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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

I Wonder!

It seems that most people believe humans are the most highly evolved species on earth.  Because humans have the largest frontal cortex they have the capability of performing complex cognitive functions such as thinking in the abstract, tool making, and speaking languages.  Humans can imagine, visualize and come up with ideas other animals could never dream of doing. Humans understand cause and effect and can take control of their own destiny if they so desire.

With this larger brain humans see themselves as separate from nature and even other people.  Humans sense that there is a past, a present and a future.  Because of all these attributes they have an identity called "self".

With the capability of reasoning, conceptualizing and abstract thinking humans have the ability to compare and judge.  They can see one thing happen, then another thing happen and put the two together and formulate a cause and effect.  Humans can predict the future - when the sun will come up, what the weather will be like one week from now, when high and low tides will occur, and even what another person is going to say before they say it.

This ability to see one's self as not only separate and distinct, but also better or worse has allowed the human to develop a very strong and fascinating thing called an ego.  It is no wonder humans see themselves as the most highly evolved species on earth.  "How could it be otherwise?"

The question is, what determines what highly evolved means?  Just because  humans can do things other animals can't, does that mean they are the most highly evolved?  What about who has lived the longest?  The horseshoe crab has been on earth for over 300 million years.  Humans have only been on earth for some two million years - if that. Insects have been around for over 400 million years.  What about the ability to fly?  That seems to me to be a very highly evolved attribute.  And take a look at dolphins and whales.  They can dive down thousands of feet in the ocean without getting narcosis or the bends.  Isn't that a very highly evolved characteristic?

Just because humans can capture, train and kill other animals does that make them the most highly evolved?  I question that reasoning.  Humans want to believe that they are better than the rest of the creatures on earth.  Many believe that when they die they will continue to exist in some form somehow.  Is this wishful thinking?  Does the large frontal cortex give a false sense of life after death?  I wonder.

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