Sunday, August 07, 2005

Apikorses in the Air

Godol Hador tackles one of the biggies, the meaning of life. His take:
Seems to me that the basic fact of our existence is incomprehensible, no matter which way you look at it. Scientifically, why and how does anything exist at all? Religiously, what is G-d and why would He create us?

Either way you look at it, it makes no sense to us. The Atheists and the Theists are both faced with the same ultimately unanswerable question: 'why are we here?' There is no difference between having faith that there is some scientific explanation for it all, or having faith that some intelligent moral being created it all. Both are equal attempts at explaining the incomprehensible. Both are equally irrational to our feeble minds. Both require faith.

So which faith should one chose? The faith of Theists, or the faith of the Atheists? Well, the Theists have one important advantage; according to them, life has meaning. And faced with a choice of a meaningless, directionless existence, or a meaningful goal oriented existence, which do you think is the rational choice?
GH's rhetorical question reveals his answer to this question, but I think he is wrong. If one were to fully adopt the scientific view of the world, there are no meaningful questions. The question of why we exist is irrelevant. We exist. Our existence alone does not reveal a purpose or an ultimate goal to that existence.

Naturally, many people do not find this to be a very comforting thought. They are left adrift. How can self-aware people lead a meaningless existence? Surely there is something driving the human experience, some power behind the scenes taking notice of us, rewarding us when we are good, punishing us when we are evil, and protecting us from harm. Our emotions tell us that there must be some purpose to existence and our intellect is only too happy to follow. But how do you create a purpose to your life? How do you connect to the power you so desperately believe is going to notice your brief life? See where this is going?

People find comfort in religion. It is a complete system. It answers all your questions and soothes all your fears. It gives you direction, as well as a moral and legal code to follow. But let's not pretend that it's a rational choice.

NB: This post is a little harsher than usual. Think of it as a Hegelian thesis. I would love nothing more than for someone to present an antithesis.