There seems to be a force, or impulse, in the Universe which tends to create and perpetuate life. It is a mistake to imagine this life force to be controlled by an intelligent entity. A commonsense examination of the biological history of our planet Earth indicates there is no control of this force even at a rudimentary level.
Life has no meaning, unless it be the perpetuation of life itself. It apparently does not matter what form life takes be it bacteria, virus, animal, vegetable, etc. Any form will do; and possibly forms not dreamt of by humans will eventually come into being after our species has disappeared. And disappear we undoubtedly will, even before the cataclysmic astrological event predicted by scientists, the coming together of all matter into what it once was.
We humans have apparently set on a course to insure our early demise as a species. Recently, scientists have noted that we are approaching the point at which the planet will no longer be able to sustain the life style many of us already live by and to which the remainder of us seek to emulate. And there is nothing to indicate anything more than lip service to the idea of doing anything to correct this problem.
Many of us find this very idea of cessation of life either as individuals or as a species horrifying, or nihilistic. I believe this reaction to be largely cultural. We have been taught that what we call death is to be avoided at all costs. Hence we have created fables, myths, and other illusions to persuade ourselves and others of ways to avoid the end of life. Our media is replete with messages of how to prolong our life by using this or that drug, eating a special diet, or living a certain lifestyle. This bombardment of our psyche with these messages has cause most of us to fear dying. But consider: when a living thing dies, of whatever species, it merely goes back to what is was before it came into being. So in this sense there is no death as we currently define it.
Instead of mourning the so-called death of an individual, we would probably do better to celebrate the life lived.
Difficulties With REALITY
Most people prefer illusion to reality. Most do not want the truth. Most want to be told what to think, how they should act. Hence the likelihood of any of the truths put forth in my essay being accepted is small. The reasons are many and complex.
Primary, probably, is the instinct to remain alive, which is instilled in all living things from the moment of conception. Therefore, anyone in the full flush of life will find it difficult to accept the proposition that life has a final ending, and further, that life itself has no apparent meaning. Anyone who has not come to complete and absolute terms with death, that is no longer regarding it as terrifying or bad, cannot accept reality. Some will say, how can I accept such a dismal prospect, a life without hope? Unless a person is willing to forgo what is real and live in a world of illusion, there is no hope in the sense that most people mean it. There is no heaven, no hell, no spiritual hereafter.
Comfort may be found in the fact that we are part of a vast, unknown and unknowable process, in which we always have and will continue to exist. This knowledge is of supreme importance. A question this writer used to ponder was ‘where was I before I was born?’ The answer is patently simple: ‘where I will be after death.’ The untold millions who have preceded us, human and non-human exist in some form somewhere. Nothing romantic or spiritual is meant by any of this. But a certain kind of satisfaction can be derived from knowing that you have always existed and will continue to exist.
The second difficulty with REALITY is cultural. We have been conditioned to do everything we can to avoid dying even if the individual suffers physically and psychologically, and the chances of recovery are small. Religions have instilled in humanity the idea of eternal life, if not on Earth in the “hereafter”, and the many corporate entities have expanded on this notion and worked to instill fear in us so we will buy their product hoping to prolong our lives, and, ‘who knows, maybe science will come up with a way for us to live indefinitely’. This of course is arrant nonsense given what is accepted as likely by the scientific community, that the entire universe will finally collapse upon itself and all will be as it once was, primordial matter.
Ridding ourselves of cultural imprints is virtually impossible no matter what our mind accepts as true. Human culture evolves but this is a slow process. A person imbued with religious dogma finds it very difficult to ignore completely that religion’s teaching even if they no longer believe in God. Just as a person who has concluded (correctly) that there is nothing wrong in nakedness will, nevertheless, cover up when suddenly exposed to a member of the opposite sex. Your mind tells you that something is right (or wrong) but your conditioning often causes you to do the opposite.
However, the problems in human culture is the subject of another essay.
ON HUMAN INTELLIGENCE
For the purposes of this essay I define intelligence as that ability to reason creatively based on what an individual perceives in the world.
A principle delusion entertained by many is that we humans are a pretty brainy bunch. There is no doubt that we are the superior species when it comes to power for with our technologies we rule the world. However, the development of technology is less a matter of intelligence than an evolving process.
A good instance of this is the invention and development of flying machines based on a lifting wing. It is not unlikely that when earliest man looked up at a soaring bird he might have wished that he too could fly. And, of course, we now do fly, though not as easily nor as efficiently as birds. History is replete with instances of man attempting to emulate birds. The earliest attempts was based on a flapping machine, which of course did not work. Eventually, someone realized that a soaring wing was needed. In the ninetieth century two or more gliding aircraft were built with a glider’s obvious limitations. It took many more years of trial and error by different people before any kind of aircraft was built which would take off and fly with an degree of reliability. After that, as more and more of these rather primitive aircraft were built and flown, the rate of development increased as the number of persons having to do with building and flying aircraft increased.
To illustrate this point further, in the early days of aviation, multiple wings were tried and used for a time on aircraft. Some one, and it usually is an individual, realized that all those wings were inefficient, increasing drag thus making the aircraft slower. The extra wings were gradually eliminated to the basic configuration we use today. It can be taken as a general rule in technology that the greater the number of users of a particular technology the faster it will develop. And incidentally, as expounded in my essay, REALITY, one can also assume that mankind will not be able to invent or produce anything which does not already exist in the natural world.
We still do not have a bird’s ability to just take off and fly whenever we wish. However, we delude ourselves in believing that we are vastly superior to all other species because we drive automobiles, use computers, send things into near space, and have developed all sorts of horrendous methods of killing each other. As stated above this is an illusion based on the fact that we have advanced technology.
Paleontology is a science in which great assumptions are made based on little physical evidence, so the time lines quoted are not necessarily accurate, nor, for that matter, which Homo species is which or which preceded which. However, that matters little for the purposes of this essay.
Modern Homo sapiens lived about 80,000 years before he was able to produce tools of bone, antler, ivory, stone and wood. Thousands of years later, he produced rope, sewing needles, blades with handles, and similar tools. Very gradually other tools and technologies came into being. There is evidence of a chopping tool approximately 10,000 BCE; a loom for weaving cloth 4,500 BCE; the development of metallurgy 500 years later along with the development of crude plows, sickles, and irrigation systems, and finally the wheel. It was not until 3,100 BCE that the Bronze Age began. It took another 2,000 years for the Iron Age to arrive, about 1,100 BCE. From 1,100 BCE through 1700 CE only 59 or so technological advances were made by our species, a span of 2,800 years. From 1800 to 1900 the advances numbered 79. In the 20th century 94 major advances in technology were made. As stated above, these advances in technology were obviously dependent on how many people were using that technology rather than increased brain power.
There are a number of instances where individuals have been removed from primitive hunter/gatherer societies, most notably in New Guinea where they had no exposure to modern technology, but were able to function very well in a modern setting. So it might be wise for us to delude ourselves of the notion that we have had any great increase in brain-power since we emerged as a species. If our history tells us anything it is that we belong to a clever species which continually does stupid things.
What of the scientists, the creators, the thinkers? With them it is also a matter of evolutionary thought processes. They all innovate on what preceded them intellectually. This is also true of the individual thinker who sits alone pondering this or that problem. He conceives idea A, gives it much thought and comes up with B. Further thought brings him to C, and so on. Idea Z may seem to be a unique insight into the problem, however, as with technology it is the result of an evolving process.
We are not as brainy as we like to believe, we are merely innovators of what we perceive in the real world and experience intellectually, which is not all that bad. However, this is what many other species do. We are just a little better at it, that is all.
After writing the essay REALITY http://coldturkey.us/ I experienced a feeling of great joy, which still persists today. The few persons who knew of this were puzzled as to the reason. When asked what was the cause of this euphoria I could not answer for I did not know.
No one could understand how anyone could find joy given the conclusions in REALITY. They claimed that the essay and all it imported was depressing. REALITY made a strong circumstantial case to show that God did not create Man but that Man created God, thereby nullifying any possibility of there being a hereafter; no Heaven, no Hell, no existence after death. And then, after examining the evolutionary fate of other species and their ultimate demise, it was logical to conclude that our species, Homo sapiens, would also inevitably disappear.
And probably the most difficult of all for most to deal with is the conclusion the our life and the life of all that lives or has lived has no particular meaning, that it is entirely possible that we exist merely because of a series of more of less accidental happenings.
So how can anyone find any possibility of happiness, let alone joy with these seemingly dismal prospects? A puzzler. Why have the conclusions reached in the essay on REALITY left me so joyful?
It has been a while since I finished REALITY so I have had time to consider why my euphoria persists despite the calamitous world affairs and the ultimate reality that our presence on Earth and the existence of Earth itself is finite.
So why joy?
Could it be because I have been a seeker of truth throughout my long and eventful life and found it? Possible.
Could it be that now I know that we humans are neither good nor bad, that we merely do things without much thought as to consequences to others or ultimately even to ourselves? Possible.
Could it be because I now know that the cultural does and don’ts are illusory and a distortion of what is true? Possible.
Could it be because I now know that it is not necessary for humans to carry a burden of guilt? Possible.
Yes to all the above.