Friday, March 23, 2007

Pharyngula::The proper reverence due those who have gone before:

That's another thing; a bone isn't just beautiful operational engineering, it's a trace of a person. It's a melancholy memento of all that's been lost…here is this human being who struggled and loved and dreamed and hurt for sixty years, and all that I had of her was a few exquisitely patterned swirls of hydroxyapatite. So much was gone, so much lost, and that's the fate of all of us—all it takes is a few generations for all personal memory to fade away, and all that's left is abstractions. For most of us, there won't even be bits of dry bone in a box in a forgotten room, we'll be ash and slime, our existence unremembered.

Maybe, though, while we are personally unacknowledged, there will be some trace left in the genes of several times great grandchildren, or in a few words preserved in a library, or in some tiny nudge we've given history. That's all I aim for, that I can sow a seed that will in turn sow a seed that will sow a seed that…and so it goes. That's enough.

I am not a religious person by any means (that is a bit of an understatement), but I can feel something of the same reverence for the Bible that I do for a piece of bone. It's a record, spotty and incomplete and flawed, of human lives, that leaves out far more than it includes. It's not as pretty as a bone, but then it is representative of some of the ugliness of human history, as well as of some of the poetry. I can appreciate it as a slice of a few thousand years of the events and beliefs of one fairly influential tribe of people. There are a lot of lives and time, mostly unmentioned, bound up in that book.

2:36 AM