Looking Up

There are two ways to look up. The first is done while screaming.

If the world has no value outside of being spewed up by Chance, we cannot aspire to anything but a fear beyond fear; terror in sight of the poker face that is the vastness of space. If the atheists are right, then we are nothing. If Earth truly is an insignificant dust mote swept into an insignificant galaxy by monumental and purposeless brooms, contained in a universe that is one of many, inexplicably and forever cycling, or simply an unthinkable, inscrutable anomaly, what else can a healthy human do but scream, loud and long?

A product of Chance has no purpose. His thoughts and desires and beliefs have no bearing outside of that Chance-from-whence-he-came, and Chance has no bearings.

Remember man, that you are mere probability, and to probability you shall return. Probably.

If we are an accident than our actions are accidental. A computer spits out a random sequence of numbers. Can you plug in those numbers to make sense of an equation? The universe spits out a man, alive and speaking. Can man answer the questions of the universe? Can random-man reason his way to the idea that the universe is governed at random? Can random-man speak the following sentence, “the basis of atoms are quarks.” What’s a quark? A concept in the mind of a man made by Chance. Why do man’s thoughts have any grip on reality? If they are merely the workings of atoms in his brain, than how can we trust the thought that his thoughts are merely the working of atoms in his brain? If man looks up, and finds it big and blank with no words written on walls, then man is a riddle with no answer, a desire with no fulfillment, a sentence started and dropped.

What is man worth?

Wait, we, the quarks of the atoms of the cells of the dust-mites on the dust-mote in the dust-pan of the universe, we are the ones who invented dust-pans? We love? We bury our dead in the ground? Then it is not simply the Out that we fear when we gaze up, it is the In. Because a purposeless Out means a purposeless In. If we are accidents then our actions are accidental, and maybe crying at that funeral wasn’t that meaningful after all. Maybe getting married was as purposeful as the Big Bang.

If the universe is purposeless, its products cannot have purpose. They can make it up. They can make up economies and religions and wars. But why are they making it up? Why are they making such an effort to project their selves onto reality, when they cannot know reality?

If we can’t know reality, but rather we can only project our own experience as reality, then what becomes of the idea that we project our experiences as reality? Is that real? Is there truthfully no truth?

Now it might be posited that the second way to look up is to yawn. But, as Chesterton puts it, a yawn is only a silent shout. Boredom is not a lack of fear, boredom is a denial of things worth fearing. To look up and see nothing is to look in a mirror; the universe looks back and sees nothing, the universe is as bored with you as you are with it. If you, man, can look up into the vast emptiness, into the Great Mill of Chance and decide it is worth exactly a yawn, what does that make you worth? The screaming resumes. Because if it is all not worth worrying about, then we are certainly not worth worrying about: pass out the nooses, and quickly please.

No, the second way is to look up and laugh.

If we look up and see the obvious work of a Creator, the riddle becomes clear, and it is a joke. The joke is this: You are a small and insignificant dust-mite. Your world is a ridiculous excuse for a planet, stuck around a star; a tiny quark in a tiny atom in a tiny drop of water in a hurricane. You are nothing. But are you ready for it? You are everything. Get it? Do you hear the galaxies laughing? They get it. Can’t you see the quarks grinning? They get it. You are nothing, and you are everything to Me.

What is value? There is no value assigned by Chance, value can only come from an evaluation, and that’s the one thing Chance cannot have in order to remain Chance!

It’s funny because it makes sense, and makes no sense. You think yourself so small in the vastness of space, but you are only surrounded because space has crowded to do you homage. You correctly think yourself meaningless, and yet you are – in the same moment – the only lump of matter to ever rationalize its way into feeling meaningless, and thus you are very, very meaningful. The atheists are right: you have no value. You have no worth. And yet that is not what you feel. That is not what you know. You feel worth, you feel strength, you feel purpose. Don’t you understand? It’s a joke! You – when you should feel worthless – feel worth. Why? Because I gave it to you.

If you find yourself drenched in lemonade, but know that you haven’t drenched yourself, what is left to conclude? That someone else has drenched you. If you find yourself drenched in worth, but know that you have no reason to feel worth, what is left to conclude? That someone has given you worth. It’s a joke, see, because you’re drenched in lemonade, and worth everything! Who among you would find themselves drenched in lemonade, look around and realize they could not have drenched themselves, and thus concluded that they were not, in fact, ever drenched.

Laugh, because you could be dead but you are alive. Laugh, because you are a contradiction, an incongruity, a worthless man of the highest value.

  • Jess

    Wow, this was just awesome. And I have definitely looked up at the sky and laughed, for the exact reason that you said–it makes no sense, and yet it makes perfect sense.

  • http://aodhagain.deviantart.com/ Jay Egan

    Really good and Chestertonian. :D I enjoyed this. One of the funniest angles of the joke is this: God (the "Drencher" shall we say), turned up, after all this time, to be some random carpenter from Galilee who was executed for blasphemy. In the words of King Auberon Quinn: "It's all a joke!!!"

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14631784702731513623 athanasius

    Along the lines of what you are saying Chesterton also said that evolution (as worldview) makes the parts more significant than the whole.To clarify, I fully believe in evolution (as science) and that chance is at work, but it lacks comprehensive explanatory power as you say. I find it interesting that Christians don't challenge the use of chance in quantum physics, but evolution is another matter.We have to be careful to ackowledge different levels to the discussion (as Polkinghorne does so well).

  • Manda

    I look up in awe and wonder and I am grateful. This is excellent.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02958084273028753944 Paige


  • Malakh

    V’HaKadosh Baruch Hu Matzilenu Miyadam.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05194127784395197998 Paul Rimmer

    There are these principles in nature, these rules we have discovered about the way things work.Where did these rules come from and why are they the way that they are? I don't know. I don't think anyone knows and maybe no one will ever know.But I don't mind living with not knowing, living with not being sure about things. I think it's far more interesting to live with the reality that the serious questions are not yet answered, and some will never be answered in my lifetime.Maybe we are living in a vast universe with no real purpose or meaning, which is the way it possibly seems to be. But I prefer to explore these questions without thinking that I have the answer already.

  • Anonymous

    Hahaha, religious people having trouble accepting the ambiguity of life. What else is new?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01658116461483425280 Brandon Vogt

    "Remember man, that you are mere probability, and to probability you shall return. Probably."LOL

  • Anonymous


    Sorry but as we introduced many novelties during the past months we are currently re-editing this section. Just send us a message if you need more information.

    I find this vaguely, and very morbidly humorous…

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_KDQFQTMD56CJAKMLXRFYUDNCPQ Montague

    I don’t think the strongest argument (when speaking to atheists) is not to point to design (because they don’t believe in it) but to point at nothing and say “there you go”. The Ad Baculum Inessens. To beat them over the head with nothing, to see the blazing hell fires of nothing, to say empty, empty, everything is meaningless, a chasing after the wind. We have by the authority of a very wise man that all there is to life is to live it as just a nice guy, and die. But then, is where we put in the big BUT. BUT things are real, BUT there is LIFE, not just living, temporary matter, but the real stuff of Life. The Southern Baptists were oddly right in that common you have no idea you are right way: just show them the door to Hell, and they will turn their heads if they might, and see salvation. Or as Elihu says, God sends visions and terrors in the night to turn man from their sin. Then, “If there is an angel on his side as a mediator, one out of a thousand, to tell a man what is right for him, to be gracious and say, “spare him from going down into the pit ; I have found a ransom for him”… ”

    Oh, one needs to read Job more, though the Gospels no less, to see even then this light shone like a star afar, a glimpsed rumor of a hope.