THE FUTURE OF CIVILIZATION

ELBOD: I am now certain of the purpose of humans and civilization.

TALBOT: Certain? Seems like a strong statement.

ELBOD: It seems so obvious to me know that I don't know I missed it.

TALBOT: Well, I can't wait.

(Elbod looked off into the distance with a dreamy look, a softer look than I was used to seeing.)

ELBOD: (Not looking at me but as though he were talking to the sky or the birds in the trees.) Each of us has an ancestry. That unbroken lineage goes back through thousands of years of civilization, hundreds of thousands of years as primitive humans, and still further back through our ape grandmothers and grandfathers, and all those life forms that lead to the development of humans. But the blood line goes further. The atoms in our bodies are from the matter that the Earth was made of 4.5 billion years ago. In fact our bodies contain matter that dates directly back to the beginning of the universe, the Big Bang.

TALBOT: I never thought of it that way, but it must be true.

ELBOD: But wait there's more. Scientists say that there are only four forces in the universe: gravity, electro magnetic, and the weak and the strong nuclear forces. These are the forces that shape the universe, that lead to the growth of life and humans, that allow the sun to shine and the planets to move around the sun. But I think there is a very important fifth force which is not a fixed force, but an evolving force, a growing force.

TALBOT: You are talking about another force which modern scientists have not discovered? It seems unlikely.

ELBOD: The force is so obvious, we have overlooked it.

TALBOT: Well don't keep me waiting.

ELBOD: The force is ourselves, civilization, intelligent life.

Within our life time humans have begun to imagine how they could stop a meteor from destroying the earth or dream about colonizing Mars. In the last twenty years we sent an unmanned space ship that left our solar system and which is now traveling to other stars.

Human civilization has only been around for about 5000 years which is a tiny sliver of time when you consider the age of the earth. Yet in that time we have gathered a huge amount of power into our hands. We now have the means to reshape the Earth. We are so powerful we can totally destroy the environment. This was unthinkable just one hundred years ago.

TALBOT: I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop.

ELBOD: Very observant, Talbot. Yes, I have more to say. A lot more.

If humans and civilization can be this powerful in just a few thousand years, imagine how much power we will have in 10,000 years or a million years or a billion years.

In short, we may have the power to actually shape the universe, to determine its course.

There are three theories about where the universe is headed: one says that it will keep expanding and eventually die out. Another says that it will eventually collapse on itself which will result in another Big Bang, which of course would destroy all life. The third, and least likely theory, it that it will just continue more or less as it is.

I believe that sometime in the next ten or so billion years humans will have the power to manage the universe, just as we are now learning to manage the ecology of the planet Earth.

TALBOT: You sure like to think big, Kirk.


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