Arrogance? When will we humans learn we are not the center of everything?

by mavie 21 Replies latest jw friends

  • mavie
    the misunderstanding that homo sapiens is somehow atypically special, and I think this is more often due to simply having not been presented with the facts, rather than arrogance.

    Even when presented with facts, I've seen individuals cling to arrogant beliefs.

  • Dave_T

    "Even when presented with facts, I've seen individuals cling to arrogant beliefs."
    Admitting one's misconceptions requires an ounce of wisdom that many people seem deprived of.

  • Sacchiel

    Ptolemy posited that the Earth was the center of the universe. Once Copernicus began to show that the Sun, not Earth, was at the center of our solar system, some still believed that the Sun at least was the center of the universe. Fast forward a few hundred years, our Sun has been shown to be an average star on the outskirts of an average galaxy. At least we still have the fact that humans are made in God's image, right? Enter Darwin and evolutionary biology.

    Actually our Sun is rather uncommon. The Sun may not be the biggest star, but the majority of stars are approximately 80% less the mass of ours. The luminosity along with the composition is also unique for the age of the sun. The metals found far surpass other stars of the same age. Also, the Milky Way has best size, type, and mass distribution for physical life to exist.

  • daystar
    In response to this thread: when dolphins construct staff hospitals, when whales quit beaching themselves, when chimpanzees institute a democratic from of government, and when mountain gorillas find a cure for the common cold, then I'll stop being an "anthrocentric."

    I would love to see the day when a superior race of creatures make themselves openly apparent to mankind. Whatever would people like you do? Eh, you'd probably rationalize it, much like you chose to believe angels are somehow inferior to humans.

  • mavie
    In response to this thread: when dolphins construct & staff hospitals, when whales quit beaching themselves, when chimpanzees institute a democratic from of government, and when mountain gorillas find a cure for the common cold, then I'll stop being an "anthrocentric."

    Maybe I should explain what this thread means to me. When I ask that we as humans stop being so self-centered and self-important, I ask it because I hope to see a world where humans can live in harmony with the Earth. What do I mean by that? Well, our self-important attitude is the cause of many of the environmental problems we see today. Want examples?

    It's about thinking beyond yourself. Altruism? Maybe.

    Edit: Sacchiel, thank you for the correction.

  • Dave_T

    Hi Sacchiel,

    I don't think one could say that "the majority of stars are approximately 80% less the mass of ours". It would mean that more than 50% of the stars are approximately 80% less the mass of the sun. But we have absolutely no idea how many stars there are in the universe. We are only able to see a very small fraction of the universe even with a sophisticated equipment.


    Well, living in harmony with nature is a kind of loaded statement. Do you mean giving all the current convienences of life? Or being more ecologically-minded?

    For me, I am very ecological. I grew up in the mountains. We cut our own firewood, and on occasion I went hunting with some of my JW friends. So I understand the need to "respect" nature. However, I think that the current environmentalist movement has gone way beyond the "respect" part. Case in point, here in the Southern California area there is a forest with quite a number of standing dead trees (due to a Bark Beetle infestation). The State Forestry Dept. wanted to cut these trees down in order to protect against forest fires. However, Greenpeace, and some the other wacko environmentalist movements filed an injunction to stop this type of maintainence. Now anytime there is a fire that threatens this area, the level of danger grows exponentially since these trees are dead and when ignited literally explode raining flaming fuel on the surrounding area, and causing great fire danger.

    While the groups would deny it, I have to wonder if thmotivation to see humans leave this part of the forest?

  • skeptic2

    Also, the Milky Way has best size, type, and mass distribution for physical life to exist. did life choose our planet for perfect conditions, or are those conditions perfect because this was the planet on which life evolved?

    Discussions of life on other planets invariably comes down to discussions of the ways in which conditions on this planet are particularly suited to life. For example, we are the 'right' distance from the sun (temperature range), we have the right chemical components in the correct proportions to build organic molecules, water may exist here in all three states and we have a 'protective shield' of Ozone.

    Which rather gives the impression that there was a pre-existing idea of life, which came along, like Goldilocks, and went from planet to planet. "Mercury? no, too hot.. Mars? too cold.. Ah! Earth! Just right!".

    Rather, life on Earth evolved to those specific conditions because that's what it had to work with. After all, that protective ozone shield is only really possible once there's free oxygen floating around in the atmosphere, and that comes from photosynthesising organisms, ie: life. Prior to that, that mutation-causing radiation is good - a high rate of mutation is advantageous if you're trying to evolve rapidly. With more mutation comes more variation, and hence a higher ability to adapt to changing conditions, to radiate new forms of life. Once things are pretty established, up goes the shield.

    Which is not to say you must subscribe to an Earth-based origin for life. After all, discussing evolution is not in fact the same thing as discussing abiogenesis, the origin of life. It is still entirely possible that some form of life arrived here from somewhere else in the universe, but it would have been extremely primitive 'life' and its subsequent adaptation to life on this planet shows us not how our planet is perfectly suited to life, but rather how well suited life has become to conditions on this planet.

  • apfergus

    Oh my, are some people stuck up. It's such a common misconception that evolution is somehow "striving" or "progressing" toward humanity or that humans are somehow the final, ultimate end to the process of evolution. How can evolution progress? It has no consciousness or will or motivation. It is an abstract concept, a series of ideas applied to our observations so that we might understand them a little bit better.
    I believe it was Stephen J. Gould who pointed out that if you plot population as a function of complexity you get a decaying exponential. Right on the edge of "most complex" things can move in two directions: things can get more complex or less complex. That's why there's more "uncomplex" life than "complex" life, because everything started out simple and things can always get simpler once they've advanced beyond the basics.
    Of course I'm not in the life sciences, so I could be mistaken in my understanding somewhere. It's something I think more people should take the time to consider.

  • skeptic2

    From Nasa Science zone

    October 2, 2003: Scientists hunting for alien life can relate to Goldilocks.

    For many years they looked around the solar system. Mercury and Venus were too hot. Mars and the outer planets were too cold. Only Earth was just right for life, they thought. Our planet has liquid water, a breathable atmosphere, a suitable amount of sunshine. Perfect.

    Right: Earth photographed by the crew of Apollo 17.

    It didn't have to be that way. If Earth were a little closer to the sun it might be like hot choking Venus; a little farther, like cold arid Mars. Somehow, though, we ended up in just the right place with just the right ingredients for life to flourish. Researchers of the 1970s scratched their heads and said we were in "the Goldilocks Zone."

    The Goldilocks Zone seemed a remarkably small region of space. It didn't even include the whole Earth. All life known in those days was confined to certain limits: no colder than Antarctica (penguins), no hotter than scalding water (desert lizards), no higher than the clouds (eagles), no lower than a few mines (deep mine microbes).

    In the past 30 years, however, our knowledge of life in extreme environments has exploded. Scientists have found microbes in nuclear reactors, microbes that love acid, microbes that swim in boiling-hot water. Whole ecosystems have been discovered around deep sea vents where sunlight never reaches and the emerging vent-water is hot enough to melt lead.

    The Goldilocks Zone is bigger than we thought.

    To find out how big, researchers are going deeper, climbing higher, and looking in the nooks and crannies of our own planet. Searching for life in the Universe is one of NASA's most important research activities. Finding extreme life here on Earth tells us what kind of conditions might suit life "out there."

    NASA scientists Richard Hoover and Elena Pikuta are among the hunters. This month they've announced a new species of extreme-loving microorganism, Tindallia californiensis, found in California's Mono Lake.

    Left: Elena Pikuta and Richard Hoover in their laboratory at the National Space Science and Technology Center (NSSTC).

    Mono Lake is an extremely salty and alkaline body of water. It is almost 3 times saltier than sea water and has a pH of 10, about the same as Windex TM , a household glass cleaner. (For comparison, a pH of 7 is neutral; 14 corresponds to pure lye.) Surprisingly, though, Mono Lake supports a wide array of life from microbes, to plankton, to small shrimp. T. californiensis is right at home there. It thrives in highly alkaline conditions (pH 8-10.5) and at salt concentrations near 20%.

    Earlier this year Hoover and Pikuta announced another strange microbe: Spirochaeta americana. They found it living with T. californiensis and perhaps hundreds of other microbial species in Mono Lake mud samples. Finding new species in this abundant collection of microbial life is a detective story worthy of Perry Mason or Hercule Poirot.

    "Collecting samples from the muddy bottom of this lake and keeping them alive can be tricky business," says Hoover. "These species are killed by the presence of oxygen, so great care must be taken to protect them."

    Below: A false-color electron micrograph image of Tindallia californiensis. Credit: R. Hoover, NASA.

    "The battery of tests required to identify a particular species in a sample is extensive," says Pikuta. "For an organism to be identified and then recognized as a new species, it must be completely understood. This includes identifying its growth requirements and metabolism, colonial habit, cellular characteristics, DNA and genome properties, and sensitivity to antibiotics for detailed comparison with other known life forms."

    Before a life form can be considered a valid new genus or species, it must be deposited in two separate International Collections of Microorganisms and a scientific paper describing all new features of the organism must be either published in the International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology or, if published in another journal, it must be verified by the International Committee on Systematics of Prokaryotes (ICSP), the clearinghouse for bacterial species.

    Once a microbe is finally accepted as a valid new species, says Hoover, the years of intense labwork and wallowing in smelly lake mud suddenly become worthwhile. The Goldilocks Zone gets a little bigger. And life "out there" seems more likely than ever.

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