Eden Hill Journal

Comments, dreams, stories, and rantings from a middle-aged native of Maine living on a shoestring and a prayer in the woods of Maine. My portion of the family farm is to be known as Eden Hill Farm just because I want to call it that and because that's the closest thing to the truth that I could come up with. If you enjoy what I write, email me or make a comment. If you enjoy Eden Hill, come visit.

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Location: Maine, United States

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Born to Die

I can still remember first hearing and learning one of the most earth-shaking concepts of my childhood. I don't remember for certain who spoke these words first in my ears, but I think she was a relative of mine. It was summer and she was staying in a camp that my parents owned on Wilson Pond, a camp they rented to family, friends, and strangers throughout the summer. Many people have come to know and love Wilson Pond because they rented my parents' camp and stayed there for a weekend, a week, even a month during the summer, often reserving a year ahead to return to this corner of paradise, this corner of the world where it is quiet enough to think.
Yesterday I was walking with my wife down the same road I walked as a boy to get to this camp and to get to the boat landing that served as the main access point to many of Wilson Pond's early settlers, Walden's Landing. A thought occurred to me on that walk that my mind has been skirting around for decades, but suddenly I realized how simple and yet how basic and fundamental this thought really is.
But first, back to my first paragraph. The earth-shaking concept that this woman shared with my brother and me is that we are all "born to die." She said it, I heard it, but I couldn't believe that anyone would frame the purpose of life that way. But she went on to say that from the moment we are born, the process of dying begins for us and it is a downhill battle that we will all lose. I went home and shared that tidbit with my mother and father, but unfortunately they didn't scrub it out of my head. That concept has done battle inside my head ever since.
On our walk yesterday, a casual summer walk with a swimming hole as our destination, I remembered something that I believe I have even written about here since I began blogging. Life is the struggle for survival. The purpose of living is to survive. Let me repeat myself so we all have an understanding of this.
*** The purpose of living is survival.***
Contrasting that concept with the other one, that we are all born to die, it is no wonder I have been doing battle in my head ever since hearing that as a child. Common sense uses these two concepts as a battleground. Both concepts make complete sense but they directly oppose one another. One is right. The other is wrong. And a person is a fool to argue that they can both be true. They can't and to say they can is to deceive ourselves and each other about the very fundamental concept of life.
Life is not about dying. Life is about living.
There is an argument that fundamentalist Christians use to defend Biblical literalism that, to them, proves the untruth of the theory of evolution. These Christians argue that the principle of entropy controls the fate of everything in the universe. Entropy is a thermodynamic principle about the dissipation of heat, but the philosophic argument Christians use ties entropy to the second law of thermodynamics, that "heat cannot of itself pass from a colder to a hotter body." Creationist Christians argue that what this means is that things cannot on their own become more complex. It takes a creator for a life system to become more complex. Left to itself, any complex system, through the natural and irreversible process of entropy, would deconstruct itself.
In other words, we are all born to die. The entire universe is in the process of losing its complexity, losing that which supports life. The universe is dying and it is entropy, an irreversible law of physics, that is responsible for this.
Forgive me for saying this, but that idea is bullshit. That idea belongs in the manure pile and if it ever managed to get there, it would understand that the purpose of decomposition is to prepare for new life.
The purpose of life is survival. Life itself is the process of overcoming the effects of entropy.
So to all you Christians out there who believe that we are a dying breed living on a dying planet in a dying universe, let me say one thing to you all.
Wake up!