This I Believe

Mike - hadlock, Washington
Entered on February 4, 2007

I believe that the universe works according to rational principles. We are lucky nowadays to have available some very deep analysis of some of the most revealing discoveries about the universe. For general use, however, it’s only necessary to understand a few essentials. Though it seems chaotic, with all the swirling gases, exploding suns, black holes, and anomalies like dark matter and energy, the physical processes and reactions of the universe are all behaving perfectly rationally and predictably. It is just human behavior that seems difficult and self-destructive.

I believe it is possible for a human society to be organized in which individual irrationality and unfairness can be constrained without violence. We can choose to disregard the laws and rules made by humans, but we cannot disregard the laws of physics.

I believe that, from a few simple forces, acting on some basic particles, all this greater complexity arises, and that we, as human life forms, are a part of this great complex of forces and particles. Our muscles contract on a signal from our nerve centers, and if we jump up, we will invariably come back down. Perhaps because of our muscles’ obedience we might conclude that our mind controls everything. Seeing birds in flight, we imagine all kinds of stories. We put wings on gods and heroes, at a time before the true principles of flight were understood.

I believe that it is incumbent upon us human beings to understand the world as it really is, and to use common sense to distinguish the metaphor from the underlaying truth. Certain things are possible, and certain other things are absurd.. As living things, we each have a limited span in which to embark on the great adventure of experiencing the universe, and the better we understand its principles, the better we will fare. We will all suffer and die, due to the frailties of our bodies, but how many die and suffer unnecessarily as the result of ignorance?

I believe that, by a judicious application of reason, even the most intractable problems arising from the irrational parts of human nature can be solved. But, if we are not successful, the higher life forms on earth may all be destroyed, and the whole experiment will have to begin anew, from its bacterial beginnings. If we’re diligent and lucky, some life may continue on this earth. Or, perhaps there is some other petri-dish planet in this vast universe where the inhabitants are creating a more equitable and thankful species, one deserving of a fitting place in the cosmos. At any rate, it is up to each individual in these vast experiments to create as much happiness as can be done within his or her (or its) own lifetime.