When I shared my puzzlement about this with my therapist she took it as evidence that I was still inclined to think too much about things. She said with impatient tone that people always had wanted to have children, without even thinking about it. In effect - Go with the flow. Not advice that an intellectual protestant like me finds easy to accept.
But why DO people want to have children?
And why are so many of my otherwise thoughtful friends using their Facebook page chiefly as a birth announcement gazette, with pictures?
As a wise person once wrote: People have been marrying and bringing up children for centuries now. Nothing has ever come of it.
I ask this puzzling question because I have just been reading David Eagleman, a neuroscientist and writer of fiction.
Eagleman rejects not only conventional religion but also the labels of agnostic and atheist. In their place, he has coined the term possibilian: a word to describe those who “celebrate the vastness of our ignorance, are unwilling to commit to any particular made-up story, and take pleasure in entertaining multiple hypotheses.”
The work of science, he says, is like building a pier out into the ocean. We excitedly add on to the pier little by little, but then we look around and say, “Wait a minute, I’m at the end of the pier, but there’s a lot more out there.” The ocean of what we don’t know always dwarfs what we do know. During our lifetimes, he adds, we will get further on that pier. We’ll understand more at the end of our lives than we do now, but it ain’t going to cover the ocean.
Our goal in some sense is to reduce the mystery, but that doesn’t reduce the awe, Eagleman insists. If scientists could produce a neural map that explains why chocolate ice cream tastes good, it would still taste just as good. The mystery would be gone, but the experience wouldn’t be diminished.
Eagleman makes a useful distinction between himself, a possibilian, and what he calls a mysterian (one who believes that there are things humans can’t understand, problems we can’t solve).