Where Are We Going?
I can guess, but not to know. Don’t let anyone swindle you by telling you they do know. They have the same anatomical systems as anyone else; the same blood flowing through their veins as what flows through yours. They don’t have any special powers that you don’t have.
A lot of people don’t claim, and can’t claim to be scientists. I particularly claim not to be a scientist. To my frustration some years ago, railing internally against the aggressive futility of our culture while I was interning at the Center for Homicide Research, trying as best I could to come up with some grand unified theory of violent death, the Principal Researcher Dallas Drake had to reel me in this fact the gentlest way: Sometimes the answers aren't simple, and they’re not easily explained. I am not a scientist, but like many of you reading along I do understand something about the rules of logic and evidence; about the deonetic and the probable; the contingent and the non-contingent; and the adequate and the essential. Because scientific thinking must operate, can in fact only operate on the basis of objective inquiry that is driven by doubt, skepticism and by uncertainty. We’re pattern seeking animals; we do look for answers, we look for shapes – our minds are selected to look for them – and so we see the purpose of our lives as some grand meaning, as if it were something not emergent of nature, or at the very least something that is outside of the natural order of things.
We now know roughly the age of our species – the age of homo-sapiens. Some say it’s a quarter million years old, Dawkins thinks it could be as little as a hundred thousand. Imagine for a moment how far we've come: from a hundred thousand years of homo-sapiens born into conflict, agony, misery, uncertainty, fear, not understanding nature, ascribing the weather to wizards behind a curtain, knowing nothing…
And we've built and built, struggled and uncovered, learned and divined, calculated the maths, studied the cosmos and measured the known particulates herein. We’re still learning life’s full agenda, its magesteria, but that doesn't mean it’s any less special to us. We’re just less superstitious, more materialistic. But to be a materialist is not the same thing as being a reductionist (although I am); it’s not to say that there isn't any mystery left – that life is merely a series of chemical reactions, or that love is biologically stripped to formulae. Far from it. That would be dull. I always say that the atheist in me requires evidence for belief, but the storyteller in me can’t help believing in everything. I have no problem making this distinction, no dissonance.
It’s actually to make the distinction between the numinist and the transcendent, which we do need and will always seek, and the supernatural. I think that’s a very important distinction. If Verdi could write his Requiem while not being a believer in God, why can’t we write our stories, simultaneously believing in them and knowing them to be untrue? He said people can do without God, but they can’t do without music – they can’t do without some feeling of majesty, narrative, sorrow and struggle that’s beyond themselves. That’s absolutely important.
And so we struggle on. We keep searching for truth, meaning, and all that is right in the world until…
The end of the world?
Why must it end? Because your church says so? Because the fatalist says that we will be crushed under the weight of our own culture? Because the utilitarian says we’re breeding faster than we’re dying? Because the economist says that there isn't enough to go around? Because the doomsayer says the poor and the destitute will rise up and eat us all?
Too many of us think that the end of the world is a certainty. Too many of us have been culled into the belief that we cannot think ourselves out of it; that we are not the only species which can dream reality into existence.
There are technological answers to each one of these most unfortunate assumptions. All you have to do is ask yourself: what is your will, and what are you willing to do to get it? It’s a simple question.
What does anything I’m talking about have to do with ancient technologies from Mars, the zombie apocalypse, a giant mausoleum in the center of the Earth and shadowy government spooks?
Open the ARTIFACT, and you’ll know.