Saturday, March 3, 2012
I had never, at that time, really considered my own death. I always had a kind of devil-may-care attitude about it and kept it quite far from my conscious thoughts.
That day was different. I wondered if there really was a god? I wondered, if there were, did that mean that my death is only the beginning then? I started really thinking about that. While still driving I kind of came to the conclusion that most likely, that would not be the case. I just started thinking about how very, very wrong we, as human beings, always are. Remember, “the world is flat”, “The sun goes around the earth,” “the moon is made of cheese,” etc, etc.. Seems to me that our guesses about things, well, are usually so far off that it’s silly to think that we could be right about something that is so hidden, so mysterious. This thought led me to another.
I started thinking about cause and effect. I started thinking about believing something to be right is the most dangerous thing. If wrong, everything after is twisted. I used to install cabinets. If at one corner of a kitchen, you allow yourself just an eighth inch mistake, by the end of that project, it’s way, way, off. Therefore, if our ancestors made a mistake, early in human development, then went on to base their other life decisions on this erroneous thought or belief, by now, we’d could be really, really far away from where we should, or could be as a species.
This idea intrigued me. Fascinated me really. I started to actively create scenarios in my head that could result from that. Frightening indeed.
I then started to wonder, where did we come up with the idea that we needed one of us to lead? I mean, where did we decide that we needed a leader? I started to think about that. I thought of a caveman type guy. His family, his clan. Hunting in packs. Living in groups. Everybody for everybody else. The group would hunt and gather for the group. Language was primitive. Let us imagine a group of hunter-gatherers living together in a cave. We grunt and make sounds to express ourselves. Picture that in your mind. My question became, “What happened to turn that collective into a need to follow?”
We are hunting, we have a way of bringing down giant animals, much larger than ourselves. We are cunning and skillful. We make weapons based on an idea that one of us had and it works. Why then, did we go from there, to making one guy better? Why did need a king? What made the King idea attractive to us? Why go from, “we are all valuable, with different, but equal responsibilities, and it’s not working.’ We need somebody to be in charge.
I’m sure that there was somebody in the group who was a bit stronger than the rest of us. I’m sure that individual was a master of the hunt. Perhaps He will lead us. Maybe there is an individual with incomparable fighting skills. That person would more likely be able to insure that we keep our meat once we killed it. Is that then our leader? Perhaps an uncanny ability to assign tasks, or to provide warmth. These things must surely be what we need in a leader.
Actually, I figured it was probably indeed a combination of these types of things. Whatever brought about the smoothest road for the survival of the species. That had to be how we first came to pick and follow a leader. The group member most able to insure the survival of the group itself.
Remember, I’m still in my truck, a bit melancholy, a bit scared, coming up with this stuff in my own mind. So this was the only conclusion I could imagine at that time. I am not an educated person. I am not studied on the history of our culture.
I am a curious bastard. I decide right then, I would use this internet thing to look it up. Find out what happened between cave dwelling and Kingdom Come.
I had actually been familiar with computers at that time for about seven years. I can build them, I can tell you what is wrong and fix them better than anybody I know, I had developed that skill. I had yet though to become familiar with the internet. Oh I had it. I had high speed internet before it was popular. I used it to play games, commit crimes, look at pornography, that sort of thing. I did not yet know it’s value.
I was really interested though. I had a feeling, it seems a little bit childish and ignorant now, that we are part of a big experiment and we fucked it up a long time ago. I started to look for “Social Evolution” I came up with that on my own. Sounded reasonable, right? What I’ve found, and continue to find, is nowhere near where I thought I would find and the search has become my whole life. I have done little else in the years since. I still read everything I find that in any way relates to the human condition. Social evolution is still my main interest.
“There is a deep gulf between what a man is and what he represents, between what he is as an individual and what he is as a collective being. His function is developed at the expense of the individuality. Should he excel, he is merely identical with his collective function; but should he not, then, though he may be highly esteemed as a function in society, his individuality is wholly on the level of his inferior, undeveloped functions, and he is simply a barbarian, while in the former case he has happily deceived himself as to his actual barbarism.”
The important thing about this story is how this idea has changed my entire life.
I went looking to find an answer to what I believed was a simple question. Turns out, of course, that the question is not very simple at all. First of all, we hunter-gatherers, as we began to leave our caves, leave our clans, our groups, we weren’t keeping good records. Some pitifully hard to understand pictures on the walls.
Some half broken tools.
We were still ages and ages from the idea of recording our lives for future generations. The motivation then, is speculative. We can put some ideas together about what we think made the cave boy look outward. Farming, growing our own food and fuel is an educated guess that is commonly cited. We began to think about settling into one dwelling, one settlement, for all seasons, instead of constantly following the better weather. We began to think about ways to make our environment adjust to us, rather than the contrary. These things, as well as other accepted ideas of how our ancestors were changing, has led me to some conclusions of my own. We’ll get to that later……
What I found first, when I first one finger-picked the words “Social Evolution” into the search engine was a website called ‘Cosmic Evolution’. The site is huge. Links followed by links, with glossy graphs and pictures. Tons, volumes of first class scientific knowledge and information that is up to date and as far as I could tell, complete. The site takes you on a written as well as a pictorial journey, beginning at the Big Bang and well into the projected future of our Galaxy. From there I went on to read the Origin Of Species. I continued to study wherever the links and my own childlike sense of wonder took me.
Folks, that was six years ago. I have not been employed outside of my home since then. I have the uncommon and fortunate opportunity to study uninterrupted for most every single day of the last six years. Every single day, with very few, but some, exceptions, I have read and discussed, online, a constant flow of data. I have learned more in this six years, than all of the rest of my life. That is not an exaggeration. Once I became aware of what it really was that I was finding, I got excited about it. Then I got a little frightened. Then, maybe a couple years ago, I was able to identify, myself, what it was I had found. Start putting an A next to a B then before you know it, everything becomes rather clear.
During this time, I realized that the GODS that we have been praying to and counting on all these years, lifetimes, whatever, is utterly and obviously bullshit. I have spent many, many hours looking at actual data, no faith, no hope, just factual information, relating to this subject.
I am very happy to have found that truth. If you misunderstand me here, or think I’m nuts, do some reading. Look for the information yourself. When you begin to see the immense amount of real science relating to the cosmos and where we come from, hopefully, it will do for you what it has done for me. I am a better, more valuable human being today because I live a better, more valuable life today. I do not have to imagine my bliss by looking forward to an afterlife, or a second chance, or some reward system that has been put in place. I get to live each and everyday to its fullest potential. I and I alone am responsible for my success and contentment in this life. It is up to me to make tomorrow an exciting time that I look forward to. There is nothing external that I can lay this on. I find myself much more appreciative of life, of others, of things that I see and do, because I did them, or saw them. I love my children more because I remember being a child and wanting to understand the world.
I remember asking questions as a child or a young person. Questions that meant a whole lot to me at the time because I was curious about our world, our lives. Seems like though that I was never satisfied with the sound of the responses that were given. Indeed, I heard Richard Dawkins say on one of his interviews I’ve seen that every time you answer a question with something like “God made it” or “Trust in God’s way and all will be well” or any variance; you have really explained nothing at all. There is no evidence of those answers being factual, therefore, that answer, that explanation, is simply not good enough for the questions.
My search has taken me to many, many, branches of information. I am sure you can imagine, if you’ve ever tried to study anything on the internet, how far and fast these sciences reach. I continue, even today to read all I can in the time that I put aside for this. I believe I will always do it.
I’ve rad about just how far Medical Science has come in recent years. Even more exciting is how far Medical Science is looking, quite confidently, to go in the near future. Unbelievable.
At some point in the last couple of years, I have had the opportunity to listen to Professor Stephan Hawking. He had so many incredible observations but one really struck me. I can’t quote exactly but he said that because of his condition, his illness, he has had an opportunity that most people don’t have. That is the opportunity to spend all his time and energy on a quest for knowledge. He said he had been lucky that way. From his bent up little fragile body, sitting permanently in a chair on wheels, He stated “ I have been Luckier than Most” What a guy.
I take that a step further. The next time you hear a creationist or a fanatic ask “What then, is life all about, atheist, without god, why are we here?”
I have the answer. There could be an infinite number of answers, depending on perspective and honesty, but I know the answer.
In a nutshell, we are like the leaders that first brought us out of the caves. It is our responsibility to do all that we can to further the existence of our species. We must always be improving, growing, becoming, evolving. For cave boy, that may have been hugely survival, physically. To us, to me, it is knowledge. The more we know, the better our offspring will be. The quest for knowledge that Professor Hawking spoke of, is our reason for life. It is what it is all about. I am alive to prepare the world, as best I can, for mankind. I am here to leave the world just a bit better, easier, brighter, for those that will come after me. I am one man, but I represent mankind, I can do a little. I can read, study, build a better mousetrap, teach my children how to make and understand that mousetrap. It will then be there job to improve or retire that mousetrap so that others can be built. I am a link a piece, a tiny cog. I love life. I love knowing that I get this one random, life, this truly awesome, miraculous life. I will do my best to honor it by enjoying it, respecting it, and living everyday like it was the only one.
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