Monday, July 13, 2009

Godless Wisdom: Douglas Adams

Here's a classic quote that I think almost everyone has heard or read before. All the same, I feel that it bears repeating:

"Isn't it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too?"

- Douglas Adams

What a beautiful statement that really sums up a true appreciation of the world--a scientific viewpoint, if you will. That very sentiment is at the heart of every rational minded person who denies the supernatural and searches for the wonders that are within our world, our existence, as it is.

In many ways, it bothers me to hear the credulous person cast their eyes to the heavens and proclaim, "There has to be more." More?? What more could you desire beyond infinity? The expanse of the universe stretches to the borders of imagination and defies all applied ingenuity for a definitive explanation, and yet some people are searching for greater mysteries!

Our minds are capable of perceiving the world and reacting to it in a way that, as far as we know, no other type of being is, or has ever, been able to, and yet we have no cohesive understanding of how it works. We can't comprehend how we communicate within ourselves and others are postulating that we communicate with others using nothing but our minds.

For these people, and many others, the mind is seperate from ourselves (despite any evidence to the contrary) and will exist beyond our decaying bodies. For those who believe, this is a comfort. A perpetual existence where there is no driving force, no chance for risk, no reason for being. And if you believe in God--well, don't get me started on that.

Death is the one true factor in existence that makes all things truly powerful. Knowing that Death's scythe catches the glint of every dawn's rising sun drives one to achieve immortality. How do some do it? By wasting their lives in supplication working through telepathy for an ethereal post-corporeal being. Others are doing it through music and marble, film and fiction, research and risk. Who are the true immortals? The latter. Those whose works have existed and will exist well beyond themselves; indeed, the memory of them may never die.

If man defeats supposed fate and perpetuates humanity beyond the cessation of our universe then what should ever be there to cause the last recording of Mozart to cease mid-symphony?

If man defeats the natural death of the flesh, how much more poignant will be the destruction of one person? A child at fifty, how great could have been their life? A sage, at a thousand, how terrible the loss of their myriad experience? What new art might be formed by the hands and minds of practitioners honed through the ages? What discoveries made by intellects so experienced?

There is, of course, a place to wonder about telekinesis and astral projection, about gods and nymphs, devils and wizards, fairies and leprechauns. But it is in books, movies, songs, theatre, and our imagination. Let us relegate fancy to its place and reality to the present. There is no more than what we have. There is life as we know it, and wanting something beyond that doesn't make it true--it only distracts from our reality. We are losing our minds and, indeed, our souls to "fairies at the bottom." We must reclaim our lives and learn to pry ourselves off the flowerbed to stand and appreciate the vast garden of our existence that is before us.

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