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The Vanity of Humanity

09 December 2012, 18:30
I want to address an irritating sentiment that I have read in several religious posts i.e. the concept of how special we all are.
The arrogance. The vanity...
Humans vs Nature
We like to think of ourselves as the supreme beings on this planet, but how true is this sentiment?
It's completely fair to say that our minds are the most advanced known on earth. Our ability to foster concepts like ambition, invention and planning have given us the edge over other living species on earth.
It still depends on how you spin it though - what about the physical domain? Strangely enough we idolize our physical heroes (sportsman, actors) far more than we idolize our mental giants (scientists, philosophers).
From a mammalian perspective we are hugely inferior physically when compared to other mammals. Most mammals can run faster than us, are multiple times stronger, can leap many times higher than we can, and can survive far greater levels of elemental hardship than we can. When looking at mammals, one should also recognize the fact that we share most of their anatomical traits - vital organs, physiology is very similar. 
Non-mammals also show significant physical superiority in many cases. The speed of the fish and its ability to live in low oxygen environments that would be lethal to us, the enormous relative strength of insects and their capacity to work almost continuously, and the ability of the plant world to convert simple sunlight into energy.
Physically we have great limitations. Our bodies are incapable of stopping all cancer cells indefinitely, we cannot stop cycles that lead to high blood pressure or coronary artery disease, we cannot heal our skin perfectly. Our body is amazing but also contains huge cyclical flaws that act to our detriment. Ask anyone allergic to bees how their own histamine system killed them in response to a relatively mild toxin, or people who are killed by their own immune response if they are critically ill.
Humans as an Entity
It is true that most of us are unique, but no more unique than two snowflakes that aren't the same or two antelope that have non-identical facial markings. We are merely a product of our parents DNA and its expression, and this is true of all animals on earth.
What's scandalous to the casual observer is how special people consider all 7-billion of us to be. It's as if we are believed that each of us has a mighty purpose on earth, and that a similar but importantly variable purpose is followed by several thousand million other people. So before one sits and congratulates one's self on how masterful one is, take notice of the following...
1. One could say that every hand on earth performs a small task and this makes civilization possible. This is true, except for the fact that only the minority of the world's population is productive. Mass poverty and lack of education have rendered a majority that relies on a minority to provide for them worldwide. No other mammalian species can make such a boast.
2. The population of India alone increases by 1 million a month. How can one really believe one to be special with such a growth rate among our species? Take a vast lake and fill it with seven billion fish, that produce several million offspring per month. Now explain why every fish is so extremely special and critical to this ecosystem, and more importantly, to the universe. You would be hard-pressed to make this claim if you had 100 fish.
3. Most people can make a human child, except those individuals who have infertility issues. It merely requires a sperm and an egg - and those are in great abundance in most people. How can you claim to be special when almost anyone could have produced you? The process its self is a massive biological achievement, but there are billions of other people as special as you are. 
Bringing it all together
How does one bring all of this together?
It's simple... you are not special. Think about the greatest people who have ever lived and think about how much people miss them now that they are decades and centuries gone. Those were truly great people - now think of the average man and how meaningless his contribution to the world is in total, except for his ability to sustain the species, and even that is debatable when you have massive world overpopulation.
The point is that mentally we can probably go unchallenged. Physically we are among the weaker species on earth, yet we use our mental prowess to dominate other species. We procreate with ease and we are in excessive abundance. With all this in mind people still make the following claims...
1. You are so special. You were put here for a divine purpose. Some people claim they were handpicked.
2. You have been touched by the divine. Although you share the same physiology as most mammals, you are divine.
3. A world without you is intolerable. You are important to the functioning of the galaxy. In truth, none of us will be missed in 100 years, We'll be memories if we're lucky.
4. If you die, you cannot believe that you will no longer exist. It's intolerable! How can anything go on if your immortality is not certain? It's amazing to see how some people choose to believe things with the strict condition that it stipulates that their lives on earth are meaningful and even after life they are meaningful. The idea that they might be as special to this planet as a rhino or a mountain is a mind killer.
The arrogance. The vanity...
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