Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Comet and Glory

Last night I was watching a show about comets on the History Channel. "Comets: Prophets of Doom," or something like that. In with the usual History Channel sensationalism about whether or not a massive, life-extinguishing comet is headed for Earth right this very second, they had interviews with actual scientists and NASA officials.

One of these mentioned something about how the first water on Earth was very likely brought here by crashing comets. The young Earth had been absolutely bombarded with comets for awhile, which kept it hot and molten. But almost as soon as it stopped and the magma cooled to rock, the water vapor the comets had carried condensed into liquid.

There’s even debate on whether this water vapor from the far reaches of the solar system had also carried the first amino acids—the protein chains which are absolutely necessary for life to arise. Possibly even living organisms themselves hitched rides on these comets—microscopic bacteria, dormant in the cold of space and the heat of Earth’s infancy, coming at last into the shelter of liquid water and blooming over so many billion years into the myriad strange forms of life we know today.

(Evolution, in my view, is not a tree with humans as the highest point, as I recall seeing in a middle school science book, but something more like a blackberry bramble, a great tangled vine twining and growing in all directions.)

It put me in mind of a tangent my mind had followed one late night some time ago. Suppose the Deity, the God who is behind the gods, was wondering about its own identity, sometime some 16 billion years ago as we measure time. And suppose that as we do, the Deity decided that the best way to discern itself was to analyze itself, to break itself down. So in that instant of self-analysis, the Deity split apart. Something came where there was nothing. Could that have been the cause of the Big Bang? This would mean that everything which exists would be Deity made manifest, Deity trying to understand itself.

I know it’s rampant speculation and I will never be able to prove it, even if I live along with the Universe another 16 billion years. But imagine my surprise, some years after I first had this strange idea, to hear this description of an alien religious philosophy on the sci-fi show “Babylon 5”: The molecules of your body are the same molecules that make up this station and the nebula outside, that burn inside the stars themselves. We are starstuff, we are the universe made manifest, trying to figure itself out. As we have both learned, sometimes the universe requires a change of perspective."

Our sun is a second-generation star. Every bit of matter which created Sol and Earth and the rest of this system was once part of some other star system, some distant star which exploded in glory and threw its matter out into the furthest reaches of space, where it swirled and reformed and coalesced into everything which we know. Comets leave glistening trails of star matter in their wake as they ponderously orbit the sun on their long elliptical paths, and everyday the Earth passes through the whispers of the comets’ journeys.

We are starstuff.

Monday, March 06, 2006

An Unexpected Quiz Result

This morning I took a rather interesting online quiz called "Which religion is the right one for you?" It asked a whole bunch of questions about my beliefs and how I think things should be, and this is what I came up with.

You scored as Satanism. Your beliefs most closely resemble those of Satanism! Before you scream, do a bit of research on it. To be a Satanist, you don't actually have to believe in Satan. Satanism generally focuses upon the spiritual advancement of the self, rather than upon submission to a deity or a set of moral codes. Do some research if you immediately think of the satanic cult stereotype. Your beliefs may also resemble those of earth-based religions such as paganism.

  • Satanism: 96%
  • Buddhism: 75%
  • Paganism: 75%
  • Agnosticism: 71%
  • Hinduism: 67%
  • Islam: 46%
  • Atheism: 38%
  • Judaism: 33%
  • Christianity: 21%

Well, at least the little devil icon guy is cute.

Needless to say, this is not exactly the result I was expecting. But then, with the way they describe it, it actually makes a fair bit of sense, at least this line does:

Satanism generally focuses upon the spiritual advancement of the self, rather than upon submission to a deity or a set of moral codes.

No matter what form my worship has taken over the years, this has always been one of my core beliefs-- that it's important to advance spiritually. So they're on to something, at least, even if they have a very odd way of telling me so!