Life, The Universe, and OPRA
-Here’s a little something that I wrote for OPRA that didn’t feel right for Audioholics. Here it makes much more sense 🙂
The universe is a strange and wonderful place. It is full of mysteries and conundrums. In the dark corners of the Internet, people worry, wonder, and pontificate on its majesty, mightiness, andâ€¦ umâ€¦ mysticalness? Anyhow, the universe is cool and all, but it tends to make people a little nutty. Not from living in it so much as in trying to lock down exactly how it started. Or became. Or winked into existence as a popped pimple on the back of a giant banana slug. Well, we here at The OPRA Coalition have identified and explored the different viewpoints so that we can present this monumental issue in a coherent, concise, and, um, clear manner. Oh, and weâ€™ll relate all this to audio in some way. We promise.
Big Bang and Evolutionalism
You canâ€™t enter a preschool these days without hearing the theory of the Big Bang. For those of you that have been living under a rock or in a monastery all your life, the theory of the Big Bang is that the universe started with an explosion. And not just any ole explosion, but a massive one. The real issue is two-fold â€“ what exactly caused the explosion and what went on before. Well, before we get into that, a bit of background is needed. Apparently, according to the theory, all the matter in the universe (yes this means all the planets, you, me, your speakers, the hot chick that wonâ€™t talk to you, etc.) was contained at one point. Now, I donâ€™t think theyâ€™ve determined how big that point was or how much beer and the exact number of strippers it took to get it all gathered at the same location. But apparently, it was all there. No one knows how long or what happened in the untold eons before the Bang, but at some point, it exploded.
And apparently it is still exploding. â€œScientistsâ€ look into their gizmos and doodads, nod at each other seriously, and exclaim that the universe is still expanding. And according to their infallible calculations, it is all expanding from a central point. Now, they donâ€™t have a precise location where it is expanding from but from what I can gather, it is in the general vicinity of a trailer park in Mississippi. Anyhoo, it is apparently moving away from Mississippi (like about everyone I know) though it will collapse back at some point in time. Which just goes to prove, you can take universe out of the trailer park but you canâ€™t take the trailer park out of the universe.
So the question remains, what was all that matter doing in Mississippi in the first place? Sure, moonshine and three-toothed women are fun for a weekend. But for an infinite period of time? Seems unlikely to me. No, more likely all the matter got to Mississippi, realized it was in Mississippi, and fled. En masse so to speak. Hense the Big Bang.
Now, after the Big Bang, the universe, as we know it, was formed when this exploding matter collided and got stuck to each other. That created planets and asteroids and suns and such. Eventually, this matter got busy in some freakish, chemical way to create life. I know what you are thinking: youâ€™ve got a big vat of matter out back and youâ€™ve never seen anything crawl out of it. Me either. But scientists donâ€™t let anything so trivial as empirical evidence talk them out of their beliefsâ€¦ oops, I mean theories.
Actually, this was a new one to us. The idea of a supreme being creating the universe in his or her image is both frightening and reassuring. Frightening in that we were fairly sure before learning of this theory that OPRA was all powerful. Well, Mostly powerful. On the other hand, it is reassuring to think that the universe was built with a plan in mind. Now, weâ€™re not happy that the plan involved the eventual destruction of the universe in what can only be termed the worst dinner guest ever. Really, he shows up and the world ends? Sheesh.
Anyways, weâ€™re getting ahead of ourselves. Apparently, according to this theory, the universe was created by an all-knowing, all-powerful being that has no beginning and no end. This being, sometimes a man, sometimes a woman, and sometimes a monster made of pasta, has always just been. Now one day this being decides that it would be swell to create a universe. He/She/It already had this legion of beings, called angels, around to do its bidding (what that could have been before there was a universe one wonders) and worship it. Well, that just wasnâ€™t enough. No, it had to create a whole world of creatures and give them free will. Free will means that they could choose to worship it or not. Of course, if they didnâ€™t, they would burn in hell for all eternity but hey, themâ€™s the breaks.
Butâ€¦ butâ€¦ butâ€¦ Yeah, I know, there are a lot of buts. Dinosaurs, fossils, ancient civilizationsâ€¦ all these and more kind of flies in the face of strict Creationalism. Well, themâ€™s all tools of the Deeevill (the angel that tried to be god and got bitch slapped which kind of sounds like the angels had a little free will of their own but hey, a few minutes with a fundamentalist will show you that logic and religion are akin to oil and water). They were all put there just to test our faith. You can see and touch them, sure, but they donâ€™t mean nothing. And if you say they do, youâ€™re a godless heathen that isnâ€™t worthy to watch Benny Hinn.
Well, apparently, spending eternity in everlasting agony isnâ€™t just reserved for the â€œscientistsâ€ and anime fans (you know you watch it for the tentacles). Eventually, a Creationalist got a high school diploma and thought that perhaps, just perhaps, there could be a happy medium between Creationalism and Evolutionalism. Of course, that medium was a little more Created than Evolved. Intelligent Designalismers believe that any and all inconsistencies in the theory of Evolutionalism can be explained by the hand of god. So if there isnâ€™t a fossil that explains an animalâ€™s transition from a single cell organism to, say, a multi-cellular bird of prey able to fly in excess of 50 miles per hour with big nasty teethâ€¦ well, god did it.
The beauty of this theory is that no matter what happens, it is never wrong. You can use the hand of god to explain any discrepancy in Evolutionalism until that discrepancy is resolved through a new discovery. Then the Intelligen Desgnalismers say, â€œWell, OK, but god did this other thing over here that you canâ€™t explain.â€ The beauty is in its simplicity. Evolution happened, natural selection happened, but all the while god nudged it along. Whenever it got stuck, god would flick it with his little finger or squish it with her thumb depending on the need. And all of this help, all of it is only to get the universe to the point where humans could exist. So that they could be smited if they donâ€™t believe in him.
Seems a little egocentric, I know, to think that the whole purpose of the universe has been one huge womb for humanity but thatâ€™s the theory. But hey, every universe has to have a purpose and to be the caretakers of the human race is as good a purpose as any. Butâ€¦ if that truly is the purpose, why is it so big? Do we really need more than one solar system to encourage man to strive for the stars? I donâ€™t think so. The moon and a couple of planets would have sufficed. Of course, if there were a planet that had plants that grew kegs of beer and an animal that shed porn mags, weâ€™d have achieved interstellar travel a millennia ago.
All the rest
But that canâ€™t be it, right? With all the billions of people on the earth there must be more theories than these three. For the most part, these are all western ideas based around an atheistic or monotheistic doctrine. There are plenty of eastern religions that involve a pantheon of gods, tribal beliefs involving animals, plants, and the planet in general, and any number of small cults, factions, and pop-star inspired trends. Surely these deserve a mention?
No, no they donâ€™t.
The Summary ala OPRA
So now that you know the players and their basic arguments, youâ€™re probably wondering, â€œHowâ€™s all this related to audio?â€ At this point, so are we but hold on, weâ€™ll come up with something. First, letâ€™s synthesize. Evolutionalism says that life started at some point, before which the universe consisted of a huge ball of matter sitting somewhere outside of Pascagoula just waiting for the right moment/catalyst to explode. Now, we canâ€™t know, nor can we ever know what happened before the Big Bang. Apparently, at the point of the Bang, the mass of matter was an infinitely dense singularity. And by definition at the point of a singularity, the laws of physics break down. So, even if there was something before the Bang, there wasnâ€™tâ€¦ or couldnâ€™t beâ€¦ or something. Regardless, the more you look into the idea of the Big Bang, the more and more it smacks of religion. Of course, suggesting that a theory and a belief could in some way be similar is akin to kicking a â€œscientistâ€™sâ€ mom in the nads. Their little faces get beet red, veins start to pop, and they develop nervous ticks. Itâ€™s kind of cute really. You should try it. Answering the door covered in red paint holding a goat skull when the Jehovahâ€™s Witnessâ€™sâ€™esâ€™s come aâ€™callinâ€™ garners you a similar reaction.
Now, Creationalists and Designalists believe that god did it. Anything they canâ€™t explain is more proof of the existence of this supernatural being. Every contrary piece of evidence is either waved away like an annoying mosquito or twisted into more evidence supporting their beliefs. Example:
â€œScientistâ€ â€“ We just found the missing link! Ha! See evolution is right! The lynchpin of your argument for a god-being has been destroyed! What say you?
Disignalist â€“ Praise the Lord! God has given us yet another sign of his ultimate plan!
â€œScientistâ€ â€“ Whaâ€¦.?
Disignalist â€“ See how that fossil is holding his hand? That is an ancient sign of worship of the Lord. See, it says it right here in First Lonestar chapter 3 verse 22.
â€œScientistâ€ â€“ First Lonestar? Iâ€™ve never heard of that book beforeâ€¦
Disignalist â€“ Oh, you havenâ€™t? It was recently uncovered in a dig in Mesopotamia. Youâ€™d be surprised how often these things pop up.
â€œScientistâ€ â€“ Ummâ€¦..
You see, it is useless to argue with them. Of course, they also believe that you canâ€™t get into heaven with any sin on your soul. But you can get your sins removed by an act of contrition. Depending on the denomination (which has nothing to do with money â€“ well, churches have everything to do with money but that is a different discussion altogether) these acts can range from a personal conversation with the god-head to having to sit in a room with a priest (which, we are discovering, is not as innocuous as we were initially led to believe). Thatâ€™s why you see old people either in church a lot or handcuffed to a priest. They need to be as clean as possible. Theyâ€™d hate to die right after sinning and have to spend all eternity in hell with the atheists who are constantly complaining, â€œOh why didnâ€™t we just hedge our bets?! Why didnâ€™t we just pick a religion and pretend? If we were right, weâ€™d be rotting in the ground, but being wrong just sucks!â€
The Answer ala OPRA
Alright, enough of this discussionâ€¦ break it down for us OPRA! OK, here it goes. They are both right, in a way, and both so very wrong. Sure, there is an Ultimate Being and sure They created the universe. This being, however, while omnipotent, has succumbed to the one true evil in the universe. Thatâ€™s not to say that this being (or group of beings â€“ OPRAâ€™s hedging his bets just in case that whole lightning bolt thing from Olympus is true) is the personification of good. Far from it. Being omnipotent only means you have great power. When was the last time someone had great power and was considered even a little good. I canâ€™t remember.
But that doesnâ€™t mean They are evil â€“ just not good. But there is evil. No one disagrees that there is a central reservoir of evil somewhere in the multiverse. There must be. All those serial killers, fossil fuels, Nancy Pelosiâ€¦ the evidence is clear. Evil exists and it is trying to exert its effect on the universe. The universe that this ultimate being created.
But why? Why did They create this universe? Well, that is easier to answer than you think. If you woke up and found yourself omnipotent, what would be the first thing youâ€™d do? We all know the answer to that question. But after a couple of millennia of sex with supermodels, youâ€™d probably get a little bored. So youâ€™d take up Texas Holdâ€™em. But thatâ€™d get boring since youâ€™d know all the other playerâ€™s hands and/or always be dealt a royal flush. So then it would be snowboarding, then back to supermodels, then waterskiing with supermodels, then calligraphy, and so on. Eventually, youâ€™d get bored. Terminally bored. So bored that youâ€™d do ANYTHING for some entertainment. And thatâ€™s how evil would work its way in.
It would offer promises of non-stop entertainment at your beck and call. Any type of entertainment you could possibly imagine and more. At your fingertips. So evil would sell you a small cube system with a bass module, a high def TV, and a recliner. It would hook it all up with cabling that costs more per inch than all the rest of the components combined (because it will totally open up the soundstage). Youâ€™d have 15 monoblocks per channel so youâ€™d have plenty of headroom, cable risers to protect against static charges built up on your shag carpet, and a direct feed from a star running through a power conditioner to ensure plenty of clean voltage. But what would you watch?
Now here is where it gets really evil. There isnâ€™t anything! Youâ€™re omnipotent, floating in an empty void. So you need to create something; something to watch. Poof, you create the universe. The ultimate â€œrealityâ€ TV. And for a while, it is just kind of coalescing and that gets pretty boring, so you speed it up. You sneeze and oops! thereâ€™s life on the planet. Now weâ€™re getting somewhere! So you watch that for a while. But thereâ€™s only so much Animal Planet you can take so you flick a booger at the planet to restart the process. Finally, an animal with arms, legs, and half a brain forms. They climb trees, use crude tools, and throw feces. Now THAT is entertainment! So, with a little nudge here, and a push there, youâ€™ve got humans. The Real World: Earth. Not bad. But what is â€œrealityâ€ TV without some controversy? Letâ€™s feed them an apple, make them embarrassed to be naked, and introduce the concept of murder. Once they get old enough, giveâ€™em guns, potato chips, hair care products, and the technology to rape the planet for their own good. Group them together by color so that when they meet others, theyâ€™ll be afraid and try to enslave/kill them. Have a few â€œnatural disastersâ€ to see how theyâ€™ll react. A disease here, a genocide there, a sprinkling of hate and voila! Eonâ€™s of fun.
But thereâ€™s been a disturbing trend. Humans have started watching other humans in â€œrealityâ€ shows. Further investigation has shown that the same evil that invaded and subverted the Creatorâ€™s mind, is slowly working its way into the world. Of course, it hasnâ€™t taken totally control yet, but its emissaries, Burnett and Probst, are doing their best to see that it subverts the minds of all the beings on earth. I understand they are piloting a new â€œrealityâ€ show for ants. It is shot inside an anthill and the queen is on a total power trip. She sends two of her daughters on a road trip to other colonies in the vicinity to learn what real work is. The hitch is that the â€œworkâ€ is really thinly veiled attempts to weed out the queenâ€™s competition. Itâ€™s called The Messor Life.
Well, the Supreme Being doesnâ€™t much like this. Sure, there are plenty of people running around doing things, but it is only a matter of time before the entire population is either on or watching a reality show. On top of all that, the Creator is starting to suspect that those small speakers Heâ€™s been listening to all these eons are substandard and that He got totally hosed on the cables. Apparently, He stumbled across a website when looking for information about the Samsung AV-R3000 receiver Heâ€™d been eyeing. Unfortunately, evil has changed its cell number and so far the Creator has had no luck tracking him down. This spells trouble for the universe as the minute it stops being entertaining, itâ€™s toast. And if He upgrades that bass module to a proper sub, weâ€™re going to be looking at, at the very least, a rash of natural disasters. Thereâ€™s nothing like an earthquake, tornado, or meteor to impress the neighbors enough into calling the cops.
So, donâ€™t let Burnett and Probst win. Just say no to â€œrealityâ€ TV. Go outside and do something entertaining. It is good for you, good for the planet, and good for the universe. And, in case you are wondering â€“ â€œentertainingâ€ is by definition clothing optionalâ€¦ unless you have a hairy back. Then you should either wax or put a shirt on ya gorilla.