Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The Meaning of Life

The city's best blogger, Greg at Deaths Door, had a great meditation on god, the universe and everything. He asked the age old question:

"why does [God] let bad things happen to good people."

People have been trying to answer that question, or a form of it, for thousands of years. But I submit that it's the wrong question. My question is why don't more bad things happen to everyone?

The way I see it, if a God saved everyone from every bad thing that ever happened, we'd become a super dependent. We'd be no better than cattle, like some kind of cosmic welfare case.

The great prophet Bender had an epiphany about this very subject in an episode Futurama where he actually met god in the center of the universe.
The exchange went something like this:
Bender: Y'know, I was God once.

God: Yes I saw. You were doing well until everyone died.

Bender: It was awful. I tried helping them. I tried not helping them but in the end I couldn't do them any good. Do you think what I did was wrong?

God: Right and wrong are just words. What matters is what you do.

Bender: Yeah I know, that's why I asked if what I did - forget it.

God: Bender, being God isn't easy, if you do too much, people get dependent. And if you do nothing, they lose hope. You have to use a light touch, like a safe cracker or a pickpocket.

Bender: Or a guy who burns down the bar for the insurance money.

God: Yes, if you make it look like an electrical thing. When you do things right, people won't be sure you've done anything at all.
Good point. And besides, who wants to have everything taken care of? Sure, death and tragedy are painful (that's why they're not called 'joy' and 'happiness'), but they are the contrast to all of the good things in life.

Look, I've got a bottle of a 1997 Brunello in my cellar that I've been waiting years to drink. I'm totally excited about it. I haven't decided when to drink it, but when I do, it's going to be an amazing experience. Do you think I'd be this stoked if I came home every night to a glass of this wonderful elixir?

Maybe, who knows. The point is life is tragic and nobody gets out of it alive. But it's also a gift. If you can get through the bad stuff (which I think is what God is for) you can learn to enjoy all of the Brunello (metaphorically speaking).

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  1. What continually puzzles me is peoples insistance that life needs to have a meaning. That there has to be a reason for everything that happens.

    I just can't subscribe to that view.

    I am perfectly OK with the idea that we are essentially amoeba cast adrift in life's primordial soup to live, reproduce and die on our own.

    Bad things happen to good people. Good things happen to bad people.

    It's a random, chaotic universe so you better watch your ass and do the best you can.

    I think that makes life, and the good things that happen, even more precious.

    emaw - Don't sit on the Brunello. Open it up, decant it, let it breath, then share it with your family. Tell them you love them. Toast their health.

    Enjoy what you have, while you have it.

    You can always buy another Brunello. A loving family is priceless.


  2. XO,

    I agree with you to a point. I don't think every event has to have a deep meaning. Sometimes a car crash is just a tragedy for everyone to deal with (although I do think there are profound lessons to be learned from tragic events).

    But I do think there is some higher purpose to human life. I think there is a difference between homo sapiens and your typical garden variety amoeba. For one thing, I don't think an amoeba is capable of enjoying that bottle of wine the same way I am.

  3. "although I do think there are profound lessons to be learned from tragic events"

    I can agree with that. However I don't feel that it is the purpose of tragic events to teach us things. I don't think tragic events have a purpose. That's what makes them tragic. But we can learn lessons about ourselves by how we respond to those events.

    As far as us having a "higher purpose", I don't know. Sounds suspiciously like you think we are destined for something, possibly by some higher power. I can't buy that. I would agree that our self awareness and our understanding of the world around us makes us different from most critters (as far as we know). But I think any purpose or destiny we may have is up to us.

  4. By whose definition is a person "good."

    And why is it that God is the first place people turn to administer blame, yet give him praises when something good happens?

    If you're going to believe in God, let's be fair; in the Christian belief there is another force at work (lucifer, satan, et al) and he has no love for you.


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