“In a way, it seems like the cruelest joke in existence has been played on us. We became self-aware only to realize this story isn’t about us at all.” -Kurzgesagt
Human existence is frightening, and confusing. At some point in its evolutionary history, our species Homo sapiens ceased to be a non-linguistic, non-symbolic organism, living in the world as presented to it by Nature, and instead began to exist in a world that it reconstructs in its own mind.About a hundred thousand years ago, the Neanderthals, in the midst of making their stone tools and creating fires for hunting, started to gain a hint of consciousness, and found themselves stuck in a world in between. They started to perceive things they had never perceived before, situations they’d never experienced before. The origin and nature of these experiences, often referred to as qualia, have been a mystery from the earliest days of the ancient past right up to the present. It was remarkably, one of the biggest inflection points in the history of man since time immemorial: The creation of consciousness.
It had often been discussed and debated whether the Neanderthals were prolific hunters, or merely scavengers. The debate was finally settled with them being classified as prolific hunters rather than magpies, because they preyed on other animals to become more complete, more whole; and the pursuit for wholeness cannot begin on an external level. It is always an inside job.Coherence of thought and the ability to question ourselves has made us discover remarkable places: worlds that we thought (or did we?) were unreachable before. Worlds within our own self. The discovery of self awareness of being. The introspection of the fact that there might be someone controlling us, someone with a higher authority, someone giving order to our world, has indeed made us question ourselves even more.
Then science came along, and it taught us that we are not the measure of all things, that there are wonders unimagined, that the Universe is not obliged to conform to what we consider comfortable or plausible. We have, as a result, learnt something about the idiosyncratic nature of our common sense. Science has, well and truly carried human self-consciousness to a higher level. We long to be here for a purpose, even though, despite much self-deception, none is evident.
So, if we’re not important, not central, not the apple of God’s eye, what is implied for our moral codes?
How much more satisfying would it be, had we been placed in a garden custom-made for us? Its other residers put there for us to use as we saw fit. There is a legendary tale about this: EDEN. We could do whatever we want in our own Garden Of Eden, except not everything was quite there for us. There was one tree, in particular, of which we were not to partake:The tree of knowledge.
Knowledge, understanding and wisdom were forbidden to us in this legendary story. We were to be kept ignorant forever; but we couldn’t help ourselves; eventually plucking the forbidden fruit. We were starving for knowledge. Created hungry, you might say. This was the origin of all our troubles. In particular, that’s why we no longer live in a garden. We found out too much. In Eden, we could console ourselves with our centrality and our place in the universe as long as we were obedient. We could tell ourselves that WE were the reason the Universe was made. As we began to indulge our curiosity though, to explore, to learn how the cosmos really is, we expelled ourselves from Eden.
Angels with flaming swords were set for centuries at the Gates of Paradise, to bar our return. The gardeners became exiles.
Occasionally, we even mourn that lost world. The only difference being that we have much to abide for ourselves now.
The size and age of the cosmos are beyond ordinary human understanding. On the shores of the Cosmic Ocean is a tiny planetary home we call “Earth.”
Remarkably, this is another historic moment in the stage of our Evolution, and it might well be the last. We are fortunate enough that we are the ones who find ourselves at the second Inflection Point of an exponential change. For the first time we have the choice to decide the fate of our planet, and ourselves. This is a time of great danger, but our species is young and It shows much promise.
In the last few decades, we have made the most astonishing discoveries about the cosmos, and our place within it. We are the first people ever who need to learn to find a balance between the positives and negatives of our new tools. Technology can serve the purpose of distraction, as we all know. Though it may not always be like this, we are still separate from our technology. Almost all of us have the wonderful opportunity every day to go outside, to listen to a friend, or to read a book. These are the types of indulgences that the human experience is rooted in and I believe that they are crucial towards meaningful progression into the future. The meaning we derive from the experiences we share with nature, friends, family, and lovers far exceeds that derived from elsewhere.
And thus, once again, like the Neanderthals, we find ourselves in a bottomless freefall, like a particle of sand in the cosmos, with no rain anywhere to help us.
We are the masters of our own universe, and a sense of togetherness, is all that is needed.