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Answering The Big Question: “Why Am I, Me?”

February 1st, 2012 Leave a comment Go to comments

Psychology and philosophy have always fascinated me. In fact, one of my favorite classes in high school was psychology. It’s been said that we only use about ten percent of our brains. Somehow I can’t help but wonder if that plays a part in answering the question I sometimes ask myself…”Why am I, me?”

…because Leonard Nimoy was already taken?

Perhaps I should clarify that question. Have you ever looked into a mirror or sat alone staring into nature’s beauty wondering why you aren’t in control of someone else? Haven’t you ever pondered why you are in control of this particular consciousness and what you really are? If I’m in the mood for a brain teaser, I’ll take that train of thought one step further and speculate as to where we actually go when we do pass on.

One thing that I am sure of is that we have a limited existence in our current, human form. But why? Why are we here? Ask someone devout to their religion and they’ll tell you that their deity put them here. I find it ironic however that if you were to ask ten different people of the same faith why their deity gave them life, they’d give ten different answers. Ask a scientist who believes in the Big Bang and evolution and they’ll show you partial and sometimes disputed evidence that the universe was created billions of years ago and that our DNA evolved from ponds of goo where amino acids combined to form the first protein. I find that theory more plausible however than, “well, the god I believe in put us here.”

I’m not here to turn this into a religion vs science debate, I’ve already covered that in a previous article. My point is, no one knows for sure.

The exclamation point made me think that this guy had the answers…turns out he just wanted his clean laundry delivered.

I find myself discomforted however about the science route. Let’s say, for example, we are products of a billion year process…where do we go then when we die? Do we just blink out of existence and that’s that? I can see why the religious folk (like christians) find believing in a deity so comforting…I mean, wouldn’t you rather believe (or trick yourself into believing) that there is a place where you go after death to where you can spend eternity being happy among your loved ones? That is, of course, assuming your deity judges you to have lived a just life, whatever THAT means. Honestly, I can’t swallow that, not really. It’s wishful thinking, don’t get me wrong, but there’s no evidence to support that any one of the many religions to choose from is actually quote unquote correct.

Science hasn’t proven where we go when we pass on either. As I mentioned earlier, our brains are usually about ten percent active at a time. There is a large amount of our brain that we don’t know anything about, however we do know that our brains function via electrical impulses. What if, and this is a big what if, our consciousnesses are simply forms of unmeasurable energy that disperse into the unknown after we pass on? What if these energies, or souls if you will, are pulled somewhere unseen into a vast collection of other energies from others who have died? Or…is it possible that the shedding of matter and becoming pure energy is the next step in our evolution? Now that I think about it, it sounds similar to the christian belief, just without the guy in the toga telling you to say ten hail mary’s and he’ll let you in.

I read an article written by someone who claimed to know what the other ninety percent of our brain was doing. He wrote, and I quote, “Talking to God.” I rolled my eyes so hard that they fell outside. I am not going to condemn or criticize a person for what they believe, but don’t ask me to swallow that B.S. Some of us chalk up the unknown to their deity rather than attempt to figure out if there may be more to it.

As it stands, there is no concrete proof either way. So much of the brain is currently unexplored that maybe the answers we seek are there. Maybe there is some all-knowing power behind it all and is giving us the chance to experience life. Maybe we are nothing more than an experiment in someone’s laboratory or an amusing reality sitcom on channel seven hundred and five.

“Did you see what happened last night on the Sol Channel? Apparently, Lindsey Lohan got arrested again!”

What I believe:

The universe, as we know it, is vast and largely unexplored. Yet, we are aware of things like gravity, black holes, time…things that we have discovered as we evolved throughout the ages. I believe that our existence goes beyond all of these things into some grand scheme as dictated by the clockwork perfection that is the universe. Just because we don’t know what that purpose is now or where we go when we die does not mean that we can’t make the scientific advances necessary to better understand it.

Consider this:

Our sun & planet have billions of years left in terms of natural life.

If the Big Bang Theory turns out to be true then we evolved from simple building blocks from millions, perhaps billions of years ago.

From the looks of things, we’re smack dab in the middle, which makes me think that we’re not done growing. Who’s to say that we won’t have our answers some time in the distant future? If you have your doubts, just take a look throughout history and see what accomplishments have been made in the relatively short time humans have populated this planet.

We once thought that the world was flat until Eratosthenes calculated the circumference of the Earth to within about ten percent error, based off of ideas from men like Aristotle and Plato. We once thought that the sun and other planets revolved around us until Copernicus proposed a theory that suggested otherwise…which in turn led Kepler and Galileo to confirm the theory via math and observation, respectively. Later came other great scientists who continued to make outstanding discoveries that brought us closer to understanding the universe. Unfortunately, we’re still a ways off from knowing everything there is to discover.

Who really let the dogs out? We may never know.

In the meantime, we’ll still have questions. We’ll still have self-doubt. We’ll still question the very nature of our existence. We’ll still believe in what we want to believe, because that is our nature. If there’s one thing we humans know how to do, it’s ”wing it”. I’ve been “winging it” for thirty years and I’m sure I’m not done. All we can do now is focus on the things that matter while we’re still here…to make sure that our kids grow up with the ideals and knowledge that our parents passed down onto us, tweaked of course by our own wisdom and experience. Perhaps by passing this knowledge on, we are securing our children’s children’s children’s children’s children’s grandchildren into the position of understanding where we actually came from, be it through wisdom and spirituality or scientific advancement.

If this is the case, it makes it more important now more than ever to be good parents and responsible adults to make sure all of our hard work is not wasted and our wisdom and knowledge not forgotten.

It wouldn’t be a “Vincent” article unless I threw a second Star Trek reference in here somewhere. It was something Q, an all-knowing and powerful being, told Picard in the final episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Q: “We wanted to see if you had the ability to expand your horizons, and for one brief moment, you did.”

Picard: “When I realized the paradox.”

Q: “Exactly. For that one fraction of a second, you were open to possibilities you had never considered. THAT, is the exploration that awaits you. Not mapping stars and studying nebula, but charting the unknown possibilities, of existence.”

Maybe death truly is the “final frontier”, though I’d like to think it was just the beginning of a new adventure. An adventure filled with more discovery. An adventure filled with knowledge and intrigue. An adventure that redefines how we saw life in our limited window of existence on Earth. An adventure of coming to understand who we truly are.

An adventure that will happen…someday.

  1. Thomas Stevenson
    January 10th, 2014 at 10:42 | #1

    A more accurate statement would be that we can only account for what 10% of the brain does. I suspect the other 90% is for memory storage.