Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Upside Down

A few months back I was sitting in a hospital lounge and I picked up a magazine, The Week, to while my time. The magazine had an article on existence of God and detailed some chemist or physicist, Dr. Unwin's work on God's existence. Dr. Unwin used Bayes theorem and the concept of conditional probability to prove God's existence. He began with the premise that the chance God exists is 50:50. Then he threw in more information and revised his a priori probabilities. The iterative process continued till he exhausted his set of information. The end result was that the probability that God exists is 2/3.

I picked it up from there and wrote this.

Upside Down

Upside down
Like a sage’s tale
Spun in a Darwinian yarn
We receive life’s wisdom-
One day there is God,
The other nothing.

In a sprawling precinct of a mosque
From the member to the mehrab
I see strange bedfellows-
Descartes conforming Islam.
But between the matter and the myth
Between the sword and the scythe
God waivers like a quark;
Like a twist in a tale
Poignant, humorous, stark

I turn a page
There is ‘Paradise Lost’ in its verses
I turn another
God struts in probability’s realm with Bayes.
A million tongues sprout here
With a million words on their tips
But I have heard of a chemist
Who works backwards to reach forward.
He says the chance that God exists is 2/3
(Surely a smaller fraction than 9/11)
And unwittingly he is named Dr. Unwin

©Murtaza Danish Husain
August 7, 2004
Revised February 22, 2005

I had the option to use the english words for arabic words member (pulpit) and mehrab (arch) but I retained the arabic ones purely for the phonetic effect. Similarly, I am not sure whether Dr. Unwin is a physicist or a chemist but I have retained chemist because it conveys subtle drama.

3 comments:

Pragya said...

Dan, as I have said elsewhere, this is one my favorites of all your works! Good job!

Pragya

Praneeta Paradkar said...

Simply loved it...
Besides, quite interesting is the way events big and small spur us to take to the written word...!!

Excellent alliterative effect in

From the member to the mehrab

"I see strange bedfellows-
Descartes conforming Islam.
But between the matter and the myth
Between the sword and the scythe"

Feel should have made an attempt to carry this forward in the 3rd stanza as well...

Praneeta

Dan Husain said...

Thanks Pragya & Praneeta.

By the time I reached the third stanza I was possessed by this need to highlight the paradox between Dr. Unwin's work and his name. So I let it be! :-)