Saturday, June 28, 2014

Understanding Our Fate – To Overcome It

Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.”
Aldous Huxley
That men do not learn much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons of history.”
Alduos Huxley

There are those who believe that humanity is the epitome of all life.
In fact; there are those who believe that humans were made in the image of God.
However; there are also those of us who have come to the conclusion that humanity is more like an adaptation to a system of adaptation.
These points of view can lead to quite different attitudes about change.

The “image of God” folks are obviously inclined to believe that change carries with it the risk of a fall from grace. While the adapters (like myself) tend to view traditions as only going so far – and evolution as necessary – even desirable.

The Theory of (Genetic) Evolution has often been a point of contention between those who believe in God and those who believe in freedom of thought. However, nowhere in the Theory of Evolution is God even mentioned.

The Theory of Evolution defines a process... that's it.
That's it.

If one has a preconceived notion of how we came to be or what our place is in the universe, the Theory of Evolution may feel like blasphemy. But it isn't. Whether or not God exists, the Theory of Evolution is simply the next step in our education of who we are. With that education, we just might be able to better figure out who we want to become. Humans have evolved to the point where we can actually plan our society's evolution. And obviously, we critically need to do that.

Humanity has prospered because we not only have been able to adapt to the challenges our Environment has presented us, but because we also have been able to adapt our Environment to our desires... And it turns out humanity is pretty good at changing things.

Which leads to our dilemma. We have changed our world so much (both purposefully and inadvertently) that we have brought on the Sixth Great Extinction. Our evolutionary advantage has turned on us.

I am convinced that this has been our destiny.

But it doesn't have to be – if we evolve.

To change our situation, we have to understand it. And to do that, we have to think like Darwin. We have to ask ourselves some difficult questions. And we have to understand our limitations. That's right; even if we were made in the image of God – we are far from gods. So let's stop pretending we already have all the answers.

What we do know is that humanity has a history of civilizations rising and collapsing. Our ancestors have created amazing civilizations that eventually could no longer stand on their own because of the consequences of the actions of those civilizations. This process is key to understanding the human condition. (And some civilizations in history did figure it out.) 

The seeds of humanity's failures lie in the consequences of our success. We have evolved to adapt our environment to our needs so well that we now can destroy the Environment we so dearly need to survive. 

There is a cycle of human civilizations where we alter our natural environment to our benefit, resulting in a population growth that ultimately leads to the destruction of our life-supporting environmentand the collapse of our civilization. Lots of people die, which gives the environment time to recoverand then the cycle starts again.  

We all sense this. And yet, we are still animals. Even with this understanding, we haven't been able to stop it (yet).

If our civilization does eventually collapse, there will be pundits who will proclaim the “failure” of science. They will be ignorant fools. Our problems don't stem from our understanding of science. Our problems stem from our application of our knowledge of science.

Everyone believes in cars and computers and smart phones and satellites, but close to half of Americans don't “believe” in Global Warming. As a culture; we believe in tools that give us a temporary advantage, but we don't want to believe that there are long-term consequences to having and using those tools.

But this isn't about what we “believe.”
The facts are there.
It's just that too many of us are too busy chasing a position of status, a dream of infinite wealth, or the next piece of tail to bother to look.

This reminds me of the line to a song:
I'm just a squirrel, trying to get a nut.”

...And some of us have done an amazing job of collecting nuts. However, if we collect too many nuts; there won't be any more nut trees because we collected all the nuts!

My point is simple. We need to adapt.

Evolution is a system of adaptation to an environment.
Humanity has adapted to adapt our Environment.
We now need to learn to adapt our system of adapting our world.

Again; the facts are there.
Scientists have for decades been warning us.
Scientists have for decades been advising us on better alternatives.
But we've been ignoring them for decades and focusing on the mass media advertised next new thing – because they've been promising us the new tools, toys, and treats.

Bark, beg, drool...

If there is a God, it has shown us how to create systems that work. Just look at Nature. (You know; God's creation.) These systems have been around for billions of years. There is no waste. And the ultimate “goal” is apparently a state of adaptive balance.

We are the beings changing the Earth – which is forcing us to change. If we hesitate – if we continue to rely on failing systems – if we wait until our system collapses, far too many of us could be forced to step back to simpler systems we can longer know live in. That would result in a desperate, starving humanity treating life on Earth like “bush meat.” We can't go back. Humanity must adapt or die – NOW!

Evolution has almost provided us with the capacity to foresee and act upon our dilemma. We must continue to evolve. But we have more options than the other animals. We have the option to evolve our society. We have the option to evolve our culture. And with the advance of science, we might even be able to genetically “evolve” without having to suffer the pain of death every generation.

Evolution is evolving.

And hopefully, we have evolved to the point where we can plan it.

If we don't, change will just go to the highest bidder – until our systems collapse under the weight of corruption and resource depletionagain.

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