Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Does Life Operate By Chance or Purpose?

The Roman philosopher Lucretius wrote a 1st century BC poem titled De rerum natura (On the Nature of Things). Simply put, he explains his Epicurean philosophy by positing a physics of atomism. The universe described in the poem operates according to "chance" rather than the divine intervention of the traditional Roman deities.

One has to give Lucretius credit for getting a part of the cosmic game right that is often missed--namely that life has a randomness about it and that we are too often dominated by guilt, superstition and the "gods" who are out to get us like a Santa Claus who is keeping a list to see if we are naughty or nice.

But what Lucretius misses is that his slice of the cosmic philosophical pie is just that, a tiny slice of truth--an important one, but just a small piece. Yes, one mode or phase of existence is pure chance, luck, random events colliding with us at inopportune moments.

BUT, as we develop in consciousness, moving from animal, to human, to divine--we gain this eerie sense that it all may mean something and that there is purpose in this supposed randomness. Modern Chaos Theory suggests that order is implicit in every random event.

Lucretius, like all Atomists and Materialists (Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens), does not adequately answer the questions:

1. "WHY do we sense there is meaning and connection to it all?"
2. "WHY do we feel watched, feel guilty and intuitively know that justice will ultimately be measured out?"

He just assumes that those questions in all cultures everywhere just magically entered our psyches for no good reason, out of the blue. He is like the little boy who grows up thinking that cookies just magically appear in the cookie jar. We are the cookie jar, and the fact that we contain a sense of Destiny, Fate, Vocation, Final Judgment, Guilt, Fear of the Holy, Anxiety about the future, a sense of Divine Displeasure, a feeling of Necessity, Providence and other related feelings is not accounted for. Just as Mother baked and placed the cookies in the jar, so some sort of Higher Consciousness placed these purposeful feelings in us. They did not just magically appear. The Chinese called it the Tao, the Hindus called it Rita and the Christians call it the Christ.