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Nicholas and the Multiverse by Nathaniel Bates

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Nicholas and the Multiverse

By Nathaniel Bates

The Age of Reason gave birth to American democracy.  Then democracy in America gave birth to Evangelical Christianity whereas previously the colonies had State Churches.  This may or may not have been intended by the Founders of our Constitution, many of whom held Deist views.  Jefferson and Adams were both fearful of Evangelicalism.  But the Evangelical Church’s populist appeal was a logical consequence of the separation of Church and State which was also a separation of Church and Power.  The Church was an ally to social reform in America because it spoke to a Source of Authority higher than any human power, including those powers that had ruled in the Church.  Abolitionism, women’s suffrage, labor radicalism and peace movements had their allies in the Evangelical Church.  It was not until the 1920’s that Evangelical Christianity in America oriented itself to conservative ideology and rejected the Social Gospel.  God was recast from an upholder of moral order to the older pre-modern concept of an upholder of social order.  Miraculous Revelation replaced the revelation in the heart.  Hierarchy replaced democracy within Evangelical circles.  As a theologian, I believe it is time we undo this mistake and make poverty, racism, and class privilege part of the mission of Christ in the Church again.

__________________

There was applause in Professor Schmidt’s classroom.  Nicholas listened respectfully but did not know what to make of someone whom he enjoyed as a Philosophy instructor but whose views seemed heretical at times.

It was not enough that this Lutheran College tolerated notions like Evolution.  Nicholas himself believed that God created a world much older than a few thousand years, and that the Bible is not contradicted by such a notion.  What disturbed him more was the notion that human wisdom superseded that of God. He hoped that a Christian College would have more conservative Professors.  Professor Schmidt, a Lutheran Pastor himself, was the most liberal of his Professors.  Nicholas liked him but he realized that Professor Schmidt was a Post-Millennialist, a social liberal, and possibly a closet rationalist.  Nicholas himself was a Pre-Millennialist, social traditionalist, and a strong believer in the Apostolic and Nicene Creeds.  Nicholas once asked Professor Schmidt if he was a Unitarian and the Professor vociferously denied it.  “I believe in the Trinity as a sacred concept that defies human reason.  I believe precisely because it denies human reason.”

     Nicholas was not a Theology Major.  He was a Mathematics and Philosophy Major.  He would be obtaining his Ph.D. soon and decided to take a Philosophy Course in order to be well rounded.  His parents were liberals and while he had embraced Christianity as a teenager he was not inclined to right-wing ideology.  His Christianity was decidedly conservative in its embrace of Biblical Morality.  He was a virgin in his twenties.  But, his moral conservatism was more of a social insularity than it was a condemnation of others.  Still, he wanted the Bible taught plainly in a Christian College and while he did not object to Rousseau and Kant, he wanted Scripture taught as the highest Authority.  He took it all in stride and finished his Ph.D. with distinction.  He would soon be doing a Post-Doc at the Northern New Mexico Interdisciplinary Think Tank known as the Taos Institute.

     Nicholas’ mother and father saw him off.  She kissed him on the cheek and his father gave him a firm handshake.  Both of them were proud of their only son, a socially awkward young man whose few friends were fellow Mathematicians.  Most of them were atheists while Nick was a stubborn believer.  All of his parents’ best efforts to get him to adopt their gentle Lauditudinarian ways failed miserably.  They were originally Anglicans from the Church of England but their son had converted to Evangelical Episcopalianism and began to follow some Archbishop in Africa whose theology was beyond belief.  Nick soon became more tolerant and rejoined the Episcopal mainstream, leaving the Fundamentalist leader from Africa behind, but his theology was still more conservative than they would like.  They could only hope that he would do well in New Mexico.  Perhaps its mix of cultures would calm his nerves and open him to new perspectives.

     Nick landed in Albuquerque, rented his car, and began his long drive up to Taos.  As he drove past Santa Fe and various Indian Reservations, he reflected on his upcoming duties as a mathematician who would study Complexity Theory.  Complexity Theory was the study of emergent systems and the seeming order that emerges out of chaos.  Complexity Theorists held to a view that the Universe was essentially a non-mechanistic system. Complexity Mathematics was a belief that could be interpreted in a pantheist, atheist, or monotheist way depending on who was doing the interpretation.  It was used by Darwinian Biologists and Intelligent Design Theorists alike to bolster their claims.  The Taos Institute was a multidisciplinary think tank employing Mathematicians, Physicists, Biologists, Social Scientists and experts from various other disciplines whose goal was to understand complex systems that manifested in all of those areas.  It was rumored that the CIA had a very deep interest in Complexity Research and regularly sent its analysts to the Taos Institute for training.  One of its higher ups was a famous CIA Analyst who quit because she opposed the War in Iraq.

     Nicholas arrived in Taos and would be staying in a small room at the Institute while he waited for his Studio Apartment to be ready on the first of the month.  He was eager to begin work right away.  He was greeted by a Professor of Physics and Chemistry from Dartmouth who was working on Thermodynamic Systems and biological life.  Nick would be working on a similar project.  He hoped it would wake the scientific community up to the idea of a Creator while his Mentor had more secular plans.  His Mentor, Professor Sarah Blake, was herself an atheist. Her work simply confirmed to her that the Universe was a bottom-up arrangement of interlocking systems.  Her dogmatic certainty irked him when she claimed that bottom-up systems thinking of necessity contradicted belief in a Creator.  “It took someone of driven certainty to know that of another rival certainty,” he thought as he smiled to himself.  His mother often said that to him when she chided him for disagreeing stridently with rival points of view.

     Professor Blake took Nicholas on a tour of the Institute and they came to the dining room.  Part of the experience of Interdisciplinary Research Units was the act of dining together and sharing ideas.  Scientists, social scientists and the occasional artist would explore the shape of chaos-order by dining together in creative chaos.  There was even a few mystics who would often say that too many of the scientists were stuck in the dualism of order and chaos instead of seeing the two of them as inter-permeable.  They often applauded what the mystic said without actually bothering to really check their own thinking in response.  Nick was as dualistic as the atheists were. He himself hoped to prove order while avoiding the philosophical question of chaos.  Professor Blake and Nick had a western preference for order over chaos in common while they might disagree on all other questions of theology.  They smiled to one another in a curt and friendly way.  They would have to work on collegial communication.  Sarah knew from someone that Nicholas was some kind of religious guy and she felt in the back of her head that this might make him as difficult to work with as Dr. Jonathan Eberhardt.  Dr. Eberhardt was a theoretical physicist of the speculative kind whose theories Sarah found too close to religion for her liking, even if the religion was of a futurist and transhumanist variety.  Nick would meet Dr. Jonathan Eberhardt and his multiverse theories soon.  The two True Believers would either get along well or clash depending on the particular shades of grey of their particular absolute worldviews.  She could only guess the way their meeting would go.

     Dinner would come in an hour.  Dr. Blake realized that the tour of the larger grounds had better commence or both of them would miss dinner.  They went out on to the grounds and saw a beautiful view of the mountains of Northern New Mexico.  The Taos Pueblo was not too far away and Nick knew he would have to make a visit at some point.  Dr. Blake introduced him to a mathematician named Ronald McNair with an interest in conspiracy theories, how they arose, and how they spread. It was an open secret in the Institute that Ronald McNair was a secret believer in many conspiracies.  They also met Reena Trumbull, a graduate student in Physics studying String Theory.  She was related to Jonathan Trumbull, the only colonial Governor who remained a Governor after Independence.  They met Dr. Samuel Hirsch, the Nobel Prize winner who helped found the Institute.  Along the way, they met Electrical Engineers, Chemists, and even a Poet who was an artist in residence.  The Poet’s name was Elizabeth Chalmers and Nick found out that she was a Christian.  Her interest was in complexity theory and the evolution of literature. 

     Dinner gathered the entire Institute into the dining room. The call of dinner was a silent bell that gathered intellects together to ring them into unison. It was thought that an emergent system would come from this meeting.  Whether or not there was an emergent system Nick did not know, but fascinating conversations emerged nonetheless.  It turned out that most of their work was not in Physics, Chemistry or Biology.  Most of their work was in the social sciences and how social organisms compared to physical systems.  This surprised Nick.  One of the speakers was a CIA analyst who hoped that the Agency could use their type of systems analysis to understand secret organizations that might pose a threat to global security.  Ronald McNair then went to the podium to give a talk on earlier secret societies like the Freemasons whose secrecy seemed innocuous, but whose ideologies presumably gave birth to the American and French Revolutions.  Nick had heard similar theories from many of his Fundamentalist friends.  It was strange to hear it from a mathematician. 

     Nick retired to his bedroom.  His head sank into the bed.  Nick had no trouble sleeping in a strange place.  It was always his strong point to be adaptive.  He slept a good eight hours and decided to run before breakfast.  The campus seemed new before his eyes.  Even the cracks in the ground seemed different but Nick attributed the change to renewed confidence. He concluded his run and went to breakfast. Professor Blake and Nick used breakfast time to discuss thermodynamics and the evolution of life.  She was amazed that Nick accepted evolution and that there was no problem between complexity theory and his theology.  She decided to share with Nick the deeper insights she had gleaned from her work.  She was working on a model in which complexity and chaos theory would supersede natural selection as the primary driver of evolution on the macro scale.  Her hope was to create a model of life in which emergent systems explained more about the replenishment of the Earth after extinctions than random selection.  Nick was immediately excited and decided that this would be his project also.  Dr. Blake smiled and decided that yes, Nick’s passion was a perfect match for her research.

     They entered her office and decided to get to work on the equations.  The data on bacterial populations and genetic drift was being analyzed for outliers that became new emergent systems.  Statistical analysis should show how this was going to happen in a new rigorous way that would explain emergent systems and even predict them.  Biological evolution could now be predicted and guided in ways never possible before.  The Nobel Committee would be interested.  The CIA was also interested in her work because it could be applied to the social sciences.  Emergent systems could be predicted in the seemingly random chaos of life and social evolution could be guided as well as biological evolution.  Many of Nick’s friends within the conspiratorial world of End Time Christianity would undoubtedly have their sense of paranoia confirmed.  It was a good thing that they were not at the Institute, and that Nick did not take too many of their ideas all that seriously.

     Dr. Blake decided to do one last scan of the data to make sure that her results matched her initial model.  She was a thorough scientist and would not publish anything that was not verifiable.  She opened the files and looked at the data again.  Her mouth dropped.  Something was clearly wrong. 

“Dr. Blake?” It was clearly her work but her data was different.  Her entire file was different.  She could not remember the data being what it was.  She was frantic and opened the file that dealt with her conclusions.  She had written them to imply that the results were conclusive and that emergent systems could be predicted in biology, at least among prokaryotes.  She could not believe her eyes when she saw an entirely different paper written.  It stated that the results were inconclusive and did not fit the model.  It was not possible for anyone to have changed the data but herself and she knew she was not the one to have done so.  Her anxiety increased as she realized that she was in the presence of a neophyte.  She regretted bringing Nick in the fold during such an upset.  The entire reality of her work had been altered in the blink of an eye.

     The two of them stormed out of the room and a general alarm sounded.  If there had been any tampering, then they needed to find the culprit.  Murmurs of suspicion erupted in the beginning of a meeting called by the Administration, a meeting quieted down by Dr. Jake Terrance.  He was an Evolutionary Biologist who was laid back to a point but he tolerated no nonsense when any question of scientific fraud was at work. 

“It is important that any possibility of sabotage be immediately addressed.  We are a community and not a meeting place for competing individuals.” Dr. Terrance said.

The room became silent.  No one confessed and Dr. Terrance realized that no one would.  This was not the organization he knew or understood.  It was an organization with many secrets but not an organization dedicated to the destruction of careers. 

In truth, the Taos Institute has deeper layers than it let on.  Intelligence agencies often used the organization for research purposes, and occasionally for cover.  Some of the scientists were not who they appeared to be.  They were agents under cover, a deception for sure, but one deemed necessary for national security.  The possibility that some form of sabotage occurred for reasons of national security was a thought that Dr. Terrance did not want to countenance.  It was, however, possible and if so, it would have to be addressed in Washington itself as a severe breach of protocol.  The idea that complexity could supersede natural selection would be disliked by a number of Neo-Darwinists, but it might possibly threaten established religions. It was possible.  Intelligence agencies might take an interest in the potential social effects of such a notion.

     Dr. Terrance knew that some in the room were “scientists” in name only.  Their actual mission was to spy on the scientific research being done and to report it.  This was acceptable to him.  What disturbed him more was the fact that some remained in their identities long enough to act as points of influence in the actual way that scientific thought was being developed.  Some even went so far as to infiltrate the community of scientists working on alternative energy solutions deemed dangerous to oil companies and to friendly governments in the Middle East with their people teeming on the point of rebellion.  An end to oil might destabilize the interests of both.  Others infiltrated theoretical physics, mathematics, and biology to make sure that ideas deemed dangerous to U.S. national security never got off the ground.  Still others infiltrated political science to discourage ideas deemed too far to the left or too far to the right.  Most members of the Taos Institute had no knowledge of this.  Dr. Terrance himself was powerless to stop it.

     A hand finally went up after awkward silence.  A woman was recognized with a slight Russian sounding accent.  Dr. Terrance recognized her and she stood up.  Clearing her throat nervously, she said “I was part of the team collecting the data.  I can say that this data is accurate and precise.  No tampering has been done.  And, I must also be honest and say that I reviewed the conclusions of Dr. Blake after she wrote up the report and the report on the power point is exactly the one I read.  It was what she wrote as far as I read it.” 

Dr. Blake was stunned and stood up, shocked, and left the room.  Nick followed with her.  Ronald McNair joined the two of them and headed out.  No one else joined any of them as an icy silence descended on the room.  Dr. Blake could feel cold stares behind her as she left.  Dr. McNair was talking to himself as he followed them.  Everyone knew he was the in-house conspiracy theorist.  Dr. Terrance considered him harmless enough to have around, as he was seemingly oblivious to the real secrets around him.  Nick heard something about “parallel universes” that seemed oddly inappropriate to the great tragedy unfolding.  Dr. Blake ran out into the garden and the two men ran after her, even if to prevent her from doing anything self-destructive.  She ran and stopped, sobbing.  Nick hugged her involuntarily and then realized he had never touched much less hugged any woman not in his immediate family. 

     “We are in a parallel universe,” McNair yelled out.  The two of them looked at him oddly.  Sarah Blake laughed and that seemed to lighten her mood.  She could not stay angry at the Universe for long.  It was not in the nature of a scientist to do so.  Indeed, quantum theory allowed for such a possibility.  The nature of Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle allowed for a particle to be in multiple positions if momentum was being measured instead of position.  Measuring position “collapsed” the probability wave containing the possible locations of a particle into one position. Barring exotic concepts like David Bohm’s non-local hidden variables, the idea that “collapse” occurred in different places in different parallel universes could not be ruled out.  She humored the thought that maybe she was in a parallel universe in which her experiment did not work the way she had hoped.  The idea filled her with a certain whimsy.  If there was a hidden wormhole or exotic matter on the campus of the Institute, then her discovery of it would save her threatened career!

     Sarah made her way to her room with a numb feeling.  Her improved emotional state quickly collapsed again as a sinking feeling overcame her.  Nick did not follow her, knowing better than to enter any further into her already devastated mood.  McNair went on to blather his conspiracy theory to anyone who would listen.  The Institute was apparently far more tolerant than the academic world of divergent thinking.  Nick thought its tolerance was odd. Most academic institutions had a degree of heavy self-policing among its Professors.  McNair seemed oblivious to anything like that and so did the rest of the faculty.  Soon thereafter a meeting was called to discuss the possibility that some members of the Institute had entered into a parallel Universe!  Before Nick could even breathe a skeptical sigh of disbelief, the meeting came to order and was led by a Panel of in-house Physicists.

     McNair was allowed to present his case.  No one snickered or laughed in the entire dining hall.  This surprised Nick but not as much as the fact that the Pentagon actually sent a representative to the meeting.  His name was General Rimmer, a DARPA liaison who was a military scientist in his own right.  General Michael Rimmer stood up at the Podium and began to explain that odd and anomalous glitches in the fabric of reality began to concern the Brass.  (“All classified, of course.”) Seemingly innocuous changes in videos of old commercials that were at variance with actual memories of those commercials made the rounds on the Internet.  One commercial slogan originally said “Kids love Brandman Peanut Butter and Parents know it.”  The commercial showed a knife spreading Brandman peanut butter on white bread.  It had not been shown in decades but old recordings showed the peanut butter spread on wheat bread.  The new slogan said “Kids love Brandman Peanut Butter while Parents spread the love.”  The audience snickered as they realized that such a slogan was more than a bit risqué for the decade in which it was supposedly recorded.  It was not their memory, although it might have encouraged some parents to buy Brandman Peanut Butter.  “We wonder how many adults would have bought Brandman for purposes a bit more…um…nefarious, shall we say.” the General said to general laughter. 

     Corporate product names were subtly changed.  Lady Bird candy bar became Lady Bug candy bar.  Frodo Bird ice cream became Dodo Bird ice cream.  Also altered were names of celebrities.  Mary Snickers became Mary Snucker.  These changes were clearly mischievous and not at all sinister.  There was often laughter among those who noticed them.  However, the majority of humanity did not notice them.  Those who did took to the Internet to discuss the changes, and the possibility that they had entered some other Brane or timeline.  Multiverse theories, only half understood by the general public, were freely discussed on Internet forums.  Some said that CERN was behind it.  Still others said that aliens were the ones at fault.  The effect was even called the “Solzhenitsyn Effect” because some people reported that Solzhenitsyn had died in prison whereas in the current timeline he was very much alive and well in a post-Communist Russia.  Those who claimed to remember a different timeline in which Old Sol had died in prison believed that they were transported from a parallel Universe.  It was highly probable that his name was confused with Sakharov who had died right as the Soviet System was collapsing. 

“Even though the Solzhenitsyn claim was probably false,” General Rimmer intoned with a school master air, “the other discrepancies could not be so easily reconciled.” 

Even famous rock songs like “We are the Greatest in the World” became “We are the Greatest Squirrels,” with the media and music world, even the Bands themselves, seemingly oblivious to the changes.

     Nick decided to process the events of the previous day by unwinding before the television in his room.  This was not his usual behavior.  He usually went over problems in topology or number theory but in the strange times afoot a bit of worldly relaxation for the mind seemed in order.  Nick turned on the television and what he saw blew his mind right out of the window, right out into the San Grail De Christo Mountains, out into Northern New Mexico and right through the vault of the heavens.  On screen Nick saw an old classroom of his, and a Professor of the Philosophy of History speaking to his students.  Nick’s degree was in both Mathematics and Philosophy; so he took a great many Philosophy courses and almost considered majoring in Philosophy alone.  Nick changed the channel and yet his old Professor was still on the screen lecturing about Thomas Jefferson as he had done so years before:

__________________

Those who attacked Thomas Jefferson from the Right attack him as a disciple of the French Revolution.  Such attacks ignore the fact that democratic change was bound to come when Enlightenment ideas spread among the masses.  More recent attacks have come from the Left, criticizing his racial blindness even though Jefferson acted to block slavery in the North-West territories (he did not do so in the South-West territories).  In the latter case, he was acting on the dominant worldview of his time.  But, few modern opponents criticize him on his position that rights are ‘natural’ when in fact human experience shows them to be historically constructed.  His older critics would attack him on precisely his doctrine of natural rights that his more modern critics take as their launching point.  Ironically, his modern critics accept his premise that rights are ‘natural’ and that they must be understood as detached from historical contexts.  In fact, the very basis of their criticism of him is his own doctrine of ‘natural’ rights.  But, alas students, they may consider that they are making the same mistake he made, the mistake of assuming one can abstract the question of human rights from the historical context in which they evolve.

___________________

The lecture continued on-screen exactly as Nick remembered it.  Nick realized he was in some kind of time loop of the kind that might exist in exotic Physics but would hardly have been seen by most Physicists to exist on Earth.  This could be established by a wormhole or some rift in space-time.  The nature of the Universe was changing before him.  Ordinary laws of Physics were clearly breaking down.  One “Solzhenitsyn” effect was rumored to be changes in the actual laws of General Relativity allowing for easier time travel! The class adjourned and then the television reverted to an old episode of Magnum P.I. that had just begun ten minutes before.  Nick was speechless.

It was clear that a phenomenon was at work that could not be ruled as being within the margins of known principles of physics and normative reality.  The thought came to Nick that perhaps some Angelic force was manipulating reality.  McNair was already spouting his claim that Aliens were altering reality.  The military Brass were accusing scientists in China, Russia or both.  Online conspiracy theorists pointed the finger back at the military, as well as CERN which Physicists knew to be a harmless science collective dedicated to knowledge and not harm.  Still others cited exotic possibilities from String Theory or Multiverse constructs.  But, none of those seemed to fit the reality Nick was seeing.  He was seeing a reality specifically geared to some kind of learning experience.  Some lesson was deeply embedded in seemingly disparate phenomena.  Nick knew he had to find what that message was.

­­­­­     Nick proceeded out of his room for air, and came on an area of the Institute he had never visited before.  It was an area with Solar Panels that provided the entire energy needs of the Institute.  The huge complex collected solar energy, converted it to electricity, and stepped it up with a transformer in order to provide enough power to keep the Institute independent of any power company.  It was a model that could transform the energy consumption of humanity.  The transformer was surrounded by a green fence that formed a rectangular prism aligned with the North-South longitudinal Axis.  He stood in awe of the marvel and for a minute forgot that space-time was collapsing around him.  He looked and saw three people he had previously met when he first arrived at the Institute: Jonathan Eberhardt, Reena Trumbull, and Elizabeth Chalmers. They were walking toward him from the wooded area outside of the Complex.  They seemed strangely undisturbed by an entirely new space-time manifold forming around them.  All three of them were involved in a lengthy discussion about emergent systems in Physics, Biology, and Literature.  Elizabeth Chalmers was particularly interested in how periods of chaos in history led to new forms of literature.  She was giving a lengthy dissertation on the French Revolution and the birth of the Romantic Movement in literature.  No such movement could have emerged without the chaotic instability that came in when traditional Christianity clashed with rationalism.  A kind of “none of the above” organicist mysticism took over after neither religion nor secularism seemed appealing to the imaginations of writers, poets and artists.  How she reconciled this with Christian Orthodoxy seemed a bit of a mystery to Nick but he liked her the most of anyone there.

     Nick knew Elizabeth to be a Christian.  She was a kind of Christian mystic who believed that intuition was more important than doctrine.  Still, he felt her sincerity and depth.  He felt her intellect and searching nature.  He felt her near him.  For a minute he let his mind wonder about her personal life but then snapped out of it.  Relationships were not his thing and he knew that the unraveling of space-time was also not the time for other thoughts.  The three of them came up to Nick and motioned them along with him.  They were working on some kind of collaboration that would take the mathematical principles used in theoretical physics and use them to understand nineteenth century literature.  They suggested that since Dr. Blake was distracted with issues that precluded mentoring Interns, Nick might join them.  Nick surprised himself by heartily agreeing.  Although his background was in Mathematics, the Physicists involved were already covering most of the math.  Nick’s job would be to provide a knowledge of his background in Philosophy.  In particular, he was one of the few Analytic Philosophers to have a hearty respect for Continental Philosophy and to respect the Romantic traditions.  Nick joined the group and the four of them walked back to the Institute in good spirits.

     Good news spread quickly.  There was a kind of “snap back” in the case of Dr. Sarah.  “Dr. Sarah” was their affectionate nick-name adopted by her colleagues in the midst of the tragedy.  It was meant to make her feel better and it worked.  But, what really made her feel better was the restoration of her original data.  All of her original data and conclusions were restored.  It was not simply that a paper changed to her original paper.  The paper changed and yet it had always been the new version!  Those who collected the data had always collected the same data.  Prokaryotic populations once again conformed to a mathematical pattern that guided the evolution of populations in a way that was responsive to environmental changes, but which could not be explained through adaptation alone.  Her paper had ALWAYS said that, as the researchers from affiliated laboratories confirmed.  This was nothing more than a snap back, in part, to the original timeline.  Sarah Blake could not have been more pleased.  She gracefully gave her blessing as Nick was swallowed up in another project.  She would not have time to train him anyway.  It was also still obvious that other changes had not reversed, including the logo, “Parents spread the love.”

     Nick ignored the problems of the world and got started right away on the project of showing how revolutionary periods led to emergent systems in philosophy, art, and literature.  He poured through the texts of Kant, Schiller, Shelley, and multiple other philosophers and writers to prove the group’s thesis.  Their explorations were so complex that they even, to some degree, lost sight of their original thesis.  But, that was acceptable.  The point became the exploration.  Nick felt like a teenager again for the first time in a long time.  He wondered if it had anything to do with the time changes.  He and Elizabeth took long walks in the fields outside of the Institute and talked more and more about literature, philosophy, and anything else.  They slowly turned to a reconciliation between God’s Providence and the seemingly chance-based nature of the world they were discovering.  Perhaps the time line changes were God’s Way of responding to the pride of humanity that it could mechanistically explain away mystery in Nature!  A rebirth of complexity was also a rebirth of an organic understanding of the Cosmos.  “Or, thoughts to that effect!” they would say with laughter.

On the way back to the Institute, Nick noticed that the transformer that had been oriented North to South was now oriented East to West.  It had ALWAYS been oriented East to West.  Nick stopped but Elizabeth only smiled.  He began to point but she responded by tossing her hair.  Nick paused and said stoically, “You guys are the ones behind all of these time changes.”  She kept smiling and gave the thumbs up sign.

     Elizabeth, Eberhardt, and Trumbull all met out in the forest where no one could hear them.  Nick was very quiet but they all knew that he wanted answers.  Elizabeth then spoke up,

____________________

Yes, we are behind this together with others around the world.  We have quantum computers beyond what you can understand.  What you must understand is that reality is not one chain of cause and effect linkages but a series of cause and effect sequences that are side-by-side.  Quantum physics in its many-world interpretation hints at this.  But, we have discovered that the probability spaces are not isolated in different Universes.  They actually overlap side-by-side.  What we call a unified timeline really is not unified.  We do not have a unified timeline on the quantum level.  This is an understanding of Physics beyond String Theory that has not been made public but it is known to scientists behind the Classification barrier.  The quantum computers we have are capable of taking what would ordinarily be quantum breakdowns in normative causalities that would decohere on the classical level and apply those breakdowns to classical Physics.  The secret government of the United States planned to use this for the control of the planet, for totalitarian control.  We “liberated” the technology and we are using it for liberating purposes.  Our goal is to create an emergent system out of the seeming chaos of changing timelines.

     The original goal of our movement was to put people in to high places of the United States in order to bring it to a more enlightened place. We created a scenario in which we would put people in high places under altered identities who would lead the country in a benevolent direction.  Unfortunately, the Generals and the politicians high-jacked this idea and they are putting people with fake identities into positions of power for their own purposes of deception.  Our movement must now unmask that deception.  We can only do so by exposing their impotence in the face of a series of shifts in reality.  The government can deny that the changes in the timeline are happening in the controlled corporate media but soon enough the people will see.  Those who follow corporate logo’s will see their beloved corporate logo’s change.  They will demand answers.  At some point, they will see that answers lie within themselves and not in governments.  They will see that art and philosophy are what matter, not corporate logos.

_____________________

Nick did not know what to think.  It was arrogant to usurp God’s authority.  But, Elizabeth was a committed Christian.  She somehow reconciled her position on changing timelines with her faith.  He also had to admit that he had fallen in love with her.  He had begun to see the world as she did.  There was something about having a power to end world hunger and injustice and actually using it.  Perhaps the way to reconcile God’s Authority with the new discovery that human beings could alter God’s own world was that God created humans in His own Image. That Image meant that we humans are capable of good and that human nature is not limited by greed and hate.  Perhaps learning to alter time and space was God’s Gift after all.  What had been forbidden at Babel was now permitted to humanity because in the new dispensation it would be compassion and not arrogance that guided humanity.  Nick, once a conservative, was becoming more and more of the Christian Utopian Socialist he once derided.  It was a good feeling.

Nick was thinking it all over when someone stepped from behind a tree with a gun.  It was General Rimmer. 

“You Bunch of liberal hippie anarchists!  I knew it had to be someone here.  Don’t worry, this Institute was created by the military and by God or some force of power. We will control this place if it kills us (and you).  Now, hand the computers over to me and we are going to set this world right again!” 

He would place the world back under the control of its rightful owners. Bankers, politicians, and military men were its rightful owners and humanity owed them rent, interest, and taxes, by gum!  Robert Anton Wilson once parodied this claim with “Save your Federal Reserve notes boys, the State will rise again!”  In one of his more rebellious periods Nick picked up a copy of Wilson’s raunchy but witty writings. He repented and returned to faith, but not before seeing some fantastic scenarios of conspiracies and quantum time shifts.  

Nick was seeing all of these things live, capping it off with a gun in his face.  Having his friends be in charge of quantum computers with extensive powers and being held hostage by a General from DARPA was more of a reality than he could handle.  Fiction sounded nice.

     The group did not have their computers on them and were powerless to affect a reality shift that would have edited the gun out of existence.  General Rimmer fixed his eyes on the four of them and mulled over whether or not he would take them in or kill them on the spot.  His strategic assets inside the Institute, people under official cover and false identities, could easily cover for him.  They would not like it, but they would follow orders.  In a split second, or some specified moment of time whose meaning Einstein and Bergson would debate endlessly, Eberhardt jumped for the gun.  He and General Rimmer wrestled to the ground.  Nick ran to help but Rimmer pinned Eberhardt to a tree and quickly recouped.  His training in Special Forces would permit no other outcome.  Rimmer was a seasoned Veteran of Afghanistan and Iraq who would broker no insurrections or deviations from his commands.  He aimed his gun directly at Nick, and demanded that all but Nick get to the ground.  Eberhardt had a fierce look in his eye, like a demonic bird who would never let any prey go no matter how far that prey would flee. There was a period of reflection, a length of time that Einstein and Bergson would perhaps debate but only after fearfully complying with the demand of a General whose background was counter-insurgency of a rough order. Eberhardt, Trumbull and Chalmers got to the ground.  If an emergent system was to come, it had to come soon or chaos would overwhelm any possibility of positive change in the world.  The technology would fall into the hands of the very Generals and Oligarchs who had done so much to mess the world up to begin with!

     Nick stared at the General and knew that he would be the first to go.  Since he was an idealistic young man, he was ready for martyrdom. Sometimes one had to die for one’s beliefs that one proclaims to follow.  Anything less would be cowardice and hypocrisy.  But, he also knew that he was not going to allow Elizabeth to die.  He would be a martyr, but he would prefer to be a mere Confessor and be spared from martyrdom to do the work of God.  He did not have any power to overcome the General, and somehow he knew that pleading for Elizabeth’s life would only incite General Rimmer’s disgust and hatred.

General Rimmer, to tell more about him, was key to the successful military coup in Venezuela and in the covert operations against Lavallas in Haiti.  He had helped to overthrow the People’s Democratic Worker Party in South Africa, a Party “Communist” more in name than in actual policies, which were mostly in favor of Swedish welfare statism.  Rimmer even had to be restrained from out-rightly re-imposing Apartheid rule by an Administration that was itself inclined in that direction on some levels.  It was rumored that he flinched at the Oath to “defend the Constitution,” believing that King George III had his good points.  Rimmer was a Fascist through and through, a product of the fears among some elites that social change was spiraling out of their control during the turbulent period of the 2020’s.  Giving Universe changing Quantum computers to a man like this was suicide for the entire human race.

     Nick lifted his hands to Heaven, and prayed like Samson.  Rimmer laughed.  Many times Third World peasants, steeped on Liberation Theology, had attempted a similar action, and every time their end was the same.  Rimmer laughed and yet Nick continued to pray.  He prayed for the victory of the Wolf and the Lamb dwelling in unity.  He prayed for the Kingdom, the Glory, the Honor.  Most of all he prayed that the life he led would have meaning, a universal prayer that reached a point in the human gut that all humanity could understand.  The worst thing was to die a meaningless death and yet so many had before him.  A peace fell on Nick as he turned from the sky toward Rimmer.  Nick’s face took on a look that made Rimmer uncomfortable.  Rimmer thought of the terrorists he had seen and wondered if Nick was a religious extremist in the same way that they were, confident that he was bound for Heaven.  He had been to many Prayer Breakfasts but deep down he felt uncomfortable with anyone whose ultimate loyalty was not to the nation alone.  The fact that Nick was an American discomforted him for a minute, but his resolve returned and kill him he must.  For all he knew Nick was a religious terrorist of a new stripe who would change timelines to please his God.  He clicked his gun and readied himself for the kill.  He pulled the trigger and his finger quickly snapped back.  Something was wrong.  His finger was strong but not that strong.  He looked and saw that there was no gun. 

     There was no gun.  There had never been any gun.  Rimmer had a gun in his hand.  The next minute, he had left his gun in his sack and had ALWAYS left it in his sack.  Eberhardt quickly reached for the gun in the sack and the other three of them wrestled Rimmer to the ground.  They had no quantum computers to shift the timeline but it didn’t matter.  It was the consciousness of Nick himself, aligned with a Belief greater than himself, that shifted reality. 

It was over.  It had never even begun.

     The timeline changes continued all over the world.  Deserts became fertile farmland.  Wars immediately ceased.  Long-standing coal and nuclear plants became well-functioning solar facilities.  The Koreas unified under a democratic government.  Militaries began to disarm.  Science that had been suppressed went into the public domain.  Secrecy and suppression fell all over the world.  It had ALWAYS been like that.  There was no point in arresting General Rimmer for crimes against the Constitution and humanity that never happened to begin with in the new timeline.  He would live out his life in a new world that might afford him another chance at redemption. 

Elizabeth and Nick turned on the television and saw what was ordinarily grim news of terrorism and wars become good news.  It had always been like that, and they knew that the world had changed.  Did marriage exist in this new world?  As they kissed, they knew they were going to find out.

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