A few years back, one of my students asked me some mind-boggling questions; “If this world was originally designed to be pure and sane, why is everything so messy? Why are both humans and animals selfish and cruel? Did animals and insects learn being selfish from humans? What is really responsible for the cruel outcomes of this world? Why is this world designed this way and to what end?”
These questions are fundamental to understanding the purpose of life in this world. And more importantly, the mind of the creator. Or, better put, the mind of the universe – if it does have a plan since the time it evolved.
A better way to reframe the questions would be, “What would the world look like without humans in it?” This would be a better way to begin. As it would help us understand if humans are truly responsible for the outcome of the world.
A world without humans in it
Let us imagine a world without humans in it, would there be chaos?
It’s a complex question because we don’t know what it was like before humans presence on this planet. That’s to assume humans didn’t evolve with everything at the same time. In light of this, I would present two parallel propositions in attempting the question.
1. Chaos is embedded in the act of creation
Based on empirical evidence, chaos could have been part of the process of creation itself. A critical examination of how the universe works would draw us to a position – that, chaos is embedded in the act of creation. There would be no point for “order” if there is no disorderliness in the first place. In other words, the world possibly evolved from a chaotic event – like the Big Bang, for instance.
In fact, the entropy state of the universe posits that everything emerged from an enormously high energy (or temperature) occurrence. This is where the Second Law of Thermodynamics which establishes the concept of entropy would gain prevalence. Significantly, the universe tends to increase in disorderliness and at the same time (or conversely) possesses certain properties that allow order as a way to introduce meaning.
However, there is no higher degree of disorderliness now than it was at the beginning when energy was the only thing at play due to the possible big-bang event. Nevertheless, the big-bang theory is only guesswork to help explain how the universe began.
2. Chaos is a man-made phenomenon as a result of selfishness
The world could not have been this selfish if humans did not corrupt it with their selfish interests. The assumption here is that the world was originally made perfect, without chaos. Also, it suggests that humans caused chaos in the system from the moment they became corrupted. And this is at least, what the Genesis story about creation proposes. A story of how God created a perfect world and made Adam (the first man) live in it. Then, later man became corrupted after he ate fruit from the tree which possesses the knowledge of good and evil. As a result, an outbreak of chaos – everything became cursed for man’s sake.
The interesting part of the story for me is the presence of the tree, ‘possessed with the knowledge of good and evil‘. First, that tree was there before Adam was brought in. Second, it shows that good and evil already existed before Adam was made – possibly before anything was ever created. Third, the combination of good and evil in a system is a pointer to a chaotic phenomenon. As good and evil are generally conflicting with each other. To put it differently, order versus disorder.
Furthermore, I’d consider this story to carry a symbolic meaning rather than a literary (or historic) meaning. Apparently, the tree represents a suppressed region within the framework of a creation process at rest. Obviously, all of reality is further predicated on this region as Adam was part of the design to erupt it.
In a nutshell, I would say chaos already existed in the system before the presence of humans in it. And, humans further aggravated it to a high degree. Important to realize that disorderliness is a property of creation inherent in everything including humans, by default.
Firstly, to be precise, humans were originally positioned to be the ‘gods’ of this world. To put it in another way, we were given the god-like capacity to govern (to be in charge of) the earth. Our job was to enforce order and purpose in the world. Especially on this planet, our first place to begin. And, then later to spread across to the celestial bodies – that includes the other planets, stars, moons, sun, and everything in the universe. Yes! we evolved as part of creation to explore everything and to keep it going.
In addition, humans were the ultimate plan, or better put, carriers of the ultimate plan for the universe. That is to say, the universe would have no plan without humans in it. Surely, we are the architect, engineers, and compass of the fate of the universe. Likewise, we’re positioned to determine the fate or outcome of the universe.
Although, we were a stem of a chaotic system but yet given the capacity to enforce order into the system. And, the point of our being is to find or introduce meaning in the system. As originally, there may be no cosmic purpose to our existence. This means, in a nutshell, that the universe evolved because of us – humans.
But we became corrupted by the things we were supposed to lord over. Consequently, we have institutionalized a selfish world.
Selfish world – by default, it is what it is
Seeing what goes on in the wild, one is tempted to say that ‘nature is cruel‘. Following the way animals and insects hunt each other for survival in the jungle. Especially when watching helpless creatures struggle for their life, hoping to be rescued from their predators. That shows life is all about a battle between the strong and the weak. And, this is not different from what happens in human society.
Accordingly, a system (or anyone) that has proven to be stronger and competent, overrides the weak. For this reason, the world system is predicated on power (strength and competence). To the end that it has built its foundation on self-gratification at the detriment (or suffering) of others.
In order to reach the pinnacle of success, one must first crush down something or someone. Resulting in a selfish world. Again, for the sake of survival, everyone must be a player in this game.
Indeed, the world is a cruel place. Practically any good act by anyone has a selfish motive. So to say, every good act is accompanied by some form of selfishness. Given these points, we can infer that it all started with the chaotic event that formed all of reality.
To put simply, it means everything can only go wrong. Things can only get worse. But we are here to make choices that would change things for the better. Even as a player in a selfish world, we can make a difference.