Friday, June 02, 2006

"Our fathers were our models for God. If our fathers bailed, what does that tell you about God? You have to consider the possibility that God does not like you. He never wanted you. In all probability, he hates you. This is not the worst thing that can happen."
-Tyler Durden

I am reading Donna Kossy's excellent nonfiction book, Strange Creations: Aberrant Ideas of Human Origins from Ancient Astronauts to Aquatic Apes. It's fascinating for many different reasons, not the least because of its overlap with one of my favorite social topics, eugenics.

Nevertheless, as the title would imply, the book spends most of its time examining "alternate" theories of human origin, theories that fall into neither the creationist or evolutionist category. The entire first chapter is about various theories of how humans are in some way descended from extraterrestrials, either created by them or born from cross-breeding of aliens and (usually) primates. Needless to say, most of these theories are incredibly bizarre.

And yet, there are some themes that are common in all of them. Many believe in Darwinian evolution, to an extent; they simply feel that, for whatever reason, it does not apply to humans. There is some fundamental difference between animals and people. Where the Bible would call this distinction a "divine spark", these theories instead believe in extraterrestrial intervention. Most try to reconcile their own theories with the history of creation laid out in the book of Genesis, from the Old Testament of the Bible; they explain how the stories of the Garden of Eden or Noah's Ark actually refer to (for example) a "Martian agricultural experiment gone wrong" or "the collapse of a huge crystalline shield of water".

Inevitably, I contrast these things to my own beliefs. The first disconnect is the assumption that humans are fundamentally different from animals. This is a distinction made clear both in Genesis and by most of the proponents of the "Ancient Astronauts" school of thought. After all, doesn't the idea that humans are the descendants of a superior intellect from outer space give us some sort of inherent birthright? That idea closely parallels the Christian idea that mankind has dominion over the rest of the Earth, and that humans are the most important thing on the planet, or indeed in the universe.

Here, the above Fight Club quote becomes relevant. What makes humans special? Why would God care about us any more than he would about the fusion reactions at the center of the Sun, or the singularity of Cygnus X-1? What makes us so important that we are worthy of extraterrestrial attention, divine or otherwise?

I don't necessarily believe that religion is merely a crutch for those unwilling to face the realities of the universe, but as an atheist, I believe that we humans are on our own, and the responsibility for everything we do falls on us and us alone.

I am an atheist, but I am first and foremost a human, and as a human, I believe that we are the most important thing in the universe. I don't believe that we are no better than the primates from which we evolved. Look around you! What have they done lately?

I believe that humanity is special, but that belief is rooted in the fact that I am a human, and is no different from my belief that I am special, or that my family is special, or that my city, state, and country are special. I support humanity because I am a humanity, not because we have any special standing upstairs.



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