PvC#4

PvC#1 | PvC#2 | PvC#3 | PvC#4 | PvC#5 | PvC#6 | PvC#7 | PvC#8 | PvC#9 | PvC#10

The manifestation of the human mind in an indifferent universe, driven by inevitable and unavoidable evolutionary pressures, is the entirety of human culture, with its many tribes, nations, languages, and traditions, with their music and art and literature and cuisines, with their narratives about the superiority of one’s own social group over all others, that play out in ideologies, religions, patriotism, and competitions including sports.

These social identities, ideologies, and religious narratives are central to the quality and meaning of fulfilling lives for virtually all people. They are the meaning of life. Thus people are mostly indifferent to (or in denial of) what’s described in item #1, unaware of the influences of item #2, randomly subject to the illusions of item #3 (depending mostly on where they were born and/or local social influences), unaware of the effective discipline of item #5 (below), only dimly aware of the arcs of history (items #6 and #7) that make the present so different from the past and by implication the future so different from now — except to the extent they resist them (#8) — and are unconcerned about possible futures (items #9 and #10) beyond the next generation or at best two.

(That science fiction does address the reality of the vast universe, does acknowledge human’s partial grasp of reality, does not defer to tribal supernatural assumptions, acknowledges the consequences of the scientific method, and recognizes the patterns of history and the possibilities of the far future and even of the deep past, is why critics, still occasionally, dismiss it as ‘escapist’.)

The commonalities among human cultures are indicative of truths about human nature; the differences between them analogously indicate that that those variant qualities of human culture (including, e.g., language, politics, religions) reflect human culture but not any reality outside it; there is no one correct language, or religious tradition, or cuisine, in the same way that there are non-culturally specific correct mathematics, physics, and chemistry. These aspects of culture are nevertheless important in sustaining identity among members of communities and nations, especially against the threat of rivals; religion in particular is a signifier of a mutual submission to shared traditions and myths, one that enhances fellowship and trust among members even as those myths cannot be substantiated on rational or empirical grounds. Thus, while religious differences drive many of the ongoing political conflicts around the world, many individual people are oddly indifferent to the logical implications that the truth claims of other religions (creation myths, savior figures) are different from their own. It’s more important that other people have some kind of religious beliefs, i.e. a cultural submission to shared identities, with the implication that they can be trusted to behave in a predictable manner, rather than having no religious beliefs at all, which threatens unpredictability; thus the disapproval of atheists beyond the disapproval of those adhering to other religions.