Sunday, October 30, 2005

Why Do We Do It?

Why do we humans kill each other? Many like to put the blame on religion and they point to examples such as Islamic (and Christian) extremists. I believe that's an unfortunate example of shallow thinking. Let's look back at some history.

What really motivated the Hutus to massacre million of Tutsis -- religion, or something more instinctive, like territoriality?

What about the genocide in Sudan -- belief in God, or something more basic, like competition for available resources?

What about the massacre of the Aboriginal population of Australia? In the 19th century, it was legal for settlers to shoot natives on the spot. Was this for religious reasons, or something more fundamental -- such as instinctive racial bias?

What about Bosnia and Croatia -- Godly motives, or unrestrained animal self-serving behavior?

What about the Holocaust? Would it have been prevented if Hitler had been an atheist -- or was the reason for the extermination of 11 million Jews due to something far more fundamental to human nature than paying lip service to a religion?

What about the genocide of Native Americans by the Europeans? What were they really after, my Cherokee grandfathers' souls -- or their land?

There are many more examples of humans committing atrocities against humans. It has been occuring since before H. saps saps wiped out H. saps neanderthalis. It occurs on all scales, from individuals against individuals to nations against nations. It happens because we H.saps have, like all animals, the instinct for survival -- and that instinct is best served by having all the marbles and eliminating all the competition.

Religion is just a convenient excuse some use to do what they would still do without it. If religion was not available, we'd use science (eugenics, for example), sociology/economics (Communism, for example), or nothing at all (I'm bigger than you, you have what I want, and I don't want you marrying my sister).

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Why Do Men Have Nipples?

Nipples in male mammals is an example of evolutionary nonconstraint. In natural selection, sexual dimorphisms (differences) are the exceptions -- not the rule. Exceptions occur when constraints are required by natural selection, not just because something is unnecessary (like nipples on men).

Males and females share common genetic traits by default. So, although a trait in mammals may be as worthless as "tits on a boar hog", that trait will be shared by both sexes (genetic correlation) unless natural selection has a reason to eliminate it.

Many think that all babies start out female, but this is a myth. Their sex is determined by the male's sperm at the moment of conception. All developing babies start out with external sex organs that look female. If the baby is male, the internal sex organs mature and begin to produce the male hormone testosterone. If the hormones reach the tissues correctly, the external genitals that looked female change into the scrotum and penis.

Nipples, like most other parts of our bodies, are merely an example of genetic correlation. Now, the size of what's behind those nipples is a different matter.

Human Behavior

What our species has done, it would have done whether it believed in a God or not. Imagine putting our abilities into the canine population -- it would give the phrase, "dog eat dog" far more credibility.

If one is going to rant and throw stones, it should be towards our species failing to govern its selfish instincts. To focus attention upon's excuses for their behavior instead of their nature is analogous to focusing upon symptoms instead of the disease.

As far as we know, H.saps is the only species that has what is called a "conscience". This drive is probably an evolutionarily enhanced behaviorial modifier that all animals have to some degree in order to ensure cooperation, cohabitibility, and compatibility. While other species simply follow their instincts, we humans have evolved to be a little more complicated.

We're a lot smarter -- and that makes us a lot harder to be trusted by our alphas. Therefore, we have to justifiy our behavior to our groups, our tribes, our countries, our political parties, our religions, etc. -- ad nauseam. This convoluted behaviorial web is all weaved for two reasons -- self preservation and the preservation of the species.

Would this mean there is no God? Of course not. It would just mean that we naked apes have become very adept at re-creating Him in our own image -- for our own selfish reasons -- and thereby using His name in vain.

My advice to those who blame God or religion for H.saps' atrocious behavior, is to put the blame where it belongs -- upon H.saps -- and not upon the Creator or His message to mankind.

One Tenet Under God

If the teachings of the entire world's religions were tossed out except for the one, single tenet that seems to be common in most (if not all), religious discussions would probably be unnecessary.

That single tenet is, "Love your neighbor as you love yourself."

If we as a species used this tenet (unembelished) as a test to determine whether our behavior was appropriate, selfishly-motivated behavior such as genocides, wars, murders, rapes, theft, flipping people off on the highway, etc., would be greatly reduced.

Perhaps this is the only tenet in all religions we can safely hang our hats on.