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February 13th, 2019

Time Travel

A thing that is occupying my thoughts recently comes from hearing about my father's spiritual journey over the years. Somewhere around 15-20 years ago, he became interested in thinking about what is termed the "Universe Story," which is centered in thinking about the miracle of human life in the context of humanity's current understanding of the origins of the universe, our solar system, and our planet. If you look back in history, this is something that a number of religious traditions have grappled with over time - think Galileo and Catholicism, for one (what I'm most familiar with due to being raised Catholic).

This is a thing that often intersects with what I tend to phrase as my "existential crisis" - coming to terms with the limits of human understanding of our own existence. Reductionism and other scientific approaches really only get us so far, but we can still know a few things from them. In particular, part of being a living organism is exchange with our surrounding environment: we breathe in oxygen-rich air, and that oxygen becomes a part of us for some period of time. Eventually, much of it is released back into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide. The same is true of the elements we eat: we hold on to individual elements for different periods of time, but eventually they are released back into our surroundings.

From this perspective, we also wind up hitting against that philosophical question about whether an object is still the same thing if all of its individual parts have been replaced over time.

It's that time component that's capturing me at the moment. On the one hand, our lives seem so short, for all that many stages of life wind up being uncomfortable. On the other hand, the perspective that the Earth is our ancestors has a lot of merit in my book - look across religious beliefs, and this theme is repeated.

I don't know if there's comfort for other people in considering death as a form of time travel, but given its eventual inevitability, perhaps it's a small comfort at times.

This entry was originally posted at https://rebeccmeister.dreamwidth.org/1281162.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

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