The Insignificance of Man

The battle between science and religion has been going on for centuries. Each side has an opinion for how and why life, the universe, and even our purpose exists. Religion offers explanations related to boosting the ego and value of mankind — that man is god’s ultimate creation. Science puts up observations that say humans are creatures, animals even, born simply because the universe allows us to — evolution, the possibility of life on other galaxies, etc. However, I would like to say that both sides devalue and increase the value of humans respectively.

Let’s start with religion. As I’ve stated, religion would like us to believe that man is the ultimate goal of creation. That we are the species god selected to enter the afterlife (heaven or hell) and spread his gospel throughout the planet. This sounds preferable to our egos, and it does make even me feel a little special. But does that mean our purpose is only to obey and serve a divine deity? I think the obvious answer is yes.

For the sake of argument, let’s say we are god’s favorite species. We have advantages over other species of animals in that we are able to conquer the earth, and actually monumentally affect our ecosystem — no animal can cause a thermonuclear winter. Some biblical stories even say that god parted an ocean for Israelites. Clearly, these things show that god really, really loves us. He loves us so much that he gave each and everyone of us a specific purpose, that are all part of his godly plan.

Do we have a say in what kind of purpose we should have? Are we allowed to decide who we want, or who we will be in this blue planet? If everything is part of god’s plan, including our lives, then I would say that we do not. In the eyes of religion, all we are is a race of obedient, unquestioning slaves. Does this sound like the decision of a kind, loving, altruistic deity? Of course not.

I am not trying to tear religion down. I am merely analyzing, and pointing out the facts laid out by the stories written in ancient scrolls. Perhaps it sounds like an overtly cynical analysis on  these innocent, spectacularly old pages. But to those who would say that I’m coming down harshly on religion, please look at the texts of the holy books with clear eyes. The eyes science has allowed mankind to have.

A common stereotype associated with science, is that it cheapens man’s worth. Look at how science treats humans. Science says we come from apes, and that our lives are just formed through blind luck (forgive me, quantum physicists and cosmologists, but explaining the possible explanations for the existence of our universe would take too much time and greater minds that mine). And it is true, science does not see humans as miraculous beings with distinguished goals. In fact, on the cosmic scale science would say that we are barely more significant that ants. However, I think that science treats man more valuably than religion.

In religious stories, we are said to have come from dirt, from dust even. What does science say? Based on countless experiments and observations, science has found that the molecules and atoms within our bodies can be found in stars. That means: we are made of star stuff. The same things that composed and constructed the sun, the solar system, and our very own Milky Way. Isn’t that a little more impressive than dirt?

The impressive explanations don’t stop there. Not only are we birthed by star stuff, the processes that led to the culmination of man is equally astounding as well. In the days before organisms existed (plants, animals, bacteria, etc) were genes: microscopic self-replicating objects. These genes eventually shaped what we call life; the afro-mentioned organisms.

At the dawn of life, there were only extremely simple organisms. The world was populated exclusively by bacteria and amoeba. After several millennia of evolution, organisms expanded their domain onto land and air. All the while, at the initial conception of the genes and during the organisms’ expansion, a fierce battle was fought between everything alive in the planet.

For an organism to thrive — reproduce and spread their kin on earth — a prize needs to be won. Life, and room on our planet isn’t free. In fact, life and dominance of this planet is a never-ending contest. A contest won by organisms who can adapt and exploit the playing field and their competitors.

From the moment an organism is born, he’s responsible for his and his ancestors’ fates. Each and every organism bore this responsibility before they could even walk — or crawl or fly. Including us, the homo sapiens. We fought over food, territories, and the chance to procreate.

While our rival species developed longer limbs, stronger jaws, and sharper teeth we concentrated on something else. Humanity’s prime advantage, what separates us from what we call animals, is our incredibly complex brain. We have the ability to communicate, foresee the consequences of our actions, plot our course in the world, and many more. Hence our ancestors’ capabilities to bring down beasts of that were much stronger, and larger than them; these skill were extremely handy and after hundreds of thousands of years, handed us the trophy of the chance to reproduce without limit.

After all I’ve written, do humans still look small? On the cosmic scale, we matter as much as a speck of dirt on asphalt. But, on this earth, on this planet we call home we are special. More so than what religious dogma says we are. We are part of the miracle called life, champions of a global conflict, and the only apes with enough complexity to develop an ego. I dare say that’s much more impressive, and empowering than us being created from dust with the flick of a finger.

Religion may tell us we are at the apex of creation. And science says otherwise. Yet instead of condescending humans as mere slaves, science showcases how awesome and miraculous our existence is. Science doesn’t dictate our purpose, it gives us the opportunity for us to realize that we have the freedom to be whoever we wish to be. We have, after all, rightfully won the right to choose.


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