Zen of Zero
zen of zero dot net
PART 0: Preliminaries
0. Title Page
Love Letters from Grampa —
about Life, Liberty, and the Zen of Zero
by A. Zoroaster
I dedicate this product of a dozen years of labor,
as a token of appreciation and love,
to my wife —
although it inadequately reflects her dedication
(to me and our children) of four-dozen years of her life.
Dear: Today is a memorable date for me: today your Gramma and I have been married 36 years. Also, yesterday was my first day of retirement - so now I have time to do what I promised. And I'd better do it now; who knows how much time I have left.
Although I certainly don't expect you to remember, I promised you this for your sixteenth birthday. As I type this, you're four years old - as you so proudly display with your four little fingers pushed toward my face!
Last month, when Gramma and I were looking after you and your brother, when your baby sister was born, you said your daddy told you I didn't believe in God and you wanted to know why. I said I'd explain it to you when you're older. The logic of your answer was impeccable: "I'm older now!"
But now that you're even older, perhaps you'll understand why I added: "I'll tell you when you're sixteen." [And let me mention my delight at your reactions - your pained expression; your disbelieving shoulders, shrugged to bear an enormous burden; your upturned hands, pleading for some rationality - all said: "Sixteen! Gimme a break! That's forever! Nobody lives that long!"]
First and foremost, my deepest thanks go to my wife and daughter: this book wouldn't have been created without them. Nor would it have been created without my two sons: I learned a lot by following them to their respective hells — and then back again, to the only heaven that people will ever know, i.e., here on Earth. As Jesus reportedly said (as given in The Gospel of Thomas, found in 1945 near Nag Hammadi), in response to the question "When will the kingdom come?"
"It will not come by watching for it. It will not be said, 'Look, here!' or 'Look, there!' Rather, the Father's kingdom is spread out upon the Earth, and people don't see it."
I also warmly thank my mother, sister, and three brothers — as well as my many other teachers — for their efforts to help me.
I particularly thank two senior physicists for their comments provided online at
The succinct comments by "editor" not only made me more comfortable with ideas about the origin of the universe but also reined in my speculations about the nature of existence, with the comment: "I'm not comfortable with the philosophical stuff. I just don't know." Also, the kind comments by "Larne" steered me away from speculations about the nature of gravity, back to admitting that there's much that we still don't understand, writing: "[I]n a book like this, you should be unwaveringly honest... [I]t is one of the great strengths of science that we aren't afraid to admit when we don't know something, because the full answer is 'we don't know; now, let's see how we can find out'."
Readers of earlier drafts have suggested many improvements.
Among them, I thank: "Jeepjay" (http://RichardDawkins.net)
who forced me to distinguish 'information' from 'knowledge' more carefully; "standardstate"
who identified some of my sloppy expressions in an earlier draft of Chapter A; "Grace Seeker"
(http://www.islamicboard.com/) for suggesting improvements to an earlier draft of Chapter P5; "Anonymous" (http://zenofzero.blogspot.com/) for reminding me about a major limitation of Aristotelian logic; "Victor/Victoria" (http://RichardDawkins.net) for correcting my etymology for the word 'belief'; ...
I should especially acknowledge how much my writing has relied on Wayne Aiken's "Atheism Fortune Cookies" files of quotations at http://htomc.dns2go.com/atheism/cookie.41a and http://htomc.dns2go.com/atheism/cookie.41b. He must have invested thousands if not tens of thousands of hours assembling those quotations; I'm deeply indebted to him, as will be any readers of this book.