Tuesday, September 26, 2006
the speed of light
"He simply creates light, a nonsubstance that is like a particle and like a wave, but perhaps neither, just some kind of traveling energy. A kind of magnetic wave. Light, then, becomes a fitting metaphor for a nonbeing who is. God, if like light, travels at the speed of light, and because space and time are mingled with speed, the speed of light is the magic, exact number that allows a kind of escape from time. Scientists have played with atomic clocks, matched exactly, setting one in a plane to fly around the world, and another motionless, waiting for the return of its partner. When they reunite, the one that traveled rests milliseconds behind the one fixed. The faster you move, physicists have found, the less you experience time. And if you move at the speed of light, you will never age; you are outside of time; you are an eternal creature.
But before you strap on your running shoes, you should know scientists warn us that with speed, matter increases in density, so an attempt at the speed of light will have you imploded by the time you hit Wichita, your atoms as dense as bowling balls. And to make matters worse, your density increases on a curve, the faster you go, the greater the density, and though you can get close to the speed of light, matter and that magic speed can never meet; the faster you go, the steeper the trajectory on the graph. You and I, made from molecules, cannot travel at the speed of light and cannot escape time, at least not with a body. Consider the complexity of light in light of the Hebrew metaphor: we don't see light; we see what it touches. It is more or less invisible, made from nothing, just purposed and focused energy, infinite in its power (it will never tire if fired into a vacuum, going on forever). How fitting, then, for God to create an existence, then a metaphor, as if to say, here is something entirely unlike you, outside of time, infinite in its power and thrust: here is something you can experience but cannot understand."