Friday, May 30, 2008

Ruminating in the Back Room of my Favorite Bar at Midnight

Nietzsche said the death of God was the greatest event of the 19th Century, right? OK, assuming God's dead now for a century or so; meaning God and his whole story is a long over-done myth, right? The question now becomes: What do we replace God with? I mean, he must have had some value if the myth of him existed so long? Can his murderers, reason and science, who wielded the ax, offer a viably fulfilling replacement? Can truth (science) substitute for the huge value of innocence (myth)? Or was/is the innocence (scientific ignorance, if you will), the childlike imagination that produced God, essential? Perhaps the universe requires self-deception (some form of myth, or innocence)?

If the universe, including we humans in it, knew for a certainty it was going to eventually explode, or implode, why would the universe continue its energetic effort to expand and we humans continue to procreate? I mean, why expend effort in a useless cause? The conservation of energy and matter still applies, no? (After all, even sex just feels good to seduce us to sweat out energy in the sack, right?).

Maybe the universe (not to mention sex) is its own myth; the universe is fooling itself about about its own infinite orgasm: the universe as nothing more than a huge alimentary tract, swallowing itself only to shit itself out periodically in a Big Bang Theory (very punny).

Life is only a paradox: the beginning is the end; the end is its beginning..."always was, always is and always shall be"; like they used to say about God, remember? The truth is all, but. Truth is paradox. Paradox is truth. The universe is relative. Truth is illusion, so sayeth the scientific and rational post-modernists. I'm back where I started. I...want...God!


Blogger Jeff Bell said...

Cliff, always interesting. I recall a young student asking an acting teacher (not you Cliff) what the purpose of life was. Caught off guard, the teacher quickly said "this, this right now". I took that to mean that it was the potential for something positive to occur in any number of instances that continually flow for each living thing for the duration of our lives (which by the way, we can't have any other way, at least at this stage in the game of our command of 'living'.) Fleeting, inconsistent, uncertain in quality, yet it was hard to argue that that alone wasn't sufficient justification for there being life. Hell, I'd sign up for something over nothing if living were a choice vs. nothing. Which is what seems to be suggested in this proposed verision of 'why?'. The safety valve, the goodness of form, in this construct of the 'meaning of life' -- if living turns out to be a hell, well, it has a limited shelf life. And, on the balance armed with this simple construct of existence, most of us would sign up for another round if there were a choice after this one is over, which says a lot about life itself. This is what I'd call an evolutionary view of the meaning of life -- those that enjoy it, procreate, and life is net positive on the balance by design.

The student accepted the answer in this case, the topic was closed, and it was on to another moment.

But perhaps there are multiple meanings of life, this being only one. The contemplation -- what's it all for? -- seems, at least using science and reason, ends up inevitable in a circling round and round of analysis, because science and reason have not yet the ability to solve that conundrum.

Ideas of religion, God, forces beyond our current reach, broaden the spectrum of possibilities, and bring to the table their own set of problems. They often offer the potential for a conclusive end to this contemplation. And turn the field into a panoply of different existential experiments. The form again, like death, is a stable system -- there is an infinite number of different possible religious beliefs which cannot be absolutely disproved, but all can be evaluated on the basis of what the resultant behavior is of a person's belief.

If there are multiple meanings of life, perhaps it's even possible that the reasons are at odds with each other, they conflict, because the meaning of life is in form, not logical. Maybe the meaning of life rests upon the strange foundation that the meaning of life is unknowable in form, a thing that is, but seizes to exist when it is isolated, like the material/quantum divide, and therefore having an answer to the meaning of life is itself only meaningful in the sense that it is an influence to your actions and thoughts.

Take the wonder of what happens after and before life -- in form, isn't it one of those thoughts that itself creates some of the breathing room for religion itself? The fact of death reinforces, during life, the formation of our own filling in of the blanks that science and reason can't provide. And it asks us to dream, imagine, learn. Whatever it does, it affects us in life. And I'd argue that the meaning of life, like religion, is never exactly the same for any two beings. For one person science is basically sufficient, and it is the majority of one's religion. Another basically has a suspicion of something and that largely drives their religion. And some have largely unmuteable beliefs in things larger than science itself. But at the end of the day, there's great value in settling on something and following through to see where that leads you in life.

As for truth, we've got some of the picture, and the rest is where we rest our faith. Reason suggests we all probably got it wrong. So, if we accuss another of blindness (to logic), well that's also an important trait for belief.

Is science fundamental? Is God fundamental? Does fundamental have any meaning if what we are trying to understand is infinite? Science hasn't told us yet what the purpose of life is with any certainty, but the existence of us and the universe is something that not one of us personally or collectively can take credit for, and that suggests that there is a lot we don't yet understand. And God, well I'd say one thing, there is somewhat of a relationship between how you feel about life and the form of what you fill in for what you don't know about the great uncertainties of existence.

11:14 PM  

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