All of this happened--
The beginnings of life, the origins of legends, the words they spoke and their incantations, the despair, their mighty deeds, and ultimately, the conclusion and beyond. I can know all of this and be sure of it for one simple reason: I can know… because no one knows.
Whatever subjective (and sometimes secret) historical reality we inevitably shape in our minds, whether influenced by science, scripture, television, or pop media in general, we will only ever have a personal version of the truth that falls on a spectrum as varied as the universe itself – whether we want to admit it to ourselves or not, and no matter if we’d already classified ourselves into a particular societal subset.
Are the religious fundamentalists correct in their literal interpretations? Are atheists validated by the natural laws of our world? Are basement-dwelling, tin-foil-hat-wearing conspiracy theorists irreversibly delusional in their pursuit of the fantastical, and sometimes, completely irrational descriptions of the unexplained? Somehow, I believe, we are all correct and incorrect at the same time, at least to some degree, and would find, if we bother to look for it, a golden thread that weaves itself enigmatically between and around the competing views of the atheist, the churchgoer, and the imaginative skeptics.
It is undeniable that there are, on occasion, certain equivalences between the results of scientific study and religious doctrine. Today, it is universally accepted that the universe had a defined beginning where everything in existence, and everything that will ever exist came into being from a single, atom-sized spot of incalculable energy (that is, until science disproves this hypothesis, or religious leaders choose to interpret the Bible differently). The big bang, as we know it today, erupted for reasons unknown, and expanded into the universe we see all around us. And it’s expanding still. Some call this immeasurably massive explosion the Word of God, and others exclaim rationality based on a myriad of reasons and conditions that science will only someday fully illuminate – to replace the God-of-the-gaps with evidence clear and irrefutable.
For now, regardless of what any layman proclaims about the finely tuned nature of the universe, whether corroborated or criticized by scientists, or that so many YouTube-skeptics agree that we’re simply an evolved puddle that fits a hole in the ground, we’re stuck with equations and hypotheses that themselves still require a kernel of faith to successfully merge the mathematical, and physical, into an alternative that could invalidate purposed design. But that is not to say apologists have all the answers either.
Even if a grand architect of the cosmos seems just right, or just too fanciful to be accepted - number crunching and analysis, and prayer and bible study must both continue in equal measure, so that one day, or rather eventually I’d say, we are led to the same conclusion and truth even if we recognize it by a different name.
The big bang theory was first postulated by Georges Lemaître, a Belgian cosmologist and Catholic priest. That in itself is perhaps the best illustration of how the scientific and the divine can walk hand in hand, be complementary to the gaps, as perhaps it was always intended, to elucidate the profound meaning of life, and all the other answers we seek as a human race.
It is even clearer, from peculiarities in ancient carvings and more recent works of art, relatively speaking, that one can lend some credence to the ramblings of the so-called crazies. Just ask Flemish artist Aert De Gelder why he chose to shine his light that way. Or wonder why a mural in a monastery in Kosovo would portray, so distinctly, two odd-looking objects, or perhaps more aptly, people-carrying-craft, in the opposing upper corners. Aliens, angels, or other deities? Or simply a strange depiction of the sun and the moon? One’s imagination makes it easy (if you let it) to take the fantastical leap to something extra-terrestrial, while logic (some say) might strain to make equal strides toward a more logical and acceptable answer. Disappointingly, in my opinion, creative conclusions with imaginative reasoning are insufficient more often than not, and thus our myths and storytelling must take a back seat to statistics and hard fact.
But whether we can able to learn from the scholars of today, and archeology, and art and literature of our past, use it to gleam a possible future, or simply live in the now, all of us will have a truth inside us. Something that would remain constant deep in our cores regardless of the passage of time. A creed, a personal ethos, or at the very least some guiding principles, feint as they may or may not be, that spurs us to purposefully plot a future of safety and certainty, and even prosperity. Or perhaps those private tenets are just sufficient to keep us moving onward, contently or otherwise, from one day to the next, without too much hassle or forethought.
Some believe all particles are connected and create God’s consciousness. Some believe by praying (or focusing intensely on our internal dialogue) for something, trusting that it will come about, and affirming its absolute inevitability, we create a bridge to the inner machinations of the universe and become conductors for those things we are asking for. Some believe the big bang expanded into space billions of years ago, and still others believe the universe is only a few thousand years old.
There are so many different paths and viewpoints, from the delusional to the pragmatic, and I think deep down we all believe that the real truth lies somewhere in that wonderfully obscure grey area that exists between the most extreme opposites. We tend to gravitate, as it is with most things, towards the ideas that seem most attractive to us. Whether that inclination is driven by our very nature, or perhaps more so by the various environments that shaped us.
I believe, for example, it is quite plausible for evolution, as we understand it today, to be a required process step in a grander plan - a potential device in the cosmic toolbox of a consciousness we cannot fathom, and whose existence we would continue to debate, due to, in my view, our innate need, and indeed special talent to humanize and even trivialize those things that lay beyond our comprehension. We attribute human characteristics where none belong and attempt to fold a God, or gods in some cases, into the doctrines of our own deeply entrenched cultures - instead of seeking the truth at the expense of the power and privilege an ever-watching (always judging?) father in the sky, or even dictatorial dogma oft provides.
In the end, we can only postulate, and dream, and wonder if there is a single ineffable story, a tailored blueprint, or unifying theory of our chaotic beginnings and inevitable ends, (by dying star or four horsemen) and what rules to follow in between.
Or could the grand plan really be a knowable combination of the gospels, and scientific models, and fireside tales and myths? I believe it is not only possible, but more apt than any other reasoning that there is something of everything instead of nothing but one.
Our opinions and experiences, and ultimately that internal voice is what keeps us divided. It is the stories, the imaginative speculations, the inspired tales of gods and glory, and the hopes and dreams for the hereafter that binds us together.
So, I say again. All of this happened.
And it was wonderful.