allegory of apocalypse #Chelyabinsk Event #Rapture
I finished the above painting a few weeks back. I still have touching up and to do something with the border, but that’s more or less it. I don’t think the message is too subtle.
If you are reading this you must have already seen footage of the Chelyabinsk Event. Simply watching it is the single best argument for the continued exploration and occupation of our Solar System that can be imagined. Our Solar System is real estate that is ours to claim as well as maintain; the errant excelsior of its creation still pose a serious threat to not only our civilizations but the entire ecosystem, an extinction event of tragic finality that is as inevitable as it is preventable. We are not dinosaurs; we understand our own biology and the physical nature of the world. We understand mathematics and chemistry and have used them to travel to other worlds. We are in a moment of brief opportunity, an enlightenment undreamt of by most of the humans that ever lived, but it teeters more precariously than Camelot. What is demanded is a recognition of the spiritual significance of these events. As the Pope abdicated this week, I will assume responsibility for speaking infallibly on this matter.
Our bicameral collective unconsciousness argues over our fate, and the anxious fantasies of apocalyptic Armageddon dominate our imagination; fundamentalist theologies revolve around the end of the world and demand it’s imminent arrival. If one can draw a connection between the Chelyabinsk Event and the Chicxulub Crater, it is frightening to admit that the fundamentalists may be on to something; the rock that caused that blast was only about fifty feet across and fell through ice leaving no crater, in other words, it was a commonly small bit of rock. If that same commonly small bit of rock had fallen in the same place thirty years ago, it might have triggered a military response from the Soviets. A rock only three times that size was responsible for the Tunguska Event. Chicxculub Crater was made by an object about six miles across; we do not know the minimum size of an impacting object our species could survive but it would not seem to be a six mile wide asteroid. The apocalypse of the fundamentalists is lurking in the chaotic rubble of our Solar System, perhaps even now it is jostling into an intercepting arc, but we have technology and knowledge that no species or society on Earth has known before now, and we can effect our fate.
Fundamentalists fantasize about apocalypse because they despise the modern world, and realizing that they cannot force it back into some imagined perfect past, they wish and pray for its destruction and their subsequent deliverance. The theology of Heaven and hell is a belief where the believer is given every imaginable material comfort while they dangle their feet over the clouds and laugh at the suffering of all the people they didn’t like; it is not a terribly sophisticated vision of eternity or what constitutes paradise, for that matter. The Rapture is a modern add-on, a half-baked bit of 19th Century theology that became a 20th Century accepted truth as well as a cash cow for those who popularized the idea. Wishing for the destruction of this world strikes me as insane, but then, I’m not a fundamentalist. This does not mean I am irreligious, by any means, however, science cannot replace religion as the greatest tool in the arsenal of humanity because religion is a different tool entirely whose function made the development of science possible; while prayer and meditation is ideal for exploring the depths of the human soul, telescopes and spaceships will be far more effective for locating and deflecting incoming asteroids.
If you believe in the Rapture or otherwise think that God is actively testing humanity, consider this:
God does not wish the world to end. God wants humans to be fruitful and multiply throughout the universe because humanity is God’s favorite way of experiencing reality; this is infinitely better than gazing at the stars through trilobite eyes.
Think of an ocean which is Eternity, or God. and think of Time as the evaporated essence of the ocean, clouds in the atmosphere which is a place of constant change and little substance, and from these clouds precipitate little droplets and flakes that fall toward the ocean. These droplets and flakes are our brief lives. Can the raindrop remember it is the Ocean while it falls? As raindrops, it is difficult to know the intentions of the Ocean, but it does seem strange to believe that the Ocean wants to shut down the atmosphere and freeze it’s surface.
God delights in humanity and wishes us to live in prosperous peaceful harmony for a multitude of reasons, but not the least of which is that we are the first of the creations to speak to God. We make art and song and understand beauty and have discovered to see beyond our eyes and peer into the depths of the universe. The dinosaurs would have held this world forever if it weren’t for the Chicxulub impact and there were mass extinctions before that, resetting the slate every time. It is only in the past few generations that this pattern has been observed and only in the past few decades has the evidence of the real threat of an asteroid or cometary impact become apparent. This is not to suggest that my painting should be taken literally in any sense but rather that if any of our achievements as a species are to mean anything, we must solve the engineering problem of deflecting dangerous objects from striking the Earth, and to tame, exploit, and colonize our Solar System.
Asteroids are rich in rare metals, and the planet Mercury may be a source of heavy elements far greater than previously thought. Mars could be habitable with more water, and there is more water to be found on Europa than in any other single place in the Solar System, including Earth. Then there is all of the water in the comets, which is where the waters of Earth came from in the first place; in a very real sense, the Oort Cloud is the ocean of chaos spoken of in Genesis, the ocean that existed before the world. There are oceans of hydrocarbons across Titan and the atmospheres of the outer giants are rich in helium 3, the ideal fuel of fusion. It is as if all the raw materials have been left for us to claim; while the commercial implications of this are tantalizing, the spiritual ones are staggering.
God wants us to go forth from this planet, to spread the seed of life and bring His Image to other worlds. God wants us to protect this cradle and to exploit the bounty of other worlds to ensure that the human family should live on for all time. God wants the meek to inherit the Earth and the bold to claim the stars. God does not want us to prepare for the End but to begin building tomorrow.
The Furious Buddha