Something From Nothing? 3

If we came into being as Judeo/Christians who believe in God (Yahweh), or as those without religion who believe we came from the goo of the ground, we Homo sapiens have inherent in us a curiosity. Curiosity isn’t exclusively ours, animals have curiosity as well. You know the old proverb, curiosity killed the cat. Curiosity is a function of the mind, at least until we decided (not all of us) that the mind wasn’t real, itself a product simply of the firings of the chemicals of the brain.

This slogan from The National Enquirer, affectionately called a “supermarket tabloid”, by others yellow journalism, trademarked the saying; “Enquiring minds want to know.” It justified all the salacious gossip in the tabloid. But they are right, enquiring minds want to know how things came into being, especially us, people. Curiosity isn’t the exclusive domain of the ancient Greeks, they more than anyone took their curiosity outside popular religious trappings that kept answers inside religious faith. But don’t take religious faith lightly or so easily write it off as uneducated minds held captive by power hungry priests.

The curiosity of the first minds must have been philosophical: What is this I see? Who am I in relation to this vastness so much larger than me? Imagine for a moment you are the character Washington Irving created in his short story in 1819, The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. In this short story Geoffrey Crayon narrates the time of one Rip Van Winkle who isn’t the brightest man around, who finds it difficult to care for his family and has a wife that constantly nags him, who spends time with the boys at the town inn philosophizing about life. On his way home one day he is called into the forest by Dutch explorer Henry Hudson, the Hudson River named after him, where they drink and talk until tired Rip sits down in front of a tree and falls asleep. He sleeps for twenty years and in those twenty years everything had changed, nothing is the same. Let’s change this ending for us, who are pretending to be the character Rip Van Winkle, waking up but now we have absolutely no memory of anything. Everything around us is new, unknown. Every discovery is a new discovery. Every question is a new question. And so it begins: What is this I see? Who am I?  Who am I in relation to this vastness? My curiosity is not driven by a fun curiosity but a deep internal need to find meaning. Those same five questions we still ask: Who? What? Where? When? Why? These are visceral questions. How in the hell did we end up on a chunk of rock that is spinning on its axis, elliptically rotating around a hot mass we call the sun, among other chunks of rocks and suns in a galaxy of suns in the midst of other galaxies? And one planet among seven other planets and only our planet, earth, has all the elements that makes existence as we know it? Aren’t you just a little bit curious?

To be continued . . .