Monday, August 15, 2011

The Answer to your Prayer

This is the answer to your prayer. This is the resolution to every question that keeps you awake at three a.m. It is the lyrics to the song whose music plays through your head endlessly, searching for meaning.
I know that right now it looks like an incomprehensible block of text that leads nowhere, but trust me, just for a few minutes. Put aside your fear. I’m not trying to sell you something or take anything away from you. I’m just trying to introduce you to something that is yours by right of your own existence.

I wish there was a short and simple way to make my point, without sounding like a new-age guru or a pious asshole, but there isn’t. Simplicity can’t convey the enormity of the truth, even though you already know it; even though it’s already been said a billion times before; even though it is written in the very core of your being; even though the stars whisper it to you every night and the sun screams it daily.
So here we go. Without further ado, the mysteries of the universe, unveiled before you:
When it comes right down to it, everyone has two primary functions: self-preservation and genetic preservation. Life wants to continue; demands it, in fact. Ever thing that man has wrought upon the earth has been a consequence of this.

Evolution is the process of life seeking godhood. Every form of life is constantly moving towards the ultimate goal of perfection. This doesn’t occur within a vacuum, however. Life requires energy to sustain itself. Any closed system has a finite amount of energy available to sustain life; therefore all life within a system is in competition for the ability to sustain itself. The strongest or most adaptive survive and the weak and unfit are removed from competition. The most successful life must be adaptive to changing circumstance and utilize the resources it has to sustain itself efficiently.

Mutation and sexual reproduction are variations of adaptation… life continues, searching for its own ultimate expression.

So what does this mean for a human being?

That depends on the principles by which the universe operates. If the universe is simply a giant mechanical computer, executing a set of commands written at the moment of the big bang, then it means your only purpose is to spread your seed as far and wide as possible. If quantum theory is correct, it means that you can decide (or at least contribute to) what the face of god will look like. If religion is right, it means I’m going to burn in hell for talking about the other two possibilities.

Obviously, the only one of those three options that matters for purposes of this discussion is the one in the middle… the one where your actions are a result of free will… the one where you are god’s great X 10^nth grandparent. That kind of makes you important… REALLY important.

Like I said earlier, evolution is life seeking its most perfect expression. Humanity as a species and you as an individual are a part of that search. What makes mankind special is the fact that we can consciously effect what the ultimate nature of our perfection will be… or we can ignore the rules that govern the universe and annihilate ourselves before we find perfection. Our decisions have consequences.

Now, from where I sit, we haven’t done a very good job of facing the consequences. We’re still so excited about the fact that we’re special and unique snowflakes that we are ignoring the bigger picture. If, as a species, we start making some good decisions about some things, we can hurry along the path of evolution and get to the good part where we are the masters of our own destiny. No, it probably won’t be your kids or your grandkids who get to live forever and be wiser than you could possibly imagine… but if we don’t get our act together, it will be some other species on some other planet entirely that gets to rule creation… and the BEST we can hope for in that universe is to be pets. Do you REALLY want your great, great, great grandchild to be the intergalactic equivalent of a guinea pig or a goldfish?

Get your act together, humanity. Make the hard choices. Stop the bickering over what you call the old god and start making a list of names for the new one that we can become. Make the conscious decision to stop wasting resources through needless competition AND needless breeding. (Let’s face it, reproduction is a wasted effort on some of us) Get rid of the archaic systems of dividing resources and recognize that we need each other to succeed. Most of all, love thy neighbor as thyself, and love god above all else. (the god we’re becoming, not the old, cranky one.)

Is anyone still reading? Really?! Gluttons for punishment, I suppose.

There are a lot of implications to what I just laid out, philosophically and biologically. There is the whole chicken and egg thing… if we eventually achieve perfection do we become our own creators? It may be interesting to think about, but it really isn’t crucial to the evolutionary process in any way. More importantly in my opinion are deciding on what characteristics we should be encouraging and what sort of philosophy we should embrace.

As far as breeding goes, any biologist will tell you that diversity is the hallmark of a successful population. Homogeneity means death. Hitler’s proposed “master race” of blonde haired, blue eyed, Aryan supermen would work GREAT as say… the Swedish Bikini Team, but they wouldn’t be adequately adapted to prosper in Sudan. Diversity of population provides the opportunity to exploit different conditions to their full advantage. Clearly there are more important traits than morphology or melanin distribution that should govern our decisions about who prospers and who… well… who is an evolutionary dead end.

Of even greater importance than the “who” is “how”. How do we plan for our own future? The first thing we need to do is recognize the need for better stewardship of our resources. All life requires energy to survive and there is only so much to go around on this little blue green pebble floating in the void. We need to protect the resources we have here until we are capable of spreading out further. No matter what we do, this planet cannot sustain us forever.

Sooner or later we’ll suffer an extinction level event. Just because we haven’t seen one in a while doesn’t mean another isn’t just around the corner. The faster we reach out to the stars, the more likely we are to avoid the fate of the dinosaur and the dodo. We should dedicate all our energies towards our own advancement, rather than letting the mechanically universe dictate our future.

War is a terrible waste of energy. If we were still chucking spears at one another across an open field, that would be one thing, but the rate at which we plunder the earth for the sake of pummeling those with ideological differences in modern warfare pretty much ensures we will destroy ourselves and our assets long before we have the opportunity to seed ourselves into infinity.

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