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WWUD?
Protestant Christians often recommend that we ask ourselves “What Would Jesus Do?” before committing to action. The idea behind this simple screening device is to put ourselves in the shoes of the nicest guy that ever was (please use Buddha, if he’s your pick). If he (or she) would do it, then you are certainly good to go.

I’m an agnostic, but I have to admit that this is a pretty nifty little trick. For one thing, it takes you outside of yourself and away from your personal demons, including those pesky animal urges. Then it asks you to be as nice as you can imagine being. You don’t have to believe in God to think that might be a good approach to decision-making.

The trick also encourages you to reach beyond your grasp, which is also thought to be a good idea. Jesus may have been a man, but he was also a God. He had superpowers like walking on water, controlling the weather, and raising people from the dead. We are never going to be able to live up to that guy’s standards, but by trying we might accomplish some wonders of our own.

Still, if you are an agnostic you might have a hard time finding an appropriate model. And if you are an atheist (someone who, I am told, is absolutely certain that there are no deities) it might be even harder.

I’ve never met anyone with superpowers, though there are plenty of people who can amaze me with what they can do. That said, I don’t necessarily want to emulate someone just because they can balance five chairs on the tip their nose or solve a Rubik’s Cube in seven seconds. Also, most of the people in the Top Ten of Nice People are devoutly religious. Where does that leave me as a person who doesn’t believe in God? I’m never going to be as nice as Mother Teresa just by trying to do the right thing.

So is there some other way to get there? Is there some non-religious High Standard you can shoot for and therefore catapult yourself into the Top Ten? (Hypothetically, at least — I don’t know if I would have the energy to be that good.)

Well, how about this: WWUD? What Would the Universe Do?

At first blush, this may seem like a bad idea. Non-believers often see the universe as a vast, cold emptiness that does not care about the puny bits of protoplasm wiggling around on a tiny speck of dust in the Milky Way. That doesn’t seem like an attitude we’d want to adopt in our own lives. On the other hand, think of the upside. If the universe doesn’t care about us, then it’s not out to get us, either. There is no all-powerful force trying to make our existence more unpleasant. No Satan, in other words.

What’s more, the universe doesn’t seem to care about itself either. All it is concerned with is being, and — if you accept the current thinking about what black holes are up to — creating more universes. It’s a pretty simple formula, really: live life to the fullest by exploding supernovas, colliding galaxies, and spawning life all over yourself, but maintain your ultimate focus on the generations of existence that will live on long after you have died from the complications of entropy.

To me, that seems like a pretty good plan. Be, in the fullest sense, and do it with an eye to posterity. The universe doesn’t need to perform miracles in the manner of Jesus Christ because the universe is itself a miracle. If you ask WWUD?, that’s the shining example you’ll get back from the void.

Please Note: Tim Eagan will read your comments but he is currently not publishing them.

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Trump supporters are people who know what they believe.
~ JC, Bonny Doon