I made a point of sitting alone with Luke Mathews at breakfast the following morning. After some small talk relating to the Hawking Plan, I breached the subject of his faith. “Hola Lucas” I began. “Word is you’re a Bible-believing religioso Christian.”
Luke looked at me with a pained expression. “What’s with the Gringoñal crap?” he replied. “You know I don’t speak those Spanish words. Of course, I understand them, but I’ve told you before I make a point of speaking Standard English.”
“Sorry about that,” I said apologetically.
“And,” continued Luke, “I don’t care for the ‘Hola Lucas’ business either. My name is ‘Luke’ not ‘Lucas.’ Your name is ‘James’ not ‘Diego.’ Why should my children have to learn and speak that bastardized language Gringoñal?”
“I said I was sorry,” I apologized again. “I was just trying to indicate I was meeting a new Luke. After working with you for five months, only recently did I discover you’re a Bible-believing Christian.”
“Jim, I don’t wear my Christianity on my sleeve here at TABB. You know it would be career-limiting. I’ll bet it was the Queen Bee who let the cat out of the bag. Was she the one who told you?”
“I can’t say.”
“I’ll assume that’s a ‘yes.’ Let me tell you something about her. She’s a tool of Satan. She’s a temptress who exploits God’s great gift of sexual stimulation for evil purposes.”
“I think she’s a ‘T woman’,” I replied.
“What the heck is that?” asked Luke. “If the ‘T' is for ‘temptress,’ I agree. Or, is it that, as a woman, she suits you to a ‘T’ sexually?”
“No,” I replied, a bit flustered. “Well, yes, that’s also true, she’s a temptress and I find her sexually attractive. But, what I meant was she is so smart and hard-working, both intellectually and physically, that she can do a ‘two man’ job herself. Do you get it? ‘T woman = Two man’ if you move the space two characters to the right! T women can do the jobs of two men.”
“It’s no accident she’s the youngest Branch Chief TABB ever had,” continued Luke, ignoring my ‘T woman’ answer. “She’s a God-damned amoral bisexual screwing machine! Jim, if she ever tries to fool around with you – you know sexual molestation – just tell her your religion forbids it. You being a rabbi and all, she’ll buy that and leave you alone.”
“Molestation sexual?” I said sheepishly. “OK, thanks for the advice.”
“Jim! ’Sexual molestation’ in Standard English please! You are most welcome.”
“Luke,” I began in a serious tone, “The reason I brought the subject up is, being a religious historian and a rabbi, I’ve studied the Christian scriptures and noticed some factual errors and discrepancies. Quite frankly, I can’t believe anyone as well-educated and rational as you could believe all that stuff literally. I mean I can understand that any writings that survived for thousands of years must be mightily inspired and so on. However, you profess literal belief?”
Luke looked around to be sure no one was near. “Jim, there are a few scriptures I firmly believe were written by God guiding human hands. Subsequent copying and translations introduced errors and even purposeful interpolations by scribes who, under Satan’s influence, had their own evil agendas. That’s why most so-called ‘Holy’ scriptures – including most ‘Christian’ scriptures – are simply the works of ordinary human beings. They may have been inspired by God and include unaltered passages from the true Holy Scripture. Satan makes use of God’s truths to gain our confidence so he may later deceive us. Any contradictions in the Bible are Satan’s work!”
“So, you also believe in Satan as an actual entity? Pardon me for saying so, my good friend Luke, but, to me, that is amazing! Which scriptures were guided by the ‘Hand’ of God?”
“Jim, Satan is the source of all evil, but he is under God’s firm control. We humans are safe from Satan if we follow those Holy Scriptures we know have been guided by the Hand of God. I’m sure there are many since God wants people who speak any language to be able to access His Word. However, I am personally familiar with only a few. My short list includes the original five books written by Moses in his own hand, and the original Gospels, written by the apostles Mathew, Mark, Luke, and John. Some of the remaining books of the Old and New Testaments are also the true words of God, but only the original versions written by their ancient authors.”
“Luke, all those words were written in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Hellenistic Greek, weren’t they? Do you read those languages?”
“I tried to learn Hebrew ten years ago but never became competent in that language or Greek either. Fortunately, I am certain God guided a couple of translations, namely the Septuagint into Greek and the original King James Version into English. God wants the faithful to be able to read His words in their own languages without any help from Catholic priests, or, I might add – no offense to you – historians. So, I’m sure there are other translations protected by God, but I’m not familiar with them in detail. By the way, you know why Catholic Priests are celibate? Because some drunken monk scribe left out the ‘r’ in ‘celebrate’.”
“Very funny Luke, I’ll tell all my Catholic Priest amigos. I’m sorry, no Inglañol, I should have said ‘Catholic Priest friends.’ The Septuagint was translated from Hebrew to Greek by seventy-two scholars. There’s a legend they worked alone and, by a miracle, all seventy-two versions were exactly the same, word for word, every jot and tittle matched! Do you believe that?”
“God held the hand and pen of each scholar so their translations were exact. That is proof it is the literal word of God.”
“And the KJV, the King James Version was revised a half-dozen times by the scholars at the Church of England. How could it be the literal word of God if it had to be changed?”
Luke looked directly at me. “I firmly believe,” he said, “The original 1611 KJV translation was protected by God. All the later versions are suspect. At our church, we use photocopies of a genuine first edition stored in the Royal London Museum. We believe it is the Absolute Word of God. Do you happen to know the 1611 KJV was edited by William Shakespeare, the greatest English writer of all time? His name is hidden in the Psalms.”
“Shakespeare edited the 1611 KJV? What evidence do you have for that?” I asked. That assertion seemed ridiculous to me.
“OK Jim, put on your read-WINs.” I took them out of my shirt pocket and put them on. “Great. Now, when was William Shakespeare born and how old would he have been in 1611?”
I moved my fingers, taping on a virtual keyboard I could see through my read-WINs. “Here it comes, Luke. Shakespeare was born in 1564 which would make him forty-seven years old in 1611.”
“Great, so he would have been forty-six in 1610 when the 1611 KJV was in the final stages of editing! Now go to the KJV and look up the 46th Psalm, and count to the 46th word.”
“OK, 1, 2, 3 … 43, 44, 45, 46. The word is ‘shake.’ – ‘though the mountains shake’, sounds like they’re describing an Earthquake. Where are we going here, Luke?"
“Stick with me for a moment, Jim. Now, count forty-six words from the end of the 46th Psalm and don’t count the ‘Selah’ which is at the end of every Psalm and means ‘stop and listen’.”
“OK, the word is ‘spear.’ ‘He breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder.’ Hey! Put them together and we get ‘Shake-spear’ – fresco! I’m sorry; I should have said ‘cool.’ Except they forgot the final ‘e.’ What a wonderful coincidence! Did Shakespeare know about this? It would be a pity if he passed away without knowing about this. Wow! He was already a popular writer in King James's England at that time and I wonder if some translator noticed the coincidence or altered the text a bit to make it happen.”
“So Jim,” Luke said earnestly, “At the very least, you have to agree that’s a fantastic coincidence, Shakespeare was forty-six years old when the 1611 KJV was edited, and the 46th word from the start of the 46th Psalm plus the 46th word from the end add up to be his name! My faith tells me that is a special message. Shakespeare was ordained by God to help produce the 1611 KJV. You may think what you want. However, things like that prove my faith.”
“Luke, you repeatedly refer to Satan as a real ‘fallen angel’ separate from God. In Jewish tradition, Satan is the ‘adversary,’ not a separate personage. If God is Omnipresent and Omniscient and Omnipotent, then He exists everywhere and knows everything and can do anything, so how can Satan exist? There is no such thing as evil – evil is simply the absence of good. It is like cold – the absence of heat, and darkness – the absence of light. The rabbi’s say, ‘If you believe in Satan you are already under his power of false belief!’”
“Jim, according to physicists, what we call ‘light’ and ‘heat’ is nothing more than the energy released by vibrations of atoms, so – you are correct from the point of view of physics – there is no such thing as ‘cold’ or ‘darkness’ and so on, just an absence of energy, or, more properly, relatively less energy, since nothing has zero energy. However, physics is based on pure reason, and pure reason is incomplete. The view of the Universe according to science is a great simplification. It is useful for practical advances in technology and so on but not the whole story nor even the majority of it!
“When God created the Universe, the first thing He did was say ‘let there be light,’ and then He began His great work of Creation. That was like an artist who begins with a bright white canvas and adds shades of gray and colors to create the image. Without the dark tones we would not appreciate the luminous areas.”
“So?” I asked, “Are you saying God created Satan to color in the dark areas with evil to help humans appreciate the good?”
“Yes, in a way. Look at the Book of Job where Satan asks God’s permission to test Job’s perfect faith with various tortures. God is pure Good, but human nature cannot appreciate Good without Evil. God created Satan to prove our faith through great trials. No human is tested beyond their capacity. Does that explain Satan’s role?”
“Yes, the yin and yang! Satan’s the yin to God’s yang!”
“I have no idea what you are getting at, Jim. Eastern philosophy has no relevance to me at all. Are you into that crap?”
“No, not really.”
“So, why did you bring it up?”
“Sorry. I meant to say the contrast between pain and pleasure and good and evil and light and dark is analogous to the conflict between faith and reason. Opposite sides of the same coin.”
“Jim,” Luke said in a scolding voice, “Faith and reason are not opposite sides of the same coin. They are totally separate! Faith requires absolutely no reason at all. Anyone who needs reason to have faith has no real faith. Appeals to reason to justify faith are indications of doubt, and true faith admits no doubt at all.”
“But Luke, reason requires faith in human reasoning ability?”
“That’s another load of crap! Who have you been talking to? First Eastern religion and now ‘reason’ is so-called ‘faith” in human reasoning ability? Scientists may convince you ‘white is a lighter shade of black,’ and ‘yes is a neater and a nicer form of no’! Reason and logic are forms of mathematics. You make certain assumptions about facts and rules and ‘turn the crank’ and out come results.
I shook my head. “So,” I said, “You don’t use reason and mathematics and logic? How do you do your job as an engineer?”
“All that crap is in a separate domain in my mind.” He answered with a big grin. “I know the rules and facts of math, logic, and engineering and I use them like a meat grinder. ‘Turn the crank’ and out come nice sausages. Any fool with a college degree can do it.”
“So,” I asked, “What is the relation, if any, between faith and reason according to your view of God and the Universe?”
“Thanks for asking! Jim, you are trying to impose a scientific-sounding linear scale abstraction that faith and reason are opposite ends of the same scale and that faith is the absence of reason. That is totally misleading! If we want to impose a scientific abstraction onto them, we could say they are orthogonal.”
“What do you mean by orthogonal?” I asked.
“At right angles,” Luke replied, looking at me as if I just got off the banana boat from some third world country.
“Right angles, OK,” I answered, but I still did not understand.
Luke picked up the salt and pepper shakers and set them a half-meter apart on the table. “I'm going to link a visualization program to your read-WINs. Please accept it and then touch the salt shaker with your left fingertip and the pepper with your right.” As I did so, a light blue sheet appeared on the table as viewed through my read-WINs. The sheet was anchored by the salt and pepper shakers. He touched his finger to the lower left corner of the blue sheet and drew a vertical arrow and labeled it FAITH. “Say this is the faith scale," Luke said, “At the top is maximum faith and at the bottom is zero faith.” He then started at the bottom of the FAITH scale and drew a horizontal line. “Say this is the REASON scale, at the far right is maximum reason, and at the left, is zero reason, OK?”
“I guess so,” I answered, but my eyes were beginning to glaze over. “Where are we going here?”
“Give me a chance to get to the point,” said Luke. “I’m trying to answer your question – or would you rather stop at this point and join the Queen Bee and her drones?”
“No,” I replied, looking around at the others on our team having breakfast in the hotel restaurant. “I’d rather discuss faith and reason with you than hear the endless tales of her time in the TBI.”
“It looks like you talk a good game when you spout off about reason,” observed Luke, “But the first time I start to use one of the actual tools of scientific reason, a simple graph, you lose interest. This is a very basic version of what I do all day as an engineer. Let me get to the point before you pass out from an overdose of the scientific method and fall off your chair.”
Luke used his finger to draw a box near the lower left of his graph. “This represents people who have very little faith and very little reason. All humans have at least a little of both, but the benighted folks down here are hardly human.” He drew a box near the upper left. “These are some of the people in my church. All full of faith and, I'm sad to say, very little reason. They are wonderful folks, God bless them, but they are lost in the modern world. They cling to traditions and are a great obstacle to technological progress. When they hear about our Hawking Plan, most of them will oppose it.”
He then drew a ball near the lower right. “This is you, Jim, all the way to the right on the reason scale and only a little way up on the faith scale. You have lots of reason and little faith. People like you can accomplish great things, but, if they lose their moral compass, the ‘lights’ that guide them may go out and they can do great evil.”
“I can predict,” I interrupted, pointing to the upper right corner, “Here you are with both faith and reason, in excess quantity.”
“Not quite,” laughed Luke, drawing a ball near the middle of the graph. “Here is where I put myself. I have enough reason to get practical things done but not so much that I reject the importance of faith. I also have enough faith to believe that God will protect me if I live a moral life, true to myself, my wife, my family, my neighborhood, my country, and so on. Sometimes people who have too much faith use it to blind themselves to reason. It is one thing to believe in God’s goodness, the provenance of the 1611 KJV, and that we who believe in Jesus will spend eternity with Him in Heaven – that faith does not require reason and does not contradict reason.
“There are people in my church whose faith is so strong they deny all truth but the Bible. On the other hand, people who have too much reason use it to talk themselves out of the faith that is inherent in all normal human beings. People, I am sad to say, like you.”
“And how?” I asked, “Does a person get their faith?”
“Faith is a gift from God. Some of us have it and some of us don’t. Anyone of normal intelligence and an honest heart, who can understand English, can read the KJV and interpret it properly without any need for priests to interpret it for him.”
“Do you judge me to meet those requirements?”
“Yes, you are certainly intelligent and competent in English. Only God can know what is in your heart, but in the five months we’ve been working together you’ve been totally honest.”
“Good. Do you mind clearing up some apparent errors and contradictions in the scriptures?”
“Not at all, if you point them out in the 1611 KJV. OK?”
“Gracias – I mean thank you Luke.” I noticed the Queen Bee and her entourage were no longer in the hotel restaurant. “Hey – It’s late!” I said, “Our conversation will have to wait. We’d better get to the TABB Planning Board meeting! The Queen Bee hates tardiness.”
Stephanie was at her very best for the question and answer session. She began with a brief summary of what had been presented the day before and made a solemn promise to the esteemed Lieges: “We especially welcome criticism because we want to make the Hawking Plan as comprehensive as possible. Don’t hesitate to challenge us! She introduced the Contracts woman to answer questions about one- vs. two-step procurement and incentive fee vs. fixed price. I was quite bored and it was a struggle to look interested during the two hours it took to hash it all over. I understood none of it, but I certainly enjoyed watching Stephanie charm the Board. Next, it was the Schedule and Legal expert’s turns to be grilled. They took an additional hour. I was quite relieved when the meeting finally broke for lunch.
Again, Luke and I ate our meals apart from the rest of the Hawking Team. “I was bored out of my skull in there,” I said.
“Me too,” replied Luke. “I guess I know more about the details of contracting and scheduling and legal than you do, so you must have really been bored. Were you praying for the session to end so you could get back to my religious ‘preaching’?” Luke laughed.
“Yeah, sure,” I said as I put on my serious face. “Luke, you’re an engineer, surely you know the value of Pi?”
“Well, Pi is the ratio between the circumference of a circle and its diameter. Twenty-two sevenths is a very good approximation to three significant figures. Pi is equal to a bit over 3.14.”
“How about Pi equals three?” I challenged. “Is 3.0 a good approximation for Pi?”
“Well, if you were building a circular pool in your backyard and you had a space of ten cubits by ten cubits to put it in, the outside diameter of the pool would be ten cubits. Given that, it would be a good approximation that the distance around the inside of the pool would be about 3.0 times the diameter, which would be thirty cubits.” Luke emphasized the words “cubits” and “outside” and “inside.”
“Why did you give a pool as an example?” I asked in amazement. “Why are you talking about cubits? Why did you make such a big deal pronouncing ‘cubits’ and ‘outside’ and ‘inside’?”
“Because I happen to know you were referring to 1 Kings 7:23, where King Solomon had a swimming pool made that was ten cubits across and thirty cubits around. Bible critics generally cite that as an example that God didn’t know the actual value of Pi or didn’t guide the hands of those who wrote the scriptures. There’s a very easy explanation. When you build a swimming pool, you need to know the outside dimensions so you’ll have enough space to fit the thing in your backyard. You also need the inside dimensions to know how big a circle you can swim inside. The ten cubits was an outside measure and the thirty cubits was the distance around the inside. Look at the verse on your read-WINs:”
1 Kings 7:23 And he made the molten sea of ten cubits from brim to brim, round in compass, and the height thereof was five cubits; and a line of thirty cubits did compass it round about.
“OK, I’ve got it and you are correct about the wording Luke. However, doesn’t the ratio between the inner circumference and the outer diameter depend on the thickness of the pool wall? I happen to know a cubit is a bit less than a half-meter. Concrete pool walls are a bit less than a quarter-meter thick which is about half a cubit. Let’s do the math and see if the numbers match. OK, I’ve got it on my read-WINs. If the outside diameter was ten cubits and the wall was half a cubit thick, the inside was a bit over twenty-eight cubits around – not thirty! – so God was off by almost two cubits!”
“Jim,” Luke said with a big happy face, “King Solomon's pool was not made of concrete; it was made of brass so the wall could be thinner. Check 1 Kings 7:26 'And it was an hand breadth thick.' Look up a hand breath” in Biblical measures. OK?”
“OK, I’ve got it on my read-WINs. A digit was about two centimeters. A hand was five digits, or ten centimeters. A cubit was twenty-four digits, which is a bit less than a half-meter. Given that the outside diameter was ten cubits, and the wall was a hand thick, the inside circumference comes out to be 30.1 cubits. Wow! – 30 cubits around is good to two significant figures. I’m impressed!”
“Jim, I may not know them off the top of my head, but I firmly believe any apparent error or contradiction you or I or anyone else may find in the 1611 KJV has an explanation.”
“OK, Luke,” I continued. “I have a few more questions. First, we know Jesus is descended from King David and he rode into Jerusalem on a donkey for what Christians call ‘Passion Week’ between ‘Palm Sunday’ and ‘Easter Sunday.’ How many generations were there between King David and Jesus? Did he enter Jerusalem with one donkey or two? Did he come on Saturday or Sunday? Of course, as a non-believer, it doesn’t matter to me what the exact numbers and days were. They key to me is the story of Jesus’s life and the wisdom of his teachings. However, for you as a true believer, it is critical that the ‘facts’ mentioned match exactly. Is that correct?”
“Yes, Jim,” Luke began earnestly, “The real meaning of the story is in the wise teachings of Jesus, but the 1611 KJV is exact!”
“Well Luke,” I said in my professorial voice, “One Gospel traces 'the father of' genealogy and that includes twenty-eight generations between King David and Jesus, another lists 'the son of' with over forty steps – a lot different from twenty-eight! There is a conflict between one vs. two donkeys and entering Jerusalem the day before Palm Sunday vs. on Palm Sunday.”
“OK, Jim” replied Luke, “I’ll look those things up in my 1611 KJV and get back to you this afternoon or tomorrow.”
“I’d very much appreciate that, Luke. You know, I really respect your technical knowledge and your work on the Hawking Plan. I hope my questioning on your religious faith and my silly challenges to the KJV won’t affect our friendship.”
“Not at all my friend,” replied Luke. “It is my duty as a Christian to let the world know the Gospel truth. In these anti-religious times, we don’t have the luxury of going out freely to do missionary work, so it is a pleasant opportunity when someone comes to us and asks. Perhaps this will help you find your way to God. If so, thank you for giving me the opportunity to open the path for you!”
The afternoon session began a half-hour late because the MidEastern and CentAsian Board members didn’t arrive on time. I was first up and the delay only added to my unease. When the Board was ready, Stephanie expertly summarized the morning session and introduced me. My session went very well. The MidEastern Board member had some questions on the ethics of sending human beings on one-way missions into space, given the possibility most of them would die without any real opportunity for rescue.
“My Liege,” I answered, “I’m an historian. History teaches that all human adventures into new territory are inevitably accompanied by great human sacrifice. It was the lives of the pioneers, and the deaths of some, that made possible the achievements of the communities and nations they founded.”
At that point I paused as the historian’s “lost and found” joke popped into my mind. It was about the “lost colony” at Jamestown preceding the “founding” of Virginia. “Colonies are founded, some are lost, and new colonies are founded,” I continued. “The suffering and especially the deaths of the first to explore new domains is what adds value to the exploration. The Hawking Plan will be the greatest human adventure ever imagined. A voyage into the infinite future …”
Luke interrupted and said “Our plans call for the spaceships to be launched in groups of five to nine. If any of the spaceships become disabled, it will be possible for the others to take on the human lives that would otherwise be lost. We’ll ask the bidders to consider how to reduce the cost in human lives.”
“Mr. Mathews,” asked the CentAsian Board member, “While we are on the issue of human lives, in reviewing your materials as I prepared for this meeting I noted missions of thousands or millions of years. Given the limited reliability of electronic equipment, what guarantee is there any of it will operate after all that time?”
“My Liege,” Luke began,” We have data for some high-reliability military electronic equipment manufactured one-hundred years ago. Ninety-five percent of these units operated when carefully re-energized. When you approve the Hawking Plan we will develop design and manufacturing methods to extend the shelf-life of electronic and mechanical equipment as well as redundancy schemes. Also, if any robot fails the other robots will be capable of repairing it, using spare parts and re-manufacturing critical parts as needed.”
“Enough generalizations, Mr. Mathews,” blustered the CentAsian, “Exactly what will the reliability be for missions of, say, ten-thousand years? Please include the likelihood of successful launch, transit, landing, and set up of the space colony on the host planet. What are the exact numbers?”
“Well, My Liege,” answered Luke, “We have specified that, for ten-thousand-year missions, we must have a calculated sixty-percent probability that the overall mission will be a success.”
“So,” sneered the CentAsian, “With one-hundred missions a year, each with two-dozen human lives aboard, you will be condemning over a thousand of our fellow human beings to death per year! Your program plan extends for fifty to two-hundred years. That amounts to over one-hundred thousand human lives sent into space, about forty-thousand to oblivion! Possibly more! Is that your plan?”
“My Liege,” Luke replied, “The Embryonic and Panspermia options do not involve fully developed human beings, and …”
Stephanie stood up and cut Luke off. “My Liege, excuse me but tens of thousands are killed on Earth in accidents each year. The Hawking Plan has a grand purpose. We need to keep things in perspective. These are not ‘suicide missions’ at all! Far from it, these are life saving missions; they will save human life and civilization.”
That quieted the CentAsian for a while. He frowned as other Board members expressed confidence there would not be any ethical or religious backlash against the Hawking Plan.
Then, it was Luke’s turn. He fielded quite a few questions about the methods that might be used to spread human life and civilization throughout the Universe. The Board member from Africa asked Luke to summarize the options once again.
“My Liege,” he began, “There are three basic options, each of which has several sub-options. We call them: 1) Noah’s Ark, 2) Embryonic, and 3) Panspermia. Noah’s Ark envisions the fastest and therefore heaviest spaceships, approaching a significant fraction of the speed of light. Embryonic envisions more moderate speeds, while Panspermia envisions spaceships of similar design to current-day space vehicles, perhaps a bit faster. These will require far longer times before arriving at their destinations.”
“Can you provide more details?” asked the African.
“My Liege,” Luke began, “Noah’s Ark is our descriptive term for transporting living human beings and other animals to outer space. As you know, the closest extra-solar system, Alpha Centuri, is a bit over four light years away. Since we will be transporting living animals, we must get them settled on their new planet while they are still of breeding age. They must be transported at a high percentage of the speed of light, say twenty-percent, which would get them to Alpha Centuri in about twenty-years. That would require spaceships well beyond current technological capabilities. Within the Noah’s Ark option, we have variations on whether the humans and animals are in normal or suspended animation, how many humans and animals are included, and what kinds of plant seeds and bacteria and so on go along for the trip. In particular, with this option and all others, we plan to include robot servants, advanced IRAs if you will, as well as computer storage devices with all the knowledge of mankind. I will not bore you with the details.”
“Well,” asked the African, “What if space travel cannot achieve twenty-percent of the speed of light?
“My Liege,” replied Luke respectfully, “The Embryonic option considers transporting frozen embryos of humans and animals, along with artificial wombs and robot nannies to defrost, gestate, raise and socialize them. A spaceship could get to Alpha Centauri in one-hundred years at about five percent of the speed of light and in two-thousand years at one percent. Those speeds are many thousands of times greater than the fastest current-day spaceships. Even if we do achieve those speeds, we don’t know if frozen embryos can last that long.”
“Well,” asked the African once more, “If the Embryonic option doesn’t seem practical, how do you propose to extend human life throughout our galaxy, and perhaps beyond?”
“My Liege,” Luke continued confidently, “Our Panspermia option would be transporting frozen or salted cells of various types, along with robots and genetic engineering laboratories, plus computer storage devices with the human genome and the genomes of all known animals and plants and bacteria. A more proper name would be Directed Panspermia which is what molecular biologist Francis Crick and chemist Leslie Orgel called a similar idea in their famous 1973 paper. Crick won a Nobel Prize as co-discoverer of the helical structure of DNA, the basis of biological life. Orgel is the originator of the "RNA World" theory for the origin of life. They theorized that an advanced extraterrestrial civilization might utilize Directed Panspermia to spread the seeds of life using spaceships, much as we propose to do with the Hawking Plan.
“Upon arrival at their destination, the robots would plant bacteria of various hardy types in many places throughout the host planet. It might take decades or even centuries for those bacteria to adapt to their new environment, which would likely be somewhat different from Earth. After a period of time, likely to be several centuries, the bacteria would oxygenate the host planet atmosphere and prepare it to support more advanced bacteria and then multi-cell life. Robot-run genetic engineering laboratories would modify these life forms according to modern Earth-life genome data, adapted to the host planet environment, to rather rapidly replicate the processes of Darwinian evolution and natural selection. It will take several thousand years for genetically-engineered evolution to advance to Homo sapiens.
“At that point, computerized ‘oracles’ would teach the humans to speak and understand metaphoric language and use writing and technology. The oracles would impart basic tribal organization and crafts and, as rapidly as possible, bring human life up to the range of communities, government and technology we enjoy today. Of course, this process will impart knowledge of all aspects of physics, chemistry, biology, botany, zoology, sociology, and philosophy, including, of course, a full variety of political and religious beliefs.”
At that stage of his description, I observed the reactions of the Board members. The African signaled an enthusiastic “thumbs up.” Others nodded agreement. The CentAsian and MidEastern shook their heads in disbelief.
Luke paused to let the information sink in, then he continued, “We know microorganisms trapped in salt have survived for tens of millions of years in suspended animation and have come back to life when placed in a nutrient broth. We don’t know how long frozen cells can remain viable. The science of cryopreservation has progressed greatly during recent decades. The key technology is called vitrification, which replaces internal water with sugar or other antifreeze to eliminate the damage to cell membranes caused by ice crystals. Once the water has been replaced by a more viscous solution, the cells are rapidly frozen and, instead of crystallizing, the syrup becomes amorphous ice. To date, the longest successful experiments with eukaryotic cells have spanned less than a century. However, with proper preparation and care in cryopreservation and infusion of water during the process of defrosting, we believe frozen prokaryotic and some relatively simple eukaryotic cells could last for hundreds of thousands or millions of years or more – perhaps a billion years!
“I hasten to add these would not be human cells or cells of higher animals, but rather simple versions of different kinds of bacteria, plant, and animal cells. Guided rapid evolution would adapt them to the environment of their new home planet which, quite naturally, will be somewhat different from Earth. The robot-operated genetic engineering laboratories would have to operate only until more-or-less natural evolution and natural selection took root and reached the human stage. Thereafter, human civilization would be conveyed by the computer oracles I mentioned in connection with the Embryonic option.
“If we consider travel beyond Alpha Centauri and other relatively nearby solar systems and, especially, any destinations outside our galaxy, it is possible that the curvature of space could greatly reduce the travel time requirements. There may be a ‘time tunneling’ that provides a short ‘wormhole’ to very distant galaxies.”
“How does that work?” asked the African Board member.
“My Liege,” replied Luke, “We do not know if it works at all. I personally assume time tunneling does not work, but I’m just a humble engineer, limited to what I know will work or at least what may logically work. So, for me, this time tunnel wormhole stuff is ivory-tower, academic dreaming. Only a quantum physicist could believe this illogical weirdness!”
As Luke made this point I noticed him shake his head, as if trying to dismiss a troubling thought. Perhaps he had suddenly remembered that he himself believed stuff his Hawking Plan team members thought was even more ridiculous, such as the 1611 KJV. I marveled at that part of his brain function, if you could call it that.
“However,” he continued, “This time tunnel is a very nice theory. Let me give you an example we can understand. How far is it from here in Tokyo to the other side of the globe, some point south of Rio de Janeiro? Tokyo is about 35 N and 139 E, so the point opposite would be 35 S and 41 W. Well, the shortest route on the surface, a great circle route, would be over twelve thousand miles.”
Luke paused for a bit and then smiled broadly. “I just thought of a humorous example. Say you had a dog here in Tokyo and you did not mind him wandering around, but, for some reason you wanted to be absolutely sure he could never get to Brazil! So, you get him a lead that is only ten-thousand miles long. Since the distance on the surface of the Earth is over twelve-thousand miles that dog ain’t going to Brazil is he? Well, that dog can dig, so he digs a hole straight down and, after about eight-thousand miles of digging, there he is in Brazil with thousands of miles of slack to spare on his lead! The point is, on the surface it is over twelve-thousand miles from here to Brazil, but, if you could tunnel through the center of the Earth, it would be less than eight thousand miles! You’d save over four-thousand miles!
“Although we ordinary humans can experience or imagine only three space dimensions plus time, quantum scientists and cosmologists believe there are more dimensions. Perhaps there are ten or eleven according to string theory. With all those dimensions, and a curved Universe, some scientists believe the reduction in distance could be dramatic. Perhaps ten to one or a hundred to one, or more. Wouldn’t that be nice?
"But, let me get back to reality! Spaceships using reasonable advances on current designs would be fine for Panspermia missions. They could reach Alpha Centauri in less than half a million years. It would take tens or hundreds of millions of years to reach the remaining new home planets. Once landed, it would take thousands more years to evolve to the human range, even with the genetic laboratories and modern genome data we will include. However, there’s really no hurry, is there?”
“Sir!” interrupted the CentAsian Board member, “If there is no hurry, why are you so keen on starting right now? As technology progress, spaceships will become faster and you can get to outer space in only one-hundred-thousand years rather than half a million.” The CentAsian grinned broadly and raised his eyebrows as he emphasized the words “…only one-hundred-thousand years...” “That,” he continued, “Could save you four-hundred-thousand years by my calculation! Why not wait a few generations? Spend all that money and engineering on solving our problems here on Earth!”
“The only hurry, Mr. Tsar Sahbaka, My Liege,” interrupted Stephanie, who had told us in advance that Sahbaka, the CentAsian, was a businessman and a fiscal conservative who was organizing the opposition to the Hawking Plan, “Is to get off of the Earth. As you know, my great-grandfather Stephen Hawking predicted humans have fewer than one-thousand years to spread out into space and avoid a natural or human-caused disaster that will totally wipe out human life and civilization. It is your responsibility ladies and gentlemen of the TABB Planning Board, to save humanity and civilization for the infinite future. We may not have a thousand years, it could be only a hundred, or perhaps only twenty, no one knows!”
Sahbaka interrupted her. “Madam,” he said in a cynical voice, “Another genetic engineering disaster, like the one in my area of southern Russia and northern Kazakhstan when I was a boy, and killed millions of my countrymen, could destroy everything this year or next! That region is still totally de-populated with no plans to clean it up.”
He paused for a moment and wiped a tear from his eye. “Give me a break! Why should we spend TABB money on this ridiculous fantasy you call the Hawking Plan,” he continued, “When it is of absolutely no benefit to us here on Earth? Even if we approve it this week, you won’t send spaceships up for ten or twenty years. We could spend money for ten years, have a genetic engineering disaster that kills us all, and still not save civilization!”
“My Liege,” said Stephanie in a friendly tone, “You must know the classic story of the King who asked his gardener to plant a particular bush near his window. The gardener informed the King that kind of bush would not flower for at least fifty years. ‘My goodness’ the King replied, ‘In that case, you must plant it today – this very morning if possible!’”
“I heard the same story from my dear grandfather,” said Sahbaka, blinking his eyes to hold back a tear.
“As did I” added Stephanie, letting a stream of tears run down her cheeks before she wiped them away.
“Well and good,” snapped the European Board member. “Let us get back to business! How do you plan to proceed if we give you approval this week?”
“My Liege,” replied Luke, “We posted Request for Information queries a few months ago to determine which TCs might be interested in conducting Conceptual Trade Studies. We received over one-thousand responses and they are still coming in. We have conducted bidder’s briefings in all seven geographic zones. We had the honor of having you give the keynote address for our Budapest briefing. We have prepared formal Request for Proposal documents. Assuming the Board gives approval this week for funding of Conceptual Study Contracts; those could be sent out next week. Interested TCs would have sixty days to submit their formal proposals and we will select the winners about ninety days after that.”
“How many Conceptual Trade Study contracts do you plan to issue?” asked the European.
“My Liege,” began Luke, “TABB policy on Conceptual Trade Studies is to issue at least three, running in parallel. However, we normally issue about six or seven contracts. For this important project, we may have as many as nine to twelve, depending upon …”
“Seventy-two!” blurted Stephanie, cutting Luke off, “We will issue seventy-two Conceptual Trade Study contracts to a wide selection of TCs representing various areas of technology and spread out across all geographic and ethnic areas.”
“Seventy-two?” asked Tsar Sahbaka, the CentAsian, rolling his eyes and shaking his head like a bobble-doll. “Are you out of your mind? How do you plan to fund so many contracts?”
Since contracting was not my area of expertise, I had the luxury of scanning the faces of the Board members as well as my fellow Hawking Plan workers. Luke stood there dumbfounded. Everyone in the room was in a high state of tension, all staring at Stephanie.
“My Liege,” she replied in an even tone, giving no hint of her distain for the extreme fiscal conservative and enemy of her Hawking Plan, “TABB will have to fund only a dozen. The additional sixty studies will be funded by the TCs themselves. Over one-hundred highly-qualified TCs are willing – even anxious – to invest their own profits in this venture. This project will ignite a new wave of innovation in the transportation, medical, communications, and computational technology. They all want to get on the bandwagon!”
With that simple statement, the tension in the room evaporated. I felt a tremendous sense of relief as most Board members smiled and some whispered to each other. The African Board member said “Great answer! You go girl!” and clapped her hands. A spontaneous round of applause broke out in the room, with only the CentAsian and MidEastern Board members not participating.
“You have a quick tongue, Ms. Goldenrod,” shouted Tsar Sahbaka. “We have troubles here on Earth more deserving of TABB and TC investment than your silly one-way space junket.”
“My Liege, Mis-ter Sahbaka, I am Doctor Goldenrod.”
“Duc-ter Goldenrod,” replied Sahbaka, mispronouncing ‘Doctor’ and standing to emphasize the point. “I am not done with you! As you say in NortAmer, ‘Hasta la vista, baby!’ This Hawking Plan of yours is a shameless grab for money by high-tech TCs primarily located in NortAmer, Europe, and EastAsia. You are diverting TABB resources from the poor and downtrodden population of the entire world for the selfish glory of the most reckless progressives. Haven’t the genetic engineering disasters of past years taught you anything about violating Natural Law?”
With that, he stormed out of the room, followed by the MidEastern Board member.
The Chairman, from EastAsia, rapped the gavel and shouted over the commotion, “This meeting has run over an hour late and I’m sure we are all happy it is over. Decision meeting tomorrow, nine AM, Board members only. This meeting is adjourned! Stephanie strode confidently to the dais and shook hands with each Board member and even hugged a couple. I heard her say something about coming over to her suite to two men and one woman. Was she planning some sort of multi-gender gang bang?
I looked at the time – it was already late for my daily call to my family in Orlando. I had to call Esther while the children were having breakfast and before she had to pack them off to school and go off to her job. I left the meeting and ran to my room.
I was engaged in the conversación video with my wife and children when a message popped up in the corner of the display wall:
JIM: COME UP TO MY SUITE IMMEDIATELY. DON’T MISS ALL THE FUN! STEPHANIE.
I abruptly completed the conversación, telling my wife I had just been called to a special team meeting.
Not knowing what Stephanie had in mind, I took a shower. I hurriedly dressed in my “Hawking Plan” tee-shirt, shorts, and sandals. Then, off I sped to Stephanie’s suite, wondering what was up (besides my flag).
I couldn’t help thinking about our asunto secreto the night before. As the elevator rose so did I. When I exited the elevator I saw Luke coming the other way. He was dressed in long pants and a proper shirt and shoes. “Hola Diego!” he shouted, uncharacteristically using Inglañol to signify he was meeting a new Jim. “That was quite an inspiration wearing your ‘Hawking Plan’ tee-shirt to the Queen Bee’s soirée! It goes well with the shorts and sandals, I must say.”
“I left the Board meeting early to call my wife – did I miss something?” I asked, “Should I go back and change?”
“No time!” replied Luke with a chuckle. “Stephanie invited our team and the TABB Planning Board to an entertainment and a buffet dinner in her suite. We’re fifteen minutes late as it is and you know how she likes things on time! I’m late because I have a duty to talk to my wife and children every day. My family comes before TABB. I suppose you’re late for the same reason?”
“Yes Luke,” I answered, feeling somewhat guilty about having wasted time taking a shower.
I was surprised to see Stephanie’s suite included a large reception room, off the living room and to the right of the bedroom. A couple dozen people were sitting in three rows of chairs watching some sort of Japanese kabuki theater. Five entertainers, two men and three women, dressed in traditional Japanese regalia, were enacting a play, with musical accompaniment. Subtitles, in English, appeared on the screen behind them. I noticed a brief subtitle about “space travel” which I kind of doubted was part of any traditional kabuki.
Luke and I found seats in the last row. I looked around. In addition to Stephanie’s team and some Tokyo-based TABB officials, four of the seven TABB Planning Board members were present. It was no surprise the CentAsian and MidEastern members were absent. The third missing member was from NortAmer, but I knew she supported the Hawking Plan and so must have had conflicting plans.
When kabuki was over, Stephanie, dressed in traditional Japanese garb, stood and bowed to the entertainers. “You are each a credit to the Kabuki-za Theater. If we have time on this trip, we will surely come to your theater in the Ginza to see traditional Japanese entertainment.” I was thrilled to look at Stephanie and blown away by her grace and presence. She was physically and mentally and emotionally superior, but in the most modest way possible. “Hola Estephania!” I whispered. Luke turned to look at me and smiled.
“We’ll now get a bit serious with a Shakespearian interlude.” She said. “Some literary professor, or was he an astronomy professor? Whatever, only an ivory-tower academic could come up with the theory that Shakespeare’s ‘Hamlet’ is an allegory on the controversy, during the early 1600’s, between the old Ptolemaic ‘Earth-centered’ cosmology and the new Copernican idea that the stars were like our Sun and the Earth and other planets revolved around them. When Shakespeare has an officer of the king say ‘Something is rotten in Denmark,’ he is referring to Tycho Brahe, a Danish astronomer who defended the old Ptolemaic view, at least according to this professor.
“We no longer embrace a cosmology that places the Earth at the center of all things,” she continued with a new sense of earnestness, “That was totally disproved by science. Yet many here on Earth, and even some members of the TABB Planning Board, reject the idea that it is our destiny to spread human life and civilization to the Heavens. The Hawking Plan, like the Copernican view, challenges the old-fashioned Earth-centered idea.
“We must assure the survival of what our ancestors built here on Earth. And, by our ancestors, I specifically mean the primates and the other animals, as well as the plants and bacteria that have nourished them for the past three billion years on Earth. I include the blue-green algae, the original single-cell life forms on Earth.”
“She has an obligation to the blue-green algae?” muttered Luke under his breath, “What about God?” I turned and nodded.
“When I say human civilization,” Stephanie continued, “I do not ignore the collective organizational instincts of the other animals and plants and bacteria. All of that goes back over three billion years. That is quite a heritage and we are the only animals capable of saving it. We probably have less than a thousand years to do so!
“I was moved, as I know many of you were, when Rabbi James O’Brian read that Edna St. Vincent Millay poem yesterday. We on Earth are almost insignificant by comparison to the Universe. If we don’t continually open our hearts and let our souls soar we will be crushed by its immensity. ‘Pinched hearts’ and “flat souls’ she wrote.
“If we open our hearts wide we’ll find they reach to the ends of the nearly infinite Universe. If we let our souls fly to their ultimate heights we’ll let the face of God shine through and illuminate our very beings. Our hearts and souls will spread human life and civilization to outer space and an infinite future!”
A few of the TABB Board members, led by the African and then the EastAsian, began to applaud and it soon rippled throughout the room. Stephanie bowed to the audience in traditional Japanese style and then turned and bowed to the kabuki.
“Our wonderful kabuki entertainers will use actual lines from Shakespeare, with some modified to relate to space travel. This could be fun! Here, Hamlet is speaking to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. The text will be on the screen behind them, identifying the names of the characters, with Shakespeare’s original words in italics:
HAMLET: O God, I could be bounded in a nutshell, and count myself a king of infinite space, were it not that I have bad dreams.
GUILDENSTERN: You’ll be bounded in a spaceship, and sent to infinite space, where you shall be king of an entire galaxy. That is truly ambition of so airy and light a quality, that it is but a shadow's shadow. And a dream itself is but a shadow.
The audience applauded and then laughed as the actors smoothly segued into Gilbert and Sullivan’s Japanese-themed operetta, Mikado. The Japanese kabuki pretended to be English minstrels pretending to be Japanese:
My object all sublime / I shall achieve in time. / To let the punishment fit the crime. / The punishment fit the crime.
And make each prisoner pent / To outer space be sent. / A source of innocent merriment! / Of innocent merriment!
The advertising quack who wearies / With tales of super sex. / Is put on a spaceship / For life a one-way trip / Accompanied by his ex.
The billiard sharp who anyone catches / His fate’s extremely hard. / He’s shot into space / To a faraway place / A galaxy called “Ill-stared.”
And there he plays extravagant matches / In zero gravity. / Where he breaks his balls / Against spaceship walls. / A terrible sight to see!
Luke leaned over and whispered, “Why do they change the words like that! The original is much better! You know how it goes: 'And there he plays extravagant matches / In fitless finger-stalls. / On a cloth untrue / With a twisted cue / And elliptical billiard balls!' Aren’t ‘elliptical billiard balls’ and a ‘twisted cue’ and a ‘cloth untrue’ far funnier than ‘zero gravity’ and ‘breaks his balls’?”
“Hey,” I replied, “They’re just having fun and promoting the Hawking Plan, for goodness sake! And I never did figure out what WS Gilbert meant by ‘fitless finger-stalls’ …”
“’Finger-stalls’ are protective sheaths for the fingers,” answered Luke. “If you were forced to wear them that would make it much harder to play billiards. Particularly if they were of the ‘one-size fits all’ ‘fitless’ type. But, I guess you’re right, it’s not like they’re changing words written by the Hand of God, right?”
“Right,” I replied, a bit sheepishly. Apparently Luke didn’t know about the máquina del tiempo aspect of the Hawking Plan. He could not be told because he had no official ‘need to know.’
“Rabbi James O’Brian … RABBI JIM!” Stephanie was calling my name and that snapped me out of my conversation with Luke. “Jim, please come up here! Everyone, this is an unscheduled ‘fashion show’ for our new Hawking Plan tee-shirt.”
I stood and walked uncertainly to the small stage, quite self-conscious about my overly casual dress and wondering what she was up to.
“Excellent,” she gushed. “Notice our motto on the front, ‘Save Human Life and Civilization ... For an Infinite Future’ with our stylized DNA-based logo. Please turn around Jim. And, on the back, it says ‘Hawking Plan’ with an image of my great-grandfather. Show them the front again Jim.” I tried to act casual and pose like a model, but I was quite stiff. Never-the-less, Stephanie took my hand and spun me around and the onlookers laughed and some applauded.
“Best of all,” continued Stephanie, “We have a package for each of you to take away as a memento of this evening. You’ll each get a dozen Hawking Plan tee-shirts in various sizes for you, your wife and your girlfriend …” A wave of snickering crossed the audience. She grinned, “I should add, your husband and boyfriend …” More laughter broke out. “Did I say something risqué or funny? Let me restate it more precisely. You’ll have a dozen Hawking Plan tee shirts for your spouse and friends, your children and grand-children.” Everyone applauded and I returned to my seat, much relieved.
“Thank you Jim!” she said. “Before we let our entertainers go, they have one more song to bless us with, ‘To Dream the Impossible Dream’ from Man of La Mancha first performed nearly one-hundred years ago. The words are from the original, we did not have to change a jot or tittle.”
The performers put everything they had into it and the audience responded in kind. By the time the final line was sung, 'To reach the unreachable star!' everyone was on their feet.
“Let us again thank our kabuki performers,” Stephanie said as the five entertainers took bows and everyone applauded. “Weren’t they wonderful? We have a light dinner I believe is ready now.” Everyone applauded again.
I let the TABB Board members load their plates in the buffet area and then got on line. There were two tables piled high with food, one was Japanese- and the other English-style. As I ate with chopsticks I wandered over to a corner of the room and noticed a silver skull and crossbones atop a small cabinet.
“Don’t touch that!” said Luke from behind me, “That’s how the mathematical logic and reason guy lost his job last year. You’ve heard the story of the ‘surprise dismissal’?”
“Yes”, I answered, “But I heard it was because he wasn’t flexible and open-minded enough. What’s in that cabinet?”
“Alcohol and other legal mind-boggling drugs,” said Luke with a grimace. “The Queen Bee serves all comers in more ways than one! Some of the TABB Tokyo office staff and one or two of the TABB Board members indulge in this poison. However, Stephanie will fire anyone in her Branch who touches it.”
“You know, Luke, I wrote a book about the use of mind-altering chemicals in religious services. But, other than a bit of wine, I’ve never touched a drop of it.”
“Good for you! A doctor doesn’t have to have had a disease to cure it.” As we ate and drank, Luke tapped my wrist. “Say, Jim,” he said in a low voice, “I had a chance to look up some of the stuff you brought up at breakfast this morning. Is this a good time to talk?”
“Sure, why not?” I answered. “No one will overhear us.”
“OK,” said Luke. “The first thing I’d like to do is revisit the supposed Pi equals 3.0 issue. I am quite pleased, and I think you were too, with the explanation I gave you this morning, precise to two significant figures. However, if we go back to the original Hebrew, we get an even better approximation! Please don your read-WINs and bring up the English and Hebrew for 1 Kings 7:23.”
“Fine,” I replied, “Here it is.”
1 Kings 7:23 And he made the molten sea of ten cubits from brim to brim, round in compass, and the height thereof was five cubits; and a line of thirty cubits did compass it round about.
כג וַיַּעַשׂ אֶת-הַיָּם, מוּצָק: עֶשֶׂר בָּאַמָּה מִשְּׂפָתוֹ עַד-שְׂפָתוֹ עָגֹל סָבִיב, וְחָמֵשׁ בָּאַמָּה קוֹמָתו וקוה (וְקָו) שְׁלֹשִׁים בָּאַמָּה, יָסֹב אֹתוֹ סָבִיב
“I don’t read Hebrew well,” said Luke, “But I know you do. See the Hebrew word in parenthesis? What does it say and mean?”
“It is Vuv Kuf Vuv, pronounced ‘vikav’ which means ‘a line’.”
“Great!” said Luke, “What is the word before that one?”
“Well,” I replied, “Hebrew is read from right to left, so the word before ‘vikav’’ is to the right of it and is Vuv Kuf Vuv Hay or ‘vikavh.’ Hey! Look at that, it is the same word but spelled incorrectly. It has the letter Hay, the Hebrew letter for ‘H,’ at the end. The parenthesis signifies that our oldest manuscripts have a spelling error. The letter Hay does not belong at the end of that word. Our scribes are forbidden to correct a spelling error, because, according to our literal believers, this may be some special message from God. So they kept the ‘vikavh’ and, in parenthesis, added ‘(vikav)’ which is the correct spelling for ‘a line.’ It would be as if, in English, the oldest manuscript spelled ‘a line’ as ‘a lineh,’ so it would appear in the printed text as ‘a lineh (a line).’ So, where are we going here?”
"We are going,” said Luke, “To expose the hidden message about Pi from God in this supposed error! What is the numerology, the so-called ‘gematria’ for each of these words?”
“OK, Luke,” I replied, “As you apparently know, in Jewish numerology, Hebrew letters are also used as numbers. Put on your read-WINs and link them to mine. Let me bring up the conversion table for gematria on my read-WINs. Here it is, up to four hundred. Each group is in the following order: Hebrew Letter, Name of Letter, Sound of Letter, and Numeric Value according to Gematria:”
א, Aleph, (silent) = 1; ב, Beth, B = 2; ג, Gimel, G = 3, ד, Daled, D = 4; ה, Hay, H = 5; ו, Vuv, V = 6; ז, Zion, Z = 7, ח, Chet, CH = 8; ט, Tet, T = 9; י, Yud, Y =10; כ, Kaph, KA = 20; ל, Lamed, L = 30; מ, Mem, M = 40; נ, Nun, N = 50; ס, Samech, S = 60; ע, Ayin, (silent) = 70; פ, Pay, P = 80; צ, Tzadik, TZ = 90; ק, Kuf, K =100; ר, Resh, R = 200; ש, Shin, SH = 300; ת, Tau, T = 400.
I figured the values and said, “Vuv Kuf Vuv is 6 + 100 + 6 = 112. Vuv Kuf Vuv Hay is 6 + 100 + 6 + 5 = 117. OK?”
“No,” replied Luke, “It should be 106 and 111.”
“106 and 111?” I asked. “OK, if you leave out the first Vuv, which is equivalent to the word ‘a,’ and just count the Hebrew word for ‘line,’ you get Kuf Vuv which is 100 + 6 = 106. Kuf Vuv Hay is 100 + 6 + 5 = 111. OK? Where are we going here?”
“Great, get a good grip on your chair!” said Luke expectantly, “Now divide 111 by 106 and multiply by 3.0. What do you get?”
“I get 3.141509. WOW! That’s almost Pi, isn’t it? Let’s see, Pi is 3.141593. WOWIE KAZOWIE! The first five figures are the same! But, if you round the numbers, they match to only four significant figures, 3.1415 vs. 3.1416. That’s one significant figure better than the way you showed me this morning and also one significant figure better than twenty-two sevenths. Fantastic!”
“I take that as proof God knew the true value of Pi when the first book of Kings was written in Hebrew and He hid the value in what appears a mere spelling error! Are you impressed or what?”
“I must admit I am im…press … surprised,” I said very carefully, “But it’s just another coincidence. What I am impressed with is the ingenuity of the minds of human true believers in coming up with these imaginative explanations.”
“Jim, you recited a poem yesterday and Stephanie mentioned it this evening. Why can’t you widen your heart and raise your soul to this? Jim, please remember the words you read: 'The world stands out on either side / no wider than the heart is wide.' Your heart, I am sad to say, is not very wide, is it? You said 'Above the world is stretched the sky / no higher than the soul is high.' Why don’t you stretch your soul a bit and, as the poem says 'let the face of God shine through'?”
I silently dropped my head and cupped my face in my hands.
“Jim,” Luke said softly, “I see my good friend is struggling with his overly-rational self. Remember, faith and reason are on totally separate coins. They are a million light years apart. You can embrace your faith without turning your back on reason! I do it every working day of my life. So can you!”
“I wish I could,” I said sadly, “I wish I could.”
“Hola Diego! Guess who?” Stephanie was behind me and she had her hands covering my eyes.
"What do you wish you could do?”
“It’s OK Stephanie. Luke and I were just talking …”
“About pleasing me I hope! I really am glad! Like I could kiss someone! Thank each individual now! I’ve got very good news. The four Board members here tonight – a majority of the Board – just committed to vote to authorize funding the Hawking Plan. We’ll have all the funding we requested, with more available for the asking! From here on it’s just a formality. That anal CentAsian Board member, Tsar Sahbaka, and his MidEastern side-kick – what’s his name? – can do nothing about it! Felicitaciones and thank you so much for your excelente support. I couldn’t have done it without my team, mi amigos.” With that, she kissed each of us on our cheeks, hugged us briefly, and trotted off to spread the news.
“Well,” said Luke, “We have a big job ahead of us! Have you had enough of this religioso ‘preaching’ of mine? Want to get up and put on a happy face and celebrate with the rest of our team?”
“No,” I replied. “There’s a rabbinical story of a man who was planting a fig tree when his good friend came by to tell him the Messiah just arrived in town. ‘Let me finish planting this tree and then I’ll go and greet the Messiah.’ Please continue to ‘plant’ your explanations of the scriptures. I’ll try to give you soil that is as fertile as I can manage given my anal rationality”
“OK,” said Luke in considerable surprise. “The key point of Jesus’s genealogy is that He is descended from King David. I looked it up and the gematria for ‘David’ in Hebrew is Daled, Vuv, Daled and that is 4 + 6 + 4 = 14. That explains Mathew 1:17 'So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations, and from David to the deportation to Babylon, fourteen generations, and from the deportation to Babylon to Christ, fourteen generations.'
The Gospel of Mathew traces the passing of kingship, since David was King of Israel as was Jesus. Abraham lived about two-thousand BC; King David about one-thousand BC; the deportation to Babylon was about five-hundred BC; and Jesus, of course zero BC. So, the list of Jesus’s ancestors is not complete, nor was it intended to be so.
Even now, it is common to leave out some ancestors when considering genealogy. For example, Stephanie traces her ancestry back, as the namesake of Stephen Hawking, without mentioning the names of her father or of her grandfather. She, for good reason, goes directly to her very distinguished great-grandfather, skipping two generations.”
“OK,” I replied, “Let me do the math. Fourteen generations from Abraham to David – one-thousand years – would be seventy-one years per generation, much too long, so, Matthew’s genealogy before King David is certainly telescoped. From King David to the Babylonian exile and the exile to Jesus – five-hundred years each – is almost thirty-six years per generation, also too long. OK, the ‘bottom line’ is: the Gospel of Mathew leaves out several generations, just as Stephanie does, and, because the gematria of ‘David’ is fourteen, it includes only fourteen kings in each period.”
“Correct,” replied Luke, “The point was that Jesus inherited kingship via ancestors back to King David. Moving on to the Gospel of Luke, it traces Jesus’s genealogy back through Mary, Jesus's mother, since the Jewish religion passes via the feminine line. There forty-three generations over five-hundred years which is normal.”
“It’s a wise man who knows his own father,” I quipped. “Before the advent of ‘wombs for rent’ and genetic engineering, it was pretty clear who the mother was, so that’s why we pass our religion that way. ‘Who’s your daddy?’ is another story! Success has many fathers, but failure – you’re lucky if you can find the mother!”
“Jim, are you done with the one-liners? Can we continue or would you rather join the party?”
“Sorry,” I replied, looking around at Stephanie and some of her Hawking Plan team members along with the kabuki entertainers and TABB Board members and Tokyo staff dancing and singing – some under the influence of alcohol or drugs. “When these things come to mind I have to say them or my head will explode.”
“There’s no contradiction. Luke traces Jesus’s biological ancestry, via His mother Mary and the female line; Matthew traces the selective kingly genealogy back to Jesus’s legal father, Joseph.”
“Wait a second,” I said, “Joseph is not the biological father of Jesus. Christians believe God is the Father of Jesus, Right?”
“Of course,” replied Luke, “But the formal kingly ancestry traces through the male line, doesn’t it?”
“OK,” I replied, shaking my head, “I said ‘success has many fathers’ and I guess Jesus had three fathers, his legal father, Joseph; his biological father God; and his spiritual father the ‘Holy Spirit.’ That is a logical explanation, in a way, but, if you don’t mind me saying so, it is not nearly as neat as your Pi explanations.”
“Jim,” replied Luke, ignoring the ‘many fathers’ line of thought, “As I’ve said before, these apparent errors and contradictions are meant by God to ‘prove’ the faith of believers. Just as a scratch test ‘proves’ if a stone is a diamond or not, these apparent inconsistencies ‘prove’ if a person has faith or not. Want to go on?”
“Sure,” I replied as the music grew louder and the dancing more energetic, “Why not?”
“Jesus entered Jerusalem for Passion Week, between Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday, riding on a donkey. According to Mark 11:2 the donkey is a colt ‘whereon no man ever yet sat.’ According to Mathew 21:2, it is an “ass, and a colt with her.” Mathew is simply providing more information. They took both the colt and its mother. He may have sat on her for part of the journey.”
“As a non-believer,” I said without much enthusiasm, “It doesn’t matter to me if they had one donkey or a dozen. But, if God literally held the hands of the translators of the KJV, why does Mathew 21:7 say he sat on ‘them’ while Mark 11:7 says He sat on ‘him’? All this seems to me to be weak excuses for errors. However, I appreciate your efforts to show me otherwise. Please proceed.”
“Good,” said Luke, “Let us move on to your last issue, did Jesus enter Jerusalem on the day before Palm Sunday or on the day of Palm Sunday? According to Mark 11:11 to 11:15 Jesus entered Jerusalem the day before, went to look around the Temple, and then, at eventide, left Jerusalem for Bethany. He returned the next day, Palm Sunday, to cast out the moneychangers and so on. Mathew 21:10 to 21:12 doesn’t mention the first visit to Jerusalem and the Temple. In Mathew’s version, Jesus enters the city on Palm Sunday and straightaway casts out the moneychangers. Again the stories match very well, in this case it is Mark who provides a bit of additional information about the short reconnoiter the day before. There is no conflict between Mark and Mathew.”
“You did a good job Luke, explaining these inconsistencies. I just thought of a new one, do you mind if I bring it up.”
“Not at all. I’ll stay here all night if you’d like!”
“OK, I know you’re an expert on genetics and evolution and natural selection and all that scientific stuff. You know it took millions of years for life to develop and evolve on Earth. …”
“Not millions,” interrupted Luke, “Billions, that’s with a ‘B,’ thousands of millions according to the geological and archeological and genetic records. The best information is that the Earth was formed some four and a half billion years ago and single-cell prokaryotic life originated some three and a half billion years ago. It took another two billion years or so for multi-cellular eukaryotic life to evolve. Jumping ahead, the last common ancestor of humans and the other great apes lived about five million years ago, that’s with an ‘M.’ Homo sapiens with brains about our size have been around about a hundred-thousand years, and humans with developed bi-cameral brains with the capability for metaphoric language for about six-thousand years.”
“OK, billions “ I continued, “How do you square that with the Biblical assertion God created the Heavens and the Earth and all the plant and animal life in just six days? How do you square the Bible-based estimate that Adam and Eve, the first humans, were created only about six-thousand years ago? You just said large-brained Homo sapiens have been around for one-hundred thousand years.”
“Jim,” Luke replied, “There are a few excellent explanations. The first and simplest is that those were God days, not human days. God days may be as long as a year or a million or billion years. Since God is Eternal, time does not mean the same to Him as it does to us. Also God, who Created genetics, could have used genetic engineering, as we plan to do with our Panspermia option, to rapidly evolve life up to our advanced stage in thousands rather than billions of years.”
“Excuse me, Luke,” I interrupted, “Are you implying that so-called ‘intelligent design’ theories are true? Those ID nuts claim biological cells are too complex to have come into existence without being designed by God. They mumble something about 'irreducible complexity'. Some ID proponents are willing to accept evolution and natural selection occurred after the initial creation, by God, of those first biological cells.” I was suddenly struck by a most disturbing thought. “Oh my goodness!” I exclaimed.
“What?” asked Luke, “Are you OK? What is going on Jim? Your mouth is wide open and you are looking up at the ceiling. Can I get you some water ...”
“No ... NO! Luke,” I interrupted, “It just occurred to me that our Panspermia option is a ‘stalking horse’ for ID!”
Luke put his hand on my shoulder. “What do you think?”
I looked him in the eye with a bit of an angry glare. “I think you haven't been totally honest with us Luke. It just occurred to me that the Panspermia option, that you have urged us to adopt as the primary direction for our Hawking Plan, will be starting the process with some primitive biological cells and then doing rapid evolution using the current genome. The ID wingnuts claim God designed the initial biological cells and then personally guided their evolution to their current state! Is that a mere coincidence? Are you pushing ID for your own selfish religioso motives? You had me convinced it was the best option. Have you been stacking the deck?”
“Jim, my friend,” Luke replied calmly, “I used my best scientific and technological judgment in evaluating Panspermia against the Embryonic and Noah’s Ark options. I did a fair evaluation. The parallels between Panspermia and ‘intelligent design’ occurred to me, of course. Perhaps biological life, like God, has always existed in the universe. Perhaps projects like the Hawking Plan are God's way of propagating life from one solar system to another. God is Eternal, but we know stars age and become red dwarfs that would destroy life on any planet orbiting them. Life must be transplanted to newer solar systems to survive. I’m proud you! Your specialty is history and religion, but you’ve been a good student of mine over the past few months as I have taught you most of what you know about biology!”
“Thanks for the complement,” I replied, “And you’ve been a wonderfully patient teacher. Aren’t you worried others will recognize the ‘parallels’ between Panspermia and ID and that you are Christian, and put two and two together and get twenty-two? ”
“I can’t help what others may think. That is their business, not mine. I do my best to follow my conscience and my intellect right down the middle, my religious convictions not-with-standing. You can believe me or not. That is your business.”
“Just a minute Luke,” I replied. “If God is Omnipotent, as you believe, why doesn't He simply transplant or create life anew on planets in younger solar systems without waiting for the Hawking Plan to do it? Why doesn't God prevent aging stars from becoming red dwarfs so biological life will be preserved? It seems allowing life to evolve into advanced civilizations and then come up with something like the Hawking Plan and so on to save themselves by going into space is an awfully uncertain and haphazard way to propagate life! Is your God simply playing the odds?”
"My God," answered Luke firmly, "Is also Omniscient. He knows the future with absolute certainty. 'God knows all, but free will is given' is one of the mysteries that may forever remain beyond human understanding. That is all I have to say about the parallels between Panspermia and ‘intelligent design’. Please let’s go on with my explanations for the difference between the six-thousand years since Creation in the Bible and the billions of years in the geological record. For now, please accept that I am not slanting the Hawking Plan studies towards some stalking horse for intelligent design.”
“OK, Luke, I believe you. Please proceed.”
“The second explanation is that Adam and Eve were the first humans to have mastered metaphoric language. Early humans, like animals of today, spoke in non-metaphoric warnings and commands and requests. According to the latest language and brain research, metaphoric languages did not develop until around six-thousand years ago. Since language is necessary for formation of complex thoughts, Adam and Eve, six-thousand years ago, were the first humans whose brains could conceive a fully-flowered conception of God.”
“OK, Luke, I kind of like that one.” I said, “You’ve given two explanations, but you said you had a few. Two is not a ‘few’!”
“The third explanation requires a story. While you were at the DoHiMuTo yesterday morning, I visited a factory south of Tokyo where one of my former colleagues, an industrial engineer, works. They make watches with moving mechanical hands there. Have you ever seen one? My grandmother had one in a glass case. Well, they are the latest youth fashion craze, I can’t understand why…”
“As a matter of fact, my daughter Rebecca has one,” I interrupted, “And she made fun of me because I didn’t know how to read it. I mean, I could read it, but it took me a fair amount of time to do so. OK, so you went to the watch factory. Where are we going here?” Luke began to reply, but I interrupted him again. “Hey! My daughter Rebecca says they have a new model available only in Japan and she wants me to get one for her and a few to give to her friends. Could your colleague at the watch factory get some for me?”
“Sure,” replied Luke, “I’ll call him tomorrow and inquire about availability and cost and so on. Glad to be of service!”
“Thanks,” I said, “Rebecca will be thrilled! Where were we? Oh, yes, I was asking about your story. Where are we going here?”
“So,” continued Luke, “My friend showed me the machine that assembles the watches from the basic parts, you know the hands and gears and springs and whatnot. It takes about thirty seconds for each watch to be fully assembled. I picked up one of the watches as it came off the line and I read the time. The hour hand was between the ‘ten’ and ‘eleven’ and the minute hand on the ‘five,’ so it was ten twenty-five. I checked my read-WINs and the watch was correct!"
“So,” I said, “The machine is connected to the WIN and it knows the time in Tokyo and it quickly advances the gears of the watch to that time. What is the big deal? Where are we going here?”
“Don’t you get it?” asked Luke, smiling broadly. “The watch was created thirty seconds ago – I saw it with my own eyes – yet, according to the position of the mechanical hands, it has been going for over ten hours. God could have created the Earth and plants and animals and humans six thousand years ago and then ‘quickly advanced the gears' of the geological and archeological and genetic 'clocks' to four and a half billion years! How can we tell?”
“Hmm,” I began, “God could have created the world seconds ago and pre-loaded your brain and mine with made-up ‘memories’ of the last thirty years of our lives! But why Luke? Why would God fake the geological and archeological and genetic records?”
“Jim, my friend, you know the answer! To prove our faith!”
“Thank you Luke, I really appreciate your efforts, particularly the use of gematria to derive pi to four significant figures! I think it is time to say adios – I’m sorry, goodbye – and for me to get to bed.”
As I approached Stephanie to congratulate her on the TABB Planning Board decision and thank her for the party, I considered the possibility of getting another lambada hug. Razón told me it was not going to happen in front of the TABB Board members, but my estímulo sexual had fe.
My flag was at half-mast and rising rapidly and I had to think of having sex with the grossly overweight Board member from NortAmer to get it back down. Of course, Stephanie only gave me a light hug. As usual in my case, razón won out over fe.
Never-the-less, my estímulo sexual regained control when I was safely in bed. I had a wonderfully satisfying autoerotic fantasy with Stephanie, and then fell fast asleep.