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Posted by on Apr 9, 2013 in Uncategorized | 7 comments

Life is often good. For many.

It’s all good.

Life is good.

Everything happens for a reason.

I get what’s behind these slogans.  Life is sometimes, even often, good and that’s a great joy.  But they court callousness by overstating their case.  And today they grate more than usual.  Our neighbor’s teenage son killed himself yesterday.  One of the many cars in front of the house had an “It’s all good” sticker on it.  Yep, it was a Jeep Liberty.

I’m a realist.  I’m committed to living in the scientific world of facts.  One of my friends told me that one of the perks of being a human was that we don’t have to do that.  We have powerful virtual reality generators in our heads that let us live in almost any world we wish.

I know that and I did that for years.  But the older I got, the more socially aware I got.  Our world is a cauldron of tensions brought on by this practice.  When we go off into our own faith bubbles, we lose touch with one another.  Our motivations become like the weather to other people.  We can try to understand each other; but when someone’s beliefs are not required to comport with reality, we will always be swimming against the current.  We try to hide this fact by getting into big faith bubbles with lots of other people.  But this ignores the fact that our world is full.  We have to live as one tribe now.  Religious faith belongs in our insular past.

Life is often difficult, but we are in it together.  We undermine our togetherness when we believe whatever we want.  We have a common source of beliefs we can all use:  Nature.  We may not like the fact that we simply are our bodies and we die with them.  But how much easier it would be to face if we simply agreed on this obvious fact.

Blithe slogans and religious faith can be forms of defection from our human family.  They seem harmless, but smuggle a troubling message:  that we can’t be happy in the real world.  We can and we must.  We need a common worldview to survive our many challenges.  Nature is an obvious choice, and science is the best way to learn about it.  Faith diverges, science converges.


  • I am amazed at the blindness of a statement like: Live is good, for many.

    No it is not. A substantial amount of the worlds population – maybe even a majority has to deal with some or all of the issues: no access to clean water, a constant and safe food supply, is threatened by violence at all levels, lacks access to jobs that afford a decent live without the daily worries if you can sustain yourself and your family, has no access to education, dependable and affordable healthcare, decent housing, no legal protection…and it is even worse if you are a woman – and some of that is true even in developed countries like the US and Canada.

    No. Live is good for a few. If you have to work for a living, and were not able to put funds aside to live without pay for a considerable length of time – you only are a few month away from living under the bridge. A good live is precarious and always on the edge if you are a working stiff.

    • donsevers

      Of course you’re right that life is bad for many. But it is also good for many. I only meant that life is not good for everyone.

      You are making the same point I am, that life, in total, is far from good. We can only say that ‘life is good’ if we ignore the suffering of most of our fellows.

  • Eli Horowitz

    So what do you mean by the following two statements:

    -“Our world is full”
    -“We must [be happy in the real world]”

    Cause on the surface those look sort of woo-y and not really rationally justifiable.

    • donsevers

      >-“Our world is full”

      The planet is reaching the maximum number of humans it can sustain. We are deeply interdependent. It is becoming untenable to maintain many of our political and religious divisions.

      -“We must [be happy in the real world]”

      Climate change and social stresses are real and will affect us whether we face them or not. If we succeed in living together, it will be because we take into account those claims that are substantiated, and not wasting time on things that are not, like what God wants. Fighting over the sectarian claims of insular groups is a drain on our efforts to create the good life for as many as possible.

      • Eli Horowitz

        “The planet is reaching the maximum number of humans it can sustain.”

        So…not to be pointlessly pedantic, but…doesn’t “full” sort of mean that it has already reached that number? Also, of course it’s reaching that number: population is increasing, which by definition means we’re reaching that number. The question is how quickly we’ll reach it. (Can you give me an estimate of when we’ll reach it? Like, a prediction?) Also also, “sustain” for how long? We’re going to go extinct sooner or later.

        “We are deeply interdependent.”

        Yeah, I agree with that, it’s just different from the world being “full” in any sense. We were deeply (albeit less deeply) interdependent decades of not centuries ago – was the world “full” then, too?

        “If we succeed in living together, it will be because we take into account those claims that are substantiated, and not wasting time on things that are not”

        Ah – so there was an implied “if” before that: “if we to be happy, we must be happy in the real world. That does make more sense.

  • Reasonably Faithless

    Most days I see posts on Facebook about how good God is – they had good weather for their picnic, or they got a motorbike. Of course life is good (for you) when good things happen to you – that’s just a tautology. But you’re right – to infer from this that “life is good”, as a general statement, is to be hopelessly unaware of the rest of the world.

  • Dave Jones

    the culture industry – the ideology of death