Thursday, April 21, 2011

Does Science Suck the Meantin Out of Life? III

Give Science a Break!
   To state it bluntly, life sucked long before the Scientific Revolution. In other words: to the extent that life is empty or unsatisfying, the growth of modern science was not a requirement. If one finds life to be meaningless, it probably has more to do with a melancholy temperament (or "mental illness") than to one's beliefs about the world.  Some religious believers are miserable, while many of the scientifically-minded (even those, who accept everything in section II of this ongoing essay) do just fine. Regardless of one's beliefs, life is largely made up of temporal meaning (as opposed to eternal Meaning or Divine purpose): work, play, altruistic endeavors, relationships; whether we are descendants of apes or children of God doesn't change that.
   Consider this: Does music sound less beautiful if we understand the nature of sound waves and how they affect the brain? Does a loving caress give us any less pleasure if we understand that our response boils down to physical operations in the brain? Of course not. Even if the human being is a mechanism subject to natural law and not "free" in any real sense, does that reality affect how we live? Not really: we continue to act volitionally even if we understand that all our actions derive from a set of antecedents. Looking in reverse, we may even gain a new tolerance from the awareness of how genes and environmental stimuli condition our actions.
   What about the damage done to the ego that may be caused by the developments of science? Well, perhaps a little humility is in order. Consider the arrogance and hostility of "God's Chosen" or the hubris of humanism ("Man is the measure of all things"). And what if existence ends in death? That may seem depressing, but the idea of another life isn't so wonderful either-after all some, according to most perspectives, would be punished. Maybe it's better for everybody to have Zero (non-existence) than for some to have a Negative (damnation).

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