Gregory Hammer Professor Vara College Writing 101 At Buffalo State College March 2012
I’m Not Entirely Sure "What I Believe"
I had a difficult time trying to find the appropriate words to accurately describe what it is exactly that I believe. In a way, I feel that there are no words to truly describe how I feel because words, like everything else in the human experience, are ultimately defined by us individually. Our interpretation of the world we currently occupy and the words that we have created to describe it are limited by our own minds' ability to understand them. Take the word “empathy” for example; in my mind this is an impossible concept. A human being can only experience life and its associated emotions from one point of view, namely our own. You can relate the pain or misfortune of another to a similar event in your own life. However, you can never truly know what that person is feeling because you cannot become them. I feel that this limitation in our abilities has created a sort of separation anxiety among all people, and this void in all of our lives has created the seemingly infinite misunderstandings, arguments, conflicts, fights and wars that have plagued humankind since its infancy. I do not know what I “should” believe, perhaps nothing at all, leaving the rest of my life open to consider any and all possibilities.
As a species, humans seem to have an insatiable yearning for many things including knowledge, connection, acceptance, and having a belief in something greater than all of us. These yearnings have led us to question our true origins, our purpose here, and our destiny. We seek meaning in all things which causes us to seek out and recognize patterns everywhere we look. This is especially true when the patterns emerge in a form that seems to reflect human characteristics, or those of important human beliefs. We constantly recognize patterns resembling human faces in random places ranging from wood grain or clouds, to stars in the heavens. Sometimes people even see their Savior on a burnt grilled cheese sandwich or His mother in a stain on a window.
Think for a moment about the possibility that the universe is alive in the same sense that you are alive, that it, like any other living thing, is an organism. It came into existence without knowing what it was or where it came from. It did not know who created it or what it should do as a new creation. Unlike us however, the universe did not have parents to raise and care for it or teach it how to be a universe. So, being the intelligent, creative individual that it was, the universe decided to create various forms of matter and energy, and space-time for them to exist in. Then it made what we know as the laws of physics to govern the activities and interactions of the various particles that had just been created, breathing into them the same life energy that had been passed to the universe at its inception. It was at this point that the universe began to expand with the hope that, by extending itself, it might eventually evolve to a point where it could figure out the answers to the great questions of where it had come from and what its purpose is. It should be noted that the universe made a second decision at this point. No further interaction with previously discussed matter and energy should take place unless absolutely necessary. This action was taken as a means to prevent the total annihilation of the newly created time and space and, ultimately, the universe itself. Probably a wise choice.
This decision would come to serve as a self preservation clause within the rules of the universe. It simultaneously allowed for the development of free will among the plethora of life forms that would develop in the following eons. After billions of years, the first stars were born. They shone brightly for many ages, eventually collapsing to form new stars, planets, galaxies, and moons. After a few billion more years, life, as we have attempted to define it, emerged on at least one of these trillions of planets. It began simply, and over time became infinitely more complex. This led to the eventual rise of intelligence and, later, consciousness in these new life forms. It appeared, at least at first glance, that only one of these life forms evolved enough to develop its own personal consciousness. In becoming self-aware, humans realized that they existed as individual entities; separate from all other forms of life or “non-life” and even separate, most importantly, from other conscious beings.
This newly obtained awareness came with great responsibility as well as great anxiety. This was caused not only from each individual realizing their own apparent separation from all other living things that were not it, but also in the acknowledgement of the existence of death.
Realizing that we are, in fact, here and alive, and knowing that we will eventually die and be nowhere, was terrifying to us. This new death anxiety drove us mad, feeling that as we became more aware of time and mortality that our lives became ever shorter, which left less time for us to make a personal impact on the world. At this point, we collectively decided to try anyway the only way we knew how. We created something that would live on long after we died so as to have an eternal lasting impact on future generations. This is known today as culture. Culture has taken many forms; some are exciting, loving, and vibrant, while others are chaotic, sinister, and destructive.
Around this same time, religion was beginning to develop as a means of explaining who it was that created us and how best we should serve that creator’s interests. In an attempt to help people connect once again with the universe, religion seems to have backfired and instead helped to distance us even further from the universe and from each other. We wanted so desperately to connect with something like ourselves, something intelligent and self-aware, that we created gods. In doing so, we seem to have gotten a little carried away with our understanding of what these gods ought to be like. We attributed to them the abilities of all knowledge and power, and even eternal life. Perhaps when mankind created God we saw in Him all the things we wished that we could have. We created an entity with all the answers, that lives forever, and does not need to worry about anything, and then we simply labeled it “God.”
We did not know at the time that our decision to create God was actually putting up a severe roadblock on mankind’s path towards possibly achieving these attributes for ourselves. By creating God in this way, humans limit themselves by no longer trying to obtain infinite wisdom, but rather, just accepting that there is some life form out there that already has it and, therefore, we cannot have it for ourselves. Instead of the pursuit of knowledge, we pursue trivial things like which god is the right one, which philosophy is correct, and what should happen to those who choose incorrectly. Ironically, many people see religion as something which enhances and gives meaning to life, however, I see religion as something dangerous that takes beauty and wonder out of life and replaces it with false hope and fear.
For those who choose the “correct god” and live their entire life according to the rules and regulations thereof, they are promised a paradise of eternal bliss. For those who do not choose correctly, or stray from the path, they are guaranteed an afterlife of never-ending torment, pain and sorrow. The idea of an afterlife, however tempting it may be to consider, seems, ultimately, to have negative effects on the currently living. It only serves to enhance the preexisting death anxiety by taking away a belief in the value of the life that one currently has. It creates within us a feeling that the decisions we make in life only truly matter at the moment when we are no longer living. So in a sense, we are all living to die, and yet, deep down, we are all dying to truly live.
What we should be doing is enjoying the short time that we have been given. We should be working together to try to learn from each other all that we can so that we may teach others in the future. We should be striving to accomplish the most difficult goals of overcoming our differences and realizing how similar we all are. We seem to have been created by some yet unseen force, and we have a capacity for beautiful creation as well as devastating destruction, but ultimately, it is our own decision. We do not yet know our true purpose here, or if mankind has some great destiny to explore into the farthest stretches of the cosmos spreading the knowledge that we have gained.
The great truth is that our self-awareness is a barrier at first. We can only begin to overcome this when we consciously realize that we are the same material as all other particles, and that we are made of the same energy as the rest of the entire universe. We are not separate, but infinitely interconnected. We are all part of the same organism. A twentieth century philosopher said it in a way that I cannot yet match.
“The human eye is a lens, through which the universe looks at itself.”
Please, if anyone has actually read this far down and is still interested enough eager to take action. Let me know what you think of this paper in the comments. If the comments section is not working, then please send me an email here [email protected] and let me know. I would love to hear everyone's thoughts on this, the website, the band Meatty Okra, or The Meatty Okra Project as a whole and our goal to create a Non Profit Recording Studio!
My name is Greg. I am the creator of this whole project. You can think of me as the Tyler Durden of The Meatty Okra Project. The first rule of The Meatty Okra Project is that there are no rules. The second rule of The Meatty Okra Project is, see rule #1.