(For Heinz Pagels)
In the movie "Contact"
based on Carl Sagan's book
radio scientist Jodie Foster is teleported to the star Vega
where she speaks face-to-face with an alien intelligence.
But the movie left out
Sagan's most tantalizing conjecture:
"What do aliens want?"
Having become bored with their iPhones and teleportation machines
Having long ago mastered the Seven Sciences unknown to man
Carl Sagan's aliens are engaged in a vast mathematical effort
to decode messages hidden by the Creator of the Universe
in the sequence of the millionth digits of irrational numbers
such as pi, "e" and the square root of two.
Sagan's aliens have, in effect, returned to cosmic kindergarten
where they are busy learning to read
a truly Holy Scripture
built into the very structure of elemental math.
For my birthday my friend Dave Fazo
gave me a book of Richard Feynman's letters
wherein I discovered a second clue.
Feynman was asked why we should continue to do physics
when the powers thereby gained are so easily abused.
I expected a defense along the lines of
the intrinsic nobility of pursuing truth for its own sake
so was surprised by Feynman's reply:
"Why do we do physics?"
"So we can love Nature more."
If the world is full of hidden messages
where would they most likely be concealed?
Not in cold sequences of mathematical digits
but closer at hand, in the richness of our sensual experience
encrypted in what our living eyes and ears bring in
hidden in the smells and tastes and in the feel of things
encoded in glances, touches and in ordinary conversations.
Perhaps God resides, not in some far-off heaven
but is here and now, as the Sufis say,
as near as the vein in your throat.
And so I bound myself
to the Guild of God's Cryptographers
whose work (and play) it is
to decode God's hidden messages
encrypted in the daily experience of our senses
using the one key humans seem to possess:
Blaise Pascal's "reason that the heart knows."
For years I toiled
learning the ropes
suffering doubts and defeats
until yesterday I was rewarded
with one clear-text message
of the sort readable by Guild acolytes
of the lowest rung.
Because of its elemental nature
Guild policy permits me
to share with you the content of
My First Message from God.
It decrypts like this:
Don't be afraid.
I made you
And I made Myself beautiful for you.
Here I am, honey
Enjoy Me well, sweetheart.
Enjoy Me well.
Then do something nice
To show Me
How much you love Me."