If you like excitement, it doesn’t get any better than this past week in Washington, D.C. — an earthquake and a hurricane in the space of five days. We already had our hands full with a manmade disaster known as the Federal government.
Though both of these natural disasters were highly unusual for the nation’s capital, the truth is D.C. and most of Maryland and Northern Virginia escaped two bullets. The earthquake did very little damage, and Hurricane Irene could have been much worse. We had a lot of rain and winds in the 25-mph range in our area; but, overall, we were lucky compared to what happened to the Outer Banks in North Carolina, New York City, Long Island and much of the Northeast.
What amazed me was how closely scientists and weather experts were able to track Hurricane Irene with almost pinpoint accuracy. People who experienced the Great New England Hurricane of 1938 could not have imagined sitting in their living rooms and watching a minute-by-minute update on the hurricane’s path for days on end. (Remember, only Joe Biden thinks television existed when FDR was President.)
As impressed as I was with how much scientists now know about hurricanes and how far we’ve come technologically (e.g., being able to able watch natural disasters unfold in minute detail on television), I also thought about how helpless we are when it comes to natural disasters.
What will we do when a magnitude 8.0 earthquake rocks Manhattan or a Category 5 hurricane hits the Big Apple head on? Such a disaster would bring the U.S. to its knees for months, and the economic effects would be felt for years. According to scientists, such major disasters will occur. It’s only a matter of when.
Hurricane Irene also made me think about the evolution question again. The feedback on my last article Is Evolution a Crazy Idea? was the kind of thing that makes writing a fulfilling occupation. I was expecting a lot of nasty comments; but, with the exception of a few out-of-hand dismissals of my irrational thought processes, the feedback was surprisingly civil.
A number of comments were so good that they could have been mistaken for articles in a major publication. Clearly, there was a lot of deep thought put into them. I bring this up because there’s a connection between my evolution article and last week’s earthquake and hurricane. They all relate to the question of whether there is a Conscious Universal Power Source at the controls or whether everything that happens here on Earth is random.
Those who believe in a random Universe really believe in what I would call “atheistic predestination.” That would mean that the so-called Big Bang — the massive explosion from whence evolved today’s known Universe — somehow happened without the aid of a Supreme Power.
If there was, and is, no Supreme Power in the Universe, everything that has been, is or will be said and done throughout the eons of time was precisely determined approximately 14 billion years ago by the nature of the Big Bang. At the first instant of that unfathomable explosion, every atom was sent flying on an eternal voyage that was predetermined by the intricacies of the explosion itself.
If there is no Supreme Power to intervene, then nothing can be changed by anybody or anything. Every detail of every event has already been set on an unalterable course. This is the ultimate fatalistic view of the Universe. There is no one in control and there is no purpose to life.
Thus, every aspect of last week’s earthquake and hurricane was predetermined by the Big Bang. Ditto with evolution. I get it. But logic always forces an intellectually honest person to get back to that annoying little question that refuses to go away: What caused the Big Bang? Maybe I’m too simplistically logical, but my mind cannot process the idea of a consequence without a preceding action.
Some readers argued that the first-cause argument doesn’t fly because it leads to the question of what caused the first cause. I see this unanswerable question as evidence of a Supreme Being — a Conscious Universal Power Source that has always existed and will continue to exist throughout eternity. How can infinity be explained away simply by saying that everything is random?
Did this Power Source intervene and cause last week’s earthquake or hurricane to occur? I have no idea. Though millions of people would never admit it, neither does anyone else. As I said earlier, it’s amazing what scientists know about earthquakes, hurricanes and other natural disasters. But, even with their vast knowledge of how these events occur, not one scientist has any idea as to why they occur.
For example, science can explain how gravity works, but it cannot explain why it works the way it does. We know that gravity makes the planets, stars, galaxies and other cosmic bodies act on each other in certain predictable ways, but this does nothing to explain how the principle of gravity came into being.
You can offer endless scientific explanations for a natural disaster like a hurricane — high-pressure systems, low-pressure systems, unusually warm ocean water, etc. — but eventually you get to what I call the “Why Wall?” Why do these phenomena occur?
It’s kind of like Jim Carrey in the movie “The Truman Show.” At some point in time, Truman managed to reach a wall with a door in it. After pondering whether to venture out of his capsule, he finally opened the door and stepped into the real world.
Could it be that we simply haven’t found the door that leads to the real world, so we continue to live in a secular humanistic world where we are more comfortable explaining away everything as “random?”