OUR PLACE ON THIS EARTH
“I came here to bury Caesar, not to honor him,” is a quote taken from a play called, appropriately, Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare. It is an expression that has come to describe the use of the spoken word to dissemble, prevaricate or subvert. Marc Anthony, in the play, did not speak to bury Caesar, as his entire delivery proves, but to honor him in every way possible while all the while denying that this is what he was doing. Our world is filled with mythological foundations that are presented as truth until proven otherwise. It is filled with ever-changing conclusions based upon physically apparent observations once confirmed (by intense group logic and agreement), they cannot be denied.
The earth moves around the sun, but we still commonly discuss the sun rising in the East and setting in the West. At one time it was so strongly believed that everything in the seeable universe revolved around the earth that hundreds of years later it remains impossible to totally pry what we now know was mythology from what we now know as fact. Storms are not caused by certain gods demonstrating their anger or dissent with human actions. The seas are not controlled by mythical beings lurking beneath the surface and no person or thing is appeased by the sacrifice of children, virgin women or animals, although there remain some still not totally convinced.
We attempt to reduce our physical observations to a structure of understanding and then base our resulting belief system on the continued similar occurrence of such provable observations. We use weather-worn and continual proofs to more powerfully build structure and assure us that we have a good understanding of the universe around us. We change our very lives in reflection of these things and the results we have come to call ‘Civilization’.
God, unknowable and impossible to understand, remains ever a major player in all cultures on earth. He or She or It is there because we cannot answer certain questions that are so self-apparent that they never are far from our minds. We have no idea of why we are in this universe. We have no clue as to what the universe really is, where it came from, how far it extends or what its true nature is. We know a huge number of elements that comprise this universe, but we don’t understand at all why they are all different or how they came to be that way. When we think of such things, and cannot ‘reduce’ them to any system or source of physical structure, we turn to God. God is the result of our inability to understand. God is the filler we have inserted to give us comfort while failing to understand. The very existence and presence of God can be debated endlessly but, as with the questions we cannot answer about our life, our universe or our place in either, God’s existence can never foreseeably be successfully denied. The ultimate argument for God’s existence, as an explanation for these hopelessly unresolvable questions, is to portray true knowledge of His existence as only available to those who die. This last conclusion or argument for God’s existence has logically allowed the rise of all known Christian religions. If we can only know God by dying then we better lead our lives with the ever-present understanding that God will be waiting on the other side to judge us on our conduct while living.
We have just celebrated the birth of Christ. Christ is the main character in the Christmas story as portrayed by modern Christian religion and based upon the passion play so capably written in the bible. There is no logic to the play because there does not have to be. In fact, there cannot be, or we would no longer have God to believe in. If we ever discover when, how and why the universe was made, then, as with our analytically derived proofs for the causes of storms, high seas, tides, and planetary movement, our process of reduction will lead us to conclude that God may no longer be necessary.
Will God be discarded one day because our mythology becomes so filled with scientific results that we have no need for Him? Will our only use for Him be to serve as our eternal need to fear bad things happening if we don’t act well? Our Christmas carols revolve around ‘naughty or nice,’ around wonderful presents for good performance, or black coal or nothing for poor performance. Can our lives ever rise up from this ‘ying and yang’ kind of thinking, or through the process of reduction, can we come to more informed terms with our own thoughts and actions based upon some better system not so heavily based upon good and evil, reward and punishment, life or death?