Feynman and Self

I was forced to take an Uber today, and the driver was talking about how wonderful it is not knowing what his next ride may bring.  He later says that if he worried, then he would be in a state of paralysis; for he woke up this morning and asked God to take his will.

This has the effect of giving up control which would be interesting to see if it reduces stress to help with happiness and health.  This doesn’t mean that I endorse the belief in God.  Because there are a lot of psychological tricks that we could use to reduce stress.

Feynman’s video on how believing in God is too self-serving to be taken seriously came to mind.  I love the part when he gets emotional and says:

The earth, he came to the earth; one of the aspects of God is that he came to the earth mind you and look at what’s out there; it isn’t in proportion.  [Italics used to point out Feynman’s accentuation.]

Even better is when he says this:

I can live with doubt and uncertainty of not knowing. I have approximate answers and possible beliefs and different degrees of certainty about different things, but I’m not absolutely sure of anything. For instance, I’m not sure if it means anything to even ask why we are here.  I don’t feel frightened not knowing.  Say by being lost in the mysterious universe without having any purpose.  But this is the way it really is as far as I can tell. It doesn’t frighten me.




  1. Bruce says

    Why believe a guy who won the Nobel Prize for explaining quantum chromodynamics when you can listen to a taxi driver who couldn’t get a job with a real taxi company that paid real wages etc?

    • Sean Boyd says

      Is this really the route you want to take here? Jump on someone for their job as an argument against the position they take on a topic? Shame them for not having a better job? Not realize that many taxi companies treat drivers as contractors, so they in fact don’t have to pay real wages? Assume that driving an Uber is this individual’s only source of income, instead of an attempt to make some extra money because surviving in the modern USAian economy damned near demands it, unless one has a substantial level of privilege?

      Criticize the driver’s reasoning: it’s flawed as hell and deserves criticism. Without knowing more about him, though, maybe don’t take ad hominem pot shots in his direction. It makes you look like an elitist a-hole.

      • musing says

        You appear to be personalizing Bruce’s message. Are you employed by Uber or know someone that is? Let’s let Bruce elaborate on how we should interpret that, or let him admit that he got overzealous and wanted a point for the anti-God crowd. None of this matters because the point I was trying to make obviously got missed anyhow. Uber’s reasoning isn’t flawed, but his, most likely, passive adoption of the belief in God is. Lots of people employ mental tricks to comfort them. This guy apparently uses God. I pointed out that he is using it in a way that makes him feel that someone else is in control, i.e., God. When he does that, then he is reducing stress in his life, potentially. The reason I brought this up wasn’t to ridicule Uber as much as it was to show that there are different ways in which we can aid our health and happiness. My last three posts were on how increased control and social participation in our lives contribute to our health and happiness.

  2. Rob Grigjanis says

    Bruce @1:

    a guy who won the Nobel Prize for explaining quantum chromodynamics…

    It was for quantum electrodynamics, with Schwinger and Tomonaga.

  3. bigwhale says

    That is one of my favorite quotes and videos. He is so brilliant. I enjoyed reading his QED lectures when I was in high school.

    Feynman also taught me not to blindly worship heroes because he could also be a sexist jerk.

    • musing says

      I’m glad you enjoy his thinking and ideas too. Yep, we all learn the hard way when we blindly worship because we will inevitably find something that we don’t like about our idol. Thanks for the comment.

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