Caring About Indifference

Nature has indifferently brought us forth, sure enough. It has also provided us, like all other extant living things, the tools to survive and prosper. We have done pretty well for ourselves, it seems; why would we expect more?

Cheetahs are uniquely fast and humans are uniquely articulate – Nature indifferently gives to one its speed and to the other its power of thought, even though Nature is indifferent to uniqueness.

We are not indifferent, however. We care. That we can care about Nature does not require that Nature cares about us. But that we can care – about other people, other creatures, Nature – well, from whence did humans derive this talent if not from the processes of Nature?

Hidden in the so-called “big bang” – hidden, perhaps, in the darkness prior to the big bang – lay the potential to bring forth beings that cared, beings that were not indifferent. We are the fruit of that potential. This ever-present and currently actualized potential, is it not a most curious fact about Nature?

One can imagine (for Nature has also endowed us with an abundance of imagination) that Nature wanted to see, so it evolved into creatures with eyes; it wanted to care, so it brought forth creatures with sensibility and sensitivity; it even wanted to be able to explore itself, so it brought forth creatures with brains big enough to build precise telescopes to search the depths of its endless space.

Perhaps we satisfy some deep itch lodged in that originating potential of which we are the fruit when we study and contemplate the great questions of cosmology. There is no way of knowing; but such imaginings can, I think, remind us that we are without exception part of Nature’s great process – and perhaps allow us to sense how wonderful it is that we can care about Nature’s abundant indifference.

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