This supermassive black hole is eating a star.
This supermassive black hole is eating a star. NASA/JPL-Caltech

A galaxy that's 12 billion light-years away was identified by a team of astronomers in the Netherlands. They used a Giant Meter-wave Radio Telescope (GMRT) in India to spot the distant object. The galaxy is located at a time when the universe has only existed for a billion years—that is, seven percent of its current age, 13.5 billion. This is the most distant radio galaxy on record. Radio galaxies are very active systems because they eject from the supermassive black holes at their center terrific jets of relativistic particles (meaning, particles that move at a speed that's "comparable to the speed of light"). The name of the galaxy is TGSS J1530+1049.

The discovery of this particular radio galaxy has surprised astronomers because of where it is in time. The thinking has been that a galaxy with a supermassive black hole takes a very long time to develop. And so the expectation has been, the deeper you look into time—the early years of the universe—the less active the galaxies. TGSS J1530+1049 has thrown this thinking into confusion. A radio galaxy matured in the youth of the universe. With that said, let's turn to another question that might be on your mind. What has God to do with any of this?

As far as I can tell, simply nothing. I'm almost certain that God, as conceived by Christians, does not exist anywhere in this or other universes. And almost nothing could make me bet on Quentin Meillassoux's God (He might not exist now, but He could exist in the future). Nevertheless, the idea of God might have something to it. To get my meaning across, I need to exhume the story of John Dee, Thomas Digges, and a supernova that appeared in the skies of 1572.

Because there are few with anything that approximates a classical training, the Aristotelian universe that dominated the thought not only of medieval Europe but also the Bright Age of Islam, is unknown to most people with or without an advanced education. The Aristotelian universe saw the stars as fixed and forever stuck in the third to last sphere in the heavens above. The last sphere was that of the prime mover.

So, there was, in this conception, nothing like Yeats' "disheveled wandering stars." Then in 1572, something bright appeared in the sky. And it grew and grew and became visible during the day. Eventually, this new star, which amazed many humans, began to dim. Among the amazed were Thomas Digges, an English mathematician and astronomer, and his mentor, John Dee, another English mathematician and astronomer (and advisor to Queen Elizabeth). Dee had one foot in science and the other in magic.

It was the magician who suggested to Digges that the new star in the sky could be a moving one: it got closer to earth, which is why it got brighter; now it's going away from the earth, which is why it's getting dimmer. The idea was, of course, totally wrong. The bright object in the sky was not a star but a supernova, which was eventually identified in 1952. But just the idea of a moving star finally cracked the wholly incorrect Aristotelian astral shell.

The idea itself (that stars moved), which was derived from an error, made it possible to eventually access the truth of the universe. Stars are not fixed and eternal and close to some prime mover. They did wander through space. They came and went through time. They were a part of a process that often formed galaxies, which were also moving and evolving. The journey to these scientific truths was a total error. A wrong reading led to the right ideas.

I think God might be like this. A complete misreading of a feeling that, as a concept, might be useful or even reveal the correct picture of things to (or an ontology of) beings that can reflect through a form of thought that is surplus, or overflows usefulness or utility. God might be something like fucking with a condom or birth control. Meaning, an abortion might actually be closer to Him. He or She (and most likely the latter) can only be extra, be overflowing. This is a kind of luxurious panpsychism. How else can we better explain a Coltrane or a Shakespeare? Surplus sound, surplus words, surplus being.

I once saw a tailless raccoon in my backyard playing on the hammock in the morning. It fell off it; it climbed on it again, swung for a bit, and fell of it again. It was having a good time. Maybe one day I will say a little prayer to this moment in time, in the city, in the solar system, in the galaxy.