Wednesday, May 27, 2015

BM 9 The Seeds of Life

 We can make one huge assertion now.  It is that the solar system was a natural star system with a mass of Gas giants of which one ( Jupiter ) was large enough to act as a planet pump.  This was demonstrated by calculation back in the early sixties.

A star-faring people arrived perhaps 500,000 years ago and set out to re-engineer the system to provide at least two plausible life bearing planets.  Their first act was to assemble enough mass to dump into Jupiter at one time.  First though they sent this mass back in time 4.6 billion years ago.  Then they proceeded to crash this planetary mas into Jupiter and Jupiter eventually reprocessed this mass and then spit out an Earth mass that naturally fell into the proper orbit.  Amazingly, they then did it a second time without sending it back through the wormhole to produce Venus.

Once Earth had appeared in the present, they then made the moon up as a working tool and sent it back 4.6 billion years in order to strip half the crust from the Earth and to then take up position.  Do not presume that this position is not continuously been adjusted to maintain a constant distance.  I think it highly likely that it is and we do have that unexplained micro adjustment recently noticed.

After doing all that it is obvious that they then inoculated the newly formed oceans with biological life.  This then evolved to produce the living surface of the Earth.

This still begs the question of the creation of biological life itself for which we now are beginning to form serious conjectures which i will be reporting on later.

The Seeds of Life

Some sixty years ago, when quantum theory first emerged, physicists thought the mystery of life was about to be resolved. By looking at the tiniest building blocks of matter it was starting to explain how everything worked – so it surely would also explain the essence that we call life. They were to be disappointed, but recent developments have raised the hopes of some scientists that the nature of first life might be explained by new levels of understanding about sub atomic behaviour in biology.

In 2004, these new ideas caused NASA to convene a workshop of leading scientists to discuss the subject of ‘quantum life’ at their astrobiology laboratory in Ames, California, where discussion covered fields such as nanotechnology and quantum computation.

Nanotechnology is concerned with the manufacture of artefacts or machines that are assembled on an atom-by atom basis. A nanometre is an almost unbelievably small unit of length. A human hair is typically about one 10,000th of a metre in diameter and a common cold virus is approximately one thousandth of this size. A typical protein unit making up the coating of such a virus is typically ten nanometres thick – equivalent to about 100 atomic diameters, or the size of one of the amino acid groups making up that protein molecule.

A whole new world of technology is envisaged from building self-replicating machines that could, for instance, carry out surgery at a cellular level inside the human body. However, an increasing number of scientists are suggesting that nature may have used this idea a long time ago. As Professor Paul Davies has pointed out, the living cell is full of nanomachines designed and refined by biological evolution. And he posed the question: ‘Could it be that some of them acquired their amazing properties by deploying fancy quantum tricks?’36 He says: ‘One vital part of a cell’s reproductive machinery is a little motor, called a polymerase enzyme, which crawls along unzipped strands of DNA and forges the links that match up the unpaired nucleotide bases with complementary bases floating through its environment.’

Apoorva Patel of the Indian Institute of Science, believes that living cells may use quantum mechanics to boost their information-processing efficiency, which could explain why the genetic code is the way it is, and why it is found in all organisms. As Davies points out, quantum theory describes atoms and molecules as waves, which can overlap and combine coherently – known as superposition. This means that the normal rules of time/space do not apply and an atom can exist in a superposition of excited and unexcited states, or of states corresponding to several spatial locations at the same time. These superpositions are expected to be the basis of quantum computers that will be able to hunt for a target among a jumble of data. This is said to be equivalent to finding a name in a telephone directory when you know only the phone number.

The role of quantum theory in the origin of life is not yet clear. But it seems that the new technologies that humankind is now investigating may be at the root of life itself. Paul Davies acknowledges that life somehow emerged from the ferment of the quantum molecular world, and he adds:

‘The role of quantum processes in living matter is still unclear. It is entirely possible that quantum mechanics was the midwife of life, but has played an insignificant role since… All scientists agree that life somehow emerged from the ferment of the quantum molecular world. The key issue is on which side of the quantum-classical divide the transition to life occurred. Niels Bohr once said that anyone who is not shocked by quantum mechanics hasn’t understood it. believe that anyone who is not shocked by life hasn’t understood it. The question before us is whether quantum mechanics is shocking enough to explain life.’

It seems to us that whoever seeded life on our planet, all those billions of years ago, was using a form of self-replicating ‘technology’ which will eventually come to be understood. And we might not be that far from that understanding now.

Who Built the Moon?

At this point we are as sure as we possibly can be that the following statements are true:
1. The Moon is approximately 4.6 billion years old. 
2. The Earth is approximately 4.6 billion years old. 
3.The Moon was manufactured from lighter materials taken from the young Earth. 
4. The Moon was made as an incubator to foster life on Earth. 
5. The manufacturer of the Moon seeded life on Earth. 
6. Evolution as described by Darwin is broadly accurate.

The manufacturer of the Moon left deliberate messages, intended to be read by humans at this point in geological time, to draw attention to what they have done.

It appears reasonable to assume that the manufacturer of the Moon (the UCA) has a good reason for wanting humans to understand what was done. The UCA could have seeded life and moved on, if its motive was pure altruism. It therefore seems that it is important to work out who built the Moon.

It seems certain that we have only identified the first ‘introduction’ aspect of the message from the UCA. The details of the message are likely to hold the key to the next phase of human development: information that will change our destiny forever.

We believe that we have succeeded in identifying the key numbers that will be used in deeper layers of the detailed communication. We trust that others will take up the challenge of interpreting other aspects of the message, but our immediate task is to try and work out who built the Moon.

And we believe there are only three possibilities.

‘And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also.’

Genesis 1:16, The King James Bible

Good things and terrible things have always happened to mortal man. The warmth of spring, the survival of infants, the provision of animals to hunt, plants to harvest and freedom from disease must surely be the work of an unseen force with powers far beyond than that of mere people. So too, the ills and woes of failed crops, floods and death wrought upon whole tribes by war and desperate want. It must be the will of the gods.

Thank the gods, fear the gods, appease the gods.

Religion is as old as the stories that humans first told. From the early Stone Age to the Internet Age, humankind appears to need the power of deities that inhabit an unseen world and yet have the power to affect the lives we live. The greatest love and the greatest hate spill forth in the name of gods.

Today, the great religions of the world tend to describe the gods in the singular as God, even though they all refer to many aspects under different names.

The Hindu tradition has ideas that are increasingly seen as corresponding with modern science. It perceives the existence of the cyclical nature of the Universe and everything within it, where the cosmos follows one cycle within a framework of larger cycles. The Universe has been created and reached an end, but it represents only one turn in the perpetual ‘wheel of time’, which revolves infinitely through successive cycles of creation and destruction. This cycle of creation and destruction of the Universe could be seen as a series of Big Bangs and Big Crunches, where all matter explodes outwards from nowhere and then recedes back again. Within these gigantic cycles the soul also undergoes its own cycle, called samsara

– where death and rebirth sees the same souls repeatedly reincarnated. Meanwhile, Christianity is a broad church indeed, covering an incredible span of beliefs. At one end of the spectrum there are many scientific thinkers – including at least two Fellows of the Royal Society. One of them, John Polkinghorne, was a mathematical physicist before resigning his position as a professor at Cambridge University in 1979 to be ordained as priest in the Church of England. Polkinghorne has since devoted his life to exploring the connections between science and theology, describing the Universe as open and flexible – a place where patterns seem to exist and where he says the ‘providential aspect’ cannot be ruled out.

Many Christians fully support science and have no problem with evolution, quantum mechanics or the big bang origin of the Universe. For them it is simply a question of the authorship of the blueprint that obviously exists. The designer of all this is their God. And yet they also believe in an event that others would find incredible. Without wishing to be disrespectful, we would précis that event as follows: The initial intellect that created everything became a man and died, nailed to a wooden post, some two thousand years ago, before briefly returning to human life and then transferring back to His ethereal state somewhere outside of the physical world. This anthropoid interlude for this creator deity (many billions of years after the start of the Universe) is believed to compensate for the bad behaviour of those people who accept this story as real, thereby ensuring a pleasant continuation of consciousness after their physical body has ceased to be alive.

At the other end of the Christian belief are the creationists. They hold that a collection of ancient Canaanite and Mesopotamian myths, from at least three separate traditions and first written down in the sixth century BC by Jewish priests, are a literal account of how the world came into being. They take an uncomplicated view of life and consider that all species are unchanging and derive their forms from an unchanging, divine blueprint. To a creationist a rose is a rose is a rose, and it is foolish to think that a rose bush could become a daffodil, or an apple tree. They see God’s plan as timeless and unchanging, with separate types of plants and animals that have nothing to connect them. For them the world and everything within it was created in six days of a single week, somewhere around 4004 BC.

It is of central importance to creationists that there is an absolute divide between humans and other animals. They often use the phrase ‘don’t let them make a monkey out of you’ in the mistaken belief that evolutionists claim that humans developed from monkeys.

Buddhist philosophy is evolutionary and in many ways agrees with mainstream scientists. Buddha taught that all things are impermanent, constantly arising, becoming, changing and fading. Buddhist philosophers consequently rejected the Platonic idea of production from ‘ideal forms’ as being the fallacy of ‘production from inherently existent other’. According to most schools of Buddhism there is nothing whatsoever that is inherently or independently existent.

Buddhist philosophers have always accepted that the Universe is billions of years old and they have no corresponding creation myth to that of the Judaeo-Christian tradition. Unlike creationists, Buddhists believe that both humans and animals possess sentient minds that survive death.

There are many people today who are agnostic, meaning that they do not see any proof of God but neither do they believe it to be impossible that there could be a God. Perhaps a small minority of the world are true atheists believing that all matter, including their own self-awareness, is merely the culmination of multiple accidents occurring at random within the basic laws of physics.

The classical argument for God has been that there must have been a ‘first cause’ but this is considered to be invalid by relatively modern philosophers such as David Hume and Immanuel Kant, because the thesis is negated by its own premise. If everything must have a first cause then what made God? It therefore follows that the Universe could arrive spontaneously just as much as God could.

But, it occurs to us, what if God and the essence of the Universe were, and are, the same thing?

God in Contact

Human societies have probably always developed the idea that the world they see around them must have a conscious mind behind it. And the Judaeo-Christian tradition holds that God has had quite regular contact, particularly with His chosen people, from Adam through characters such as Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Ezekiel, Isaiah and John the Baptist (Jesus Christ cannot count because that would be God talking to Himself). Following the crucifixion of Jesus, God, or members of His ethereal team, are believed to have had contact with inspired individuals from St Paul to Joan of Arc, and there have been many miraculous appearances at locations such as Lourdes in France, Fatima in Portugal and Knock in Ireland.

These visitations are held to be wonderful by believers and considered baloney by others. Apart from the apparent miracle of existence itself, all other aspects of God require faith. Faith could be described as intellectual belief that transcends normal standards of proof. In other words, the individual with faith holds things to be true that are not evidenced in a form that rational science would accept.

But what would happen if God suddenly turned up in an unambiguous way; if the creator of the Universe appeared, in person, on the Earth with positive proof of identity?

Logic says it could not happen because it is likely that only the agnostics would be happy. Those who would be most likely to welcome the coming of God are, by definition, the people with the most complex belief systems. And every group (possibly except one) would be disappointed. Would Mormons be told they had it right after all or maybe Roman Catholics?; or maybe some followers of Mohammad or Siddhartha Gautama or any one of the countless prophets down the ages.

Imagine the Pope and the Dalai Lama sitting shaking their heads in disbelief as it turns out that the Australian Aboriginal people and those of the Japanese Shinto faith both had it right when they called God Izanagi. Surely, it would have to be those with the most religion who would have the most to lose.

But then, it is not likely that they are all correct in some way and that God is actually non-denominational. What if He now considers that the childhood of the human race is over and we are now grown up enough to be told the true mysteries of existence – he might choose to make gentle contact to let us know that in some way ‘we had arrived’.

It is our initial thought that the number patterns built into the Moon and its relationship with Earth, could be a first global contact with God Himself. Such an event would change everything. If God formally made his presence known, who would dare wage a war in His name? The world might listen carefully instead of proclaiming its right to speak on His behalf from the churches, synagogues, mosques and temples around the globe.

What evidence is there that this message could be from God?

The first problem is one of definition. What do we mean when we speak of God? For recent convert, Anthony Flew, God is simply the creative force that does not interact with people, but for many millions of others He is a benign father figure who listens to their prayers.
Upon reflection, the only way to deal with this point is to ignore it. If the human species has reached the end of its ‘childhood’, the nature of God will be appreciated in a new light anyway.

The most fundamental case for the God scenario, when it comes to the message the Moon has to impart to us about its artificial construction, is that any entity who created our world is God, almost by definition. Scriptures from all around the world attribute the making of our planet and the heavens to a creative force that usually has a special relationship with humankind. That relationship is so special in Christianity that it is central to the very belief system that the creator of our world actually became a man for thirty-three years some two millennia ago.

The fact that the numbers used in the Moon’s message are in base ten, implies that the UCA knew that the intelligent species that would evolve on Earth would have ten fingers. God would know that. It is also clearly the case that the UCA knew that it would be at this particular point in the Earth’s history that humans would be ready for the next stage of their relationship with God.

The story told in the Book of Genesis in the Old Testament would turn out to be remarkably correct and even the Christian creationists would be right in part.

‘In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.’

In this scenario, God did create the Earth and the heavens, and by regulating its attitude with the Moon caused it to have liquid water on its surface:

‘And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.’

In its early years the Moon was orbiting close to the Earth, gradually slowing down both its own spin and producing a spin that gave regular days and nights:

‘And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness. And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day. And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so. And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also.’

The tilt of the Earth was held steady by the Moon and the Earth enjoyed regular days, years and changing seasons:

‘And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years.’

The early Moon was huge and powerful as it orbited close to the Earth raising colossal tides every time it passed overhead. If the Moon had not been created, the seas of the Earth would cover virtually all of the planet leaving little dry land:

‘And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters. And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so.’

Thanks to its close proximity, the Moon’s tidal surges travelled far inland, constantly stirring the life-nurturing soup of the oceans, ready for the moment life arrived. As more advanced life developed, plant life came first:

‘And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so. And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good.’

The first animal life began in the oceans before spreading to land and into the air:

‘And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven. And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good. And God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth. And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so. And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good.’

Millions and millions of creatures came and went, slowly changing into more complex life forms and eventually gaining intelligence and self-awareness. One branch of mammals climbed into the trees and later returned to the plains as hominids – our ancient, ape-like ancestors. There were many species of hominid that learned to use primitive tools and that survived as hunter-gatherers. As recently as 25,000 years ago there were still three species of human: Homo floresienis, Homo neanderthalis and Homo sapiens. The Neanderthals had larger brains than ours and we can be sure that they laughed and talked and cried – their burial practices even suggest that they may have had religious belief. But today, we are alone:

‘And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that movet upon the earth.’

The period during which we have learned to walk upright and have developed such large brains that our Mothers risk their lives in giving birth to us, is miniscule in terms of the period the Earth has existed. It has taken us only a couple of million years in total.
The amount of time we have been bright enough to look with knowing eyes at our world has been much less than that, merely a few tens of thousands of years. We learned how to hunt and to survive from the bounty of nature and eventually we became farmers, living fixed lives and establishing villages that became towns and eventually cities. Maybe six or seven thousand years ago something remarkable may have happened. Whoever or whatever had manufactured the Moon returned. In an operation that possibly involved a whole series of ‘visits’, the cipher necessary to crack the code of the message, that had been so carefully encapsulated into the Moon, was given to humanity. This ‘key’ was the Megalithic system of measurement and geometry and specifically the Megalithic Yard. The Moon’s creator must have been aware that if the Megalithic Yard was written into the stone circles and avenues of what is now Britain and France, someone would eventually recover the information and rebuild the entire system in all its splendour.

This was clearly not enough. Another series of visitations took place, not long after the first but this time to another proto-civilization far from the first, between the rivers Tigress and Euphrates, in what is today the area known as Iraq. Here a second system of mathematics and geometry was seeded, this one less related to the mathematical certainties of the Earth and its relationship with the Moon but more closely tied to everyday life. It was the forerunner of much that was to follow and when the rise of science came along, humanity invented the metric system, which almost eerily reflected what the Sumerians had been so carefully taught. The astronomer priests of Sumer were shown that the whole to a thinking, rational species that was, in some way, made in His own image. His interest in humanity, when it eventually evolved, remained as He had quite clearly intended. We can see a situation in which the Deity sent messengers to lay the foundations of an eventual recognition of the message which would lead to the first tangible proof of the existence of a Creator.

Nothing is beyond the mind or capability of God. We have endowed Him with unparalleled power and timelessness. But for countless generations the reality of God has resided in ‘faith’ rather than ‘proof’. Perhaps those with religion will resent the suggestion that God has removed the need for faith.

The humorous and thought-provoking writer, the late Douglas Adams, played with this notion in his book The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.37 Adams created a remarkable creature known as the Babel Fish, that when placed in anyone’s ear could act as an inter-galactic speech translator. So remarkable was the existence of this little fish that people said it must stand as irrevocable proof of the existence of God because nothing so amazing could possibly come about by chance. However, it was pointed out that since God existed by faith alone – and not by proof – the absolute proof of his existence meant for certain that he could not exist.

‘I never thought of that,’ said God, and disappeared in a puff of logic.’

It is clear that if we accept that God was responsible for creating the Moon and that He specifically incorporated within it proof of what He had done, we must begin to look at Him in a very different light. In a world in which religion has been diminishing in importance, and particularly in the technological West, an acceptance of God’s direct intervention in our part of the solar system might see thousands or millions of people flocking back to Church. The most fervent creationists may abandon their insistence that the Earth is only a few thousand years old and might accept that God did indeed work his magic through evolution. The recognition of God’s special pact with life, and especially with humanity, might fund a push towards ecumenicism and a coming together of the world’s fractious religions.

Unfortunately it is equally likely that the reverse would happen because power-bases, religious or secular, have always shown a reluctance to diminish in importance. Clearly, if we are looking at God’s true covenant with humanity through his intentional creation of the Moon, with its attendant and obviously deliberate messages, no existing belief pattern can be any more important than another and the whole basis of religious dogma is in doubt.

We could not criticize anyone who wishes to attribute the message to God. But neither could we argue with anyone who says that God does not need to leave messages coded into ancient stone circles that He already knows will eventually be recognized by humanity. If we are ultimately left in no doubt as to his existence, the whole procedure has been somewhat unnecessary. God is capable of showing Himself to humanity at any time He chooses, with absolutely no ambiguity or the remotest uncertainty.

Everything about the Moon and its addition to the solar system seems to speak of a message that ‘must’ be imparted one day and of a series of deliberate ‘humanlike’ interventions that would ensure this was the case.

Further to this, we might argue that the Moon was almost certainly added to our part of the solar system as an afterthought. It had to be, because the very material from which it was made came from the already existent Earth. God could quite easily have made the Earth a haven for life in its own right. It has to be remembered that it was the ‘shortcomings’ of the Earth that necessitated the addition of the Moon to the planetary system. Surely the God of the human imagination is all-powerful and has no shortcomings.

We cannot deny that a world in which humanity was certain of the existence of God, and in which there was no longer any doubt about what He represented, ‘might’ become a more cohesive and peaceful place and we did not turn away from this possibility lightly. However, we have tried to approach our research from a genuinely scientific point of view (we would argue that our approach is more scientific and less based on enshrined belief than that of many so-called scientists.) This being said, we felt ourselves obliged to look at other possible solutions to the questions raised by the evidence we had amassed. Those who wish to attribute the creation of the Earth– Moon system to God will continue do so, though we felt it impossible to stop searching. We are cognisant that by His sheer timeless power God can be used as a cure-all to answer any question. That has been the pattern of humanity across the ages and it is not one we feel constrained to follow.

In short, there are other possibilities that might prove to be just as surprising but considerably more plausible.

Postscript to this chapter

This chapter was completed during the closing days of 2004. On the morning of Sunday December 26th an Earthquake five miles beneath the ocean floor, west of Sumatra, produced a tsunami with the power of more than 10,000 atomic bombs. Travelling at speeds of up to 800 kilometres an hour it tore into coastal areas all around the Indian Ocean causing devastation that was as sudden as it was terrible. Many tens of thousands of people died within minutes and millions more were left to grieve for their lost loved ones and to struggle against hunger, thirst and the threat of consequential disease.

The event was so powerful that the entire Earth moved.
Geologist Kerry Sieh of the California Institute of Technology said ‘It caused the planet to wobble a little bit.’ As the Indian Ocean’s heavy tectonic plate lurched underneath the Indonesian plate there was a shift of mass towards the planet’s centre, causing the globe to rotate faster and shortening the period of our planet’s rotation by some three microseconds. A team of researchers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California also found that the incident caused the Earth’s tilt to be increased by 2.5cm.

The mobility of the Earth’s crust was central to the emergence of life and now the residual shifting of tectonic plates causes death and destruction to those too near to the event. If the careful design of the Earth and its Moon were the work of God, His life-bringing mechanisms are, in this instance at least, working against the interests of His chosen species.

The events in the Indian Ocean horrified the world. In Britain the Archbishop of Canterbury, who leads the Church of England, was deeply troubled. Dr Rowan Williams, writing eight days later in the Sunday Telegraph questioned the nature of God’s interaction with humans:

‘The “How believe can in question: you a God who permits suffering on this scale?” is therefore very much around at the moment, and it would be surprising if it weren’t – indeed, it would be wrong if it weren’t. The traditional answers will get us only so far. God, we are told, is not a puppet-master in regard either to human actions or to the processes of the world. If we are to exist in an environment where we can live lives of productive work and consistent understanding – human lives as we know them – the world has to have a regular order and pattern of its own. Effects follow causes in a way that we can chart, and so can make some attempt at coping with. So there is something odd about expecting that God will constantly step in if things are getting dangerous. How dangerous do they have to be? How many deaths would be acceptable? So why do religious believers pray for God’s help or healing? They ask for God’s action to come in to a situation and change it, yes; but if they are honest, they don’t see prayer as a plea for magical solutions that will make the world totally safe for them and others.

All this is fair enough, perhaps true as far as it goes. But it doesn’t go very far in helping us, one week on, with the intolerable grief and devastation in front of us. If some religious genius did come up with an explanation of exactly why all these deaths made sense, would we feel happier or safer or more confident in God? Wouldn’t we feel something of a chill at the prospect of a God who deliberately plans a programme that involves a certain level of casualties?’

If a single entity that we could reasonably call God did indeed establish the Earth and its Moon so that we might evolve, He might be obliged to work within His own rules of the Universe. Creating a life-bearing planet required a ploughing of the surface and this is a process that cannot be switched on and off like a light switch. Dr Williams presumably has a problem because he believes in a God who is in on-going contact – a God who can choose to respond to individual prayers. But maybe the situation is not like that.

The title we chose for this chapter is ‘Childhood’s End’. This seemed to be a fitting summation for the discussion of the possibility that God had made the world and had, from the outset, built into it a message that we would understand when we were sufficiently emotionally and intellectually mature. We were aware that Arthur C Clarke had written a novel with this title more than half a century earlier with a very different but not unconnected theme.

Sir Arthur is an inspired writer and his ideas expressed in 2001: A Space Odyssey, have been discussed in this book. When we realized that the Indian Ocean tsunami had caused a massive loss of life in Sri Lanka, we were concerned for him, because we were aware that he is wheelchair bound in his home near the beach in Colombo. Thankfully Sir Arthur was not hurt and was able to write an account of what had happened in his adopted country.

He wrote: ‘I have no idea if God had any scenario in mind when this happened. In a way, the disaster was a random event, but at the same time nothing in this world is totally random, there is always cause and effect.’

All of this could very much describe a God who has a working plan that appears to be less than perfect. Tectonic plates were necessary to create us but their current movements are simply a small, incidental effect of a far greater cause. Are we to believe that in the mind of God the ultimate end justifies the sometimes very painful means?

‘…it’s entirely possible, in my view, that we could retrieve a message from another world within just a few decades…’ Seth Shostak – Senior Astronomer, SETI

The idea that intelligent creatures might exist somewhere else in the cosmos has fascinated humanity ever since the invention of the telescope revealed that our world is but one amongst countless others. At first some people wondered if there were people living around the supposed seas on the Moon and others feared invasion from near neighbours, particularly Mars.

In 1858 an Italian astronomer called Secchi announced that he had seen ‘canali’ on the surface of Mars, and in 1877 Giovanni Virginio Schiaparelli, an astronomer at the Milan Observatory, produced drawings of these features. Though the most accurate translation of the Italian word ‘canali’ would have been ‘channels’, it was translated into English as ‘canals’. With the completion of the Suez Canal fresh in people’s minds, the interpretation was taken to mean that huge artificial waterways had been discovered – which amounted to evidence of intelligent life.

Debate raged over the findings, with Schiaparelli himself stating that there was no reason to suppose that the canals were artificial. The discovery sparked the imagination of a young man named Percival Lowell who was at the beginning of what was to be a distinguished career in astronomy. He was one of the first to realize that it was far more sensible to site observatories in out-of -the-way places, such as deserts or on mountaintops, where smoke and light spillage from cities would not diminish the astronomers view of the heavens. He was the driving force behind the creation of the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona, in 1894.

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