There’s a loaf of bread on my counter. I left it there two weeks ago and forgot about it; this morning I noticed it was moldy. Conditions in my apartment are quite mold-friendly — hot and steamy and inhabited by a forgetful and messy girl. Let’s take a quick look at what had to happen for that mold to end up in my kitchen:
1) I visit Boston in the 6th grade and decide I’d like to live there some day.
2) I get accepted to college in Boston
3) I leave to live in Seattle for a while
4) I miss Boston so I move back with no planning
5) I need to rent the cheapest apartment I can find quickly
6) The apartment has (poorly functioning) steam heat
7) I complain to the landlady about the lack of heat enough times that eventually she cranks it up to 80F
8) I decide not to complain because 80F is better than 40F
9) I visit the grocery store, where I see some peanut butter and jelly and decide IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d like a sandwich
10) I buy some bread
11) I make one sandwich and then decide I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t like the jelly (raspberry)
12) I set the bread aside and forget about it
13) Mold is an organism with enzymes that work best in temperatures around 80F
14) Mold appears on my bread
A math professor was just given $1.6 million because he says that the bread on my counter and the circumstances surrounding it were “well tuned for life.”
This money was courtesy of the Templeton Prize, “For Progress Toward Research or Discoveries about Spiritual Realities.” Sir John Templeton, who set up the prize and mandated that the award always exceed that of the Nobel Prize (catty!), asked
If even one-tenth of world research were focused on spiritual realities, could benefits be even more vast than the benefits in the latest two centuries from research in food, travel, medicine or electronics, and cosmology?
All together now, everyone, what’s the answer? NO!
If people want to lay around musing about the possibility of gods, fantastic. Go for it. Philosophy can be a fun way to pass the time while limbering up your thinky muscle (or “brain” as the scientists call it). But in 100 years, you’ll be no closer to understanding your “spiritual realities” than the ancient Greeks, while the scientific community will inevitably have improved your lifespan in both quality and quantity.
Great, now I’m hungry and I have no bread.