Archive for the ‘the stranger’ tag
There is no fate that cannot be surmounted by scorn. — Albert Camus, “The Myth of Sisyphus”
Thanks to ahimsamaven for the nod back to my site on her post, Dear Camus: Fuck You. Since you don’t find too many bloggers talking about Camus and French existentialism these days, I couldn’t resist adding a couple words in response. In the post, she explores absurdism and the meaning of life. She resisted the urge ascribe for herself utter meaningless with this memorable illustration:
I (and I think most of humanity) have this space inside that I call “the absurdist pit”. It is that space where certainty bleeds into pure WTF’ery and nonsense becomes that thing that life answers to despite ones best intentions. I honestly believe that partnering with another human being is steeped in absurdist philosophy; in fact I have the urge to say that ALL life is steeped in the absurd but to do so would indicate that I believe that there is no inherent value or meaning in life and I simply cannot do that. If I did I would start going all Toilets in Mumbai and end up with a gun and a bottle of whiskey playing roulette on a mountain top cursing Camus and Kierkegaard.
As I briefly said in a reply to her post, what keeps me, personally, from cursing the likes of Camus and Kierkegaard and putting an end to the futility is the fulfillment that I find in giving to charity and learning, in particular. People carve out meaning for themselves in other areas, of course, whether it be in love, the arts, teaching, etc. While Camus begins “The Myth of Sisyphus” with this:
There is but one truly serious philosophical problem, and that is suicide. Judging whether life is or is not worth living amounts to answering the fundamental question of philosophy.
he ends by leaving Sisyphus at the bottom of the mountain, ever relegated to pushing the rock up the hill, having it roll back down, pushing it back up and repeating the task for the rest of his life. Yet, even in that seeming torment, Camus imagines Sisyphus as happy because, as he surmises the situation, the satisfaction comes in the struggle itself:
I leave Sisyphus at the foot of the mountain! One always finds one’s burden again. But Sisyphus teaches the higher fidelity that negates the gods and raises rocks. He too concludes that all is well. This universe henceforth without a master seems to him neither sterile nor futile. Each atom of that stone, each mineral flake of that night filled mountain, in itself forms a world. The struggle itself toward the heights is enough to fill a man’s heart (italics mine). One must imagine Sisyphus happy.
So, even in moments of intense stress or burdens, one can carve out meaning in life on a personal level, even though there may be no ultimate meaning (no gods, no Big Brother, etc.). The point that I made in replying to ahimsamaven’s post was that even if life has no ultimate meaning, even if we must forever stare down into the abyss, so what? Just live. As Camus worded it in the above essay:
The preceding merely defines a way of thinking. But the point is to live.
In the middle of winter I at last discovered that there was in me an invincible summer. — Albert Camus, “Return to Tipasa,” 1952
An online friend of mine has the above quote as one of her signatures in a forum that we both frequent. I don’t recall having ever come across it before seeing her signature, and I told her how profound I thought it was (or some paraphrase of that). I then said that I bet I could write an entire essay on just that sentence. After some prodding from her, I said I would write some thoughts on it after I finished the last John Brown post. So, with that said, here it goes.
I should make a concerted effort sometime to count every time the word “sun” is mentioned in Camus’ existentialist work, “The Stranger” (1942) or in his native French, “L’Étranger.” This is the book that came into my mind upon reading the quote from “Return to Tipasa,” and I will explain why.
Although some would argue whether Camus was actually an existentialist or not, his book about a murder on a sun-drenched beach drips with existential thought. Camus, not much for labels, seemed demure about having that particular one placed on him. Some say, rather, that he more closely followed absurdism. I would argue that absurdism is at least tightly bound up with existentialism or falls under the latter altogether.
Readers can follow the Wikipedia links above for explanations of the different strains of philosophical thought, but generally, existentialism is the idea that humans are self-determining beings responsible for their own choices in a seemingly meaningless universe. Some existentialists, like Dostoevsky and Kierkegaard were actually believers, but when I refer to existentialism here, I’m referring to the unbelieving segment of existentialists.
Now back to that beautiful winter and invincible summer. Camus in “The Stranger” uses the sun (typically signified by summer or spring) to justify in himself all sorts of emotions, from gaiety to annoyance. Here is the book’s main character, Mersault, narrating the story near the end of Part I:
Masson wanted to go for a swim, but his wife and Raymond didn’t want to come. The three of us went down to the beach and Marie (Mersault’s love interest) jumped right in. Masson and I waited a little. He spoke slowly, and I noticed that he had a habit of finishing everything he said with “and I’d even say,” when really it didn’t add anything to the meaning of his sentence. Referring to Marie, he said, “She’s stunning, and I’d even say charming.” After that I didn’t pay any more attention to this mannerism of his, because I was absorbed by the feeling that the sun was doing me a lot of good. The sand was starting to get hot underfoot. I held back the urge to get into the water a minute longer, but finally I said to Masson, “Shall we?” I dove in. He waded in slowly and started swimming only when he couldn’t touch the bottom anymore. He did the breast stroke, and not too well, either, so I left him and joined Marie. The water was cold and I was glad to be swimming. Together again, Marie and I swam out a ways, and we felt a closeness as we moved in unison and were happy.
A few minutes later on the shore:
Soon afterwards Marie came back. I rolled over to watch her coming. She was glistening all over with salty water and holding her hair back. She lay down right next to me and the combined warmth of her body and from the sun made me doze off.
So, in these passages, Camus sets up the sun as a source of warmth and happiness for Mersault. Later in the book, it will push him to murder an Arab, which would lead to his trial and execution.
Here’s a brief explanation of the shooting from shmoop.com:
Just as Meursault is about to turn around, to leave the beach altogether, we hear this line: “But the whole beach, throbbing in the sun, was pressing on my back.” “But,” he says. He would have left, but the sun was too intense. The sun “[makes him] move forward” toward the spring (and therefore, toward the Arab).
Whether instilling warm feelings in Mersault or agitation, the sun (or summer itself) is clearly established as a powerful force in the novel. Since “Return to Tipasa” was written 10 years after “The Stranger,” the sun/summer dichotomy must have still been pervasive in Camus’ mind. It should be clear at this point, but the “middle of winter” part of the above quote seems to point to a person’s darkest hours, hours of depression or loneliness or loss, while the invincible summer seems to denote the brighter moments in a person’s life, or the times in life in which a person feels the strongest, happiest or most alive.
And here we come to the profound implication: Camus seems to suggest that in his darkest hours, man can actually feel his strongest and most alive, that out of wreckage can come hope, out of despair can come scorn, out of heartbreak can come consummation. If the “scorn” statement sounds shocking, that’s because it is, but witness another astonishing line from Camus’ “The Myth of Sisyphus:”
There is no fate that can not be surmounted by scorn.
We see the implications of the invincible summer played out, first, in Camus’ essay about Sisyphus, in which Camus imagines that Sisyphus, condemned to push an ever-tumbling boulder up a mountain over and over again, as a man at peace.
Here are a couple important lines:
You have already grasped that Sisyphus is the absurd hero. He is, as much through his passions as through his torture. His scorn of the gods, his hatred of death, and his passion for life won him that unspeakable penalty in which the whole being is exerted toward accomplishing nothing. This is the price that must be paid for the passions of this earth.
I leave Sisyphus at the foot of the mountain! One always finds one’s burden again. But Sisyphus teaches the higher fidelity that negates the gods and raises rocks. He too concludes that all is well. This universe henceforth without a master seems to him neither sterile nor futile. Each atom of that stone, each mineral flake of that night filled mountain, in itself forms a world. The struggle itself toward the heights is enough to fill a man’s heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy.
Thus, even in anguish or monotony or hard labor or loneliness or depression, a man can find peace, if not in existence itself, in the struggle “toward the heights.” That, to me, is existentialism in a nutshell.
Or, in Mersault’s case, in facing an execution. While Camus himself may have not been apt to welcome labels upon himself, the final passage of “The Stranger” is sun-drenched in existential thought and imagery, and it deserves an airing here. Mersault is in the final moments of his life, and as dawn breaks, his execution for murdering the Arab looms:
I must have fallen asleep, because I woke up with the stars in my face. Sounds of the countryside were drifting in. Smells of night, earth, and salt air were cooling my temples. The wondrous peace of that sleeping summer flowed through me like a tide. Then, in the dark hour before dawn, sirens blasted. They were announcing departures for a world that now and forever meant nothing to me. For the first time in a long time I thought about Maman (his deceased mother). I felt as if I understood why at the end of her life, she had taken a ‘fiance,’ why she had played at beginning again. Even there, in that home where lives were fading out, evening was a kind of wistful respite. So close to death, Maman must have felt free then and ready to live it all again. Nobody, nobody had the right to cry over her. And I felt ready to live it all again too. As if that blind rage had washed me clean, rid me of hope; for the first time, in that night alive with signs and stars, I opened myself to the gentle indifference of the world. Finding it so much like myself — so like a brother, really — I felt that I had been happy and that I was happy again. For everything to be consummated, for me to feel less alone, I had only to wish that there be a large crowd of spectators the day of my execution and that they greet me with cries of hate.
So, like Sisyphus, in a moment that would shake most anyone to utter despair, Mersault is happy. And here is the consummation for Mersault and for the “Return to Tipasa” quote: Mersault had lived. He had experienced good times and bad, but in both, he found peace.
Or, as Camus said in one part of “The Myth of Sisyphus:”
To two men living the same number of years, the world always provides the same sum of experiences. It is up to us to be conscious of them. … The preceding merely defines a way of thinking. But the point is to live.
Since I’ve added a few more reviews than usual to the site, I have installed a new plugin that will allow me to rate the books and movies via a five-star system. This is how it will look, and I already used it in my review of the movie, “Agora“:
Also, I plan to make a concerted effort to keep track of the books I read this year. I’ve never done this pragmatically, so it will be interesting to see how many I can get through. I’m not John Milton (He supposedly studied from 6 a.m. until midnight and then repeated the cycle), and I probably have more hobbies than good ol’ John (Learning and writing being his main pursuits), so I will likely be a little disappointed in the result come December 2011, but I’m at least going to give it a ago and try to top my numbers for 2010. I’ve got quite a few in the cue and began a new one, “Positivist Republic” by Gillis Harp today. Next up will either be, “Abraham Lincoln: The Prairie Years and the War Years” by Carl Sanburg or possibly, “1421: The Year China Discovered America.” I have read negative reviews on the latter, so I may defer to something else when the time comes.
That said, and since I didn’t make a concerted effort to keep track of what I read this year, here is an annotated and approximate list of books that I read in 2010 based on memory, listed more or less chronologically from most to less recent:
- Nixon’s Piano: Presidents and Racial Politics from Washingtion to Clinton by Kenneth O'Reilly
- War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
- Heidegger and a Hippo Walk Through Those Pearly Gates: Using Philosophy (and Jokes!) to Explore Life, Death, the Afterlife, and Everything in Between by Thomas Cathcart and Daniel Klein
- On the Origins of Species by Charles Darwin (audio book)
- The Portable Atheist, edited with an introduction by Christopher Hitchens (audio book)
- A Polite and Commercial People: England 1727-1783 by Paul Langford
- A Monarchy Transformed: Britain, 1603-1714 by Mark Kishlansky
- Basic Writings of Existentialism, edited by Gordon Marino
- The First World War by John Keegan
- The Blind Watchmaker: Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe Without Design by Richard Dawkins
- 1776 by David McCullough
Andrew Johnson and the uses of constitutional power by James E. Sefton
- The Stranger by Albert Camus (reread)
- Islamic Imperialism : A History by Efraim Karsh
- The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins (audiobook reread)
- Letter to a Christian Nation by Sam Harris
- Handbook of Christian Apologetics by Peter Kreeft and Ronald Tacelli
- God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything (audiobook reread) by Christopher Hitchens
- Battle Cry of Freedom by James McPherson
Even if it’s pure fiction, at least it’s interesting.
Playboy today has released a fascinating first-person, albeit, anonymous, account of the real nuts and bolts behind the Tea Party movement. And this isn’t your grandmother’s Tea Party. I would suspect that it’s of the same cast as that of folks over at reteaparty.com, with whom I’ve debated in the past. Although, the website doesn’t seem to be working at the moment, here is the Twitter page.
When I say it’s not your grandmother’s Tea Party, I mean to say that party advocates are young, intelligent, plugged in and not terribly moving along the straight and narrow. They use slang and vulgarities and carouse in seedy dives. At least that’s the picture delivered from the above referenced Tea Party consultant, who on page 2 of this treatise said:
I get out of Washington whenever possible, especially during tourist season. In late spring I visited a Tea Party rally in suburban St. Louis. It was what you would imagine: angst-ridden Caucasians sitting in lawn chairs with signs such as My daughter is nine and already $41,000 in debt. It was not an angry crowd, and in all candor I never heard a racist word uttered.
The speeches went on for hours. The sun was shining. It was the kind of day when you could take a nap under a tree. The organizer had personally delivered about a thousand activists. It was her big day. Two hours into the speeches she sat down on the warm grass next to me at the back of the rally and said, “This is the perfect day. Now all I need is a joint.” That tells you everything you need to know about my friends.
We are tremendously plugged in to BigGovernment.com and its stable of writers. Our news cycle is measured in minutes, not days. Combine the DNA of a flash mob, a news addict and a con servative (sic?) who feels betrayed by the spending excesses of George W. Bush, sprinkle in some anxiety and you’ve got my people.
To read that second paragraph sounds like something straight out of the sun-soaked, extraordinary and existential, “The Stranger,” which I recently finished reading … again.
To read the third paragraph is to crash into a non sequitur. The author is “tremendously plugged in to BigGovernment.com yet is “betrayed” by Bush’s excesses, the president who spiraled us into gigantic debt with his war against Saddam? Which, if it does nothing else, smacks of big government.
The speaker continues near the end of his short memoir:
The inner core of Tea Party consultants I work with don’t like to see their names in the news, but we do enjoy a good dark bar. Nearly all are based far from the Beltway. Imagine the rooftop deck of a D.C. steakhouse with about 40 Tea Party celebrities. It’s not the stuffy crowd that usually congregates at Morton’s. Picture Breitbart holding court with donors in one corner and fake ACORN hooker Hannah Giles in another (too young to drink legally at the time), talking with the even younger doe-eyed, homeschooled daughter of a prominent activist. Though it had been a month since Washington’s last snowfall, the rooftop deck still had piles of snow, allowing Maura Flynn to start the first-ever snowball fight inside Morton’s bar. Welcome to my Tea Party party.
We make a sport out of confusing the press. I had fake business cards printed to give to reporters. I watched a reporter walk out of a Conservative Political Action Conference reception in mid-February with a fistful of my faux business cards. Feeling a little guilty I told him not to file a story immediately because it would be guaranteed to be dead wrong. He finally published it a month later, after one of our friends charitably spent three hours with him.
Causing mayhem is not limited to dealing with the press. We’ve quietly acquired Service Employees International Union shirts to wear at Tea Party rallies. For big labor, that’s like handing out TSA uniforms in Kabul. And at a rally in St. Louis this March, fake SEIU protesters joined the Tea Party protest.
Various Republican congressional leaders met for hours with our leadership and our finance team in the Richard Nixon suite at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington. Never in my career had I had a congressman look me in the eyes behind closed doors and say with such sincerity, “Give me a list of what you need me to do.” The second meeting drew 10 congressmen. There we sat, inside the Capitol Hill Club (which shares the building that houses the Republican National Committee), sharing ideas on how we can work together. The third meeting drew 17 congressmen. We’ll see help with fundraising and research from friendly members of Congress. It’s what you won’t see that’s more important. Our role is to quietly help a dozen grassroots conservative candidates win in the fall, using traditional and nontraditional means. If you don’t hear from us directly, we will have done our job.
Of course, I must mention that if any of this is written by an actual Tea Party “insider,” whatever that means, I will be very surprised. I do imagine that there might be some sort of underground Tea Party proletariate lurking somewhere behind the hysterical public message of Sarah Palin and others, but the “anonymity” of this particular speaker is troubling. Folks can say anything, after all, behind the vale of anonymity. That’s why we newspaper types and reputable information outlets require that letters to the editor and other reader-created works are accompanied by a name and town, to hold folks accountable for what they say. For, to be sure, if a person isn’t willing to put their name behind their own thoughts, it first, drapes a curtain of doubt over the whole thing, and second, allows the speaker to hide behind it.
The best I can say, I suppose, is that the graphic accompanying the story (shown) is exquisite.
The debate on the god question has come up recently on Facebook between a couple friends of mine, and I thought it might be interesting if I laid out and clarified a few points about my own experiences regarding this matter to attempt to come around to an overall theory. Some family, friends, former church members of mine have probably noticed peculiar postings of mine regarding religion and God, and I thought an explanation was in order. This post took me a couple weeks to write (Thus the reason for no other recent posts), so bear with me. I’m not saying my conclusion won’t or can’t change, but my thoughts right now as they stand are recorded in this post. To borrow a religious term, here is my “testimony:”
First, as I have stated to a couple people in the last year, I set about in Oct. 2008 or so to the task of trying to figure out precisely why I believed what I proclaimed to believe. I will say here that I was raised in the Christian tradition, as most people in the southeastern United States are, and spent many years performing musically and otherwise toward that end. I sang with my grandfather, whom I miss to this day, in more than one Southern gospel group. I played acoustic and electric guitar for seven or more years in a contemporary-style church in Upstate, South Carolina. Until I reached college, I knew little of teachings other than what was in the Bible. Despite taking and passing a philosophy class and many English classes which served to, at least, introduce certain issues that would later challenge my faith, I maintained my core beliefs through college and even through numerous years after college.
Like so many with physical ailments who have wanted desperately to believe in a god who had the power to, not only save souls, but to physically heal, I tried my best to read the Bible and believe. In the years after college, my life was largely dominated by loneliness and despair over various issues, the most immediate of which would be emphysema.
I had heard stories that many people back home prayed me out of certain death when I was a baby hospitalized for 3 1/2 years in New York City, apparently saving me from dying from a critical immune system disorder. I don’t want to discredit or marginalize family members’ and friends’ efforts or concerns back home. They were doing what they thought was best.
So, poof, after much research and after three years of testing and poking and prodding at me, doctors came up with a way to give me an unprecedented unmatched bone marrow transplant to set my immune system on the right course. In the early 1980s, this was no small thing.
Now, I’m wise enough to recognize that science and research saved me in my infancy. I’m wise enough to know that, had I been lying in a crib inside my home in South Carolina, with the same prayers but without the same science and medical treatment, I would be a memory, and would probably not have even made it past my first year. So, at 4 1/2 years old, with medical research providing and setting my path toward adulthood, I set out on a vast world that I had never known cramped inside my little, sterile hospital-world.
And, of course, my parents not only gave me life … but a second life. I was a dead man, but they packed up their things in their early 20s at the time (I’m now 32 and can’t imagine doing such a thing at their age) and moved 900 miles north to a cockroach-ridden Manhattan apartment with their young daughter … all for me. For all my hard-boiled, emotional determinism, the thought of what they went through to keep me alive still brings a lump to my throat … and I’m thankful beyond words.
Back to religion, I decided a year or so back that it would be the most insincere and dishonest thing that I could imagine if I were to continue to lead the people in church worship without believing myself in the words of the songs I was playing (I think even believers can agree with me on that point.) I surmised that it would also be distasteful to not know full well why I believed in what the folks around me were singing, and not be able to articulate what I believed, and why I believed it. I concluded, even before I began questioning faith, that to believe and live my entire life and then die some day without knowing precisely why I believed such and such, without evidence and without a good explanation for any of it, essentially giving my entire life to something, sheepishly, was a most foolish and tragic thing (In fact, the word “tragic” probably represents an understatement).
Believing simply based on a “feeling” that we get on Sunday morning in the presence of nice music and other believers — which is all it is, since there’s not a stitch of evidence for any of it — was not good enough for me, and this was the realization that hit me between the eyes at some point last year. I can, perhaps, pinpoint the precise time. It may have been during a long car ride to Boston with my wife, when I had a fantastically long time to do a lot of thinking.
To catalog a few of the works I’ve studied thus far that have influenced me one way or the other since and before that particular trip:
- “Christ: A Crisis in the Life of God” by Jack Miles
- “God: A Biography” by Jack Miles
- “Mere Christianity” “Surprised by Joy,” “The Screwtape Letters” by C.S. Lewis
- “The Case for Christ” and “The Case for Faith” by Lee Strobel
- “Godless” by Dan Barker
- “Why I Became An Atheist” by John Loftus
- “The Age of Reason” by Thomas Paine
- “The End of Faith” by Sam Harris
- “The Stranger” and “The Myth of Sisyphus” By Albert Camus
- “Notes from the Underground” By Fyodor Dostoevsky (To a lesser degree, “The Brothers Karamzov” and “Crime and Punishment”
- This does not mention, of course, most of the Old and New testaments, numerous Christian commentaries, two decades of Christian teaching from various workshops, sermons and classes, and many of the gospels and texts that did not make it into the “official” King James Bible as pieced together by various church officials centuries ago.
I’m under no illusion that my recent thoughts and studies are crushing to any possibility, or any fraction of a possibility, that I might supernaturally be made better physically some day (For I deny even the possibility of a being capable of such things … nothwithstanding his unwillingness). I dare say no one has called out more to God than I for answers, even for answers about his own existence. No one has pleaded more with God for help. No one has been on their knees more than me. But I’ve heard nothing. Not one thing but my own voice, until eventually I got the impression that my prayers were merely floating to the ceiling and falling back down like stillborn stars. So, I got off my knees and determined, like the human that I am, to find the truth.
Believers will probably question this, saying something like, “Well, you can’t just give up. God is faithful to answer prayer in his time on his watch” or with, “God answers all prayer with either a ‘No,’ ‘Yes,’ or ‘Maybe.’” But those are the only three possible options, aren’t they? We can write off or explain away any unanswered prayer (or perceived answered prayer) by that logic to help God escape an explanation for his own silence.
We have, indeed, for centuries, received nothing at all but silence from the God of the Old Testament, just as we have received no recent word from Jesus or Zeus or Apollo or Allah or Osiris. Thousands of years have passed and not an utterance. Does that not strike anyone else as peculiar? Believers, again, will say the Bible is God’s revealed word or his instruction manual and that he exists in the hearts and minds of those who are filled with the Holy Spirit because they have believed in him. Well, I have believed — I have with all my heart — and other than some hormones jostled around, stimulated by some inspiring tune in the company of believers, have felt or heard nothing but my own voice.
So, I know there will be those to whom these words are very troubling — family, friends, former churchgoers, etc. but please know that I expect none of the same thoughts from any of you and am not trying to convince anyone of anything. I’m merely stating my experiences, and don’t particularly want this to meltdown into a large debate. Again, I did not set out at the start to disprove anything. I set out to find the truth. And these truths we can’t escape: Earth is billions of years old, Earth exists on a spiral arm of our galaxy, an insignificant spot, and not the center of the galaxy as many of our forebearers thought (which, by the way, gave creedance to the argument that we are the special planet, and a special species, in all of creation). The Earth will one day be uninhabited by people once again, not by a rapture, but either by a wayward asteroid or gamma ray burst or by the sun losing power. The truth is the canonical Bible contains many irreparable self-contradictions; condones slavery, mass slaughter, rape, the mutilation or altering of children’s genitalia, among other things; and cannot even get the details straight about the events surrounding Jesus’ death and resurrection.
Again, when I set about my studies, I was not seeking hope or spiritualism or miracles or wishful-thinking, I was seeking the truth, which in the 17th century when John Milton was alive, “a wicked race of deceivers … took the virgin Truth (and) hewed her lovely form into a thousand pieces, and scattered them to the four winds.” But they are not at the four winds anymore. Truth is much closer to us in modern America. So, at least at this juncture, I have concluded that the ancient, contradictory books of the Old and New testaments, written in a time of widespread myth and legend, are not good enough to make me, first, believe, and second, to base my entire life on such things contained therein.
I feel compelled to say that I apologize to certain people (of whom I still hold a great deal of respect) for that statement, whom I know, would want me to conclude differently, but that’s how I feel. The Christian tradition is so embedded in this part of the country (the Southeast), that to say such things, is almost like seceding a second time from the Union. But again, I ask, what’s more important? The truth or wishful thinking? When I set out about this, I resolved to be comfortable with whatever philosophical pathway on which my studies took me down. And that’s what we all must do.
And at some point, all us of have to make a similar choice: Do we want to be complacent in living our lives for a faith that may or may not, in reality, be true, or can we mentally and emotionally handle another possibility: that we are an insignificant dot in a vast, vast universe. As a friend of mine was saying, we need religion. We do indeed. But can’t we be strong enough to move past it and accept our place in the cosmos? As one writer, John Loftus, said that we humans think we are so special that we can’t imagine a fate that would see us go extinct like all the rest of life on Earth. Yet, that is our fate. Our extreme intelligence compels us to think of other worlds or other dimensions like heaven or hell, but our humanity also compels us to surmise that we are on a small planet in an insignificant galaxy, of which, there are millions. It is quite believable to think other species in some undiscovered galaxy thought themselves self-important, like us, and then, saw their own existence come to a crashing hault.
Of course, we may never know 100 percent if there is a god or not and we may never know 100 percent how life began, but I think we can be pretty sure it did not happen as the Bible, with its self-contradictions, recounts. (Note: I do not cite examples of the Bible’s contradictions here because they are well documented and this post is long as is. Search Google for “bible contradictions” and you can view them for yourself.)
For me, the option that we are an insignificant dot in a vast universe, takes much more wherewithall, and frankly, is a quite liberating axiom, to know that we are, at the core, connected and interconnected with the universe, not just Earth, and everything in the universe is quite a beautiful thing, as astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson noted.
Thus, again, I did not seek hope (specifically for my health conditions or otherwise) or karma or spirituality or wishful thinking. I sought the truth. For truth, should we reference the record of science, which says this planet has existed for billions of years and will again be vanquished or a book authored by superstitious people thousands of years ago during a time consumed with myth and legend? I have to side with the former.