12 Nov



I take belief in the theory of evolution for granted.  It’s difficult to believe that 40% of Americans reject the theory.  In some ways, the “God guided” option is the worst of all.  God must be real drunk, right?  Anyway, what’s “God” supposed to mean?  An extremely powerful humanoid up in the clouds?  Or maybe something more purely metaphysical?  The latter option can get very complicated, but for the sake of this question I assume the former definition.


There seems to be another major cleave within the group who believe in evolution.  One camp focuses on the reigning scientific knowns of existence and underplays, or even denies, the unknowns.  The other group takes the unknowns very seriously; they do not necessarily see the future as being merely a project of further clarification of a situation we already understand fairly well.


The former group is hostile to philosophy on the mean; the latter group embraces it.  There’s no sharp dividing line between these, but the distinctions are useful for purposes of casual illustration.


What if we found out that our Universe was actually churned out industrially as a kind of dollar store farm for some higher entity?  Wouldn’t this revelation drastically alter the tenor of the magisterial theory of evolution?  Oh, of course it would.  But if one doesn’t take unknowns seriously, then one imagines this kind of revelation simply won’t happen.  Out of mind, out of sight.  There are few books about it and anyone who mentions such things is usually laughed at, so it’s probably not a real thing, right?  If only it were so simple.

I think this bias against taking potential unknowns seriously is a very bad trend.  I wouldn’t want to encourage mass philosophical paranoia or wild and aimless postulation at the expense of productive investment in available scientific leads.  However, existence as humans know it remains full of mysteries — many of which are as fundamental as it gets.  Some of the mysteries, like consciousness, are as intimate and immediate as it gets.  I don’t find this to be a comfortable situation, but others seem content to ignore the pesky philosophical questions and carry on with their blissfully unphilosophical lives.  Instead of looking in behind of themselves, they try to trip out their cave wall with Technicolor.

My feeling is that if human begins are to ever have a serious and sustainable hope of overcoming our various self-inflicted miseries, then we better end The Human Evasion ASAP.  That means confronting the big questions and finding tangible places to start digging in.  It means opening up more to the uncertainty and the magnitude of the situation.  It means admitting of the deep vulnerability this approach entails — a vulnerability which may eventually sow a fuller and less defensive dignity.  Feigning existential wholeness is a lame and unstable way to come about a feeling of satisfaction as far as I’m concerned.  Ironically, evolution appears to reward this approach in many landscapes.

Complexity science and brain science are promising inlets to some of the mysteries.  Still, I believe the path will be arduous and lacking in reassuring guarantees.  It could even turn out to be troubling or tragic.  But is there any meaningful alternative to the truth, to the basis of oneself?



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