Saturday, January 21, 2012

Evolution Helps Those Who Help Themselves

One of my obnoxious friends on Facebook passed along the above motto today. My comment: "That's exactly what I'm worried about." That is, I'm worried that there's Someone up there stirring up the earthquakes, tsunamis, and volcanic eruptions; inventing new and more lethal plagues; and guiding the predator drones to their young targets, and that's "how it's meant to be."

This is, as I've said before, a matter of temperament. I would prefer that no one and nothing is in charge of the universe, rather than that Someone is in charge, doing all these things. The more optimistic possibility is that They are sitting up there, watching everything that happens, and doing nothing; the more pessimistic option is that They are actively involved. But either way, as Terry Pratchett put it while in his cups, we are in the hands of a madman, and being an atheist is no help at all. If a fly could say "I don't believe in you!" to the kid pulling its wings off, what difference would it make?

But then, neither is being a religious believer, whether a fundamentalist Christian, a Wiccan, a Roman Catholic, a Hindu, a Muslim, a Jew, a Buddhist, or a processor of New Age / therapeutic sludge. It may well be that the Supreme Being, whatever it is, has a reason for letting you die slowly and in agony of cancer, diabetes, or emphysema, that your helpless writhing is "how it's meant to be." So was the Final Solution. As a human being and a moral agent, however, I don't see any reason why I'm bound to assent to it, or why I should trust people who do.