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Examining the fundamental problems of human existence — The Origin of Life, Ethics, Health, Governance — and the rational means for their solution. Without an understanding of where we came from, we cannot know where we are going. Without ethics, there is no hope for peace and security. Without health, a full life is not possible. Without liberty, human potential is but a wish.
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blog Dr. Wysong's Blog - 7/26/2011

WHY IS LIFE SO TOUGH (PART II)

When we are faced with problems we cannot easily solve, or that cannot be solved, we think blame. Common scapegoats are others and "God." The horrors and cruelty in the world are, in fact, the primary reason the notion of God is rejected. If a supposedly perfectly just being is capable of interceding but doesn't, that is sufficient proof for many that such a being does not exist. Religions may attempt to solve this by arguing that suffering is due to "original sin" (attributing to God the injustice of visiting the sins of parents on their children), or they may erect a theodicy (reconciling evil in the world with God's attributes by saying he went on vacation after making everything).

But let's not let our human tendency to point fingers carry us away. Consider a world in which we were divinely protected from any mistake or damage. That would be a world with no free will. Free will means the ability to do things right or wrong, or be in the right or wrong place at the right or wrong time. It also means that even if we do things right, others can do things wrong and we suffer the consequences. A world of free will means a mixed bag of unpredictable joy and pain caused by none other than us.



So there is a potentially terrible price for free will. But think of a world where there was no free will and everything had to happen in a safe way. What if all human interactions were perfectly predictable and the dice were always stacked so that we would never suffer consequences and there were no risks? Imagine every woman rejuvenated, every man forever robust, all ills cured, all humanity perfect, no death anywhere, no storms, and the world at automatic peace. Yes, that sounds wonderful, but such "wonderful" is naïve since it means the loss of choice.

Think about the importance of free will as a parent. Although we would like our children to obey us, we would not want them to become robotic and look to us for direction on their every move. How, looking into their empty subservient eyes, would we ever know if they loved or respected us or who they even really were? Robots are neither people nor satisfying companions.

The cruelty of nature must be put into perspective as well. In the larger picture, nature is one gigantic organism, not a toy infected with evil and manipulated by a sadistic God hungry for worship. Nature as a creature is no crueler in its acts than we are when we inadvertently squash insects underfoot, or shred the life out of lettuce when we chew a salad. Nature just is; it must function with the life and death of its components (to avoid overpopulation and exhaustion of finite resources) in order to survive as a whole. Diastrophism (Earth crust shaping) has to happen. If earthquakes, tsunamis, and volcanoes result, that is no more cruel than us stubbing our toe, our immune cells capturing and digesting germs, skin cells dying and sloughing off, or the acid in our stomachs torturing the protozoa that just rode in on the food we ate.

Nature is most certainly a mix of delightful wonders that include birth and beauty... but also horrors like parasitism and predation. One could not exist without the other. It is not a matter of good versus evil. It is all the necessary functioning of the creature called nature. It just is and must behave as it does to survive. If it did not survive, none of us could. Would that be more kind?

Reconsider the conclusion that we are victims of something other than our own free will with another view of who we really are. Let's say, for the sake of argument, that underneath our shell of material and mortal protoplasm we are actually immortal spirit creatures with free will. Let's say that it is our choice to come to Earth, inhabit a human body, and experience the hard lessons of life here in order to grow. If that were true, and each of us casts our own Earth lot, then we would have nobody to blame but ourselves for the circumstances we have put ourselves in.

In this same vein, if we are immortal beings, our short stay on Earth in the perspective of endless time must be taken into consideration. Would we not trade an instant of pain (Earth life) for an eternity of benefit? A sojourn on Earth, in the perspective of infinity, is but a blink. Looking back, regardless of how bad we think we have had it on Earth, we may see this life's tragic and difficult experiences as but a flash in an endless existence. We may not only be making a mountain out of a molehill, but making it out of a grain of sand. Reflecting this idea of existence, the ancient Nag Hammadi Library codex says: "... your life lasts but a single day, and your suffering is but a single hour... " (This view of our essence and purpose has much reason, testimony, and science to back it. See Solving The Big Questions As If Thinking Matters. A chapter in that tome also addresses the many obvious questions that arise from this understanding of our existence and purpose, including why we would not recall a pre-Earth life existence.)

The importance of life's difficulties reminds me of a wonderful feral mother cat who befriended my family. We would feed her and give her some pats, but she was soon off into the woods doing her wild thing. We lost track of her for a time and feared that she had been killed or taken away. But then one day she returned with a youngster, the proud accomplishment of her absence. On one occasion I walked out the back door to be faced with wild kingdom first hand. She had caught a mouse and brought it back for her kitten. The mouse was unharmed and almost as big as the kitten. The kitten had it at bay but was getting bitten. It was hard to discern who was the prey. The mother just reclined quietly nearby, occasionally glancing nonchalantly over at her youngster. The kitten was learning valuable and painful lessons, lessons that could never be learned by just watching the mom and eating pre-killed harmless meals. Since the kitten's survival would one day depend upon such lessons, the mother's actions were not cruel and apathetic, but showed true love.

There may seem to be injustices and cruelty we cannot reconcile with any purpose, let alone love. But if a power had the capability of interfering every time danger approached, and did so, we would know that the challenge is rigged and we would not grow. That is not love. Nor is anything learned from the religious practice of playing the victim by supplicating, begging, importuning, and praying in order to turn life's tide in our favor. Nor is it befitting a dignified Creator of the universe to need such "worship," or respond to pleadings from those who will not take responsibility for themselves. Praying is fine, but people need to keep their hands and feet moving when doing so.




Word Word: importuneword - \im-pər-ˈtün\ (click for pronunciation) verb: to make troublesomely urgent, overly persistent requests or demands, and repeated requests


Thought Thought: When we become as anxious to know the real cause of suffering as we are to know how to escape it, we will come to understand the mystery of life.



Video Videos and Links

1. No Arms Archer




2. 12-Year-Old Astrophysicist




3. Disappearing Car Prank





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