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“The Mystery of Life” - Sherlock’s Biggest Case

by Jerry 

Posted: 09 November 2004
Word Count: 1432
Summary: If there was a purpose to life then all that exists today must be made for that purpose. Could explanations of what life is about have been staring us in the face for centuries, but we've never thought to think them before. Like Newton for example being the first one to think that perhaps gravity exists.

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Dear Whoever Reads This

I am struggling away, its taking forever, on Chapter 4 of about a 10 chapter book trying to put some new ideas into 'the eternal question'. Hopefully it won't smell of bullshit by the end of it, and will have something to say that hasn't been said before.....

I realise it comes over a bit authoritative, like I've really got something to say, when as far as you're concerned I might be off my tree. Perhaps forget about whether I end up delivering the goods or not and just look at the writing.

This is the opening gambit to start it off and any comments will be appreciated.

Is it not ironic that despite the great advances in knowledge and the application of that knowledge in the technological revolution that has characterised this last century; from the television to the aeroplane, the computer to the breakthroughs in surgery; we are still unclear about some of the most obvious questions where our own lives personally are concerned?

We know what time the sun will set on a day 10 years from now. We can surf on the internet and get a recipe from practically any country in the world. We know how many atoms there are in a pinhead and people have classified and named every type of cell that exists in the body. The record of our achievements has become encyclopaedic. We have become masters of mapping and naming and explaining the world around us, sometimes to the point of obsession. However, when it comes to understanding how we got here and if anything lies in store for us beyond this life, our textbook of explanation is either factually bare or packed full of diverse beliefs, faiths and myths.

Essentially the nature of life and how it came to exist has not been adequately explained. No scientific view or religious theology addresses in sufficient detail the explanation about the cause and reasons for life. They may claim to, but generally they do not embrace the range of behaviour and activity that we experience and usually their message is reduced to a simplistic picture.

One religious view will say that the reason we exist is to praise and worship God. Another that we are here to help others, another that the purpose of our life is to redeem ourselves from sin, or it is to go to heaven, or it is to evolve through many reincarnations. Some will say it is all of these.

Or there is the evolutionary view that we exist on the basis of the survival of the fittest and that there is no creator or masterplan, or that no underlying cause for life exists and it is essentially a chance result or accident.

There is also the view that, although not religious, recognises the spiritual nature of life and considers that to be the primary reason for our existence. Therefore we are here to develop ourselves and establish a better spirituality and humanity.

In addition there are others and combinations of these, but whichever view is taken you might like to place it against the following, which is an exercise you can do yourself.

Take a minute to reflect upon what you did yesterday, from the time you woke up to the time you went to sleep. Get a measure of this, including what you said and what you thought and then take any of the explanations of life from the previous paragraphs and check to see how much of what you did, thought or said was an example of or based on the principle of that reason for living.

What we each do in a day is very varied, but here are a few examples: You washed yourself, you had a meal or maybe several meals, you went to the toilet a few times, you said hello courteously to a number of people, you were rude to one person accidentally or deliberately, you met a friend and talked about what each of you had been doing recently. You met another person and it ended in a disagreement perhaps due to a misunderstanding or difference in view, you looked at some scenery, you were caught by something someone was doing because it impressed you, you met and had a gossip (you liked that), you commented on the weather, you petted an animal, you did some shopping, you looked at yourself in the mirror and checked your clothes to make sure they were appropriate for something you were going to do that day, you met another person and spent a lot of time talking about your favourite subject, you went to work, you thought about an event you were attending in a few days time, you spent some time daydreaming about something you would like to happen, if you’re religious you prayed several times, or gave thanks to God for what you were doing or the blessings you felt your life had had, you thought about your health and remembered someone you knew who is currently ill, you watched television primarily for entertainment, you did some exercise, you cleaned something in your house…. and the list could go on.

Something created us to do that, or a set of circumstances occurred and because of them this is the sort of things we now do. Surely these things have a place in the purpose of our lives, or if they don’t there is an awful lot of wastage going on and our Creator, whatever that is, has kept us busy with things that have no use. Or else it could be implying that life is just a random set of occurrences and that there is no plan or greater purpose to our living.

However to consider how what we do in a day relates to the purpose of living, think about something that we, the human race, have created. It could be anything, but for this example take a window. Although simplistic compared to a person it is part of the same world that we were created from, therefore the processes of its formation may have similarities to our own.

A window protects a place from the weather. It keeps out the wind and rain but lets in the light. It is also usually decorative in some way, as the window needs to fit in with the place that it’s part of. It may be a wooden window for an old fashioned house or a large double glazed panel for a modern office block. Now with these two purposes in mind, to let in the light whilst keeping out the wind and rain, plus the decorative aspects, we should be able to look at any window and see that everything about it fits one of those purposes. The glass, the frame, the latch, the colour, the beading that lets the water drain around the rim, the putty that holds the glass in and so on. We don’t find a window that also can be used as a cooking pot, saws wood, calculates arithmetic or makes conversation.

When we look at how we spend our day is it possible to relate what we do to an overall purpose? Generally the explanations offered by religion or science do not do that. They seem to address only an aspect of what we do in our life, not the whole life, and they seem to be reduced explanations of what is actually a very complex picture.

Now what this book is proposing is can we not be a little more forensic in our approach and put the pieces of the puzzle together in new ways that will shed more light upon the subject? The diversity of life and its complexity can make this appear to be forbidding, but surely, like the window, if a purpose to life exists it must be staring us in the face. If so, could the clues be everywhere and we just don’t have the eyes to see it. As Sherlock Holmes would say, the more unusual the story, the more ripe the clues are for getting to the bottom of it. There are plenty of clues, but mapping them together to make a coherent story has always been particularly elusive.

This book is not promising THE answer, but it is promising headway. More importantly it is offering a framework to replace existing frameworks that can prevent the obvious from being seen. This book does offer some answers but its aim is that you start to see things for yourself because that’s when it’s going to count.

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Comments by other Members

Account Closed at 07:23 on 10 November 2004  Report this post
Hi Jerry,
This is a great idea for a book, if you keep the playful Sherlock Holmes aspect to make it accessible. Your sytle is clear and easy to read.

I recently read a book (in French) called le Voyage d'Hector about a psychiatrist who couldn't understand why his rich patients who, in theory, had everything to make them happy, were not and his pro bono (do we use that in medicine?!) clients managed to be happy in spite of their circumstances. So he set off on a journey to find the formula for happiness.

I enjoyed the para about what we do in an average day.

Look forward to more (and the answers!)



ps If you are going to stick with us, why not join the journalism group and upload there.

philippa at 15:43 on 02 December 2004  Report this post
Very readable but what a difficult task!
You have deconstructed the window but, forensically speaking, the glass is a supercooled liquid, the frame was once a tree etc. So, although the window has a purpose, it has a history and a future.And, although it was created and will one day disintegrate, it has no beginning and no end.
I wonder what you will call the book?

supergran at 16:26 on 31 March 2005  Report this post
An interesting exercise. Perhaps the answer is indeed staring us in the face - logically that must be so.

Our daily activities don't really help. Surely we are programmed to survive. Therefore we take in nourishment, copulate, find or create shelter, protect ourselves from the elements and each other. As regards relationships, family and social grouping are essential for human survival. All our goods and chattels, simple or luxurious, help us to achieve our survival.
There is a dimention within us - soul? spirit? me? that takes delight in light, colour, movement, sound, creating and observing. But perhaps most of all is the pleasure we derive from a relationship we call "love". And we enjoy ways of experiencing and expressing all of these qualities.
It is this aspect of "us" that make us human. Some people "know" the answer to our creation from their immersion in
"the Other" - however defined. By being "At One" no thing can alter their perception of life. We find Life by "losing it". We find love by giving it. When our bodies die, it is only the intangible we can take with us - all else is passing.
Books and learning are not needed. Giving space to "know" is what is important in life.

If you have come up with a better proposition, I will be pleased to hear it.
Good luck (if there is such a thing!) with your task.

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