By Elaine Meinel Supkis
The New York Times interviews a British scientist who tries to celebrate the diversity and wonder of evolution but at the end, falls into the same pit of delusion as anti-evolution American Christians fall into: believing we are better than any other living creature. Insane, isn't it?From the New York Times
IF chimpanzees observed New Year's Day, they would have much to reflect on. In 2005, they joined humans, chickens and mosquitoes, as well as less famous occupants of the planet, on an exclusive but growing list: organisms whose complete genomes have been sequenced.
What would they make of this news, I wonder? Perhaps they would resent the genetic evidence that they are related to us. Or perhaps they would, as I do, revel in being part of the immensity of nature and a product of evolution, the same process that gave rise to dinosaurs, bread molds and myriad organisms too wacky to invent.
The scientist, Olivia Judson of the Imperial College (hahaha, great name!), is correct that if there is a "god" that has to supervise the minute of creating and co-ordinating life forms so they work together, then this is pretty much the definition of "Mother Nature" which "Christians" stubbornly refuse to worship, much less behave nicely around Her. Indeed, much of their ideology is an excuse to indulge in humanity's favorite pastime: preening ourselves and thinking we are better than anyone and anything in the universe (except for god, of course).
As God's junior partner, partaking of His greatness and glory, we get to imitate him which means killing off lots of living things including humans we don't like.
One would expect a scientist to understand this basic human psychology/psychosis. Our sick need to pretend we are superior to all other things is why we are so destructive and cruel. Overcoming this by forming sympathetic bonds with other creatures is one of the good things about humans and is the key to why we were able to tame so many different species. But the dark side of taming creatures is that we eat them or use them as tools. The only reason these creatures put up with it is because we enable them to have many young and to flourish for any animal that we don't tame and care for is slated for annihilation and extermination.
For example, we nearly ate all the great herds of wild horses until the lucky day came when we figured out how to use them to ride, for example. Then we bred them and protected them from human predation. Now that we use fossil fuels, we are reverting to eating horses since they are not useful to us right now. This means, we won't kill them all off but will hold them in reserve for when the oil runs out. As it is, the world population of equus contracted hugely after WWI thanks to the automobile. There were many more millions of horses around before 1920. Quite a few breeds nearly disappeared during the 1950s.
Anyway, here is the last paragraphs of the ruminations of Olivia:
More than that, I find that in viewing ourselves as one species out of hundreds of millions, we become more remarkable, not less so. No other animal that I have heard of can live so peaceably in such close quarters with so many individuals that are unrelated. No other animal routinely bothers to help the sick and the dying, or tries to save those hurt in an earthquake or flood.
Which is not to say that we are all we might wish to be. But in putting ourselves into our place in nature, in comparing ourselves with other species, we have a real hope of reaching a better understanding, and appreciation, of ourselves.
Obviously, this woman has never witnessed a flock of birds or a herd of wildebeest or anything in nature. Monarch butterflies migrating to winter quarters! Geeze. I can think of a zillion examples. What sets us apart from most animals, though, is the fact that we don't chase away near relatives
. Namely, any animal group that interbreeds heavily collects genetic defects. Tight tribal groups that refuse to drive away family members into other tribes and to take in and adopt strangers born in other family groups ends up in serious trouble, weakened by inbreeding!
This is why we "get along" with strangers and fight intense interfamilial battles!
A young man who can't go out and charm a strange female is doomed to have no offspring, for example. If the charm fails, whole populations can collapse such as in Japan today where the males can't figure out how to get the females to co-habit with them. All mammals have it hardwired to drive off at least some offspring. Usually, it is the males if it is a herd species but if it is loner species like many cats, for example, then all the young are driven off. Elephants and whales keep female young nearby but they drive off the males they give birth to, forcing them to roam and seek free females far from mom.
This is why many herd/flock/pack animals seem "friendly" to us and are easily tamed by us and trained to work with us. Acceptance of strangers is greater than acceptance of direct offspring, especially the males! This is probably why we are pretty relaxed about sending our boys into battle, perhaps to die? Deep down, on the genetic level, we really don't care?
Few people want to go speculate about that. But watching how indifferent many are about dying soldiers, one wonders.
And to think humans are peaceable is particularing gruesome. We are anything but! The only animal on earth that can and will and is annihilating all other species and wages giant battles with fellow humans, racing to kill babies and small children as fast as possible in order to depress competition and inflate one's own devouring of natural resources, why, history is a bloody mess made that way by bloody humans who couldn't wait after expulsion from the Garden of Eden, brother killing brother!
Indeed, the reason why there are zero near relatives, no homohabilis/neanderthalers walking this earth is due to the horrible fact that we murdered and ate all of them we encountered and are now eating more distant relatives, the last of the primates, namely, chimpanzees
. We use them for medical research and torture them or put them on display as clowns when we aren't eating them for dinner or mowing down the last shreds of their diminishing Garden of Eden.
Once we finish them off, we will turn back to eating each other if we continue down the path we have tread so far. When we had vast herds of other animals to eat, we slowed down on the cannibalism but it is coming back with a vengence as the world's population rises higher and higher. Right now, we just hope to create "Lebensraum" by waging war and economic depradations, more than one powerful colonizing tribal/national group is building or starting to discuss building huge walls that rival the first huge wall, the Great Wall of China, built to keep out other humans from lush agricultural lands.
The ancient Greeks wrote about the worst crime of humans: hubris. Hubris is when a human thinks they are a god. This is a psychosis. Many a ruler has flattered himself and encouraged flatters to tell him or her, they are gods. Going back to the beginning of civilization, the desire to preen oneself into super superiority has plagued humanity. It is a mental illness created by our own minds.
Of course, I suppose when my stallion, Sparky, stands facing into the wind on my mountainside, head held arrogantly high, nostrils flaring, he probably thinks he is the highest incarnation of god on earth. A divine horse. Whinninging, sharp eyed, he thinks, "Oh oh, here comes that human with an apple. Mmmm. Apples! OK, you can put a bit in my mouth and ride me. Rats."
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