Is God Conscious?
2:03 PM EST on February 11, 2021
Drew Magary’s Thursday Afternoon NFL Dick Joke Jamboroo runs every Thursday at Defector during the NFL season. Got something you wanna contribute? Email the Roo. Buy Drew’s new novel, “Point B,” here.
A little over two years ago, I died. That’s obviously an exaggeration, but it’s a card you’d play too if you spent two weeks in a coma after fracturing your skull in three places and nearly dislocating your brain. I’ve thought a lot about life and death, as anyone would, since that accident. I put many of those thoughts into a book that’ll be out a bit later this year. I thought about God in those pages, too. I thought about God a lot when my son nearly died a few days after his birth in 2012, and there God was again when it was my turn to stare down the Reaper six years later. God tends to show up in those hairy spots. Atheists, foxholes, etc.
My heart rate dropped to 44 bpm when I was in a coma. I went into respiratory failure after choking on my own vomit. I was on a ventilator, a device you’re all now well familiar with. I was never declared medically dead at any point when I was hospitalized, but I still wonder if I saw the other side in those moments of great duress. Actually, I’m not fully displaying my arrogance here. I don’t wonder if I saw death. I believe it. I’m on less decisive ground when I ask myself if God was there as well when I was in the black. If so, it was a kind God who let me sleep through what will forever be the most terrifying moments of my existence. It was a God who freed me from earthly cares and protected me in a sheath of warm, blank darkness.
I’m not a religious guy. I don’t believe Jesus was the literal son of God. I don’t believe in God is some dude with a beard sitting on a cloud, deciding who gets to the win the Super Bowl. I don’t believe any of that. All of that COULD be true. There’s a plane of existence—many of them—past this universe whose inner workings none of us will ever understand, likely not even in death. But throughout my life, I’ve come to believe that if there is a God, it’s an abstract, all-encompassing power so far beyond man’s comprehension that even the phrase “beyond our comprehension” doesn’t come anywhere close to conveying the breadth and depth of that knowledge gap. So what if God isn’t a being of any sort? What if God is something else?
In fact, what if that God doesn’t even KNOW it’s God? What if God isn’t conscious?
I’m not being cynical. This isn’t a Time magazine cover story. I think of consciousness strictly within the framework of living organisms. When I woke up from my coma, I was conscious. Only I was on a SHITLOAD of drugs, so I still needed time, along with therapy in many different forms, to regain ALL of that consciousness. Sight. Sound. Touch. Thought. That’s how I think of consciousness. Consciousness is being awake and aware.
Basically nothing else in the universe is.
You can believe in life on other planets if you so choose (and I do), but even the sum total of all that extraterrestrial life would be, by any measure, a quark on the rest of the universe’s ass. And that’s a generous ratio in favor of the living. There’s so much more out there that is not alive, and not conscious, but still astonishingly powerful. Seventy percent of the universe is made of dark energy. As Shannon Stirone wrote last year, dark energy dominates the cosmos despite the fact that scientists don’t know what dark energy even is. The fabled space between the stars may not be space at all. It may be something. What is it? WHO is it?
People, especially non-scientists, are quite adept at filling in such holes with their own ideas. Their own bullshit. It’s human nature to crave an explanation for everything, even when the question WHY DOES ANYTHING EXIST AT ALL will never have a definitive answer. You can answer it with scientific theory, or with theology, or with shitty takes, or you can choose to not answer it at all and go get shitfaced. Most people do the latter.
The question is whether or not the something that’s out there is ALSO asking those kinds of questions. What if what made us doesn’t know it made us? What if it doesn’t know who we are? What if it doesn’t know what IT is? I know this all sounds like stoner shit, but it’s fine to be sober—and trust me, I’m sober as I’m writing this—and dip your toe into the realm of comically macro takes. These are the kind of questions that scientists and novelists and artists and historians and pastors spend their whole lives trying to answer. That pursuit is the reason for mankind’s being, even if we never reach our quarry.
I find odd comfort in the idea that man is not alone in being adrift in the unknown. Sometimes through vanity and often through desperation, people plead for God’s help. His favor. His attention. I know I’ve done it. Shit, I curse out God when I stub my toe. And if your prayers, small or large, go unanswered, it’s only human to feel as if God has forsaken you. Or, in the darkest times, as if God doesn’t exist at all.
But in the times of genuine need, a God with no definition, be it physical or verbal, is more pliable than the concrete God figure of pulpits and scripture. God can be what you need God to be, and you won’t be wrong. It’s why it’s OK to have conflicting ideas about God, as I do. It’s why it’s OK to wonder if God exists on a level far beyond sentience. An unconscious Lord is blameless for your plight, but then so are you. It doesn't FEEL that way when you’re watching a loved one die, or when you yourself are suffering. But there’s comfort, at least to me, in thinking of God as a fellow lost soul. The MOST lost soul, a soul expending forever out at the edge of the universe, pushing heedlessly into space that wasn’t there and opening up entire swaths of space with new unknowns. As I’m writing this, there’s already so much more there out there. Why this is happening could be lost on whatever grand forces are responsible for that cosmic push. The mysteries of God could elude that very same God, which means that you and I can SHARE in that power’s ignorance rather than bemoan it. I don’t know if that’s a source of consolation to other people. But then again, I know nothing. Perhaps I’m not the only one.
No football games anymore. THIS I know for certain. They’re all over. They’ll be back in a few months. But for now? NOTHING. Horrible. Look at me spewing Easterbrookian God takes up above already. Terrible shit.
Super Bowl pick: 0-1 (0-1 vs. the spread)
Overall: 7-6 (7-6 vs. the spread)
Cryptkeeper Al’s 2020 record: 3-3
Song For The Offseason
“Kawasaki Backflip,” by Dogleg! Reader Andrew commands you!
Their debut album "Melee," released in March, is all-killer, no-filler and got me through the early days of the pandemic. I feel bad that they were robbed of the chance to tour behind it and get a bunch of sweaty youngs jostling against each other, as is their right. Plus, Dogleg continues the proud rock and roll legacy of my home state Michigan (haven't lived there in 20 years, but you know how home state pride goes -- even though the awful things you've written about Michigan through the years are mostly true).
The awful things I've written about Michigan are ALL true, and I hate Bob Seger, too. But I respect your Michigan pride anyway, Andrew. I also discovered Dogleg during the pandemic, thanks to a couple of other Defector staffers, including Michigan’s own Lauren Theisen. I’ve gotten annoyingly picky about bands lately, so to have Dogleg and Pkew Pkew Pkew and Demob Happy all fly onto my radar in just the past few months has been like finding a bag of thousand dollar bills on the side of the road. I’m a happy man. When live music returns, I’m gonna see all these bands and get absolutely fucking DESTROYED in the mosh pit.
Gregg Easterbrook Memorial Haughty Dipshit Of The Week
Listen shitheel, with infinite grit comes infinite responsibility. AND YOU, SIR, ARE SQUANDERING IT.
Bad Local Commercial Of The Week!
Colonial Funeral Home! Featuring a literal “Now that I have your attention” segue! Always wise to stick with the classics. From Tyler.
This gem hails from the New Haven, CT area. I appreciate how the racial insensitivity is just a warm-up for the real commercial. You have my attention, puffy whiteman.
I’ll be honest, Puffy Whiteman makes a convincing sales pitch. Why WOULD I pay some fancypants funeral home thousands of dollars to take grandpa’s body to the same church and same burial ground that Puffy will for thousands of dollars less? I don’t even care if Puffy uses a Honda Civic instead of a proper hearse, and neither would grandpa. If you have a car, a box, and a hole, you’ve got yourself an acceptable funeral home business.
Fire This Asshole!
Is there anything more exciting than a coach losing his job? All year long, we’ll keep track of which coaches will almost certainly get fired at year’s end or sooner. And now, your potential 2020 chopping block:
(* - potential midseason firing)
It hasn’t happened yet, but I’m getting VERY close to not knowing who every NFL coach is. For the past 30 years, if you gave me a team and told me to name its coach, I’d be able to do it in half a second. But with Nick Sirianni and David Culley now in the fold, that reflex is in grave danger of disappearing from my arsenal. You can’t expect me to remember ALL of these puds. They were hired to be forgotten. Nick Sirianni is an inevitable rest stop on the way to the Eagles hiring Marvin Lewis. I know destiny when I see it.
Great Moments In Poop History
Reader Rick sends in this story I call BUTT DURHAM:
I play softball in a local men's league. A few summer's ago, on a particularly pasty evening, I was about to take my regular place in left field. As a preamble I should mention that my pre game meal consisted of tacos and a coffee. The coffee was a pre game regular, but the mix with the tacos, combined with the heat, created a lethal combination which led to the following obvious consequences. Looking back, I should have had the foresight to predict this disaster and change my meal decision.As I was about to leave the dugout, that rumbling feeling deep inside my gut screamed no mercy. It was pretty clear what was going to happen next. Luckily for me, there was a fifth outfielder who was roving the outfield that game. It was his turn to sit that inning, but when I asked him to fill in for me, he could tell by the look in my eye that I wasn't going to play. I tried to do the clenched speed walk to the pavilion, but made the fatal mistake of trying to run out the last few meters. I made it just inside the washroom and unleashed more than I had bargained for inside my trousers before I could reach the stall. I finished what I could into the toilet after that, but not before ruining the toilet and the ground around it in the process. Needless to say, my underwear could never be worn again. After using a wet paper towel to clean up as best I could and discarding my underwear I sheepishly went back to the diamond to finish the last 2 innings. I couldn't sit down for the rest of the game, and afterwards I rushed home to shower and change before returning to the post game hangout for some beers. Nobody was the wiser, but I'm sure everyone had their suspicions.
Coffee and tacos, man. That’s a devastating combination for any rectum to absorb. Takes real guts, literally, to brave tacos and coffee together. That’s something I would do without realizing the future implications. The regret would be staggering.
Offseason Snack Of The Week
Breadsticks! Gotta be soft ones, though. You Olive Gardenheads out there know what I’m talking about. Ever have crunchy breadsticks? They’re shit. They’re the saddest snack on Earth. One time I was so hard up I put BUTTER on a crunchy breadstick. You would have cut my head off if you had seen me do it.
Offseason Cheap Beer Of The Week
Trump: President of the Divided States of America Imperial Mexican Lager! From … wait for it … UKRAINE! It all fits. From Beau:
My brother sent me this. Costs about $2, 12% ABV, and doesn't taste too bad. My brother said it makes his poops look like Giuliani.
Don’t all poops look like Giuliani? Beau also sent the back label of this highly impeachable swill. Let’s have a look!
Back when I drank, I never eschewed any beer on sheer principle. Flavor, yes. Ethics, no. But this one … this one might have put my licentious beer habits to the ultimate test.
(I would’ve drank it.)
Alex Guerrero’s Lifehack Of The Week!
“See, I talk with Tom about this every offseason. We show up at my pea protein gum factory in the morning and I ask him, ‘Tom, what are we gonna WIN today?’ Because it’s those little victories away from the field that turns into BIG ones on it. If Tom can do 50 burpees out on the Bonneville Salt Flats? That’s a win. If Tom can go a whole month without consuming ANY ice, solid or melted? Another win.”
Sunday Afternoon Movie Of The Offseason For Jets Fans
Shin Godzilla. The premise of every gritty monster and/or Batman movie this century has been, “OK, but what if superheroes and big monsters were REAL? Like REALLY real? Here’s how I think it would play out!” And then someone in the movie finds the blueprint for killing King Kong on the back of a fucking cereal box.
Shin Godzilla, on the other hand, gets into the actual bureaucracy of dealing with a 100-foot nuke lizard rampaging across Japan. All things considered, the Japanese government does a pretty good job in this movie. WAY better than we would have done. Made me angry at the US, frankly.
By the way, I made a mistake when I rented Shin Godzilla off of Prime for a buck because I rented the original Japanese version. Turned out that version offered no English subtitles of any kind. I had to spend another buck for the dubbed version instead. Really weird to hear Godzilla himself voiced by none other than Gene Simmons.
Gratuitous Simpsons Quote
“Yeah, Smingers did it! Case closed! Now where's my hat? I'm going to the outhouse.”
Enjoy the offseason, everyone. See you back here in April for the draft.