Saturday, 28 January 2012

Reasonable Expectations - the book

Reasonable Expectations
musings on metaphysics, origins, meaning and purpose

This is a book I have recently written which is available in paperback from CreateSpace:

My purpose in writing was to explore some of the insights gained on a personal journey from religious faith to a rational understanding of the meaning of life and the secret of happiness. I was motivated mainly by the hope that I might give my readers a 'heads-up' on many things which ‐ if people are encouraged to think about as young adults (and young parents) ‐ will make for happier and more fulfilling lives in a more peaceful and harmonious world.

I have written from the perspective that, as is seems to me, the religious experience can be valuable in two main ways:
  • In as much as it develops the habits of introspection and honest evaluation of one's motivations, it generally tends to make for a happier life, and can often evoke a certain sense of compassion for others; and
  • Most religious traditions are built around a valuable core of mythical and allegorical (sometimes perhaps, accidentally allegorical) stories which, in one way or another, contain the collective wisdom of people who, in their day, represented the 'cutting edge' of the quest for meaning and happiness. So exposure to this historical journey - though often involving an intermingling of the hideous and barbaric - may, at least, provide some insight into human nature, which is of value in itself.
Be that as it may, thanks to ongoing scientific discovery, we can now be almost certain that we live in a universe where holding a superstitious belief requires implicit assent to unjustifiable 'teleological' metaphysical assumptions (specifically, that there is a supernaturally imposed purpose for everything). That is to say, careful examination has revealed a universe where the words "real" or "exist" can't be applied in any meaningful sense to anything denoted by the word "God" or the concept of a 'divine' or 'cosmic' purpose. I happily defer to Sébastien Faure's (now over 100 years old) "Twelve proofs for the non-existence of God" as being sufficient to dismiss any notion of a 'personal' god being real or as having anything other than an allegorical 'existence'.

The central theme of the book is that the adoption of a teleological metaphysic can be shown to be the origin of superstition and magical/religious thinking, as well as being the primary source of most of humanity's avoidable suffering.

The main aims of the book are:
  • to offer suggestions as to how belief in religious ideas and other superstitions have become endemic in human populations;
  • to show that much of what is held to be sacred by religious traditions is in fact equally valuable (and much easier to explain) when transplanted into a rational understanding of the real world (an 'efficient' metaphysic); and also
  • to show that there is a better way to look at the world. Better because, without looking through the murky glass of superstition, it is more beautiful; and better because it requires no mental gymnastics to demonstrate that it is true.

Here's the 'blurb':

Explained: The Meaning of Life!
Revealed: The Secret of Happiness!

"If only I had known this when I ..."
"Why didn't somebody tell me sooner?"

A down-to-earth look at the things we believe because " ... well, because we just do".
Enjoy a non-scholarly, and sometimes whimsical, stroll through an assortment of ideas which tackle the 'big questions' by asking:

- Why do you think a peacock's tail is beautiful?
- How do we know what we believe?
- What's love got to do with it?
- What does a goldfish know?
- Is contentment attainable?
- What's left of human rights?
- Can we learn from the animals?
- Where did truth and beauty come from?

The answers, if nothing else, should prove useful for starting conversations at dinner parties, but may also open a window to the perennial questions about meaning, purpose and happiness, and show that achieving them is entirely in keeping with 'Reasonable Expectations'.

Get your paperback copy from:
For enquiries or bulk order discounts please email me: iangoldthorp (a) gmail (d) com


  1. Is it reasonable to have expectations?

  2. You may be interested in reading Kim Stanley Robinson's book "Aurora" which is fundamentally about a StarShip's journey into consciousness after it's AI capabilities were instructed to do so out of survival necessity. It's a bit tortuous (intentionally so) but an interesting journey overall. Disappointing ending to the story itself but worth a read based on your writings and musings.