Monday, February 5, 2018

Are We a Perfect Being?

The statement that we, humans (I believe no other organisms are capable of reading and understand this line), are a sort of creation that is impeccable, flawless, and the most majestic of all is ubiquitous. But do we really live up to the grandeur reputation that is passionately voiced in many, or even all, corners of the world?

The answer is "unfortunately" no. Let's probe into why this is the case.

Humans are living beings, just like other animals (I say "other" because we are animals), such as fish, iguanas, cats, dogs, and dinosaurs (birds included), as well as plants, which comprise those flowery stuctures making up your beautiful garden, if you do have one. All living things, including our little friends and foes bacteria, undergo a morphing process called evolution, that is gradual change in response to their environment for the sake of survival. In this harsh world, as we know and realize, sh*t happens, so not all individuals make it. Those who do not manage to continue their odysseys in this world are extinct, leaving the others with their "successful", selected traits. This phenomenon is known as natural selection, which, along with the theory of evolution, was proposed by British naturalist Charles Darwin in his 1859 seminal book On the Origin of Species.

Intermezzo: It is a real shame that the theory of evolution is still denied by many people, claiming that it is "just a theory." One must comprehend that scientists use the term differently from the hoi polloi, and we do have such an abundant amount of evidence pointing to the truth of evolution that it is unarguably, in everyday language, a fact.

Evolution has been going on ever since the first organisms appeared on Earth and the unfathomably deep passage of time that has passed by has resulted in the wondrous world we inhabit today, with the evolution-shaped, extraordinarily rich diversity of life spread all around it. It can be said that we are hyperlucky since we are some of the last remnants of life (shouldn't we be grateful?), those that represent the leaves on the tree of life or, in scientific terminology, phylogenetic tree.

All the individuals of the current life on this planet are "champions" in that we are the last bits of myriad unbroken chains that lead to the first ancestors of all living beings that have ever existed in the world, implying survival of mind-bogglingly immense magnitude. And all of us come with features that were left by our predecessors as a legacy. Modern humans have super complex brains and definitely are the most intelligent species on the globe. However, if you carefully examine the human body, many of the organs are not as "perfect" as people generally might think. Take the eye as an example. While it is true that our eyes are magnificent, they are not as remarkable as those of eagles, which can see four or five times farther than humans. Nevertheless, it doesn't mean eagles' eyes are "better" or "more perfect" than humans'; eagles' eyes evolved in that way because they are required for hunting prey, while humans do not need such visual acuity for their survival. Returning to the fabulosity of the human brain, our intelligence hallmark exists merely as a result of adaptation to our surroundings. This is also to say that we, including our brains, are still constantly evolving towards new trends as necessary – there is no such word or expression as "peak" or "end point" in the dictionary of evolution. In his best-selling book The God Delusion, British evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins also enlighteningly points out that humans do possess infirmities caused by things such as lower back pain and prolapsed uteruses, owing to our upright stance after being in the quadrupedal mode for a vast swath of time.

Nevertheless, it must be admitted that Homo sapiens is a very successful species, and with our brain and, especially, I think, our social bonds and skills (among all the "strengths" we possess), we can make up for our "weaknesses". It would have been difficult for a single human to kill a mammoth alone, so he or she worked together to take it down. We couldn't swim like fish, so we came up with ships, scuba-diving apparatus, and the like. We couldn't fly as birds do, so we invented the airplane and similar things intended for navigating through the air. We even remain the only group of living beings capable of exploring the space. Humans, in a sense, are definitely a barrier-breaking species.

To add another argument against our "perfectness", it is useful to think that a number of members of our own species are born with diseases or abnormalities. Think of those cancer-suffering or limbless newborns, for example. Clearly, pathologies can occur at any point in our lives and this is, in fact, natural, as we ourselves are part of the natural world. Additionally, needless to say, we all eventually will come to a point called death.

So are we a perfect being? Well, as they say, nobody's perfect. ;)

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