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Blog Post: Real  Nov 17, 2012
 
Real
Let me tell you a story quite fitting for this day. When I was a kid, I was told that God created the Heavens and Earth. It was also explained to me exactly what God's plan was for everything. This seemed to explain my world, that is, everything except science. I tried to believe everyone around me, but there was always a nagging doubt. Why was it that scientists were saying different things than God was? Eventually I decided that there were some really smart people, who made a lot more sense than my parents and religious leaders were making. Instead of shaming me for questioning ideas, they answered my questions and encouraged me to continue thinking.
So, I had then decided there was no reason to believe in any sort of intelligent personal God. At least, I couldn't think of one at the time. I then believed that science was slowly revealing the real world to me. I believed the universe operated under physical laws that were not interfered with by any thinking agent. Up until that point, my life had been filled by constant emotional pain. But then things suddenly began falling into place. For the first time ever, my life began working out in positive ways and I experience moments of actual happiness.
Then, for no reason that I could understand, everything began falling apart. Several years of what, for me, was good luck, suddenly turned into several years of bad luck. Never in my life was there ever a realistic distribution of good and bad events. It was a long period of predominantly constant bad luck, followed by a long period of predominantly constant good luck, followed by a long period of predominantly constant bad luck. It was as if some higher power flipped a switch at two points in my life, a switch that controlled the personality of all other humans. I have never met a person with a similar experience. You may claim to exist, but I still will never meet you. If you repeatedly flip a coin, eventually you will see several heads in a row or several tails in a row. However, if suddenly the coin lands on its thin side, standing upright, fifteen times in a row, you know that something is interfering with the coin. Obviously, you will never believe the coin landed on its side fifteen times in a row, because you didn't experience it. Even if you saw it, you would assume someone was playing a trick on you. But for me, having experienced it, I am forced to search for an explanation.
It is impossible to operate in a world, unless you first create a model of it. But what if you can't create that model? How do you operate in a world that makes no sense? How do you prioritize your actions when the rules are constantly changing? Am I playing some kind of badly designed video game? If not, why does everyone seem like a video game character? Why doesn't anyone have any depth? Why don't any real flesh and blood people ask questions about the universe? Why does every single person I've physically encountered seem incredibly uncomfortable with questioning their worldview? Why are the only people who have ever made any sense to me characters on TV, inaccessible book writers, or mysterious blog writers? Why do all of the actual people I encounter have an unending blank gaze on their face? Why are they only concerned with watching TV, shopping, eating food, and drinking beer? If the problem is with me, if the act of philosophy is a brain defect, then why does everyone pretend to look up to famous philosophers? Why am I deeply compelled to create art from my own experience, when not a single human can relate to my own experience?
For these reasons, I now do not know what to think of the world. I have went from miserable confident theist, to miserable questioning theist, to happy confident naturalist atheist, to miserable questioning agnostic, to just miserable questioning everything. Before every atheist suggests that I return to that viewpoint, please note that although I was happy and successful during that period, I do not have the luxury of simply choosing what to believe. The world is simply what it is, that is, what I remember, and I have to work with that experience. It is clear that someone is behind the scenes, whether it be a god, invisible aliens, an asshole programmer, or something I can't imagine.
So, if the people reading this (you) are actually real people, be thankful that your world is consistent. Be thankful that, while it may be full of randomness, it operates within a framework that remains the same, day after day. Be thankful that your friends are roughly the same people they've always been. Be thankful that the only consistent thing about your immediate family members is not that one of them dies from something extremely rare and usual every few years. Be thankful that the laws of physics remain as just that, laws. Be thankful that your cares, dreams, and ambitions are similar to those of the people around you. Be thankful that there are other humans you can relate to. Be thankful that your world is real. Be thankful that you are real.
So, unless Thanksgiving is no longer celebrated on the third Saturday of November, I would like to end by wishing everyone (real and NPCs alike) a Happy Turkey God Day.
 
3/5 from 1 rating |
Wow, that was actually difficult to upload. In case you're wondering, I decided to, instead of trying to relate to all of the people I have clearly lost touch with, to do more comics where I just write whatever is on my mind. Let the ridicule, imperious pity, false congeniality, scathing accusations, running away in terror, and / or deafening silence begin.
-swb November 17th '12
15 comments on Blog Post: Real Post New Comment...
Edwhad
Holy crap, this one has been around for more than 1.9 years? And somehow I still remember that I've read it at least once.
2 months ago by Edwhad #9046
Sounds like p-zombies and the hard problem of consciousness. They can be a bit disturbing when we are at our most vulnerable. :-/
2 years ago by Anonymous #6849
Couldn't help thinking about this quote when I read this. “Anyone who imagines that bliss is normal is going to waste a lot of time running around shouting that he’s been robbed. The fact is that most putts don’t drop, most beef is tough, most children grow up to just be people, most successful marriages require a high degree of mutual toleration, most jobs are more often dull than otherwise. Life is like an old time rail journey…delays…sidetracks, smoke, dust, cinders and jolts, interspersed only occasionally by beautiful vistas and thrilling burst of speed. The trick is to thank the Lord for letting you have the ride.” --Gordon B. Hinckley
2 years ago by polostar #6844
wobster109
I thought Thanksgiving was on a Thursday? I'm trying to give the most likely hypotheses. Here they are: - There was something in your brain chemistry that made some periods of your life gloomier than others. (This would explain why they came in solid chunks.) - Really bad events had consequences on you and your family members that lasted for a long period of time. - You and the people around you suffered along with the economy. - The major happy/unhappy periods were caused by major turning points in your life, such as moving to a new place, graduating college, or finding work. (Things like that change many circumstances in your life at once.) As to family members dying, I'm really sorry that happened to you. As people get older, the people they know grow older too, so I suppose family and friends die more and more frequently throughout a person's lifetime. That's the gloomiest thing in the world. :( These are all just guesses. I don't know the details, so everything is just guesses based on the little that filters out through comics. As to whether someone is pulling switches, I heard it said that a super-intelligent species would want to simulate boundary cases: peoples and civilizations that are very close to the edge of survival vs. extinction. So if we are a simulation, we're likely to be a boundary case. I'd say that gives us maybe a 50% chance of survival. Maybe the Cold War was our big seminal event. Maybe it was one of many critical points, and the super-species already knows the parameters to survive that. In any case, I doubt it would single you out just to torment you. And if a God did do that, then he is evil indeed. Even if much at the world shies away at the thought of rebellion, there are those who would defy God himself to protect their fellow man. People who fight Voldemort are heroes.
2 years ago by wobster109 #6830
freaksnproud
Just so we're clear: I can't talk for other people but I know I've never not liked one of your comics. Be it a funny or serious or millions of pages long or only one panel. I always find them interesting or comical or relate-able. The only time this might not apply is when I simply don't get the joke because I'm not learned in whatever the comic is about and them I'm just like "Well shit, I need to be smarter". Now. I don't think your happiness is contingent upon your religious views either. I'm sure there were a number of other factors in your atheist days and you simply didn't question it. Belief is a really complicated thing and no, you can't control it. You can try but you'd likely end up lying to yourself, I have. I struggle with faith and, if you're curious, my general belief is that there is a God but that doesn't mean any bit of science is wrong and religion is fucked up. I'm not going to pretend that you're wrong in saying no one experiences what you do by saying that I do. I am sure there are those people but I'm not going there. I've had a lot of fucking bad luck but I try to make my own good luck. I don't know where I'm going with this anymore but something in there spoke to me and now I can't stop rambling. I'm sorry, I applaud anyone for reading all of this.
2 years ago by freaksnproud #6826
To completely ignore everything except a typo: "dies from something extremely rare and usual every few years" should perhaps say unusual rather than usual. Everything else: people are often disappointments, and I highly doubt being an atheist is what made you happy and successful correlation and causation and such. And keep doing what you do, some of us (at least myself) love it. Edit note: Changed complete to completely
2 years ago by mrlescure #6810
adamm
I don't much like the options offered ("ridicule, imperious pity, false congeniality, scathing accusations, running away in terror, and / or deafening silence"). I'm going to agree with anonymous #6800, keep up the good work with the comics, both the ones you think are funny (and nobody else does) and the ones that are you just expressing yourself. And the funny ones too. We appreciate.
2 years ago by adamm #6809
MFan
Sounds to me like you had some bad religious role models. And that's also the worst thing about christianity, most of the other Christians...
2 years ago by MFan #6808
keudo
Magical frogs from outer space. Always the answer. Srsly. And I wouldn't say so much people don't want to question world views, it's more that people are afraid to disrupt the comfort they have found in a routine or in ignoring one thing or another. I try to surround myself (or find at least one) person that I can debate or talk with in a manner that sates my need for intelligent conversation about politics, religion, philosophy, science, or just guns. It's hard to find someone who doesn't just spit out the views their parents or preachers or someone on tv said once, and who has an actual opinion and who has researched or at least become slightly informed about what they have a stance on. But still, magical space frogs. Dead serious.
2 years ago by keudo #6807
I agree with the other posts about the beauty of this writing. Since I know absolutely nothing about you this might sound presumptuous, but I think that there are more people out there like you than you might believe. It is not that people do not question their world views, it is that 99% are afraid to admit that they are questioning their world views. And when you spend you whole life concealing these internal facts about yourself, you can get pretty good at it. That's all for now, but as far as I can see, this is the writing of a very human and very normal being. - DW
2 years ago by Anonymous #6806
You aren't wearing enough hats. That's the real problem. In this universe, people were meant to wear a lot of hats, and nowadays people just aren't wearing enough of them. -J.C.
2 years ago by Anonymous #6805
this is all too dubious. you know, like in 'when you use to look at the clock and you keep seeing 11:11, 12:21, etc and you get that whole thing in your head' style
2 years ago by Anonymous #6804
Oops, sorry. We didn't think this bug affects anyone. But apparently it did. We have patch coming, but it may take few days before it propagates to all regions. Next time I suggest you just file a bug report not go all crazy like this wondering what the hell is going on.
2 years ago by Anonymous #6801
Wow that was really beautiful. I really admire your comics and loved reading your long-ass post. This post in particular was very insightful. Keep up the good work.
2 years ago by Anonymous #6800