192 thoughts on “The Mayfly

  1. @John Zande
    “Would it be cruel to tell an adult Mayfly that its only has one afternoon? Would it still fly as far as high as it could? Might it fly further and higher than usual? Or would it forget about its wings and sit on the water, head bowed, sufficiently traumatized to invent religion?”

    Is it from science?


  2. I like that video quite a bit as well. Victoria had pointed me to it a while back. Some really useful thoughts in there about perspective on life.


    • Victoria deserves all the credit, Howie. She threw at me last night and I was hopelessly floored by its genius. This is the message that needs to be shouted from rooftops.


      • John, I’m late to the party and beyond thrilled you posted this. No matter how many times I watch it, I get goosebumps.

        @GeneticFractals — spot on.

        “If I have something that could be called a soul that needed saving, then science saved it… from religion.” ~Phil Hellenes

        *raises hand* Same here.

        “Stars must die so that I can live.” ~Phil Hellenes


  3. I had an epiphany as a younger man that gave me a sense of being one with everything, a feeling that I am god and god is me. Even though I was raised in conservative Catholicism I was not compelled to fit this into church dogma but saw something simple and wondrous that I had never gleaned from my religious upbringing. This video does as good as job as anything to explain that sensation.


    • Beautifully said, Larry. We need this epiphany if we’re going to survive this adventure.

      You might have already seen this a while back, but it addresses this overwhelming feeling; the Overview Effect. Particularly, Edgar Mitchell starting at 4.30, then again at 10.50


    • LB: Catholicism taught you that through deification. You haven’t lost the faith; you have simply formed your own “simpler” belief about where God can be found. You don’t qualify either.


      • I think it highly probable that the California Redwood is the most evolved life form on Earth.


      • As do I. I do have your RSS feed on my homepage and I try to check in from time to time. To be perfectly honest, I pretty much dismissed the whole theology/god/religion thing as a child after being sent to “Sunday School” and “Bible Class” during a few summer vacations.

        I think my position goes beyond “atheism” since I have a somewhat extreme point of view regarding the definition of “belief“. Frankly, I don’t believe in it. (ha!)

        Belief is the death of intelligence. As soon as one believes a doctrine of any sort, or assumes certitude, one stops thinking about that aspect of existence.”
        Robert Anton Wilson, “Cosmic Trigger” Always been on of my favourites.

        Anyway, I still have my WordPress account and I’m still “following” some of the blogs I enjoyed whilst maintaining mine but I just can’t find the time to get involved at this point. However, there is this bothersome gremlin sitting on my left shoulder that keeps pestering me to revive “The Baby And The Bathwater”. Don’t know how much longer I can ignore it.

        Enough! This is inapropriate for a “comment”. I’ll continue to visit and add my two cents worth now and then. I’ll just shoot you an email if I want to rattle on.

        It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.”
        Jiddu Krishnamurti


  4. Great videos and excellent post. A mayfly once told me it believed in Creationism and that God created it special and for a special purpose. Then I feed it to my pet frog which belched after swallowing it. I realized then, how full of love God was for his mayfly and I thanked him for its life because it no longer could do so. Ain’t divine love awesome!


  5. Good question. Don’t think it’d be cruel to tell a mayfly its prognosis. It would be rather cruel to say it’s inherently evil and has but one day to make amends for being the bad mayfly that it is;)


  6. Since it’s not really built for abstract reasoning I’d guess it’d just do what it always foes: procreate as much as possible in that 24 hours.

    Even if it did have the capacity for higher thinking, why would its knowledge be any more inspiring than ours? We know we will die, and most of us just deal.


  7. Terry Pratchett uses mayflies in one of his books – Reaper man
    ‘You don’t get the type of sun you used to get ‘ said on of them.’
    ‘You’re right.We had proper sun in the good old hours. It were all yellow. None of this red stuff.’
    ‘It were higher too.’
    ‘It was. You’re right.’
    ‘And nymphs and larvae showed a lot more respect’
    ‘They did. They did.’

    It continues, but you get the picture.

    Time is relative. Which is odd as most people don’ t have time for their relatives.
    Yet they find time for a god? Most odd. 🙂


  8. Pingback: Nite Nite…3rd Stone From The Sun – Hendrix | A Tale Unfolds

  9. What a magnificent comparison. And how ironic that someone like Oprah can’t understand that many of those without religion find far more beauty and profound wisdom in the world.


  10. I hope I’m not affecting anyone by making the analogy, but the first thing I thought of when I read the first line of the meme, is the situation when a doctor has to tell a patient they only have a little time left to live.

    From reports I have read, the way of thinking that usually follows, is to live life to the fullest while there is time.

    So I think the answer to the question, “Would it be cruel…,” is no. The Mayfly should, in theory, be inspired and invigorated to live out the hours to the fullest.

    (I watched the video, btw Proto-stellar formation is absolutely fascinating to me, thank you! The video itself is a masterpiece.)


      • I wanted to tell you that I was able to piece together your position on reincarnation…by chance. I was sifting through your comment sections when I encountered where you wrote, “Christianity teaches a sinner can repent on their deathbed and be forgiven. Of course, in practice, this is ludicrous.”

        Right, I see where you’re coming from now.


      • Yeah, that hits at it. Do what the hell you like, kill ten million, knock yourself out, but hey, swear allegiance to Jebus just before that bus hits you and all will be fine… Welcome to the land of honey-milk! I find that concept fundamentally immoral.


  11. Lucky for mayfly, its larva can live for months or years, and it only forms into a mayfly form in order to procreate. So asking a mayfly (rather than larva) to consider religion is not too different from asking a college student to consider religion during Spring Break (versus during the semester)


  12. John,

    Thanks for sharing the video. It produces more awe, wonder, and inspiration than all the mythical miracles found in the handbooks used by the followers of religions born in the Middle East.


  13. “Dust that Sings” can remove the necessity of a God as easily as the BlogGod can remove equally inconvenient comments from this topic. Mine.

    Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing had happened. Winston Churchill

    If a Creator exists in the ETERNITIES should he have actually spent six of our days creating everything. Or, please, why should it matter to God and those of us who consider the implications, those us who are most attentive, not stumbling?


    • Robin, believe in a god if that helps you get through the rough patches of life. For the most part, non-believers don’t have a problem with this. What we do have a problem with is that you can’t keep it to yourself — a “personal” relationship with your god. These beliefs, especially from authoritarian religions, i.e. Abrahamic, are toxic to humanity.. As Phil Hellenes states:

      “All we have to do is not lie.

      –> Don’t say you know its name.
      –> Don’t say it told you to tell people what to do with their lives.
      –> Don’t say that those who believe otherwise must be punished.
      –> Don’t say it sends earthquakes and tsunamis.
      –> Don’t say it ever hurts anyone for any reason because that’s sick.

      –> But most of all, don’t give away our dignity!”


    • Now, that’s the subject of a different comment under a different topic, Neuron; you were replying to me, calling me by name. It certainly seems foolish to repeat my question in the context of my original thought….it’s right up there waiting for you to pick yourself up and read it…anybody really.


      • It doesn’t surprise me that you didn’t get it. That you couldn’t make the connection.

        Did you or did you not mention “Dust that Sings”

        The crux of that video is about people who are traumatized by life — those who simply can’t deal with it, so much so that they sufficiently invent religion.

        What part of the meme did you not get?


      • Existential Death Anxiety

        “Existential death anxiety is the basic knowledge and awareness that natural life must end. It is said that existential death anxiety directly correlates to language; that is, language has created the basis for this type of death anxiety through communicative and behavioral changes. Existential death anxiety is known to be the most powerful form. There is an awareness of the distinction between self and others, a full sense of personal identity, and the ability to anticipate the future.

        Humans defend against this type of death anxiety through denial, which is effected through a wide range of mental mechanisms and physical actions many of which also go unrecognized. While limited use of denial tends to be adaptive, its use is usually excessive and proves to be costly emotionally.

        Awareness of human mortality arose through some 150,000 years ago. In that extremely short span of evolutionary time, humans have fashioned but a single basic mechanism with which they deal with the existential death anxieties this awareness has evoked—denial in its many forms. Thus denial is basic to such diverse actions as breaking rules and violating frames and boundaries, manic celebrations, violence directed against others, attempts to gain extraordinary wealth and/or power—and more.

        These pursuits often are activated by a death-related trauma and while they may lead to constructive actions, more often than not, they lead to actions that are, in the short and long run, damaging to self and others.”


      • Neuron, “Existential Death Anxiety” is an invented term but appropriate. Death Anxiety is inversely correlated with religiosity. By definition, it has everything to do with the impending misery available in existentialism. Have a happy day. 🙂


      • Dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb.

        You are either dumb, suffering from a severe case of existential death anxiety, and/or have a neurological disorder with common symptoms of hyper-religiosity.

        Robin, you have a happy day, too, and please see a mental health specialists to rule out dumbness. 🙂


  14. No, for me the crux is the denial of God by supposing that the universe could develop without God as we lie to ourselves about all we do not know scientifically. The film proposes that science tells us we have evolved from apes. Science does not confirm that. Nor can it do anything but propose a beginning is seeable all the way back to the Big Bang (a belief that nothing is before). Then there is existentialism, the only psychological belief to be considered valid and all others are lies. By deleting all competing philosophies other than existentialism and all other scientific theories than the Big Bang being the grand beginning, we are no longer lying???

    The film clip concludes with refections on the human experience of one man leaving the atmosphere, visiting ever so briefly a place where life isn’t, it is supposed.

    Nevertheless, I assert because science confirms not knowing it, we know nothing through science of the actual existence of 95% of the matter and energy in the Universe: the dark matter and dark energy. It is there everywhere around us as we walk the planet and uninterrupted beyond. Our vaunted science is abjectly blind.

    Your god is this blind science aided by the accompanying existential psychology. The misery is an acknowledgment of not knowing, lying about all those tools that leave you to guess about everything.


    • Robin — let me see if I understand you correctly. You are claiming to know with 100% certainty that there is a creator/god?

      You believe in the Abrahamic god. Right? With 100 certainty. Right? Based on what? I’ve already shared this with you in John’s previous post — but I’ll quote it again:

      “Dear children of Abraham or those who emulate the faith of Abraham; I’m not saying that there wasn’t a creator. I just can’t believe a mind that could or would make this universe would share exactly the same insecurities, the same need for respect and recognition, the same demand for loyalty, submission and obedience and the same murderous rage of the worst of human kings and your average alpha chimpanzee.”

      ~Phil Hellenes


      • If you and your comrades were intellectually honest as am I with my believing friends, you would admit to a lack of proof (100% certainty) with me of beliefs in and opposed to the existence of the God of Abraham. Unfortunately, I cannot prove that humans are not decedents of the Mayfly; nor can you prove we are decedent from anything in nature.

        Each one of us, the Godly and unGodly, readily depend on faith to support each of our positions because none of it can be proven. You see faith as weakness with deception of science as perfectly revealing and have yet to come out of the closet in honesty in your need for faith in both those stances separates the ungodly from the Godly.

        Through your intellectual dishonesty, you are much more significantly vulnerable to error.


      • Robin, if the majority of Jewish Rabbi’s today admit there never was an “Abraham,” then its relatively safe to say there is no, “God of Abraham.” That’s just from a literary perspective.


      • @Robin

        “The period of the patriarchs, exodus, conquest, or judges as devised by the writers of Scriptures never existed,”
        ~ Robert Coote, Senior Research Professor of Hebrew Exegesis at San Francisco’s Theological Seminary.

        “The Genesis and Exodus accounts are a fiction”
        ~Niels Peter Lemche, biblical scholar from the University of Copenhagen

        “The actual evidence concerning the Exodus resembles the evidence for the unicorn”
        ~Baruch Halpern, Professor of Jewish Studies of Pennsylvania State University

        “The rejection of the Bible as literally true is more or less settled and understood among most Conservative rabbis”
        ~Rabbi David Wolpe

        “Those who take an interest have known these facts for years,”
        ~ Israeli archeologist, Ze’ev Herzog of Tel Aviv University

        “Scholars have known these things for a long time, but we’ve broken the news very gently” Professor William Dever of the University of Arizona – America’s preeminent archaeologist,

        “The patriarchs’ acts are legendary stories… The Israelites were never in Egypt, did not wander in the desert, did not conquer the land in a military campaign and did not pass it on to the 12 tribes of Israel. Most of those who are engaged in scientific work in the interlocking spheres of the Bible, archaeology and the history of the Jewish people and who once went into the field looking for proof to corroborate the Bible story now agree that the historic events relating to the stages of the Jewish people’s emergence are radically different from what that story tells.”
        ~ Prof. Ze’ev Herzog –the world’s leading biblical archaeologist

        “I think there is no serious scholar in Israel or in the world who does not accept this position. Herzog represents a large group of Israeli scholars, and he stands squarely within the consensus. Twenty years ago even I wrote of the same matters and I was not an innovator. Archaeologists simply do not take the trouble of bringing their discoveries to public attention.” ~Professor Magen Broshi, head Archaeologist at the Israel Museum

        An excerpt in Israel’s oldest leading daily newspaper:

        “Currently there is broad agreement among archaeologists and Bible scholars that there is no historical basis for the narratives of the patriarchs, the exodus from Egypt and the conquest of Canaan, nor any archaeological evidence to make them think otherwise.”



        Robin — all you have to do is not lie.

        Don’t say you know its name.
        Don’t say it told you to tell people what to do with their lives.
        Don’t say that those who believe otherwise must be punished.
        Don’t say it sends earthquakes and tsunamis.
        Don’t say it ever hurts anyone for any reason because that’s sick.


      • I only affirm what the LDS know about direct proof.

        “There is no tangible, concrete evidence of the existence of God or the divinity of the Master in the legal sense, but not all inquiry for truth results in proof by real or demonstrative evidence,” Apostle: Howard W. Hunter (1975).

        Your argument that God does not exist is fallacy on several levels. I’ll deal with the one fallacy most popular in this topic:

        1. Because no demonstrative evidence of God exists this provides no proof He does not in fact exist.

        In the absence of direct evidence often thought necessary by the scientific world for proof, we do have circumstantial evidence. Circumstances as they are, God exists as surely as 95% of the mass and energy in the Universe exists unseen but is known to exist circumstantially.

        Oh, the doubt that consumes those here that the sun cannot be proven prior to rise tomorrow morning until it actually occurs,… where for them circumstantial evidence cannot provide sufficient comfort to keep them from throwing their skirts over their heads and running to the hills. Or, do you ascribe that proof to the morning sun every morning but arbitrarily do not for God. That is a selective faith.


      • “I only affirm what the LDS know about direct proof.”

        Robin, you’re a silly man who believes in silly seer stones whereby your silly profit prophet, Smith, translated the silly Book of Mormon, by putting the silly seer stone(s) into a silly hat, then put his silly face in the silly hat, drawing it closely around his silly face to exclude the silly light, and in the silly darkness the silly spiritual light would shine, sillingly.

        And you expect any of us to take your silly rhetoric seriously? 😀


      • “And you expect any of us to take your silly rhetoric seriously?”

        Among the lurkers, certainly. you speak of the Urim and Thummim source in the Old Testament. Now it appears several millennia later…, silly me and 15,000,000 others.


  15. I’ve often pondered the mayfly. Sometimes envied it: a whole lifetime of summer—no winters, no darkness of night even. No need set aside nuts in grass, capital, no bankers to enrich, no bombs to drop, no blasted Mormons or JV’s pounding on the door with eyes aglitter and dripping Bibles all over the stoop … no blasted politicians …

    And now to troll through the comments (oops, that was ‘scroll’) (subliminal honesty? Naaaaah …)


  16. @Robinobishop

    Atheism addresses only one proposition: Do you believe in the existence of gods? (No.)

    And by definition, a lack of belief requires zero faith. So arguing a lack of belief requires faith is as non-nonsensical as arguing that a lack of focus requires intense concentration.


    • You better remain faithful to that proposition. Don’t lose your resolve. Keep the faith, Ron. You wouldn’t want to defend to those not believing the proposition – the agnostics.


      • (a)gnostic – and or pertaining to knowledge
        (a)theist – and or pertaining to belief

        Knowledge and belief are two separate issues. Although I’m technically an agnostic atheist, I never refer to myself as such. I prefer to use the moniker “non-believer” to keep the focus firmly on the belief aspect of religious claims where it belongs. If you want me to adopt your beliefs, you must first convince me your proposition has merit. And that will require more than just making bald assertions and citing claims made within some ancient text—that is to say, you’ll need to bring some empirical evidence evidence to the table. Failing that, there is nothing further to discuss.


      • “you’ll need to bring some empirical evidence evidence to the table. Failing that, there is nothing further to discuss.”

        When I submitted empirical evidence earlier, you had nothing to discuss at that time either.


      • You did? I must have missed it. Because all I’m seeing from you is arguments for the existence of gods. And arguments by themselves do not constitute evidence.

        By way of analogy:

        You claim to own a red sports car. I’m asking you to show me the vehicle. But instead of honoring that request, you keep pointing to roads and traffic signs and arguing that that is sufficient evidence to validate your claim.


      • If the analogy were made valid, you would be requesting of the sports car to examine it. Not me. When asked, the car would send a couple missionaries over to you to validate the request … the desire to see it. That how the sports car requires it. Pass the test and the sports car admits you as privileged to see it. So which pill do you choose to take this time?


      • It’s a tough choice, given that I receive visits from missionaries who claim they’ve been sent on behalf of the black, white, blue, green, silver, fuchsia and plum-colored sports cars. Moreover, they all claim to represent “the one true sports car”.


      • The missionaries do not try to convince you of anything. Where you ask questions they answer them. the discussion becomes a conversation. You discover or not for yourself. You use your critical thinking skills and you figure it out for yourself…unless you are afraid of being brainwashed. I’ve see some of that paranoia here. Somehow two fellows in their early 20s are going to damage you.


  17. After reading those comments my head hurts … discussing religion with a ‘faither’ is as productive as the proverbial brick wall coupled with vigorous head-banging.

    Again I state: that no amount of rational logic can ever dissuade a genuine faither. Why even bother? Arguing with a brick is more interesting—at least the brick listens; doesn’t say much, but doesn’t go around trying to convince the unwary, the naive, and the innocent that its path to God is the sole (and only) genuine 100% guaranteed path to salvation … unlike all the other unique paths.

    I think a good case could be made for outlawing all religious indoctrination (mind perversion) until the intended victim is at least age twenty-one and can complete the following sentence:

    Contradictions don’t and cannot exist, if you find an apparent contradiction one at least of the premises is false—and the unique and only TRUE name of God is ….”.


  18. You know, it really depends on the mayfly. A very dear and wonderful friend of mine recently passed after living with an illness over 3 years past when she was first told it’d kill her. She chose the day, time, and people. But I get your point about cruelty, and there’s far too much of it. That’s why we must love it away!


  19. So much bigotry toward Mormons, consuming hatred filling this blog without distraction. Age old and long defeated arguments resurface here as if new thought.

    Atheists, take a little time, a little time to think things over


    • Rob, I don’t hate Mormons myself. I just hate what they do … much as I don’t hate homosexuals or people who believe/behave differently in private — so long as it doesn’t intrude on me or mine.


      • “Supposedly” do? No.
        I dislike intensely what they actually do. If I’m a bigot for disliking what they have done (fact, not theory, note) and continue to do then I’m a self-confessed bigot. Hey—I can live with that.

        We (as people) need labels to communicate, it seems. Can I accurately label you as a Mormon?


      • Oops … just looked more closely at your Gravatar. Spot on, but no points for deduction. Nice image …


  20. Perhaps we should all live each day like it might be our last afternoon. It would tend to focus the mind on what’s important, and there would be a whole lot less regrets 🙂


  21. Much pity has been laid on the mayfly in the video as if the mayfly is disabled for any number of reasons. Well, here is a Mayfly that takes the time to respond you the chatter. Listen to what she says.


  22. Sorry John. I forgot you are in the opposite hemisphere. 🙂 Summer has been very busy. Making a lot of landscaping changes at the new home. Grandkids are keeping me hopping too !

    Enjoy your time ! I will be looking forward to your future Posts and comments.


  23. Human beings are like children. Religion was like the training wheels on a bicycle. It was designed to help us reach spiritual maturity.

    Unfortunately, a certain subset of the population will never learn how to ride the bike. These misbehaving animals will be discarded (in “Hell”), while the rest will evolve (to “Heaven”).


      • Interesting indeed. For the most part, religion is largely the subconscious survival of childhood fantasy into adulthood. Those who cling to it never have to grow up and face reality because their childhood fantasies encompass the seemingly all-present, ever-caring and all-knowing parental figure who gives them comfort. Religion is about wishful-thinking that feeds peoples ego (that big daddy cares about everything I do), not to mention giving them consolation from death in the idea of an afterlife.

        In essence, they never really learn to ride a bike. It’s too scary.

        Liked by 1 person

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