I believe I’ve covered this before but I feel like making it official, there are stupid questions, this is a thing. I know teachers will say that there are no stupid questions but there indeed are, this has been covered by plenty of philosophers and major public figures over human history. I’m going to go over a few of them and for those of you that have been here for a long time you’ll see some familiar commentary.
Any question that cannot be answered is a stupid question, these questions are empty of substance and completely worthless. Even from a philosophical view I would argue that these questions are a waste of mental energy because there is no place to go. You can usually find these questions through replacement, if you can take the subject of the question and change it to absolutely anything else and it remains equally insurmountable it is a stupid question.
“What is the meaning of Life?”
“What is the meaning of Turnip?”
These are both stupid questions, yet one of them people hold in the highest esteem and it is seen as the source of why religion is necessary. But the question is inherently flawed and foolish, it takes something that doesn’t have an objective meaning and asks the user to define it. The answer is different for every observer and all answers are equally valid, which makes the question entirely devoid of substance.
This vestige of history hangs around like genital herpes and the fact that anyone gives it credence anymore astounds me. There is no meaning of life just like there is no meaning of turnip. Sure you could argue the meaning of turnip is to reproduce and thrive but then you could also argue that for life.
What about “What is the meaning of Rock?” we’ve just thrown a serious cog in the works now!
I touched on it a bit early but another example of a stupid question is any question that has a profound qualifier. What is a profound qualifier? I would define a profound qualifier as a qualifier that invalidates the profundity of the question.
“Why does life as we know it exist?”
I’m sure you’ve heard something like this before, if you haven’t you will hear it from every euphoric drug addict or smug theist you come across (not all theists, just the smug ones). Did you catch the profound qualifier?
“as we know it”
With that simple little line the question instantly becomes devoid of substance, and even without it that line is implied. I’ll explain why, because if I didn’t that would make me a jerk. There are two possible outcomes for any universe, life exists or life does not. In all instances where life does not exist, life will not observe itself existing.
The very fact that we are observing this universe means this universe is capable of sustaining life. Furthermore life as we know it could apply to absolutely any of the infinitely many ways that our biology could be comprised in the infinitely many ways the universe could be comprised because we only know life as we know it, we only know anything as we know it.
As we know it is a profound qualifier, and in mathematics it would be similar to replacing a number with X then feeling epiphanies when any number fits. “My god, X = X works for all possible numbers! I have discovered something deep and meaningful!”
Why are we here?
Ooh, that seems like a tough one, it could even be taken as a spinoff of the “What is the meaning of life?” Sounds like a deep question right? Heck I hear scientists and philosophers across all mediums stating that this is one of those deep questions in life.
Really? I’m much more interested in knowing how to create life than I am in this question. Good reason for that also, this question is pant shitting stupid.
As I stated before if we were not here we would not know we aren’t here, there is nothing special about us being here because here is the only place we could be. The thing is that any sentient species in any universe in any timeframe could ask this question and it would be equally valid because it is self fulfilling.
The very fact that you can ask it is the answer. You are here because here is the universe that could sustain you, there is nothing special about it. If this wasn’t what it is you wouldn’t be what you are but the question would be the same because the answer is mundane.
How about nihilism? The question of if any of this is real?
I call these WC questions, these are questions that inspire the simple response “Who Cares?” Not as an actual question because obviously someone has asked but more a plea for people to think the question through. If nihilism is correct then who cares? Who cares if the entire universe doesn’t really exist, everything you taste, touch, feel, and love is still as relatively real as it was before. Your emotions exist within the same state as all other things because they exist within the same laws as all other things, so the value of your own state versus that of the state of all things doesn’t change if this is true.
So woop-dee freaking do, absolutely nothing changes if nihilism is correct.
But what about what happens after death? This is another WC, religion tries to mold this question by giving you choices for your death. But given the obvious wrongness involved, I am left looking at death as death. It is currently inevitable so I am much more interested in making it not so than I am about what happens when it hits.
If I’m dead I won’t be around to worry about being dead and I won’t care. If somehow there is an afterlife I’ll be surprised and probably pleasantly so, but until that day it just doesn’t matter. Really jerking on about what happens after death ignores all the things that can be done and should still be done in life. Talk about counting your chickens before you even have eggs!
Why do these questions make me feel so weird then? They must mean something!
Nope, I hate to be so blunt but there is a very simple explanation for why these kind of questions cause you to get butterflies and leaves your mind wandering off into the fields. Your brain doesn’t appreciate unknowns, cognitive dissonance is the phenomenon created by situations where your experiences don’t conform with your beliefs. The two most common responses to this feeling are either complete surrender [aka depression] or remarkable violence [aka bigotry et al.].
Your brain doesn’t like either of these, the first will likely mean you won’t reproduce and the latter means you might die and not reproduce which is double bad! So what does it do? It tries to solve it (which it won’t) and when it decides that the question cannot be answered it responds with euphoria.
Think of it like that cliché moment in movies where someone asks a robot a paradox and it explodes. You, instead, have a braingasm.
But don’t be fooled, these questions are stupid, truly the bottom of the barrel. These are the kind of questions that children ask because they are making incorrect comparisons. In fact now that I mention it I’ve got one final one to close us out!
What made the universe?
I like this one, it is cute. This is usually where god comes in, folks make the bold statement that nothing can’t simply spawn something [sure did alright making god, but I digress]. However this makes the false conclusion that things end. The matter that makes you has always existed [in some fashion, it was just energy for a while, Einstein and all that], as far as we can see the matter that makes everyone has always existed. There are some interesting things at the quantum level where the particles that make up matter are blinking in and out of existence but on the atomic scale and above all matter is here and has been here.
The big bang, more accurately the great expansion, was a massive amount of energy that led to a series of incredibly amazing interactions with matter and anti matter, blah blah blah, here we are. There is absolutely no evidence or reason to believe the universe came from nothing. I’ve discussed it before and noted the Mobius strip, when you look at a Mobius strip it appears to have 2 sides but a careful run of the pencil along one side will find it not only meeting itself again but also covering “both” sides. That is, a Mobius strip is a 1 sided object in a 3 dimensional world, pretty amazing.
This is related to the frailty of our observational tools, eyes, ears, brains, etc. We are locked within three dimensions and we experience time in only one fashion. However I am quite certain that we’ll find that time itself is just like a Mobius strip, it looks like an object with a beginning and an end but it is in fact infinite. Even if this universe has a technical beginning at the big bang it will be found that it came from another mechanism that itself is infinite. The alternatives are just far too silly and contrived [and frankly boring].
It doesn’t even technically need to have no beginning and end to be infinite. There are an infinitely many numbers between 1 and 2, so you could create a line between 1 and 2 and you have an infinitely long line between two finite points. But I’m getting off track.
Nothing in all of human experience has ever begun and ended at the material level. Our animation gives us the biases that things have a beginning and an end when they do not. The best one could argue is that entropy requires that everything ordered will eventually become disordered, but this has nothing to do with creation or anything divine.
Children watch their neighbor die or see their brother or sister be born and they equate this to other broader concepts that it does not apply. But they are children and that is the beauty of the budding mind.
There is, however, no excuse for adults. There are so many beautiful questions waiting for answers, many wonderful particles to be found, chemistry to be done, flowers to be smelled, planets to be colonized, and lives to be enriched. Lets start enriching lives with actual substance instead of this McDonalds grade crap.
These questions are to the brain what a Big Mac is to your life expectancy. A cute diversion when had once in a blue moon, but if you do it daily you’ll be worse for it.