Monday, May 11, 2009
For the philosophically minded these books may interest you. Thanks
The Hobo Philosopher
My Philosophy in a nut shell
By Richard E. Noble
After reading and studying philosophy for over 40 years, I think I finally have one – a philosophy, that is. I am aware that most people do not like reading philosophy. I think I can explain my philosophy briefly.
All humans arrive here on the planet or as a part of this universe from the “unknown.” We are not born worrying about this fact but it gradually presents itself to us as we grow and mature. Although we learn love and kindness and many other positive things, we all become aware of death, dying, pain, hate, cruelty and suffering. As human thought has evolved, there has been one answer that has been accepted almost universally. With all of life’s positive attributes taken into consideration, life is understood to be a punishment. All religions have taught this to an extent and have developed “fables” or theories of explanation. We are all indoctrinated into one of these theories as children.
The acceptance of life as a punishment, though logical, injects a questionable premise. Who is punishing us and why.
It is logical to accept that life is a punishment because of many factors – death, disease, pain suffering and so on. Couple this with the fact that life for the most part is predatory – one living thing eating another in order to survive and we have a real case for cruelty and thus punishment.
The notion of punishment presupposes a punisher. If we are truly being punished who is doing the punishing and why? Now enters the Creator, God and a host of other possible but nevertheless imaginary characters.
The entire body of religious thought has as its main objective, the presentation of an answer to this hypothesis. Religion accepts the premise of punishment and tries to supply an answer.
The story in the Bible is the most popular religious explanation but there are others. One could spend a lifetime exploring these endless attempts to explain the punishment premise. You can find them, I will move on.
If life is a punishment this notion implies a “punisher.” Now the next question is, Who is punishing us and why.
The term God has been established as the source of this power to punish us and as a source of all things. There has developed the notion that there is a God who has established all things. This God is to be feared and admired.
Philosophers have been arguing over this premise for centuries.
I have come to accept the arguments that consider this premise of God to be impossible. There are numerous arguments but Bertrand Russell’s seems to be the briefest an most concise. Bertrand felt that if there is such a thing as a Creator or God who has established all things in the universe, then this God must also be credited with the evil of pain, death, predation suffering, natural disasters and all the abuses of this existence also. Therefore this God, with a multitude of positive attributes, must also be credited with the creation of all that is evil as well as all that is good. Bertrand concludes that he does not chose to accept the notion of an evil God – a God who has created evil must be considered evil, certainly in part.
For myself when I think how life sustains itself off other life (let’s call it, the Vampire Syndrome as opposed to the euphemism the Food Chain), I am appalled to think that anyone could believe that a charitable God could have created such a system of survival. Certainly if there were an intelligent, compassionate source behind the “creation” of this universe, he could have thought up a kinder, gentler system. If I go in the other direction and conclude from this that God is actually evil, then what?
If that is the case and God is evil, then there is nothing to be done and nothing that can be done. We will all simply have to sit and wait for the next disaster to come down on us. More hardship after death would be fearful, but what can be done about it? And what good would it do us to bow down to an evil God. A truly evil God could care less if we worship him or we don’t. So even if God is and he is evil life goes on. One must do what one thinks one must do. I have always chosen to fight evil. So if God is evil I guess that I will be fighting him until he has had enough of me and casts me into oblivion or annihilation. And that is fine with me – as long as I have a choice in the matter.
These arguments can go on endlessly and each individual makes his or her own choice. I chose to believe that the notion of God is impossible. I not only think that the notion of God is impossible I think that most religious explanations and justifications are childishly ridiculous. I am tired of even discussing them. It is time for the human race to move on. But move onto what? What now? If we eliminate God, what is left?
Everything is left. The entire universe is left. The question of how we got here is left. The question of where are we going is left. The question of human self-awareness is left. The question of cognition is left. All the bonds of living things are left. The question of a future after death is left. The only thing that has been cancelled out is an incorrect supposition, a fanciful unfounded mistake, a whole body of tons and tons of misdirected enquiry and false premises.
But this is nothing new; Copernicus and Ptolemy come to mind, along with phlogiston, the aether and many other misguided notions from the past. The centuries of misdirected Ptolemaic enquiry and the stacks and stacks of misinformation have to be discarded. It is time for a new direction - a new intelligent course of enquiry. Religions and their Gods have served to provide the enquiring mind with a vast body of accumulated, cherished and prized incorrect answers to the same, ancient basic questions. What remains are the questions – who, what, where, how and why.
We still ask where we came from. We still ask how the universe spawned cognitive creatures. We can still ask what the purpose of these creatures are. It could very well be that life has no purpose other than what we each give to it. What was the purpose of the dinosaur? To provide future generations of humans with oil so that they could use it to pollute the atmosphere and corrupt the ecological balance of the planet and thus destroy themselves and their civilization? So what if there is no purpose to existence? Does this change the goals of our individual lives? Does this make those who have an urge to succeed no longer want to fulfill that urge? Does it make the writer no longer want to write? Does it make a joke less funny? The realization of a mistake in human thinking only serves to spur on a proper enquiry. So let’s move on, please, for God’s sake let’s move on.
Once we come to the conclusion that there is no God we are then free to once again seek the truth. The fact of life becomes an inevitable and blameless situation. We could blame our parents if we are unhappy, but we don’t really know if they were not to have spawned us that someone or something else would have. If we accept the notion that all matter and energy are interchangeable and eternal, then the case may be that we are and have always been and will continue to be in one form or another for ever and ever. In other words, our parents didn’t have all that much to do with it. Existence is inevitable and permanent.
Now what about our awareness of a particular existence? What about our memory of previous or future existences? What about life? Our bodies turn to dust and our life force rejoins the universe and we are once again anonymous.
A whole new area of discovery and speculation is opened up when we stop accepting false answers to the question of existence. So, as I said, let’s move on. After death we will be aware or we won’t be aware. If we are unaware, then it doesn’t matter. If we are aware then we will be onto a new adventure – and we will have to deal with it, just as we have been forced to deal with this existence. And I am sure each of us will cope. There is no choice in existence. Existence is, it always was and it always will be. What part our present selves will play in future existence is to be discovered. There is no choice. There is only wait and see or don’t see as the case may be.
Richard Edward Noble is a freelance writer and columnist. His local column, the Eastpointer, won the first place 2007 humor award from the Florida Press Association. He has published several books. All of his books can be viewed and purchased on Amazon.com. He can be contacted at 1-850-670-8076 or firstname.lastname@example.org for bookstore discounts and volume sales.