Archives for posts with tag: Richard Dawkins

Charles Darwin gave us “On the origin of Species”.

We’ve summed it up ‘the survival of the fittest’.
And behaved accordingly. Including some of those who should have known better. “The world of the selfish gene revolves around savage competition, ruthless exploitation, and deceit, and yet, Dawkins argues, acts of apparent altruism do exist in nature.

I reckon all of you know – or at least have heard of, Richard Dawkins.
Compare his celebrity with the relative absence from the public scene ‘enjoyed’ by Ernst Mayr.

And what’s so special about this Mayr guy?
‘Evolution is not as much about the ‘survival of the fittest’ as it is about the ‘demise of the unfit’ ‘

Get it?
In fact, there is no such thing as ‘the fittest’ when we speak about evolution. ‘Fit’ is relative while evolution is a process. Fit is about ‘this moment and this place’ while evolution is about the ability to adapt. To change when needed.

And what has any of these to do with “exploring the consequences of our limited conscience”?

Well, it was us who had interpreted Darwin’s ‘Origin of the Species’ as ‘the survival of the fittest’ individual. It was us who had lionized Dawkins’ ‘Selfish Gene’ and left Mayr’s ‘True’ Evolution in relative darkness…

To sum it up, it is us who are are obsessed with something we call ‘success’.

It is us who keep forgetting that the mighty dinosaurs – maybe the most ‘successful’ animals ever, had been the first to disappear when ‘shit’ had struck. And that is was a meek mammal which had inherited the Earth.

It is our success craving conscience which is highly biased. And I’m not at all sure this is a good thing. In the long run, I mean.

From an atheist, that is.

Let me clear something, from the beginning.
I’m perfectly happy with the current scientific explanation of how we arrived here. OK, there still are a few gaps that need to be bridged but, on the whole, the story  seems pretty straightforward.

But, on the other hand, me – and a huge number of other, scientifically minded, people – having no need for God as an explanation doesn’t preclude God from existing nor from having caused the ‘Big Bang’ and/or intervening since. In various manners still unknown to us.

And something else.
The God we ‘know’ is a god of our own making.
All sacred texts that guide our religious life have been written by humans, all sermons are officiated by us and, also, all religiously motivated crimes, and religiously fueled heroic acts, have been ‘committed’ by some of us.
My point being that the ‘image’ that we have crafted about what some of us consider to be ‘the ultimate cause’ for everything might be far away from the one “It” has about Itself… if it exists at all, of course.

What Dawkins has to do with any of this?
Well, some 10 or so years ago he came to Bucharest and tried to convince a few of us – about 100 students and some 20 ‘academics’ in two separate conferences, I attended both, that his work is proof enough that God cannot even exist. Period.
Then what’s the difference between Dawkins and the guys who had set Giordano Bruno on fire? OK, OK, different manners of expression but the very same level of intransigence…

Anyway, I feel a lot better now that I’ve finally figured out the difference between ‘there is no need for a particular something’ and ‘that particular something cannot even exist’.

broadcast to the Universe

“Professor Stephen Hawking, the Cambridge cosmologist, warned in 2010 that humans should keep as silent as possible because alien civilisations may be attracted to Earth and have the technology to travel here and exploit its resources. “If aliens visit us, the outcome would be much as when Columbus landed in America, which didn’t turn out well for the Native Americans,” he said.”

Let’s accept for the sake of the argument that an ‘imperialistic and inconsiderate’ civilization (like the western Europeans were during the time of Columbus) manages to reach the technological prowess of being able to travel at velocities higher than the speed of light – otherwise no one would bother to leave their native planet except for a real emergency since building an empire in this circumstances is impractical.
Would you think they would wait for an invitation from us? Or that they would even need one to know that the Earth is a ‘hospitable’ planet?
If ‘they’ are as belligerent as we were, and still are, the Universe would be either divided into at least two empires busily trying to bite each other’s throat or a huge one who continuously gobbles up new and new planets.
We are still free after so many eons since the galaxy has been in place so chances are that either ‘they’ are a lot more peaceful or interstellar travel is not a feasible thing. Not in any recognizable – by us – form of animal life, anyway.

What we are left with is another, and for me a lot more plausible, hypothesis.
Long range travel has indeed been mastered, in one form or another. After a prolonged interstellar war or even from the very beginning the ‘travelers’ have understood that peace is a lot more ‘profitable’/nice/cozy than generalized war so they don’t allow ‘beligerant’ civilizations to get out of their planets until the would be new-comers ‘grow up’ from their ‘waring’ pubescence.
For instance by installing monitoring stations around ‘promising’ planets and actually sabotaging their efforts at ‘conquering the space’ until they reach a comprehensively peaceful stage of social development.

I remember that one of the conditions for Romania to be accepted in both European Union and NATO was for it to have good relations/’friendship treaties’ with all its neighbors. If we were wise enough to do such thing don’t you think that a civilization that has mastered space travel should have reached the same conclusion way back in their development?

It seems that our fright about the ‘aliens’ tells more about the way we are than about anything else…

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