Monday, May 24, 2010

Peak or Segue?

I would like to put my “asterisks” here. First off, I don't want to come across as sanctimonious or pious in any way. My goal, both in writing and photography, is balance; all “either/or” creates is conflict. Secondly, I don't know the answer to evolution/creation question, and I'm certain no one else does either. My best guess is that they simply are one in the same. I do think that life adapts to deal with changing situations and to meet new challenges, but don't think it's reasonable that life and everything leading up to it is just some colossal accident.

With my little disclaimer out of the way, I suppose it's odd that these photos could have any connection at all, much this connection. Taken months apart, with two different cameras, one the day before I started this blog, the other well before I had even considered one. Yet, as often happens when filing slides here they were. Snaps that didn't resonate the first time under the loupe suddenly begin to make sense when held up to a window.

Seeing a machine like this in motion is at first impressive. No doubt, it is the collective effort the designers and engineers who brought it into existence. It goes so far beyond that, being, as many products are, the culmination of a journey billions of years in the making. With tools like this, it's no surprise that we think of ourselves as the pinnacle of evolution.

Humans, as far as animals are concerned, are really nothing special when you think about it. We're not that fast or strong, our senses are mediocre at best, except possibly our eyesight (and as a man with 20/400 vision, I'm not all that impressed). We're not very adept at climbing, swimming, and much past being able to walk upright, don't have any major physical advantages. We're not small enough to hide in holes, or big enough to be intimidating. Obviously we needed to do something to get this far.

If I can't outrun it, then I'll have to outsmart became the key. The question is, will we eventually outsmart ourselves right out of existence?

Of course, it leads to the question about our own evolutionary state. Are we really anything special, or are we just passing through? There is a tinge of arrogance to the idea that we are the peak of anything. We sure like to think that we've got this civilization thing all figured long as you don't count the fact that we don't seem to be able to stop fighting for 10 seconds. Yes, it is our big brains that were able to concoct these amazing feats of engineering and technology, and we seem intent on using it to destroy ourselves.

For some time I've theorized that that in most cases, the advantage that we develop to avoid being voted off of the evolutionary island is what ultimately leads to a species undoing, and looking around, I don't think that we are the exception. We can look around and see genius taking all forms, and many of them are destructive. Here, we see a basic human activity, one that people who disagree on nearly every other aspect of what is considered healthy agree on, being replaced by a machine. Especially considering we live in a time where the state of our collective health is in such a rapid and dangerous decline, doesn't it seem odd that we would put the ingenuity we used to survive in the wild with animals that were far faster and stronger than we, into adding to our troubles? Some may think it's the nuclear bomb or the toxic gasses being pumped into the air that will bring our end. Though I suppose the question could be answered by something totally out of our control (c'mon asteroid), I look at things like this and see our evolutionary strength unraveling our species before our very advanced eyes.

It's easy to be an atheist when you don't think about where anything came from.

As mentioned, I don't know that evolution is even the case, though I'm pretty sure what people see as two separate things are really just two sides of the same coin. The idea of some power watching over us, pulling strings here and there isn't as out there as some would have us believe. I usually use my “coffee cup” analogy; a coffee cup didn't just happen to come together in it's current form. Someone conceived of it, designed it and eventually made it, right? Well, here I sit on this piece of rock, a perfect distance from a perfectly sized star, where we, life, have flourished in so many strange, colorful and wonderful ways. The parameters in which the diversity of life that has come and gone before us is so narrow; just a few feet this way or that way, and none of this would be. Is it really so far fetched to think that there is something or someone bigger at play here?

All things in balance I suppose. God, evolution and society each pull us in thousands of directions at once, and I wonder if, as these ingenious walking replacements whiz past my equally innovative (though admittedly dated) image capturing device, if the pulls of religion and science are here to balance us, or if they will ultimately pull us apart.

The man that knows something knows that he knows nothing at all. – Erykah Badu.

Sounds about right.

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