This has been a chapter of denials, where we finally acknowledge that the universe evolves only in obedience to laws that have been in existence since the moment of its birth—the purpose of which, if pre-programmed by some external deity, can never be discovered. We acknowledged also that life can arise and progress with no purpose apparent. The first life (wherever and whenever it arose) formed from atoms and molecules because conditions were conducive, and it has since evolved to become what exists today for exactly the same reason. When our star dies, so will our home, and all life that remains at home.
Some readers may find this Part of the book distressing. Such bold statements about the triviality of life and our species are not enjoyable to read. The real state of affairs is that there is no candy coating. There is no Father-in-Heaven looking down and caring for or about us—our prayers serve only to console ourselves. It is sobering to confront such truths, but are they really that much of a surprise? Haven’t we all previously, at least briefly, suspected as much, deep down inside, at one time or another?
Much as we might like it to be otherwise, we are truly alone and adrift. Alone, but accompanied by all the other life forms that this universe contains. Adrift, but slowly finding our way from ignorance to wisdom. Constantly moving from the past, when life knew nothing, to the future, when life will know almost everything. God, if He ever existed, cut us all free when He released the universe. That was when free will began, and this is exactly what free will entails: facing up to the facts, recognizing that we make the bed we lie upon, and taking the responsibility to make decisions rationally as we travel along the evolutionary pathway.
But, what a journey it is! Especially now, when we are at the cusp of understanding and controlling so much. So many possibilities, so many choices; the future can seem overwhelming—indeed frightening—at times. But life can become glorious and wonderful again, bright from a new guiding light—once we build the beacon.
I think that there is much to gain by adopting life’s evolutionary consequence as a surrogate purpose, and using that to guide our decision making. Part Four examines some reasons for thinking so, and suggests what might be done with the visions such a choice generates.
But, before we rush ahead; what if these conjectures about life’s outcome are fantasies? No one wants to be misled by yet another set of assumptions, inventions and falsehoods. Although life may well have learned how to control some things, is there any plausible reason to think that it will continue to do so? From where does this ability to learn and to apply such learning come, and is this source a permanent feature of life?
When I was able to step back from my “revelation” (see Creativity, Free Will, And A Revelation) a decade or so after it happened, I began wondering what could possibly cause evolution itself to evolve. Why should it change from being just a passive “reaction-to-events” process, to becoming an active “determinator-of-its-own-future” process? I knew of none; however, such a transformation has happened, so there must be a cause to be discovered. The next chapter explores one possibility.