Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Guest Post: The Whole Thing About Existence by Arthur M. Doweyko, PhD

After retiring in 2009, Arthur M. Doweyko took up writing fiction. His novel Algorithm garnered a 2010 Royal Palm Literary Award. He has also published a number of short stories, many of which have been selected as Finalists in the Royal Palm Literary Award contest, and two Honorable Mentions in the L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future Contest.

Arthur was awarded the 2008 Thomas Alva Edison Patent Award for his contribution to the discovery of Sprycel, a novel anti-cancer drug successfully brought to the marketplace in 2009. He has authored over one hundred publications (papers, abstracts, patents, book chapters) and has been an invited lecturer in a number of drug-discovery and computational venues. 

Arthur lives in Florida with the love of his life, Lidia. When he’s not writing, he’s happily wandering the beaches. 

As Wings Unfurl
   Applegate Bogdanski returns from Vietnam with a missing leg, a Purple Heart, and an addiction to morphine. He stumbles through each day, looking forward to nothing and hoping it will arrive soon. When he attempts to thwart a crime, he is knocked unconscious and wakes up to discover that people are once again calling him a hero, though he feels undeserving of the praise.
   Apple returns to work and meets Angela, a mysterious woman who claims to be his guardian. Immediately, he feels a connection to her, which morphs into an attraction. But he soon discovers that Angela is much more than she seems.
   Apple and Angela are swept up in a conspiracy that stretches through time and space. Together, they must fight to save everything they hold dear from an alien race bent on destroying humanity.
Okay, so this could possibly be an exercise in deep thinking. Or not.
The single most important question we could ever ask is the one we will never get an answer for.

Put in a simple way:  "What the hell is going on?" implying… Why are we here? What is this place? Does something else come next? It's a favorite topic in science fiction, whether addressed head on or implied, in fact, it underlies both my debut novel, Algorithm and As Wings Unfurl.

In Algorithm I used the premise that a large part of our DNA is responsible for instinct, that for humans has a very specific purpose. In As Wings Unfurl the idea is that we have been fooled into a belief of evolutionary origins, and that the biblical accounts may be more accurate.

Philosophers, theologians, and even scientists have sought the answer, but we all know deep down that isn't going to happen. That grim fact alone is really quite an interesting clue to the answer itself. And there are other clues.

When a question is posed that really cannot be answered, the reason is either it's not a legitimate question or we aren't capable of understanding the answer. An illegitimate question is one that sounds logical but is poisoned with a logical impossibility. For example, when an irresistible force meets an immovable object, what happens? Here it's clear that the question has no logical underpinning. You simply can't ask that question!

Does asking about the Universe and our place in it fall into such a false trap? In this case, we may be faced with an answer that we cannot understand. Theologians would point to scripture and belief systems that explain everything. The supposition is that we don't have all the facts, and may never get them. However, even in a belief system, there are questions that can be posed, that we need to relegate to a higher authority… admitting we will never understand the answers as living human beings.

It seems the question of existence is like the endless series of "whys" a child might dish out, which usually result in parental exasperation. There is a limit to our understanding, and that limit derives from the type of logic we use.

Our logic was developed by a life form obsessed with survival. That's how we came to be. The way we think is entirely based on getting food, shelter, and staying out of deadly trouble. All this came about over a period of millions of years on a tiny dust mote called the Earth, stuck in a corner of a galaxy containing 100 billion stars in a universe containing at least 10 billion galaxies. The numbers are staggering. But the point is that our way of thinking came about in an exceedingly parochial way in a negligible part of the universe. Our logic may not apply to the bigger picture. When we ask a question aimed at the entire universe, we make the crass assumption that the universe and all its moving parts follow our brand of logic. Heck, even the language we use may not apply.

Aristotle once declared he was able to prove the existence of God. His approach is sometimes referred to as the First Cause. The assumption, made logically, is that all things have a cause. Applying this cause/effect relationship to anything will ultimately lead to the First Cause. For example, why is there wind? The air is moved by the heat from the sun. Why does the sun heat the air? Its thermonuclear reactions give off heat and we happen to be near enough to feel it. Why is there a sun? Matter was attracted by gravitational forces, and when an enormous amount was squished together, atoms fell apart. How did the atoms come to be? They are the consequence of the Big Bang, where matter for some reason chose to appear from nowhere and take on the form of atoms. Now we're getting in trouble.

To Aristotle the Big Bang could easily be interpreted as God. To physicists, it's just one of those curiosities that maybe someday we'll understand. Interestingly, the logical problem with the First Cause is that there is no proof that all things in the universe need to have a cause. (Just like the Big Bang). Here, logic itself demands that we be careful in extrapolating a series of deductions.

I propose that the question so dear to us all, is one that makes no sense. Just like a square circle, the question itself is simply not allowed.

Don't feel bad or get mad. Logic, like everything else, has its limits.

I mentioned other clues early in this essay. They are all around us. Matter is made of something, right? What exactly is that? Ah…silly question? We're great at taking things apart, giving them names, studying how they interact. But we will never ever know what matter is. That, right there, is a clue!

Another clue: did you know that all attempts to produce a perfect vacuum have failed. Put in another way, we cannot create a space with nothing in it. Read that as trying to produce a tiny spot where nothing exists. Reason? Because something always shows up. Light and/or tiny particles of matter manage to be created. Out of nothing!!!

Another: entangled particles … one can separate subatomic particles that usually exist as pairs. Whatever is done to one particle happens to the other at the very same time, regardless of distance between them. Einstein called this "spooky." It defies reason, but does suggest what we are seeing is not at all what really exists.

Finally, how is it that after the Big Bang, matter chose to form into atoms? It's peculiar because atoms have properties which are anthropomorphic … that is, they have likes and dislikes, which persist through higher levels of complexity, all the way through to us. It's puzzling that matter came together in the form of building blocks.

Existence is a strange phenomenon. It resists eradication. Matter behaves as if it's all part of one thing—odd little observations, but deeply meaningful. At this point, one could draw the conclusion that we are immortal, based on the fact that all our atoms will continue to exist after we die. It seems matter will last forever, either in the form of solids or energy, since it and energy have nowhere to go. They simply cannot unexist.

For more such oddities, strange discoveries, and even some thoughts about science fiction, please feel free to visit

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