Posted by: angmlr007 | 30/01/2012

The Wisdom of God

And so my friend decided to send me a couple more excerpts from the Bible – specifically 1 Corinthians, to make clear his message about the pitfalls of becoming fools in false wisdom of the world. Here was the message I got:

[1 Cor 1:20-21]
“Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age?” {are not evolutionists considered by the world to be wise and the disputers of this modern age?}
“Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.”

[1 Cor 2:2-5]
“And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.”

[1 Cor 3:18-21]
“Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you seems to be wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, “He catches the wise in their own craftiness”; and again, “The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile.” Therefore let no one boast in men.”

Why do I say that evolution is the “Wisdom of the world”?
Why don’t I say that <DNA structure, cell reproduction, cell cycle, genetics, conception> are “wisdom of the world”? Because while <DNA structure/cell cycle> were First Discovered via experiments, evolution was First Hypothesized by generalising the concept/fact of <cousin-species dying out because of unfavourable environments>.
In fact, I could say that <DNA structure/cell cycle> are the wisdom of God, discovered by humans. But evolution cannot be the wisdom of God, because it was not discovered experimentally[i.e. my crude example of generations of mice giving birth to offspring looking more and more like mini-rabbits]. Surely it must be Darwin’s human wisdom because the hypothesis suddenly “dawned” upon him. Look at the lifestyle of Darwin – is there proof of his salvation by the Fruits of the Spirit? If not, it is impossible for him to have Godly wisdom – because there is no fear of God in his eyes.

 

Now that’s something worth talking about. The issue of “wisdom of men” versus the power of God. Here was my response:

 

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In the few paragraphs that you have quoted, it suggests that God wants His followers to reject the so-called “wisdom of the world” in order to follow Him and the Wisdom of God. Your interpretation is one of the common ones that has been preached by churches from all over the world – and the reason is because I think the phrase “wisdom of men” is often used and misused to represent almost ANY kind of message that the church attempts to condemn. In short, it is one of many tools used to re-educate Christians on the Christian doctrine.

 

 

DEFINITIONS

After seeing your message, I went about to do a little reading, and I figured that perhaps we should start by giving “wisdom” a proper definition.

 

[taken from Dictionary.com]

Wise (adj.): having the power of discerning and judging properly as to what is true or right; possessing discernment, judgment, or discretion.

Wisdom (noun): the quality or state of being wise;  knowledge of what is true or right coupled with just judgment as to action; sagacity, discernment, or insight.

 

Hence, we can see that by definition, the “wisdom of Man” is referring to Man ability to judge and discern what is true or right.

 

At this point, I also thought it would be useful to throw in the definition of “knowledge”, just in case we discuss it later:

 

[taken from Dictionary.com]

Knowledge (noun): acquaintance with facts, truths, or principles, as from study or investigation; general erudition:

 

So as you can see, knowledge is a bit more foundational, created via investigation of facts and principles. And wisdom comes about later, when we attempt to decide what is ultimately right or wrong. While it is tempting to use both terms interchangeably, we must make clear the distinction here before we continue this discussion.

 

 

EVOLUTION: KNOWLEDGE, NOT WISDOM

Next, we must decide where does the evolution theory fit in. Evolution was an idea that has been bounced about by naturalists and philosophers since the time of Aristotle, and people were becoming more aware that external factors have the ability to drive changes in species. However, progress in this field was slow, because these early scientists feared the repercussions from the church – a predominant socio-political force of the time, which I am sure you know.

 

The main issue was blown out of proportion, however, when the theory of Evolution was popularized by Charles Darwin, who threw in the theory of natural selection as a mechanism to drive evolution. He based his conjectures and hypotheses on observations he made during his travels, and proposed a system to explain the observations. One would be strongly reminded of Aristotle and his initial theories on physics (which we all know turned out wrong). Remember stuff like “heavy things fall faster than light things”?

 

So what is the process Darwin is going through? He’s making an attempt to create knowledge, not wisdom; taking pieces of information and stringing them together with a potentially viable explanation. Of course, there has yet to be an experiment designed to support this proposal – unlike most other physics experiments dealing with electricity and magnetism – but like many other theories, the concept came first before the experiment.

 

An example I would like to raise is the theory of the ether wind in the 19th century. As a physics major, you are probably aware of the Michelson-Morley experiment, of which its negative results have successfully disproved the existence of the luminiferous ether and paved the way for special relativity. What is curious, however, is that the concept of the ether wind has been believed to be true for almost 200 years, since its initial appearance in the 17th century (i.e. Newton’s time). Why is that so? Because the model constructed by earlier physicists could account and explain observations using the idea of the ether wind. We could say that it was a convenient way to understand the world around us, like how we employ mathematics to create a structured understanding of physics. It took 200 years and the combined genius of Albert Michelson and Edward Morley to design an experiment to put this idea to the test, and finally choose to discard this theory.

 

Another example that I thought would be worth sharing is the story of continental drift and plate tectonics. In the early 20th century, geologist Alfred Wegener proposed the continental drift theory, which was an attempt to account for the idea that the continents used to form one gigantic landmass millions of years ago. Because his tools were limited back then, he could only make use of fossil records from around the world. He observed that similar fossils were found across different continents, even though they are separated by thousands of miles of ocean today. Thus, his theory was created to explain this observation. He didn’t have any experiments he could conduct back then to verify his continental drift idea, but thousands of geologists embraced the proposal nonetheless. It wasn’t perfect, but it certainly did pave the way for the plate tectonics theory, which was actually a refinement of the original continental drift suggestion which Wegener still receives credit for till this day.

 

One final story I would like to throw in is the Big Bang Theory – how the universe began. This is another source of contention between Christian and scientific communities, because of disputes over the words of Genesis. The Big Bang theory was initially thrown in by Georges Lemaître, a physicist and Roman Catholic priest, to describe the origin of the universe as coming from a single point, exploding thereafter and causing the stars and galaxies accelerate away from the Big Bang. When he first came up with the idea, he only had observations of stars and nebula moving away from Earth as his only basis for devising the conjecture – like how Darwin only had observations of the Galapagos finches (among other animals) when writing the Origin of Species. Yet, that was how the theory was given birth. It was never directly verified experimentally, but evidence from WMAP’s picture on cosmic microwave background radiation provided compelling evidence that support the theory.

 

Just because a theory was born purely out of observation doesn’t suggest that it is hogwash. It could merely be a story waiting for its evidence to surface, and true or not, we should not be so hasty to downplay it, for that would not be very scientific at all. Theories can disappear, adapt, and be further refined to give us a more complete understanding of the beautiful cosmos which we live in. Hence, for you to say that knowledge (not wisdom) can only be born out of experiments, and not conceived of a priori is to neglect a significant contribution of scientific discovery over the ages. That, in my opinion, is highly disturbing.

 

 

RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN KNOWLEDGE AND WISDOM

And so, the next question is: What is the relationship between knowledge and wisdom? Well, knowledge, unlike fact, is not absolute. It changes form and substance over time, as Man seeks to better understand the universe through intellectual exploration (scientific, philosophical, religious, etc.) It is like a tool that is continually refining itself to better serve it’s purpose in the hands of the user.

 

However, wisdom transcends knowledge in that it takes knowledge and constructs a worldview from it (I am assuming that the Wisdom of God is like an intact, complete painting). Unlike knowledge, which comes in bits and pieces from everywhere, wisdom is a more complete picture that tries to sell itself as a whole package. Annother way to see wisdom is the judgment of the known and coming to a conclusion on the value of its truth. To accept truth in the effects of gravity on Earth, is to see wisdom in the laws of Newtonian physics.

 

Hence, the accuracy of worldly knowledge, discovered by man, is in no way equivalent to the acceptance of the “wisdom of man”. This distinction is very subtle, and I am afraid that I am personally unable to differentiate them further any better.

 

In the following sections, I will provide my view of the Bible excerpts you have provided. Please forgive me if they aren’t exactly “Christian” or whatever – I have never been good at reading the Bible. Nonetheless, I shall try my best.

 

 

WISDOM OF MEN, AND WISDOM OF GOD

Now that we have established the difference between knowledge and wisdom, let us progress into distinguishing the “wisdom of men” and the “wisdom of God”

 

Wisdom is a tricky issue, because it involves judgment of what is truth from non-truth, and as we know, judgment is a subjective process. My judgment of the issue could differ from yours, as if could differ from any other man. We can never be certain who is correct. However, the church resolves this problem by making deference to the judgment of God, since we know that God is omniscient and His truth is absolute. Hence, if His truth is absolute, that could mean any form of judgment on our part as Man can never be right, and thus it is said that the “wisdom of the world” is “foolish”. Such is the story in 1 Corinthians 1:20-21.

 

So what defines the wisdom of men? In my humble opinion, the wisdom of men mentioned in the letter of Paul to the Corinthians refers to the worldview that non-followers of Christ attempt to sell to believers. For instance, the wisdom of men would include propositions of multiple deities, or possibly no supernatural powers at all – essentially alternative versions of the truth as put forward through the Wisdom of God. Hence, the wisdom of God is to accept His existence and His omnipotence, and to reject any other supernatural power swimming in the midst of the wisdom of men.

 

Like many Christians, it is tempting to hastily lump the theory of evolution as being “anti-Christian”. However, perhaps we should take a minute to step back and consider how the theory of evolution is in contradiction with the wisdom of God. It is true that the theory (like any other scientific theory that we are able to accept) is devoid of any mention of a supernatural power, but that does not necessitate the elimination of God from the equation. Perhaps God works in ways beyond our understanding, and we are still crawling in the direction towards discovering the grand master plan He has in this world. To reject the theory of evolution before it can bear any fruit, is akin to rejecting the concept of gravity before we can use it to account for the movement of celestial bodies in the cosmos.

 

You mention that Darwin’s discovery “must be Darwin’s human wisdom because the hypothesis suddenly “dawned” upon him”, which is foolish and not of Godly wisdom. First off, the hypothesis didn’t just “dawn” upon him, like a picture in the mind. It is a systematic process of assembling bits and pieces of fact and deliberate connection of the dots. Second, like I mentioned before, this is the process of knowledge construction, and not of wisdom.

 

In light of what I have mentioned in the above paragraphs, I would like to rephrase what you have said: Darwin’s theory is an advancement in human knowledge that brings us one step closer to understanding the Wisdom of God. To attain wisdom, is to understand the value of truth in what we observe, what we know as knowledge. If knowledge has been proven false (i.e. the demolition of evolution), then we know we have been foolish. But until then, we can only continue to grapple in semi-darkness, and hope that the knowledge that we have constructed has been sufficient in bringing us closer to the Wisdom of God that we seek. Of course, there are many ways to reach out to the said Wisdom, but I believe science will one day unite with religion in explaining the universe in one complete picture.

 

In short, the theory of evolution is but a small step in our efforts to reach out and understand the cosmos, and in this process, we are attempting to understand God as well.

 

 

 

FAITH AND HOPE KEEPS YOU IN THE WISDOM OF GOD

1 Corinthians 2:2-5 speaks of faith in the Spirit as “justification” (I put in quotation marks because I wish to distinguish this justification from an experimental type of justification) of the Wisdom and Power of God over the wisdom of men. This excerpt appeals to believers to remain faithful, that even though there are many men in this world who can sell you all forms of “wisdom”, only God’s Will as demonstrated through the Holy Spirit is the key to your faith as a Christian, and nothing more.

 

And as for 1 Corinthians 3:18-21, I wish to question the phrase “wisdom in this world is foolishness in God”. My understanding is that “wisdom” is referring to man’s wisdom in the material, in the mortal world that they can perceive, with the key being a world without God, or a world with false idols and false gods. And since we only worship one Christian God, anything else produced by man in terms of untrue religion can only be a incorrect form of wisdom, and thus such men have been made fools. I dislike this statement made about “wisdom in this world” because churches have this uncanny ability to convince its followers what exactly does this wisdom entail – particularly in areas such as science. Put crudely, the original message can be warped by preachers to sell their own selfish messages, by associating themes such as homosexuality or abortion with the foolish nature of “wisdom of man”.

 

 

GLORY TO GOD THROUGH SERVITUDE AND OBEDIENCE

I don’t know exactly what is your take about Proverbs 9:10, about “fear of the Lord” as the “beginning of wisdom”, but my take is that this phrase is speaking of a Christian’s servitude and obedience to God, not of literal “fear”, or phobia as we perceive in the world. In other words, it is not “deophobia” that brings us to God’s wisdom, but our willingness to submit to Him and listen to his words, and behave in a way as He expects of us, as good followers of Christ.

 

I wish I could comment further from here, but my knowledge of the Bible is very limited, so I can only make personal opinions about my views of Scripture. I have never been comfortable taking a top-down approach from church pastors, but I remain open to hearing what other people have to say about their interpretation of the Bible.

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2452 words. Holy crap.

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Posted by: angmlr007 | 29/01/2012

Evolution vs Creation

[Exodus 20:8-11] ” “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.”

If 1 day=1 million years, are the Jews supposed to do no work for 1 million years? We must use Scripture (Exodus 20) to interpret Scripture (Genesis 1).

 

I got this quote from the Bible, from a rather religious friend of mine who seemed to be defending Creationism. OK, rather, he was trying to defend the Bible as a whole. In a whim, I began writing a 1300-word long essay in response to him. I wasn’t mad or anything – I’ve given up debating over issues of religion and faith – but I did managed to find myself defining my views with regards to this “Evolution-Creationism Conflict” (which in my humble opinion, isn’t valid, as described in my post).

Here was the response I wrote:

*********

I knew this was going to come: a quotation from the Bible.

 

Since I started learning about evolution, I’ve been inspecting the book of Genesis far more closely than any other of the books in the Bible. It has been a great source of personal dilemma for me, as I try to reconcile the seemingly irreconcilable two. As a Catholic/Christian, I felt that these were important issues to consider because they would inevitably affect the way I experienced the Christian faith.

 

Before I throw in my two cents worth on the issue – one which many Christians have been unable to accept – I want to pose a couple of questions for you to consider first before understanding my POV:

 

1. Think about the origin of the Bible. (and if you are thinking “the Word of the Lord”, no I am not referring to that. I am referring to the historical construction of the Bible used in churches around the world today)

2. Tell me about the book of Genesis. When was it written? Who wrote it? Was it written entirely out of its own, or were elements of it borrowed from anywhere else? In short, what is the history behind Genesis?

3. Two things: first, do you accept the theory of evolution? (like I said before, it is fine if you don’t) Second, if you don’t accept it, do you accept the theory of creation as depicted in the Bible? (if you are quoting Scripture, I am assuming that you are a creationist. Correct me if I am wrong)

 

Now, I shall explain my take on the matter:

 

1. I personally don’t believe in the Creation theory. I have to get this clear first of all. Especially when there is an alternative argument in this present day that is offering a more rigorous explanation for observations of natural phenomena, backed with evidences that are becoming more and more reliable with every passing day.

 

2. With regards to Scripture – especially for segments pertaining to the early days in the Old Testament – I personally don’t believe that all events took place literally i.e. I don’t buy the idea of the world created in 518,400 seconds. Sure, the creation of the world as we (Christians) know it took place in 6 days, but the Bible makes no mention of what context the word “days” was used in. God said “Let there be light” in the first day of Creation, but what makes you think that the author of the book of Genesis intended for the “day” to be taken literally? What if it had been a figure of speech to denote the sequential construction of the universe, where “day” refers to a step in a staircase rather than an absolute length? That is the problem I’ve had with Genesis – we don’t know what is literal, and what is not – and I don’t believe it is appropriate for us to appreciate the significance of this text with our modern day mindset without proper understanding of how it was written back then.

 

3. The Bible is the Word of God. I don’t deny that. But what many people don’t realize is that the Word of God does not imply that it is the absolute, literal word of God. What I am trying to say here, is that to interpret the Bible word for word in its literal context is about as foolish as interpreting the creation of lightning by the striking of the hammer of the Norse god Thor. Or the interpretation of any other form of mythology for that matter. Of course, I can’t stop anyone believing that Zeus actually is the king of the Greek gods, and likewise I cannot stop a Christian believing that God parted the Red Sea for Moses and his people, but what I can do is to show what is g

 

4. Which brings me to what you have mentioned: even via interpretation of the Scripture, we can’t just do it any-o-how. Look what happened when you tried to equate 1 day = 1 million years. It just doesn’t work. The argument is reduced into absurdity, and we don’t like that – Christian or otherwise. There is a systematic process that allows each of us to explore the spiritual world within our souls, to reflect upon the words of Christ, trying to fathom what exactly does He want of us. There is so much more to God than just the text within a book mashed together by the hands of the Roman Catholic clergy, and we get there by establishing our personal insight, our view of the Bible through religious reflection and thought. This is something that we can’t do by simply lifting text from the Gospels, or quoting the letters of the Apostles.

 

I could go on and on, but I think I will just lose you, and it would just degenerate into a frivolous rant. So, I shall just end off with my final point about the matter:

 

I may not buy the Creation theory in its entirety, but I believe that the words of Genesis do have its merits, and it is becoming more and more intertwined with science than we can ever imagine.

Let me explain further: In the beginning, there was darkness. The void (in Genesis, there were mentions of earth and waters, but I doubt that it literally referred to the planet Earth and H2O). First, there was light (the Big Bang), and darkness (space-time). The next couple of days depicted the creation of the sky, ground and water (the formation of the planet Earth, which ironically started off as a fiery planet with no atmosphere, and water flooded the entire planet before dry land emerged). Plants emerged on land before animals – again, also chronologically accurate, and humans were the last to be created – also consistent with the evolutionary timeline. The only disagreements I can see are: (1) The 6-day timeline, and (2) The intelligent design of God that made everything “perfect, all at once”.

 

I have already disputed point (1) as explained above. As for point (2), I must say that now it boils down pretty much to my personal belief, that EVOLUTION and CREATIONISM are NOT contradictory of each other. In fact, it is my suspicion (I use the word “suspicion” because I am still not completely certain about my belief) that evolution was a mechanism created by God – like every cosmological constant in our Universe – that governs the creation of the diverse range of flora and fauna that we see today. I understand that this does not tie in with the idea of “God making everything perfect”. But what if this “perfection”, is actually referring to the undying desire of the survival of every species, that every plant and animal has the power to continually adapt (via means of natural selection) to ensure the survival of its kind?

 

The Bible tells us that God created all the plants and animals. If you think about it, if God had designed this theory we call evolution, every plant and animal that we see today would also be a result of God’s creation. In fact, more plants and animals are continually evolving into being at this moment!

 

It may sound strange and everything, and the reason is because this is something I have thought about on my own – without the teachings of the church. Whether this makes me less of a believer in God, I don’t know. But from what I’ve witnessed so far, there is no harm in accepting evolution and harmonizing it with the ideas of God’s creation as depicted in the book of Genesis.

 

Now, if you are still with me, I would just like to say a word of thank you for having survived my 1300-word long essay. Till this day, I regularly return to revisit this topic every now and then. Interestingly, I am hoping to take a class on Christianity here in Brown – secular in nature – and I’m hoping it would offer me more insight into the topic we have discussed today.

 

Let me know what you guys think.

Roy 

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Posted by: angmlr007 | 23/08/2011

Memories, History, and the question of Reality

ARE OUR MEMORIES RELIABLE RECORDS OF OUR LIFE HISTORY?

In some ways, I suppose we can say that it is our memories that define our history; what we are able to recount of our past, becomes commemorated and remembered in the present and future. If I am able to recall the experience of me bungee jumping down in New Zealand, that becomes written as part of my life history.

Now we introduce a hypothetical scenario. Suppose that when you were 6, you had a bad fall while rollerblading that caused a huge gash on your left forearm. Since then, the wound has long healed, but a nasty scar remains, as a constant reminder of that terrible accident. Because of the nature of the incident, you have not told anyone of how you ended up with the scar, but kept it hidden away from everyone else.

And suddenly, you experience a separate, significant impact to your head that has somehow rearranged your memories, causing you to forget about the rollerblading accident. What happens next? What will happen when you reexamine that scar on your arm years down the road? What would that scar mean to you? “Oh I don’t remember how I got that scar… must have been quite a horrible experience though”, or “beats me. I never really asked that question”? When you show that scar to the people around you, no one knows how you got it. “Err, did you slip and fall in the jungle and got cut on the rocky ground?”, or “Hmm, it looks like something sharp pierced your flesh there. Do you remember any incidents involving razor blades?”

If I may draw an analogy to this scenario, our memories are like a roll of film in cameras, storing pictures as visions of our past in the form of negatives. Suffering such a loss of memory can be likened to erasing the negatives in the middle section of the roll of film, leaving a curious blank behind. Anyone who observes such an oddity would definitely ask the question: What was in that blank? Why did that blank appear in the first place?

But unlike a roll of film, a brain is capable of constructing ideas, thoughts, and memories entirely on its own. In due time, perhaps the minds might build new memories independently to bridge the gap in the film. The mind might do it so well that our present self will no longer be able to discern between this “fake memory” and the rest of the real experiences. At this point, one might even go about explaining the existence of the scar based on this newly constructed, entirely imaginary memory: “The truth, is that I was riding a bike down a steep incline and I lost my balance when my bike hit a boulder, and subsequently I hit the hard ground and got that gash on my arm.” It may be so convincing that now, everyone (including yourself) accepts this as the new “truth”.

So now, if you have accepted the “fact” that your scar was indeed caused by that biking incident rather than tripping over your rollerblades, then does this mean you have never had that rollerblading accident when you were 6? Does this make your biking experience… real? What is reality? What exactly makes up our life history? Are our memories still reliable records for our experiences and life history? How sure are you that you have actually experienced what has been preserved in your memories? Are they as real as your mind perceives them to be?

Posted by: angmlr007 | 11/08/2011

The History of Our Cosmos in a Year

Was watching Carl Sagan’s ‘Cosmos’, and in the first episode, he proposed an interesting analogy:

… The cosmic calendar charts out the entire history of our universe in a single year. If the Big Bang occurred on January 01, 00:00:00 am, it was not until May when our galaxy, the Milky Way, was formed. Other planetary systems may have appeared over the months of June, July and August, but our Sun and Earth only formed in mid-September. Life on Earth appeared soon after. Where do humans fit in? Well, everything we have done, everything we have accomplished across our entire existence as a species, happened on a small bright dot at the lower right hand corner of the calendar, on the last second of December 31. Everything in our recorded human history happened in the blink of an eye…

We look back to the ancient civilizations and wonder, man those things happened thousands of years ago, and yet, those many millennia that have past are but a single flash in the history of our entire universe. It makes all we have done so far on our tiny planet called Earth seem so insignificant, when we compare it with the infinity of space and eternity of time.

And so we have come to an important crossroad: are we going to squander everything away in war and conflict in the next second of this calendar? Or are we going to put aside our differences and work towards something greater for knowledge, for the future? You decide.

(inspired by ‘Cosmos – Episode 1 – The Shores of the Cosmic Ocean’, by Carl Sagan)

I’m turning 21 in a couple of days, and the world is becoming one step colder. Well, not in the literal sense, but still…

We live in a dog-eat-dog world, where the motto “survival of the fittest” rules the day: Athletes compete ruthlessly to be the strongest, fastest sportsman in the world. The rich and powerful rule entire nations and move people beneath them like pawns on a chessboard. In the process, the weak find themselves at the receiving end of a slew of unrelenting punishment: poverty, oppression, bullying, and constant mindf*ck. It’s unfair. No one likes it. But we have no choice. In the words of Morpheus from The Matrix: “Welcome to the real world.”

Ooh. Morpheus. =)

Natural Selection – The Survival of the Fittest

“You heard about survival of the fittest? Guess what? We lost!” – Alex, Metro 2033 (game)

If there’s one thing that all animals know, is that there is only room for the fittest in the future ahead of them. Only the fastest gazelle will evade the capture of its predators to bear offspring that are just as fit. Similarly, only the most colourful (and therefore fittest) peacocks will be able to attract peahens and mate with them. Cheetahs that are not fast enough to hunt down their prey would not survive till the next season, and therefore would not have the opportunity to reproduce. Such is the way of life in the animal kingdom.

In Biology, biologists refer to this natural phenomenon as Natural Selection: a driving force that automatically eliminates the weaker organisms in each species with every passing generation, leaving only the strong to reproduce and pass their genes down to subsequent generations. As cruel as it may sound, it is a true reflection of the world we live in, and the survival of a species of organisms: A population of lions would certainly want their offspring to be capable of hunting and catching prey for food, so females will seek out strong males with superior genes to mate with, in hope that their offspring will have a higher chance of survival.

Drawing the parallel of this concept to be applied on the human race, I’d say that natural selection no longer becomes as evident as it is in animals. Hence, the term “survival of the fittest” is surfaced. In life, all of us are working towards a successful life. Success encompasses many aspects in many areas, but most of them would include at least one of the following: fame, popularity, prestige, pride, career development, money, wealth, family, social highlife, etc. He or she who is capable of achieving success, would be able to get ahead of his or her peers, and is able to rise higher in the ladder, above the rest whom continue to struggle amongst themselves at the bottom. Such is the life of our competitive, cut-throat, fast-paced world today.

An Interesting Conversation

I had an interesting conversation with a friend. It just so happened that this friend of mine placed a trust in someone and that trust was “broken” – how it was “broken” still escapes me to this day, but it doesn’t matter. I tried asking for more information, but it seems like my friend didn’t want to tell me. So she was having this conversation with me that goes something like this:

I shall refer to this friend as ‘X’, and me as ‘Me’

X: There are people in this world who like to place themselves on a moral high ground, but eventually reveal themselves to be self-centered snobs serving their personal interests. Such a disappointment.
Me: That is perfectly normal. The world around us is filled with such people, particularly the rich and successful. They like to paint themselves to be better than they actually are. Ironically, it’s the normal people that have a lower chance of behaving like this.
X: But I’ve a friend – a normal friend – who misplaced my trust and played mind games with me. I don’t like being lied to.
Me: Oh. Now that’s a shame. Who likes being lied to? No offence, but at the end of the day, we are responsible for ourselves if we find ourselves at the losing end. We let ourselves get taken advantage of if we don’t put on the necessary protection.
X:  What nonsense! Do you think it’s acceptable for someone superior to you to play you out, just like that? You are clearly at a losing end; you won’t be able to fend for yourself! It doesn’t help if there has been misplaced trust too…
Me: … and such is the sad reality of life. Face up to it. That is how the powerful triumph over the weak. You are either at the top, or at the bottom. You are either the hunter, or the hunted. Meritocracy is but an excuse to allow the powerful players to exploit the weak. Sure, not everything is equal in life, but that doesn’t mean that it is unfair. You will only get taken advantage of if you let yourself be.
X: I’m not talking about working life. I’m talking about basic humanity. That’s why it’s people with such concepts as what you mentioned that cause this sad move towards such an unfair world. The idea you mentioned is but being used as a comforter to ease your natural human instincts.
Me: But it doesn’t change the fact that the world we live in today is like that. This is reality, not your utopia. It doesn’t matter whether it is about work or life. The same skills of survival carry through with us everywhere we go. You will only be exploited if you let yourself be.
X: Oh come on, I’m not saying that. I’m just saying that it sucks to know that my friend is behaving in such a way, taking advantage of my trust and all…

Till this day, I wonder if I had been a little too harsh with my friend. The world is certainly an unforgiving place, not an utopia filled with sugar, spice, and everything nice. Perhaps there could have been room for a little sympathy and compassion, but I guess it wasn’t forthcoming in this instance. In that aspect, I feel a little guilty.

Regardless, that conversation left me thinking about the harsh realities of life. I thought about the words exchanged, particularly what my friend mentioned:

“… I’m not talking about working life. I’m talking about basic humanity. That’s why it’s people with such concepts as what you mentioned that cause this sad move towards such an unfair world. The idea you mentioned is but being used as a comforter to ease your natural human instincts…”

It’s sad, but it’s true. There is no room for second-best. Someone has to be losing out, and someone has to take the bottom-feeder position in a ladder. It’s not unfair. It is life, and we live with it. Rather, you either live with it, trump it, or bite the dust.

Footnote: Thanks to Roslyn for the awesome ‘Cat with Mouse in Mouth’ photo idea. Love it to bits. LOL.

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