The Stars of Night

Okay, then. There’s the big bang, and scientists have seemingly discovered gravitational waves from mere seconds after the event that created our known universe – perhaps multiple universes. And still no one quite knows how it all started, but we are still clinging to the idea that God spoke it all into existence in six days. This, I don’t buy. But, I do believe in what many describe as God. You see, from our little perch here on earth, about five hundred years ago, we were quite certain that we understood the universe and everything in it. We could explain many things; where babies came from, how clouds are formed, what happens after you die. And we were completely wrong. We also believed the stars and planets and moon all revolved around us – the sun, too – on celestial crystal spheres. By the way, mars needed to be attached with a sort-of hinge to account for its “retrograde” orbit.

We now know that there are billions of stars and potentially millions of populated worlds in our galaxy alone. Every day, stars are being born or dying across the galaxy. Planets are incinerated by their suns going nova. Whole civilizations are wiped out, having been erased from existence. We will never know about a vast majority of the life in the universe. But new worlds are being born right now, and this we have all learned from the surface of our little blue planet.

Standing in my backyard, I looked up at the stars and wondered how in the fuck God could give a rats ass about me when all this other shit is happening. And I thought about how I was raised Roman Catholic, and the sisters who taught us how to be good little Catholic boys and girls and not be blasphemers and heretics. But we grew up, and even though the Christian church as a whole has many, many followers who believe in varying degrees in the teachings of their faiths, there are many, like myself, who question their role in the universe, the nature of God, and whether we have souls and what happens after we die. We ask questions, like, “why do evil people profit from their deeds?” and, “why does God allow the righteous to be persecuted?”

I am sick and tired of the petty arguments about creationism vs. evolution, or whether there really was an ark and a flood. Fundamentalism in any form is a dangerous thing. Look at the Islamic Republic of Iran as an example of how bad things can be when religious fundamentalists control government and the people. When someone tells me they know what God’s plan for them is, I question whether there is a God, because God is incomprehensible, and it is an unimaginably terrific thing to behold, I’m told. God is not a he or she or an elephant or a cow. I see it more like the “Force” from Star Wars. People may ridicule the concept, but I believe God is all around us, in our bones, in the wind, in the earth. Perhaps this planet and all the other planets and stars are part of some giant clockwork universe, and the Great Consciousness has given it a push to put it all in motion. A stray lightning bolt or the birth of a child are not events out of some individual plan, but instead are part of the grand program, along with hurricanes and flu outbreaks. This would explain why the villagers praying for famine relief might still die of hunger, and God didn’t punish them for their lack of faith, just like God did not reward Wall Street executives for being particularly devout. It’s just part of the plan.

Now, one might think I would stop praying and simply throw up my hands, crying, “predestiny has me by the balls. What can I do?!’ But I will still pray. I pray out of gratitude, and I pray for people to be healthy and happy, and for myself, because people are selfish. (What are you gonna do?) Even though I believe God could not be bothered by my little world, I think the positive energy of my thoughts can produce results. Will my prayers for winning Powerball really make any difference? It couldn’t hurt.

When you look into the sky and see more stars than you can count, think about their beauty and how they are so distant that they might actually be afterimages of extinct suns. But imagine also that the people on some of planet still worship their sun, and that they may find a way to expand their thinking so that they wish us well, even if they aren’t sure we exist, because someday in the future, we will all be history, just as a new world is being born.

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