Fear of Reality

In a recent debate, someone asked what we all thought happened after death.  Most, thankfully, said we simply stopped existing.  Then she asked if that bothered us.

My response was “who cares?”

What difference does it make whether or not reality bothers us.  It’s reality!  Reality is not up for a vote, it doesn’t matter if it makes you happy or sad, it is what is.  It doesn’t matter if you scream or whine about it or embrace it as inevitable, reality changes for no man.

It reminded me of Christopher Hitchens, who has incurable cancer.  He is dying.  He knows he is dying.  While I don’t know what’s going on inside his head, publically, at least, he’s very accepting of the fact.  He’s doing what is medically possible, I’m sure he’s hoping for a cure, or at the very least, remission, but the reality is, he’s probably going to die in a very short time.  What’s nice is you don’t see him running around screaming about it or begging the heavens to save him.  He’s facing death bravely, accepting the inevitable and dealing with the cards reality has dealt him.

Why do some people think that reality gives a damn what they want?  It wasn’t that long ago that Texas’ idiot governor, Rick Perry, was telling people to pray for rain.  Is he that stupid?  Wait, don’t answer that.  Does he seriously think that doing a jig or talking to himself or screaming at the sky is going to make reality change it’s mind?  Seriously?

It isn’t the first time I’ve brought this up though, but I’ve never gotten a satisfactory answer from theists.  Why does making you comfortable have anything to do with reality?  Seriously, I think it comes largely, not just from the inherent irrationality of religion, but on the ego-stroking that some people require to keep wandering around all day.  They need to feel important.  They need to think the human species is a big deal.  We need to matter in order for them to feel confident enough to continue functioning.

The problem is, the human species really isn’t important, at least not in the grand scheme of things.  We are, like it or not, an insignificant species on an insignificant planet in an insignificant solar system in an insignificant galaxy.  If we were to go extinct tomorrow, if our planet were to explode, nobody would miss us because nobody, unless they intercepted the weak radio signals we’ve littered our corner of the cosmos with, would ever know we existed.  And you know something?  Nobody would care, nor be any less for not having known about us.  Sure, we think we’re hot shit on this planet, but the planet did fine for billions of years without us, it’ll do fine for billions more once we’re gone, at least until the sun becomes a red giant and incinerates the Earth.  Our own overactive ego or not, we need to be realistic about our importance, both on this planet and in this universe.  We have virtually none.  Deal with it.

Far too many people care more about how a particular fact makes them feel than whether or not it’s a fact.  They’re all too happy to believe in complete lies, just so long as they’re comforted by it.  They vehemently deny demonstrable facts if those facts get in the way of an enjoyable delusion.  Then they get mad at you when you point out what they’re doing.  Emotion rules these people’s lives, not intelligence, rationality, evidence or anything else.  They want to feel good, no matter how ridiculous their lives are.  That’s a very primitive, irrational way to go through life.

That’s why I think we need to start teaching critical thinking, rational evaluation and evidence very early in schools.  Teach kids how to think.  Teach them how to make decisions based on evidence and logic.  Start them young and by the time they’re adults, I bet we’ll see most of them rejecting all manner of woo, including religion.  You’ll get more people dealing with reality as it is, rather than how they wish it was.

And wouldn’t that be a good thing?

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