Lately, I have been reading two non-fiction books, one by Isaac Asimov and the other by Zecharia Sitchin. The two authors are two of my favorite authors dealing with non fiction (I also enjoy Asimov's science fiction a great deal).
Each book deals with the origin of mankind, Asimov's book 'Extra Terrestrial Civilizations' is a brilliant breakdown of the probability of advanced intelligence beyond earth. While the books' ultimate goal is to calculate the chances of intelligence beyond earth, Asimov systematically breaks down the likelihood of how life started on earth in order to calculate how life may or may not start on other planets; in the end giving us his beliefs on religion and how we got here. I must admit, I'm only 3/4ths done with the book, so I am basing some of this information before reading the end of the book.
Sitchin's book 'The 12th Planet' cites ancient scriptures and findings to put together his story of how human arrived on this planet. Sitchin believes extra terrestrials were here before mankind, cultivating the Earth and human beings; and even seems to say that we are all descendants of the space people. While it may sound quite absurd, Sitchin makes really compelling arguments. I find his book to be fascinating beyond words. I am also about 3/4ths done with his book, because I get side tracked researching other things each chapter. I want to know more, or back check some of his findings with the internet.
Reading both books at the same time, like dueling banjos, creates an uneasy feeling in the pit of my stomach. I've spent my life wondering about the meaning of life, and how and why humans are on this planet. Reading these two books polarizes my beliefs, and highlights my own uncertainty about our existence. Death is a terrifying thing for me, and I've never been able to tackle my acceptance with it; a big part of the reason is because I don't even understand why we are here in the first place. Asimov suggest we are an inevitable outcome of materials from our solar system that are designed to seek out life. The building blocks of life find a suitable planet, it grows, and if the planet is Earth-like then human-like creatures would eventually form much the same as we have. Asimov makes a strong case for this and I bet many religious people would feel quite unimportant and opposed to such beliefs. The theory seems to suggests that there is nothing rare or unexpected about human life as the result of the normal evolution of life on a planet in this condition; while at the same time pointing out the sheer improbability that we exist at all, since a planet with these conditions are so few and far between. Sitchin's book suggests the chance of higher beings, or gods existing (at least at some point) and being the guide to our civilizations. If human beings were guided into our technology and taught things, instead of learned them on our own, it creates an entirely different view of what human are. I find dealing with both of these outlooks very hard to swallow in the same gulp, and yet my mind is so intrigued by both scenario that I cannot stop reading one book and comparing it to the other.
The meaning of life alludes us, and there is so much to know about ourselves. Not only as individuals but as a race of human beings. I struggle with my own beliefs, but find myself truly enjoying the experience of learning about our past. I think our history, as clouded as it may be, is the most important thing we need to know. Many times I think people choose not to care in hopes they do not have to worry about the hard questions, and I hope that more people start talking about it..... what is the meaning of life? how did we get here?