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 Post subject: The paradox of fitness - Evolutionary Bottleneck
PostPosted: Sat Feb 24, 2018 4:45 pm 
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This is going to be somewhat rambling, long winded, and half baked... as I try to express thoughts that have been going through my head. Most of which were instilled by social media's reaction to yet another mass murder in a school, perpetuated against children.

For some reason I decided to watch "The Prince of Egypt" today. When I was a believer I viewed it as my favorite representation of the Exodus tale. I especially liked the way God is represented in the film. Speaking to Moses in a still small voice from the burning bush. But as I watched it today through different eyes..... it became a cautionary tale of an entirely different type.

We seem to be extremely limited in our thinking about modes of conflict resolution. In the Exodus tale, the Omnipotent God himself, is so limited in his ability to find better solutions for freeing the Israelites from their bondage that he resorts to that mode that evolution has built into us: violence, and death upon those who oppose "him"/us.

Religion calls this the natural man, and tells us to cast off the natural man and rise above this base nature. And yet in the end, it is the religious who seem most ready to utilize violence in conflict resolutions. Whether this be "convert or die infidel", or the religious right's affinity that the only thing that keeps them from tyranny, and car jacking is their possessing a hand gun.

I view this use of violence to resolve problem as the key driver that has driven humanity to become what it is. The violence we utilize is because we are individually greedy. This greed is then end result of what evolution has made us. Society arose as a mutual effort that rewards individuals who participate in the group.

My understanding of the influence of "fitness" upon the development of a species has come to be more than a species' ability to reproduce and thrive in a niche. To include thriving as a species' ability to effectively harness the calories available to them in their niche.

Life on this planet seems to be all about the conversion of the calories the sun, thermal vents, or sources of thermal energy provided, into the perpetuation of life. We have arisen as the dominant species on the planet because we are able to tap, extract and manipulate calories in ways that no other species can. Coupled with an ability to extract calories from across other niches, from environments where no life is possible, and we harnessed the power of the atom. Our problem solving ability induced by our ever increasing ability to do violence, has given us the perceived ability to rival even the sun itself.

Civilization arose, because collectively we are able to better harness calories than we can as individuals. Yet under our thin veneer of civilization, we are all still at heart individually greedy. This greed is evident everywhere we look. We fight over resources, over calories, and we do it at times in the name of deities whose sole mode of conflict resolution happily coincides with our base nature. That violence that we resort to to protect what "is mine".

We live in an era of unprecedented access to the manipulation of calories. We turn it into food, goods, entertainment, medicine, money, all kinds of stuff. And yet despite our ever increasing ability to more readily turn calories into stuff, we are unable to overcome the shaping forces that allowed us to become what we are. Hence we have a paradox. A world full of more than sufficient calories for everyone, yet because of our propensity for individual greed: war, poverty, hunger, sickness and disease.

Evolution has forged us to be greedy. Our tool for conflict resolution is violence. God himself when faced with the dilemma of freeing the Hebrews from bondage had no better solution than killing the firstborn of Egypt. Surely he is made in our image, being so limited in his conflict resolution. Better to kill the gentile/pagan/unclean/unchosen Egyptians, rather than to teleport the Hebrews away.

Jesus as a teacher represents an understanding of the need of better means for conflict resolution . A deviation from the mode of the OT. OT god is a destroyer. Is petty, is unjust - having a chosen people. The message of the OT being - our god is the biggest and baddest. Jesus on the other hand had a message antithetical to the message of the OT. Love one another. Love your enemy. Too bad this message was so quickly co-opted as demonstrated by the book of revelations, back to the old message of fire and destruction.

Returning to what interactions I had in social media.... There is a large set of people in this country who firmly believe that the only thing that prevents them from being assaulted on some daily basis, from the government enslaving the people, and from the perpetuation of genocide upon them, is their ability to posses firearms. Perhaps they are those who have looked into themselves, and realized that at our hearts we are violent apes, recently descended from the trees running on "cave man software". Greed being the end product of evolution's force upon us. This desire to be well fed, have access to mates, and to acquire things that make life more easier to succeed at, and hence more enjoyable. This need to have more calories than anyone else. Even though we live in a society of abundance, they are clutching to "what is their's" and willing to enforce that ownership with violence. We are unable to willingly share and equally provide access to calories.

School shooting? Instead of acting as a species for the well being of the species, the solution is to add more firearms into the mix. Add a growing threat of violence upon those who have anti social tendencies. Is this the ideal solution? I hardly think so. Yet it seems the solution that we will turn to.

Me, I think that if we can not recognize that evolution has driven us into a bottleneck, that if we can not as a species evolve to the next step, a species that works for the good of the species as a whole, then we will not survive ourselves.

We have entered a new geological age. The Anthropocene. ... planet.php
This is the age in which the fate of the planet will be determined upon humanities actions.

Professor Fogwill, Head of the School of Geography, Geology and the Environment at Keele University, said: “The impact that humanity’s nuclear weapons testing has had on the Earth’s atmosphere provides a global signal that unambiguously demonstrates that humans have become the major agent of change on the planet. This is an important, yet worrying finding. The global atomic bomb signal, captured in the annual rings of this invasive tree species, represents a line in the sand, after which our collective actions have stamped an indelible mark, which will define this new geological epoch for generations to come.”

Evolution has shaped us to be individually greedy, and to use violence as our way to resolve conflict. We have sentience and with that sentience the ability to examine our own actions as a species, and perhaps rise above what we are. But will we? If not, I expect we will in one form or another negatively impact the environment that we depend on to our own extinction, or through our reliance upon violence for conflict resolution - wipe ourselves out.

Are we at an evolutionary bottleneck? What we are because of the forces that shaped us, will be ultimately the very things the eliminate us?

It is better to be a warrior in a garden, than a gardener at war.

Some of us, on the other hand, actually prefer a religion that includes some type of correlation with reality.
~Bill Hamblin

Last edited by SteelHead on Sat Feb 24, 2018 5:08 pm, edited 5 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: The paradox of fitness - Evolutionary Bottleneck
PostPosted: Sat Feb 24, 2018 4:47 pm 
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Joined: Sat Jun 09, 2012 10:53 am
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Pretty good ramble. I might respond later, but it really makes one think.

"Jesus gave us the gospel, but Satan invented church. It takes serious evil to formalize faith into something tedious and then pile guilt on anyone who doesn’t participate enthusiastically." - Robert Kirby

Beer makes you feel the way you ought to feel without beer. -- Henry Lawson

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 Post subject: Re: The paradox of fitness - Evolutionary Bottleneck
PostPosted: Tue Apr 10, 2018 2:53 am 
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I like your ramble!

I've seen this portrayed as the problem of modernity before. Stephen Hawking opined that the next 200 years will decide the fate of humanity, whether we are able to transcend that tendency and ability to destroy each other, especially now that we are capable of doing so on such massive scales.

Many movies and books are an exercise in thought experiments about this very problem. I recently recommended the movie "Downsizing" on this forum, a film that does address the question of perpetuating humanity and where to best apply one's energies in that cause.

John Larson on the Mormon Expressions podcast would point out the traits we need to accept about human beings: we're opportunistic. One of the big balancing acts in addressing the sustainability of human civilization is that human beings will always exploit whatever levers and momentum we collectively put in place for our descendants.

One interplay I recently observed was the political battle, where sometimes it seems that political parties behave like a dysfunctional divorced couple fighting each other by fighting for control over the kids. In my immediate experience in France, it seems like it has become a political agenda to cut costs on principle, without considering the welfare of the citizenry. I see this in healthcare, too, with the growing costs in the US and the shrinking supply of healthcare providers in Europe. We need to value and appreciate the legitimate cost for those specialized "calories" we desire. One thing I learned to appreciate in Switzerland was that people paid more for better quality. It was a shock at first, and was difficult, but their culture of aiming for quality resulted in a willingness to pay more for better goods and services.

So that's my co-ramble, for now. Thanks for sharing yours!

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 Post subject: Re: The paradox of fitness - Evolutionary Bottleneck
PostPosted: Sun Apr 15, 2018 9:31 am 
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Interesting thoughts. Thanks for posting.

Thus saith the LORD of hosts, Hearken not unto the words of the prophets that prophesy unto you: they make you vain: they speak a vision of their own heart, and not out of the mouth of the LORD. --Jeremiah 23:16

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