Struggling with Meaninglessness

searching meaning in meaninglessness

Evolution’s Four Noble of Truths

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This is a tribute essay to Charles Darwin, who was born exactly 200 years ago… minus 3 weeks … (yes, I left this essay in my draft for 3 weeks)

The Role of Evolution

What is the role of Evolution? Putting it simply, Evolution is a natural system organized by the nature to keep life going and survive in this ever changing environment. In other words, we will not exist without Evolution’s presence.

For instance, billion years ago, there was an ice age where the earth was literally freezing cold. Hence, every animal lived during that period must have resistant against cold or else they will die of freezing and frostbite. However, over time , the earth became warmer and species have to adapt to survive the warmer environment or else they will die of heat.

Hence, a simple formula – (The ever-changing environment on Earth) * X = (Continuity in Life)

And X is Evolution.

What will happen if Evolution do not exist? Simple, continuity in life will not happen. The Earth’s environment is dynamic – it keeps on changing and fluctuates up and down. So, for a species to survive, they need to cope with this ups and downs over generations. And this is exactly the role of Evolution and genetics – a game of trial and error to ensure the survival of life – A system where it makes life automatically adapt to the environment.  A system which bring the existence of new species and the extinction of weak species (in terms of adaptability).

If we bother to look around the nature, we will see Evolution is everywhere. Why do we find camels in the desert but not horse when they are both mammals? Because only animals which can withstand a long period without water can survive in the desert. Why is there no crocodiles in the urban area but plenty of house lizards around? Because only domestic animals which can cope with human activities can survive in the urban area.

Or perhaps we could ask something more detailed – why is our teeth not 100% symmetrical but rather few of them are shorter or longer than the rest of the teeth? If indeed human were designed by a perfect divine power, shouldn’t our teeth also be perfectly even? How about our hand and legs? As a person who play football and wear tight boots often, I notice that my left foot is slightly bigger than my right. Why such variation exist?

When it comes to variations, some of them do not matter. Like the imbalance length between my teeth. Or the difference of length between my left index finger and my right index finger. Or the difference of my brain size with the smartest guy in the world. All these variations, caused by Evolution, make little difference to our survival because in our environment, we do not depend on this variations to survive. But there are some animals which need these variations to survive.

One good example was the discovery by Charles Darwin when he came across finches with different shape of beak when he was on voyage around the world to study plants and animals.

 finches

Darwin discovered that the same species of finches actually had different shape of beak, depending on the environment where they live in. Finches which live in an environment with the primary source of food consist of nuts, will have a broad beak function to crack the nut. Finches which live in an environment with plenty of fruits will have a sharp beak to pierce the fruit.

Finches which have the wrong beak in the wrong environment will simply die because of difficulty in getting food. Hence, finches with the right beak in the right environment will keep multiply as the resources are abundant.

Hence, allow me to present the four truths of Evolution –

Evolution’s Four Noble of Truths

1. Evolution is natural.  We treat gravity as something natural through our everyday experience. Same goes for melting ice. And water droplets falling from the sky.  And the ‘small box’ invented by human being to communicate with each other wirelessly across the world. These are no miracles. They are just some natural law.

If all these phenomena which obey the law of nature and science are natural, why not Evolution? Just like the law of physics and the law of chemistry, biology also has a natural law and every life spawned in the face of earth will have to obey it. That’s the same reason why there’s no human being with 10 pairs of eyes – it is impossible to evolve to such extent because Evolution works by having small amount of incremental steps.

2. Evolution is not intelligent. Perhaps it sounds outrageous to even mildly suggest Evolution is stupid. But really, Evolution is not something ‘Intelligent’ at all. Evolution can’t ‘design’ organisms out. Evolution is just a game of probability. A game of trial and error. Like a dumb version of Thomas Edison who have to use billion of years to come out with a mildly intelligent being called human. Yes, it is ‘billion’ of years. Isn’t it great that human being took only like ten thousand of years and became civilized from living in the cave to having Internet? Human mind is much more capable in designing things than Evolution, apparently.

At the end, the environment will be the benchmark. Evolve well and the species survive. Evolve wrongly and it will extinct.

3. Evolution is unfair. There’s a form of unfairness in Evolution due to the element of randomness … just like babies who were born to a poverty-stricken family or a soul born to a cockroach which will have a high chance to be exterminated by human.

Evolution is also cruel in the sense only the fittest will survive. As I have said many times, Evolution is a game of trial and error – A game of genetics calculation and probability.

If let’s say for some weird reason, bamboo mysteriously vanish from the face of the earth tomorrow, then it also means the end for the pandas.

Too bad, that’s life, Panda. Evolve or vanish.

4. Evolution works. Yes, it works. That’s what allows me to type these out.

The Wisdom

All things appear and disappear because of the concurrence of causes and conditions. Nothing ever exists entirely alone; everything is in relation to everything else.Buddha

When you throw something up, it will eventually come down – this is the law of gravity, the law of physics. The law of sciences are neutral – it simply lay down the rules to turn cause into effect. I pour water to the fire – that’s the cause. The fire is put down and that’s the effect – The law of chemistry has made this event possible.

Just like other law of science, Evolution is also neutral. No love, no hate, no mercy, no sympathy, no reward, no punishment. What it does is just to lay down the rules and laws and let the cause and effect to take place.

Hence, once we grasp this idea in our head, we will start to see the link and realize human being is kinda selfish when it comes to things like which is apparently noble … like saving endangered species.

Just observe the type of endangered animals which human are spending heavily on saving … they are all mammals! What about the endangered insects? What about some endangered frogs? The bees? Will human being splash million of dollars just to save some endangered insects? No, we only  save ‘cute’ mammals, or animals which could interact with us. That’s how, unconsciously, selfish human being is. We are playing ‘God’ here.

So, why not just let the endangered species go since they are having hard time adapting?

I won’t elaborate much on this but will just let a video to do the talking. I have, literally, watched this video hundreds of times.  This is one of the few videos out there with really deep insight and wisdom about the nature  I would say George Carlin is more evolved than most people out there because he see things from universal point of view instead from Earth’s point of view. He is ‘conscious’.

I have said this quite frequently – human being’s existence is insignificant. Only the emotion of self-importance make us think we are. Life will continue even without human’s existence.


Emptiness is impermanence, it is change.
We should not complain about impermanence,
because without impermanence, nothing is possible.

Zen Buddhism Master, Thich Nhat Hanh

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Written by elan85

March 3, 2009 at 6:09 pm

One Response

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  1. Sir, thank you for the profound insight! Your blog is absolutely brilliant. I love it. It’s simple, concise and straight from the Heart.

    Carlin has been a huge inspiration to me as well. He is definitely a Bodhisattva in my books.

    Aston

    March 9, 2009 at 5:55 pm


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