Brethren and Sisters, after World War II, I taught a small Greek class. Don Decker was in it. He had grown up in the toughest part of Los Angeles, then had been a marine all his life; he was only twenty-one at this time when he came to Brigham Young University, and what on earth was he doing taking Greek? I soon discovered it was his own idea. If ever there was an independent young man, it was Don; he knew exactly what he was after. You ask, “But why? Why was he always running around looking everywhere for what he wanted?” He was looking for something. He was determined to follow Paul’s injunction to prove all things, and he wasn’t going to leave any stone unturned if he could help it. On the second day of class, it became immediately apparent that Don Decker was a person of all fire and intelligence. The keenness, the intensity, was consuming. I said to myself, “This is something! He can’t keep this up.” But after more than thirty-five years, it was the same old Don. He hadn’t weakened. It was not a put-on.
When I was young, we used to use the word genius a lot. The word was thrown around and finally went out of use (a good thing, because it was being abused terribly). You rarely saw a genius, but Don was one. I’ve never known another person who comes closer to the true definition.
Don and Jere got married in the Salt Lake Temple; and Don, Jere, Phyllis, and I rode in the trolley car to Saltair to celebrate after the wedding. In the days of trolley cars, it was a very different world. Amazingly, this phenomenon, Don Decker, had a wife whose talents and strength of mind equaled his own. It was a case, as the ancients would have said, of the wise forces of the earth countering the mad force of the sun: “When the hot sun of the morning comes, all the little kids go out looking for things, turning over rocks, exploring everything. But when evening comes, you bring back the little goat and the sheep, and you bring the little boy back to his mother and to reason.”1 Don and Jere were an amazing, improbable combination, the happy combination you find in their children—all imaginative, idealistic, and quite sensible. That may sound like an oxymoron, an Irish bull, like soundless music or odorless perfume—sensible geniuses. But that’s the way it worked.
Don was the most sensitive man in the world. Sensitive, yes, but not the most sensible man in the world. I don’t think you ever find those going together. Don was something infinitely better than that and far more rare. He was a man determined to find out how things really are. That is where he directed his energies, and if he thought it might lie in this direction he looked here, and if in another direction then he looked there. He didn’t exhaust any one direction because he thought he might be missing something somewhere else; he went remarkably far in more directions than any of the rest of us have risked. You see, one person wants him to go into biology, another into medicine; one wants him to go into literature, poetry, language, or into everything under the sun. Don got a good start in every one of them. He was looking for himself all the time. He was determined to devote his life, not to the momentary dictates of expediency or advantage, but to whatever schedule or scenario had been set for the eternal human family to live by. These he wanted to know. He was always studying the wider scenes. It sometimes made him impatient and daring, and restless.
When we first met, Don and I started going out to the Uintas together, often. Don was all for taking risks. You have to do that to be a Don Decker. But it is far better to take risks than not to move at all. You can always tone down; you can always, to some degree at least, redirect and control that volcanic energy. But if it isn’t there, there is nothing you can do about it. In the case of all the rest of us, I’m afraid, very little is there.
Sometimes he was impatient, impulsive. He didn’t want to be “cabin-cooped,” confined, bound in by saucy doubts and fears, by little things. And I am pleased to say that as a result, Donald Decker had no career. Years ago, Stephen L Richards, at a devotional at BYU, spoke on the evils of “careerism.”2 He damned the idea of living for a career or having a career. Of course, we now give courses in careerism—how to make a career, how to do such and such for a career, and so forth. But this wasn’t for Don.
Why don’t we also climb the ladder? The degrees of glory? You’re welcome to the corporate ladder, or to the military ladder, or to the academic ladder, which all go in terms of promotions. That is the all-important thing—to get the promotion. But in the end (and you very soon come to an end), as soon as you get where you think you’re the best, you’re cut off in any field. It ends with a whimper or a bang, depending upon whether it is retirement or suicide, and many of my friends have gone into both calamities. You certainly go nowhere after that. Don wouldn’t have any of that.
Here was an inconceivable man. He never stopped doing what he was doing and was always doing something very different: “Without compulsory means it shall flow unto thee forever and ever” (D&C 121:46). Don did not worry about degrees and rank and who’s better than who. These have nothing to do with progress. Don wanted to find out things for himself. Don had the making of a great poet. These marvelously sympathetic lines say what Don would have said: “He speaks for everybody and to everybody.” This line does not lack any of the qualities that make a poem great, and you rarely find them all combined in one immortal verse.
In terms of eternal progression, where are you going if you are not thinking of promotion? Paul said, “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared” (1 Corinthians 2:9). We shouldn’t try to guess what it will be like. But what is education for, then? Every time Don came around, I would heave a sigh: “Here we go. We’re going to be talking all night long and Don will have the last word.” But you don’t let such opportunities go; you relentlessly follow an idea, the particular thing you are after—and Don was after it. He would search your brains for everything you had, and he knew how to do it.
A modest passage from Brigham Young answers the question What is education for? “Will education feed and clothe you, keep you warm on a cold day, or enable you to build a house? Not at all. Should we cry down education on this account? No. What is it for? The improvement of the mind; to instruct us in all arts and sciences, in the history of the world, in the laws of nations; to enable us to understand the laws and principles of life and how to be useful, while we live.”3 It all works together. It is the things of the mind that are really useful. Truth, wisdom, power, glory, light, and intelligence exist upon their own qualities. They do not, neither can they, exist on any other principle. Truth is congenial with itself. “Light cleaveth unto light” (D&C 88:40). It is the same with knowledge and virtue and all the eternal attributes. They follow after each other. Truth cleaves unto truth because it is truth. It is to be adorned because it is an attribute of God, excellence for itself.
This picture describes Don—always after something, but not for any ulterior motive. There was no bread-and-butter motive behind his quest. One might think the guy crazy, wasting all that talent—always only searching. “Knowledge is power” is the slogan of a rascally world. Why else love truth? Is it because you can discover beauty in it, because it is congenial to you, or because you think it will make you a ruler or a lord? “If you conceive that you will attain to power, upon such a motive, you are much mistaken,” says Brigham. “It is a trick of the unseen power that is abroad amongst the inhabitants of the earth, that leads them astray, binds their minds, and subverts their understanding.” Then he goes all out: “Suppose that our Father in heaven, our elder brother, the risen Redeemer, the Saviour of the world, or any of the Gods of eternity should act on this principle, to love truth, knowledge, and wisdom, because they are all powerful. . . . They would cease to be Gods, . . . the extension of their kingdom would cease, and their God-head come to an end.”4 Yet this is the realm we seek and the direction we work forward: Leave the motives out and let the purpose in. Especially there are some things we should never look for—power and gain.
Donald was quick and intuitive; he had a positive genius for seeing connections. He loved to build structures, seeing dimensions of the gospel that Joseph Smith and Brigham Young and others saw, but that very few notice today. We would say he used the right side of his brain for much of his thinking, and that made him alien to much of our thinking, because we use only the left side. A great deal is being written and said about right-and left-brain processes today.5 Don had the peculiar advantage of using both. He was profoundly intellectual but was at the same time a poet. There is supposed to be conflict between the right and left side of the brain. He worked them together, and as a result he was sort of a nine-days-wonder, a freak, a thing you never expect to meet on the street. Yet that’s what he was. Also, his thinking, in which he pursued ideas with relentless persistence, was in directions alien to present-day scholarship, which uses only the left side of the brain. He enjoyed the great intellectual advantage of using both, which made him a man of two worlds with an impulsive, somewhat wildly youthful passion. Because of that, he was always jumping into places, exploring this, that, and the other, even some places he shouldn’t have been. He was gaining experience, “finding out” (which is what we’re supposed to be doing here).
How did he come to immerse himself in literature, particularly ancient literature, of all things? His passion for the Greeks grew increasingly, because he knew—he had seen as soon as he began to read—that the answers to the important questions may lie there, not at the shop or in the office. Today we ignore the documents. What do we have that Joseph gave us? Only books. The ordinances in the temple, as well as everything else, are all contained in the books he left behind. Although these were books written by men, God considers them of great value, and the angels do too. When the angel Gabriel came to Zacharias or to Mary, or when the angel Moroni came to Joseph Smith, what did they do? The margin of the New Testament will tell you that all the angel did was quote ancient scripture. Moroni came four times to Joseph Smith, quoting scriptures so well that Joseph knew them all by heart. He said some were different from what we find in our scriptures, and some were very much alike, but Moroni came four times, so that Joseph knew the message exactly. Still, he just quoted the words of ancient prophets who had lived before.
When the Lord himself came, what did he do after the resurrection? We read at the end of Luke 24, “Beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he laid out all the scriptures to them and their eyes were opened” (Luke 24:27). What did he do to the Nephites? He came to them; they didn’t understand him. He read the scriptures to them. He insisted on going through the books, while also seeing to it that the books were all there. When the prophecy of Samuel the Lamanite came up missing, he said, “We’ve got to have this. Why didn’t you write it down?” Nephi’s face got very red, and he said, “Yes, we did forget to put that in, didn’t we?” The Lord responded, “Well, see that you do put it in” (cf. 3 Nephi 23:8-14).
The Lord and the angels are concerned with the books written by the ancients. As Joseph said, “The immediate will of heaven is contained in the scriptures.”6 We are very much concerned with these things, very close to the books. This gives the books a timeless position. The Lord has said he will not reveal to us again what is already to be found in the books. We must read with great care, to make sure it isn’t there already, before we ask for any more revelation.
It is not just the scriptures. We are commanded in D&C 109:14-16 (given at the dedication of the first temple, the great temple of Kirtland, which was to become a house of learning, a house of prayer, and President John Taylor tried to make it those things) to build a house of study. There people were to “seek . . . out of the best books words of wisdom” (D&C 88:118). A list of the best books had not yet been supplied. We must find these ourselves by diligently searching. If the scriptures bind the worlds together, the writings of man bind together the generations and the dispensations.
For Don Decker, the value of books was not academic. He did not seek the wisdom of the race, nor did he particularly note the skill of the writing (though you cannot avoid them), and he invariably gravitated to what was the greatest and best. What the books do contain is the experience of the race. In them you can see what men have learned and what they have gone through. For Don, reading this stuff was a profound experience. He could lose himself completely, identifying himself with a character from Shakespeare or Aeschylus or another author. It is not the author’s intent we seek for at all. A wonderful passage at the end of Mormon reads: “The reason you will find this record valuable is not because we were wise men, but because we were damn fools. Thank the Lord that he has shown you our imperfections that you may learn to be a lot wiser than we have been” (cf. Mormon 9:31). These are books written by fools, and therefore they will help us. It is not just wisdom we are looking for, it is the experience that men have had, and we can find this in the record. We shouldn’t expect new messages. Let us go to the books we have.
If this were somebody else’s funeral, Don and I would go hence and discuss certain subjects until morning. These are subjects that constantly concerned him, because he did not linger on trivial things. Of course, he was after knowledge in my particular fields, which I myself know nothing about. He was as good in those fields as he was in his own, which was not bad at all. As I have mentioned today, many subjects concerned him. He was an astonishing man. He did what President Kimball tells us to do a great deal more of—to ponder.
Don’s concern was with inexhaustible themes. He had nothing to do with mysticism. You see, zen implies there is nothing there. Nothing is real. It is all your own invention. The wisdom of the East is “Don’t expect anything and you won’t be disappointed.” But that is not so. The new physics turns that notion right around. It used to be said, “Nothing is real. It is just all your own invention after all, isn’t it?” And you have to admit, “Yes, it is.” The new physics tells us, “If you can think of it, it is real. It must have come from somewhere. There is a real experience behind it. You wouldn’t have invented it out of nothing.”7
The idea of dispensations and episodes is very important here, because these notions are understood in limited context. Don always saw them in their historical context; without a limited, closed context, you cannot get anywhere. You will try to understand everything all at once. Doctrine and Covenants 93:30 says that everything must be understood in the sphere in which it exists. “Otherwise, there is no existence.” If you wait until you get the ultimate answer, saying, “Take away all the boundaries; I want to know about everything now,” you will never get anything. There is no existence unless you can see it in a closed system, which is, of course, what Einstein or anyone else gives us. We realize that now; all we will ever get is a closed system. That is why the episodes.8
The Christian world and the sciences alike believe that it is all just a one-act play. The Christians say it all began with the creation of Adam—there was nothing before; and it will end hereafter with the beatific vision, when we just look at the Lord or sing hymns forever. It came out of nothing (creatio ex nihilo), and it goes, as St. Jerome says, “back into the nothing, from which it came.”9 Science says it ends here. Wherever it began, it ends here.10 In either case, it ends in a static heaven. But we say, “No, no, no.” The play goes on forever, but in distinct episodes. Let us not mistake the episodes for the play, saying that is all there is. There was an episode that began with Adam, clearly marked, representing a particular age. The notion is very clearly defined in the temple. It is the transition from the Cretaceous to the Quaternary, where everything happens according to rule. (This is the sort of thing Don and I discussed. We would argue about the details of it.)
But let us never say that these episodes are all there is. Even in this short life, we pass through a number of distinct episodes, a number of distinct existences. You could refer to the “lives” of Don Decker, because he had very different lives, as we all have, our own seven stages. Biologically, I am assuredly a very different person from what I was a long time ago. These transitions, these rites of passage, are rites that take us from one state of existence to another; the process is an obsession with the human family, going back to the Stone Age (Don refers to them in a poem of his); and the rites of passage obsess us here and now. Quite literally, too. A cultural shock occurs when you pass from one state to the other. And the transitions are usually quite abrupt. You are born all of a sudden; you die all of a sudden. Each time you get a new name, a new rank, a new identity, a new function, a new office of priesthood or whatever it may be, you get new duties, new privileges; you become a different person. On many of these occasions, you change your name. You go not into another existence (the Egyptians would say kheper). That implies changing form without changing identity. The classic example with the Egyptians was the butterfly or the frog. A cocoon is not a caterpillar, nor is it a butterfly. The two states are the same creature, but what resemblance would you ever recognize?
Even while we are here, we must give up lives. Lech lecha, which means “get up and keep going,” is the title of Abraham’s life in the chapters of Genesis that describe him. The book of Abraham begins, “At the residence of my fathers, . . . I saw that it was needful for me to obtain another place of residence” (Abraham 1:1). Abraham had to get up and go, and he never settled until the end of his life. He had to buy a grave for his wife and himself from strangers in a strange land. His life was one continual going from one phase to another, moving from one existence to another all the time.
So it is with us here: Lech lecha. Sometimes it seems cruel. Shakespeare’s sonnets are devoted very much to that theme. He treats the passing of youth as a form of death, something you’ll never get back again: you are another kind of person; it was another phase of life. Looking back is very romantic. It was hell when you were in it, but as you reflect back, it looks quite nice. We make that common mistake about youth; Shakespeare says it is death. This is a profound tragedy, because as far as Shakespeare was concerned, there is nothing to it. It is the “baseless fabric of this vision, . . . it . . . shall dissolve; . . . and, like the insubstantial pageant faded, leave not a rack behind.”11 That was Shakespeare’s last word in the Tempest. There is nothing more. It is the end of the show. We are all going home. That is what makes the play so very sad: to have to pass from one phase to another.
But not with us—not with us at all. Passing from one phase is the normal thing; it makes existence more exciting. That is the central theme of the temple—the subject to which my and Don’s discussions invariably tended. In each state, the creature must pass through; there is something we couldn’t get anywhere else.
But how can a few brief years spent here, born to trouble as we are, have a significant impact on eternal existence? Eternity is a long time; earth life is just a second—a fantastic disproportion. This life, Lehi tells us, is only a probation, only a test (1 Nephi 10:21; 2 Nephi 2:21; Alma 34:32). A test, to be searching and definitive, need last only a few seconds. You can test a person’s knowledge of a language in but two minutes, even one minute. Say something to that person, and if he answers in the idiom, you will know how well he knows the language. If you are testing for acids or bases, you don’t have to work all day with a ten-thousand gallon vat, only a few minutes with three drops.
The test for this life is not for knowledge; it is not for intelligence, or for courage, or for anything like that. That would be a huge joke. None of us knows very much, none of us is very brave, none of us is very strong, none of us is very smart. We would flunk those tests terribly. As Alma said, we are only to be tested on one thing—the desires of our heart (Alma 41:3); that is what we are really after. And in that way we betray ourselves completely. Anyone who knows the signs, who knows what to look for—not just our Heavenly Father, but even a good psychiatrist (another subject that interested Don immensely)—can spot it just like that. You yourself can see your own life; you can test yourself. Thus we don’t need to go on forever suffering the same nonsense in order to see the things we can be tested for, namely the two things and the only two things we are good at: we can forgive and we can repent. These are the two things the angels envy us for, as the church fathers said. Repentance was a great subject with Don. For years Don had an obsession with his favorite character, Lear, the great example of repentance.
Of course, that is the whole thing in the gospel. “Wherefore [the first word to Adam], . . . thou shalt repent and call upon God in the name of the Son forevermore” (Moses 5:8). When the Lord came to the Nephites, among his first words to them were these: “This is the gospel, that the Father commandeth all men, everywhere, to repent” (3 Nephi 11:32). This is not a popular doctrine. In my thirty-five years at BYU, I have heard only one sermon (given by Stephen L Richards, incidentally) on repentance. And it was not well received. “Don’t tell us to repent. Repentance is for the bad guys.” But Don knew that it was called the gospel of repentance. All must repent constantly, each for himself. You can’t repent another person.
Ezekiel 33:18-19 defines a righteous man. Who is righteous? Anyone who is repenting. No matter how bad he has been, if he is repenting he is a righteous man. There is hope for him. And no matter how good he has been all his life, if he is not repenting, he is a wicked man. The difference is which way you are facing. The man on the top of the stairs facing down is much worse off than the man on the bottom step who is facing up. The direction we are facing, that is repentance; and that is what determines whether we are good or bad.
Don always pondered the problem of repentance. He was aware of it; and how few are. We are expected to commit all kinds of sins here, and also discover them. We are supposed to dig the nitty-gritty out of the rug, so to speak. We are sent here, going on for eternity (and eternity is a long time), but we can’t go on as defective vessels. If there is anything seriously wrong with our character, we want to find it out and get rid of it before we get launched on that tremendous project we are after. This is the place to find out all the dirty, nasty, little sides of our nature; it is the only place we can, because we are not in the presence of God and angels here, and it is possible for us to sin. So when God says to Adam, “We shall leave you now, but we shall visit you again”—as soon as he turns, who pops up? Satan. He says, “Aha! Here I am. Now we can really put Adam to the test.” Satan is there to try him and to tempt him and us, but only if we are left here. We are supposed to find out all the dirtiness, the weakness, the sinfulness of our nature; and that is what keeps us repenting all the time until we reach the state of perfect grace and truth. Let us remember, the Only Begotten is full of grace and truth. When we reach that state, it will be just dandy. We can stop repenting, I suppose. But do we realize what that means? What grace, love, complete love for everything, and truth are? (Notice how that recurs in Don’s poems. We mustn’t spoof, we mustn’t kid, and that is what makes a good poet as against the newspaper poet, the faker. Deep sincerity is not fakery; it is not a poetic device; it is not a gadget. There is nothing sentimental or mawkish. Probably the Church magazines would never accept it, because it is not sentimental enough. It is deep, and it is real.)
So it is here that we repent. I remember some of my former lives—my childhood and youth. I was bungling, bemused, wandering in a daze, getting pushed around, trying to push back, and not knowing what was going on. It was not the happy, carefree time we think. But it is profitable to me now. Our lives here will be profitable to us, of tremendous value, at some future time. We are told that spirits enter the other world somewhat in a daze (from the experience of many people—some of whom I know, including myself). The fact is, we are in a daze right here. I go around in a daze most of the time. Don owned a book of cartoons that very much expressed that common idea, “What am I doing here?” In the world we find ourselves in, the theme that comes to us first is, “What am I doing here?”—the dilemma of the person in the stews of New York, in the vileness of the ghettos, and so on.
It reminds me of my first day in Normandy. I woke up, saw beautiful red poppies waving in the breeze, and remembered, “In Flanders Field the poppies grow” from my grammar school days. I said, “Great guns! What am I doing here? This is where I came in.” But one thing I have learned in the passage from one phase of existence to another is that nothing is lost in the process. If you had told me just a week or two ago, for example, that on August 11, 1982, I would be in Rexburg, Idaho, I would say, “You are absolutely crazy. This sort of thing doesn’t happen. You’re not a prophet. You don’t know the future. What on earth would I be doing in Rexburg? I have too much to do in Provo.” But here I am. That is the way things go. Did Don think he would be here, either? I am not at all disappointed. I am not at all shocked—now. In a strange way, it seems so natural and proper. This is one of the two miracles of the brain, a subject of almost furious investigation at the present time, namely consciousness: the fact that the brain can shut off completely and then turn on again; yet it is still all there.12 Many scientific writings in various fields (and I just read the popular ones) are zeroing in on the idea of consciousness—the last mystery, a complete mystery. There are all sorts of switching centers in the head, but no locale for consciousness. It is not in the body (see Popper and Eccles’ big book on the subject).13 Popper is a strict evolutionist, a strict biologist, and the greatest authority on scientific method. Eccles is the best and foremost authority on the biology of the brain. Eccles came to the conclusion that the consciousness has nothing to do with the body. It is not in the body. Popper agrees, but he cannot accept the idea that it can exist independently of the body. Then how? asks Eccles (a very interesting dialogue in the book). Eccles concludes that it is inescapable that consciousness exists outside of and independent of the body. Popper will not go so far but knows no alternative.
Where is Donald Decker now? The answer has to do with time and place and dimensions. Today people are talking in terms of dimensions that are real but absolutely inconceivable. Remember, we begin with a singularity—we call it a singularity because we cannot describe it, we cannot imagine it, but it is absolutely real; that is the concentration of all that matters—and it ends with a black hole, which you cannot imagine, you cannot conceive, you cannot describe. But be assured, it really exists.14 So if we talk about a universe that is full of things we cannot imagine but are real,15 what a change things have taken in the past few years. The doors are wide open to all sorts of possibilities.
There are ties between the body and the mind. (This is a subject Don and I used to like to talk about.) There should be, for a physical resurrection does exist. We believe in it. We will need it. The body does play a definite role in the mind and the spirit. We came here to get a body for a definite purpose. But it is not a one-to-one relationship, certainly not here; for the time being only a temporary and wobbly relationship, I’m finding it to be, with consciousness going its own way. It blacks out completely sometimes, or at least partially. It fights the body or loses interest in it sometimes. Sometimes it makes me sick or well in spite of myself. Good old consciousness—overcoming the limitations of hunger and weakness, which it would impose; defying healthy revulsion for painful exposure, like holding our finger in a flame, or something like that. “We must eat in order to think. But how many thoughts will we get out of one crust of bread?” There is no proportion between the two, though there is a necessary connection. We must eat the bread in order to have the thought; if we get too weak, we can’t think. We will be in a daze, and so we have to eat the bread. What is that proportion? How many thoughts are we going to get out of one piece of bread? That immediately makes us laugh, because the spirit is clearly independent.
The sessions would always end; Don would always win by wearing me out. That man had indefatigable energy. “Age could not wither nor custom stale”16 Don’s infinite variety, could it? But for once, you could say, I have the last word. No, I don’t think I do have the last word here, brothers and sisters. May the Lord open the minds of all of us to understanding and becoming aware of these great blessings which we have been neglecting all this time and take the case of Donald Decker as an example to be followed, I pray in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
1. Sappho, Epithalamian Fragment 104a; see Denys Page, Sappho and Alcaeus (Oxford: Clarendon, 1955), 121.
2. Stephen L Richards, Where Is Wisdom (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1955), 400.
3. JD 14:83.
4. Ibid., 1:117.
5. For example, Jan Ehsenwald, The Anatomy of a Genius (New York: Human Sciences Press, 1984), 3-19.
6. TPJS 54.
7. Heinz R. Pagels, The Cosmic Code (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1984), 153-65; cf. Harold Morowitz quoted in Paul Davies, God and the New Physics (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1983), 8, “Physicists, faced with compelling experimental evidence, have been moving away from strictly mechanical models of the universe to a view that sees the mind as playing an integral role in all physical events.”
8. Karl Popper, Logic of Scientific Discovery (New York: Harper, 1965).
9. St. Jerome, Apologia contra Rufinum II, 5, 17 in Corpus Christianorum, series Latina, 74:37.
10. C. P. Snow, Chronicles of Cambridge University, cited in Hugh W. Nibley, “Science Fiction and the Gospel,” Latter-day Science Fiction, ed. Benjamin Urrutia (Ludlow, MA: Parables, 1985), 2:6-7, says: “The tone of science at Cambridge in 1932 was the tone of Rutherford. [They had discovered the planetary structure of the atom.] Magniloquently boastful, creatively confident, generous, argumentative, and full of hope. [What more could he ask?] . . . He enjoyed a life of miraculous success.” “But I am sure that even late in life he felt stabs of sickening insecurity.” The author goes on to talk about the other giants at Cambridge: “Does anyone really imagine that Bertrand Russell, G. H. Hardy, Rutherford, Blackett and the rest were bemused by cheerfulness as they faced their own individual state? In the crowd, they were leaders; they were worshipped. But by themselves they believed with the same certainty that they believed in Rutherford’s atom that they were going after this life into annihilation. Against this, they only had to offer the nature of scientific activity; its complete success on its own terms. It itself was a source of happiness. But it is whistling in the dark when they are alone.”
11. William Shakespeare, The Tempest, act IV, scene i.
12. Nigel Calder, The Mind of Man (London: British Broadcasting, 1970), 25.
13. Karl R. Popper and John C. Eccles, The Self and Its Brain (New York: Springer-Verlag, 1981), 555-58.
14. Davies, God and the New Physics, 18, “The first instance of the big bang, where space was infinitely shrunken, represents a boundary or edge in time at which space ceases to exist. Physicists call such a boundary a singularity“; cf. John Boslough, Stephen Hawking’s Universe (New York: William Morrow, 1985), 60, 101.
15. J. B. S. Haldane quoted in Arthur C. Clarke, Profiles of the Future (New York: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, 1984), 153, “The universe is not only queerer than we imagine—it is queerer than we can imagine.”
16. William Shakespeare, Anthony and Cleopatra, act II, scene ii, line 240.