as the universe created by a supreme being? Why is there something instead of nothing? What is the purpose of life? What is the key to happiness? How should people treat each other? What should I do with my life, from here on out?
When, after years of struggling with doubts, I finally left the religion of my parents, I found myself in a predicament. My answers to the Ultimate Questions largely came from religion, so without religion I felt lost. I set about finding satisfactory answers of my own to the Ultimate Questions, looking to philosophy, psychology, neuroscience, evolutionary biology, and physics. I seemed to make a small bit of headway, and thought I’d like to share my progress with likeminded others.
What you have before you is a work in progress. Usually writers wait until they’ve perfected their manuscripts before sharing them publicly, but this is the Internet age, and we need not be constrained any longer by 20th century publishing paradigms. And if I wait until I’ve perfected this damn thing it may never see the light of day. So I’ve opted to share it online now, freely, with anyone who happens to discover it and find it of interest.
Sharing unfinished work is a bit like traipsing around the house with your pants off and the front door open. People are bound to see your Snoopy boxers. I’ve polished some chapters of this book. Others I’ve revised a few times but I can tell they require yet more revision. Some are in the rough draft stage. I’m pleased with some bits and mortified by others. Please forgive me for the rocky patches.
Oh, and the writing style is not yet consistent between all parts of the book. In some places I’m overly conversational, in others overly stuffy. I assure you, the same writer is to blame for every chapter, though it may not seem that way.
I can put this book into an eBook format if I hear any demand for that, but I must say good old HTML seems superior. For example, it makes embedding images and videos really easy. But the main advantage of publishing my book to a website instead of generating an eBook is that the content lives on my server instead of your device, which allows me to roll out revisions and new chapters instantly instead of waiting to publish a new edition. I can produce versions with major and minor revision numbers, like programmers do with software.
I don’t mean to poo-poo traditional publishing. I’d be thrilled to hold in my trembling hands a genuine paper version of this book. If you’re a traditional publisher and see a market for this thing, have your people call my people, let’s do lunch, and bada bada bing, baby.
The philosophy described herein draws inspiration from a great many thinkers throughout history, from the Stoics to the Empiricists, from Democritus to Carl Sagan, but I should make special mention of the Scottish philosopher David Hume (1711-1776, pictured) and the English philosopher Bertrand Russell (1872-1970), whose contributions have been particularly important.
And I’d also like to express gratitude toward contemporary freethinkers, whose bold skepticism has encouraged me. Works by Richard Dawkins have been especially helpful.
Without further ado, I present to you The Way of the Merrily Dancing Ape version 0.1. Welcome to the beta test! I very much hope you like what you find inside.