On Playing in God's Theatre


In what was a perfect setting for philosophical discussion on the universe, I was sitting in my Dad’s backyard with my Dad and brother. I had my telescope set up in front of me, the last of several spontaneous events that had happened today.

I decided that tonight had looked like a good night for stargazing, but alas there was too much light pollution, and I couldn’t see any cool M or NGC objects. So I was sitting there and my dad and brother were talking. Somehow they got to this point in the conversion:

Dad: So who’s Daedalus?
Skyler: He’s the guy who built the maze?
Dad: Then who’s Icarus?
Skyler: He dies.
Dad: What?
[laughter and some more conversation ensues]

This I remembered though. Was god’s purpose in the whole “plan” for him to just die? (I don’t believe in god, at least any traditional god, but I find it a useful concept for reference or arguments, especially when I can’t justify it with anything else.)

So: Was god’s purpose for Icarus just to die? Did he want him to die or is it an interesting event that just happened? This line of inquiry was very much fuelled by the situation of myself staring up at the stars. Is the universe something that god controls moment by moment, or something cool he set up to see how it would run out. The whole moment-to-moment thing seems a little ridiculous: that makes god less of a god and more of an Operating System. It eliminates free will or chance, and also requires a much more powerful god. Yes, I am using Occam’s Razor – whatever.

It makes more sense that we are something in god’s test tube. Perhaps with rules well-defined, and precise initial conditions, but still out of control. This brings me to improv, as most things do.

…Theatre started out as very regimented: scriptwriter was king…AKA Shakespeare. Then came a progression to the director being king. This is sort of where we are as a Western society now, but the balance is shifting again. With improvisation (on stage and screen), the power is directly in the actor, and maybe in the editor. This progression of de-centralization is a realization that complete control is impossible. Its better to create a fertile environment. The scriptwriter makes a fertile plot and characters, the director gives the actors an idea, and the actors ACT in the moment and the ways that seem right.

Is this what the universe is? Just set up really well, and we’re all playing spontaneous parts? Its impossible to know, but interesting to think about…hmm.

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