God is all around me.
And it’s bugging me. You know as well as I do how pervasive the old bird is.
Well, not exactly him, but his messengers and agents. He has priests, pastors, imams, rabbis, lamas, and a whole raft of other paid flacks. On top of that he depends on millions and millions — wait, billions — of unpaid volunteers who are more than happy to crow about what a swell dude he is. Perhaps only The Coca-Cola Company of Atlanta, Georgia has a publicity machine as widespread.
Walk into any diner and order a cola. When the waitperson repeats your order, s/he’ll say, “And you wanted a Coke, right?”
Right. Even if it’s a Faygo or a Pepsi, it’s a Coke.
Same with the Big Daddy-o in the Sky. Whenever a legislative body wants to initiate proceedings for the day, it calls in Christ’s vicar or G_d’s interpreter to start the festivities off right. Whenever a plane crashes or a lunatic opens fire in a shopping mall, people climb all over each other to say the Big Boy himself was responsible for any survivors. Hell, I sneezed the other day and some woman said, “God bless you.”
Only he’s not. Like Bob Dylan, he’s not there.
And, like Dylan, his reputation is based on layers upon layers of bombast and myth.
There is no Bob Dylan, as you well know. There is a fellow named Robert Allen Zimmerman, born May 24, 1941, who one day decided to market himself by borrowing the given name of the poet Dylan Thomas and adopting it as his surname.
Both Bob Dylan and god have had spectacularly trenchant and brilliant mots attributed to them. These pearls of verbiage, though, have been largely excavated from under massive piles of nonsensical and silly pronouncements.
Maybe Bob Dylan is god.
Separated At Birth?
Nah. Can’t be. Because there is no god.
The godly among the populace will counter that it is the height of presumption for me to say such a thing. Pious logicians will argue that I cannot definitively assert the non-existence of something. To which I might respond, Okay, you guys have had some 50,000 years (yup, humans in the Upper Paleolithic Period worshiped a god) to prove the Large Lummox created everything and is concerned with love, peace, war, and the result of yesterday‘s Monday Night Football game. You haven’t yet.
Carl Sagan famously told about the fire-breathing dragon in his garage. Prove that it isn’t there, he said. Guess what: You can’t.
Then the believers will cluck their tongues and shake their heads. How sad, they’ll lament, that you’re so lacking in awe and wonder. Your world is empty and prosaic. They’ll tell me that when they look at the petals of a flower they see the handiwork of the creator. When I look at it, I see a bionic machine. Such an emotionally empty experience.
Not so. For instance, I could hardly get to sleep last night after reading about astronomers’ latest supposition that tens of billions of stars in our own Milky Way Galaxy host Earth-like planets in their Goldilocks Zones (that is, the area around them that is just right for terrestrial type life to develop in.)
Dig: One of the astronomers who studied the results of a four-year Kepler Space Telescope search for Earth-like exo-planets was driven to ejaculations of Oh, Wows by what he’d learned. Here’s Erik Petigura of the University of California-Berkeley:
When you look up at the thousands of stars in the night sky, the nearest sun-like star with an Earth-size planet in its habitable zone is probably only 12 light years away and can be seen with the naked eye. That is amazing.
So tonight, I’m going out in the backyard to look at the dark sky. Weather permitting, I’ll see dozens and dozens of stars up above. If I feel really ambitious, I might take the five minute drive down to Lake Monroe, where the sky is even darker, so I can see many more stars. And as I watch them twinkle, the odds are overwhelming that I’m seeing, as it were, the homes of countless civilizations that communicate, reproduce, fight, discover, share, and play football. Maybe even baseball, if their intelligence is advanced enough.
And I will be in awe. My imagination will run wild. I’ll try to think about what those creatures look like. I’ll ponder the near-impossibility of humans ever visiting them. I’ll hope for the much more likely chance that we’ll exchange messages, perhaps soon.
“Are You There?”
The feeling I’ll have will easily be as profound as that of someone who marvels that god let that plane go down, with several hundred poor souls burned to a crisp and torn limb from limb, but decided, because he is loving, to spare one little tot.
This I guarantee: My awe will be far more holy than that of the football fan or the tight end who was certain god deigned that the Bears beat the Packers last night.
Spirit In The Sky