The Implications of Being Alone

Someone once said, I forget who, that “we are either alone or we are not, both options are equally terrifying.” I’d like to propose a corollary to that, while they may be equally terrifying, the implications of both, especially when taking into regard the Great Filter hypothesis, are markedly different from each other.

If we are alone that’s arguably good, but still terrifying, news, because it means we have past the Great Filter that so many other would be civilizations have failed to pass through, we essentially have the entire universe to ourselves, and will not only survive, but thrive, perhaps even become as gods, but the implications of what it means to be alone are still vast. I dare not explore them.

If we are *not* alone, that’s bad, and still terrifying, news, because it means we have *not* passed the Great Filter, then, and we don’t have the universe to ourselves. It means that the path to a toolmaking and spacefaring civilization is an easy one, and that the Great Filter lies beyond the point at which life arises.

If we discover extraterrestrial microbes, that’s bad news, if we discover complex extraterrestrial life that’s even worse news, if we discover extraterrestrial toolmaking intelligences that’s a death sentence for ourselves and them.

Let us pray we do not discover alien life any time soon, however, the likelihood of alien life existing is, as a recent study showed, statistically inevitable, so we may be doomed after all.

How Did Life Begin? New Study Reveals Life in the Universe Could Be Common

“Why is there anything at all?”

I must admit I’ve been bothered by the fact that we ultimately cannot find a satisfactory answer for why something like existence itself, well, exists. We now know the Big Bang (probably) wasn’t the origin of everything, and that the current stage of the universe we find ourselves in is just the latest stage of an eternally evolving universe that may very well be part of a larger multiverse, but where did that come from?

“Everything must have a cause” according to Leibniz’s “Principle of Sufficient Reason,” and yet all the causes offered up so far, from God to random quantum fluctuations, don’t give a satisfactory answer. It’s been suggested that this ultimate question of metaphysics is the philosophical equivalent of attempting to square the circle, but I cannot find myself accepting that. There has to be some sort of answer, and this is the territory that allows theism (or at the very least deism) to subtly creep back in, the ultimate god of the gaps that may very well never be shaken out of its hiding spot.

The idea that there exists things humanity will never even hope to comprehend is something far more suitable for Lovecraft’s universe than the scientifically enlightened (for a given value of “enlightened”) one we find ourselves in, and the fact this may very well be true is what disturbs me on a fundamental level. I am afraid I cannot give a satisfactory answer to this, and nor can anyone else. I am sorry.

A Critique of Antinatalism

Antinatalism is, at its simplest, an opposition to having more babies, or, well, “natalism.” Herein I first address several key concepts of the antinatalist movement and then move on to a short analysis of antinatalism itself. Let’s begin.

The first thing we are going to be addressing is the concept of existence and suffering, antinatalists claim that life is nothing but suffering, and nonexistence precludes suffering. That is, on its surface anyway, true, but the argument implies a subjective you to experience not experiencing suffering, while nonexistence means, well, nonexistence, “you” don’t exist, there is no “you,” not even proverbially. What this means is that nonexistence precludes suffering is irrelevant at best.

Also life is not all suffering, not existing also precludes experiencing things such as awe, joy, and wonder. Some antinatalists I have conversed with have viewed this state of nonexistence as akin to the Nirvana concept in Buddhism, but the concept of Nirvana implies that there is still a subjective you existing, so this is a false equivocation.

One other thing antinatalists like to claim is that antinatalism prevents overpopulation when in fact overpopulation is not a problem unlike what the pundits would have you believe. We have more food than people, and our rate of food production is more than enough to feed the entire population of earth many times over, it is increasing rather than decreasing, Malthus couldn’t foresee the Green Revolution and the British Agricultural Revolution, so overpopulation is a nonissue as well.

One thing I’ll give antinatalists is that antinatalism may be beneficial for the environment, but I doubt that means anything in practice, since people are still gonna have children irregardless of what other people say, it is the biological imperative of the species to do so, so other forms of environmental protections are more practical than simple antinatalism.

Introducing incentives to have fewer babies will lessen the rate of new births, but people are still gonna have children, it won’t reach zero, since people are still gonna have babies, just not as many, the species won’t die out.