I am not a machine. For what can a machine know of the smell of wet grass in the morning, or the sound of a crying baby? I am the feeling of the warm sun against my skin; I am the sensation of a cool wave breaking over me. I am the places I have never seen, yet imagine when my eyes are closed. I am the taste of another's breath, the color of her hair. You mock me for the shortness of my lifespan, but it is this very fear of dying that breathes life into me. I am the thinker who thinks of thoughts. I am curiosity, I am reason, I am love, and I am hatred. I am indifference. I am the son of a father, who in turn was a father's son. I am the reason my mother laughed and the reason my mother cried. I am wonder and I am wondrous. Yes, the world may push your buttons as it passes through your circuitry. But the world does not pass through me. It lingers. I am in it and it is is me. I am the means by which the universe has come to know itself. I am the thing no machine can ever make. I am meaning.
I would urge us to be not too certain of our accustomed ways of looking at Genesis, and to open ourselves to the wisdom of the God-bearing men of the past who have devoted so much intellectual effort to understanding the text of Genesis as it was meant to be understood. These Holy Fathers are our key to understanding Genesis.
The Shield was another of the Fear's names. According to Laughter, it means he shields the seed of Abraham the way a man starting a fire shields the flame. When Sarah was about to die childless, the Fear gave her a son. When Abraham was about to slaughter the son, the Fear gave him the ram. He is always shielding us like a guttering wick, Laughter said, because the fire he is trying to start with us is a fire that the whole world will live to warm its hands at. It is a fire in the dark that will light the whole world home.
Current theories on the creation of the Universe state that, if it were created at all and didn't just start, as it were, unofficially, it came to being between ten and twenty thousand million years ago. By the same token the earth itself is generally supposed to be about four and a half thousand million years old. These dates are incorrect. Medieval Jewish scholars put the date of the Creation at 3760BC. Greek Orthodox theologians put Creation as far back as 5508BC. These suggestions are also incorrect. Archbishop James Usher (1580-1656) published Annales Veteris et Novi Testamenti in 1654, which suggested that the Heaven and the Earth were created in 4004BC. One of his aides took the calculation further, and was able to announce triumphantly that the Earth was created on Sunday the 21st of October, 4004BC, at exactly 9.00 a.m., because God liked to get work done early in the morning while he was feeling fresh. This too was incorrect. By almost a quarter of an hour. The whole business with the fossilized dinosaur skeletons was a joke the paleontologists haven't seen yet.