I am an extremely boring person to know, unless you want to talk a lot. [Ask anyone I know! They'll tell you!]
What I mean by that is -- umm, I don't DO much.
My favorite pastime is reading, drinking coffee [or beer] and thinking. But also talking with people. I do that a lot.
And I find that I tend to try to steer people toward talking about what I would call… Ultimate Reality.
Ideas about existence itself, Awareness, life after death, religion, God, evolution, etc., -- I love to just try and get a handle on where people are "at" with their own thinking about such topics.
I myself have been all over the map on these issues, throughout my life. And as I rapidly approach a half century of a lot of pensive coffee-drinking [and beer] -- I have sort of settled myself into a number of viewpoints about these issues that seem to satisfy me. But as I discuss them with people I always include the proviso that this is what I "currently" believe -- because it does change. Old ideas get displaced by what I consider better ideas.
[This right now is the place where I will not at all be offended if you click this blog shut, because I am about to yap for quite a while about what I call "anthropocentrism". If you want to keep reading, it will require patience.]
As I have talked with other people, maybe hundreds of people over the years, I've noticed a distinct correlation between ideas of human evolution and ideas of sentient life on other planets.
That is my "premise" statement for what follows.
My observation is that almost invariably, [admittedly, proponents of Intelligent Design throw a few human-made wrenches into it] if a person is OK with the idea of human evolution [a la Darwinism] -- they will almost always also be sympathetic to the idea of the possibility of sentient life on other planets -- I mean, outside of our own solar system.
Many people believe in outright Creationism [a la, The Bible, and other such texts].
Vis a vis there is a God who purposed to create human beings -- and did so. What follows in a discussion with people who feel strongly about this, is that He [God] did not ALSO create other beings somewhere in outer space, on other planets. He only created us. I myself, when a far less critical thinker than I am today, also believed in this idea, and strongly so. [I no longer do].
I find that such a propensity can only lead, whether a person is aware of it leading to this or not, that the reason that everything exists is because of our own existence. I could cite many Bible references that tend to allude to, and in effect, encourage, such an interpretation of human existence.
In light of what we have scientifically discovered about the Universe, however, I have come to see this as a very narrow "anthropocentric" view to adhere to.
Which is to say I can no longer hold to it.
To compare the existence of human life on planet Earth with what we now know about how long [time-wise] existence itself has... existed -- it seems to me an ignorant, possibly arrogant and definitely self-centered way of looking at whatever Ultimate Reality is.
But back to my premise [above] -- I want to try and narrow this current field of discussion to just a few questions that you can maybe ask yourself over a coffee or a beer, to assess what you yourself believe.
Are you a Creationist?
If so -- my premise would statistically predict that you do not believe there is sentient life elsewhere in the Universe. In other words, we, as human beings, apart from God, are the only beings anywhere, aware of our own existence in the Universe.
[Do you see how anthropocentric that sounds?]
Are you an Atheist?
If so -- my premise would statistically predict that you are able to swallow the idea that we are possibly not the only beings anywhere capable of, you know…. creating things like salami, Lamborghinis, and….. Facebook.
Are you an "Intelligent Designer"?
If so -- you may believe that God sort of "used" evolution to do his "creating" of sentient life?
Whichever of these categories you [again] "currently" find yourself falling into -- to my mind, there are only so many options out there, to truly believe in, when you consider the correlation of the ideas of human evolution, and other sentient life somewhere in outer space.
They are these:
1) "God" created sentient beings [us] on planet Earth. And in doing so, "he" did not create any sentient life anywhere else.
2) There is no "God", and sentient life has randomly evolved on Earth, but has not done so anywhere else in the Universe.
3) "God" created sentient beings on planet Earth, and it is possible that "he" has also created sentient life on other planets in outer space. [Which, by the way, sort of turns the Bible into a "Book of Bad Jokes"].
4) There is no "God", and sentient life has randomly evolved on Earth, but it is possible, and even entirely probable, that sentient life has also evolved on other planets in the Universe.
5) There are more than one "God". Ours created us here, and Others, created other sentient beings elsewhere. [This to me is, by far, the nuttiest of all the propositions].
I am being completely sincere when I say that if you can think of yet another [sixth] valid option, other than these five above, I would love to hear of it.
I'm sorry -- but I am very aware that I am a "thinker".
A very boring person, like I said at the start. I think a lot. A real lot.
But I cannot fathom the idea that if every other person on planet Earth died from something right now, and I was the only one left alive... typing away and opening the last of a soon-to-be-extinct luxury of beer [an entire possibility, right? Unlikely as it is?] -- that if that were to take place -- I would be the only sentient being thinking, about something -- in the entire Universe.
To me that is far too anthropocentric of a view to be anywhere near being tenable.
And by the way, if it were to happen, wouldn't I, in that moment, become the Being we have always mistakenly called "God"?