3. Life

History of Life on Earth

Up to now, my ramblings about everything have been rather tame. While there is a lot to discuss when it comes to the universe, and our little neck of the woods, it’s nothing that most people will get into heated arguments about. (Unless it’s about Pluto. In which case – watch out!)

But life is different.  Life is all around us, and it is what we are.  So we tend to get rather passionate about it.

I’m getting ahead of myself.  As I discussed in the last post, Earth is amazing – if for no other reason than the variety of life that has been able to grow and flourish here.  First it was the age of dinosaurs.  Then, after their mass extinction and an essential reboot of the planet, mammals took the throne – eventually leading to the dominance of humans today.

Life on this planet has undergone a great deal of evolution and diversification, and some would consider humanity to be the pinnacle.  While I’m not sure I agree with that, humans are certainly one of the more biologically complex creatures on Earth.  And most important of all, we are self-aware.  We can look up to the sky, see the stars and the moon, contemplate our origins, analyze our situation and shape our future.

Humans often forget that we cannot survive alone, and our existence on this planet is incredibly dependent on every other creature.  All the panic that exists around farming, agriculture — and even bees — is due to our reliance on Earth’s ecosystems.

 

Life is sacred.

Of course, I don’t just mean human life.  Every creature, every plant – it all has a reason to exist, and it all deserves to be treated with respect.  Somewhere along the course of human history, a group of folks decided that everything on Earth was put here for us to take advantage of.  It didn’t matter how many plants we grew, how many animals we murdered, how many trees we cut down: the planet was a bounty put here by God, and nothing we could do would be able to destroy that.

As idiotic as this line of thinking is, it did make some sense when humans totaled a few thousand and not a few hundred thousand.  These days, however, there is no excuse to hold this belief – and yet, some do.

So I say again, because this is important to me: life is sacred.

 

At this point, you might expect me to extol the virtues of veganism, and how eating vegetables and soy protein is the key to happiness and a peaceful co-existence with all of Earth’s creatures.

Well, sorry to disappoint, but I am a meat eater.  That’s right: in the same breath, I can tell you that life is sacred, but killing animals for sustenance is okay.

While this may seem like a contradiction in the most tragic sense of the word, there is some logic. Humans are part of this planet’s intertwined ecosystems, and whether we like it or not, killing other plants and animals is part of this process.  It is the way things have always been, and always will be. It isn’t our place to decide whether this is right or wrong.

Indeed, some vegans and vegetarians consider killing animals for their meat to be immoral.  In reality, they consider killing cuddly, furry animals with cute faces to be immoral.  For all the plants they eat in good conscience, many insects had to die at the hand of insecticides.  Not to mention the plants themselves, which is still life.  Do plants feel pain?  The research is inconclusive, but they’re still living things.  Is that any less immoral?

What about bacteria and viruses? Would these folks eradicate their immune systems, if they could?

Of course not.  And there are a lot of non-food related things that they don’t consider.  For example: medicine.  Before doctors can write prescriptions for pills to lower that fever of yours, the medicine had to be tested.  At one point, it was tested on humans.  But before it could reach that point, it was tested on… other animals.

I know a lot of vegans and vegetarians would stop me here and say that it’s not immoral for an animal to give its life if it is for the betterment of humanity.  It is a necessary evil, whereas killing an animal only for its meat is cruel because there are plant-based alternatives.

But that takes us right back to the consequences of growing plants in the amounts we need.

What I’m trying to say is that killing animals is an unfortunate, but necessary part of our continued survival on this planet.  Just as it is for other animals to kill.  As thinking, intelligent beings, the least we can do is be sensible about it.  And that – that is a failure I believe we do need to correct.

But that is a different blog post.

 

Perhaps the most controversial topic when discussing life is that of human abortion.  And why not? One of our strongest instincts is self-preservation.  The idea of killing another human – and a baby, no less – is incomprehensible.

Those against abortion use this logic as their only (very effective) argument.  As I mentioned earlier, life is sacred and should not be taken lightly by anyone.

Those who are open to the idea of abortion point out that, while this is true, there are realities that cannot be ignored.  A woman who becomes pregnant because of rape, or a mother whose life would be in danger due to a pregnancy, should have the freedom to stop a pregnancy.  While those against abortion say that adoption is always an option, there are realities to consider there as well.  What becomes of the life that is given up to strangers? Or worse – kept around but ignored and abused because they’re unwanted? It could be painful for the child, painful for the caregiver, or both.  And ultimately, that doesn’t benefit anyone.

If you do allow choice, it becomes clear that there have to be restrictions. Obviously it is only an option for unique circumstances.  Also, it should only be an option in the early stages of a pregnancy. How early? Ideally, it would be before life has truly taken shape.  But when does a random assortment of cells become life?  That is also not an easy question to answer, and is one that scientists, philosophers and psychologists have been wrestling with for centuries.

 

I don’t want to end this post on such a negative tone, so I will say this: life is incredible.  When one looks around and sees everything that has evolved on our little planet, it is breathtaking.  From tiny viruses that have found such efficient ways to replicate (and cause us misery), to giant trees that collect sunlight in summer, but know to go dormant in the dark winter – if life is found elsewhere in the universe, it is hard to imagine it being more spectacular than what we see on Earth.  But boy is it exciting to consider the possibilities!

Part 4: Religion >>

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  1. […] Part 3: Life >> | Tags: discussion, rant « 1. The Universe Trowl 0.6.2–Still Alive! » […]

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