Steve Jobs's Last Words - Evolution News & Views

Evolution News and Views (ENV) provides original reporting and analysis about the debate over intelligent design and evolution, including breaking news about scientific research.

Evolution News and Views
Faith and Science NEWS
 

Steve Jobs's Last Words

Lots of people are comfortable with idea that the universe is pregnant with transcendent meaning -- but only so long as that idea is expressed inarticulately, without concreteness, precision or anything like a sober appeal to evidence. The more inarticulate, the better.

In the car on the way into the office this morning I heard Dennis Prager speaking with his characteristic eloquence about Steve Jobs's last words. Dennis was citing Peggy Noonan's recent Wall Street Journal column, which in turn quoted Jobs's sister, novelist Mona Simpson. Ms. Simpson was with him at the end:

"Before embarking, he'd looked at his sister Patty, then for a long time at his children, then at his life's partner, Laurene, and then over their shoulders past them. Steve's final words were: 'OH WOW. OH WOW. OH WOW.'"

The caps are Simpson's, and if she meant to impart a sense of wonder and mystery she succeeded. "Oh wow" is not a bad way to express the bigness, power and force of life, and death.

No, it's not bad. Of course I can't begin to imagine what vision Steve Jobs might or might not have been granted in his last moments, though the anecdote reminds me of the understanding, conveyed in the Midrash, that when a person lies in his death bed the divine presence is to be found there in a particularly revealed fashion. The Biblical patriarch Jacob, for example, as he foretold his own imminent death, "bowed himself upon the bed's head" (Genesis 47:31) for just this reason. An ancient Jewish practice was to visit the sick with one's head covered in a prayer shawl and sit on a low stool at the bedside in awe and deference before the revealed presence.

What shields the story about Steve Jobs from cynics and their mockery, making it safe to discuss in the Wall Street Journal, is the inarticulateness of his final expression. Imagine if, in his dying breath, he had instead offered an observation like the one his fellow computer genius Bill Gates once did about the nature of life's software, DNA: that it is "like a computer program but far, far more advanced than any software ever created."

That, you can be sure, would have been greeted with a pained silence from the culture or references to how poor Steve in his last hour was obviously bereft of reason.

Ironic, isn't it, that it is precisely when you try to express the "bigness, power and force of life" in terms open to rational investigation and confirmation -- exactly what intelligent design theorists do -- that you have opened yourself up to charges of irrationalism, fundamentalism, and "creationism."


4 Comments

Once again, Steve Jobs has succinctly put into words something amazing. "OH WOW" -- how better to describe that moment of death.

I can only imagine what he saw based upon the experience of others who have had near death experiences and survived to tell their story. Some will easily brush away the near death experiences as some sort of dying brain experience, but not the true scientists. Science and medicine tell us these experiences are happening at a moment when the brain, being deprived of oxygen, is incapable of consciousness or even a dream state. This leaves something extraordinary as an explanation ...perhaps something we have blinded ourselves to, or just have yet to discover about consciousness and the possible existence outside of the physical body.

The quote in the article above about Jobs saying, "Oh WOW..." & looking at and past loved ones in the room, is *exactly* what I witnessed with my Grampa when watching him 'pass' this last June. My Grandpa was a Christian, Jobs apparently not.

It seems to follow, based on this ridiculously unscientific sample, that regardless of ones beliefs each of us who die in this fashion will be "blown away" by *something*.

WOW!!!

Aaron,

I bet a lot of us are curious who you think created your parents' parents' parents' parents'....... parent? Universal Physical constants fine-tuned to support life? Beauty? Logic?

Did Time and Chance do it?

Necessity?

An intelligent being other than God? Would this entity really be able to set universal constants?

I can only imagine what was Steve was feeling as his body and mind shut down. I've heard that the sensation of freezing to death is euphoric at the end, from those who have been rescued. The exact words, "Oh wow, oh wow, oh wow" escaped my own lips the evening after my marriage, so I suppose I would be a knowledgeable witness to the type of thing Steve experienced. If he had cried out, "Oh no, oh no, oh no" instead, I would be an expert on the feelings and experiences behind that particular sentiment also. There is nothing wrong with expressing the bigness, power, and force of life. We do it all the time. Secular scientists and ID proponents alike seek to understand these things through rational investigation and confirmation. Charges of irrationalism, fundamentalism, or "creationism" are leveled based on the claimed associations made and the evidence (or lack thereof) given by both ID and secular scientists. Let the evidence stand for itself.

Steve's exclamation shouldn't be used as evidence for the reality of God any more than my own exclamation. I am an atheist, and I believe I was the product of intelligent creation. My creators were my parents, and there is ample proof of that if anyone wants to investigate.