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According to what WordPress tells me, someone recently found this blog by Googling “Are cyanobacteria from God?”

Google directed them here because of this post and because of many posts mentioning God. But I have no actual post relevant to those search terms. I felt bad because whoever they were, they did not receive an answer for their question.

So, as far as I can, I will answer it now.

Are cyanobacteria from God?

There’s two ways to begin this inquiry. First is the possibility that cyanobacteria specifically are from God. That is: is most of creation theologically neutral or even negative, but cyanobacteria are a specific agent of God’s will, a means, like Jesus, by which the Holy One wrought a definite work upon reality?

Now cyanobacteria were, by general scientific consensus, the source of earth’s oxygen atmosphere. Several billions years ago, cynaobacteria metabolized the carbon dioxide then blanketing the world on such a scale, and for so long, that it produced an oxygen-heavy environment. So we could say that the relative barrenness of the world prior to the creation of that oxygen was an aspect of the world’s fallenness. In that scenario, oxygen was necessary so that organisms capable of redemption might evolve. This makes the creation of the oxygen atmosphere the first step in salvation history, and therefore cyanobacteria are most definitely from God.

I must admit, I am not inclined toward that idea.

I would consider the holiness or lack thereof of cyanobacteria in the larger context of the holiness or lack thereof of nature in general. I wrote a post on another blog about that once. Put simply, I’ve always had a strong sense that nature was from God, but the picture of nature developed via science over the past five hundred years or so shows it to be amoral—that is, in effect, evil.

In that scheme, cyanobacteria are no more or less good or evil or amoral than any other organism. They simply are, just like any other organism. Though they had a special and interesting role in natural history, there is nothing to distinguish them from their fellow organisms.

Therefore, if there is God, cyanobacteria are as much from God as anything else. Like all other organisms, they are fallen—they are not entirely as God intended. God’s will is that the lion will lie down with the lamb. What that means in terms of cyanobacteria is unclear. Perhaps it means that, after Judgment Day, when the universe is restored, they will cease to emit toxins fatal to many other animals. We can’t know.

So to give you a firm answer, unknown searcher: Yes, cyanobacteria are from God. All the plankton and protists are from God. All creatures and all things are from God. Not to remain as they are. Not to remain fallen. But all to be redeemed, to be remade as they were made, to go back to God. And all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.

In 1850, the population of the world was 1.2 billion. When I was born, it was 3.6 billion. Currently, it is 7.7 billion.

In the same way, in 1850, the population of the United States was 23.2 million. When I was born, it was 203.2 million. It is now 327.1 million.

Each one of those additional human beings is doing something: creating, working, interacting with others. Each human creates information.

So if it was difficult to know even a representative sample of all the information world in 1860, it must be proportionally more difficult now.

This is a problem for education. To educate a young human being, to ensure they have the information and skills necessary to grapple with the world, is difficult enough. The degree of difficulty increases with the total amount of information existing. We can expect the challenge of education in our society to only intensify.

Any good idea is worth having more than once.

If Philosopher A realizes a Great Truth and Philosopher B realizes the same Great Truth, it doesn’t mean Philosopher B copied Philosopher A. It means that if something is objectively True, different people will realize it at different times, each with their own angle.

In the same vein, if something is truly True, any given realizer of that truth should not be adored too much for doing so. What is great is the truth, not the person who realizes it.

Was reminded this morning of a dream I had in the spring of 2009:

I, along with a party of dreamfolk, had been kidnapped by a group of cannibals. But these cannibals were not so banal as to simply murder and eat us. Instead they forced to run an elaborate and deadly obstacle course. We weren’t supposed to get through it. They intended for us to succumb to one of the lethal hurdles within, so they could fall upon our corpses Sawney-Bean style.

But somehow, miraculously, we made it to the end. The cannibals were waiting for us at the finish line. We assumed they would be furious at being thwarted and braced for an assault.

But no. They merely congratulated us. They seemed impressed. Then one of their number, a dwarf, raced among all the survivors, dabbing our hands with a pastry brush dipped in skin-soluble LSD.

Was this a new trap? Would they expose us to horrible things so we would tear out our own eyes in the depths of the worst of bad trips?

Nope! Again, much to our surprise, the cannibals showed us hospitality. They brought out colorful toys and children’s books. We all had a happy psychedelic time.

Nothing bad happened. Once we came down, the cannibals, apparently considering us prime talent, invited us to join them. They offered us brochures and VHS videos on how to kill and eat human beings.

I declined, though politely. I still didn’t want to risk angering these homicidal manics.

Then I woke.

The original idea for this came to me in 2002. At one work one afternoon, I was seized by the ethos of the rock visions of the 70s—specifically, Jefferson Starship’s Blows Against the Empire, although certainly it applies to Rush’s 2112, Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust, Genesis’s “Watcher of the Skies” and similar—and wrote the first version of this in a rush, sending it only to one friend who might understand. Recently I was reminded of that day, so I polished up UE20SSFRO and am posting it here.

I am not a composer, and have not the tiniest desire to make this work a reality. But I love the idea of it.

UE70SSFRO may be imagined as a double LP album covered in eye-popping art, the sort of art made to be painted on the sides of vans. The following text, a libretto, appears as liner notes in the album’s gatefold. The song titles are in parentheses, although I don’t think they represent a complete list of the opera’s tracks. There must always be songs left in potentia.

Side 1

In the early 22nd century, humanity stands on the brink of its final crisis, social, geopolitical, and ecological.(“Fever”) At the edge of the solar system, two giant alien space fleets, their ships very different in design, appear and head directly for Earth.

The fleets send messages as they approach. One, a flotilla of identical silvery ovoids, is of the Sereneium. The other, composed of junkyard juryrigs, each one different, holds the Zodiac Tribes.
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