Everything Does Not Happen For A Reason
The human mind has a predilection for seeing patterns and connections in all sorts of phenomena and occurrences. Sometimes these hunches turn out to be true and are verifiable, but at other times these apparent connections are based in chance, luck and probabilities. However our ego wants to ignore the fact that we are not always correct or infallible. Therefore, rather than factor in our obvious limitations we do the opposite and build grand mental schemes or models of the universe based upon the absolute truth and certainty of our beliefs and insights. While this ego-based grandstanding might at first glance appear harmless, it has caused untold misery over the millenia.
Almost all of our bizzaro beliefs from religions with vengeful sky-dudes and dudettes, planning events based on astrology, belief in witchcraft or black magic are based on such worthless and harmful models of the universe. Even many apparently secular beliefs from various schools of economics, how we structure our societies, write and enforce our laws to belief in the desirability of eugenics.. I mean HBD.. are based in the absolute validity of some model of the universe.
Over the centuries, our mental models of the universe have become less bizarre, but the newer versions still have a lot of basic similarities with the older ones. As an example- one of the main, if not the most important, core belief in almost all secular models of the universe goes something like this-
Everything happens for a reason.
I consider this particular belief to be the secular version of belief in god. You might have noticed that religious people ascribe every occurrence in the universe to an all-powerful and omnipotent god. Frequently they also claim that the desires, wishes or plans of ‘god’ are mysterious or beyond human comprehension. The secular and ‘scientific’ minded types dismiss such religious beliefs as simple-minded and irrational, however they themselves believe in a similar fallacy- though they deny doing so when confronted about it. Let me explain that with a few examples.
If you have read any general biology textbooks, you might get the impression that things like viruses, parasites and diseases such as cancer or aging are ‘normal’, ‘inevitable’ or serve some important ‘purpose’. But do they? Does even the very presence of life on earth have any ‘purpose’ or ‘reason’? I don’t think that the other rocky planets in our solar system (or any other) which do not have any life-forms are worse off than earth. And what is ‘worse off’ anyway? It is not like these large spheres of rock are sentient- as we currently understand.
The reality is that different species of cell-based organisms have vastly varying loads of, and susceptibility to, viruses. Both are linked to the probability of successful transmission from one host to the other. Species with a small number of individuals who live in widely dispersed and small groups are far less likely to have viral infections and diseases than those that live in proximity to each other. It is therefore no accident that the rise of many viral diseases from smallpox, measles, mumps, rubella, polio, chicken pox, influenza etc was linked to the rise of ‘civilization’ which led to poorly nourished people living in cramped quarters with domesticated animals. The same is true for many human specific bacterial diseases from syphilis and human tuberculosis to typhoid. But as our scientific knowledge and public health measures became more effective (especially over the last 100 years) these “common” and “inevitable” diseases became uncommon, rare or just plain extinct.
The same is true for parasites, be they protozoans like various versions of malaria and leishmaniasis or any species of round worms, flukes and tapeworms that can infect humans. They all have no intrinsic purpose or reason for existence- just like all the other infectious diseases that affect other animal and plant species. However evolutionary biologists frequently claim (often via non-obvious arguments) that such pathogenic microbes have a ‘function’ or ‘reason to exist’. I, for one, fail to see any intrinsic and necessary purpose inherent in the existence of pathogens or parasites in any species. Similarly cancer and aging are not ‘inevitable’, ‘necessary’ or part of some ‘grand plan’ or ‘scheme’. We know of more than a few animal species that do not age in any measurable way. We are also aware of animal species which do not develop cancers- even when we try to induce neoplastic processes in them.
Let us now turn to “macro” events such as droughts, floods, hurricanes, earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, comet strikes and other disasters caused by large physical forces largely beyond human control. As most of you are well aware, people of a more religious mindset used to see such events as punishment for ‘sins’, ‘immorality’, ‘greed’ etc. We know better now, and modern technological developments offer many avenues for mitigating the material loss and casualties resulting from the rare but big events. While these events are caused by a chain of smaller and larger events occurring in certain sequences, they are by no means necessary, inevitable or part of the grand scheme of things.
Similarly socio-economic problems such as widespread poverty, material deprivation, tyrannical law enforcement, ineffective or corrupt legislative processes, incompetent administration, institutions that do the opposite of what they are supposed to be doing etc are neither ‘natural’, ‘inevitable’ or ‘part of the human condition’. There is nothing ‘natural’ about ‘the marketplace’, ‘capitalism’, perpetual growth based economic models or even people having ‘jobs’ to have a decent and largely fulfilling existence. These bizzaro concepts do not exist because they have any ‘cosmic role’,'purpose’ or place in the grand scheme of things. They need to be methodically destroyed in a manner that address the defects and shortcomings which allow them to exist in the first place. This is worthwhile even if doing so would cause very significant collateral casualties and damage.
What do you think? Comments?