Aamir Khan starrer ‘PK’ has taken Bollywood by storm and quite literally boxed out other, more creative movies like Ugly out of theatres and the box office. (30 shows in a day in one multiplex in Chandigarh, com’mon man!)
Interestingly the movie is supposed to be the common man’s beacon of reason, the nun-chuk against religious superstition and all that. But surprisingly apart from being very unoriginal in thoughts and being just a compendium of religion based jokes already on the internet, the concept of the movie, the concept behind the character PK is as outrageous as the concept behind religion itself and both seem to stem from the same fundamental root. I hope I’ve got your attention now because this is going to be a long post connecting some dots which are not even in the same galaxy.
PK starts with a monologue where Anushka Sharma basically talks about something called the Fermi Paradox. The scientific (or not?) axiom that asks the question ‘Where is everybody else?’ This question pertains to E.Ts, who according to Fermi and a set of assumptions concerning the age of the sun, the universe and the size of it, should have found a way to reach us by now, or we should have found a way to contact them by now. This paradox stands as the backbone to all interplanetary communication and ET contact research activity going on out there. But this line of thinking could be flawed. Very flawed. We can look into one very famous philosophical theory to try and prove this.
Friedrich Nietzsche was one really sick philosopher who lived every person’s dream of retiring in their 30s and continued to write sick stuff for the rest of his life. He came up with something called the will to power in his book called Gay Science. The will to power, according to him is the ONLY drive in humans and all emotions are a by-product of this primitive drive. Power here does not mean political / electrical / physical power, what it means is our will to make ourselves happy with all the faculties/resources at our disposal. He distilled all emotions to two primitive drives, the will to power and the emotion of fear, but eventually chucked out fear stating fear was just the absence of power. Also, according to him, and I agree, when we speak of THE TRUTH, and finding THE TRUTH being the ultimate aim of one’s life, what we mean is the will to truth that drives humans to live. Actually, our will to power walks in the feet of our will to truth.
Fermi’s Paradox, the concept of E.T AND the concept of religion exist because of our will to truth. We are constantly fascinated and fixated with the meaning of life, when there never was, isn’t and never will be any meaning to it. People who believe in the Fermi Paradox and E.T should have, in the deepest of their minds, the notion that the Universe is like a machine, a newspaper printing machine, that prints in a certain fashion, in certain patterns and it should have printed another Earth with another race of living beings sometime before. It sounds ridiculous put this way, doesn’t it? But these people have made it their life’s mission to find out this pattern, this TRUTH that doesn’t exist. Those who believe in God, on the other hand, have the notion that the Universe is like an organism, each part of the organism has a purpose, a God-given purpose, whatever it may be. The Universe is neither, it doesn’t follow patterns and definitely has no purpose. It is impervious to everything. Calling it an ‘it’ also does some injustice. Both God and E.T are purely manifestations of our will to truth and both do not exist.
What I just gave you is another empirical scientific axiom called ‘Occam’s Razor’. Occam’s Razor is also the title of one of the episodes of HOUSE M.D S01 🙂 Occam’s Razor says when there are multiple hypotheses for the same thing, then generally the one with the least assumptions will be the right one. 3 hypotheses, Machine Vs Organism Vs Nothing, the last hypothesis has no assumptions making it a clear winner.
Occam’s Razor is more scientific than Fermi Paradox because the former is empirical and exists because numerous cases can be found where it holds and none can be found in the case of the latter. (Which is why it is a paradox actually)
Rejecting the other two hypotheses gives rise to another pressing question, what about causality then!? Causality is our means to reason with the things happening around us, our means to ascertain what causes what and reason to find out how. If everything was as chaotic as I say, then reasoning becomes a futile exercise. Understanding this makes us sensible and humble human beings.
Scientists try to reason with natural phenomenon around us, and in their endeavour always strive to search for the truth and find the meaning of life. They strive to make simple theories around observable natural phenomenon to try and understand nature better, even though nature knows no theories and our perception of the Universe is bound only to the causalities, theories and formulae that we have set up.
Investment bankers on the other hand, understand the chaotic nature of the things they work with and infinite multitude of variables when it comes to how billions of people act and react. They don’t strive to find out the truth and meaning of life, working 20 hours a day and partying for 4 hours has left their lives with little meaning anyway. They speculate about things they have no idea about, while putting it somewhere in fine print that they may be absolutely wrong. They do their best to show us how chaotic things truly are. This makes them more sensible and humble than the scientists. They’re largely misunderstood by the rest of us people who portray them as well-dressed, cocky shamans.
Tying it all up, we are all just products of an accident, and accidents don’t occur based on any particular pattern, unless, you are watching the TV series Numb3rs. Numb3rs is probably the best fiction ever written in the truest sense of the word ‘fiction’. Assigning causality is just our planetary hobby and both E.T and God are by-products of this hobby, in a very twisted way.
Sorry my scientist and IB friends.