Monday, 4 June 2007

Who We Are

Where do we come from? Why? Is there life after death?

These and other similar questions have been pondered by every human being that has ever existed at some point in their lives. That we are the result of evolution, to me at least, is obvious. No god is needed to explain the miracle of evolution. Take the whale for example, the whale was once a bear like creature, a mammal, like other mammals, that evolved from earlier reptiles. However this bear, seemingly not happy with it's land based lifestyle, returned again to the water, and over several more million years evolved again into the creature we call a whale.

Given the many millions of years that have passed on this planet it is not hard to see how natural selection, necessity, climate change, etc. have caused the life forms to diversify, adapt and change to maintain the most important status of all - life.

From the most lowly simple cell life forms, to us the most complex, there is a common and simple ingrained characteristic - maintain life at any cost - and nature has created 1,000's of ways that the creatures on this planet can use to maintain life. Nature has also created creatures that are powerful in their methods of taking life - the predators. Yet the predators kill to eat, to survive, to protect themselves. The prey of the predators rely on size, speed, cunning, or sheer numbers to survive and protect their lives. Plants also compete to survive by growing faster, or taller, than their neigbouring plants.

In the midst of this evolucionary cocktail there was one group of mammals, apes, from which one further group was later going to develop into us. They were not powerful predators like the big cats, they were not fast, they were not strong, they were small and weak and they ate what they could find be it meat, vegetable or fruit. They were our ancestors. "The Awakening" did not come in a sudden moment as in the 2001 A Space Odyssey film when an ape discovers a bone can be used as a weapon, but several millions of years passed by and this one particular creature, though small and weak, adapted to change quickly and survived well in that aggressive world of predator and prey. Not having powerful fangs or sharp claws, this species learned over time to use rocks and pieces of wood and bone to help it find food - and thus a new predator was created by the forces of evolution - Mankind.

Early man was not of course a thinker, he was simply fullfilling the in-built need to survive, and his daily life simply revolved around finding food and a mate. However, at some point through his continuing development, he became aware of his surroundings and himself in a way we have not witnessed with certainty in other animals. The mind. With this new weapon, the world would be changed forever - the supreme predator was born.

Approximately 2 million years have passed since those moments. Man is still evolving, as are the other animals on this planet - evolution does not stand still.

Where do we come from, why, is there life after death. The questions have always been there. Do we humans need to invent gods and magic and fairies to explain all this? Seems for many people yes, they do.

"Where we come from" has been answered - Evolution - applies to all life forms on this planet.

The "why" has also been answered - Maintain life - The continuance of the species - applies to all life forms on this planet.

Is there life after death? Mankind is wrong to assume that only he benefits from this idea - if there was life after death it would logically apply to all animals also since man is as much a part of the animal world as are the animals a part of us. It is written in our genes, our DNA, our history, our skeleton, our biological makeup. No, there is no life after death. Life after death would make a mockery of evolution. Evolution, or nature if you like, needs the presence of death to function. Without the fear of death, the driving force behind the of survival of the species would be weakened - why worry about survival if there is always another life waiting for you? Evolution would fail.

Perhaps then, it is the question that is wrong. Perhaps the question needs to be rephrased. Perhaps mankind has not evolved sufficiently yet to know what he wants to know. Perhaps then, the void is filled with gods, and fairies, and goblins, and a whole heap of fantasies that make all this have a reason.

"Life" does not need a reason - it simply IS.

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