Friday, April 2, 2010

Continuity

"Darwinian evolution tells us that we are incipient compost: assemblages of complex molecules that - for no greater purpose than to secure sources of energy against competing claims - have developed the ability to speculate. After a few score years, the molecules disaggregate and return whence they came. Period.

As a gardener and ecologist, I find this oddly comforting. I like the idea of literal reincarnation: that the molecules of which I am composed will, once I have rotted, be incorporated into other organisms. Bits of me will be pushing through the growing tips of trees, will creep over them as caterpillars, will hunt those caterpillars as birds. When I die, I would like to be buried in a fashion which ensures that no part of me is wasted. Then I can claim to have been of some use after all.

Is this not better than the awful lottery of judgement? Is a future we can predict not more comforting than one committed to the whims of inscrutable authority? Is eternal death not a happier prospect than eternal life? The atoms of which we are composed, which we have borrowed momentarily from the ecosphere, will be recycled until the universe collapses.

This is our continuity, our eternity. Why should anyone want more?"

'A life with no Purpose', George Monbiot

1 comment:

S! said...

I would not quite define evolution in that exact way. I get what this gardener fellow is saying. However, for me, what is really interesting is how "consciousness" & "morality" - sort of the two human sides, outside of regular animal evolution - may have contributed to our survival. How does art make us fitter ( I read about this somewhere, & forgot, I think Jared Diamond) & why music makes us stronger?

Why does religion survive? Etcetera.

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