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Destroyer of Worlds

In response to:

God in the Computer from the December 17, 1998 issue

To the Editors:

The text cited upon the explosion of “Trinity,” the atomic test that instaurated the nuclear age, was taken not from the New Testament, but from Hindu scripture.

It is therefore puzzling that [the review of] David Noble’s book, The Religion of Technology [NYR, December 17, 1998], should repeat the presumption that John Donne’s poetry prefigures it more than the marked resemblance of the earliest bombs to the cylindrical body, square base, and octagonal root of that centerpiece of Vedic iconography, the lingam. These components represent the trinitarian godhead that the Baghavad Gita celebrates—Brahma and Shiva as well as Vishnu, “the destroyer of worlds” to whom Robert Oppenheimer alluded.

One wishes that Keith Thomas could have made the point in his examination of Noble’s book, but allowance must be made for a reviewer whose belief in transubstantiation extends to sipping wine through a space helmet in vacuuo: “Edwin Aldrin’s first act on stepping onto the moon’s surface was to take communion.”

While not privy to his lunar devotions, I did witness his departure from Cape Kennedy, and assure you that Aldrin exercised his freedom of religion safely within the confines of the lunar excursion module only after removing his headgear like a good Christian.

Russell Seitz
The Olin Institute for Strategic Studies
Harvard University
Cambridge, Massachusetts

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