Our number came up in the Monte Carlo game

We would like to think of ourselves as necessary, inevitable, ordained from all eternity. All religions, nearly all philosophies, and even a part of science testify to the unwearying, heroic effort of mankind desperately denying his own contingency. …The universe was not pregnant with life nor the biosphere with man. Our number came up in the Monte Carlo game. Is it any wonder if, like the person who has just made a million at the casino, we feel strange and a little unreal?… then man must at last wake out of his millenary dream; and in doing so wake to his total solitude, his fundamental isolation. Now does he at last realize that, like a gypsy, he lives at the boundary of an alien world. A world that is deaf to his music, just as indifferent to his hopes as to his suffering or his crimes… If it is true, as I believe, that the fear of solitude and the need for a complete and binding explanation are inborn—that this heritage from the remote past is not only cultural but probably genetic too—can one imagine such an ethics as this, austere, abstract, proud, calming that fear, satisfying that need? I do not know.

The ancient covenant is in pieces; man knows at last that he is alone in the universe’s unfeeling immensity, out of which he emerged only by chance. His destiny is nowhere spelled out, nor his duty.

Jacques Monod, Chance and Necessity, 1971

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