Wednesday, August 3, 2016

We are still the early humans

‘We are still the early Christians,’ is a saying of Christian apologist and author C. S. Lewis which I hold by, which gives me hope and patience with the Church when she seems to resist what I see as necessary change. I propose an adaptation of this saying which has wider implications, ‘We are still the early humans,’ because whatever or whoever our biological antecedents were in the immense chain of evolution, and regardless of what science today declares homo sapiens from studying ancient remains, the human family as we now know it is probably not much older than twelve thousand years, perhaps a good deal younger, and was ‘created’ in an event that is mythically described in the first chapters of Genesis, ‘Let us make man in Our own image, in the likeness of Ourselves.’

How the physical universe from cosmic down to terrestrial scale came to be is inadequately explained by the best guesses of science just as much as it is obscured by the traditional tales of humanity, yet the former, products of—you guessed it—evolution, often contain more practical truth than the latter, which are the product of, at best, four or five generations out of—at least four hundred of thinking beings. Yes, thinking beings—that’s what we are, despite the slanders of anti-humanistic critics. Thinking beings are what the Bible is describing when we read about God making man ‘in Our own image.’ Why is it that we have no human history, not even oral lore, reaching back to, say, the last great Ice Age? Could it be because those humanoids that fought the glaciers just to remain alive were not yet humans?

Out of the darkness of pre-human existence, an event horizon is seen, appearing as if ‘ready made,’ mirroring an event horizon we are much more familiar with from everyday life—the birth of a child. Before the child is born, without the aid of modern instruments, we can’t see it, we don’t know what it is, and then—pop!—a baby is born, a being which we immediately recognize as one of us, as human, and if we have ever stopped to think about it, that newborn infant is every much a human in every way as a mature adult, except that it lacks experience, the data which is added to the being that is the human. We see a similar thing happening in the case of human civilizations, such as that of Egypt. The illustrious and majestic remains of the earliest dynasties seem to appear ready made from nowhere.

Can you see where I am going with this? We are the early humans because as far back as you find evidences of human civilization—Mesopotamia, the Indus Valley, Egypt, Yucatan, China—these beginnings are relatively recent. Their spontaneous appearance has led people to speculate on their origins—extra-terrestrials or lost continents, the most popular—none of which are any more reasonable than the obvious explanations that have come down through the generations as myth and folklore. Whether or not one agrees with the notion that at some point the personal God—more precisely, the Tri-Personal God—through a blatant interference in the evolutionary process, ‘created’ humanity by a signal and unique historical event, one cannot dismiss the relative newness of the human species.

Yes, we are still the early humans. We can look back at both archaeological and literate remains that chart broadly if not always finely the course of human social evolution, how we as a society of persons (thinking beings) have tried this and that way to organize ourselves as a whole in order to ensure our survival. The study of these remains is called history, and that history at the very least goes back seven thousand years, with a twilight zone of perhaps an additional five. Human society is what makes personality possible, and vice versa: they emerge together in that ‘creation’ event. History reveals how humanity is evolving its social and personal aspects to reach that equilibrium which was instilled in the process of creation: We were created potentially perfect, and nature demands we realize our potential.

It is not merely in the evolution of social structures that our potential lies. These are only the containers that shape their contents—humanity as human beings. How we organize ourselves, families, kinship groups, languages, nations, follows the same laws as other forms of evolution—the survival of the fittest. This will always happen, this principle will always assert itself, no matter what individuals or groups attempt to apply various templates of their own to shape the human family. We smugly assert the superiority, for example, of liberal ‘democracy’ in government, and free market capitalism in economics, over the personal monarchies and regulated economies of earlier times, or the gender ‘equality’ of today’s feminist societies over what is derisively called ‘patriarchy,’ but which really ensure our survival?

We are still the early humans. Our first attempts at social and personal equilibrium, where we tried every form of government, every plan of economy, every hierarchy of social strata, has brought us where we are today. Are we there yet? I mean, have we achieved social and personal equilibrium, are we a society that functions justly and as we were created to function? And what of ourselves as persons? Has the cult of personality succeeded in ensuring every person’s health and happiness? ‘Liberty, equality, fraternity,’ the chant of the French Revolution, sounded so right when it began, despite the mountains of severed heads that tacitly denied the reality the words stood for. ‘Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,’ America’s credo, has this attained the potential for which humanity was created?

We have thousands and thousands of years left to achieve what is written in our very bones and blood. We have history to teach us, and now our technology can be integrated into our search for that which will ensure our survival as a species. Neither personal monarchy nor social democracy is to be ruled out as the chosen vehicle of good government, nor is any particular economic model to be totally rejected. What we must, for our survival, rule out, what we must reject, is our anti-progressive and actually suicidal preference for comfort over commitment, for short cuts over completion, for appearances over reality. Yes, for lies over the truth. In ‘democratic’ societies, what are we willing to work for?

What America and Europe, and perhaps other places, are experiencing currently on both social and personal levels is a wake up call in the fight for survival. It took centuries to evolve the social and personal guarantees of human survival that we were finally enjoying in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The assertions of an anti-humanism dressed up as political and social liberation that began to erode western civilization two centuries ago, starting small, have now placed both society and citizen in a position of great danger. The principle of survival of the fittest that drives the evolutionary processes despite the doctrines of political pundits will, fortunately, drive human society back to its mainstream course, and it is beginning now. Everyone must ask themselves, ‘Where should I stand?’

We are still the early humans. We have been taught to ‘think globally, and act locally,’ and this is a principle that can be applied whether we are for the evolutionary process that shaped the human family, or for the social engineering process that seeks to stop evolution in its tracks. The irony is that those who fight against social evolution, are the ones who promote Darwinian theories as applied to nature at large, and those who prefer the ‘traditional’ social norms that evolution has perfected are the ones who promote Creationism and similar religious attitudes. Traditional social norms evolved because society and individual survive best following them. As long as the human family exists, they will exist, and as long as we as a species still want reality, real life, over fantasy, we will be able to realize our potential.

I am optimistic. Time is on our side. We have thousands and thousands of years left. We are still the early humans.

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