I feel a certain despair at the state of the world today. There could be hope, however, if we as a people choose the right path.
I've just finished listening to the audio book of Carl Sagan's Pale Blue Dot, the book referenced in the last video. In it, there was quoted a prediction (not made by Sagan) which said that human civilisation would destroy itself in 12 years. Pale Blue Dot was published in 1994, so clearly this prediction has not held out. The reasons behind it, however, still hold.
Humans are the first species on this planet capable of wiping themselves out. We have the technology, whether deliberately or unintentionally. We've had this capability since 1945, I guess.
Israel - aided by America, absolutely caning the Palestinians/Egyptians/other Arabs in the region since 1948. The other country officially declared in 1948 isn't doing anywhere near as well. They're eating rabbits. Where do we draw the line at who's responsible? We could say that the Palestinians are responsible, because they keep blowing up the Israelis (as well as each other). Or we could say that the Israelis are responsible, because they've reoccupied the territory which was originally Palestinian. Or, maybe, blame Hitler for causing a mass exodus of Jews to the Promised Land. Or, if we want to go far enough back in history, blame the Romans for kicking the Israelites out of their God-given "Promised Land" and scattering them around the known world in the Diaspora.
Where do we draw the line?
I, personally, would draw the line just one step further. The Israelites were promised the land of milk and honey by their God (Yahweh/Jehovah to be precise, but I'll use the word God in this post because it's shorter). Get this: the entire claim to the land is based off a god (presumably thought up by the Israelites, since other peoples believed in other gods), and the proof is in an old book. And what's more, even today, hundreds of millions of people still believe that this old book is absolutely correct (not to mention the hundreds of millions more who believe they can pick and choose the "nice bits"). And I haven't even started on the Arabs' arguments yet.
Those brought up in this way aren't taught to ask certain questions. Questions like, "Who wrote this book?" "Why did they write this book?" "What are their motives?" Simple questions like these have enabled historians to conclude that the Bible (Qur'an/other Scriptures) is not a reliable historical record of the events of the past. I don't really want to go too far into this, otherwise this blog post will turn into an essay (but if you really want to investigate, a good starting point is the Council of Nicea.) I'll grant kudos to those who have decided that these religious texts do not literally tell the truth (whatever that may be).
To those who say, "*such and such event happened*! The Bible said that it would happen! Therefore the Bible (and everything in it) must be correct!", you are misleading yourselves, and you are misleading others. Ever heard of self-fulfilling prophecies? Basically, by making a prophecy, other people, consciously or otherwise, start a chain of events which leads to the fulfilment of the prophecy. Simply put, things in the Bible turn out to be true, not because they are inherently true, but because people make them true. The Bible is full of these so-called "prophecies". Check Revelation if you don't know what I mean.
Which finally gets us back to Israel. I'm sorry, I didn't intend it to be a rant against Christianity/Judaism/Islam/any religion. It just happened to flow in that direction. Which is understandable.
Anyway, there are a bunch of people who think the Second Coming is at hand.¹ This, supposedly, will result in millions of people getting killed, Judgement being passed on everyone on Earth, etc etc. So what do you do? Encourage religious violence between Israel and its neighbours. Speed up the Second Coming! It's part of the prophecy, isn't it? Israel's being attacked on all sides! We should do all we can to ensure it doesn't fall!
Sometimes I think I agree with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (President of Iran for those not in the know). The problems in the Middle East were started by Israel. Though I should say in defence that the Americans and the Arab nations have only made this worse. This will sound absolutely outrageous for most of the people who know me, but I reckon Israel SHOULD be wiped off the map. Rationale? Most of the stuff above, but also the fact that there will no longer be any religious tensions to cause people to blow each other up in the region. Guess what? No more terrorists! I've never seen a happy terrorist. Have you ever seen a happy terrorist? And by "happy", I don't mean Osama bin Laden-style "I'm glad they destroyed the infidels" sort of happiness, I mean "I'm satisfied with my life and the state of my country" type. Terrorists have some aggrievance with the world. Some injustice being wrought upon them.
There's a slight problem with the US and A being seen as a "Christian fundamentalist state" just as Iran is an "Islamic fundamentalist state". Whether they are or not is irrelevant. Appearances are everything round here.
I've digressed a long way from where I wanted to be. I wanted to talk about this world. I wanted to talk about where our species could go from here. Yet, from all I see around me right now, we're doomed.
I should not be so hasty.
Memo to the American Congress: Re-evaluate your definition of "worthwhile". Despite all claims to the contrary, it is not worthwhile developing better ways to kill one another. It's not worthwhile spending $30,000,000,000,000 doing so. It is worth spending much less than that to develop as yet unheard-of technologies to let us live on the Moon, on Mars, and even further. We, as human beings, as biological organisms driven by selfish genes², should use our resources to further ourselves. Don't deny human nature.
Message to those who are driven only by greed (note to large corporations, this means you too): There are higher pursuits than yours. There are many ways in which the human race can be advanced. Amassing a fortune is not one of them. Ultimately, all you have earnt is a human construct, something without any value other than what we place upon it. The good of humanity is your good as well.
And something for those of us who are still learning: Have an open mind. Do your own analysis of the world. Understand where we are now, where we have been. Only then can you really decide where to go from here.
We do have a great future, if we want it. Some of us have taken the first steps towards it, in places like Arecibo, Cape Canaveral, and even Tidbinbilla. Voyagers, Mariners and Pioneers started the journey. Now it is up to us to continue that journey out towards the stars.
There is happiness for you out there, and it comes not from making huge amounts of a human concept which has no value outside our species. Neither does it come from using this human concept to acquire pleasure for the here and now. True satisfaction of the human kind comes from knowing you've done something to further the human species, not to destroy it.
I know where my future lies. Do you?
¹WB Yeats, The Second Coming
²Richard Dawkins, The Selfish Gene
P.S. People are not tempted (in the normal sense of the word) away from religion, towards knowledge. People are drawn to knowledge because of its unparalleled ability to inspire and reveal, in ways religion never can. The truth is, though, I am being constantly tempted towards religious beliefs, because it seems so comforting to me, to have something/someone support me in a way a personal God can. I realise that religion can and will make me much happier in my life, should I choose to accept it. I choose otherwise, not because I'm masochistic, but because I see the beauty of the universe as it is, not what a bunch of people, gathering around a large table in Nicea in the 8th century, say it should be.
theDarkHorse on 06.17.07 @ 10:56 AM AEST [link] [No Comments]