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Google PlusObservations, and commentary from an otherwise unremarkable guy learning about fine cigars. Just doin' it for the yuks, not the bucks.


Saturday, January 28, 2012

Let's Make a Deal, Monty!
Armchair philosophy and bad theology under the influence of cigars 'n whiskey

On New Year's Eve I happened to be smoking a nice cigar (Rocky Patel Edge) outside, where good husbands and house guests go to do such things. It makes for amateur philosophizing when you have company, or reflection when you're alone. I was alone that evening, so I began to play a game of connect-the-dots, mental edition.

When James Burke connects the dots in his elegant way the result is a beautiful mosaic of history and society. When I finish I'm lucky to have a simple stick figure. That night my stick figure was of God, but he looked a lot like Monty Hall from Let's Make A Deal.

First dot: under the stars, I got the sense of standing on a big rock, hurtling through a big ol' universe. Hackneyed. Second dot: are we alone, are we special? Still hackneyed. Third dot: do other creatures have hackneyed thoughts, and question the origin of everything? Fourth dot: No, I don't think so, at least not on this planet. Fifth dot: I wonder if God is like Monty Hall, asking if we want to see what's behind the curtain, or if we want the cash.

Often we take the cash, but we're dying to know what's behind the curtain. Humankind is so inquisitive, and driven to know something just for the sake of knowing it, hence the proliferation of crap-loids at grocery store checkouts. The trait does usually have a payoff in those fields where we combat disease, hunger, and squalor. Even then controversy is never far behind success.

Stem cell research promises miraculous healing, but as whose expense? Genetically modified pest resistant crops provide markets with abundance, yet starvation is still with us. Marvels that one day keep us warm, cook our food, or lighten the workload are the next day adapted to kill people.

Adam and Eve just had to know about good and evil. Just had to. Both of them had been endowed with free will and could choose for themselves, and they chose to know. When caught, he blamed her, she blamed the serpent. Neither would admit the simplest truth that they succumbed to temptation because they just had to know something new. God made us inquisitive to the point of defiance, regardless of whether it's to our lasting benefit. How we fare has to do with what we choose to do with the knowledge gained. Too bad for Abel, and countless millions.

Today physicists hunt for the Higgs boson, the so-called God particle, at the Large Hadron Collider. I didn't buy-in to the catastrophic hype when LHC was fired up, but what exactly does mankind stand to benefit from the billions spent? CNN tries to answer that question, but I think it fails, miserably, unless the achievement, in and of itself, is the benefit. Yay us! We built a bigger thing. It may not still be there, but when I viewed that CNN article, an ad for their Impact Your World series was displayed–a photo of a young impoverished child, captioned WHAT WOULD HAPPEN IF EVERYONE CARED?

I don't mean to be critical of LHC, CERN, or the many fine scientists elsewhere doing honest research that will lead to wondrous discoveries, especially those that benefit humankind. To push ourselves to go one foot further, one second faster, to do more and do it better is good and virtuous as long as it's for the betterment of the individual, family, and community. Will finding the Higgs boson somehow end starvation and poverty? I sure hope so. Or will it be expensive, and esoteric?

Here's hoping our searches for knowledge aren't driven solely by reckless ambition and pointless curiosity, and we choose wisely what to do with the result. God makes the offer to show us what's behind the curtain, but we need to remember that sometimes it's a Zonk.

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