After a long time I find myself once again lost in the dense forest of thought. Distractions are perhaps the greatest allies of the mind, for they prevent it from going into the obsessive, trance like state which has so often been the downfall of the great. It is, therefore, with great mystery that I find myself immersed in my very own musings at a time when there is nothing around me, whichever way I may look, but a distraction of some form. Too much of a good thing, I suppose they call it.
It has been my desire for some time to write upon this subject; even before I laid claim to this particular corner of the Internet. If memory serves, and I have mentioned innumerable times before that it does, then I have had a fascination with the cosmos the very first time I looked up at the starry sky and realised that the stars were, in fact, more than sparkling lights on a black stretch of canvas. As early as gaining knowledge of the fact that there was something “out there”, I have wanted to know everything. Everything about everything, I used to call it.
Of course, it soon became apparent that knowing everything about everything is a sheer impossibility, because more something is being added to this everything every second, even as I sit here and type this out, so much has been done and added and created that my goal of learning everything has fallen short of its mark. Already, it would seem, I have started babbling about things which this post has nothing to do with. What is this post all about then, you may ask? Well, and bear with me while I grossly abuse poetic license here, this post is about how nothing really matters.
This rather cynical and pessimistic view is something I’ve been harbouring ever since I learnt of the concept of aliens. Ever since the idea that we are not alone in the Universe was put into my head, I’ve been wondering how much we matter, how much of a difference we make and, at the end of it all, how would things be different were we not here? The answer is one which I have had an inclination of for quite some time now, but have chosen not to accept until this moment. Perhaps I was afraid of the answer which seems irresolute in my mind, perhaps I am, like the common man, in denial.
Because the answer is that we don’t matter. The cosmic plan, if indeed there is one, would be not at all affected were the entire human population, or Planet Earth, or the Solar System or even the Milky Way to disappear. The simplicity of it all is baffling, to say the least. How could we not matter, when we are all that we know? Yet the truth of it is undeniable. Ask any self respecting logical thinker, and they shall tell you the same. I am, of course, making the assumption that the concept of “The Creator” no longer applies in the year 2015, for nothing would give me greater sorrow than to see this post being interpreted as an attack on a deity which doesn’t even exist.
Yes, it’s quite deterring when you dawn upon the conclusion yourself. If you have seen the famous movie called “The Theory of Everything”, which depicts the biography of brilliant physicist Stephen Hawking -one of the greatest minds of our time, then you’ll be familiar with what I am saying. In a conference, when asked whether or not Hawking, being an atheist, has a philosophy, he responds with something along the lines of the things I have mentioned above. The beauty of his response lies, as I have already mentioned, in its simplicity.
We spend years perfecting those aspects of ours which we believe are the most important and will be needed for later. We engage in pointless conversation and meaningless activities. We speak of using time as though the eighty or so years we have been given are somehow going to make a difference. We worry about things as though they have implications upon the great order of things, as though our actions somehow affect the cosmic reality. It’s amusing, almost, the things which we fuss over or work towards, when in the end none of it really matters. Nothing.
At the offset this seems extremely cynical and defeatist, but it is, in fact, the exact opposite. Because nothing of what we do matters in the end, we need not waste time doing it. We have been fortunate to have the power to understand that there are great cosmic forces at play, so why do we chose to fawn over things which have no consequence? Agreed that according to the argument I have just made, nothing matters, but having gotten the gift of intelligence, why do we chose to squander it over trivial matters, when there is the entire Universe to be understood and discovered?
The answer is, perhaps, the one which we all are looking for. Does this question not resemble the question which religions have been answering with faith, and which Science has always attempted to understand in its many, many forms? The question of which I speak is, of course, the one asking about the purpose of life. Science acknowledges that there are many parts to this question, and is working relentlessly to answer every single aspect. Ultimately, it all boils down to WHY.
WHY are we here? If nothing we do has any implications upon the cosmic order then WHY do we have the ability to do anything? WHY have we evolved understanding and logic and reason if not for some purpose? WHY do we have the basal desire to fill our lives with things, chores or whatever it is that we fill our lives with?
Religions take this question for all its value and present us with a simple answer. Simple, yes, but not even remotely complete or sufficient. God, according to theists, governs everything that there is, from purpose to action, and it is in God that we must trust our destiny.
That is, of course, completely unacceptable.
The answer, whenever we figure it out, will be plain and simple. There will be a reason, there is always a reason. And if there isn’t, then we’ll know that we are a cosmic joke. A die which the Universe has rolled and has landed upon us by chance. We serve no purpose. The genetics which has been my obsession for so long is nothing but chance. We must keep our minds open to that possibility, for it may just be the answer to everything: a random throw of the die; a lucky chance.
Once again I ask you, what was the point of this post? No new knowledge has been gleaned from this, so why does this exist? What is the purpose it serves? Perhaps none. Maybe it only exists because on this one random day I thought about putting this random content out there. But what if this post does serve a purpose? What if, by some miracle, this post finds itself in the hands of a devout theist and forces them to question their belief? We shall never know, or maybe we shall.
The chance of it all is what makes it worth it. This entire experience is better for having the knowledge that nothing we know or hypothesise may be true. That this may all be a huge joke being played upon us for the 13 or so billion years of the existence of the Universe. Ah, the thrill of randomness.