By Kenneth Justice
~ At coffee yesterday the subject of a recent blog article I wrote about science, purpose, and meaning came up in the conversation,
“Kenneth I read your article and you’re mischaracterizing scientists. Sure, dudes like Dawkins are extremists, but you’ve got to read scientists like Carl Sagen who were good people; Sagen was kind, and calm, and intelligent” said someone sitting at my table.
It’s the dawn of the 21st century, 132 years ago Charles Darwin died and over the course of the next century the various disciplines of science would converge giving birth to new theories never before considered by ancient generations;
—-) The universe is roughly 14 billion years old
—-) The universe came into being from nothing
—-) No god, gods, goddesses or intelligent designers created the universe
—-) You are not special
Okay, so I may have left out a few other scientific theories from the past 100 years, but if we’re going to be honest, with the exception of notable writers like David Hume in the 18th century, it was during the 20th century in which we saw the massive shift in humanity’s belief that the universe came into existence out of nothing and the firmly entrenched concept that there is no special purpose or meaning for the life of a human.
What concerns me is that quite a few notable and influential scientists have been moving toward a radical new position; fundamentalism. Just as religious extremists throughout history attempted to squelch any and all detractors to their ideology, many scientists are blackballing anyone who would dare to question their assumptions, and are treating the findings of science as if they are the very words of the Greek gods.
As I wrote this past week, Scientist Richard Dawkins boldly proclaims, “You are not special!!!” yet I was chastised at various times by people who scoffed, “Kenneth, Dawkins is an extremist, you need to read more level headed scientists”.
So in the spirit of fairness, yesterday I picked up a copy of “Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors” by the famous astronomer, astrophysicist, and writer Carl Sagen. While I’d read things by Sagen in the past I will admit that it’s been a few years, yet as I made my way through each page the same eerie meaningless to life leapt off the pages of Sagen that I hear when I listen to lectures by Dawkins.
Everything you believe is a myth, says Sagen. “A meaningless Universe – has generated fear” he says, and has led humans throughout the past to creating myths to squelch their fear, “yet I will tell you that a meaningless universe shouldn’t make you afraid, but rather it will make you happy” he infers. Throughout the book Sagen reassures the reader that the meaningless of the universe is exciting and beautiful and he then sets forth his own “history” of the universe and of humanity, a history that he has extrapolated by looking at the various evidences in the cosmos.
Is this where scientists are taking us? Wanting to teach our children that their lives are meaningless?
I thought science was all about observation and not about philosophy; yet every scientist who infers that the life is meaningless has gone beyond the reaches of observation and has now inferred their philosophy.
That then is my objection; scientists have overreached their bounds. Too many scientists are masking their own personal philosophies under the cloak of ‘science’.
There are LOTS Of scientists who do NOT believe yours and my life is meaningless; but they are not the figureheads of the various disciplines.
As a philosopher, I am concerned that certain scientists are attempting to hijack philosophy and claim it as their own. I am concerned that they are creating their own myth, that life is meaningless, and that just as the Greeks created mythological heroes like Hercules, scientists are creating their own mythological forces.
Two years ago when I published my first article on The Culture Monk it was always my goal to talk about the deeper issues of life; meaning, purpose, justice, etc. In the backdrop of all my writing is my belief that yours and my life has meaning and I’ve tackled the issue from various perspectives. As I draw near to the completion of my Master’s Degree in philosophy and prepare to begin my doctoral work, I’m still convinced as ever that life is meaningful; there is a purpose to your life……and that’s a good thing.
Okay, you may all go ahead and blast away at how wrong I am, I’m going to order another coffee,
Categories: Culture & Society