Pain, Geeks and Never-Ending Evolution

Perhaps there could be a solution to the present-day crisis of metaphysics. And this solution comes from the advance in computational science and technology. We witness nowadays not only a never-before-seen advance in knowledge (for example, they say that in 2021 in a single day, as much content was published on the internet as in the whole year of 2002) but also an exponential development of computational science and technology.

Among the many other benefits of this advance is that it starts allowing us to integrate an enormous amount of data and create a unifying scheme for it. It happens with this integration as with the recognition of the shapes of clouds: clouds have a myriad of water molecules, but they can still be ordered into the different types of clouds, like cirrus, cumulus, cirrocumulus, etc.

Similarly, the computers of today – and all the more the computers of the future – will be able to discern unity and common features in what, for a human mind, is an endless pool of data, and therefore, inevitably, a chaotic one, if we take into account the whole and not only a part.

It may be assumed that this synthesis will gradually take place not only within a single discipline, but among many disciplines, and, in the remote future, even among all scientific disciplines and cultural realms. Therefore, it may be expected that metaphysics, as knowledge of the totality of reality, will reach a new phase of development. 

Of course, metaphysics will still remain a speculative discipline by definition. And this will be due to the difference between the finite character of the human mind and the infinity of the universe. However, such aspects as pain will be able to be integrated into the future unique all-comprising scientific frame, one that will be able to cover all the existing contents of knowledge.

Then pain will no longer be a foreign body in science because science will be integrated into a larger unity with culture, art, and morality. Such a unity and type of metaphysics are unimaginable to us today. However, if the questions of metaphysics are everlasting questions of the human being, we may imagine that in the future, some computer geeks nourishing also a metaphysical ardor will try their hands at creating such metaphysics. 

It is interesting, however, that Christianity puts a lot of emphasis on pain and sees it as almost essential. From this point of view, it is a unique religion, assigning a positive value to pain.

Christianity appeared at a time when humans became aware of the necessity of giving a universal reason for pain and other aspects of human life. It is not as with Buddhism, which says everything is pain and therefore we must look for all means to avoid it. One might say that the clash between pain and spirit or culture was too intense, requiring humans to be spiritually aware of it.

Christ as the suffering God (although not the first occurrence in human history of a suffering god) did not only suffer, but also preached the value of suffering. He even described the sufferer as ‘blessed’ because suffering might have been the condition to enter heaven. Thus suffering was not something evil in Jesus’ religious message.

In hindsight, such a valuing of suffering helped Western civilization to overcome all the difficulties it encountered in the past, allowing it to continue despite all the disasters that befell it. If we were to read His message concerning suffering, we might say that Jesus tried to convey to us a metaphysical idea: we must accept suffering because the world must evolve toward a goal that is set and known only by God.

Such an evolution cannot happen without suffering because evolution implies change, and change is always painful for a limited being which must change its form, environment, and life. Of course, His metaphysics was rather programmatic; otherwise, He would not have been the founder of a religion. This programmatic character consisted in the fact that he showed humans a few lines along which they must develop a much broader understanding of the world. 

Now, such a role attributed to pain will be hard to neglect even in the future type of metaphysics based on computational technology. And even if man becomes Homo Deus, pain will still be there, as it was for Jesus the God-Man, because everything finite, which is forced to evolve infinitely, is implicitly forced to suffer because it is forced to detach itself from one way of being and assume another one.

And both processes are painful. However many forms of painkillers we develop, as long as there is evolution, the pain remains. Its forms may transform.

Suppose a primitive could compare his natural freedom with our computer-based life. In that case, he might consider it absolute slavery: not because of the marvelous discoveries that computers bring, but because of the need to educate oneself continuously from one’s earliest childhood for using computers and the internet and being continuously tied to them.

The point here is not that we would be inferior to primitives; rather, that the evolution of life in general, and human life in particular, bringing us where we are today, was and is marked by suffering. 

Thus, to understand yourself as a part of this world or universe, and if you are not a Buddhist who considers the universe a bad dream from which you must awaken as soon as possible, you must still accept suffering and pain and see in them something like God-willed events.

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