Long ago, in the early days of our Homo sapiens species, males and females surely wondered, in their own way, How did our species start and what happens when we finish?? Namely, What came before our birth and what to expect after death? Roughly two hundred thousand years later, many if not most of us still wonder, although many people are not comfortable with such speculations and prefer not to dwell on them.
Fair enough. Free country and all that, but I think avoiding it is a lost opportunity to broaden the intellectual horizon. This topic deserves a fair play spot for REAL wellness scans.
Unlike the conditions that existed during the time of our most distant ancestors, most children of the past centuries are provided with packaged stories or myths that address these questions. However, myths do not encourage exploration or curiosity; rather, they provide answers, although they are not universally satisfactory. Almost limitless varieties of explanations have been offered in various parts of the Earth. The modern fables with which we are familiar touch on these questions, but focus on Why are we here Y How should we behave?
The most popular packages have common characteristics. They are based on revered books that are said to have been written or at least inspired by supernatural, omnipotent and all-powerful beings. The mystical and invisible potentates are said to have created everything and remain in charge, not just of Earth, but of the entire solar system, our galaxy, and millions upon billions of other galaxies in our astonishing and expanding universe.
The main explanatory systems of our time have special representatives uniquely authorized to interpret what the true controlling invisible force desires of us, aided and abetted in the performance of their functions by distinctive disguises, exclusive access and use of precious objects, rituals and procedures to be followed by adherents.
Most people are exposed and indoctrinated in one of the prepackaged explanatory systems. Followers of one system or another live their lives, with varying degrees of success, guided by the system ingrained in their families and cultures. By the time they reach adulthood, young adults are fully indoctrinated and pass on the system they absorbed as children to their own offspring.
WHERE, WHY AND INSIDE
One of the many problems with systems that address the great foundations of the existential questions outlined (that is, where did we come from, why are we here, and where we are going to go) is that the systems are incompatible. This leads to conflict, chaos, and holy horrors. Another problem is that at best only one, at most, can be correct. Unfortunately, they are all impossible to verify. Today, many people, called skeptics (or infidels, heretics, freethinkers, blasphemers, etc.), believe that the answers provided by all these systems are elaborate gibberish. They consider that what most are induced and raised to believe about existential mysteries is absurd. When people reach adulthood, they have benefited from education and life experiences. Hence, more than a few begin to suspect that the explanations given on such questions are suspect at best, and possibly simple folklore, such as stories about Santa, tooth fairies, goblins, and elves.
With the exception of true believers, followers of most faith systems privately have trouble moving on, taking misty offerings as bait and a proverbial sinking. Some, about a third of the adult population in America, disagree at all. No wonder, perhaps, I am one of them.
REVALUATING TRADITIONAL BELIEFS
How do skeptics resolve, to their own satisfaction, at least momentarily, until new possibilities occur to them, these existential questions? How did our species really start and what really happens when we finish? Namely, What came before our birth and what to expect after death?
Of course I don’t know, but I find the explanations provided by science more plausible than the magical superstitions on offer. Science represents the best opportunity, statistical and logical, philosophical and otherwise, to understand reality. Naturally, we do not know and cannot know anything with confidence about the final beginnings or futures of life after death that are difficult to imagine. What but an eternal void could there be? For us very soon, and our solar system just four or five billion years later, a vacuum awaits us, as it was at the beginning.
Well here’s my take on that …without worries.
It is invaluable to develop your own opinions about life’s great existential riddles or riddles, and to express them freely. My own opinions are quite simple: there are no reasons for our existence, that is, there is no great design.
Not that I care about an afterlife, if I could conceive of such a thing. I would love to once again have the opportunity to hug and pet my childhood best friend, old Rufus, my faithful childhood dog, maybe to play with him at Sugarcandy Mountain. According to Moses the raven at George Orwell Farm, Sugarcandy Mountain is where animals go when they die to reap the rewards of their work on land. At Sugarcandy Mountain, animals enjoy leisure, abundant food, and sweets.
Sounds good, but I think the mountain would be overrun with dogs, so unless their sanitary habits magically evolve after death, I would be running short of time on Dog Mountain.
Naturally, Robert Green Ingersoll, the great agnostic, had a whimsical idea about an afterlife. Concluding a speech on the 20th anniversary of the Lotus Club on the night of March 22, 1890, he concluded his remarks with these words:
When I’m in a gathering like this, I almost wish I had the creation of the world. What a world it would have made! In that world, unhappiness would have been the only sin; melancholy the only crime; joy is the only virtue. And if there is another world, nobody knows. No one can affirm it; no one can deny it. No one can charge me tolls, claiming to have a toll road, and no one can say for sure that the winding road I follow, alongside which many roses grow, does not lead to that place. Does not know. But if such a place exists, I hope all good companions and ladies are welcome. Robert Green Ingersoll (1833-1899)
Life has no meaning, it always was and will continue to be for as long as we last. Create your meanings, find your purposes. This reality should be seen as good news. It means that we are free, not in debt or enslaved by great potentates in heaven, able to use our minds to reason, seek out periods of exuberance, take care of ourselves, and experience as much freedom as we can. The moment of joy, of loving and being well, of being kind and of being useful is now.