If you suspect that I am rather proud of the titles of my posts, you would not be wrong. They are as pretentious as I am. The one above, for those who understand the meaning of both its epithets (already a phrase revealing insufferably pedantic arrogance and a blatant, unjustified superiority complex) is typical. It could serve as the title of a 400-page book or doctoral thesis, rather than of a post of just four paragraphs.
I have neither the intention, the interest or the competence to attempt to summarize the principal tenets of the Golden Age of Theology, that of Scholastics like St Thomas Aquinas and St Bonaventure. Not only would such a project be pointless, since Scholastic Theology is just godawful godology (or, if you prefer, “Much Ado about Nothing”), but I chose the word essentially for its assonance with “stochastic” – an erudite term for “random” or “unpredictable”, used especially in Mathematics and Probability Theories – as contrasted with the Aristotelian notion, inherited by the Scholastics, of a perfectly ordered world created by a First Cause, the supremely intelligent, omniscient and omnipotent Divine Architect we call “God”. Some readers of this Blog, notably Jim-Lumen, will see this last statement as a red cape in a bullring. I want simply to reflect for a moment on randomness and chance in my life.
I have several times in my book and in this blog referred to, and quoted, Richard Dawkins, his “The Blind Watchmaker” and his explanation of “blind chance and necessity” in Darwinian Evolution and Natural Selection. Here I want to ponder the implications of living in a Universe, the origin of which is a fantastic fluke and the purpose of which is not only unknowable but non-existent. Taking all of that as a given – which, of course, non-atheists won’t – what concerns do those facts create for my everyday life, for the way I interact with my fellow-travelers on this tiny planet spinning around one of the hundreds of billions of similar stars, and for the way I feel about the stochastic nature of my decreasing life-span ?
To answer first the third of these questions in Australianese : No Worries, mate ! I have, these last forty years at least, learned to live with my chance appearance on life’s stage, and knowing that it “signifies nothing”, also learned to accept, at the eve of my 80th birthday, what has become the imminence of my inevitable demise. As for the effect on the way I live and my interaction with others, it took me a while but I see my life as a series of strokes of luck, not “given” to all; many people have experienced poverty, violence, accidents, injustice, war, torture, disease, dictatorship and the premature death of loved ones, all of which I somehow escaped. I once lost a few quid in a casino, and a helluva lot more on the French Stock Exchange, have personal experience of how alcohol could have poisoned and terminated my life, have had a near-death experience in the form of a heart-attack, and a sampling of the common dampers on my “joie de vivre” : par for the course. But my biggest stroke of luck was discovering, before it was too late, the absurdity of religion, as well as the joy of what was for many years a happy marriage (which unfortunately ended twenty-three years later in a divorce I didn’t want), and above all a half-century enjoying the most precious stochastic gift of all : my children and grandchildren. Others would thank God for all this. I thank Lady Luck and especially my two daughters and my son and the five grandchildren they have given me. Eis gratias !