19 Aug

To doubt is to betray writes John le Carré in his diplomatic opus  The Little Drummer Girl. Doubt  is betrayal, agree the men with the long beards and tight collars. Doubt is a poison, more accurately a cancer, that eats away at you; making you stumble from the one path, narrow and true.

But Kahlil Gibran has written: “doubt is a  pain too lonely to know that faith is his twin brother”. Kahlil Gibran who defined faith better than anyone as an ‘oasis in the heart’. One that you cannot reach by thinking your way there.

When you attempt to think your way there what really happens is that you risk giving yourself away to that depravity of mind known as fanaticism.  To think truly is to doubt. And you must question what you ‘know’, and subject this ‘knowledge’ to the most stringent skepticism to prevent yourself from confusing reliable knowledge with wishful thinking or paranoia. Otherwise the knowledge you deem yourself in possession of is illusionary. The world is not as it appears and scientists have drawn us a more accurate depiction of the way things work and why than priests.

And what picture is this? We are monkeys on a rock. The rock is in the Goldilocks position in the Solar System – just right.  Its chemical composition allows carbon, oxygen and hydrogen to mix protected from the Sun’s violence by an iron core. Normally we refer to this activity with less forensic sterility as ‘life’.

To refer to life as distantly as I have requires years of schooling. It’s not natural. After all we are life too. We are but a sample life form from the withering tree of Great Apes on a rock spinning ’round a star in the outer suburbs of a pretty standard galaxy. And no, not the New York of galaxies. We are nothing special really.

But at least we know what the Milky Way actually is. It is not cornmeal stolen by the dog, it is not the milk of a heavenly cow nor of a much maligned vengeful goddess. It is not even the heavenly river as some original Australians believed. It is simply other stars, pretty much like ours, just much farther away. So much farther we can’t really conceive of it the way we can conceive of the distance from LAX to JFK.

Here we are, such clever monkeys. And we’ve connected ourselves to just about everywhere on the planet, for commerce and leisure mostly. But this creativity which precipitated such hubris has gone and revealed the cosmos to be beyond our previous imaginations. In striving to be like gods we have revealed ourselves insignificant. Insignificance on a scale our recent ancestors could not conceive. Once again, like cave and campfire times, we look out onto a dark perimeter, reduced again to creatures to whom the great bulk of everything is mysterious and therefore a potential source of fear.

The difference being that we have time to think. And have long learned to harness nature in order to live well. The difference being that the Sky is debunked. We are free of its disturbances but no longer enjoy its comfort. The comfort that mortality necessitates. An oasis in the heart, picture that. An oasis in the heart, yes. But, remember, you can’t think your way there.

Because we know, we don’t know. And therefore we are without a a metaphysical reason to be; a why. The Cosmos is VAST.  So vast that the word is woefully inadequate. Who will look into this cold void and see God?

Ah! methinks they do it a’ready.


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