Saturday, April 15, 2006

Before Rainbows

Question: Could God have made it so that hot things didn’t rise and cold things didn’t sink; without seriously altering everything else?  For example, when you’re boiling water, could he have made it so that the heated water stayed at the bottom and didn’t mix with the cooler water above?  Anyone with a basic idea of how this stuff works understands that this isn’t some minor trifle, but has major implications for all physical actions.  And I should stipulate that I’m not talking about doing this miraculously; but rather as a full-time thing with a physical reaction that could be understood and explained by scientists.  So was this a conscious decision of his, or did he have no other choice?

And that’s the thing: Of the stuff we understand, everything falls within the limits of how things need to be in order for things to work; and the more we understand about things, the more we see that things couldn’t have been any other way, and are natural outcomes predicted by the very nature of matter itself.  Many fundamentalists seem to be of the opinion that the proof that everything works-out perfectly for us is to suggest that there must have been a creator doing it.  I can’t fathom why they’d insist that this creator must be the god that poorly educated desert dwellers arbitrarily decided to worship thousands of years ago; but whatever.  They think that everything works out because their god made it so.  And yet, could things have worked a different way?  Could He have made things different?

And not just with convection.  Could God have arbitrarily made the sky permanently red?  Or clouds made of gold?  Or hell, they say that God gave us rainbows as a pact with his people regarding an event of dubious provenance.  And sure, maybe it happened.  But how the hell did light refract off of raindrops before that?  And was it just raindrops, or did light not refract at all?  And did he purposefully not allow raindrops to refract light so he could later enact this covenant, or was that just something he thought of on the spot?  As if the forty days and nights of rain were getting him depressed and he wanted something cool to cheer him up on rainy days.

And again, I’m not necessarily saying He couldn’t do these things on a limited miraculous basis; or that he couldn’t have designed our planet completely differently.  I’m wondering if he could have made these major changes in the laws of physics without changing everything else too.

And why doesn’t the sun have a big smiley face on it?  That’s the way I always draw it.  And why does pain have to hurt so damn much?  Wouldn’t a Hallmark card delivered by an angel be a lot nicer?  Kind of like a preemptive Get Well Soon card letting you know exactly what was wrong and what you need to do to fix it.  And why don’t birds suddenly appear every time I come near?  Not that I particularly like birds flocking around me all the time, but it would certainly be interesting.

And overall, why doesn’t the universe seem tailor-made by someone who cares about us?  I’ve played SimCity, Populous, The Sims, and many other godlike games where I cared a whole lot more for my fake people than God seems to care for the real ones he supposedly created.  And that’s not even to mention how I’d be considered an unconscionable jerk if I stood by and allowed all the bad things that God supposedly allows to happen to us.  

Heck, they’re trying to kill Moussaoui based on the idea that he didn’t help the FBI stop 9/11; but where was God in all this?  He supposedly knew about the whole plan since the beginning of time.  And if God couldn’t stop it because it was part of His Grand Plan, then how can we possibly fault Moussaoui for doing the same?   And sure, maybe we shouldn’t expect God to actively interfere with our daily activities; but shouldn’t we expect at least some kind of non-natural assistance with this stuff?  At least something that would suggest that there was in fact a creator behind all this, rather than just a ruthless natural law that makes no allowances for mistakes.  In SimCity, I personally send firetrucks to put out burning buildings; but for God, it’s apparently too much to ask for cancer to not hurt so much.  I’m not asking for miracles.  I’ve just got a few problems with the basic design.

Not that you should take my complaints as bitterness or anything.  Far from it.  I’m just suggesting that things really don’t look particularly well-designed for us, and really has the appearance of a willy-nilly system that doesn’t give a flip about what we do or how we want things to be.  And the things that seem particularly well-planned seem to be the things that God or any other creator wouldn’t have had a choice on.  Of course warmer water is going to be lighter than cooler water; because the molecules get more energy, move faster, and thus take up less space.  And of course light will move slower through water than it moves through air; because water is thicker than air.  And the sun doesn’t smile because it’s a mean ole’ beastie that likes to give people sunburns and makes August in Austin one of the hotter hells to live in.  That just makes sense.  

These weren’t minor little issues that a creator chose on a case-by-case basis.  These were major attributes that affect everything else.  It should go without saying that the reason we’re here is because Earth is the kind of place that would have us; and that we were born to fit the Earth’s set-up and not vice-versa.  But of all the things that have happened, and the way things are, this is how things would have to be.  So maybe there is some being which created all that we see, and maybe they went as far as creating the laws of physics and the universe around us.  But if they did so, they did so in a way that would only have come about naturally.  And none of this has the markings of an active creator who designed anything; but rather, everything shows all the designs of a regular system with natural events that could not have occurred otherwise.  

And so maybe God did decide to give us rainbows to show us his love; but the bigger trick wasn’t that he gave us rainbows, but how he arranged things before that.  Light should shine through water, and it should certainly slow down the light and provide us with the cool color spectrum that we see.  So the question is what that looked like before God bestowed us with rainbows.

Oh, and for those who like irony: I thought of this post while boiling Easter Eggs for my kids; so it’s kind of like the death of Jesus helped the cause of his enemies after all.  And yes, I do put the writing of this post on the same level as the effects of Christianity upon the history of mankind.  It’s that important.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You should really smoke some pot if you're going to try to figure this stuff out.