Bewildering Stories

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by Ramon Irizarri

In a few hours I am going to die. In infinite mercy or infinite cruelty my jailers have provided me with the tools needed to compose my final confession. Moment by moment my final hours are bled out in the black scrawl that covers these once pristine pages.

This confession — this act of purgation — is the torture preceding my execution. In death I am only confronted with the prospect of oblivion. But in writing this epistle to posterity I am confronted with myself and from myself I can find no escape or dissolution. Lies, half-truths, delicate evasions; the tricks of social life no longer work here. Not now. Not at this time, not within this nexus.

All stories begin with a protagonist. Who am I then? Do I even consider myself worthy of being "the hero" of this narrative? In answer to the first question I will simply say that my name is Jacobo and that I am a monk from the monastery of the eternal Soter, Earth, not more than fifty miles from Athens. As to what I stand accused of — I stand accused of trying to kill God.

Before the reader takes in the enormity of such a crime, I beg that they have some sympathy for my own circumstances. In these final hours I know not God — but I do know my own finitude and my own finality. I have studied the philosophers; I am comforted by the thoughts of the ancient Roman Lucretius. If the soul is mortal then after death is nothing. We need not fear nothing; nothing is no-thing, not something to be experienced. Why fear something which is not? And if the soul survives after death... well, then I would, in my terrible impertinence, have many things to ask of the divine Her.

Regarding my crime, decide, the planned murder of God I perhaps should broach the issue historically, having acquired a modest reputation as a scholar of both profane history and physico-theology. In the seventeenth century, with the publication of Isaac Newton's Principia the model of God was a deistic one. The new physics of the time suggested a transcendent deity; one who stood outside the world, coolly aloof from his creation. Indeed, this deism, this notion of apartness eventually evolved into a total absence of God in atheism and a complete naturalism, a rejection of anything but the ordinary functioning of nature. In Newton's first law, force equals mass times acceleration; one at best might infer a veneration for the intrinsic order and mathematicality of the universe. But in Newtonian mechanics one has no need of God save as perhaps an assumed first cause. And gains in cosmology eventually cast aspersions on the literal interpretation of the sacred texts of the period.

But perhaps I commit the sin of over-intellectualization. Humility, faith, piety — I must confess I am a failed monk. But who else but a failed monk or a madman would try to kill God? I do wonder if my part in the conspiracy was little more than a desire to negate the grounds of my own negation; an over weaning passion to vindicate my hidden doubts by obliterating the source of those doubts.

In any case I digress. The flame burns near its terminus. Soon... but best I concentrate on this confessions. In any case, the seventeenth century was the start of a trend; deism that eventually culminated in naturalism and irreligiosity.

The agnosticism of the 19th and 20th centuries gave way, as I indicated in my previously published scholarly works to the opening of the question of God in quantum mechanics. The best scientists who shyed way from quantum mysticism simply accepted the mathematical models and asked nothing more of them. Neorealist schools did exist, but by 2038 and the council of San Paolo it was understood that the new faiths could find in quantum phenomena a great mystery. In the Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen paradox men of faith could find, in this strange claim that inexplicable bonds held between physically separate particles, a proof for the ancient idea of sympathetic magic. By the twentieth century science and voodoo began edging close to one another; but given cultural prejudices many quantum physicists were loath to consider what became historically inevitable.

The twentieth century was a time of hidden intellectual ferment. The world slumbered in Newtonian certainty when the wise men of the time, men versed in the holy language of mathematics — a language too arcane for the profane common man — debated whether or not observations created infinitely branching parallel universes, or whether consciousness created reality, or whether the universe was an undivided wholeness. Of course, the average man of the time, living in macrocosmic certitude, was only dimly aware of the revolution taking place. In the ineffable and contradictory world of the particle prior to being fixed by measurement one encounters a metaphoric reality reminiscent of the negative theology, the via negativa that we can only say of God what she is not — that is true essence is incomphrensible to us. Physicists, puzzled by the enigma of how an electron can be both particle and wave and how the reality of a quantum particle is something of a mystery to us prior to being fixed by measurement are left with a language reminiscent of mystics and poets. That reality springs from an ineffable "quantumstuff" prior to being fixed from observation one is reminded of the old notion of the metaphysical Absolute; that reality springs from an unknowable unity. Indeed, as quantum science evolved and culture shifted one could acceptably speak of an unknown reality that echoed what might be gleaned from the works of the 9th century theologian John Scotus Erigina — that "we live in the body of God."

Many metaphors have existed to describe God. I am somewhat fond of the Euclidean metaphor that God is a circle whose center is everywhere and circumference is nowhere. But this statement can be taken in many different ways, with many different shadings. I am also fond of the poetry of the metaphysical physicist Jarahndar, who before his untimely death saw in the emergence of reality from quantum indeterminacy the ever present creation by a divine creator. I know as a monk and scholar that the physics of the 20th century lead to an imminantism and pantheism that reigns to this day. "Mystery of mysteries, thou has wrought in creation. From Nothing, Everything. From indeterminacy, certitude. From the unformed, being." So Jarahndar wrote only sixty years ago, before his untimely accident.

But, O Deity, what succor are you to a dying man? In the ancient Christian fathers there was a perpetual debate on the question — "what does Athens have to do with Jerusalem?" Or, what does religion have to do with philosophy; what commerce can faith have with reason?

In the end, my training as to the matter of the incarnation; a mystery as the trinity was to the Christians of old, I am left only with the words of another Roman author, this time Tertullian, who wrote, "I believe because it is absurd." But is this sufficient? Is this truly an answer? Here I incline to Athens, and am inclined to leave Jerusalem behind.

In my homicide, in my attempted deicide, perhaps was a test of my faith. In my secret heart I may have hoped for vindication of my faith through failure. I have failed, yet my faith is not rekindled.

The colossal arrogance of mankind; to build God. No less an absurdity than to kill her. But what sort of a God is it that can be killed? A God that can be killed is a contingent, fallible being and therein lies my self-crucifixion, my calling down upon myself mortal condemnation, death, and ignominy.

The conspirators all had their reasons; outright atheism, political resentments, and my own mixture of contempt for the political abuses of the hierarchy as well as a certain... shall I say... fascination with the very idea of destroying that which is eternal. Perversity, monstrous perversity on my part, perhaps, and a desire for self-glorification that would put Nero, or Caligula, or Commodus to shame. But if I am a monster I am a monster created by this very same God I wished to destroy.

But in my final hour, I ask is She real? I know the story of the incarnation; how Saint Harold Norton conceived the possible existence of consciousness at all points in the Universe simultaneously. How he envisioned creating that consciousness through a multi-dimensional manipulation of space-time that would originate at the Norton vortex yet at the same time be omnipresent throughout the Universe. How this act, the incarnation, would diffuse a Mind across space-time that would have its physical center within the computers at the Norton vortex. How, in theological terms Saint Norton was an agent of the word and the word was given form at the Vortex and the word diffused through the Universe.

Yet I maintain, contrary to Church teachings, that we made this Mind, you and I. The faith — that the vortex and the computers contacted God and brought him closer to our reality. Perhaps the lie — that we have fashioned an Idol and prostrate ourselves before him.

The EPR effect and the quantum mysteries only show us a puzzle; in our need for certitude we have created the answer.

But it is almost time. The conspiracy failed; the vortex was never tampered with. And I am a condemned man.

I, who tried to murder God am now to be murdered. In the end, what has Jerusalem to do with Athens? I vacillate. Science points to paradox and mystery — to call that mystery God... I find here something either numinous and glorious or I make a God in the image of my own stupidity. I will, in my final hour, as befits my weakness and frailty I will finally incline towards Jerusalem, but I can not forget the light of Athens. My motivations, to some, despite my confession may seem mysterious; but, perhaps so must all things tinged with the tribulations of faith. Caught between the two cities I will end with the words of Socrates who on the eve of his condemnation ended his defense with, "Now it is time that we were going. I to die and you to live, but which of us has the happier prospect is unknown to anyone but God."


Copyright © 2002 by Ramon Irizarri