I am nothing more than a fluttering, sputtering avatar of carbon.*
I am nothing less than a fluttering, sputtering avatar of carbon.
I am the product of luck and chance and accident, and in this way I am wonderfully made.
I have been given the gift of consciousness. I am aware of myself. I am aware of mortality. Someday all the fluttering and sputtering will come to an end, and the elements which comprise me will pass on into the universe from whence they came.
But while I can still sputter and flutter, I shall.
I know that when my time comes, I will regret that I have not laughed enough or loved enough, that I was perhaps too stingy with the dollar and not as patient with fools as I should have been.
When the avatar flutters and sputters its last, I shall be no more, but I will live on in the memories of those I have known.
I will probably have a bit of immortality from the madman scribblings I’ve done. and I’ll probably be known for a few other things as well.
I am a Naturalist. I don’t just mean it in the sense that I know about natural history. I am true philosophical Naturalist. All that exists is Nature. I have no deity but Nature, which is to say that I have no belief in a deity at all.
Science reveals Nature’s secrets to us, but our limited, often vainglorious little minds can never comprehend it all. What we have not understood we have historically shoved some mythological explanation into that place where our true knowledge stops.
In other words, if we didn’t understand it, we made it up.
And that just isn’t good enough for me.
Every day, a bit more of Nature’s truth is revealed to us through the painstaking efforts of the scientists.
With each amazing discovery, the mythology seems trite, even a bit egotistical, not at all reverential of the true mystery of what it means to be alive in the universe.
To be truly reverential means taking more than a step back. It means truly realizing the tenuous nature of existence. It means coming to terms with the reality that it wasn’t all built for you, and the universe owes you nothing.
It certainly doesn’t own you an explanation.
To confront the reality of existence is to lie out naked and vulnerable and ignorant and naive before an impersonal universe that cannot love or comfort you in any way.
It is a scary prospect for many, and it may be for most of us. This may be the reason why religion will go on and on, regardless of what scientific findings reveal to us. We just can’t be that vulnerable.
I choose to be vulnerable. I want to know what I can know.
And that’s the best I can do before I’ve fluttered and sputtered my last.
For reality is magical and mysterious, but it has a wonder to it that our imaginations, even at the brightest and most vivid, cannot possibly conjure.
So here I stand, this fluttering, sputtering avatar of carbon, vulnerable before the cosmos, fighting against my primate lusts and rages and egocentric delusions, wanting to know, wanting to make things better, yearning for truth and justice.
If I could not do this every day, there would be no reason to live. Just give up on the species and the planet and watch it burn.
But I cannot reconcile myself to that possibility.
We are truly doomed otherwise, and whatever gift it is to be conscious and alive in the universe is nothing more than a gift stupidly squandered.
So let us be. Let us truly be. Let us think about what it means to be, and be truly reverential of this most amazing fact.
*I am aware that other elements besides carbon comprise my body. Allow me this term as a metaphor, please.