Thursday, May 8, 2008

What’s the Point?

In an article on the beginnings of the universe, Rick Gore, a senior writer for National Geographic, wrote, “So what is the point of a universe that ends in such oblivion? The more I begin to comprehend the universe, the more that question bothers me. I have no answer, beyond some memories that will not decay” (“The Once and Future Universe,” June 1983).

We can easily forgive Mr. Gore for tempering his despair with a little rhetorical wishful thinking, but we all know that if his view of the universe is correct, his memories will decay. The passing of the universe will leave nothing at all in its wake, not even a memory. Unbelievers, if they think it through, must share Mr. Gore’s despair. To them, the story of the universe is a cruel tragedy of matter bringing itself to life, waking itself to consciousness, raising itself to intelligence, and dreaming itself into eternity, only to face inevitable, unalterable, total oblivion.

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