The sun will probably kill us.
That’s what scientists tell us. The large warmth-giving star our earth orbits around will continue to heat up until it burns all its nuclear fuel. Feeding its insatiable hunger for energy, it will grow into what experts call a “Red Giant.” In its hot wrath this giant will gobble up all life on earth and burp out a silent planet.
That’s how the curtain closes in one storyline at least. And that’s the outlook many embrace today. The plot begins in a murky prebiotic ocean and ends in the heat death of all of civilization. And if that’s where life came from and where history is headed, there’s not much we can do about it. After all, wishful thinking has never slain a giant.
I loved giant stories as a kid. They involved mysterious beans, cunning heroes, and defeated Goliaths. But the Red Giant isn’t my idea of an inspirational fairy tale. I think I like the Jolly Green Giant, who advertises canned veg- etables on television, a whole lot better.
If it were up to me, the Green Giant would trounce the Red Giant, and we would all walk off into the sunset holding hands and snacking on sweet peas. In all seriousness, there actually is a fifty-five-foot-tall statue of the Jolly Green Giant in Blue Earth, Minnesota. If things end the way scientists predict, this monument will one day melt beneath the heat of the expanding sun, a reminder that life doesn’t have to mirror fantasy.
Not every story has a happy ending. Not all giants are jolly. When I was a child I thought like a child. Perhaps it’s time to put away childish things.
But we’re all suckers for a good story. That’s why we squirm a bit at gloomy projections for the human race. We want a comedy even though our meteorological forecast forces us into a tragedy. I think deep down we’re all hold- ing out hope for a David figure to step in with a humble sling and defend us from the cosmic foe threatening our existence. We simply want a better ending.
Every perspective of reality contains an inherent narrative. Every worldview is a novel. Each has an author, a beginning, and an end. The task for thinking people is to consider not which story is the most interesting, but which one is actually true. In the end we may find a story compelling and true in which we can lose ourselves. Better yet, we may discover a story in which we can actually find ourselves. That would be novel indeed.