Springingtiger's Blog


Chapter 10: Universal Religion.
November 11, 2016, 00:11
Filed under: Politics, Religion, Technology, Travel, Writing | Tags: ,

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It is here on the edge of space that one really comes to understand how trivial were the claims of Earth’s religions. As I have mentioned when I was young the Old Gods walked among men, talked with them, demanded their loyalty. It didn’t take much wandering to realise that our all powerful God wasn’t he was on among many each vying for power and status. I soon came to understand that the Gods needed us and our devotion. The wars of tribes then nations were a mere game of chess between the Gods as they built up their power over the earth.

Gradually as the status of certain Gods waned so they disappeared from human consciousness. In time as men became more sophisticated in their comprehension they were not awed by the Gods amongst them for what were they, but other beings? Yes they were powerful, but they were still just physical beings. It was then that the old Gods withdrew so that familiarity ceased to breed contempt. The wars continued and the sacrifices. Stories were told to explain the world and those stories formed the bases of the myths that came to be taken as religious truth.

Ultimately the old explanations failed to satisfy man’s curiosity. Science dealt a terrible blow to the Old Gods, no longer walking among men, even when they did exercise their power men armed with new knowledge explained their acts away as natural phenomena. Of course people continued to believe in ever decreasing numbers. The old claims of omnipotence made by the Gods had already been called into question as the great religions persisted side by side each claiming to be the only true one, but unable to claim a unique dominance of mankind’s devotion.

If encountering other races and religions undermined the certainties of believers, expansion into space delivered another blow. Suddenly beliefs that made sense in the geographical contexts of the Earth seemed too limited and inappropriate to the vastness of space. When Professor Israel Thompson first terraformed a planet in the Alpha Sector his remark, ‘Today I am become God!’ provoked little reaction. Even the leaders of religions explained it away as being metaphorical. I remember when less forthright comments were enough to have the speaker stoned, crucified, burned or whatever punishment seemed appropriate to the vengeful representatives of a jealous God whichever God they worshipped.

Unfortunately for all our science we always find ourselves faced with questions. Every answer merely increases our awareness of how little we know. Safe in the warmth of a city institution, or the hustle and bustle of a space port it is easy to rest secure in the certainties of science. It is a very different matter when you’re sitting alone in the emptiness beyond explored space. Then, even I who have encountered Gods at their most petty, find my thoughts reaching out into the unknown. In the dark light years between galaxies it is hard not to wonder if perhaps there will be an end to space and if so, what lies beyond?

I thought I had seen every sort of wonder during my travels on Earth from the last of the giant lizards to a generation of children who could move things with their minds and speak to each other silently, but since humankind left the earth I have seen things that have wrenched my mind into realms beyond sanity.

I talked about the accident on B – 4. That whatever technician Lin had become could respond to instruction and endeavour to communicate has tormented me ever since. Because of the safety protocols we will never know whether we were dealing with an intelligent fungus or possibly some sort of symbiotic fusion between man and plant. When we sealed up the laboratory block and buried our loved ones and colleagues we left behind them questions. Every time Doctor Lee saw me he would <text:s/>begin to speculate on what we had seen. Futile speculation as we had only the meanest of data. Whenever one of the fossils was found I was dispatched to ensure it was placed beyond the reach of humans. People knew to report the fossils when they found them and they found very few. For most people the fossils raised little curiosity, they were just another item on a bureaucratic list of notifiable hazards, but to those who knew about them they continued to haunt their consciousness. For that reason Major Stacy kept our disposal work secret. As Stella said she was the boss and I was an unfeeling bastard, but everyone else was too emotionally involved. I should have pointed out to her that not showing my feelings didn’t mean I didn’t have any, I didn’t see he point, someone had to do the job and she was correct that I would not allow my emotions to interfere. I don’t know how Doctor Lee found out what we were doing, unfortunately he never told us.

All experimentation carries risks unauthorised and concealed experiments are doubly dangerous because they lack the security checks and balances that minimise risk. I suppose Lee realised that his answers would never be answered because the Major had — quite properly in my opinion — decided further research would be too dangerous. Nothing he did could have brought Lin back, I suppose he was just unable to continue without understanding what had happened.

I don’t know when Lee started his experiments. As far as I can ascertain he began with a small amount of fungus and small animals. He worked in secret and was scrupulous about using a sealed containment unit. However it was inevitable in his quest to understand what Lin had undergone that sooner or later he would need a human subject. I keep reviewing our conversations to see if there was any clue to what Lee was doing. I must be honest, I tried to avoid Lee, I didn’t want to keep reliving the day of the accident. It was Lee’s persistence that eventually persuaded me to apply for the Sigma-7 mission.

We had only been in space for a few weeks when we received the general alert from Beta-4 on the Emergency channel.

“This is Beta-4, Beta-4. Please be advised this planet is in quarantine. On no account may any ship land on B-4. Severe danger of contamination.”

It was later, much later that her last report came through, she had blind copied me into it. It told of how quickly the spores had infected the colony once Lee’s security failed. More chillingly of how the spores were using their human hosts to manipulate the machinery and systems of the colony. Stella reported that from central control she had turned the base defences on the space port destroying every ship to prevent the infection getting off the planet. She ended with,

“As far as I know none of our ships survived. I pray to God none did!”

I just wonder how long it will be before someone lands on B-4 unaware of what lives upon it.

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