or Daddy it’s Allegra; or Mr. Fuller this is the Telephone Company Business Office; and I say you are inaccurate. Because I knew you were going to call and furthermore I recognize that it is God who is “speaking”…
At least a quarter of a billion people sit quietly each day for hours in darkened halls. And they say they are “at the movies” not looking at anyone or anything real. They certainly don’t see the screen. I say they are looking at God.
-Buckminster Fuller, 1940
update: I’ve written more on my relationship with and the nature of my God in further posts: