Class Warfare Blog

May 25, 2019

Why Are We Here?

Filed under: Culture,Philosophy,Religion — Steve Ruis @ 8:51 am
Tags: , ,

Over at TheCommonAtheist Jim has a post (Contemplating Existence—The Why is in Asking) about how questions tend to hijack our attention. When I read it I was in the process of working on this post on a particular deepity I encountered. Here it is:

The most important question a human being has to face … What is it? The question, Why are we here? —Elie Wiesel

Now, to call this a deepity probably stretches the definition of that word. What I am saying is that the statement sounds profound but in reality is meaningless.

The most important question a human has to face? Really? Why do I need to face this question? If I answer it, what value do I reap? Has anyone ever answered this question?

Basically, I think this question has never been answered by anyone and may not be able to be answered. As such any answer currently has to be produced by our imagination at best. And, if we do actually answer the question, it may destroy our mental balance in a way that is destructive (such as in the movie Prometheus).

Jim’s point (do read his post) is that such questions hijack our attention. To quote his post “’Questions trigger a reflex in humans known as ‘instinctive elaboration,’ that is when someone asks you a question, the question takes over the brain’s thought process and you feel compelled to answer—and make it a good one.”

I suggest that this question is a loaded one and I don’t mean loaded with meaning. I think that it is asked because it cannot be answered. If you ask yourself this question, do you yourself come up with an answer? No. But many others have come up with an answer and you might want to ask how. Hint: What do religious apologists use to fill gaps in our knowledge? God! He isn’t called the God of the Gaps for nothing!

Let us say you do come up with an answer. How is that the most important question you ever have to face? Does the answer feed your family? Does the answer protect you from harm? Does the answer help you get or keep a job? Does the answer serve you in any way in the here and now? The “god” answer doesn’t actually serve you, but it does serve proselytizers.

Now I am not saying the theists sit around in their bunker in the Colorado mountains thinking up questions that hijack our attention and which point to their god. Far from it. It is, I suggest, the sense that they have an answer to this question and you do not and because for them the answer is god, they think that the question will lead us to the same answer. But it does not.

Any number of movies and now, television shows, have addressed the idea that we were either created from scratch or genetically modified from existing primate stocks by some powerful alien species. If we were to discover this “fact” what do you think the response of the world’s religions be? Would they say “Our bad, guess we were wrong.” Or would they tear their garments, gnash their teeth, attack the evidence, and declare that this is the end of the world? How would devout believers respond . . . really? Acceptance? Denial? Violence?

Any number of “authorities” apparently have claimed that if we had evidence of the mere existence of intelligent aliens, that we should keep that knowledge secret because “the people” would panic. Imagine if we had evidence that we were created or transformed by the actions of such a species?

The people asking this question and similar ones think they know the answer already and that such a scenario could not play out, because, well, faith. I suspect that faith would crumble to dust in short order if such a scenario did play out. Consider all of the hubbub at web sites like Answers in Genesis and The Institute for Creation Research and their myriad ilk who have already claimed that there is no intelligent life anywhere else in the universe. (And they know this because . . . we’re special? Hint: It ain’t in scripture.) The same lovely folks spend a considerable amount of their time throwing shade on the theory of evolution and the fact of evolution as well. (Hey, theists abiogenesis and evolution at least don’t involve aliens!) Imagine how they would react if it turned out that a god did create us . . . and it wasn’t their god! It would be ten times worse than if it turned out to be aliens.

I also suggest that if theists weren’t asking this question, no one else would. Philosophers would find the question ill-defined and avoid it. (Only philosophers of religion would consider it.) Ordinary people would see no benefit to such a question and if it were brought up at a dinner party, they would shrug and change the subject to something more meaningful (the weather, sports, politics, etc.)

 

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26 Comments »

  1. I ran across this the other day on this topic. “Personally, i feel that it has profoundly immense and eternal consequences.   Of course, there might be a chance that I am very wrong, but find out; there may be real magic out there! Really? Like what? In 10,000 years of contemplating, how many people (some quite intelligent) have never answered this but in their own imagination. Chasing a lifetime wasted on something that in the end, solved nothing. And here we are, commenting on answering that question. Lol.

    Like

    Comment by jim- — May 25, 2019 @ 9:06 am | Reply

    • Exactly! Thanks for your post!

      On Sat, May 25, 2019 at 9:06 AM Class Warfare Blog wrote:

      >

      Like

      Comment by Steve Ruis — May 25, 2019 @ 9:18 am | Reply

      • And thank you Steve. I think we can find the meaning we seek through accomplishment. This question has hijacked an entire era of hominids, and what has become of it? Billions dead and gone with life un-lived, stuck in the hamster wheel but thinking they really had their shit going. And these ideas are worth dying for, not living.

        Like

        Comment by jim- — May 25, 2019 @ 9:24 am | Reply

        • As I used to tell my students, the person we are best at conning is ourself.

          I read on Quora the other day this wonderful response to an atheist-trolling questioner. Specifically the question was how an atheist would explain Paul’s conversion on the road to Damascus. The response was that if god could turn an antagonist into a believer with a single vision/revelation, why wouldn’t he do that for everyone? Why is an all-powerful god so hard to find? Obviously religions do not encourage such enquiries, for very good reasons. They can’t answer them. So, the real questions they can’t answer and the faux questions they can answer … with faux answers. Sheesh! And we give these people special privileges.

          On Sat, May 25, 2019 at 9:24 AM Class Warfare Blog wrote:

          >

          Liked by 2 people

          Comment by Steve Ruis — May 25, 2019 @ 9:31 am | Reply

  2. Never mind Paul. If the experience he allegedly underwent was so powerful, why wasn’t the horse he fell off converted as well? The horse was there, too, and presumably didn’t notice anything out of the ordinary. Or did no-one simply think to ask the horse what really happened?

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by ChrisS — May 25, 2019 @ 11:00 am | Reply

    • OLO!! I know that horse, he was probably horsing around and missed the moment.

      Like

      Comment by Steve Ruis — May 25, 2019 @ 12:02 pm | Reply

  3. Why are we here? … Couldn’t care less. The very fact I AM here is a good enough reason for me to live a life that provides as much joy and happiness as possible. Because when it’s gone … it’s gone.

    People sometimes ask the darndest questions! I suppose it offers some kind of studied diversion.

    Like

    Comment by Nan — May 25, 2019 @ 12:47 pm | Reply

    • As I mentioned there is a hook in that question. It may be asked in idle conversation but there is a horde of theists pushing the question.

      On Sat, May 25, 2019 at 12:47 PM Class Warfare Blog wrote:

      >

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      Comment by Steve Ruis — May 26, 2019 @ 10:26 am | Reply

      • Of course they are! And only they have the true and accurate and non-negotiable answer, doncha’ know?

        Like

        Comment by Nan — May 26, 2019 @ 12:14 pm | Reply

  4. In response, ask a Christian: Why does Yhwh exist? The conversation ends rather quickly after that.

    Like

    Comment by john zande — May 25, 2019 @ 2:56 pm | Reply

    • Wasn’t it because El and Asherah had 70 children, of which YHWH was one?

      On Sat, May 25, 2019 at 2:56 PM Class Warfare Blog wrote:

      >

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by Steve Ruis — May 26, 2019 @ 10:27 am | Reply

  5. Anyone, theist or atheist, who thinks that “purposes” exist anywhere but in our imaginations is sadly poorly informed.

    Like

    Comment by John Branyan — May 25, 2019 @ 3:17 pm | Reply

    • I find plenty of fulfillment without imagining. Faith anyway, is nothing more than pretense and hope. Pretending to honor something they know isn’t real. Insecurity is real, outside the herd.

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by jim- — May 25, 2019 @ 9:32 pm | Reply

      • Congratulations! If there was such a thing as purpose, I’m sure finding non-imaginary fulfillment would be an important part of it.

        Like

        Comment by John Branyan — May 25, 2019 @ 10:20 pm | Reply

        • Statistically it is quite likely the earth and life are are just here. No purpose other than us. In an infinite universe, if there is even the slightest chance that something will happen, like the development of life from non-living materials, it not only will, it must. It’s simply the laws of probability at work.

          Like

          Comment by jim- — May 25, 2019 @ 10:26 pm | Reply

          • You’ve got a lot of faith in statistics!

            Like

            Comment by John Branyan — May 25, 2019 @ 10:44 pm | Reply

            • It’s just one area of many that point to the god in your head. Another imagination

              Like

              Comment by jim- — May 25, 2019 @ 10:46 pm | Reply

              • If there is even the slightest chance that something will happen, like an intelligent being created life, it not only will, it must. It’s simply the laws of probability at work.

                Like

                Comment by John Branyan — May 25, 2019 @ 10:48 pm | Reply

                • Sure, and when did this infinite god arise. At some point then he was not as well.

                  Like

                  Comment by jim- — May 25, 2019 @ 10:50 pm | Reply

                  • Statistically it is quite likely God is just here.

                    Like

                    Comment by John Branyan — May 25, 2019 @ 10:54 pm | Reply

                    • Statistically he is absent. Show me the god you’re speaking of John. I thought we were talking about things that are real. Your version makes me defend a position you readily admit no one has ever seen or comprehended. But you have feelings that are thoroughly explained in the neurology and hormones. That is an imagination if there ever was.

                      Like

                      Comment by jim- — May 25, 2019 @ 11:10 pm

                    • Neurology and hormones, Jim. It’s all explained by neurology and hormones. Every single statistic verifies this. No wonder you’re so utterly fulfilled!

                      Like

                      Comment by John Branyan — May 25, 2019 @ 11:17 pm

                    • It must be uncomfortable knowing that all your “spirituality” can be duplicated in a lab experiment. Even with heartfelt lies the brains light up like the spirit of god. EEG is a wonderful tool. You should like to see the looks on these religious assholes faces when they have visions while hooked up to monitor their “feelings” about what they are interpreting as spiritual connections. It’s all very telling. Really it’s incredible how thoroughly debunked the religious interpretation is, but none of you seem to notice. Better to have Santa watching over you in your sleep, I suppose.

                      Like

                      Comment by jim- — May 25, 2019 @ 11:33 pm

                    • Yes. You nailed it.
                      Anyone, theist or atheist, who thinks that “purposes” exist anywhere but in our imaginations is sadly poorly informed.

                      Like

                      Comment by John Branyan — May 26, 2019 @ 6:15 am


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