The instinct to understand our world can be traced to the Stone Age, when people told stories about natural events they did not understand. Evolution of the mind indicates we no longer need made-up-stories and can rely on science and critical thinking for our sense of wonder. Although science often fails to feed our need of community, that, too, can be dealt with through thought and action.
The wonder of it all
Regina I love the last paragraph of your post! :) I agree.~Melinda
Regina, I missed your message and just now read it. Fortunately, your fiance and you seem to agree on not believing god exists and I am especially happy to know his daughter has an accepting home where she can bring her friends.
Seeing Hubble photos gives me goose bumps, too, and realizing we are made of the same stuff as the universe makes me feel I am part of a much larger story, not better or worse than, or deserving or not deserving, not entitled to everything and not denied seeing and feeling, I belong right where I am and I am so deeply grateful to be alive and conscious.
There's a quote out there somewhere (which I'm too lazy to look up right now) about us being star-stuff. Basically it states that starts died, which created the elements that our bodies need. It gives me a spine tingle to think that my body is composed of something that is billions of years old.
Yes, it was Lawrence Krauss who talked about stars died so that we could have life.
Carl Sagan: we are made of stars stuff.
Neil deGrasse: we are stardust.
Things that fill me with awe:
my heart pacemaker that keeps my heart pumping and gives me energy to do the things I like to do. My garden that changes every single day and throughout the year, and even from year to year; plants die and others take their place; always with new shapes, colors, textures. My three children that have overcome some incredibly difficult experiences and turned into fine adults, raising beautiful children and grandchildren (that makes me a great-grandmother!) The ways my children have created lives for themselves that are far better than any I could have wished for them. My grandchildren growing up in a technical age and learning how to use them as easily as I use a kitchen knife. My great-grandchildren who give me an opportunity to see the world through their eyes and with their sense of wonder; I love the way they look when they hold earthworms gently and thoughtfully. The way my quadriplegic friend survives year after year with great spirit and intense fun. The way friendships grow and develop over long periods of time, with growing families, changing circumstances, and advancing years. How our neighbors come together as family, watching out for each other, sharing the good days and bad, participating in ways that say, "I love you and care about you!" Watching the seasons come and go; observing changes taking place over the years and making adjustments necessary to adapt to new conditions. Being able to have daily conversations with people from all over the world, sharing ideas, experiences, values, hopes and dreams. Having friends who I have never seen yet feel very close to them and their lives. Exchanging communication with others in different time zones and even in different days. Learning about my family tree that goes to the 1600s and not having to leave my desk, and going to places of my ancestors and trying to imagine their lives, how they coped, realize their challenges. Having celebrations for birthdays, anniversaries, memorials, using the changing seasons as a way to view a lifetime. Having access to information about extreme poverty, hunger, disease, homelessness, joblessness and knowing they are my family. Seeing the devastation that happens to entire ecosystems, such as seeing the Black Forest ravaged by acid rain, or entire agricultural regions overcome by drought, and trying to imagine a way to meet these challenges. Watching storm warnings, such as,"http://chrisallenchallenge.wordpress.com/". Seeing the Earth from the universe, or through the rings of Saturn; http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/cassini/multimedia/pia08324.html. Seeing Mars landscape from Rover: http://spaceplace.nasa.gov/gallery-solar-system/en/.
Of course there are all the internal events taking place within my aging body, noticing failing eye sight and hearing, the aches and pains of joints, a back that doesn't like to work as hard, hair that is white and skin that has extra rolls and paunches, toenails that seem to get too thick to cut, even as each morning begins with a great joy and gratitude of having yet another day, and going to sleep each night just dog tired and sleeping with the sleep of the innocent.
Living a Splendid Heresy.
I read your marvelous words and I feel happy for you. Your outlook, your insight, your attitude all indicate someone who is at peace with their place in life. You can't buy that.
I was initially drawn to this thread by the title. It is something I have been thinking about. We are unlike the "other team" in that I believe we tend to be more independent in our thinking. Maybe we tend to even be a little rebellious. They can get together and surrender to "group think" and feel all warm and fuzzy about how they all share the same belief and will be "saved." We have a more heroic path and in my estimation a more noble one because we face our mortality without safety nets or crutches. We are a minority that follows the truth of science despite the criticism and risk of being ostracized. But I think your premise is well taken. We still enjoy being validated by the thought that there are others that share our perception of things. So while we have strong urges to be independent and go it alone, we still have some yearning for a community to share our feelings with. I'm no anthropologist but I suspect it is a survival mechanism that is hard-wired into our genes to encourage cooperative effort. Actually I think we are just a more evolved segment of the species. One less prone to superstition and blindly accepting what we are told. One that can be more independent because of the advances of science and a better understanding of psychology and philosophy. There in lies the rub. We are a bunch of independent thinkers that celebrates our freedom from the mob but we still want a community, even if it is a very loosely formed one. We independent rebels don't willingly subject ourselves to the tyranny of any religion.
I hope that makes some sense.
Geoff, you make perfect sense and your response resonates with my life-strings. I especially like your discussion of independence in community, not being led by dogma or superstition but by thoughtful rebellion. You write powerfully and with a sense of compassion. Thank you for sharing.
Let me just say that it is nice to interact with people that are thoughtful and stimulating. People that I can respect for their courage and brains. I just recently joined this community because of the nonsense going on in the political arena. I felt like I had to stand up and be counted. When I was quite young I took the stance that since I could never really know the answers to religious questions, I wasn't going to waste my time thinking about them. Now I am older and these issues have taken on some importance, especially when I think about what is at stake for our society. As an added benefit, I just enjoy reading some of the things you folks are thinking.
Geoff, the world is in such turmoil; changes of all kinds are taking place. My understanding of current events is that we are coming to an end of an era and entering a new one. The changes create conflict, and distrust.
I interpret the world by trying to imagine what life would have been like in the Stone Age, when individuals had little power against the elements and found comfort and strength in numbers. These people noticed patterns, probably seeing clouds and then rain or snow and they created stories to explain such events. They saw wild animals and figured out how to survive against greater strength, noticed patterns and told stories explaining their experiences and feelings. I can even imagine they felt different feelings toward others, and experienced sexual attraction; in the natural order of things, babies were born and I imagine they had special feelings, after all, even a cat or dog has special reactions to their babies. The Stone Age ended, not because they ran out of stones, but because they developed the ability to create and use tools.
Thus, the Tool Age emerged. Ancient stories, told and retold became dogma, litany, rules, and expectations of appropriate and inappropriate behaviors.
Somewhere along the line a god figure entered the conscienceness and over eons of time the stories grew. Kingdoms came and went and families gathered into clans and tribes, and large communities and social structures became formalized.
Somewhere along this line came the Bronze Age, and the Agricultural Age, the Machine Age, the Ball-bearing Age, the Age of Reason, not necessarily in that order. The Age of Electricity came along, then Nuclear Age.
Now we are on the cutting edge of a new age that is almost like the planet has a neurological connectedness, an Age of Interconnectedness with the computer being the energy that facilitates its development. We don't have laws or codes, or protocols for this new way of being. Suddenly, with the failure of all past political systems: communism, socialism, capitalism failing, and with national boundaries complicating relationships, and with the clashes of classes, the have's and have not's struggling to find ways to feed and care for all the people of the planet when machines are doing a very large proportion of the labor, the gap between hungry and well fed is growing.
What are the rules of conduct? How do we manage the differences of people who believe in a god or gods and those who do not believe god/s exist? Some believe government is to protects property while others believe it is to protect people. Some believe they have the right to the goods and services of the earth because of who they are or where they were born or how they conduct their lives and that others are created to serve them. Others believe each human being is entitled to opportunity and has a right to living wages for work rendered.
Conflicts! Disagreements! Different values! Different views of the purpose of life.
I don't know how others feel, but I feel I am made of the same stuff as the stars, that I am created and have a conscious mind and a sense of conscience and am sovereign. I am servant to no other and no other is to serve me. I am created to participate in life, so are you, and so is each human being, not to have dominion over all that swim, crawl and fly or over water, soils and air. The issue is not dominion but participation.
I love your beautiful writing Joan!~ Melinda
Melinda, thank you for your kind words. I like exchange of ideas.