Where Are Your Ideals Now?

Whether experiences in life make you believe in a God, proclaim that we can’t know, or restrict yourself to the secular, humanitarian, moving, and charitable — recent events struck a note beyond the lowliest thought you may harbor towards the most ardent Antitheist.

In this brave new world outlined so matter-of-factly, immigrants are no longer welcome to the country built by the hand and brow of immigrants. You are to be assessed before you get the chance, and if approved, to have fewer rights than citizens.

In this stark light, religious belief or the absence thereof shrinks and withers. If you believe America was once the Land of the Free, this is all that is required to understand why the note hits such a sharp dissonant with everything you’ve ever held true in your life.

“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

StatueOfLiberty

What has been true in the lives of humans — even beyond historical record — is that we, all the peoples of the Earth without exception, persistently erect new colossi of those who represent our ideals; the person we strive to be. A neutral outside observer might well conclude the purpose is to lift us all up, to inspire us in life.

Your ideals are where they have always been, in all that is you at this moment.


The night Hitchens dodged the Question

Hitchens brought home a few good points during his life work as a fierce attacker on the side of what some would call militant Atheism (perhaps Antitheism is an apt description at that).

But here, he doesn’t answer. Because he won’t, or can’t? Instead, Hitchens did what Hitchens did: attack.

This is not one of his better moments. With the wisdom of hindsight, he should at least have gone for the “Why do good things happen to bad people?”, instead of another tired repeat of “Why do bad things happen to good people?”.

The fact that bad things happen to good and bad people (quite Agnostically, as it happens) was likely well known Before and After Christ, when tribes will surely have thought of shouting the battle cry of, “Where’s your God now?” as they slaughter the men, rape the women, and pillage the village — in a burst of Free Will, if you will.

Because it’s so basic a thought.

The Inquisitor asked a simple question — and provided context. It was understood clearly as the classic question that Prehistoric Man must have asked, when struck by the same bottomless sorrow in his life that we hope no-one around us will ever experience:

Where, what, or whom do we turn to, in order to find the strength to persevere when we are sad — beyond belief.

Just as the answer to a problem is never a catch-all, so any man-made God is as false a panacea as all the Gods in all the religions you don’t turn to. This is as clear as it has always been, to everyone but Theists.

But my criticism is that the question is valid, and an “Oh, grow up!” answer, or a complete change of topic as here, are equally insincere forms of escapism.

Would the answer, “music and poetry” be mundane? We may instead find that our propensity to create it and turn to it is much more interesting as a question and answer combined.

 


Is there intelligent life in the Universe?

I write the question to include humans, because irony makes you look at yourself, and this will be highly relevant, as you will see.

I like the Closer to Truth interviews, this one perhaps to short to raise expectations, yet I reflect on why Carr appears so strikingly unconvincing here. The take-away is that he brings up the wrong arguments and balances them with other wrong arguments to arrive at a hunch, and this is the nub.

The Drake “equation” and various uniqueness arguments apply less and less as data comes in. This should normally be a sign that something is wrong, yet they’re brought up.

Surely, if we are intelligent and are to speculate and form principles, it should be from data? (Rather than as Drake later admitted, making up factors and multiplying them together. What the factors are doesn’t matter, as long as there are enough of them it will result in a low number, as Carr and Drake well knew.)

The best way for this seizure on our minds to end, and to form the best prediction we could make, is to project the data we have onto our knowledge about the Universe:

  1. We know that it takes a certain number of billions of years for the correct generation of stars to expel the heavier elements needed for Life Chemistry to occur.
  2. We have a measured sample of Earth-like planets defined by just this Chemistry.
  3. We have a sample of 1 as to how long it takes for this Chemistry to evolve Intelligent Life (if we say so ourselves). In this one sample, Intelligent Life survived asteroids and multiple orders, even classes extinctions, and unintelligent world wars.

The reasonable speculation would be to project the data we have, for a low estimate of how many solar systems are as unintelligent as we are – having built no observable structures, having financed no radio beacons into space, and having ventured a measly few kilometers into space. – If anything, the Universe is behaving as expected, “today”.

The natural thought from this, however, is more intriguing.

If we follow the same Universal Chemistry principles that we follow in gathering all of our knowledge about the Universe, the prediction should be that all planets suitable for Life Chemistry have evolved for as long as we have, and is therefore ready to do all the things we expect of ourselves to make ourselves noticed at this star generation age.

So, the natural expectation would rather be that Intelligent Life is roughly where we are on the cosmological clock of chemical reactions, measured by star generations, each on their individual planet, and is as ready to explode onto the scene as we are. On the Cosmological time scale, I think a 100,000 years long explosion could be considered a true explosion.

As for “them” not communicating randomly with everyone, the general answer is, again: “do all the things we expect of ourselves to make ourselves noticed” as per above, but within this answer, there are many more answers.

One such answer could well be that they solved their habitation problems, and simply don’t need to reach out, or expand.