One of the greatest life lessons I have ever received was delivered in a high school chemistry class. You see, that is where I learned that hatred and evil is imaginary. No, not imaginary, but intellectual constructs. I am an atheist. I state it plainly in many things I write because I seek connection with everyone, regardless of their religion. You may believe in God or not, at your own choosing, but the lesson I want to share is valuable to everyone, because it is about why a good and omnipotent is impotent against evil. Chemistry, who’d have thought it?
The experiment was simple. We had 2 beakers with water. One also had ice in it and the other had just been removed from a burner. A bent metal bar was hung between the two, with both ends submerged in opposite beakers. The hypothesis was simple. Heat will flow from the hot water to the cold water. The data we collected was simply the temperature at the middle of the rod. The results were simple. The rod got warmer, the ice water finished melting and got warmer and the beaker of hot water got colder.
Since the rod got warmer as “some magical force” flowed through it, the magical force was heat, not cold. If heat was moving through the rod, but cold was not, how was the hot beaker getting colder? With my mind cram packed with random knowledge, it is hard to imagine thinking that cold was a thing, but it was, way back then. Or at least it could have been. Where did it go?
Decades later with all the knowledge I have collected, I understand potential energy and the kinetic energy of temperature. I know these facts. I also understand the beauty. You see, there are certain primal forces that cannot be negative. Gravity, for example has no inverse. Neither does heat or light. These only exist in the positive, on the “Natural Number” number line. It is debatable whether they can even reach 0, never mind the negative side of the scale.
Intellectually at least, since I know of no scientific way of measuring it, love is one of these primal one sided forces. The opposite of love is not hatred. It is the same attraction-less, cold, darkness that we are in without warmth and light and something to hold onto. Love exists. It’ lack is evil. Its departure is hatred.
Evil is the void that exists in the absence of love. When we do not feel love, is the only time we are capable of evil. It is when we are adrift in the cold darkness that evil becomes real. The more heavily you feel that void between yourself and others, the more evil you do and the more love it takes to bridge that void.
Hatred is that shiver you get when the temperature drops. It is terrifying and makes you want to turn the heat up or move or stomp your feet to stay warm. Vodka gives you a sense of warmth while making you colder. Wrapping yourself up in love and curling up with loved ones will warm you to your bones. These are the “cures” for hatred.
Everything I’ve discussed thus far is “good science” to some degree, however I do want to introduce you to a facet of faith that erupted from my discussion with a pastor in the spring of 2003. Oddly, he knew of the same experiment and it had moved him much further than it had moved me. He had also instantly made the connection between love and the other one sided forces of the universe. I brought up the experiment and he listened quietly and patiently. Then he opened his mouth as an excited two year old who was waiting for you to finish yelling so they could explain the truth of the universe to you.
“The bible says that God created hell and it is horrible and miserable and terrible. And life on earth has its ups and downs and true horrors. But all of this is only terrible because God turned on the light. With no right, there is no wrong. With no up, there is no down. He created good and evil, certainly, but only one exists. Hell, pain, suffering, is only the lack of His love. Step out of the shadows and feel the warmth, feel the love. It is there.”
So, although I am a true atheist, I can reconcile a good and omnipotent God with terrible evil. Whenever you stand in the light you will cast a shadow. Every tree and mountain and building does. I am not sure why a good and omnipotent god made the universe that way, but in this universe, it is a simple thing to see. Help people out of the shadows and if you are blocking someone’s sun, please step out of the way if you can. These are very simple steps that we should all follow. Do not fear the darkness. Standing in judgment under bright lights is exhausting. It is okay to curl up with a loved one and lay in the dark watching movies with a lover or your children. When you can’t turn on the lights and look yourself in the mirror, when you fear judgment you have already been judged. Ask for forgiveness and live a good life as if you’ll be forgiven everything that you are truly sorry for, even if you know that no human being is capable of forgiving you.
Chemistry, you’ve taught me so much.