5/20/2019

Disproving Divinity

5/15/2019

I woke up this morning to a dream where someone was asking my why I didn’t believe in their particular god or in human divinity or heaven and hell or any of the usual culprits of human religions. My dream answer was, “For the same reason that I don’t believe in the Easter Bunny, Santa Claus, the Greek gods, magic, Star Bores Force/Farce, or even invading aliens from Mars. It’s silly.” Seriously? Doesn't the whole idea of a La La Land "upstairs" for the good, if incredibly simple-minded and often viciously violent, people who populate all of the world's religions and hell "downstairs" for the non-believers (the people who create the tools we use and the technologies that keep us alive (scientists)) seem like some kind of ridiculous story for gullible children?

Oddly, that wasn’t any more popular a response in my dream than it is in real life. It is, however, exactly how I feel about all things supernatural. Nothing I have ever experienced has convinced me that humans are anything more than an incredibly successful species—like dinosaurs, trilobites, and giant mammals—that will overpopulate its environment, crash against a wall of resources or experience a huge die-off from an environmental disaster, and either disappear or become even dumber and insignificant (like humans were 100,000 years ago). We’re just a well-dressed (some of us, anyway) animal with basic instincts and drives. We're not all idiots, but for all we know there were some brilliant dinosaurs who warned the other dinosaurs that building some kind of shelter from asteroid hits and weather-independent sustainable food source might be a good idea?

An alternative nightmare I've had is that there is a heaven and it is filled with the kind of tripe that passes for believers on earth today. Billions of idiots, all surrounding some giant bearded white man, singing with the kind of awful verve that only arrogant and musically untalented religious people exhibit. A one-stop hell for some and perverse and foolish heaven for others. I see a lot of that sort in rural Minnesota and have been surrounded by them for most of my Midwestern life. When I learned that 54% of my neighbors voted for Trump and 56% for Jason Lewis in 2016, I realized that this place is more than half-stupid. That is not a comforting thought. Stupid people are easily inspired to do stupid things: like buy Trump steaks, enroll in Trump University, buy stock in Trump Hotels and Casinos, and vote for the nation's Biggest Loser when he tells them "I'm gonna make you so rich." When those stupid promises turn to shit, stupid people are always looking for someone else to blame. "Burn the witches!" Imagine eternity filled with billions of that kind of moron. If I'm going to pray for anything, it will be for oblivion after death. I don't need any more stupid. Life on earth, in the middle of in these United States, has given me all of the exposure to stupid I need.

I’m in the early pages of Charles Mann’s The Wizard and the Prophet. So far, it is a fascinating look at the two main perspectives on how humans might survive into the future: environmentalists and technologists. But the early pages are also about how shallow that whole argument is, because humans like all successful species are more likely to self-destruct following Gause’s “S-shaped curve” of population growth and collapse than to fumble into a Star Trek utopian future. No matter what happens to us and the rest of the mammals, birds, and reptiles currently living on this sphere, fungi and bacteri will carry on when we are gone until the sun goes nova.

In general, conservatives, and in specific, Republicans and evangelicals are the gods of unintended consequences. From a biological debate position, Alabama's state government is providing a demonstration to disprove any claim humans might have as a divine or special species with their mindless opposition to abortion and birth control. A biologist would argue, "To avoid destroying itself, the human race would have to do something deeply unnatural, something no other species has ever done or could ever do: constrain its own growth." In banning abortions and fighting birth control, conservatives are behaving like fire ants, zebra mussels, tree snakes in Guam, rabbits in Australia, Burmese pythons in Florida, and bacteria in a Petri dish by breeding until the environment can no longer support the expanding species and causing massive population collapse the old fashioned and natural way. How can you not love that kind of irony? In pretending that their argument has some divine purpose and guidance, these fundamentalists are actually demonstrating how incapable humans are of acting in any extraordinary way to prevent species extinction. In other words, proving that humans are not smart enough to "constrain its own growth."

I, for one, think that is pretty entertaining.

As long as humans, on average and in the majority, insist on behaving like simple animals, I will continue to believe that religions are just silly; at best. At worst, religions are a key part of basic animal instincts that will destroy the species. Being a believer in the idea that many of the things we laugh about would only evoke terrible sorrow otherwise, I’m sticking with laughing at the idea that humans are something special in nature or the universe.I mean how can you not look at illustrations of hell and not be amazed at how gullible, primitive, and ridiculous religious humans can be?

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