Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Jellyfish are Not Immortal

Young Keith, in between checking Charlii for twinges, led this afternoon's liturgy - a Celebration of the Sea - and ventured the remarkable news that jellyfish are immortal.

In fact he went way beyond this startling assertion.  He came up with a complex and, to my mind, pointless analogy between the life cycle of the "Immortal Jellyfish" and the Resurrection on the Final Day. With a slide show. And many references to the word "polyp". More than we needed, to be honest

I regret to say this, of my  flesh 'n' blood - and after all, blood own is thicker than sepia - but he's talking drivel.

Firstly because he broke the First Law of Sermon Analogies - which states that, if you have to explain the thing you're using as an analogy, it's a bad analogy.  If you explain sin using entropy, for example, you have to start by explaining entropy.

The entropy/sin analogy also breaks the Second Law, which states that analogies should be interesting. Which the Immortal Jellyfish story doesn't.  What could be more interesting than an immortal jellyfish?  But Immortal Jellyfish also  break the Second Law of Sermon Analogies - which states that an analogy must be a valid analogy. I should state at this point that most preachers ignore both First and Third laws, in pursuit of compliance with the Second. They think.

But this immortal jellyfish one breaks First and Third Laws. You have to use words like "transdifferentiation". Which isn't easy. And then, importantly;  jellyfish are not immortal. Not in any meaningful sense of the word. I know we at the Beaker Folk like to act like the world will last forever, and it's down to us petrol-swilling metal heads to guard its future - but jellyfish are not immortal, any more than the world is.

First up - because, no matter what we do about carbon emissions and limitations on Justin Bieber,  the world is going to end. The sun may or not swallow it up, but it's gonna dry all the seas up and all the immortal jellyfish are going to look bloody silly, aren't they, dried up on the flaky crust of the shell of Planet Earth as a red, rogue sun grows ever bigger?

But even if the Immortal jellyfish hitch a lift in the bilge of the last spaceship heading for the Horsehead Nebula, their future is still, ultimately, certain. Second Law of Thermodynamics, old thing. Will do for us all in the end. When the Universe hits heat death, and there's no more entropy to free - then the supposedly immortal jellyfish are gonna be smeared into primal entropy just like the rest of us. No more krill to catch. No more terrifying Australians by rocking up on Bondi Beach. Just a smooth, endless, meaningless pulp of dying photons. Forever.

You know, I think I might skip the calamari tonight. Somehow there doesn't seem much point.

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