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.)

 

Advertisements

Blog at WordPress.com.