About love and the universe (a rant)

Atoms fall together following uncaring and purposeless laws of nature: fire rises and clouds of steam fall. Something wriggles out of the sea, eating its kin and interbreeding, dying again and again. Something more complicated rises generation by generation, exploding in a million directions, none of them better or higher than any other save by the virtue of what survives best and what does not. Limbs and eyes prove winning inventions, and are invented many a time; once upon time a particular mammal finds some advantage in having a bigger flesh computer within; and thus consciousness shudders into being. Soon there are humans all over the place, thinking everything must be like themselves, and everything must have a consciousness too.

And of course they are wrong.

Humans are star-stuff, but the stuff of stars doesn’t think or feel or care no matter how much humans cry at it. There is no love in the fabric of the universe, none at all. Not in gravity, not in magnetism, not in mathematics. There is no intention, purpose or goal in the universe. If someone finds a deep meaning and purpose in the universe, that someone is mistaken or deluding herself or himself. Life has no global meaning that comes from without; all meanings of life are local and need to be found within.

There is no God, no central will, no loving universe: just blind pitiless indifference. There is no love in the universe until mankind rises, and has the wits to perceive itself. Love is not a law of nature. Love is not something that must be, or something that exists out there. Love exists only as far and as long as we human beings give birth to it.

I don’t go for the sort of mush that talk of love and universe usually is, but love is important in an entirely non-cute and real a way: not because it is a big and universal thing, but because it is a small, fragile and recent invention, the result of what happens when lust and consciousness collide. If we don’t feed that precious sentiment we’ve made high, noble and our own, it will be no more. Animals don’t love much because they don’t have the brains for it; the rest of the universe has no brains and no ability to love at all. (Possible aliens excluded for reasons of simplicity.)

Some say love is bigger than fear; but the important thing is love and fear are both very small things. Greed, jealousy, hatred, bitterness, sadness and anger are all very small things, as are all the corresponding positive feelings: they are the property of humans and animals, the occupants of a minuscule space for a minuscule amount of time. Humans are very good in making their personal dramas into all-important facts of the universe; but the universe doesn’t care. Stars feel no fear. Nebulae aren’t angry. If a comet were to slam into the Earth tomorrow, neither it, nor the Earth, nor the universe would in any way comprehend, care or grieve mankind’s demise, or raise a ghostly ectoplasmic limb of love to deflect the missile of death.

Only humans care. Only humans hate, love, despair, and so on. All human drama is just muttering in a corner of an unimaginably vast stage, towards the middle of a vast and quiet play, for an audience that isn’t there. The thing to remember about the drama is that it isn’t foreordained or overseen. It won’t get any applause, or a sudden deus ex machina if there’s enough pathos. The actors, us seven billion, are all there are that care about the play.

I’d say that is enough to work for the play that best satisfies us. Not because the universe cares; but because we all do. Not because there’s love out there, but because it’s all in here.

* * *

And this is what belches out when I try to say why I don’t like modern pantheistic varieties of spirituality. Pomposity reigns indeed.

Also, “we are star-stuff” (c) Carl Sagan, “blind pitiless indifference” (c) Richard Dawkins, “get in the fecking sack!” (c) Dara O’Briain.

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