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After the Golden Age by Alvin Schwartz
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AFTER THE GOLDEN AGE for 12/23/2002
Volume 2, #59 (12/23/02)

After all my fulminating last week about the Big Bang, I opened my favorite science site, The Edge, run by John Brockman, the remarkable literary agent who represents most of the top scientists of our day--and I find among the latest offerings an interesting speculative piece--well, just consider this one after last week's column--an essay by Martin Rees, in which he blithely leaps past the Big Bang with the following:
"We can trace its history back to about a micro-second after the putative 'big bang' that started it off, but what happened in that first, formative microsecond?"
There's really no stopping these guys. Rees hasn't got a notion about where BB came from, but even so, he's ready to consider what happened after the first seconds. No-Rees doesn't have any solutions. Not yet, but he anticipates all the fun and effort, the elegant ideas that are likely to be forthcoming once science really gets started dealing with this question. In fact, he goes on to tell us, there are a number of utterly fascinating, if somewhat dubious notions already.

All right. The science boys really do have fun playing with their exterior world. I'm not the one to object to fun. But maybe it should be worth mentioning that in the article I quoted last week, I showed that science has dropped a lot of its hidebound attitude toward religion. They're even beginning to have discussions with religious leaders, trying to solve problems that science doesn't deal with-about God and Angels and Saviors and Prophets. So this regathering of scientists and religious people really looks like something special. But don"t get taken in. The whole thing is a charade. To tell the absolute truth about it, Science is getting together with Religion because, well, boys and girls, let's acknowledge it once for all---science IS is a religion. That's right. It has its special beliefs-like no metaphysics-and nothing gets into the doctrines of science if it has a scintilla of meaning. I mean meaning. Meaning has to do with powers and values that are primary. Meaning has to do with being overcome by the beauty of a landscape or a work of art or a Beethoven quartet. The meaning is not anywhere in the material and measurable things that make up these events. Not in the colors, or the sounds or the arrangements. Seek out, if you can, the genes that created my memories. Establish a useful set of non-linear equations for the mystery of time that endlessly and instantaneously bind the chicken and the egg, and everything else that for science expresses a causal pattern into the instantaneous loop of process-process that goes on and on and on and is ever different and always the same-exactly as Plato described it when he insisted, in the Timaeus that the universe was made up of sameness and difference.

Well, with science it's a religion to avoid just those questions. The same way religions do. Religions have their rules, their set notions of beginnings and endings. How does the Six Days of Creation really differ from the Big Bang? And when you look things up in the Book of Sin-well-you not only know Who wrote them down. You know why they're there-so that you can govern your life by them. Now, of course, science isn't just any old religion. No religion is just any old religion. They're all deadly serious and you can't violate any of their laws-even though, these columns-for two years now, have been violating as many as I ever managed to stumble across.

Now don't misunderstand me. I AM NOT AN ATHEIST. I don't believe that religion is spiritual, as much as it's the attempted codification and pinning down of the spiritual. And science is certainly not just materialistic. It's a religion about externalities and various connections that seem to make the world a better place-to live in, to have wars in, to love in-to hate in. It hasn't changed anything very much, has it. So when I speak of the ways of the spirit, look back over the past year, or the past two years of this column and you'll see what I mean. Think of values like consciousness and energy. Ask yourselves if these two words don't reflect the same value, the same mystery and hide within them (they're hidden if you refuse to see them) All There Is. As I've said in An Unlikely Prophet-keep your door open and you'll see. And as I've intimated very often in my Superman stories (and what a wonderful medium Superman has been to express those realities.) All you have to do is Remember Dr. Duste. And do please at long last, send some acknowledgements to this Round Table instead of privately. This is the time, once more, for all you Ogies to show yourselves. Just a syllable, an exclamation, a grunt-so I know you're still out there.

Yes--Today, is my day to sound off. Let this tocsin go ringing through Christmas for all of you. Christmas-it's not religion. It's not myth. It's origins are many, like the Yule Tree and the wonders of the Winter Solstice and the endless magic and mystery of the Spirit and the Gift of Everything.

"How did this man, Jesus, make you see?" they asked the blind man. "He said-those who say they see shall be made blind, and those who are blind shall see. And then, he put clay upon mine eyes and I washed and I do see."

From the Gospel of John according to Alvin. And don't forget to plant your seeds first in the dark clay. Believe me, they'll soon come bursting into the light and reveal wonders you never before imagined.

Alvin

<< 12/16/2002 | 12/23/2002 | 12/30/2002 >>

Discuss this column with me at my Round Table.

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