Discussions

The utter indifference of the Universe to human suffering - and what to do about it

Posted Aug. 20, 2014 by NoetPoet in Open

commented on Sept. 18, 2014
by frequencytuner

Quote

53

Those of you who follow the news might have heard the terrible story about what happened to American journalist James Foley. Here is a man who was just doing his job, earning a living and not harming anyone, and a bunch of religious ratbag nutjobs beheaded him on camera just so they could antagonise the West and score brownie points with their bloodthirsty psychopath of a god.

As I was watching part of the statement James' parents and brother gave to the media about this atrocity, two things struck me:

1) Jame's father saying, through tears, that his son was "with God now" and "in heaven". I understand that the man needed to tell himself such things in order to cope with the sort of horrific grief that NO ONE ANYWHERE should EVER have to go through. But at the same it filled me with outrage and despair, because this is same sort of unreasonable magical thinking that compelled those savages to behead James in the first place.

2) In the midst of James' father's speech, James' brother's phone went off with one of those silly frivolous sounding ring-tones that are ubiquitous in this era of Smart Phones. This to me was a powerful demonstration of how the Universe doesn't give a DAMN about human suffering, feeling, or beliefs. Reality is utterly INDIFFERENT to us and our fates.

So where to go from here? Once we grow up and face up to our true place in the grand scheme of things, a place of such harrowing insignificance, how then to proceed?

Perhaps we should proceed like this: perhaps we should acknowledge that human life and human happiness is precious to US, to ALL OF US, and that if the Universe itself doesn't give a damn about our well-being then it's up to us to do so. Perhaps we should strive to make life on this tiny gleaming blue planet, suspended as it is in an immense dark cold void, as pleasant as possible for as many as possible. And at the same time, we should appreciate the silver lining of this Universal indifference, which is that it gives us the *freedom* to shape our own destiny and to define our own purpose and significance.

Your reasonable and constructive thoughts on the merit of these ideas, or on how to go about acheiving them, are most welcome....

  • 53 Comments  
  • frequencytuner Sep 18, 2014

    In Taoism there is a concept known as wu wei. This is the wave that divides yin from yang. It is that point in the middle that is always there, like a gyro. The paradox of existence is exactly as you have said, the only thing that never changes is the concept of perpetual change itself. So change never changes. We exhale carbon dioxide and trees exhale oxygen. We depend on them to live. This fact remains constant while the values of oxygen and carbon are in constant flux. Eliminate trees from earth: we would die.

  • NoetPoet Sep 18, 2014

    "Harmony is a state of balance. Harmony is nothing in excess and nothing lacking."

    That's a very vague definition. When is this ever actually the case? Things are constantly in a state of flux, things are constantly undergoing creative destruction. Even what we call "dynamic equilibrium" is actually a continual tug-of-war between excess and lack. The Boxing Day tsunami of 2006 could be regarded the result of as a restoration of the "harmony" of tectonic forces in the Earth's crust, yet this act of "harmonisation" killed hundreds of thousands of people.

  • frequencytuner Sep 18, 2014

    What to do about it. The answer we all know but refuse to accept.

  • frequencytuner Sep 18, 2014

    You cannot control the tides but you must learn to ride the waves.

  • frequencytuner Sep 18, 2014

    Humanity has lost it's way. Consequences are inevitable

  • frequencytuner Sep 18, 2014

    Harmony is a state of balance. Harmony is nothing in excess and nothing lacking.

  • NoetPoet Sep 18, 2014

    "Nature will always restore it's harmony."

    Define "harmony". Nature's 'ideas' about how to restore "harmony" are not necessarily going to coincide with human interests...

  • frequencytuner Sep 18, 2014

    Typo 1+1=2-2.

  • frequencytuner Sep 18, 2014

    Newton discovered that what goes up must come down. The laws of nature are irrefutable, exacting and unchangeable. If anything violates these laws a natural consequence is sure to follow. Nature will always restore it's harmony. Any process or action that is not within the bounds of this universal harmony will be equally and opposingly corrected. Refuse to accept this or deny it or try to prove it otherwise will result in failure. 1-1+1=2-2.

  • Anonymous Icon

    dustproduction Sep 13, 2014

    Re: Religion will never end because in the end people are still having religious experiences (70% of people have at least one in their lifetime), and they need an explanation for them.

    Please provide a reference or source for this claim.

  • NoetPoet Sep 12, 2014

    "Just a note: MANY religions (especially Judaism, just for one example) teach that we need to be "the aware eyes and caring hands" of the universe."

    Well it certainly doesn't come through in the way they treat others, whether it's the various enemies they slaughter on behalf of Yahweh in the OT or the way they treat Palestinians today! I put it to you that if there really is any such teaching in religion, it is effectively nullified by the demands of their invisible friends and the ridiculous notion that this life is just a rehearsal for some imaginary afterlife.

    "Christianity has been much distorted, but at the core of the New Testament (for another example) the overall message and teaching by example in the life of Christ is "to love others and we would love to be loved" (a paraphrase of a more frequently used quote)."

    Christianity is nothing *but* distortion. It is an awkward hybrid of Judaism and Hellenistic philosophy, and it's holy book was assembled by a committee. Jesus also says decidedly less flowery things about coming to divide families bringing fire and a sword, things which liberal Christians tend to quietly ignore. My question is: why bother with the effort of cherry-picking at all? Why waste the time and energy? We might as well recognise it for what it really is - a great big mass of contradictions derived from the worldviews of a bygone ancient world - and discard it.

    "In Buddhism there is the Bodhisattva."

    Who's goal is to help as many people as possible escape this inherently and irreparably broken world. Not exactly the same as helping to make this world a better place...

  • Anonymous Icon

    different Sep 12, 2014

    I agree with you Listening.

    Noet Poet- Look, I seriously have no idea what the universe is like- still figuring it out for myself. I have rejected multiple religions and I'm as horrified as you are that such cruelty takes place on the earth.

    I think the root of all horrors is injustice. You need the anger and outrage to stop injustice. It is that anger and outrage that gets out of hand and does horrifying things and creates more injustice, and more atrocities.

    Think about magical thinking and the horrifying things it leads to. Think about how angry magical thinking makes you. How angry the leaders and proponents or magical thinking make you. Now think about what you would do about it if you had the political power. Think about the lengths you'd be willing to go to to rid the world of this evil.

    People will stop at nothing to get rid of evil. Which leads to them doing evil themselves. Especially if someone gives them permission. That's what humans are like.

  • Anonymous Icon

    listening Sep 12, 2014

    typo..."to love others as we would want to be loved"

  • Anonymous Icon

    listening Sep 12, 2014

    Just a note: MANY religions (especially Judaism, just for one example) teach that we need to be "the aware eyes and caring hands" of the universe. Christianity has been much distorted, but at the core of the New Testament (for another example) the overall message and teaching by example in the life of Christ is "to love others and we would love to be loved" (a paraphrase of a more frequently used quote). In Buddhism there is the Bodhisattva. Enough examples. And a current movement both social and political has a slogan which basically makes the point, "We need to be the change we seek, to create the world we want to live in". These are perspectives that suggest personal responsibility and activity. The point is that to the extent we put in our personal contribution--"The universe cares"--we are its representatives.

  • NoetPoet Sep 11, 2014

    "Ironically, that is what religions are trying to get people to do. The Sermon on the Mount basically says-" The world is broken. Go fix it!" So do all the other religions of the world."

    I think you might need to go and revisit what those religions actually say about this matter. Buddhism says that the world is broken beyond repair and needs to be abandoned. Hinduism says that the world goes through cycles of moral and spiritual decay which are as inevitable as day and night. Christianity and Islam both see this world as a realm of sin which is ultimately destined to be destroyed on Judgement Day. And Judaism is really nothing more than a tribal survival manual which assumes that conflict and suffering are an inherent part of the world.

    "However they do say that the universe cares, otherwise, what's our motivation?"

    That's my whole point. Our motivation is that WE care about our well-being!

    "Besides, sometimes It does care. There are miracles, after all."

    No it doesn't, and there aren't. Sometimes luck goes with you, sometimes it goes against you. Besides if the universe only cares "sometimes", how is this meaningfully different from saying that it is random and unconcerned with human affairs?

  • Anonymous Icon

    different Sep 11, 2014

    "Perhaps we should proceed like this: perhaps we should acknowledge that human life and human happiness is precious to US, to ALL OF US, and that if the Universe itself doesn't give a damn about our well-being then it's up to us to do so. Perhaps we should strive to make life on this tiny gleaming blue planet, suspended as it is in an immense dark cold void, as pleasant as possible for as many as possible."

    Ironically, that is what religions are trying to get people to do. The Sermon on the Mount basically says-" The world is broken. Go fix it!" So do all the other religions of the world. However they do say that the universe cares, otherwise, what's our motivation?

    As for the father- he needs to believe the Universe cares. Maybe on some level we all do. Besides, sometimes It does care. There are miracles, after all. Just because the universe doesn't act the way the religions say (or we say) it should doesn't mean it doesn't play a part.
    There's no way of knowing for sure in the end.

    Religion will never end because in the end people are still having religious experiences (70% of people have at least one in their lifetime), and they need an explanation for them.

  • Anonymous Icon

    SufferingServant Aug 23, 2014

    And yes I do believe and actually figured that one out when I did a report on 911 in high school. Didn't ever talk about it again though because the teacher was hard core offended.

  • Anonymous Icon

    SufferingServant Aug 23, 2014

    Er, dammit. Autocorrect.

  • Anonymous Icon

    dustproduction Aug 23, 2014

    (* L * )
    0

  • Anonymous Icon

    dustproduction Aug 23, 2014

    Re: "As dust said earlier, Murphys law "

    ( *j * ) LOL-hahahahaha LOL IT"S WAS "MOORE'S LAW"
    =

  • NoetPoet Aug 23, 2014

    if you actually believe that crap then you're even dumber than I thought

  • Anonymous Icon

    SufferingServant Aug 23, 2014

    As dust said earlier, Murphys law - plus newton's law "for every action there is an equal an opposite reaction".

    They are reacting to our actions.

  • Anonymous Icon

    SufferingServant Aug 23, 2014

    I don't think Muslims fundamentally hate other religions (most of them) - perhaps that hate false-teachings.

    The only 'solution' is for everyone to be right, no?

  • NoetPoet Aug 23, 2014

    Because they want to establish an Islamic caliphate, and a great way to rally more Muslims and JIhadi warriors in particular to their cause would be to have "Great Satan" become extensively involved in the conflict so as to unite Muslims against a common enemy.

  • Anonymous Icon

    SufferingServant Aug 23, 2014

    "I'd say it's a good possibility"

    That would be completely ignorant for them to be motivated in doing so. Perhaps they are taking an extreme action in reaction to extreme actions being used against them. Fighting fire with fire.

    Which I disagree with, but American Government tries to dominate the people they disagree with, and use 'tricks' to get the job done while pretending 'we' don't.

    Why do you think it's a good possibility?

  • NoetPoet Aug 23, 2014

    "Do you propose they want to piss us off so we attack them harder?"

    I'd say it's a good possibility.

  • Anonymous Icon

    SufferingServant Aug 22, 2014

    @Noet

    Why do you propose they are doing a public execution to begin with? What would motivate them?

    Do you propose they want to piss us off so we attack them harder?

  • NoetPoet Aug 21, 2014

    Your reasonable and constructive thoughts on the merit of these ideas, or on how to go about acheiving them, are most welcome. Otherwise go talk about off-topic matters elsewhere

  • Anonymous Icon

    SufferingServant Aug 21, 2014

    @dust - I'm not one to talk about what I'm not sure of.
    @noet - there are religious exemptions to the illegality of its use. And I recommend you watch 'DMT - the spirit molecule' - it literally merges your subconscious into your consciousness.

    Besides, if DMT is illegal to possess we're all in violation - it is naturally occurring in our bodies

  • NoetPoet Aug 21, 2014

    @SS
    "Noet, you should consider trying one of the drugs such as DMT"

    And you should consider not telling others take powerful illegal hallucinogens, especially when you admit that you have never even taken them yourself. A lesser person might say you were talking out of your arse...

  • Anonymous Icon

    dustproduction Aug 21, 2014

    .....or "Science and Sanity: An Introduction to Non-Aristotelian Systems and General Semantics" by Alfred Korzybski

  • Anonymous Icon

    dustproduction Aug 21, 2014

    SS, I see you making this common error with language of stating your opinions as-if they were facts, declaring what "is."
    I often catch myself doing this but I know the difference and I don't think you do.

    Try "e-prime."

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kCIqFAdI6eI

  • Anonymous Icon

    SufferingServant Aug 21, 2014

    There is a reason ancient tribes used DMT as part of their 'coming of age' process

  • Anonymous Icon

    SufferingServant Aug 21, 2014

    If you follow the train of thought down the 'subconscious' is 'more conscious' rabbit hole, you'll eventually come to realize God can be logically explained. That's my role and the only reason I even found 'Ultimate Truth'

  • Anonymous Icon

    SufferingServant Aug 21, 2014

    The Bible is not 'literal'. It is metaphors built on metaphors based on partial truths.

    Even the perceived literal is still metaphorical for something else. Such as the temples of Jerusalem. Or what Jesus says the parables mean. They are still metaphors.

    I think you're problem is you think the Bible is literal.

    Some people need to believe that it is so they can go down that path to truth - instead of being completely lost in a world they can't understand (yet).

    But I know there is a God, hah. It's the only logical explanation for some things I've experienced.

    Noet, you should consider trying one of the drugs such as DMT - though I recommend you have 'experienced' people around you, or loving people at least. When you use one of these types of drugs (though it is naturally produced, and in sleep too), fear is the only way it can turn ugly.

    Then you'll see there is something beyond you, and it is real.

  • NoetPoet Aug 21, 2014

    Science is putting religion out of a job even as we speak. The two are fundamentally different approaches to reality. Science relies on empirical observation, deduction, inference, testing of hypotheses and impartial peer review in order to continually refine a practical understanding of reality. Religion on the other hand relies on vague subjective "feelings", baselss assertions, groupthink, confirmation bias and blackmail ("believe or else") to postulate a fixed "understanding" of reality which is less concerned with factual accuracy than it is with manipulating people's attitudes and behaviours for political ends.

  • Anonymous Icon

    SufferingServant Aug 21, 2014

    1000 years seems like another way of saying 'I don't see it happening'

    But you're misunderstanding that 'religion' will never go away, even with science, because they are both different paths to the same thing: seeking truth in something they don't understand. Perhaps religion is the science of people who are more emotional than logical

  • NoetPoet Aug 21, 2014

    @Dustproduction
    "Magical thinking is so engrained into the human culture that it will take 1000 years for it to dilute itself out, but I think what we might be witnessing is an extreme backlash to the scientific and economic advances we've made in the last 25 years. And the pace is quickening, see Moore's Law.
    Thoughts?"

    Yes I think there's some truth to that. Of course there are specific foreign policy factors at play, but when you get down to the nitty gritty of it then you see its really about people defending - and advancing - the psychological territory of their beliefs as much as the physical territory of their land and property etc. Hopefully what we're seeing with tragic incidents like what happened to James Foley and with ISIS more broadly is like the peak of the fever, the final struggle before the inevitable decline. I agree that it will probably take a good 1000 years or so of continued development to put the scourge of religion behind us (or at least reduce it to insignificant levels), but I reckon that if only we taught young children about basic critical thinking skills at the same time as or before we taught them religion then we would probably see religion die out in about 3 generations.

  • Anonymous Icon

    SufferingServant Aug 21, 2014

    If you have no more questions, go 'wake up' some others. Let them know 'it' is coming

  • Anonymous Icon

    SufferingServant Aug 21, 2014

    Boko Harim is another half truth.

    They are probably implying something along the lines of 'America is self serving even when they pretend not to be' - can you blame them? Look at our culture.

    As far magical thinking.. I think 'truth' is where magic meets logic.

    I can 'feel' Truth but don't accept it as true until I can logically prove/understand it

  • Anonymous Icon

    dustproduction Aug 21, 2014

    Re: "same sort of unreasonable magical thinking"

    Same Abrahamic god different dogma. Boko Harim is another of the mobs with "pitchfolks." I use that term after listening to this recent TEDTalk, "Beware, fellow plutocrats, the pitchforks are coming"

    http://www.ted.com/talks/nick_hanauer_beware_fellow_plutocrats_the_pitchforks_are_coming

    Magical thinking is so engrained into the human culture that it will take 1000 years for it to dilute itself out, but I think what we might be witnessing is an extreme backlash to the scientific and economic advances we've made in the last 25 years. And the pace is quickening, see Moore's Law.
    Thoughts?

  • Anonymous Icon

    SufferingServant Aug 21, 2014

    I swim against the tide.

    You are wrong to believe you cannot change anything.

    May I ask, what about when there is nothing left to change with yourself? Or better yet, what about when changing your self is unmotivated?

    I'm far from perfect.

    I smoke cigs - though this was forced on me in my youth so I wouldn't 'waste' someone else's Marijuana in order to 'learn to inhale'.

    I eat crap food laced with toxins and preservatives (the good food is too expensive).

    I have an energy drink addiction (without them I just want to sleep 18 hours/day)

  • Anonymous Icon

    dustproduction Aug 21, 2014

    I hear what you are saying here and have had the personal realization the "we= me." I can only change me.
    I cannot change much in the world but it is not about changing anything anyway. Not to sound wise, but one cannot change the tide, merely to flow with them. And this is change on a personal level.

  • Anonymous Icon

    SufferingServant Aug 21, 2014

    Why do you propose they are doing a public execution to begin with? What would motivate them?

    Do you propose they want to piss us off so we attack them harder?

    That would be completely ignorant.

  • NoetPoet Aug 20, 2014

    Ya got that right!

  • Anonymous Icon

    SufferingServant Aug 20, 2014

    I've said enough :-)

  • NoetPoet Aug 20, 2014

    Your reasonable and constructive thoughts on the merit of these ideas, or on how to go about acheiving them, are most welcome. Otherwise go talk about off-topic matters elsewhere.

    .

  • Anonymous Icon

    SufferingServant Aug 20, 2014

    Wikipedia false flag, then go watch some documentaries supporting the claim. If you're reasonably intelligent it will make perfect sense

  • NoetPoet Aug 20, 2014

    Your reasonable and constructive thoughts on the merit of these ideas, or on how to go about acheiving them, are most welcome. Otherwise go talk about off-topic matters elsewhere.

  • Anonymous Icon

    SufferingServant Aug 20, 2014

    Sick is a scale. Hidden factions of the American Government are more sick

  • NoetPoet Aug 20, 2014

    "Are you familiar with 'false flag' operations? These are things we have done before to scare America's into war. (9.1.1)"

    And you call me "sick"!

  • Anonymous Icon

    SufferingServant Aug 20, 2014

    Company=country

  • Anonymous Icon

    SufferingServant Aug 20, 2014

    Yes it is truly wrong what was done.

    But, do you realize they are likely pissed were controlling their company?

    Are you familiar with 'false flag' operations? These are things we have done before to scare America's into war. (9.1.1)

  • or Sign Up to Add a Comment

Stay in touch with IONS