Descartes’ Demon

When anomalies rage, or even in the quietest moments
You feel something not quite right
Cast dark eyes about your small corner of the Universe,
When the laws you know well, no longer work,
You see the shadow, does the substance lurk
Somewhere without? Is that Descartes’ Demon watching you?

When ages ago, or even in the past few hundred years,
Credulous men saw the work of the Devil
In every quirk of Fate, God in every wondrous happening,
No explanations were required,
Other than those God-fearing folk desired;
No problem existed except the struggle against evil.

Deities inhabited the Earth far and wide,
Every lake and volcano had its god,
In every cave and pot hole dwelt a sprite,
The souls of the dead were abroad at night,
And every phenomenon which confounded the minds of men
Could be shrugged of as supernatural intervention.

Even the ancient Greeks, great and original thinkers,
Who probed the unknown as best they could
With their limited resources,
Who wrestled with complex fallacies and strange paradoxes,
Allowed flights of fancy to stifle facts,
Speculating on the gods and their acts.

But as the Age of Reason dawned,
Men grew wiser, were better warned,
The gods disappeared, the Devil took flight,
His trident and pointed tail relegated to joke status.
No longer did the dragons breathe fire,
And no longer did the souls of the dead waken from their sleep.

Science superceded religion
As the bicycle the horse, the motor car the bicycle,
As must all outmoded institutions wither and decay
In the light of new technology and understanding;
Now, only the churches and cults remain
To feed on what science cannot yet explain.

But what if far, far beyond
The science of Man, without the matrix,
On some dark, ethereal other side,
Descartes’ Demon is really watching you,
If your wildest imaginings are true,
What would it mean, that all must now come to naught?

What if the room in which you stand
Is all, if the Universe finishes at the front door?
Cogito ergo sum...how can
You ever be certain of more than this?
For you can never bridge the great abyss
And view the matrix from without.

Of course, no man really believes such speculation:
An interesting diversion it may be,
An academic exercise
To sow confusion with the wise,
But that is all, leave it all at the lecture room door,
And step back into the real, hylic world.

For in this world, matter is real, tangible,
It is hard, soft or wet to the touch,
It has odour, it can be seen,
Or sensed in other ways, and we believe
In what out data senses can perceive...
Even if they are illusions.

Science explains all, or will explain all someday,
The world does not cease to exist
When you close your eyes;
Reality continues despite sleep,
So clasp the matrix, foolish talk will keep
For another academic exercise.

But, at some time in the not-too-distant future,
When anomalies rage, or even in the quietest moment
You feel something not quite right
Cast dark eyes about your small corner of the Universe,
Reason will no longer comfort the blind
As Descartes’ Demon scampers through your mind.

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