Words of the Hellbound

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Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Casino Philosophy of Existance

Atheism is often viewed as nihilism, skeptics confused with cynics, proponants of evolution as proponants of eugenics, humanists as moral reletivists (a much subtler topic than the average theist gives credit) and with tragic unironic word play, materialists (those that are so far unconvinced by non material explanations) with materialists (those that hold the accumulation of material luxuries as a high priority). These are the people that believe that non believers are essentially missing something essential about life by not believing. We are shallow, joyless, husks, no real emotional connection to life, because we don't believe it has any real value and when we die it's all over. It pains me to think that there are people that believe that, considering all you have to do is look at Atheists and skeptics today and see what they precepts are doing, very little of it could be thought to be nihilistic, and I have met very few skeptics that I could comfortably describe as cynics, most of them are downright optimists.

Now I may come across as a fairly dark, angry kind of guy in the posts I have written so far but really, that's just letting off steam. Sure there is a lot of stuff in the world that makes me angry, and rightly so, but that doesn't make me an angry person, and it doesn't mean that I don't have hope or that I just hate everything. In fact my experience is that my position is one that is both happier and more optimistic than the average theist's with very little of the negative like hell. I call is Casino Philosophy, and here's how it works.

Imagine that you one day just wake up in a casino with no money. You find that you cannot leave, you're stuck there. You don't know anything about the outside world, or even if there is one, but everything that you need is right there, there's food, drinks entertainment other people, but they all have a price tag. Then some how, you don't really know how, you win some money. You think hey it's not really my money so I might as well have some fun with it. You put it all on 36, and you win. You put it all on 17, and you win. This keeps going and keeps going defying astronomical odds odds and you just keep on winning. This is a metaphor for existance, You've got the odds of the universe begining in the first place, the odds of it taking the form that it did, the odds that our solar system and planet would come into place and everntually become a viable birthplace for our form of life. Then every little mutation, every little changed through evolution, every choice to procreate, every seed selected out of millions. Tracing your own lineage from that first spark of life those billions of years ago and seeing all those branches along the way that didn't make it, all those individuals that, after all this time, just lost the game, and they'll never get another chance. All this culminates for you in the winning of you're own life.

So here you are. You've won astronomical amounts, and you've still risked nothing, because it's all free money and you can't spend it anywhere else. So what do you do? Well here's where you have to really look at the situation and then make some decisions. First of all, despite winning this much, you know you probably won't win forever, eventually you're going to lose. So what does that mean? Well since you came in with nothing, when you do lose, it's ok, you haven't really lost anything. Does that mean what you're doing now is meaningless? Well no because there's no because you're at the casino, and you're having fun, you're having experiences, you're enjoying what you have. Should you just commit to wild hedonism? Again no, because you've come this far and you aren't just going to literally throw it all away, you're going to keep trying, keep taking risks, just see how far you can take it, see how many new experiences you can open up with more winnings. As time goes by you realise that the casino is getting bigger, more doors are opening up, you realise that the better you do, and the more risks you take, the more you are going to see, and the bigger the world is going to be for you.

Now there's all the other people in the casino, what do you do about them. Well you can try and stab them all in the back, try and steel their money, cheat, lie and who knows you may actually stay in the game just a little longer, but sooner or later that kind of behaviour is going to leave you alienated and alone, and that will diminish your opportunities for experiences while you're in the game. But if you work together, form friendships and companions, this will keep you all in the game longer, and will make the game more interesting, it will open you up to more experiences, greater joy, it is in the end, far more satisfying, and you can see that the better people get at cooperating, the more successful people are at the games and the more the casino expands.

But there's still a few things to think about. What are you really working toward? I mean it's fun and all but is there something more? Well maybe there is? It could be that this is all there is, and that's fine because it's pretty good on it's own, but the casino is much much bigger than when it started, and you realise that the work of people before you must have expanded it for you, and that is meaningful to you. So in a way, you can help to expand it further for the people that will come after you, and just enjoy that process in an of itself. But to what end? Is it just an endless stream of people showing up in this slowly expanding gaming house? Maybe, and I suppose as long as it keeps getting better, that's ok. Is it a finite thing, eventually everyone loses and the casino just disapears? Again, maybe, but that's OK too, we haven't lost anything, the casino served a function in and of itself and it doesn't need to be any more than that.

But, what if something else happens. What if people get better and better at cooperating, people get better at the games and are winning for longer and longer, the casino continues to expand and grow? What if there is some critical game changing point? Maybe, one day, we can win everything. We can win the casino and everything in it. We can win unlimmited money so we don't have to play the game anymore, so we never lose. The casino can reach infinite expansion, and all possible and imaginable experiences are suddenly open to people, and we have infinite time and resources to explore them. What if we can find the door, and have a look at what lies outside? That for my money is something worth working toward.

Let's drop the metaphor now and I'll sum out how this view is practically useful for me.

1. We've started with nothing, so there's nothing to lose, except for potential opportunities for experience.

2. Since this is all we know we have, there's no good reason to just throw it away. You want to push it as far as you can, and that means you need to strike a ballance between enjoying the present and preparing for what will be the present tomorrow.

3. Experience is it's own purpose. We should seek to have as many experiences as we can. This means we need to find a compramise between risk and caution. Too little risk and you waste the now, too little caution, and you lose the game too early.

4. Make sure you're happy to lose the game at any time, because every spin of the wheel could be your last, regardless of how safe you try and play it. Make sure that at any given moment, you are satisfied with what you have done up to that moment.

5. Share and cooperate with other people. This provides you with not just advantages in life but a better life. You have more opportunities and more experiences. Friends help you to expand you're world.

6. Remember that most potential conclusions to this great game of life and existence are OK. But some of them are trully great and wonderful, and they are worth working toward regardless of how low the odds are, because we really do have nothing to lose, but everything to gain.

See? It really is all good.

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