10 07 10 - 06:38I had a favorite pet, once, who had a type of game he played. It was a serious game however, not like chase the tail or throw the stick. It was a game that most conscious organisms play.
He would wait until I was comfortable, resting or working, and then come into the room and sit just enough out of reach that I would have to get up and go to him, pet him and comfort him. The question was implicit: am I more important to your consciousness than whatever you're working on there, or your rest time?
It was a daily affirmation of a simple question and answer response. Do you love me? Yes, I do -- enough to stop what I'm doing and come to you. It didn't need to happen every time, just once a day. Since then I've observed the same thing in my own creatures, the creatures of others, and the creatures that are others.
You can even observe it here on our forums.
In addition to all the regular tardation that goes with the internet, there's a relatively constant repetition of people who come in and either say outrageous things, or deliberately insult others, or just behave like (intelligent, quasi-autistic) retards.
But first they'll do something -- the human equivalent of coming into the room when you're all in a virtual space. They'll make an offering, usually of an idea, observation or some project of theirs (music, writing, art). This is their equivalent of being just out of reach: here, you have to stop what you're doing to see this.
The question is the same, although in our modern world we've redefined the vocabulary to make this seem vaguely gay, pedo or unseemly: Do you love me?
I think all people, especially atheists, have an implicit vision of God. They believe that somewhere, somehow, there is a deliberate narrative to life. Part of this is the sorting of people between the lovable, and the discardable. Our minds invent this narrative because we need to believe it to think life is non-pointless.
Our implicit narrative of God has us wanting to be assessed as lovable by someone, as if we're looking for proof to use in the court of the hereafter. We need that judgment passed on ourselves, and the best we've come up with as atheists is to replace "God" with "my social group" or in extreme cases, "myself after two cocktails."
Do you love me?
When people asked, I am always tempted to begin the story. That I am neither theist nor atheist. That linear thinking science has utterly failed to explain the origins of the universe. That we still lack a plausible explanation for the beginning of existence -- the possibility of matter, then space and then time -- itself. That inevitably, whatever construct enables spacetime and matter has some form of precursor that exists outside of not just time, but the linearity that demands events have cause and effect. It simultaneously existed and did not exist and made itself occur.
I am the biggest believer of causal logic I have ever encountered. That every event has a clear cause, and that we shouldn't conveniently attribute another cause to its eventiture, and that every random cause will have a certain degree of effects, fascinates me. So does the harmony of polycausality, where multiple events occurring proximately -- the old man leaves his seat, the pretty girl sits down, the scam artist lies to the young man who then gets on the last seat on the bus, next to the pretty girl, and just happens to have read the book she's holding, last week even -- makes an event occur like the bell-like ringing out of multiple notes at once, their internal harmonics enhancing one another like the millions of tiny girders that make up the Eiffel Tower.
However, causal logic does not mean causal logic dependent on space and time exclusively. There is a possibility that more is afoot: that something exists outside of time and space, but with the holographic data construct (don't try to parse that: just meditate on it) that space and time afford through iteration and proximity. Lacking time, however, it is its own cause and effect. It is also indetectible like all of the truly good mysteries in life.
When someone asks, Do you love me? I look into their eyes and I see this same founding force staring back at me. I see it in my own eyes; for all practical purposes, I don't exist. I am an oasis in a desert that someone else had the wit to put there; when you drink of the water, you are drinking of someone or something else. My intelligence is inherited, my personality is inherited as are my notorious rugged good looks. Everything that I am is the result of a long chain of cause-effect relationships that started with -- well, whatever founding force(tm) I'm describing.
What I say to the cats, dogs, ferrets, humans, and online simulacra (many of our best users are Perl scripts) is this: Yes, I love you. You have some role to play in this game. Like me, you don't really exist. We are the pieces on the checkboard that determines the outcome of the game of life. When a loss or draw occurs, some great force upturns the board and tries again. But now that we know that, we can see that we have a sacred role, each of us, in this game.
If you are a Roman soldier, make sure you stab and mock the Christ well; if you're Judas, betray well! -- if you're Christ, simper and lie well. If you're the Buddha, make sure you negate people's brains so they shut up and let you think (this is the probable origin of Buddhism). If you're Plato, or another truly enlightened thinker, fill your role of struggling harder than anyone else to make sense of the world and interpret the founding force not as a symbol to replace reality (religion) but as a series of principles we can derive, understand and use (philosophy...errr, "science").
When we talk about sacralizing life, we talk about this view. We are no longer in the moral world of yes/no decisions -- am I OK? -- but in the hazy space of causal links and having a purpose to what we do. It's not about you, personally; yes, I love you, but that's not the question you need to be asking. The question is What is my role in the great game of life? and now that we've stopped worrying about the false things (socialization, morality), how do I play?