A justification for human existence
Until the time of Copernicus, it was believed that the earth was the center of the solar system. It was he who removed the earth from the center of our solar system.
Later, we would find out that our earth was a minor satellite revolving around a medium-sized star called the sun. Then came Darwin, who demolished the primacy of man on his own planet, with his theory that man was only a branch of the anthropoid ape family, and that only the laws of evolution had given him. a preeminent place on earth.
Next, Freud demolished the primacy of the human brain in itself. All of these theories provided the basis for scientific materialism, which dethroned man from the exalted position he had placed himself in (of course, Freud’s theories have since been dismissed in light of advances in neuroscience).
That said, one of the biggest ironies is that life as we know it has not been noticed elsewhere, neither in our galaxy, nor in the entire universe.
This conclusion gains credibility due to the belief that any extraterrestrial civilization, if it exists, would broadcast its messages on the frequency of hydrogen, the most abundant element in the universe, and that if such communication had been sent , it should have reached us. and was detected by us.
As this did not happen, it means that life, as we know it, does not exist at least near our own planet Earth.
It seems strange to say the least that in the vast immensities of astronomical space, in a minor planet, which is itself the satellite of a mediocre star, in a corner of the arm of an insignificant spiral galaxy, a series of Extremely improbable phenomena the events had led to the appearance of a phenomenon called life (from a self-replicating molecule).
It is even stranger that another set of strange biological laws gradually evolved from this primitive life form, into other advanced life forms, and ultimately into a creature (homo sapiens) who is able to study himself and his environment, in great detail.
So the question naturally arises as to whether there was a purpose in the appearance of this creature, and if so what is its fate in the scheme of things. Why has such an advanced life form, which we flatter ourselves to be, been relegated to a remote corner of an insignificant galaxy in the vast and mysterious universe, which has as many stars as all the grains sand on all the shores of the world?
One of the dichotomies that has developed with regard to human achievement is the sharp divide between the fruits of man’s technological triumphs and his inability to reap these benefits due to his own physiological limitations.
That’s not to say physiology hasn’t kept pace with physics and chemistry. Physics has made increasingly sophisticated measuring instruments and inventions available to man that have improved the quality of human life in everything from computers to airplanes.
Chemistry has created drugs, which have resulted in immense benefits in the fight against diseases, and chemicals that have hundreds of uses in industry.
On the other hand, physiology has not been as successful, for example in pushing the limit of human lifespan despite spectacular triumphs in the fight against infectious diseases and advances in surgery, medicine. preventive and nutrition.
Whether it is the result of wear and tear and depletion of resources or whether it is genetically programmed, all life has a finite duration and each species has its own longevity. For humans, it appears to be around 100 to 110 years old.
This means that even if it were possible to prevent or cure all the diseases that kill people, before the ravages of senescence, hardly anyone would live beyond a century or a little longer.
Although biomedical science has dramatically increased the average life expectancy of mankind, the maximum has not changed in recorded verifiable history. In developed countries, only one in 10,000 people lives over 100 years of age.
Whenever it has been possible to critically examine the claims of alleged record-breakers, they have not been substantiated.
Either way, people in old age cannot enjoy most of the finer things in life. No man who is 80 can repeat the feats he accomplished at 25.
No Bjorn Borg can regain the glory of Wimbledon. No Brian Lara can now repeat his excellent scores in a test match. Our periodic need for food, water, and sleep places limits on our activities, despite advances in travel and communications.
Spaceships can go to other planetary systems, but with the exception of astronauts who travel in spacecraft to the nearest planet or satellite, no passenger will live long enough to reach distant planets.
If a few couples embark on such a ship, perhaps only the great-grandchildren, of their great-grandchildren will be able to reach the destination!
Another aspect is our relative position in relation to animals. Our superior intelligence and imagination has enabled us to harness the environment, making us the monarchs of this planet.
But then our awareness of the inevitability of death casts a veil of sadness over our existence, despite our attempts to distract us during the interval between the two landmarks – birth and death (animals have no such fear. death, except when the member of a weak species experiences a vague sense of unhappiness, before falling victim to a predator).
We’re the only species capable of envisioning and planning a sexual experience, but that doesn’t make up for other flaws. We are the only species to be aware of birth, over which we have no choice, and death, which we constantly fear.
Santayana’s suggested solution that there is no cure for birth and death except to take advantage of the gap is easier said than done! In any case, that does not improve the situation.
We are not special. It’s just that two mental faculties “intelligence” and “imagination” have given us an advantage over animals. Sudden, unprotected exposure to harsh weather conditions, fluctuating physiological constants, or serious injury can end human life.
Under such circumstances, we can only be sure of what we are experiencing through our senses, especially pain and pleasure, which seem so real that we are forced to banish all philosophical considerations such as the purpose of our existence. or how and why the universe was created. .
Shakespeare saw the world as a stage and men and women as actors who have their exits and their entrances. Indeed, it is about a play in three acts only, corresponding to the three stages, of the life of a man, the first being the years spent with his parents, the second where romantic love dominates the scene and the third, the time spent with her children before the dark curtain came down.
In the title of a film titled ‘The best years of our life‘, produced decades ago, each word itself does not have a profound effect, but the sequence of the sentence creates a moving image. However, you cannot define those years as they silently pass you by – the happy days of your childhood, picnics, trips, vacations, shopping and movie visits, teenage romances, period of love and marriage, the celebration of festivals, the first taste of parenthood, the triumphs and defeats of your children in the classroom or on the sports field and the interaction with their friends and teachers.
It is the liveliness and reality of this experience that forces us to ask ourselves questions about the origin, purpose and destiny of man. While referring to science as the most successful and glorious endeavor in which human beings have ever been engaged, Nobel Laureate Sir Peter Medawar expresses his view that science will never be able to to answer these questions.
He rightly says that blaming science for its inability to do so makes no more sense than blaming a locomotive for not being able to perform tasks for which it was not designed.
For the same reason, even if it can soften the blow, science cannot explain the existence of the pain, anguish, misery and humiliation of death, which separate loved ones. It is therefore not to science but to religion, poetry or philosophy that we must turn to find comfort, if not answers.
Birth decides the eventuality of death and so the three-act play can only be a tragedy that destroys all the triumphs and achievements of science and technology and the glories of our music, literature and art. .
In such circumstances, “the best years of our life” instead of flooding our hearts with delight, drown them in pathos, mocking nostalgia. Because we will never know these joys again. Faced with this sad scenario, human life is reduced to an insignificant and unimportant event in the cosmos with its goals and objectives destined to remain a mystery forever.
There is no point in slapping yourself on the back when a new law is discovered, in physics or chemistry or a beautiful poem is written or an excellent musical piece is composed to justify our existence or indicate “supremacy”. Of the man.
No scientific achievement or artistic triumph can compensate for the presence of so much sorrow, agony, suffering, pain and evil on earth and the way in which the cruel hand of death snatches helpless children or the innocent elderly. , which makes it extremely difficult to dismiss existence as a mere illusion.
What then is the purpose of creation and of human existence?
Omar Khayyam observed that: