by Sean M. Darnell
Okay, consider for a moment stepping outside whatever personal views, learning, or assumptions you may have regarding the nature of time. Humor me.
This is a jaunt through alternative history. Mankind is, in a very real sense, destined to be the cause of its own extinction. Global warming, nuclear winter, what have you. The exact cause is unimportant. Point is, it’s only a matter of time, and people the world over are slowly coming to this realization. We as a species, despite our self-proclaimed mental acuities, have always been a little bit slow on the uptake.
Once enough of us have finally come into a firm grasp of impending disaster, we will, inevitably, begin to flail in our attempts to escape it. Much like a fox with its paw caught in a trap. Technology, our guiding light, considered to be our last and greatest hope, will flourish.
Enter, time travel.
Sadly, we’ll discover it too late, at the brink of the abyss, so to speak. Realizing this, some bright mind will come up with the idea of sending someone, perhaps several people, back to the dawn of civilization in an effort to sway the thrust of human development in some hopefully more favorable new direction. A last-ditch effort. We botched the last go-round, may as well wipe the slate and try another way, present states be damned.
What that bright mind and all those close to it don’t realize is that what they are proposing has, in fact, already happened. It’s been right there, under our noses, all our lives. In Biblical texts, ancient monuments, archaic symbolisms, as gods and goddesses, these time travelers have always been and always will be immortalized since time immemorial. All those authors of books about ‘Chariots of the Gods’ and ET pyramid builders had really been on to something, though they had no way of knowing exactly what it was.
The cycle continues. We raise ourselves above the apes, try to bestow upon our ancestors great technologies and philosophies which their primitive minds can barely comprehend, taking us instead to be ethereal creatures come to Earth. Religions are formed, civilizations set in motion, and this whole muddled ball of wax comes screaming back down that several thousand-year hill into oblivion.
Now, suppose that at some time we realize the self-defeating circle our species is caught in. Suppose, by some means, prognosticative or otherwise, some mad prophet — in this case, begrudgingly, myself, though, not by any means taking any of this seriously — were to become aware of the impending disaster and our eventual method of diverting it. Suppose this mad prophet were to work it all out in his head and report it, as I’ve just done here.
Everything’s been laid out. We realize, beforehand, where it all went wrong and the unwitting part we will play (and already have played, in a sense) in setting those events into motion. What is there to do about it?
How can we prevent this? Well, any number of ways. We’ve probably tried them all.
We could go back even further to buy ourselves some time and establish a new order in the blackest parts of prehistory. Only, no, we’ve already done that, we’d realize after the fact (in an entirely new historical loop). It’s come to be known as Atlantis, and it was a catastrophe, to put it very lightly.
All right, maybe we should just leave well enough alone. Stop tampering with cave-dwelling man and perhaps try to influence those capable of higher thought. Teach them peace, love for the Earth, harmony with nature, all those things we now wish we could have had. Our deathbed penance.
Again, wrong-o. The human impulse towards empire building and the tyrannical bastardization of all that originates as good or ‘holy’ steps in, leaving us, after many attempted revisions, with Roman expansions, heart-chomping Aztec sun-gods, Masonic Orders, Pharaoh slave-trade subjugations, Holy Roman Hullabaloos, etc, etc... And from the ashes of those leviathans once spent arise new (though old, to us) civilizations, just as concerned with self-destruction as the ones before them.
Eventually we realize it must be stopped. The only question is, would we wish to wipe out the whole of human history? To negate all existence? Or instead, should we just smile gladly and say “Yeah, you know, I guess we’ve had a good run of it, for what it was,” and welcome the apocalypse? Stiff upper lip and all that?
Do we kill the messenger, the inventor of time travel, or do we shut our yaps and urge him on? There are advocates on both sides of the argument. Same old debate, really: “Better to’ve loved and lost or never to’ve loved at all?” (paraphrased, I know, but it suits my purpose). Either we accept the endless cycle of creation and destruction, or say to Hell with it and revert to little more than stinking apes, if we’re lucky enough to survive the ice age at all without our own helping hand to guide us.
But, there is another way.
If it’s gods we want, then a God we will have. We will send back something early mankind couldn’t possibly fail to understand. An immortal to guide them, to hold their (again... ah, you get the double meaning: our) hairy, mud-caked hands.
We’ll send them a robot. The perfect man. Nuclear Yahweh, a Buddha in aluminum.
Programmed into him will be the whole of our knowledge of history. If we didn’t get it, couldn’t calculate a better path before we ran out of time, we’ll just have to leave it to the only thing we know that stands a chance. He’ll reduce our ignorance and evils to more manageable ones and zeros, x out all the discrepancies, and cut out all the nonsense.
If it all works out, we’ll have our problems solved for us before we even begin.
God knows how it’ll end.
Copyright © 2007 by S. M. Darnell