What if the old superstitions turned out true,
and in all the billions and billions of Sagan’s Cosmos
there was only one insignificant spot,
off one of the spokes in one of the twirling spirals
spinning out to black?
And on that spot was the only place,
the only moment where life occurred
(however you define life),
and no where else.
Then there will be no voices from the heavens
(well, ahem, save one):
SETI just static, nothing else, not ever,
and no green men or even green slime,
no where else.
What if this is it? What if we’re it?
What if that’s all He wrote?
Be not afraid:
such deafening isolation, such mute singularity
would not by itself prove the existence of God.
But would it refute evolution’s real proposition?
-- which is, it must be admitted,
that God must not exist …
Maybe, maybe not, but it’d be a major blow.
The possibility of life in other places
is not that troubling to old-fashioned religionists.
True, the even more rarefied possibility of sentient life is a more difficult problem to settle,
but it would not be a bonecrushing fact,
as would be, to belief, an irrefutable evidence
of trans-species mutation into another kind, another name.
The reverse, you should note, is not true:
where extra-terrestrial life is no great hazard to religion on one hand,
on the other, a complete absence of green men wrecks the metaphysic of evolution,
the statistical, probability model of ontology.
I mean, look at it this way:
if life happens on its own, if it’s inevitable,
then it should happen everywhere, on its own, inevitable.
There really should be carbon-based life forms in a zillion places,
even silicon-based, or whatever.
And by rights, if the Universe is as big and as large,
and if progress is as uniformly benevolent as thought,
then, one should trust, and really believe, without doubting,
that somewhere, somehow, out there in the big big blackness
there’s someone else calling out,
“You’re right, you know,
we’ve all evolved.
Don’t worry, the coast is clear,
there is no God.
We’ve checked, it’s okay.”
The sheer prospect of such happy news,
of Vulcans steaming in their ship to make logical contact,
is reason enough to sink millions and billions
into large arrays and linked processors, SETI and colliders,
listening, looking, into the static of black.
But all this is not important –
what we think and how we are conscious
is not meaningful at all
if the evolutionary proposition is vindicated.
What does anything matter, then,
if awareness turns out to be not the attention of the soul
but a physiological epiphenomenon emitted, secreted
from a throbbing neural web?
Or, to be less polite,
if, against all polling trends and PowerPoint bullets at anti-ID conferences,
God annoys everyone by existing …
or worse, He is even the He that is witnessed by the Church
as Triune and Personal,
then evolutionary dogma matters
that it aided and abetted willful ignorance,
"What if" is important only if it might be true.
I know, it’s so unusual and outré,
outmoded and dishabille:
but be brave and try this on.
Life is only here, in the Earth of Six Days,
and in the Garden, at the center,
Paradise grew where the prayer of Man
interpenetrated matter with the Glory of Praise.
Mountains were to be moved, then,
routinely, by the children of God,
and life was to flower from its nursery on Earth,
and green, like Spring,
for the ages.
I’ve heard nothing, seen nothing yet
to dismiss such a notion.