Last night was this year's long-awaited Christmas episode of Doctor Who, "The Snowmen." I'm not sure what to make of it at this moment. It was an hour and twenty minutes long, so we got more Doctor. But the end confused me. Are there different incarnations of Clara "the Souffle Girl" throughout history? Is Doctor Who exploring reincarnation? I'm pretty sure it's just wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey stuff.
In last night's episode, the Doctor is not his usual happy self. Losing Amy and Rory left him feeling cynical and cold. He no longer wants to get himself involved with Earth anymore. At one point he tells a character that after traveling across the universe for thousands of years, he has come to realize that the universe doesn't care. And that got me to thinking: Is it true? Does the universe care?
Not according to Johnny B. Truant. In his e-book The Universe Doesn't Give a Flying Fuck About You (catchy title, isn't it?), he writes, "The universe doesn't hate you, but it doesn't love you, either. The universe doesn't care if you life, die, suffer, or thrive. Only YOU care." Truant describes our relationship to the universe to a beetle somewhere on the streets of New York. At any moment someone could crush the beetle, but the city would still move on without a care.
Process theologians sees things differently. Most process theologians are panentheists, which, according to Wikipedia, means someone who believes that God "interpenetrates every part of nature and timelessly extends beyond it." Dr. James McGrath puts it this way:
For panentheists, the universe and God are coterminous. For panentheists, God is more than the sum of the parts of the universe. And if for theists the universe is distinct from God, God is still regarded as acting in and through the universe, so that the behavior of the universe is a reflection of the will of God.
So does that mean God doesn't care? Not really. According to process theology, God feels every experience here on Earth. God knows our pain and suffering. As Alfred North Whitehead famous put it, God is the "fellow-sufferer who understands." The only thing is God cannot break the laws of nature to intervene supernaturally.
I personally keep going back and forth between the two. Like Neil deGrasse Tyson, I, too, have trouble thinking that God is benevolent when I think about the possible ways Earth could get wiped off the map: asteroids, black holes, etc. But even if it turns out there is no God and life is completely absurd, I can still give my life its own meaning. Like Truant, I can still choose to "do some epic shit." If it turns out that the universe doesn't care, then the only thing left to do is live my life boldly in the face of the absurd. There's no reason to be cynical and cold.
What do you think? Does the universe care?