Not just accidents

THE great common fear in life is not knowing what to expect.
In this age of anxiety, we have tried to be comfortable with materialism and technology, but we are all too aware that neither money nor science cannot unlock all of the world’s mysteries. We want love, but we are often afraid of that too.
The Hungarian polymath Mihalyi Csikszentmihalyi once summed up the limitations of science. “I can prove almost nothing I believe in,’’ he said.
He was one of 109 renowned scientists who contributed to the thought-provoking book What We Believe But Cannot Prove.
The scientists listed as yet unprovable beliefs such as the existence of intelligent life elsewhere.
Csikszentmihalyi listed as unprovable his belief in evolution, while colleague David Buss stated: “I believe in true love but can’t prove it’’.
Maria Spiropulu, a physicist whose work involves searching for the origins of the universe, suggested that belief and proof were in some way complementary.
“If you believe something, you don’t need proof of it, and if you have proof, you don’t need to believe,’’ she wrote.
The statement seems obvious. But it contains a deeper level that says something vital about the crazy life we experience.
This great and beautiful trauma of our existence only makes sense if we think outside the box.
None of us asked to be born. But here we are, breathing and often fearful beings heading God knows where.
We really shouldn’t stress so much.
Deep down, all of us know we’re special, that were are unique and not just accidental, meaningless little chips of energy falling off the conveyor-belt of cosmic evolution, indistinguishable from billions of others.
We know we’re precious, have meaning, and are made for a special purpose. Our sole requirement is to discover what that destiny is

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18 thoughts on “Not just accidents

  1. I love this Bryan:
    “We know we’re precious, have meaning, and are made for a special purpose. Our sole requirement is to discover what that destiny is”

    Thank you for reminding me, I have to admit, sometimes I forget!

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  2. This:- “THE great common fear in life is not knowing what to expect.”
    …applies only to homosapiens, because they’re deliberately and generally conditioned to
    (1) ‘expect’ and to
    (2) ‘fear’: particularly the ‘unknown’.

    No other known life-form ~ including plants ~ has a ‘fear in life’
    …excepting only those we’ve trained and conditioned in the same way as we condition our societies and our young from the cradle up.
    And we’re also the only species that shits in its own nest: literally and figuratively.

    Is that BECAUSE we’re “special” ~ or is that what MAKES us “special”?

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  3. PS
    Just because we can (and at one particular level only) claim to be “unique”, there’s no reason to suppose that means we’re NOT “just accidental, meaningless little chips of energy falling off the conveyor-belt of cosmic evolution, indistinguishable from billions of others.”

    The chinese produce billions of TV sets, each of them (also) on one particular level “unique”.
    The only real difference that matters is what program each of them is tuned in to at any given time.

    Anything that can be mass-produced in a moment, by producers who often have no idea of what they’re doing ~ and even less control of what they’re producing ~ and which can be (and is) disposed of just as perfunctorily, can’t realistically claim to be “special”, have a “special purpose”, nor unfoundedly assume a “destiny” ~ let alone an obligation to “discover what that destiny is”.

    Such assumptions are a waste of time and resources which could generally be put to much better use.
    eg. If all the congregations of all the churches around the world spent Sundays growing food ~ rather than on their knees, self-centeredly laying up pennies in some fanciful heaven ~ there’s be many fewer (“unique and special”) kids starving to death every day.

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  4. “None of us asked to be born.” I wonder why people say this. Perhaps we do ask to be born; perhaps we at that time know what our life purpose is, and at birth ‘drink of the cup of forgetfulness’.

    My own children when new-born had an aura of maturity, of knowledge, which soon dispelled. (One in particular altered my whole perception of this process.)

    I believe we are certainly not accidental, and even if we aren’t now aware of our purpose, we can ask for and accept guidance.

    “We really shouldn’t stress so much.” True.

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  5. Bryan … great post and I agree that belief and proof (science) are complementary. I believe we could also argue that belief (hypothesis, hunches, speculation, gut-feeling, imagination) is what continues to propel science forward in discovering truth. I think Einstein was a big believer in that. “Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life’s coming attractions. Imagination is more important than knowledge.” I don’t think he was talking about blind faith here or making stuff up, but rather being open to the possibilities–open to all possibilities. So, why not be open to the possibility of the spiritual dimension.

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    • “So, why not be open to the possibility of the spiritual dimension.”?
      Because what’s “possible” needs first to pass the feasibility test.
      eg. It’s not “possible” to make silk purses out of sows’ ears.

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      • But one day scientists may discover a way of turning cartilage into something identical to silk. So much we don’t know.

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      • Apart from the more obvious fallacies, Dreamweaver, it’s a well-established legal principle that a thing can’t be ‘identical’ to another thing yet be different.. To be ‘identical to’ it needs to be ‘indistinguishable from’.

        ie:- a silk purse can only, definitively, be made out of silk’; if a pig’s ear is somehow turned into silk it can no longer be described as a pig’s ear.

        ergo! It’s not possible to make a silk purse out of a pig’s ear.
        ……in the same way as not even god can make cabbages out of concrete.

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      • But this talk of feasibility tests and silk purses out of sow’s ears only makes sense if one is operating under the assumption (or rather belief) that the material world is all that exists and is all we can know and understand. If one thinks otherwise then the possibility exists that silk purses may very well can be created out of sow’s ears. That is if we believe in a God who can somehow transcend physical matter and rearrange elements as he pleases. I don’t know your beliefs so I’m trying not to make assumptions myself.

        My point is–if each of us works back up the chain, everyone operates on a set of beliefs. And I’m certainly not suggesting all things are possible–period. I imagine that even God himself may have limitations–whether self-imposed of not–within the spiritual dimension. Whether you want to believe in the God of Abraham or not, some scientists speculate about potentially other worlds and dimensions. And who knows, perhaps the physical principles and elements exist in that other world to turn cartilage into silk. Certainly a possibility.

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  6. Almost correct, Scott:- “if each of us works back up the chain, everyone operates on a set of beliefs.”
    In fact, everyone operates on a set beliefs as to what definitions apply.

    ie. If one insists upon making silk purses out of sows’ ears one needs but to redefine ‘silk’ as being that of which pigs ears are made.
    ….and by the same methodology, we can decree that what silkworms produce is called ‘pigsears’.

    It doesn’t alter the (feasible/observable) realities of chemistry and function.
    And what we name the various elements doesn’t alter the fact that hydrogen CANNOT, ever, fulfil the composition and function of what we call ‘carbon’. If it could then it couldn’t BE hydrogen.

    And even if there were “a god that could transcend physical matter”, yet still sows’ ears and silk are rooted in the realms of physical matter. If such a god could somehow transcendentally transport them to a non-physical realm then they’d immediately cease being sows’ ears and silk.

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    • ps. I’m sure you must’ve come across the classic ‘paradox’:-

      Can god create a boulder so large that he, himself, cannot move it?

      Either way, (THE) god is placed well-and-truly outside the realms of feasibility, though human speculation persists interminably

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  7. I hear what you’re saying about the definitions part. Not sure how that negates the possibility of transformation though. Take the miracle Jesus performed turning water into wine. If I’m to believe the author of the story was truthful and accurate, then it appears that something supernatural occurred. I don’t know how Jesus did this. Did he make the water evaporate and somehow conjure wine molecules from the environment? Did he do some manipulation at the atomic level. Was it some kind of chemical reaction? Maybe he just called the wine into existence from who knows where. We don’t know.

    So do we call it wine? The taster described it as wine–the best wine. Maybe it was a hybrid of some sort—a part supernatural, part earthly wine that tasted very similar to the manmade wine, only better. I’m not sure it really matters what we call it. But it sounds like a miracle to me—not something we’re use to seeing happen through the science and chemistry we observe in the physical world we’re use to.

    By the way, just how certain are we about our physical world? In high school, I was taught that electrons rotated around the nucleus much like planets rotate around the Sun. Today, I believe they teach this very differently–probability orbits and string theory(going by memory here, so maybe not a super accurate description). Much of what we know is just the best model we can develop, based on what we know at the time. To my knowledge, no one has actually seen or touched an electron, a proton or neutron. Oh, yes, they exist, and we can describe their properties, express them mathematically, predict behavior, and even manipulate them. But how well do we really know them and what these atomic particles are capable of doing? And are we not limited by our senses and our measuring devices / methods and our ability to manipulate them?

    Hey, I’m not saying I have the answers here, but there’s a lot of possibilities to think about and consider.

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  8. Getting lost in speculative minutiae doesn’t alter the reality…. ‘Natural’ and ‘Unnatural’ are, definitively, mutually-exclusive concepts.
    It’s not an issue on which you can have two bob each way.

    Your examples, in themselves, make the point.
    If Jesus did ‘turn water into wine’ (and, if you read the passage strictly, you’ll see that he didn’t ever claim he did: it’s all about suggestion, assumption and expectation. ~ ie. human psychology, as speculated about by a third party many decades later.): ….

    …..”Did he make the water evaporate and somehow conjure wine molecules from the environment? Did he do some manipulation at the atomic level. Was it some kind of chemical reaction?”….. are ALL purely physical (ie ‘natural’) processes. Nothing supernatural about them. But we know ~ and can demonstrate ~ that such processes aren’t feasible naturally. Water doesn’t contain the ingredients required for wine.

    On the other hand, “Maybe he just called the wine into existence from who knows where.” (ie ‘supernaturally’) is a non-starter. According to the yarn we know where it came from: water. And water, to BE water, MUST obey the natural laws that apply to water.

    Try a different perspective: Would you declare MY ability to turn wine into water an ‘unnatural’ miracle?

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    • PS….The same response applies to your other speculations. eg.
      “By the way, just how certain are we about our physical world?”

      It doesn’t matter. What we can apprehend/comprehend ~ and more especially define ~ with what we call our physical/natural ‘brain’ ~ are defined as ‘natural’. Regardless of what we label them they must still conform to the determined, or stipulated, parameters thus defined, be they real or imagined.
      Anything beyond those parameters have been defined as ‘supernatural’ because they DON’T so conform. Y’just CAN’T measure time with a tape-measure.

      As Mustapha Mond said:- “But you’ve got to stick to one set of postulates. You can’t play Electro-magnetic Golf according to the rules of Centrifugal Bumble-puppy.”

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