Subject: Re: why jhpb@lancia.ATT.COM (Joseph H. Buehler) writes: >In article <3648@aplcen.

Master Index Current Directory Index Go to SkepticTank Go to Human Rights activist Keith Henson Go to Scientology cult

Skeptic Tank!

From: (John "Dumptruck" Sheley) Subject: Re: why jhpb@lancia.ATT.COM (Joseph H. Buehler) writes: >In article <> (Jim Meritt) writes: > }It amounts to a denial that there is any ultimate reason for anything. > Why? >This might be interesting to investigate a little. >What is the reason for the universe's existence, if nothing besides >matter/energy exists? >-- >Joe Buehler To my mind, this is hitting the root reason for religion right on the head. Why in the world does there need to be a grand purpose for the universe? What is so horrible about the thought that our whole existence and that of the rest of the universe is nothing more than a temporary vacuum fluctuation (or somethink of that ilk) in a deeper reality; that our individual lives will not continue on as non-material beings for eternity or the end of the universe, whichever comes first? The majority of people would probably reply that this idea is sort of a hopeless philosophy. "Why not lie down in a field somewhere and blow our brains out? It won't really matter according to your philosophy, and it'll save me a lot of trouble and pain.", they might say. I believe otherwise. I believe any religion exists to soothe man's fear of the unknown. Through- out history, spirits and gods were invented whose powers could account for the unexplained mysteries that troubled people. "Feel like you're being watched in a forrest? That's because the tree spirits are watching.", or, "Why is there thunder and lightning? That's because Thor, the storm god, makes them with his mystical hammer." This also extends to knotty philo- sophical problems like, "Why/How was the world/universe created?", and "What happens when someone dies?" By putting unanswerable questions into the realm of the supernatural, we assuage our fear of those questions by giving them an answer. It's no longer necessary for John Q. Average to worry what's going to happen to him when he dies, since his pastor just told him that if he believes in god, he'll spend eternity in paradise after he dies. If John ever feels his life has no purpose, he simply remembers that god created the universe, and that everything that happens, including his insignificant and sometimes difficult life, is part of god's grand plan for the universe. John is no longer bothered by those nagging questions, and is happy. Maybe Marx was right ("religion is the opiate of the masses"). I believe basically that we are here because of cosmic randomness, and that there is no real great purpose to our existence. Whether or not there is a creator or angels or devils or spirits is something I'm unsure of. All the religions I'm familiar with have too many logical inconsistancies in my opinion for me to believe that religion's version of supernatural beings. What real reason is there to believe that, for example, the christian god created and is running the universe? None but for the belief or faith of the faithful. Yet, I don't believe that my philosophy is loveless or hopeless. I have experienced love and hate, found that I prefer love, and so try to love others instead of hate them. Neither we nor the universe needs a creator for fulfillment. I realize that this is an agnostic view, and that believers in various religions are sure that their religious views show the true face of eternity. There is a point, however, where religionists must acknowledge that the basis of their religion relies on their belief of certain principles, regardless of physical evidence for or against their religion. Billy Graham can heal a sick person on a crusade and say that it was done by god's power, but I can come up with a number of alternative explanations that don't include god at all (the person was a hypochondriac; the person believed so strongly in the healing that their subconscious submerged their symptoms; the healing was real, but done by the inherrent psychic power of Billy & the person). Faith can dictate the intrepretation of a physical phenomenon (creationists are a good example). People of faith believe they're right, but how can they really know for sure? I of course don't know for sure whether my beliefs are right or not, but to my mind they are because I try to exclude the supernatural (mysterious, unexplainable, incomprehensible) in favor of processes we can understand or extrapolate. Back to the question: what is the reason for the universe's existance. This question can only be answered by wild speculation. If you're looking for a physical description of creation, check out the appropriate physics text or your closest holy book, depending on which you believe. I like the idea that the universe is something like a virtual particle in a higher universe which literally appeared out of nothing for no good reason at all. If you're asking whether the universe was created by a guiding intelligence, who can really tell. If there was a creator though, I would tend to believe that it would be something more like a disinterested god (read some Olaf Stapledon for a good example). Is there an ultimate purpose to the universe? If you believe that there is no creator, then there can be no ultimate purpose. If there is a creator, one can only hope that there is an ultimate meaning. John Sheley Convex Computer Corp. UUCP: sheley@convex.UUCP -or- {uiucdcs,killer,sun,texsun}!convex!sheley


E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank