I have discovered that amongst all my other ailments I suffer from yet another newly realized, and most wearisome malady. Styx Syndrome, AKA “Too Much Time on My Hands.” Being a gentleman of enforced leisure (medical retirement) who is ofttimes confined to my Sanctum Sanctorum due to my infirmities, my mind works in excess of necessity. There are so many things that occur to me, especially as a writer, which might fill the void I find it irksome not being able to ascertain what to next do. Having finished a story that took its own sweet time coming to me and my fingers I plunged into a period of reflective entropy. The query “what’s next” enveloped my being, as it always does between writing adventures, and I searched for the answer to that most bothersome query.
Then the light bulb over my head popped on in all its 1000 watt brilliance…READ!
Being what I believe to be the preeminent state in which to exist in, a thinking man, I indulged my first love and delved into tomes with the loftiest paradigms. What is the meaning of life? In my six plus decades of verve this has always proven to be the most difficult of pursuits. The question has been taken up and discarded an equal amount of times along the way to this writing. There were times when I failed to answer it. There were times when the solution was crystal clear. Neither way held much solace for me. Interruptions in this quest have interfered from time to time. Wearisome items such as earning a living, paying the electricity bill, finding a new job, reading rejection letters of my self-acclaimed works of everlasting wisdom, the discovery of a new love, the grief of associated with the loss of a cherished loved one, and all the other mundane realities that probably answer way more eloquently than I what exactly is the meaning of life.
I began by reading a trio of books explaining our culture which described the ideal that the first time a human woke up and wished for more than was needed was the beginning of the extermination of all mankind. Certainly this offered a rather dismal generalization of our species and accurate but for the one thing that might help us to survive, which was also reported in these important works. We have the ability to change our circumstances.
Next, for no fathomable reason, I viewed a film entitled “The Man Who Knew Infinity” about a mathematician who was born during the “British Raj” period prior to Indian independence. Srinivasa Ramanujan was born into a poor Brahman family, and was a mostly self-taught prodigy who eventually became a Fellow of the Royal Society, as well as a Fellow of Trinity College at Cambridge University. His works are on display in the library there as well as the “Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica” by Sir Isaac Newton, the inventor of calculus and many of the foundations of modern physics. All this while suffering discrimination, poverty, and poor health.
I am currently delving into “A Brief History of Time” by Stephen Hawking. Another choice with no recognizable foundation towards the question I probably do not truly wish the answer to. Admittedly, my personal research has been prejudiced by events in my life of both a positive and negative nature. The academic part of my persona is certainly piqued with the lofty writings of famous mathematicians and physicists. The cognitive side of me has recently taken up the task of maintaining my intellect due to an ever growing difficulty with memory retention. Then there is the ever troubling portion of me that looks into the night sky finding itself time and again mystified.
Not wishing to drift off into yet another perplexing area, that being in the ideal of whether or not there is a God; I will make things, for today simple. I believe in God, and I believe in Science and mathematics. The rest of the claptrap about God’s existence is best left for another day, or a Nighttime Talk Show.
As I read and contemplated the significance of asking for the meaning of something that obviously already exists, I came up with the ideal of discovering what is of true import. That is the crux of searching for the meaning of life. Knowing it or not knowing it is not imperative in the face of having life and making it relevant. Great thinkers miss this, I believe. The real question is: What would you want life to be. Is it a meaning or an action? (Reference our ability to change our circumstances)
Somewhere along the way, the meaning of life got itself associated with the conundrum of an unanswerable question being whether science is the answer, or is God the answer? How did we get here? What came first, the chicken or the egg? What was there before the big bang? How did all this happen?
Science has theories to guide it. This means that some really smart people sit around (much like me) and think about things in order to answer the chicken thing, or the meaning of the Big Bang Theory.
Science has determined that the egg came first in a most baffling manner imaginable. The explanation requires an understanding of several disciplines; biology, zoology, genetics, and Marvel Comic books and movies. Neil deGrasse Tyson made it much simpler: "Which came first: the chicken or the egg? The egg – laid by a bird that was not a chicken." And we thus discover the issue with asking too many questions.
The Big Bang theory is the prevailing cosmological model for the universe. In a user friendly definition thanks to Wikipedia, “The universe began very hot, small, and dense, with no stars, atoms, form, or structure (called a "singularity"). Then about 13.8 billion years ago, space expanded very quickly (thus the name "Big Bang"). This started the formation of atoms, which eventually led to the formation of stars and galaxies.” Scientists have thought and thought, and wrote and rewrote about this effect exhaustively, they have modeled and remodeled ad infinitum. The results of all this thinking, writing, and modeling/remodeling has culminated in the #1 comedic Sitcom in the world. All of the actors except one (Mayim Bialik, PhD in Neuroscience) have no expertise in science and admit to just reading lines from a script.
The seeming antithesis of all this thinking, writing, modeling/remodeling would be God. Given that this is an undefinable issue from a fact based physically provable it might be time better spent in discussing the differences between science and God. Here are some facts/paradigms/space fillers to consider:
- Many learned people have rejected the existence of a God. Where did God come from? For an answer to that I will fall on my own spiritual beliefs which is Christian based;
“He is before all things, and in him all things hold together” (Colossians 1:17).
- 6,120,000,000,000 people in the world believe in some form of deity. Would that not be enough of a mathematical prevalence to prove the existence of God?
- Actually, a great mathematician and logician Kurt Gödel derived a series of equations that prove the existence of God. These equations have been discovered valid by modern computer scientists.
- Some believe the Big Bang implies a creator, and some see its mention in their holy books, while others argue that Big Bang cosmology makes the notion of a creator superfluous. Herr Gödel illuminated further. '"An equation for me has no meaning," he once said, "unless it expresses a thought of God."
The writing of this fellow intrigued me and I went off on a tangent for about a half a day into the proofs of the existence of God. I discovered many and read them all and came away from the exercise had begun to make me doubt my own belief in a God. I wondered how this course of inquiry could make me turn God, a present personality in my life, into “a God” as if it were something that could be disproved. Certainly cause for befuddlement for a believer since birth.
I then took a break and came back and reread all the proofs I researched and realized something. They were all confusing and meaningless to anyone wishing to live a simple life. Just check out Herr Gödel’s treatise:
Definition 1: x is God-like if and only if x has as essential properties those and only those properties which are positive
Definition 2: A is an essence of x if and only if for every property B, x has B necessarily if and only if A entails B
Definition 3: x necessarily exists if and only if every essence of x is necessarily exemplified
Axiom 1: If a property is positive, then its negation is not positive
Axiom 2: Any property entailed by—i.e., strictly implied by—a positive property is positive
Axiom 3: The property of being God-like is positive
Axiom 4: If a property is positive, then it is necessarily positive
Axiom 5: Necessary existence is positive
Axiom 6: For any property P, if P is positive, then being necessarily P is positive
Theorem 1: If a property is positive, then it is consistent, i.e., possibly exemplified
Corollary 1: The property of being God-like is consistent
Theorem 2: If something is God-like, then the property of being God-like is an essence of that thing
Theorem 3: Necessarily, the property of being God-like is exemplified
What I came to is that there really no way to answer the God/Science question. Science has tried both ways to look at it and cannot seem to report on it that does not prove anything in simple terms. Even a well thought mathematical proof by a respected mathematician cannot explain in layman’s terms to this writer who got a “D” in statistics and had to repeat the course in order to graduate college. Is science the answer? Ask a scientist to give you one sentence answer if you ask them what was there before the universe was created by the Big Bang. Similarly, for the God folks, ask your pastor (in one short sentence) where did God come from?
It might be easier if we all just went in search of the Philosophers Stone. You know that element the alchemist used to say was the substance that could turn a cheap base metal into gold. A great idea and possible panacea for those financially disabled. Of course all that meandering about in quest for pecuniary prosperity that might just complicate things even more given that Alchemists were proven charlatans and sometimes hunted as witches. The witch hunting reality in olden times could bring a tremendously disagreeable demise. Most of them changed into chemists that today are deemed legitimate. Although, they still can’t make gold out of lead. Just like we cannot truly know the answers to great questions like the “What is the meaning of life”
I did find an answer to that bigger question, though. Well, perhaps not an answer as much as an end to the confusion. I had researched until my head hurt and my eyelids grew weary. (Especially after the half read “A Brief History of Time”) I turned on the Great Knower. The much maligned by Springsteen instrument of enlightenment sitting in all its High Definition glory in my living room. I found it on television. Even there it was hidden until I dove in to the depths that are called “Streaming. What I found was the great and wise philosopher, teacher, and possible Holy Man who did not so much answer the question than taught me what life is truly about. Not what to question but how to act. Not thinking someone else is wrong but accepting that the bastard might just be right. Not wondering what has happened but doing what was right. Not doubting but believing. Not reading or asking but doing what I am told:
good things, and good things
happen to you.
You do bad things, and bad things happen to you.”