miriam english (miriam_e) wrote,
miriam english

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The power, beauty, majesty and duty of reality

It seems to me, realising that a blind, unfeeling universe gets to be conscious through us, and thus able understand itself via our minds (for we are the tiny, infinitely precious, conscious bits of this vast universe), provides far greater comfort than some mythical stone-age god which threatens you with an eternal lake of fire and torture if you disobey some bizarre, often inappropriate, primitive laws.

Some religious friends have told me that their god gives them purpose and that without it they would be lost. I try to explain to them that they haven't thought it through completely. They don't know the mind of their god so can't know what purpose it might have (it moves in mysterious ways), so the only meaning they have is in giving up looking for one, and accepting instead broken and outdated fabrications from our primitive, superstitious past.

On the other hand, it's easy to derive genuine meaning and moral goals from the real world around us.

There are two basic forms of material in the universe: alive and non-living. Living things have a main simple purpose: to continue life.

Some living things have developed brains to help them live, and that brings another purpose on top of, and in aid of life itself: to learn.

Some intelligent creatures form social groups in order to better survive and that gives yet another purpose: to care for our fellows.

Humans are special. We have developed phenomenally oversized brains which grant us expanded purposes. We can learn about far more than just the things our survival depends upon, and in that learning we can see that all life is interwoven and that we depend upon all those around us, so we need to look after all life, not just our own. We can see beyond ourselves, and our family, and our tribe or clan, beyond our village or city, past state and national borders, even past species boundaries to realise we are all brothers and sisters -- not just all humans, but all the other mammals, even all other vertebrates, all other animals, and even all life.

The power, beauty, majesty and duty of reality far exceeds the pettiness of any parochial stone age myth.

(Crossposted from https://miriam-e.dreamwidth.org/334308.html at my Dreamwidth account. Number of comments there so far: comment count unavailable)

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