With a growing list of questions, we leave the zoo behind and make our way back to the RV. We have a long day of exploration tomorrow, and by the sound of it, a long night to get through as well. As soon as the sun set, the wind picked up significantly. The tankcraft had no trouble pushing through, but if they weren’t enclosed, the trek back would have been near impossible.
We left them parked outside for the night and I briefly wonder if that was such a good idea. But at two-thousand pounds each, they are in no danger of blowing away. What they are in danger of is getting hit by large chunks of flying debris. To reduce the likelihood of that, we parked them behind the shielding of the RV.
The RV is getting rocked by the wind, sometimes violently. The sound of debris pelting the outside sounds like a torrential downpour of rain. If only that were possible.
While the rest of the team is in the back of the RV prepping for bed, I quietly and casually ask Brooklyn about the mission I put her on before leaving for the zoo.
“It’s definitely not a diagnostic tool,” she says softly. “It’s passcode protected so I wasn’t able to access it, but I think it’s a communicator, of some kind.”
She’s referring to the device I saw cleaner using the other day.
“It’s not what we use to communicate back to Home Base?” I ask just above a whisper.
“No. It might be using the same satellite, but it’s got its own encryption.”
“Do you know if he was actually communicating with someone?”
“No way to tell. For all we know, he’s just listening for chatter. Or nothing at all.”
“Thanks,” I tell her patting her on the shoulder.
As I head to the back I pass Darwin sitting in his bunk, reading his tablet again. I take a quick glance at it and am surprised to see that he’s reading a digital copy of the Bible.
I stop and turn back to look at him, perplexed.
“What’s up LT?” He says, reading my face.
I’m not sure how to ask, so I preface it first. “I’m not trying to be a jerk, I’m just curious about something.”
“What’s that?” He says.
“Let’s put aside the idea that you’re a scientist and reading a Bible—which is rare in its own right. But doesn’t any of the things that have happened over the past few months pretty much put the final nail in the coffin on the whole idea of the existence of God?”
“Doesn’t time travel itself invalidate the whole concept of God watching over us? I mean, where is he watching? The present or the future? I don’t know, maybe I’m not making any sense.”
“Honestly, I hadn’t really given it much thought,” Darwin replies. “I mean, on a personal level, no. Nothing can invalidate God any more than it could invalidate you. I know you’re standing right in front of me, just as I know God is always with me.”
“Yeah,” I say, furrowing my brow. “But I’m visible.”
“Sure, but every scientist knows there are things that exist that we cannot see. It doesn’t make them any less real. I know God is real because I know God.
“But on a more scientific level, science has been completely unable to disprove the existence of God. The best it can do is disprove the box that we have created to try to explain God. God wrote the rules of science when he created the world. Science only discovers what God has already made possible.”
“But religion has a history of vehemently asserting things that have later proven to be at odds with science.”
“Which is also true of science,” Darwin replies. “How many times throughout history has science proven itself wrong? And I don’t mean just proven or disproven ‘theories,’ but facts that many scientists—to use your word—‘vehemently’ believed were true? Stephen Hawking, one of the greatest scientific minds of our age has changed his mind about black holes, the theory of everything and grand design—all things that were, at least in his mind, scientific fact.
“Science as a whole has a history of changing what we believe to be true, even on things that were previously considered ‘settled.’ Which is as it should be. Science is about discovery, and any good scientist is open to having his beliefs challenged. It’s these challenges that make it possible for new scientific discoveries to be made. Advancement stops when we refuse to allow challenges to our existing scientific beliefs and when we adhere to a specific dogma that is based on what we want to believe. That’s when science stops being science and becomes religion.”
“But the Bible doesn’t say anything about time travel,” I say. “Now that we know time travel is possible, doesn’t that make the Bible irrelevant to us today? And if it’s true that we can’t change history, doesn’t that remove any aspects of free will?”
“The Bible also doesn’t say anything about cars or the Internet, either, but that doesn’t mean those things are incompatible with scripture. The existence of one doesn’t disprove the existence of the other.
“You ask if history is settled. Whether it is or not, whether we find history can be changed or we confirm it, neither of that matters to God. Because God is timeless. From our perspective, we are watching a parade as it passes in front of us. God sees the whole parade. We don’t know everything that happened before, or what happens after each float passes, but God does. And just because he knows every detail of what happens to both parade and spectator doesn’t take away from the choices every person makes.”
I purse my lips, thinking about his words.
Darwin takes the opportunity to make one last point. “Think of it this way; just because I know Brooklyn is going to make a sarcastic comment, doesn’t mean I’ve taken away her free will to do so.”
“The problem I have believing in God is that if he loves us, why would he let so many bad things happen to us?” I’m of course thinking about my dad and my daughter.
“Well, that brings us back to the nature of love. We would not consider God loving if he didn’t give us the freedom to make decisions as we choose. And like a good parent, he sometimes has to let us learn from our mistakes. Free will isn’t really free will unless it comes with the corresponding consequences of our choices.
“Humans are funny. We’re like teenagers who don’t want to be told what to do, but then complain when things don’t work out the way we want. You can’t have it both ways. Most people don’t want to live by God’s rules, so God gives us the freedom to choose our own way. But then we complain that God doesn’t rescue us from the negative consequences of our decisions.”
“So what’s the point of prayer, if God never intervenes?”
“I never said ‘never’,” Darwin replies. “God is always trying to speak to us—to influence our choices—in order to bring the best possible outcome. Sometimes we unknowingly listen to that influence, and sometimes we ignore it completely.”
“But if free will doesn’t exist—if time travel proves we are powerless to change the paths before us? Will that impact your beliefs?”
“We’ll see,” He says with a wink. “That theory has yet to be proven.”
I nod, giving this some thought. As I start to turn back toward my bunk Darwin says he’s got a joke for me.
“Okay,” I say cautiously.
“Science, religion and God: Which of these doesn’t fit with the others?”
“I’m gonna go with science, but something tells me that’s not the right answer.”
With a smile, Darwin says, “God. He’s the only one that doesn’t change His mind.”