The interest I have in believing a thing is not a proof of the existence
of that thing.
Voltaire, in reference to Blaise Pascal’s infamous wager.
admit that reason is a small and feeble flame, a flickering torch by
stumblers carried in the starless night-blown and flared by passion's
storm-and yet it is the only light. Extinguish that, and naught remains.
Robert Green Ingersoll (1833-1899)
A few years ago, America’s most reliable news source, The Onion, published an interview with a courageous firefighter named James Farber. The story focused not so much on his heroic deed, remarkable though it was, but rather on his iconoclastic, not-so-much Christian views about meaning in life, human existence and virtue.
U.S. medical spending, already at $3 trillion, grew 5.5% last year, according to a study cited in The Wall Street Journal (Louise Radnofsky, U.S. Health-Spending Growth Jumped to 5.5% in 2014, WSJ, July 28, 2015). Soon, one of every five dollars spent in the U.S. will be on medical care. One likely consequence: employers will continue investing in wellness programs while offering only high-deductible insurance plans with steep out-of-pocket copays. If you’re going to get sick, and who isn’t, you better be well off.
I have a few questions for your consideration. After posing these questions, I’ll outline what the evidence suggests about each question. I’ll follow that with a discussion of what it all means for those who want to enjoy quality lifestyles guided by reason, exuberance, athleticism and liberty.
Here are the questions:
One of my favorite Ingersoll passages—and I have so many (e.g., nearly everything he wrote or expressed in an oration!) occurs in his moving tribute to his brother Ebon Ingersoll (May 31, 1879):
… Life is a narrow vale between the cold and barren peaks oftwo eternities. We strive in vain to look beyond the heights.