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Old 04-17-2009, 11:00 AM
Status: "Bountiful pine needle harvest" (set 21 days ago)
 
Location: Near Manito
19,273 posts, read 20,151,367 times
Reputation: 13358

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I came across the following passage last night from Dr. Sherwin Nuland's book How We Live (Vintage, 1997):

So far have we gone beyond our basic self-protective and propagating drives that we have in the proces become endowed with such wonders and marvels as abstract reasoning; the personal and communal wherewithal to build and preserve highly organized civilizations; a level of altruism so far removed from simple instinctual self-preservation that it sometimes runs counter to it, and by so doing becomes an exemplary societal ideal -- to sacrifice for others; and perhaps above all, a sense of beauty and even spirituality. Without question, these are all qualities magnificently transcendant to the simple requirements of DNA transmission. So transcendant are they, in fact, that they seem a reward for having persevered -- an extra we have granted ourselves, or been granted, as a gift for making proper use of the extraodinary brain with which nature has favored us.

Besides admiring the gracefulness of Dr. Nuland's prose, I am attracted to his argument which both opposes the naturalistic pragmatism which holds that the only motivation of life is the preservation of DNA for transmission to future generations, and proposes that we "have been granted" such "wonders and marvels" as those he describes...inescapably inferring that an agent of some magificence would seem to be the source of these inspiring gifts.

I am very interested in others' views of this topic. I invite comments.
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Old 04-17-2009, 11:08 AM
 
Location: Florida
18,290 posts, read 18,533,242 times
Reputation: 20966
Quote:
Originally Posted by Yeledaf View Post
I came across the following passage last night from Dr. Sherwin Nuland's book How We Live (Vintage, 1997):

So transcendant are they, in fact, that they seem a reward for having persevered -- an extra we have granted ourselves, or been granted, as a gift for making proper use of the extraodinary brain with which nature has favored us.

Besides admiring the gracefulness of Dr. Nuland's prose, I am attracted to his argument which both opposes the naturalistic pragmatism which holds that the only motivation of life is the preservation of DNA for transmission to future generations, and proposes that we "have been granted" such "wonders and marvels" as those he describes...inescapably inferring that an agent of some magificence would seem to be the source of these inspiring gifts.

I am very interested in others' views of this topic. I invite comments.
I believe the bolded part shows that he inferred nothing (much less inescapably) but gave an option as to which is the source, depending on the reader
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Old 04-17-2009, 11:23 AM
 
Location: Portland, Oregon
7,091 posts, read 10,487,344 times
Reputation: 4104
We are a cosmic joke that we are too close to see and appreciate right. Especially those who do way the hell too much drugs, like Ozzy Osborne.
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Old 04-17-2009, 11:25 AM
Status: "Bountiful pine needle harvest" (set 21 days ago)
 
Location: Near Manito
19,273 posts, read 20,151,367 times
Reputation: 13358
Quote:
Originally Posted by old_cold View Post
I believe the bolded part shows that he inferred nothing (much less inescapably) but gave an option as to which is the source, depending on the reader
Thank you.
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Old 04-17-2009, 02:02 PM
 
539 posts, read 194,843 times
Reputation: 140
Default Re: Why are we alive?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Yeledaf View Post
I came across the following passage last night from Dr. Sherwin Nuland's book How We Live (Vintage, 1997):

So far have we gone beyond our basic self-protective and propagating drives that we have in the proces become endowed with such wonders and marvels as abstract reasoning; the personal and communal wherewithal to build and preserve highly organized civilizations; a level of altruism so far removed from simple instinctual self-preservation that it sometimes runs counter to it, and by so doing becomes an exemplary societal ideal -- to sacrifice for others; and perhaps above all, a sense of beauty and even spirituality. Without question, these are all qualities magnificently transcendant to the simple requirements of DNA transmission. So transcendant are they, in fact, that they seem a reward for having persevered -- an extra we have granted ourselves, or been granted, as a gift for making proper use of the extraodinary brain with which nature has favored us.

Besides admiring the gracefulness of Dr. Nuland's prose, I am attracted to his argument which both opposes the naturalistic pragmatism which holds that the only motivation of life is the preservation of DNA for transmission to future generations, and proposes that we "have been granted" such "wonders and marvels" as those he describes...inescapably inferring that an agent of some magificence would seem to be the source of these inspiring gifts.

I am very interested in others' views of this topic. I invite comments.
Why are we alive? To know that one is alive implies that one has self-awareness. Do any of the other animals know that they are "alive"? A few of the higher primates, when they look in a mirror will realize that it is them looking back. There are stories of dogs that have lost either human or dog companions and seem to go through a mournful time. So, it would seem that some of the other animals have an idea of what's going on. I think we really are here by accident. A lucky combination of proteins in the primordial soup, struck by lightning to get things rolling and here we are, millions of years and countless mutations later. Watching the movie "Blast From The Past", Brendan Fraser quotes his father the scientist Christopher Walken as telling him "Everything is a miracle". When you think about it what is more true? Gotta love that Christopher Walken. The earth is something like 4 billion years old. We have been human beings for about 400,000 years, starting out as wandering nomads, and finally ending up as pair-bonding hunter/gatherers. My mother used to tell me that if the history of the earth were put on a 1 year map, we arrive at the party at 1 minute to midnight on New Years Eve. Makes you feel infinitesmal. This is all based on whether you believe in evolution or Creationism. Are we descended from the apes or are we made in the image of a Supreme Being, who has a Divine Plan for every last thing (is God a micro-manager?). I, myself go with the former, hoping one day I didn't pick the wrong door. To answer your question, I think we are here by a serendipitous chain of events that took advantage of all the elements that were in place at the time said events took place. Either that , or we're a race of half-breeds left over from a genetic experiment conducted by aliens. Ha-Ha, I wonder if the joke really IS on us? Two movies I can watch over and over- Mission to Mars w/ Tim Robbins, Gary Sinise, etc, should rent because some TV stations cut out a very entertaining part towards the end. After they solve the riddle of the head, a part gets cut out because of references to evolution that might "offend" some. Everyone needs to grow up. Another of my favorites is Contact w/ Jodie Foster, Tom Skerritt, David Morse, etc. From a book written by the genius Carl Sagan. OMG, Love this story.
Also have recently read about how we were almost wiped out as a species about 75,000 years ago. A volcano named Toba erupted in Indonesia, setting off another chain of events, global cooling, blocking of sunlight, startind an ice-age, that the human species was reduced to anywhere from an estimated 1000 to 10,000 breeding pairs. Pretty near wiped out, I'd call that. Again, we're here through a miraculous accident.
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Old 04-17-2009, 03:34 PM
Status: "Bountiful pine needle harvest" (set 21 days ago)
 
Location: Near Manito
19,273 posts, read 20,151,367 times
Reputation: 13358
Quote:
Originally Posted by xrouteman View Post
Again, we're here through a miraculous accident.
Thank you for your opinion.
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Old 04-17-2009, 04:11 PM
 
Location: Victoria TX
42,668 posts, read 71,538,289 times
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Isn't "miraculous accident" an oxymoron?
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Old 04-17-2009, 05:07 PM
Status: "Bountiful pine needle harvest" (set 21 days ago)
 
Location: Near Manito
19,273 posts, read 20,151,367 times
Reputation: 13358
Quote:
Originally Posted by jtur88 View Post
Isn't "miraculous accident" an oxymoron?
Well, yes. Attibuting wisdom to an actor for playing an amusing role is not a particularly persuasive line of thought, either. But I didn't start this thread to criticize other posters. I'm just interested in others' responses to Dr. Nuland's observations concerning those "....qualities magnificently transcendant to the simple requirements of DNA transmission."
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Old 04-17-2009, 05:13 PM
 
Location: Long Island,New York
8,163 posts, read 12,817,106 times
Reputation: 2474
Quote:
Originally Posted by jtur88 View Post
Isn't "miraculous accident" an oxymoron?
so is jumbo shrimp or honest politician
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