We humans seem to think of ourselves as permanent beings; infinite in the grand scheme of things. We interact so tangibly with life every day and go to bed every night thinking that there will always be another day. “Well, I didn’t get around to it today, I’ll get to it some other time.” Sound familiar?
We are hardwired to view life from this point of view, otherwise facing our own ultimate fate would be quite hindering to most people by living in the constant fear of the realization that we won’t always be around. For thousands of years we have built statues, created paintings, wrote books; all in an attempt to gain some aspect of permanence in this finite world.
Anything and everything will come to an end eventually; and I’m not just talking about you and me, life and death. Eventually our world as well will cease to exist, along with our sun, our solar system, even our galaxy; and all of those remains we left behind in search of permanence will cease to exist as well.
A lot of people believe in religion, and first and foremost; I am not here to bash anyone’s beliefs. I believe that anyone and everyone has the right to believe in whatever they so choose, as long as it doesn’t teach hate I’m okay with it. In some aspects I believe it can be healthy for people; in others ways I think it can be unhealthy, but that is neither here nor there. I myself do not believe in any sort of religion or life after this world. I’m not saying that it isn’t possible, that’s why I label myself as agnostic and not atheist. It would be naive and ignorant of me to rule something out just because I personally think it doesn’t exist; I simply don’t know. And in regards to religion, and an afterlife, I personally don’t think it is real; But hey, prove me wrong and maybe I’ll change my mind.
My point with bringing up religion is that some people get a metaphorical escape from what I am talking about by believing in an afterlife, because believing in an afterlife gives an individual a sense of permanence whether on this plane or a spiritual one. For those that don’t believe in life after death, the finite reality of our existence could be pretty depressing to think about continually; thus is why our brains are hardwired to see the world as a permanent thing. It’s not a coping mechanism, but an innately hardwirded aspect of our cognizance. Think about it; If you were constantly thinking about the fact that nothing in life is permanent, our existence is irrelevant, and one day everything will come to an end, how likely would you be in a healthy state of mind? That’s why our brains are predisposed to see the world as infinite. Just like a plant’s sole purpose on this planet is to create copies of itself, so is ours; looking at life as pointless would be greatly hindering to this natural biological process.
I tend to view the world in a more nihilistic manner, but not negatively. Yes, I do believe that all of our lives are insignificant and irrelevant on the cosmic level; but I still believe in humanity, and the fact that we are cognizant means we carry the responsibility of living an honorable and compassionate life. I think this is important. Despite our long-term irrelevance, we do have the ability to make the world better while we are here and the before mentioned irrelevance shouldn’t change our desire to further humanities progress; at least until humanity no longer exists.
I think as conscious beings it is our responsibility to make this world a better place, for the time being.
This thought came to mind randomly because of a YouTube video that I watched some time ago. After doing some digging, I finally found it and I think everyone should watch it; regardless of your own personal beliefs or religious affiliations. Also, it’s where I got the title of this post from. Sorry, I stole it.
All credits for the below video go to the YouTube channel Veritasium: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCHnyfMqiRRG1u-2MsSQLbXA
It is a channel dedicated to all things science, if that’s your thing, give it a look. They have some pretty quality stuff, but the below video in my opinion is their greatest post to date.