In the beginning, there was only God and all else was nothingness. God looked into the void and knew He was alone. And even God, who was infinitely knowledgeable, could not understand His own loneliness.
As He gazed at the endless vacuum, He thought, “I wish I was admired.” He mistook His vanity for inspiration, and with a few words He created a universe. He created stars and planets and the dust that lingers between galaxies. And He created life.
God looked upon all that He had made, and He became self-conscious. “This is bad,” He thought. “This is fucking garbage.” And so the universe that He made with a few words He unmade with one.
But God was still vain and He was still alone. So, after a millennium of anxiety, He tried again. He weighed His words carefully, fearful of pretense and artifice. When He was confident in His vision, He spoke again and again a universe was created. And lo, He hated this one more than the first.
“Nothing about this is original,” He thought. “It reminds me of my last universe, but less organic.” And so again He unmade all that He had made.
Another universe followed the second. Like the second, it was unmade with a word; three universes He had created and destroyed. And a fourth followed the third. And a fifth followed the fourth. Countless universes were and were not. And God’s agony knew no end.
In the midst of this eternity of trial and error our universe was born. And, you, as you hear my words, may imagine that this is how the story ends; that we are the culmination of all of God’s aspirations and pains. But His time is not our time, and our history may only be the moment between our creation and the first pang of God’s disappointment.
And that is why man, as the only living thing that can hope to understand the arbitrary tastes of God, must strive to be good.
The Last Particle
I have a colleague in the computer science department who has devoted his life to the creation of artificial intelligence. He’s a hateful misanthrope who I have never heard express an even vaguely humanitarian thought, and yet I happen to know that he fantasizes about birthing the singularity, that he dreams of using nanotechnology to create an immortal mind, a cloud consciousness that cannot die.
I asked him why once. How, I wondered, did he reconcile this ambition with his obvious disdain for human life. Was he hoping that his AI would be better than man, that it would be more deserving of eternity?
I thought maybe he would laugh, but he didn’t. “Entropy,” he said, “is irreversible. Someday, billions and billions of years from now, the universe is finally going to exhaust its limited supply of energy, and everything will stop. Motion will be impossible. Heat will be impossible. Life and thought, even artificial life and thought, will be impossible. But just before that moment, one particle will move. It will be the last thing that ever moves. And when it moves, when it moves for the very last time, I want it to be afraid.”