The Thing That Matters

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God, Lucifer, Buddha, Shiva and all the angels, demons and mythological beings of the cosmos looked very worried. Each and every one was scared. They were lined up sitting, lying or lurking on one side of a great table just around the corner from reality.

On the other side of the table sat only three, indescribable beings of immense and immovable power: one of solid matter, one of empty space and one of infinite time.

“Why do you matter?” asked Matter.

“Why should you take up space?” asked Space.

“And what future do you think you have in our universe?” asked Time.

“If all life disappeared from the cosmos, hydrogen would still be hydrogen,” Matter stated as an irrefutable fact, “All the planets and suns would still exist, and all the elements would still remain as they are now. The universe would not notice your disappearance.”

“You need us, but we don’t need you,” added Space.

“So why should you have a future?” repeated Time, creating a sense of deja vu in the room.

All the gods started talking at the same time. The demons howled while angels sang, snakes hissed and old gods screamed of blood, war and sacrifices. Matter waved his hand for silence and Space opened the floor to them to speak one by one.

“Life is filled with love,” God spoke, “Men, women and children–as with all of life’s forms–are beautiful beings filled with love, and love cannot be replicated without life. None of you three can replicate the gravity of star-crossed lovers nor the tenderness of a mother with their child, nor the bond of a dog and his master. Yes, all matter, space and time will be unchanged without us, but the cosmos would be poorer without the love that we inspire in each other.”

“Is this the same love that chops down forests, depletes oceans and molests children?” asked Matter, “Or maybe the same love that brings war, disease and famine? Maybe it is the same love that offers us hatred, racism, sexism and bigotry while destroying all other forms of other life around it?”

“If love comes at such a cost, is it really worth that much?” asked Space.

Time smiled and moved to the other gods.

Lucifer intoned at length about lust and desire. He spoke about the tangled bodies of lovers and the passion of lives that burnt brightly. Then Buddha spoke about reincarnation and the wisdom of many lifetimes accumulating with the good deeds of humanity. Other gods spoke of wonders and empires while older gods spoke of blood and bonds. Some spoke of worship of the stars, Sun and Moon while others spoke of the intricacies of ritual, the knowledge of man and the elements of a savage nature.

“If all life disappeared from the cosmos, hydrogen would still be hydrogen,” Matter stated as an irrefutable fact, “All the planets and suns would still exist, and all the elements would still remain as they are now. The universe would not notice your disappearance.”

“Nothing that any of you have told us changes this fact,” Space added, “You need us, but we do not need you.”

Time smiled and leaned forward. It was the eldest of the three. Space could be cold sometimes and Matter was just stubborn. Neither of them remembered the loneliness of the beginning because Time had been there on its own before Space and Matter had formed. Those dark, miserable beginnings had softened Time a bit and it felt that life should be given a second chance to prove itself, but it was only one vote among three.

“Listen, guys,” Time said, trying to be encouraging, “Just give us something we can use. Anything would work, really. Why does life matter?”

The other side of the table fell silent. It felt like everyone had spoken by now and they were at a loss for what to say next.

Then a small voice piped up from the background. All the gods, demons, angels and other cosmic entities turned around and looked at the back of the room.

It was Science. He was one of the new ones and no one quite trusted him.

“Gentlemen and Lady,” he said, nodding at Time, for he knew that only women take all the time in the world, “Life has given us humans, and humans have given us knowledge, understanding and technology. If you would answer me, Space, Time and Matter, what did you call yourselves before man named you?”

There was silence in the room as the old gods all turned around to stare at Space, Time and Matter. They looked at each other and Matter shrugged.

“We did not refer to ourselves at all, Science, there was no need to. But hydrogen was still hydrogen, and–”

Science smiled and interrupted Matter, “Exactly, humans named you. They have also measured, documented and recorded all your attributes. Like they are steadily doing so for the whole universe. They are witness to your creations, Matter, and your size, Space, and they are subjects to your passing, Time. They are not just the librarians of existences, but they are its audience as well and its guardians as well.”

“That may be true,” Space said, nodding a couple cosmos, “But why does that matter?”

“Because,” Science said, walking passed the old gods to the front and pointing behind the three into a dark, ancient corner in that cosmic room, “Even you three have a master. Even the three of you will cease to exist one day.”

Something stirred in the corner of the room. All the gods, demons, angels and other cosmic entities strained to see what it was in the darkness, but it did not seem to have a form. Space, Time and Matter all glanced nervously at the spot, though, and Time cleared her throat.

“Yes, as the Singularity formed us, so will it eventually eat us all. Why is this relevant?”

Science’s smile widened, “No matter what you throw at life, it finds a way to survive. It has even begun to leave the planet and reach into the vacuum beyond it. And, benefiting from the passage of time is in fact life’s greatest achievement as evolution exponentially strengthens it and knowledge compounds across generations.”

The room was silent as all present beings hung on Science’s every, precise word.

“No matter what, gentlemen and lady, life finds a way to survive. Life wants to survive. That means that life’s ultimate goal will be to find a way to survive the Big Collapse when the Singularity stops expanding and starts contracting and destroying reality. That means, gentlemen and lady, that life is your only chance of salvation beyond the realm of the Singularity. With all of the matter, space and time in the world at your disposal, have any of your three found a way to survive the Singularity’s ultimate reversal?”

Space, Time and Matter all shook their heads in silence. The room was quiet. Even the old gods had their eyes wide open, straining to catch a glimpse of this mystical Singularity. Many of their own myths had called it different things, from Ragnorak to Apocolypse, Day of Judgement, Armageddon and many, many others.

In some shape or form, they all knew it was coming.

But only Science had an idea how to survive it, even if he had not thought of it yet.

Matter smiled. He might be stubborn, but he preferred existing over not existing. That was the essence of matter, after all. Space nodded too.

“Very well,” Time said, ending the meeting, “Life may need us to exist, but we may also need life one day too. There is no harm in letting this experiment continue.”

Great cheers erupted from God, Lucifer, Buddha, Shiva and all the angels, demons and mythological beings of the cosmos, but Science just smiled. He knew the real work was only just beginning. In that dark, ancient corner, the Singularity still slept. One day, Science knew, he would have to face it and, one day, he knew, he would have to defeat it.

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