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“I know that God exists ‘cause I feel him sometimes,
as she takes up the sheets by telephone line.”
- Jason Ross, 7 Mary 3

My cousin Andrew died on Saturday. He was walking his young son over to McDonald’s for a bite to eat, and he decided to take a short cut and cross the ice over the canal. The thin ice gave way and he drowned in the frigid waters. A bystander saw the tragedy and ran for help. His son was saved, but it was too late for Andrew. He was the same age as me, 36.

Andrew was diagnosed years ago as schizophrenic. He was on medication to keep it in check, but he still had a difficult time with life. He heard voices; he would lock himself in his room for days on end; he couldn’t hold down a steady job. It is likely that his clouded mind led him to make that fateful and deadly decision. How fragile we human beings are: one chemical goes slightly awry in the brain and our whole existence is changed.

Singer/songwriter Jason Ross may see the existence of God in the simple act of talking to his lady on the phone while out on the road. For me it is not so simple. I don’t see much reason to the life Andrew was forced to live. So the idea of a benevolent deity watching over us doesn’t sit well with me. Murderers and rapists live to a ripe old age with no punishment for their crimes, while Andrew lived a life of confusion and mental torment for no reason. And don’t feed me that crap about God testing souls for worthiness; the irrationality of this world’s hardships indicates that if there is a testing plan then it comes from a madman, not some higher form of intelligence.

In ancient times gods were not seen as shepherds of the human flock but as the force behind natural phenomena. Over the millennia, science has discovered the more mundane reasons for thunder, disease, earthquakes, and fire. We now know about atoms, bacteria, genetics, mass transfer, neutrinos, and planetary movement. Science has destroyed the old gods. But for all our vaunted progress we have yet to explain how life began. Sure, I’ve heard the theory about the primordial soup, the random combination of nutrients and environment from which scientists claim life sprang. Those same scientists cannot reproduce that “spark of life” in the laboratory, however. As far back as 1977, Carl Sagan and company were mixing up chemical potions in hermetically sealed containers and sparking them with electricity, simulating what they felt conditions were like on Earth 4 billion years ago. They could create simple amino acids, the building blocks of life, but never did even a single-celled organism spring into being. The experiment has been repeated many times since with the same lack of success.

Something or someone with intelligence set life in motion on this fragile planet of ours. Evolution and physics took over from there, and the universe has been left to its own devices since then. Where is that intelligence now? Maybe Andrew knows.