Does God exist? Do aliens exist on other planets? How can we stop conflict throughout the world? There are many controversial questions of this nature, and as it is with most differences of opinion, there are far more answers offered than there is agreement upon which one is correct.
The question of the existence of intelligent life on other worlds is a good example. Opinions on this question range from government conspiracies of withholding evidence that such beings exist to the other extreme saying humans are alone in the universe. Attempting to resolve this controversy only raises another question. Assuming we have no personal contact with intelligent alien life, don’t our lives remain largely unaffected if aliens do exist?
Short of a fabled alien invasion or overwhelming infusion of their advanced technology, our lives would not change. We’d still get up in the morning, go about our daily routines and pursue our goals much the same as we did before. The point being that having an answer to the question of life existing elsewhere in the universe does little to help us become better people or bring greater love and happiness to our lives.
What if science was able to definitively prove that God does not exist? Would every Theist on the planet suddenly become a criminal and ignore the Golden Rule? That is unlikely because living a life where we see everyone as a beloved member of our family works whether God exists or not. So while we might differ in our beliefs about the existence of God, virtually all Theists and Atheists can agree that living according to the Golden Rule works best for everyone.
The third question helps bring a developing point into focus. How can we stop conflict throughout the world? Many methods to accomplish world peace have been tried. Global domination by one benevolent leader would logically seem to have the best chance, but even our best leaders eventually pass away, as the Egyptian and Roman empires can attest. Once we start adding more governments and their agendas to the mix, abolishing conflict becomes even more unlikely. It seems that politics are no better than religion or science in helping us to become better people and treat each other according to the Golden Rule.
Does that mean we should simply give up answering controversial questions? After all, if we don’t become better people by answering them and conflict between us all appears to be inevitable, what is to be gained by the effort? The solution could be as easy as framing better questions.
If we ask a staunch Republican and a Democrat which way to vote on a bill to raise taxes for a new government program that helps needy children, it’s a safe bet they will disagree. However, if we lined up 10 needy children and asked those same two people how many of the 10 they would vote to deny food and shelter, they are likely to agree to help all of them. Ask them which of the kids should be denied good health care and their agreement would continue. Even if you asked them to personally help those 10 sick and hungry kids out of their own pocket, both would want to help.
It becomes clear that there is much greater agreement among all of us than our political differences would indicate. This is true outside of politics too. Theists and Atheists are hardly distinguishable when asking if they support the Golden Rule. Apparently, we are much better people than either our religion or politics guide us to be. We simply need to start over in the questions posed and solutions offered to find where we agree.
We do not win the cooperation of others through wars, political coercion or even scientific debates. We willingly come together when we first find our points of agreement. Once we determine that a vast majority of people don’t want kids to be sick or hungry, we can build on that to develop solutions where everyone wins. Imagine everyone happily supporting efforts to eradicate hunger and illness, and that those efforts don’t stop at our nations’ borders. This is clearly possible, but success is unlikely if we continue to do what we’ve always done.
What hasn’t been tried on a large scale basis is to decide that we will live up to the same standard we hope everyone else will achieve. If on a daily basis we all agree to help others who are less fortunate, we have taken the first step. What if each day we all promise to only make choices where everyone wins? How difficult is it to decide we will not kill or even harm each other? It sounds so simple to almost be ridiculous. If God or benevolent aliens are looking at all of us here on earth, they would likely agree.