All Science teaches us is that Life is pointless
E.O. Wilson’s ‘On Human Nature’
One of the main purposes of this blog is to criticise the 'New Humanism', science-worship, cosmos-worship, Nature worship, militiant secularism, call it what you will that appears to dominate the discourse of public intellectuals today. Contrary to what the vanguard of these new movements want you to believe (I'm referring to Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Christopher Hitchens, Carl Sagan and Sam Harris amongst others), science teaches us only two things:
1. Life is Pointless
2. Nature is Horrible
Unless you believe in a Deity who set the cosmos in motion with some sort of purpose, the plain truth is that we are mortal animals, doomed to live and die in a cold and indifferent universe. The only thing that gets us out of bed in the morning is delusion, hedonism or external obligation. Knowing what we do about our ultimate fate, it's remarkable anyone does anything at all.
On that note, I’ve recently finished reading E.O. Wilson’s ‘On Human Nature’, written in the early 70s, where Wilson attempted to apply the theory of Sociobiolgy to human beings and their societies. In contrast to the arrogance of Dawkins, Dennet and co., Wilson writes with great modesty and humility, and, perhaps uniquely amongst the so-called ‘popularisers’, he also displays an awareness of the essentially pointless nature of human existence.
He writes: “We have no particular place to go. The species lacks any goal external to its own biological nature. It could be that in the next hundred years humankind will thread the needles of technology and politics, solve the energy and material crises, avert nuclear war, and control reproduction...But what then? Educated people everywhere like to believe that beyond material needs lie fulfilment and the realization of individual potential. But what is fulfilment, and to what ends may potential be realized?”
Throughout the book, Wilson displays a touching awareness of this insoluble problem. Admittedly, on the very last page he feels obliged to express the hope that as people become more rational a new form of ethics may be devised so as to create a fairer and more equitable society, but this still wouldn’t solve the problem of ultimate purpose. We do indeed have nowhere to go, and for many people on the planet their sojourn here is nightmarish.
In conclusion, I heartily recommend Wilson’s book for a clear-eyed view of how biology got us here and how we ain’t going nowhere else....