I admit it. I am an iconoclast. Or maybe a cynic. Or both. At any rate, these days, there are a whole lot of things that seem so meaningless to me. I like to examine things, make sense of them, and put long-held beliefs and convictions through the bright light of reason and logic. And sometimes-basic common sense. First, there's the government's stupidity and illogical behavior. At home there's homelessness, unemployment, crippling poverty and crime. Yet we lecture other governments and nations about "violations of human rights" when we, right here in America, by neglecting to deal with these human challenges, are guilty of violating these rights.
How can you spend $1 billion a day in an unwinnable war for over 10 years now and have a major meltdown when people ask to raise the minimum wage from the standard pittance of $7.50 per hour to a new pittance of $10 or $15? Does this make any sense whatsoever? Maybe war is big business, after all every bullet, every bomb, and every dead or maimed soldier has to be replaced, so somebody or some organization has to benefit.
We wrap ourselves in the American flag and place our right hand on our left breast every time the national anthem is played to "prove" our patriotism. As if the flag, a piece of cloth with colored stars and stripes, somehow by this act of wrapping like a common shawl, translates into immediate love of country. Then, at every political rally, every sports event, we shout "USA! USA! USA!' as another vocal act of patriotism as if that in and of itself reminds us to reaffirm again and again that our love of country is somehow "different and exceptional" than a Russian or Brit.
We are a superstitious bunch of Homo Sapiens whose daily lives are ordered and controlled by meaningless crap. Our lives are based on all manner of beliefs inculcated in society by organized religion and those who would have us believe that a pagan ritual of smoking incense, and reading from a presumed holy book, is the answer to all of life's daily and mundane challenges. We have set aside an entire day to this historical brainwashing that first debases us and forcing us to accept that we "have fallen short, are worthless, have sinned, and easily tempted."
Tempted by an unseen "Devil" who is in an unending, and just as unseen, war with an unseen God, whom all of "his creations" must bow down and worship, give thanks, pay homage, and genuflect in a just as unending act of egotistical hero-worship imaginable. All of which is meaningless since there is only the promise of forgiveness and immortality -- AFTER YOU DIE and IF you did all of the hero-worship.
But wait, then we are given the answer: repent, pray and go forward on our knees. We're told that we must do the creator's work because that's the "only way to enter heaven." The problem with that is there is no proof or evidence that this even works. If I told you that my pet poodle, Jeff, turns into a demonic werewolf every full moon you would first demand proof or think that I'm a liar or certifiable. But we believe in our priests, bishops, pastors and popes without every asking: how do you know this about Heaven and Hell? And what proof do you have that this works? A miracle is only proven by another miracle -- so, can you holy man and corresponder with your creator, walk on water? If you can't then I have only an unproven, unbelievable allegation.
See what I mean about meaningless things? Aha, you say, so you, Mike Roberts, don't believe in the Holy Bible? I say, which of the 1,480 versions do you believe? And for the record you don't believe "in" -- you either believe or you don't. So my good Christian friend then makes the inevitable religious quantum leap -- So, my boy, you don't believe in God? And I say, that's irrelevant, meaningless, and condescending. And for the record -- I don't believe in Satan the Devil either. Or Santa Claus or the Tooth Fairy.
But, you say, this earth, this life, this world, and the universe MUST have been created by somebody or someone. My answer? Why? Could it not have always existed? Listen man, I believe that SOMBODY just had to create the universe and this life on earth. Weell, what you believe is meaningless AND irrelevant. You could choose to believe that tomorrow morning your bank account would have a billion dollars in it. But we both know that the chances of that happening, even if you genuinely believe that, are zero to nil. There are things called natural laws that are immutable.
We describe these natural laws that take place and exist outside of our influence. For example, Sir Isaac Newton did not invent gravity. It existed independently of his and our influence. He just happened to observe it and gave it a descriptive name. He's dead for many years now and gravity still exists and has not changed. And these laws, descriptive natural laws of nature, exist even if you believe in a creator or not. In fact, you don't have to believe in a universal creator to observe and know these laws.
The difference is prescriptive laws. These are man made. For example, the speed limit laws here in New York are prescriptive laws. Without enforcement there would be no speed limits. If no one came up with speed limits and held people accountable for them they would be meaningless and cease to exist. You see, to debunk these meaningless things I often turn to the philosophical discipline of logic that rests on three (3) basic laws:
1. The Law of Identity -- a rock is a rock and not an apple. Something is what it is and is not what it is not. In short, whatever is, is. You do not need a creator to create gravity -- it just is. Sugar is sugar, salt is salt. You cannot make sugar from salt or vise versa.
2. The Law of Non-Contradiction -- Two opposing statements cannot both be true. So, "this is an apple" and "this is a rock" cannot both be true if the object in both statements is referring to the same thing. In essence therefore, nothing can both be and not be. Sugar can't be sugar today and be salt tomorrow. Sugar is sugar today, tomorrow and tomorrow.
3. The Law of Excluded Middle -- A statement cannot both be true and false at the SAME TIME in the same sense. Ergo, "this is an apple" is either true or false; an object being an apple cannot be both true and false at the same time. In other words, EVERYTHING must either be or not be.
And I did not make up these laws. They are absolute, always true, without exception. But back to beliefs, especially religious beliefs. I'm the first to admit that organized religion does provide millions of people with a sense of purpose and fellowship that is both healthy and commendable. They also sit at the core of many people's cultural identities. However, that does not make or mean that the many claims posited as facts that religions espouse make them meaningful or true. In all reality religion does not assign meaning to an individual's life. Individuals CHOOSE to give their lives meaning through the activities they pursue and the convictions that they hold.
In the end, all of the things, events, happenings and beliefs that millions of people hold today are meaningless if there is no proof. You see, believing in something does not automatically make it true. It does not mater that believing something makes you feel better about yourself and gives your life meaning; if there is no proof to back up and substantiate those beliefs, they cannot act as evidence about the nature of reality and of things in general.
I am told by both friends and foes alike that I must believe in something because they think that my disagreements with them on certain topics constitute non-belief in everything. Nothing could be further from the truth. I believe many things because I can prove them. I believe that science and only science can explain the world and reality. But genuine scientific inquiry arrives at proof after trial and error and constantly and consistently re-evaluating and re-examining long-held beliefs, systems, and convictions. Science has made this world better, destroyed many killer diseases, and continues to advance the human race in leaps and bounds. Science does not need the unproven, unsubstantiated, meaningless statements from the world's array of holy books and codecs to advance and improve human existence.