Life, the universe, and everything

As an opener I'd like to state that my worldview has absolutely nothing to do with my atheism. I like to think that were I a theist I would still hold life, the universe, and everything in exactly the same regards. This post is not intended to answer any questions about nor explain my view on theism. Correlation does not imply causation. That being said, let us proceed.

 

Where did we come from? Four billion years ago or so, just the right combination of chemicals came together somewhere on this planet. Some phosphates, some sugar and nucleobase molecules, and a charge of electricity or radiation (lightning?) have been proven to be all it takes to create life. It's hardly "something from nothing," but as uncommon as it is, given a lot of chemicals and a lot of lightning and billions of years something's bound to happen. Those are the layman's terms, of course; I'm not a chemist, a biologist, or a physicist. But there's proof, so there you go. It may not be the correct answer, but it's the best one out there yet and it's certainly more realistic and preferable than "God did it" (which would only raise more questions).

 

Of course the life created was the simplest it could possibly be. On a relatively new planet, however, given plenty of time and a fast-changing environment, this life began to change. It evolved, more cells began to work together, organisms formed, they grew fins, swam, poked their heads out of water and began breathing air, crawled onto land, grew legs, scales, feathers, wings, fur (not necessarily in that order) and, billions of years later, here we are. That was the condensed version. Be sure to research natural selection to learn more about how all that busy stuff actually happened.

 

Why are we here? This is still up for interpretation. Taken to mean "what is our purpose," one could say that as a species our only purpose is to continue to propagate the species. Man find woman. Man court woman. Woman bear child. Child grow up. Find mate. And so on, and so forth.

 

If you're looking for a deeper purpose, I could only tell you my own as I believe every person finds his or her own purpose in life. Mine is to be happy and have a happy family (first) and try to keep everybody else happy to my best extent (second). This includes going to school, getting a job, telling jokes, writing songs, singing loudly, smiling a lot, dancing when the mood strikes me, wearing comfortable shoes, playing video games, keeping a blog, donating to charities I know will make the world a little easier to live in for some people less fortunate than I am. If you think my purpose is anything more or less than that, then I'm so very sorry for not living up to your standards. I apologize if my purpose seems a little superficial compared to yours. The fact of the matter is that I'm happy, my family is happy, and ain't nothin' gonna bring me down.

 

Where are we going? This one's easy. Eventually, as happens with all species, the human race will go extinct. It may or may not be replaced by another sentient race, more adaptable to change and more capable of surviving in whatever the conditions are at the time. I doubt very much that we will be the last animal to go extinct. In the end, nothing we say or do or accomplish as a race will matter. Not to us, at least; we'll be dead. It very likely will matter to whatever species outlive us, since there is no doubt we will have changed our planet (whether it's earth or some other planet we move on to in the future) in a manner that will affect the other animals around us. Knowing that, maybe we should try and keep things nice and tidy 'til we go.

 

In terms of where each one of us goes, or how we end up, being that I don't believe in any afterlife (primarily because I have no reason to) we'll just die. That'll be it. Physically, our bodies will decay and nourish the land and life around them. Metaphysically, one must remember the human is a social animal. We tell tales, sing songs, and create art. Not that it'll matter to me much after the fact (since I'll be dead), but I like to think here and now that once I've died I'll be remembered. Perhaps people will still listen to the music I've created or read the stories I've written. That line of thinking - that I'll possibly be remembered in those ways - brings me comfort and makes me happy. See "Why are we here?" above if you've forgotten why I think that's important.

 

Why is goodness good, and what are morals anyway? Who am I to say what's good and right versus what's bad and wrong, you might be asking. I'm not a philosopher so you'll have to forgive me if you disagree, but I prefer to take the utilitarian route and define goodness as whatever makes the greatest number of people happy and comfortable, and causes the least amount of discomfort, pain, or unhappiness. That answers, as far as I and my opinions are concerned, the question of why it is good to be good.

 

The less important question here is what are morals and where do they come from? I, the non-philosopher, prefer to ask who cares? Morals exist. Everybody has a different view, and some of them contrast with one another, but how we developed morality is completely irrelevant. It is, though, also completely answerable. I already mentioned humans are social animals, but I need to bring it up again here because it's pretty important. At some point in our ancient history of evolution we discovered that is it more beneficial to work together to accomplish a particular task, as opposed to going it alone. As family groups became more common, we realized it would be detrimental to our well-being if we killed or hurt those around us. Anybody who did so became an outcast as they were seen to be harmful for the future of the family/clan/community. For (hopefully) a better understanding of how we may have developed morality and ethics, I will refer you to the parable of Grog and Zog - a silly name for a story about cavemen that teaches an important lesson.

 

Still have questions? Read it again.

The contents of this post are subject to change.

Views: 11

Tags: agnostic, agnosticism, and, animal, atheism, atheist, christian, christianity, creationism, ethics, More…evolution, god, grog, human, jesus, life, meaning, morality, of, open, parachute, philosophy, purpose, religion, science, social, utilitarianism, zog

Comment by Sassan K. on May 1, 2011 at 12:52pm
good recap and analysis :)
Comment by no2ndhandgod on May 1, 2011 at 1:47pm
‘Purpose’ and ‘Design’ apply neither to our kind nor to the universe

Everyone living today in western cultures still inherits a dead explanatory scheme far older than the Big-3 Monster Theisms -- that the natural world was designed and that humanity serves some purpose within it. Neither is true. The de-deification of western cultures is our task for the next one hundred years. Learn to think without supernatural aides.

• Darwin profoundly de-deified (secularized) western culture

Long after On the origin of species (1859) became a treasured historic relic, fundies still claim 152 years later that Modern Evolutionary Theory (MET) must collapse. They quote some fictional divinity or utter gibberish about “survival of the fittest” being a circular argument. Two Big-Lies.

In criticizing Darwin and Darwin’s works, they will no more refute MET than their attacking Newton or the Principia would refute classical mechanics. Darwinism and Newtonianism are among the most impressive of human artifacts based on their cultural impact alone, with far wider and more positive effects than any of the Big-3. But as acceptable guides to nature both theories have long been superseded.

Starting with his volume of essays, Ever Since Darwin, Steve Gould exposed the anti-intellectual xian frauds years ago. He will convince all but the obtuse.

Fundies can never forgive Darwin. He broke their iron rice bowl of intellectually respectable supernaturalism. Ever since Darwin, western religion has been abandoned to crackpots, the brainwashed, seditious politicians, and televangelist frauds.

• 'design' and 'purpose' belong only to cultures

As long as scientists insist upon using 'machine' and 'mechanism' in explanations of nature -- they too will support a fiction of extra-cultural purpose and design. Of course physical entities express mechanical and geometrical principles abstracted by humankind’s geniuses, but there are no divine schematics or instruction manuals.

•nature is silent

All concepts including scientific theories are human artifacts. Darwin’s master conceptual engine, natural selection, forever abolished from biological explanation the “teleological cause” of Aristotle and the "ideal forms" of Plato. Purpose and Design are dead.

As a youthful Darwin tartly remarked in an unpublished Notebook [M (entry 128)]:  “Plato says . . . that our 'necessary ideas' arise from the preexistence of the soul. That [they] are not derivable from experience — read monkeys for preexistence.” [emphasis added]

In print, Darwin deliberately forbade himself provocative language. He found the sober text of 'Origins' provocation enough.

the anti_supernaturalist
Comment by no2ndhandgod on May 1, 2011 at 2:13pm
Live and Let Die -- against christo-fascism

When xianity came to wield full secular power (395 CE), its coup d’etat of a dying western Roman empire created for a thousand years a vast totalitarian xian state in the eastern empire, Byzantium.

The days of church-is-state and of church-and-state are certainly not behind us 1,600 years later as amply demonstrated by the anti-intellectual, anti-democratic ideology of christo-fascism (dominionism) in the US.

•Seven Big Lies of the Big-4 Monster Theisms
: zoroastrianism, judaism, xianity, islam:
1. there is a supernatural dimension apart from and superior to nature
2. nature displays divine design and evinces moral purpose
3. time is shallow (6,000 yrs.) and will end in Apocalypse
4. humanity represents the (non-evolutionary) goal and apex of life on Earth
5. morality must have a religious (supernatural) foundation
6. each person must choose between purported metaphysical good and evil
7. truth -- as allegedly "revealed" in some ancient magical, god-given text -- is absolute

The Big-4 with their authoritarian 1-god never offer a choice to live-and-let-live. Conversion is not optional. The Big Lies are non-negotiable demands.

You must conform — abase yourself. Let your wishes, desires, and plans be dictated by some god-proxy: priest, pastor, imam, rabbi. Of course, hypocrites play a double game, but accept its rules.

And, if you're too honest or too brave to be a hypocrite? What then? An outcome depends — on how much power over life and death true believers have.

No psychological difference exists between the Taliban in Afghanistan and xian bible-worshipers (fundies) spread like metastases across the US. Without a vigorously enforced secular state, anti-supernaturalists would burn at the stake or receive a bullet in the head.

For all true believing xian Taliban, this is their doctrine: "those not with us are against us" (Luke 11:23 NIV), or as Ian Fleming says, Live and Let Die.

the anti_supernaturalist

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