30 years ago I arrived in a small hospital in Newtownards. I had no choice in this. No one has a choice how they arrive but once you do your life becomes full of choices. Choices heavily influenced by the environment you grow up in. But choices none the less. If I could go back in time and pick how my life started, I would pick it all over again. Except I would ask for 6 pack abs and I would have taken up karate instead of piano lessons. Apart from that I feel pretty lucky to have been planted in the greater Belfast area. I have the freedom to go where I want and believe what I want. Yes the predominant religions here are Christianity, with 2 brands, either Catholic or Protestant. By the time you reach 18 most people have decided for themselves if they agree with what they have been taught. Some accept and some reject. For those that choose not to believe their religion becomes no more than a tribal badge that they are made all too aware of at certain points in the year.
30 years isn’t a lot of time to make sense of the world. And some people don’t even get 30 years. In the short time you are on the earth you have to step back and figure out what is going on with the limited information you have.
When you boil it down to the core questions about life the two main ones that stand out for me are ‘Where did we come from?’ and ‘Where are we going?’ Depending on what household you grew up in the answer to those questions could be very different. Most of the answers to these questions do not come from a basis of a search for truth but rather from a foundation of fear. What if I am wrong? What if I am backing the wrong horse?
Currently this is our best attempt at explaining the Universe. It’s been a while since I looked at DNA replication, geology or physics but I remember being dumbfounded by the complexity of everything around us.
Before Stephen Hawking popularised the Big Bang in the seventies the general consensus was that the universe was infinite, it always has been and always will be.
This was the intellectual environment that Stephen Hawking arrived in and was scoffed at by people who thought they knew more than him. It is very dangerous to assume that you know everything. Even today, we need to stay humble and in awe of this universe because something could be revealed tomorrow that will totally change our current beliefs today. Progress in the field of science is halted because people observe the world around them through glasses of what they believe based on what they have been taught. We have all arrived on the same planet and been presented with the same evidence. Our interpretation of that evidence comes from our pre conceived beliefs.
To paraphrase the famous line from the film ‘A Few Good Men’ where Jack Nicholson screams ‘You Can’t Handle the Truth’ what if no one knows what the truth is and we all are clinging on to our best explanation because the alternative creates too much internal fear and panic?
While most people generally hold onto a few ideas about our origins, the ‘where are you going?’ question opens up a massive can of worms. Ask a Scientologist and they will give you one answer, ask a Muslim or a Mormon and they will give you another. Yet again ask a Christian or an Atheist and they will tell you something completely different yet again.
One thing is for certain, we can’t all be right. And statistically most of us will be wrong. The more I live in the world the more I see it as a sinking ship. Death is waiting for us all. Maybe there is nothing after it. Maybe you sink and that’s it. So you may as well hit the bar and enjoy what finite period of life you have before the ship sinks.
Or maybe there is a lifeboat somewhere. Maybe there is a way out. We are all on this sinking ship and while we are can we please work together and examine if there is a lifeboat out there and if it is worth getting into? I’m definitely not the smartest guy on this ship, there are people out there with way more brains than me. We need to drop any ego we have in order to answer these big questions. In the short time we have on this planet we need to reject everything that leads to death. We need to find if there is a lifeboat out there and if it is worth getting into.
(Before I go I should confess something. I think I’m in a lifeboat. Sure, sometimes I want to get out and sometimes I wonder if this lifeboat will save me. But in my time on the earth I really think it’s the safest place. I also know I don’t deserve to be in this lifeboat.If someone wants to try and convince me of a better option, go ahead. But for now I’m gonna stay here. All I can tell you is to explore for yourself and decide which lifeboat you want to get in. If any.)
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