The Mischievous Nerd's Guide to World Domination
Author: Stephen Oberauer

Chapter 5
Nothing can be proven

9 YEARS, 10 MONTHS, 13 DAYS TO E-DAY

At 6:30am the next morning my alarm went off. It was cold and I really didn’t want to get out of bed. I hadn’t slept very well, so I was tired. School sucks. Why couldn’t I just stay under my thick, warm duvet, sleep a few more hours until I was awake enough to absorb some knowledge, and then watch videos of my classes instead of having to get up?

To ease the pain slightly I had come up with a method of getting out of bed on days like these which works rather well. I use a scientific principle called ‘gravity’ which I can always rely on; I roll to the edge of my bed and let gravity do the rest. BANG! I was out of bed. I was on the floor, but at least I was no longer too comfortable to get up and get ready for the ‘s’ word.

Our first class was English. Our young English teacher, Mr. Richards, often let us have a debate instead of trying to teach us something. I enjoyed those classes. On this occasion he gave each of us a small piece of paper as we walked in the door. When we were all seated he asked us to write down the answer to the question on the black board. Before we had come in he had written ‘What is the secret of life?’

I thought about the question for a little while. The secret of life? The question didn’t make any sense. Life has a secret? There are many secrets in life, some which could be discovered through the use of a parabola shaped listening device. If life had a secret, we wouldn’t know it, otherwise it wouldn’t be a secret, and so I simply wrote down ‘Nothing can be proven.’ Most of the others also finished straight away, but Mr. Richards waited patiently for those who decided to think up something really deep. I took out my tiny wooden skateboard that I had made in woodwork and skated it around my desk with my fingers. After a few minutes, Mr. Richards passed a cap around and everyone put their piece of paper in the cap. He then sent the cap around again and everyone had to take out a piece of paper. The piece of paper that I took out had ‘Love’ written on it. He asked some of the class members to read out their pieces of paper, ‘Andrew, what does yours say?’

‘Love,’ he replied.

‘And what about yours, Alison?’

‘Mine says, ‘If I knew the answer I wouldn’t still be in school.’’’

He asked six more class members, of which three more said ‘Love’, two said ‘Happiness’ and one said ‘Forty two’. ‘Does anyone have anything different on their paper?’ he asked. Looking around it was obvious that most of the class had written the same things. Janet put up her hand. ‘What does yours say, Janet?’

‘Nothing can be proven,’ she replied.

‘That’s an interesting answer,’ he said. ‘Who wrote it?’ I raised my hand. ‘Well, that’s a pretty good answer to the meaning of life, that life is simply something that cannot be proven.’ I raised my hand again. ‘Yes, Nathan?’ Mr. Richards asked.

‘You didn’t ask for the meaning of life; you asked for the secret,’ I responded.

‘What’s the difference?’ he asked.

‘The meaning of life is “A perspective of experience, happiness and pain”, and it’s not a secret; it’s obvious,’ I replied.

The teacher looked confused. I guess that’s why I did so badly in English tests. My teachers don’t understand me and I don’t understand them, like poetry, which to me is simply someone trying to explain something by saying something else, and it just doesn’t make sense to me. As I looked around the class again another thing was obvious; everyone was just as confused as my teacher.

‘Where did you read that?’ he asked.

‘Not everything comes from a book,’ I replied.

‘You’re right, not everything comes from a book,’ Mr. Richards echoed, pretending to be intelligent. ‘Turn in your text books to page 47…’ he continued, and the day’s lesson began.

At lunch break Raymond and I sat down on the stands in the school field. As I was about to bite into my peanut butter sandwich he spoke to me about what I had said to Mr. Richards, ‘Bit of a weird English class, hey? Remind me what you said the meaning of life was.’

I put my sandwich back in the lunch box and asked him, ‘Have you heard the saying, “If a tree falls in a forest and no-one hears it, does it make a sound?”?’.

‘Yes.’

‘Well, the question shouldn’t be, “Does it make a sound?” It should be “Does it matter?” If Earth existed without anything living on it, nothing on Earth would matter, because there would be no “life” to experience it. So, what’s the meaning of life then?’ I asked in an attempt to get him to figure it out.

‘Okay, so I guess it’s the ability to experience,’ Raymond replied with a smile on his face.

‘Exactly, but not just experience,’ I continued, ‘It’s happiness and pain too. Imagine a scientist builds a robot, right? Now it’s impossible for a scientist to create life, so the robot will never experience anything the way a living creature does. The robot could look exactly like a human, able to interpret audio and video signals, and make screaming noises when you step on its toe.

If it were to fall over and make realistic hurting noises, people around it might feel sorry for it, but not the scientist who made it, because he knows he can’t create happiness or pain.’

Raymond suddenly had an idea, ‘If I was a robot building scientist, I’d make one that looks like Jane. That would be yummy! And then I could make her do whatever I want.’

‘Except for one thing’, I realized, ‘You wouldn’t be able to make her love you and you probably wouldn’t be able to love her knowing that she can’t really experience anything.’

‘Well, for now a hug will be just fine,’ Raymond replied.

I took my sandwich back out of my lunch box and was about to take another bite when Raymond spoke again. ‘I wonder how we get the ability to experience happiness and pain.’

‘That’s something that really boggles my mind, but I think that’s what our souls are, the part of us that can experience, a part of us that we know is there, but can’t really explain. It makes sense that God created the soul, because God is not restricted by scientific principles, just like the soul.’

‘I assume you don’t believe in evolution then?’ Raymond asked.

‘I think it makes more sense that someone or something intelligent is creating our bodies and plugging our souls into them.’

‘Difficult to understand, this stuff is,’ Raymond said in a Yoda voice.

‘I want to be a scientist, building intelligent robots one day. Maybe I’ll figure it all out then,’ I told Raymond.

‘I can picture you doing that,’ he replied.


After break our next class was biology. I don’t know if you’ve ever noticed that biology teachers are a bit strange, but that’s been my experience. My biology teacher had a very soft voice, and never smiled. She also never looked at anyone directly, at least not until that day.

She started teaching, almost talking to herself behind her glasses. As co-incidence would have it,


and because this is my story and I can make co-incidences exist if I want to,


she started talking about evolution, ‘… This plant evolved over millions of years. As you can see in the diagram, it used to be a fern and then grew some flowers.’

Raymond had his hand up.

‘Yes, Raymond,’ she said, while looking at his desk instead of at him.

‘Nathan doesn’t believe in the Pinocchio thing’, he replied, receiving a few giggles from around the class.

‘What’s the ‘Pinocchio thing’?’ she asked, looking sternly at Raymond’s desk.

‘It’s a wooden puppet, that became a real boy,’ he replied while trying to remain serious.

‘And what does that have to do with my class, Nathan?’ she turned and asked me, while accusingly glaring at my desk.

‘I think he’s talking about evolution,’ I explained.

‘Do you think you’re smarter than the scientists that did the research for this text book?’ she asked me.

‘I might be,’ I replied, quite honestly, ‘but I didn’t say that I don’t believe in puppets turning into real boys. I just believe that there has to be a fairy involved.’

‘You believe in fairies but not in science?’ she asked.

I replied, ‘I was speaking figuratively. What I mean is that if you had to go back in time to the big bang, and then ask yourself what happened before the big bang, you’ll realize that time had to begin at some point and something had to cause the big bang to go bang, because energy cannot be created or destroyed, but only transferred from one form into another. Something supernatural had to have occurred in order for these things to happen.’

The teacher had her mouth open slightly and a frown on her forehead while she tried to figure out what I had just said. She then leant forward, looked straight at me, with a confused, but slightly sad expression and responded, ‘You’ll have to ask your science teacher about that. Ferns also evolved these spore things…’

I whispered to Raymond, ‘I wasn’t asking her, I was explaining.’

‘It’s okay,’ he whispered back.



 

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