Schopenhauer was right: You don’t have to be depressed to be a pessimist

What might a religious person say when asked questions like, a. Who made God? Or, b. Why does God exist?

I’m afraid that I still retain the childish ability to have a panic attack in the middle of the night, when Brian Cox’s head appears in front of my eyes to remind me of the vast expanse of the universe and its meaning to me, a humble, lonely, insignificant accident, whilst employing words like ‘wonder’ and ‘amazing’ in all of their starry-eyed tedium.

I will never know the answer to his questions, and even if I did, it would only spawn further questions. It is an unanswerable question, because:

(1) Either everything has a cause, in which case you disappear into distant spacetime recursively with preceding causes (beginning with ‘God’)

(2) Or there is no such thing as everything having a cause and God is a special exception, in which case that doesn’t make any sense to me so I reject it

(3) I am just making this whole shebang up in my mind, which doesn’t answer anything either but at least I am safe in the knowledge that my only impediment to enlightenment is a lack of knowledge

In any case, I accept the freedom – or indeed my lack of it – in knowing that there cannot be a satisfactory meaning in anything. I fail to see any better world view if you really apply logic (and that’s what we humans are all about, right? Cold, hard logic?)

In fact, I find myself in the unhappy position of Absurdist Overlord: not only do I continue to seek the meaning of the universe in the plain face of the futility of the task, but I return to the same argument out of sheer forgetfulness. I am an inspiration… to myself? It’s a paradox. In any case, the only thing that really sorted out my head when I began to feel overwhelmed by my own existence was this monologue from Hannah and her Sisters.

Alphabetic hero and mountaineer Peter Wessel Zappfe was correct in saying that we are simply over-evolved, as biologists today such as Colin Blakemore would agree; there is no denying that if we weren’t, we wouldn’t be arguing over the meaning of life. Even the evolution of the brain itself happened as a matter of coincidence, serendipity, as I shall discuss later perhaps.

Of course, I know what the religious person would say to my questions (a, b), but naturally this would tell me nothing, prompting me perhaps to ask the question again, perhaps in a louder voice.

But it doesn’t end there. Once one accepts that there is no intrinsic meaning in anything – that all of my heros – godard, riley, or whoever – will disappear amid the raucous culminating disintegration of the universe – that we all turn to nothing in the end… once one accepts that, why do any of us continue to amuse ourselves in this world? I am sure the story would be different if our doom was more immediately impending.


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