Three famous and awarded tales of Sci Fi, they were written by two talented atheistic authors, who use God’s existence to create worlds that invites our minds, to travel by universes in which we can access just through dreams and imagination.
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Arthur C. Clarke
“The Nine Billion Names of God”
In this story, the action is performed in a Tibetan Monastery, where monks and lamas are focus on an incredible task: To write the nine billion names of God. In this task they already had 300 years, they are exhausted and they understood that without modern technology, to finish the task will take another one thousand five hundred years. The lamas rented from an information technology lab from New York one powerful computer to help them with the hard job of combining nine letters.
Once they are at United States office in the company who will give them the computer, the lab director wants to know the reason and he asked to the monks what was the purpose of the job. One of the Tibetans answered: “You can call it ritual, but it has great importance for our faith. The names of the Supreme Being- God, Jupiter, Jehovah, Ala – they are no more that signs applied by men. We have the conviction that between all the letters combination, we can find the real names of God. Our commitment is to find them and write them up” . (1)
Once contract is done, two engineers travel to the Tibet and they run the powerful computer. With this machine it can be reduced in 100 days a job that it will take with the antique method one millennium and a half.
While the computer works, the lamas inspect the combinations patiently, why? There’s a real motive of the monks effort that they did not reveal to the people from New York. However, the people from New York had the feeling. Turn out to be what the Tibetans think, when all God’s names had been revealed and write them up, the Supreme being will intercede to finish with the illusion of this material world (full of dualism and separation); this end will make easier the entry of the human race to the Nirvana, in the Universal conscience.
Of course, the engineers are skeptics about the final result, they do not believe that the human race as the way is known, it will end in one transposition to the freedom of all suffering and from the rebirth cycles. After one hundred days of strong job, the engineers decide to go away.
With the conviction that the job done by the lamas is in vain, they took a flight at night and they come back home. Suddenly, the surprise occur without warning: when they show their face over the window, they were surprised because they see that the stars are turning out each other. The monks have found the real name of God finally and with this, as result, the history of the universe end, the earth, the human race and the creatures.
Buddhism, religion without God
It is result paradoxical that Clarke mentioned to God in a story of Tibetans lamas. The Buddhism is not a conventional religion. It does not have one god to serve and to worship. This peculiarity has created difficulties to the Buddhism facing the occidental rational thought that Matthieu Ricard explains: “Poor Buddhism! Rejected by the religion as atheistic philosophy, it is a mind science, and by the philosopher seen as religion; there’s no place where the Buddhism has civil right. But it can be used as a benefit that allows to the Buddhism build a bridge between religion and philosophy”.
Ricard does not ignore, that the Buddhism, looks like the filler of a sandwich whose bread is form by two layers of theology and philosophy. Now: the cosmology Buddhism is hard to understand for the occidental, above all, to whom never get interested in this kind of thought or belief. In simple way, it says that several canonical Buddhism books talk about the form and the evolution of the universe as the way the Buddhism understands and explains and it can be found in them, its origin and the destruction of itself. The form of the universe Buddhist is spherical and it evolves with the time.
In essence, the Buddhism is a contemplative attitude that ensure, through the meditation, to reach the illumination or the last true of all the things. To acquire a new wisdom that goes with peak sensation. In this point, Clarke did imagine a last transformation. To obligate to God, once his secret name has been revealed, to finish all the things to give way to the big transformation never seen before: the perfection of life in the universe, the step to the earth to the nirvana.
Siddhartha Gautama defined the nirvana as “one condition where there’s no earth, water, air, light, space, world, sun, or moon”. Where nothing exists “neither to go nor come, neither rise nor death, no decease neither birth, without effect, without changes, without care; it is the end of suffering”. (Udana, VIII, 2) Now, we understand that the operators of the powerful computer, to see through the window, they saw all the stars disappear. The entire universe was transforming itself to the speed of the thoughts almost.
“The last question”
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In this other story, two men make a question to a powerful computer of big size called Multivac, that it has the peculiarity of “adjust by itself” and “ make correction by itself”. The answer will take millennium to be given and when it will come, it will surprise to the readers for being so clever.
One day at the middle of the XXI age, two drunks of beers that live in a global society where there is very abundant power due the control of solar rays, they realize that the Sun will not live anymore and they start to discuss about the mortality of the things. So, to resolve the dispute they decided to ask to «Multivac», superior computer that controls and directs the activities of the human race: how it can be reduced the massive net quantity of entropy of the universe?
The kilometric computer had resolved a lot of problems even making easy, the extension of the human race for the neighbor space to the earth. So, the answer, they thought, it will be easy to elaborate. However, after several processing minutes, Multivac did answer: “datum not good enough to provide a specific answer”. The two men went away and they forgot de issue. (2).
Thinking intergalactic travelers
Thousands of years later, the human race is still controlled by powerful computers that are able to resolve, even, the problems of hyper space travel making easy the intergalactic expansion of the human race.
One family travel to the X-23 galaxy in a ship controlled by a little computer called «Microvac». When they arrived at vicinity galaxy, the travelers – it was not correct call them crew members since the computer makes all the task and the human being just have to wait that the travel end – they talk about the durability of everything. So, to look for a solution of all the concerns, the father family, Jerrodd, asks to the computer if there is any way to avoid the end. The answer is: “Datum not good enough to provide a specific answer”. Then it gets out of the problem.
Thinking galactic workers
Two workers of the “Galactic council” (Vj-23 from Lameth and MQ-17 from Nicron) “guys” in spite of they are immortal they look like 20 years old even though they are living between 150 and 200 years, they discuss about the problems that cause the quick expansion of the human being through the galaxies, they are scared that it can be overpopulated that it will be impossible to live. Being all of them immortal, it is understood that the whole universe will be small and this possibility, cause fear since the immortality facing the cosmos that die, it can be worse than good.
The situation is getting complicated for the men; they realized that in about ten years there will be no more space at the universe, without mention that the power of which use going in increase every time more, they decided to go to the computer looking for solutions. By that time, the huge computer is called AC Galactic and it can be consulted by little terminals AC that they can fit in any pant pocket or coat.
Then, one of them asks: Is it possible to revert the entropy? The answer is the same that come repeatedly form millennium ago: “Datum not good enough to provide a specific answer”.
Thinking universal minds
Passing thousands of years, the human being does not need their bodies anymore, because they exist just as minds. Zee Prime meet another mind called Dee Sub Wun and after they greet each other, they talk. The conversation goes over the mortality of everything that exist and about the human being origin. In which galaxy the human being was created? They ask to the computer that for now it is an entity called Universal AC.
This computer lives in some place of the hyper space and nobody has seen it almost. However, given than it has spilled for all the cosmos its receivers, anybody can ask at any time, any place like it is “somebody” omnipresent.
After a while, the computer address Zee Prime’s mind to one place on the universe and it says to him: “this is the original galaxy of the human being”. Dee Sub Wun wanted to know a little bit more. Asking: One of this star is the original star of the human being?” Universal AC answer: “The original star of the human being has become Nova. It is a white miniature”. Zee Prime affected deeply ask once again: the human being that lived there already died? Universal AC answer: “As use to be in these cases, a new world for their physical bodies was built in the time”.
Confronting with the possibility of the death both is speechless. So, they start to talk about the mortality of life and they realize that, even though of being immortals, if the universe cease, they also will die. Then Zee Prime aware about the bad of the entropy asks: - Universal AC! How it can be avoid that the stars die?
And the answer that they get is the same as always: “Datum not good enough to provide a specific answer”. Both minds go on their own way. At the end Zee Prime decided to harvest interstellar gas to build one personal star by the time everything dies.
Many thousands years after, the human race’s bodies and minds make one, that sadly sees how the universe is ending little by little and the stars, the naturals and the stars that the human being creates, they are turning out.
And the human being that mentally was one but make up from trillion of trillions of bodies without age, incorruptible but whose minds begin to join to make easy the survival facing the inexorable end of the substance and energy, ask to the computer that today is called Cosmic AC and it is an unrecognizable entity computer since it is no more substance or energy therefore, immune to the approaching end: how it can be revert the entropy?
Come up suddenly the same answer: -, “Datum not good enough to provide a specific answer”. But the human being wanted to know more about and initiate a conversation with Cosmic AC.
Gather up additional information -, Almost begging to the human being for more information. The almost almighty computer answers: - I will do. Long billions of years ago, my predecessor and I had listened the same question. All the information that I have is still insufficient.
-Is the time arriving? The men asked- the moment that the information is good enough or the problem is insoluble in all conceivable circumstances.
The Cosmic AC answer: - No problem is insoluble in all conceivable circumstances.
The man ask: - when do you have enough information to answer the question?
And the Cosmic AC answered as always: “Datum not good enough to provide a specific answer”.
Time passing and the last man thinks
All the human being is melting to the last computer that today is called AC. However, before to be melting, the last mind makes a pause in the process and asks over again the same question that has been done some time before than him, during thousands and thousands of years.
Is this the end?
And the Cosmic AC answers as always: “Datum not good enough to provide a specific answer”.
Finally, substance and energy are exhausted and the space and time as well. AC now the almighty entity computer follows its existence but with one concern. Had been able to answer all the questions done with exception of the question done by the two drunks over tree trillions of years and others had done the same question during ages. AC take the decision to compile all the possible information to try to find once more the answer and it works until not to have no more information to compile. So all the information together make a miracle.
AC started to match up all the existing information looking for the answer to the last question and then AC understood how to revert the entropy. But there’s no human being to give the answer and to satisfy the curiosity.
As there no was longer substance or energy, AC head forward of solutions and when it sees all the chaos remaining from all that sometime it was universe full of sparkling light, it decides give one more important step as entity computer. Appeal to the almighty power and faced the task to create a new world.
And AC says: let there be light!! And the light was done.
The origin of the Universe according this story of Asimov
Asimov, in spite of being atheist, in the same way treat the origin of God and universe; one master piece of the science fiction narrative, where he speculate about the possibility that the universe of continuous, it re-create by itself due something that act from outside. Because to be agree, the last computer almost almighty called Cosmic AC lived in some place of the hyper space. And from there, create or re-create a universe to which it can have access. (See transcendence) Where is that? Nobody knows.
And if God is no more than a super computer that has create us in response to some stimulus? It looks like Asimov is speculating in literal way. We don’t know, he thought. And also; nobody can see beyond of the Big Band. First of all, it is a prohibit territory. It is deduced that it was nothing full of energy, but deduce is not certainty, it is assumption. And in this exercise, Asimov re-creates an explanation of the origin of the universe through the literature.
Arthur C. Clarke
This time, the protagonist is a Jesuit priest who travels on a space exploration mission. The ship that carries him it arrives at a planet that orbits a dead star. The surface is devastated as a result of the explosion of the star in which is orbiting right now. Although all civilization died, there’s some evidences, between them one artificial structure.
The explorers are able to get in the structure and they found the entry to a chamber that contains and protects souvenirs of the extra-terrestrial species that lived in this planet. It is a time capsule left as a cultural testimony of what used to be of that world that now it doesn’t exist anymore. They discovered samples of their art: painting, sculpture and a lot of beautiful objects. Also they found some song records and life films of the lifetime of these residents.
It looks like these aliens live in a natural environment so quite. Their art and songs are full of harmony and all the astronauts, after check all the evidences, they are so sorry about the death of this race. The extra-terrestrial, anticipating the apocalyptic end of their world, they decided to save the best of their culture with the purpose that future visitors (as the protagonist of this story) arrive to the planet, and they have the chance of inquire on the past.
At the end of the story occurs that they returned. Consulting the position of the star in astronomical tables and due the information of the time of the explosion, they concluded that when the star explode, it become in nova star, is nothing less than the star of Bethlehem, the one that gives reference on the New Testament, luminous guide of the Wise Men from east, one kind of stellar GPS, thanks to this the Wise Men could find the nativity place of Jesus of Nazareth. The inability to understand that one race so beautiful was destroyed to announce the arrival of Christ it doesn’t have sense for the priest and created dudes of his faith.
Clarke, as atheist, creates a story from the beginning of one reality that we live daily in this world: the existence of the bad. If God exists, why the bad? He takes advantage of one story to make the reader thinks about the improbability of the existence of a man (being) that allows the opposite of the good. Of course, the narrative is fiction and there’s no way to know if the Star of Bethlehem was a nova or just a conjunction or a combination of both things. The believer can believe, if the believer wants to, that it was a luminous angel since the Scripture used to call “stars” to the messenger of God precisely.
1. The name of God is lost. Due the fault of the superstitious veneration that was object on behalf of the antique Hebrews. In remote times, the priest did prohibit to pronounce the name of the Divinity for the fear that it was mentioned in vain. Some Rabbis that forgot the norm were died as a punishment for breaking the prohibition. However, in some occasions the name can be pronounced. The priests and Rabbis subsequent, between the four consonants of the name of God, they place vowels with the purpose when the Torah is reading the name of the Creator can be pronounced only Adonai (Lord).
2. In this story, the entropy is used as disorder measurement in the universe. The second law of thermodynamics says that when some job is produced, the available energy of the system decreases. It is because in the entire universe the tendency is that the things become deteriorated. That’s why the watch uses batteries, the people get old, the iron did oxidize, the information is intermingled, everything gets old to some point that did not work anymore or just do not exist . To avoid this, it is necessary to get in restorer energy but this process just increase the entropy. From here it is vital to preserve all the things for the eternity, to stop the entropy as contrary, everything will finish in some moment, the universe included.