Nov 17 2012
Blog Post: Real
Let me tell you a story quite fitting for this day. When I was a kid, I was told that God created the Heavens and Earth. It was also explained to me exactly what God's plan was for everything. This seemed to explain my world, that is, everything except science. I tried to believe everyone around me, but there was always a nagging doubt. Why was it that scientists were saying different things than God was? Eventually I decided that there were some really smart people, who made a lot more sense than my parents and religious leaders were making. Instead of shaming me for questioning ideas, they answered my questions and encouraged me to continue thinking.
So, I had then decided there was no reason to believe in any sort of intelligent personal God. At least, I couldn't think of one at the time. I then believed that science was slowly revealing the real world to me. I believed the universe operated under physical laws that were not interfered with by any thinking agent. Up until that point, my life had been filled by constant emotional pain. But then things suddenly began falling into place. For the first time ever, my life began working out in positive ways and I experience moments of actual happiness.
Then, for no reason that I could understand, everything began falling apart. Several years of what, for me, was good luck, suddenly turned into several years of bad luck. Never in my life was there ever a realistic distribution of good and bad events. It was a long period of predominantly constant bad luck, followed by a long period of predominantly constant good luck, followed by a long period of predominantly constant bad luck. It was as if some higher power flipped a switch at two points in my life, a switch that controlled the personality of all other humans. I have never met a person with a similar experience. You may claim to exist, but I still will never meet you. If you repeatedly flip a coin, eventually you will see several heads in a row or several tails in a row. However, if suddenly the coin lands on its thin side, standing upright, fifteen times in a row, you know that something is interfering with the coin. Obviously, you will never believe the coin landed on its side fifteen times in a row, because you didn't experience it. Even if you saw it, you would assume someone was playing a trick on you. But for me, having experienced it, I am forced to search for an explanation.
It is impossible to operate in a world, unless you first create a model of it. But what if you can't create that model? How do you operate in a world that makes no sense? How do you prioritize your actions when the rules are constantly changing? Am I playing some kind of badly designed video game? If not, why does everyone seem like a video game character? Why doesn't anyone have any depth? Why don't any real flesh and blood people ask questions about the universe? Why does every single person I've physically encountered seem incredibly uncomfortable with questioning their worldview? Why are the only people who have ever made any sense to me characters on TV, inaccessible book writers, or mysterious blog writers? Why do all of the actual people I encounter have an unending blank gaze on their face? Why are they only concerned with watching TV, shopping, eating food, and drinking beer? If the problem is with me, if the act of philosophy is a brain defect, then why does everyone pretend to look up to famous philosophers? Why am I deeply compelled to create art from my own experience, when not a single human can relate to my own experience?
For these reasons, I now do not know what to think of the world. I have went from miserable confident theist, to miserable questioning theist, to happy confident naturalist atheist, to miserable questioning agnostic, to just miserable questioning everything. Before every atheist suggests that I return to that viewpoint, please note that although I was happy and successful during that period, I do not have the luxury of simply choosing what to believe. The world is simply what it is, that is, what I remember, and I have to work with that experience. It is clear that someone is behind the scenes, whether it be a god, invisible aliens, an asshole programmer, or something I can't imagine.
So, if the people reading this (you) are actually real people, be thankful that your world is consistent. Be thankful that, while it may be full of randomness, it operates within a framework that remains the same, day after day. Be thankful that your friends are roughly the same people they've always been. Be thankful that the only consistent thing about your immediate family members is not that one of them dies from something extremely rare and usual every few years. Be thankful that the laws of physics remain as just that, laws. Be thankful that your cares, dreams, and ambitions are similar to those of the people around you. Be thankful that there are other humans you can relate to. Be thankful that your world is real. Be thankful that you are real.
So, unless Thanksgiving is no longer celebrated on the third Saturday of November, I would like to end by wishing everyone (real and NPCs alike) a Happy Turkey God Day.
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Wow, that was actually difficult to upload. In case you're wondering, I decided to, instead of trying to relate to all of the people I have clearly lost touch with, to do more comics where I just write whatever is on my mind. Let the ridicule, imperious pity, false congeniality, scathing accusations, running away in terror, and / or deafening silence begin.