The Science Fair at the Edge of the Universe



(“The Science Fair at the Edge of the Universe” is an essay from the author’s book, Why Bad Things Happen to Good Parrots: A Sermon Under the Mount, available in paperback and as an ebook on Amazon, Goodreads and Smashwords.)




Science Fair Image


“The one who gave water from his water-skin,

that is your own god who cares for your good name, your Lugulbanda.”

The Epic of Gilgamesh


No matter the religion, scientific theory or mystic bunkum to which you subscribe, the Ariadne’s Thread of cosmology eventually leads to a closed door.


The Big Bang Prequel is unknowable.  There is no Genesis -1.


As to the impetus of Creation−the “why”−your guess is as good as mine.


Here’s one theory−no less valid than any other stab in the pre-dark matter:


14 billion years and ∞ days ago, the Demiurge concluded an otherwise uneventful Friday evening by polishing off a cosmic chimichanga.  He flopped down upon his supernal sofa and unleashed a cacophonous fart that resulted in you, me and the Sombrero Galaxy.  By the time the Demiurge awoke Saturday midday, He realized His fast food folly had resulted in more than 100 billion galaxies, each with hundreds of billions of stars.  The living room was a cloud of quasars and nebulae, black holes and electromagnetic radiation.



Original art by Damon Hall. (click for full image)


The Demiurge examined his unexpected Creation.  His midnight snack had resulted in an obscene amount of CHNOPS even for an omnipotent discharge.


“Must have been the pickled jalapenos,” He observed.


The feint sound of an electric guitar riff gave Him pause.


Upon further investigation, the Demiurge discovered an infinitesimal fleck in a middling spiral galaxy named after a nougat chocolate bar.  Not only had this fleck achieved life, but rational intelligence—or so the Demiurge thought at first.


Outside the boundary of time, the Unwitting Creator observed the sentient organisms that referred to themselves as human beings.  They had evolved from primates and still retained the animal habit of baring teeth at one another—especially the males, and often when dropping references to the film Caddyshack.  These humans engaged in a remarkably disparate spectrum of behavior from entering competitive eating contests to building particle colliders to publishing pictorial histories of the Rape of Nanking.


“Dang,” the Demiurge murmured, and forevermore swore off late-night avocadoes.


He scattered a few messianic mustard seeds throughout the historical timeline of the Little Blue Planet—as well as just enough flood myths to make Creationists dangerous—then threw on a pair of loafers and headed to the mini-mart for a pack of Camels and a bag of Funyuns.



No one—not even Richard Dawkins—wants to think that the vastness of space and the miracle of life upon our Little Blue Planet is the result of a Prime Mover’s refried expulsion.


At least Michelangelo settled for a sanitary Divine Forefinger.  (Just don’t pull it, Adam.)


The author of the Gospel of John opted for a superlatively sterile prelude to Creation—a most non-lymphatic human issuance.  As clean and abstract as it gets.  Plus a real draw to Gnostics:


“In the Beginning was the Word (Logos).”


Even if Creation was the result of demiurgical gas or a magic wand finger or even a Greek philosophical system of order, we’re still no closer to understanding “the Maker’s motivation.”


In my Mundus ex Bombulum example above, it’s hard to envision the Almighty returning from Heaven-11 and vesting interest in an accidental cosmos.


If anything, He would probably open the windows and click on a ceiling fan.  God knows I’d clear the air of a Universe that had resulted in Cinnabon after 14 billion years of development.


At this point, Deists might find themselves satisfied and call it a night.


However, I’m heading back to the cosmological flannelgraph.



Scenario Two:


God is cruising one of the myriad corners of the immense multiverse in his trusty Jah-lopy.  His chauffeur, the Archangel Selaphiel, takes an inopportune left turn into a 12-dimensional corridor and runs over a eigenvector rusty nail.




Road Trip

Original art by Damon Hall. (click for full image)


They blow a flat—which, granted, is rather hard to imagine in dodeca-reality.  But no matter what, the Divine livery is definitely kaput.


Suddenly, out of nowhere, a halogen-based life form in a hydrogen hoodie approaches the vehicle.


No worries.  The Tetragrammaton is a ‘stand your ground’ master.  Just ask the indigenous women and children of Canaan.


“Archangel, destroy!” Mr. Omniscience orders.


Without hesitation, Selaphiel withdraws a flaming sword from the glove box and exits the Jah-lopy.


“Hold on a second!” God orders.  “Just like that?  Based on nothing more than my Word, you’re going to destroy another being?  For all we know, that hoodie-bearer is 12th Dimension AAA.”


Selaphiel replies, “Thou ordered it thus.”


God is incredulous.  “Just because it’s wearing a hoodie?!”


Selaphiel shrugs, “I am a beck and call being, El Shaddai.”


God is no fan of automaton smartassery.  “We’ll just have to do something about that, now won’t we?”  He snaps and finds Himself back in his crystal throne room.


God is surrounded by the standard menagerie of six-winged, hundred-eyed creatures.  The lion, ox and flying eagle wait patiently before Him.  God stews while several cherubim clock in late.


Finally, He addresses the assembled Heavenly Hosts:  “Let me guess, pretty much no matter what I say, you’re going to chant, aren’t you?”


“Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty.  Who was, and is, and is to come.”


Thunder and lightning.  Plasma fireworks.  Sardonyx and topaz rain from the sky like a nickel slots jackpot.  The whole shebang.


“Just what I thought.  Listen, everybody, take the weekend off.  I think there’s some sort of beer festival down at the Elysian Fields.  Go get tanked and compose celestial hymns.”


The place empties.  Father, Son and Dove huddle up.


“Let’s get this straight.  We’ve surrounded Ourselves with Yes Men.  Any ideas?”


“Let’s create a being that has the option of not sucking up to Us,” the Dove contemplates.  “I wonder what that would look like.”


“Ever seen Love Actually?” the Son replies.


“I cried like a baby,” the Father reminisces.


The Trinity orders curry takeout; the rest is history.



I am partial to Scenario II because it implies a Divine need for relationship.  Most celestial beings as we imagine them aren’t ideal conversationalists.  Even God needs a volitional village.


Hold on a second!  What kind of blasphemy is this, suggesting God has need?  By definition, God is Totality!


Except that Totality seems, um, boring.  If God learned anything from the Jesus Experiment, it must have been the joy of a tactile friendship.  (Which, if you’ve ever thought about it, as God, He experienced outside of time ‘before’ it ever happened.)


Crown of thorns and whitewashed tombs aside, the Son of God reciprocated friendship with his blood brother inner circle of Peter, James and John.  “Here, try this water; it’s not what you think.”  “Watch me pull a Lazarus out of my Sheol!”  “Dudes, seriously.  How can you sleep through a Transfiguration?”


There’s just one itsy-bitty problem with the Relational Theory of Creation:


A Universe created for the purpose of a Creator wanting (or even needing) “to commune” pretty much damns volitional mortals from the get-go.


Sooner or later, we are going to make choices that disappoint the Maker−decisions that damage the relationship.  And God−at least the biblical God−doesn’t like to be disappointed.  (Just ask Lucifer.)


Just ask yourself:  who bears the brunt of the risk when an Immortal engages in a relationship with mortals?


Does God “hurt” when we reject him?  I know I hurt when I ‘feel’ rejected by my Maker.  And if I feel hurt, imagine how a six-year-old girl who dies in a Central African Republic genocide zone feels.


Also, I wonder if it ever occurred to God just how much humanity would reject itself−and even the planet upon which it lives.


Any-who.  Big Bang.  Lots of risk.  A need for endless space.  Anyone divorced multiple times might tend to agree that the Universe does indeed seem designed around a Relationship Model.


One other shade of the Relational Theory of Creation:  In my experience, the thrill of relationship is as much about the potentiality of connection as it is about connection itself.


I wonder if it’s any different for God.



Which brings us to Scenario Three:


The Universe is an Immortal Eighth Grade Science Fair Experiment.  And the Purpose of Everything is to see what happens when a Divine Being enters into a relationship with mortal beings.


The Universe itself, that was child’s play.  Any Immortal can head down to the corner metaphysical hardware store and buy a Big Bang Starter Kit.  Add some polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.  Put the kit in the window sill for several billion years.  Voila!  Sentient Life!


The Creator comes around once or twice a day, waters the pot, engages relationally with humans who are into that sort of thing, occasionally even intervenes or makes a rare appearance with a Divine Manifestation Finger Puppet.  Watches humans kick the shit out of each other when resources are thin.  Uh-oh!  Tsunami wave!


All the while, Eighth Grade Yahweh makes faithful notes in His journal.


My point?


What if a relationship with the Divine is only meant to feel like a relationship?  What if reality is nothing more than the equivalent of some kid playing Beethoven or Anthrax to dieffenbachias in order to see what package of sound waves is more conducive for cellulose growth?


What does the plant care?  It’s alive, isn’t it?


What if the tenets of [INSERT RELIGION] are completely valid yet have been “planted”?



Real fast, Scenario Four:


The Universe is a Bob Newhart Dream.



We conclude where we began:  at the door of things unknowable.


While we may be prevented from ever knowing anything about the Universe prior to its origin, we are not prohibited from speculation.  That is the splendor of the human imagination.


Cosmic farts.  Loneliness.  Homework.  Bob.


Who knows?


Somehow I got here.


In the end, I’m a romantic.  I hold to a sincere form of the Relational Theory of Creation.


God needs me.  Whatever for, I cannot imagine.  But here I am.


I’m pathetically here for Him and all my fellow human beings.  And my Little Blue Planet, which sustains me.


It’s all so very, very beautiful.





(“The Science Fair at the Edge of the Universe” is an essay from the author’s book, Why Bad Things Happen to Good Parrots: A Sermon Under the Mount, available in paperback and as an ebook on Amazon, Goodreads and Smashwords.)



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One Response so far.

  1. Paul says:

    After reading this article, I feel insignificant commenting on it.

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