Hello my name is humanity and I have a species superiority complex. I am the pinnacle of evolution…or creation. I haven’t unanimously decided yet. Unfortunately, my neighboring species on this planet don’t all feel the same. They find me a nuisance and a danger to our planet, but honestly I couldn’t care less because they are too inferior to even have an opinion. In fact, I don’t think they can even think at all.
We humans have a giant ego. However, have we possibly misevaluated our superiority? It just might be the case that we have delusions of grandeur. Does the towering Grizzly Bear find us more powerful? Does the echolocating dolphin find us perceptive? Or does the colony building termite find us industrious? It seems more likely that they would find us to be fragile, weak organisms hiding behind mechanical tools and unable to live harmoniously with nature.
Despite our less powerful bodies and deafened senses, surely we are more intelligent. We have displayed our dominance on a global scale, building structures that scratch the sky and extending our influence into almost every corner of the Earth. All very impressive, but it has been a short run.
We are barely a spec on the evolutionary timeline. Our reign has been on the scale of tens of thousands of years and already we are in jeopardy of abruptly ending it with world altering technology and weapons. Contrarily, Great Whites Sharks have been dominating the oceans for a much longer 16 million years, and if it wasn’t for a that very unlucky day 65 million years ago, the earth might still be dominated by dinosaurs, who ruled for 135 million years.
We have reached such great heights, one might hope this would grant us perspective instead of pride.
Of course this arrogance might be a part of what makes us human. The exertion of our will might have been the factor that gave us the evolutionary advantage. Religions proclaim us made to rule over the animals, and our cultures embrace mans conquering of beasts and nature itself. We are a product of our perseverance and survivability through ingenuity, of that there is no doubt.
But has this survivability come at a cost. We do not seem to be organisms that account for natural resource depletion or have any type of self regulating behavior. In this sense, we have fallen into the most common class of organism, the parasite. We feed off the land and move on, without equilibrium or sustainability.
This is not the behavior of a superior species, simply a hungrier one. A hungrier species with enough mental capacity to make radical changes to the dinner table. But does this mental capacity make us superior? And what happens when our food runs out? Will another organism, a million years from now, be speaking of the foolish humans who thought the world infinite and who fancied themselves royalty? Perhaps we have mistaken our intelligence for wisdom and our prevalence for power.
Yet there is some intangible uniqueness that mankind embodies. Some ghost in the biological machine. Many have called it a soul, consciousness, or the human spirit. And perhaps this is simply another biological trick to ensure our survival and continual affluence. Perhaps we are too much in awe of the outcome of an incredibly complex physical system that we label it magic, a mistake many of our ancestors have repeatedly committed.
But even the stubbornest scientist must see there is something more. Something hard to grasp like water through our bare hands. But it is surely there. It pulls us away from a realm of experimental validation and concrete evidence, into somewhere transcendent; something unworldly. In this place we find ourselves existentially unique. And it just may be that our bridging of these two worlds is what separates man from beast, this duel citizenship which makes us human. Surely this makes us superior? Doesn’t it?…