Sunday, June 15, 2014

Reflection #1 - Why the blog name, "It Just is What It is"?

There are as many variations on the meaning of existence as there are variations of people who have lived and thought.  It is even possible that some other creatures on earth, now or in the past and certainly on other planets are, have been or will one day be self aware.

With self awareness comes many advantages and disadvantages.  Typically, it would seem, that the advantages at least slightly outweigh the disadvantages, since the human species has been pretty successful in maintaining itself for a few million years.  Of course we are very far from the record setters here, many other species have survived and thrived for tens or even hundreds of millions of years, but you get my point. 

These are all themes that will re-emerge in coming reflections, but please allow me to return to the topic at hand.  Why do I find the saying, "It just is what it is" so appealing?  It starts with the premise that there are really only two camps of thinkers with regard to the questions surrounding the meaning, purpose and origins of our species, the Universe or life in general.  While both camps enjoy wide diversity in thought, belief and geography they do share one of two common ideas.

The first group believes in Free Will.  While they may differ in their understanding or belief in the origin and purpose of life, they all agree that life exists as a RESULT of some series of forces or actions that must have been taken purposefully by intelligent beings and that we as humans also have the ability to make decisions that impact our lives and the lives of others in the present and in the future.  This group includes males, females, all races, all colors, it includes atheists, Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Jews and just about all varieties of believers and non-believers around the globe.

The second group believes that all things in the Universe are predetermined.  These folks believe that the Universe was somehow set in motion and that if we simply knew all of the rules and could comprehend all of the chess pieces, we could not only predict the future, but understand any and all questions that could ever be asked.  Most people who believe in this basic idea of determinism DON'T give up on living, don't have higher rates of suicide (some studies suggest just the opposite) and don't feel that "things don't matter", because to them a determined future is not much different than, well, normal daily life.  To deterministic thinkers, the Universe is not a cruel game being played UPON us, but rather an interactive play that we get to participate in and possibly see how it turns out.  Think of the Universe unfolding like a really good book or the best movie ever made.  You couldn't put that book down or turn that movie off, could you?  You are fully aware that the end is already written and that each character in the play already has their history etched in the book's pages or the movie's plot, but you don't care.  You keep reading and watching, its just too good to not try and see how much you can figure out about the plot, before your character leaves the stage.  This group includes males, females, all races, all colors, it includes atheists, Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Jews and just about all varieties of believers and non-believers around the globe.  Yes - I just literally copied and pasted that last sentence from the paragraph above, because it is true.

These two camps are the two most common ways that humans can think of the Universe, but not necessarily the only two ways that the Universe can in fact be....
Please take a minute, re-read that last sentence a couple of times , then stop reading and think about it for a few moments.

To me there is a four quadrant model that helps describe this way of thinking about the Universe.  

So after years of contemplation, study, discussion, reading, meditation, writing and obsessing, I can say two things with conviction.  First that my thinking falls into the Deterministic camp.  Second that human beings, our world and our Universe are just what they are.  There is no complete understanding, I don't get to see the end of the play, only the small part that I am in and try to gather clues and hints about the plot and the outcome, but without ever really knowing, because I don't believe that I will be there at the end. (although some religious determinists do) 

This understanding doesn't bother me, "it just is what it is".

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