Aaron Gillum's views of society, tempered with a quick wit and an acerbic writing style,
make his columns both fun, and unique. With each issue, Aaron offers a fresh perspective into
the catalysts that drive society; weaving these observations into refreshing, provocative
"The eye sees only what the mind is prepared to comprehend."
Henri L. Bergson
I'm not a particularly religious person. Never is that more forward in my mind
than this time of year, when most major religions have a holiday of one sort or
another. Oh, I know the Bible stories and I celebrate the major holidays, but
I never had that spark of faith that the others did. When others were finding
love, comfort, and guidance, I was stuck on the idiosyncrasies and paradoxes.
After cornering my Sunday school teacher with unanswerable questions a couple
of times, I realized that I was never going to be like the others, simply because
I could not be content with an unsolved puzzle. My need to wrap logic around
these problems was never going to step to the side and let faith come through.
Searching for spirituality, I set out to make myself well versed with the Eastern
philosophies. I tried, believe me, I tried — but I found no clear, concise answers
there, either. Much like my earlier experiences, I found that logic could not
always hold when contemplating ethereal matters.
Next came the philosophers. Again, no concrete answers to be found. At the end
of it all, I never came to any great realizations. I never found anything that
fit with the patchwork of questions that were buzzing around in my thoughts.
Left without a pre-written roadmap to understanding, I turned to mathematics and
physics as ways of explaining how and why the universe was what it was. It didn't
give me all of the answers I sought, but it did, at least, seem like the best way
of going about finding them. The deeper I dug, the more intrigued I became. With
the huge amount of information available on these topics, that pursuit has continued
to this day. Having settled into an uncomfortable stalemate with my quest for
spiritual fulfillment, I was content with science and cynicism. I was confident
that everything could be explained through science, if only I was intelligent
enough to see the answers. Intelligence, unlike faith, was something that I could
actively work toward.
The problem, however, with a belief system built around calculus and empirical
evidence is that it begs to be disproved. On occasion, that call is answered and
the world of science is turned upside down. Einstein's Relativity is perhaps the
most famous example of the modern theories that have completely shaken up our
understanding of the universe. Just a few weeks ago, there may have been another.
A research team from the Australian National University claim to have disproved the
Second Law of Thermodynamics.
Stay with me, now. This won't be the school lesson you are afraid it might become.
The law states, in simple terms, that things break… that chaos and disorder are "easier"
to maintain, and a more natural form for a system if not acted on by an outside force.
The universe hates order, boundaries, and differences. It strives for a perfect
uniformity in all things. We can see this by watching a mountain crumble, a house of
cards crash down, a match burn, or a star explode. Call it a mantra for every
pessimist on the planet. It's the biggest and baddest Murphy's Law on the books.
Recently, however, the researchers at ANU seem to have shown that they can recreate
experiments where, for some unexplained reason, molecules spontaneously organize on
their own, with apparently nothing influencing this behavior.
I feel obligated to pause here as to not have that last sentence passed over lightly.
What was broken, disorganized and random became structured and ordered. To stretch
this to an example we can all understand, it was if a handful of sand was thrown into
the air and when it landed it was a sheet of crystal clear glass. It appears that a
force we can neither measure nor envision is urging these tiny particles to organize
as if guided by some unseen plan. The very fabric of the universe seems to have a
want…a desire, even…to become something greater. Order from Chaos. Light from Dark.
This is the realm of magic, faith, and religion.
Some theorists go so far as to suggest that the anomaly is the flow of time, not the
diehard laws of thermodynamics. They believe that time may be reversed when measuring
small things over short periods of time, and what we perceive to be this "impossible"
behavior is nothing more than the normal decay of things played in reverse, like
pushing rewind on your VCR. Honestly, I can't decide which of these theories boggles
me the most. Regardless of what is causing this to occur, it is certainly something
not able to be explained at this time, which leaves me in a perilous position. The
beliefs that I have, which I thought had taken me away from the problems of organized
religion, seem to have come full circle. I turned from the church because of its
contradictions and I thought myself to be better than "them." I felt, in my youthful
exuberance, that I was above those parishioners and their blind faith, and prided
myself on a well-cultivated skepticism. Now, I'm forced to realize that I had
substituted one faith for another while completely unaware.
Perhaps it is time to end this feud between religion and science. For too long we
have been matched against each other, with one side trying to disprove and belittle
the other. What if they are one and the same? Religion seeks to understand the
entity of God and answer the question "Why?" — science wrestles with understanding
the methods of God, and attempts to answer the question "How?" Is that so
fundamentally different? They certainly don't appear to be opposed in my mind.
I can't help but think that somewhere in this modern day mess of chaos theory,
particle colliders and golden rectangles, we are observing the thumbprint of some
higher power. In this age of quantum physics, we might be living in what the
history books one day call the beginning of the convergence of science and religion.
We may not be able to decipher it just yet, but we are edging ever closer to God's
very own signature. This is what I think. This is what I believe for no other
reason than I can feel it to be true.
If that isn't blind faith… if that isn't religion… I don't know what is.
Copyright © January 2004 Aaron Gillum and Low Carb Luxury
Title photo Copyright © 2004 Neil Beaty and Low Carb Luxury