There is very probably no pre-ordained purpose to human existence at all. In fact, we should only use the word, probably out of deference to the principle of scientific scepticism. On a day to day basis we should have absolutely no truck with any manner of primitive obscurantist superstitions that pass for modern day religious belief. The word probably does not come into the equation.

The world is round and orbits the sun and was formed some 5 billion years ago. It is part of a much, much larger universe which exploded into physical being some 13.7 billion years ago. We can actually measure the radiation from that explosion today! The Earth is not flat, neither is it at the centre of the universe, as the self-appointed high priests tried to dictate for centuries. Nor was the Earth formed twelve thousand years ago, in six days, by an omniscient creator, whereby dinosaurs and humans wandered around together in some imagined Garden of Eden; a ludicrous and childlike concept that our modern high priests are still labouring to sell us. There are no prophets from god, nor sons of god because there are no gods, other than those created by highly manipulative people to fill the minds of primitive and frightened people.

 

We do not know everything about our universe  far from it, but science is science and its central tenets can be measured and verified. Superstition is superstition, its principle purpose always being that of social control. The two should never be confused.

As for life on planet Earth  that was a mere chance happening, an accident waiting to happen. Though given the enormity of time and space in an expanding universe it was probably, paradoxically, an inevitable accident. If there are, as the latest mathematical models suggest, some two hundred billion stars in our own galaxy, and, if those same mathematical models are correct and there are some two hundred billion galaxies in the universe, then the mathematical probability of living, replicating cells emerging somewhere in the universe over the endless millennia are extremely high. You might go as far as to say that life in the universe is mathematically inevitable and we humans are almost certainly, mathematically speaking, not alone.

But to accept the inevitability of life should not be confused with some preordained purpose. Notwithstanding the strong biological urge to survive and procreate, life, we must assume, is devoid of any purpose, god-sent or otherwise. That is a sobering realisation because, as the only fully conscious species, the only one (that we presently know of) that is aware of its own mortality, we are left to construct our own purpose to our existence, forced to fill the ever present existential void. This might be considered both a blessing and a curse. This is the essence of the human condition.

Creating gods and creation stories has largely sufficed up to now, but with the exponential growth in our scientific understanding, and the corresponding erosion of the power of religious fantasies, we are increasingly left to our own devices.

What have we come up with to date? It is not a particularly edifying picture. Mass, mindless consumerism in the new shopping cathedrals; a ubiquitous celebrity culture permeating all aspects of daily life; pornography on tap; gambling on every conceivable event; drugs, legal and illicit, to dull the pain; tribalism in the form of national, racial and religious bigotry; a preoccupation with self enrichment at the expense of the general community. And of course, the greatest tribal opiate of them all; globalised, corporate sport.

Have these new opiates worked? Are we more or less happy now than life under the stultifying feudal dictates of imams and rabbis, priests and popes? These are unanswerable questions because happiness is an entirely subjective and momentary concept that cannot be measured, let alone compared.

The trouble with our modern day opiates, chemical or cultural, is that you need an ever increasing dose in order to get your hit. More of everything; more things and more wealth, more drugs, more booze, more pills; and ever more and explicit pornography. Little wonder that mental illness, depression, alcoholism, eating disorders, anti-social behaviour are all at epidemic levels.

Into this cauldron of community disfunction, alienation and despair, the Tory government steps up and says it wants to measure our happiness levels along with the usual GDP and other economic indices. This, from a government that seeks to make the general population pay for the reckless actions of the bankers and the criminal machinations of casino style capitalism. One thing is for sure; at the end of this particular capitalist crisis, the gap between the wealthy and the general population will have increased. This gap widened under the Labour government and is set to escalate under the present regime. All talk of a fairer society and us all being in it together is government hogwash and does not stand up to the slightest of statistical scrutiny.

What is equally sure is that if you have your income reduced, lose your job or are in perpetual fear of losing your job, the chance of you finding any form of contentment is dramatically reduced. Let the 20 millionaires that make up the present Tory frontbench try living for a month on poverty wages or no wages at all. Let them taste the daily grind of paying bills that just keep on coming and keep on rising. Let them experience the daily economic insecurity that saps the human spirit as surely as any life threatening disease. They who were born into privilege, will not and cannot know what it is to have one's life chances limited by a life time of economic insecurity. They just will never know.

If there is no preordained purpose to life, then there is certainly a continual narrative. It is one of humans seeking to overcome natural and man-made scarcity and to establish some kind of collective material abundance. With material abundance comes a chance to ponder, to philosophise, to contemplate the wonders of the universe  its vastness, its diversity, its scientific laws. But only when the basic needs of humans, all humans, have been reached and secured can we engage in that noblest of regimes; every person a worker, every person a philosopher, every person a poet!

Only with material abundance will the natural and never-ending dialectical tension between collective responsibility and individual yearnings assume a more rational equilibrium.

And if the universe is too large to contemplate then there is more than enough wonder on our own little planet. No need for gods and priests and pills to give us happiness. No need to clutter our lives with useless things - commodities that have become far removed from human value. And we certainly don't need old Etonians, bastions of privilege, lecturing us about GDP and happiness. We simple demand an adequate and equal share of the worlds abundant resources and we can do the rest for ourselves. As Richard Dawkins might say, we are all part of the Greatest Show on Earth. We only require the economic security that would give us the time to enjoy it.

End JPK Copyright 21/11/10

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Last Updated ( Sunday, 27 May 2018 11:59 )