Diary

The Infantile Nature of Man

Striping away the nuance of public discourse and gazing at the underlying foundation of competing belief systems seems to reveal two general camps into which people fall. There are those who believe, for whatever reason and to varying degrees, that human beings have evolved from lower animal or social forms and are continuing to evolve toward some future perfection or apotheosis. Conversely, there are those who believe man is inherently flawed, limited, and in a very literal way retarded. I believe the latter self-evident, and wish to ask those who believe the former to present me with an answer to what seems a reasonable question based on a casual observation of individual and societal development.

We know from our personal experience as human beings who were born and grew from children into adults that our perception and ability to comprehend and synthesize reality was once limited compared to our current state. We also know, both because we can remember our childhood and because we witness the same phenomenon in our children, at each step along the path to maturity, we tend to believe we have reached the end of the journey. It is certainly fair to claim most teenagers believe they know all they need to and no longer need Mom or Dad or any other adult to tell them how things are. At some point, pride takes over, and the inherent desire for independence drives us to latch onto our own conclusions, regardless of the evidence or testimony presented by others. I submit this tendency does not change with age and ask the following; if we know our perception and ability to comprehend and synthesize reality was limited in the past, what evidence do we have it is not limited now?

We also know from our study of history that society has achieved various levels of collective perception at different times in different parts of the globe. Perhaps two of the most cited examples of a radical shift in communal perception are the scientific discoveries of the Earth’s orbit of the sun (as opposed to the sun’s apparent circling of the Earth) and the Earth’s nature as a sphere (as opposed to its apparent flatness). Just in the last century, our understanding of our world and the greater cosmos has exploded beyond what the smartest among us are capable of comprehending outside mathematical models akin to shadows on a cave wall. Again, it seems appropriate to ask; if we know our perception of reality has been limited in the past, what evidence do we have it is not limited now?

It seems to make more sense to assume man’s perception remains limited than to assume we understand enough of our world to proceed confidently down any primrose path. Of course, it takes a degree of humility to admit that, a quality we tend to lack. Like a toddler who gives little thought to sticking objects in a power socket, or a teenager convinced he can handle his car at any speed under any conditions, we remain as adults unable to restrain ourselves from acts of conceit and rebellion based more on what we don’t know than what we do. The infantile concern over climate change stands out as perhaps the most glaring contemporary example, a “crisis” based entirely on assumption made in ignorance rather than any known fact. As adults, we laugh when kids say the darnedest things, like assuming baby’s are hatched from eggs, grown in cabbage patches, or delivered by storks; yet we latch onto the same kind of Monty Python logic (if CO2 floats, it must be a witch) to explain our world and engage in the same “uh-huh, nuh-uh, is too, is not” emotional chest-thumping in lieu of genuine sober debate.

Perhaps we ought to learn something from an honest reflection upon past experience and embrace Dr. Frankenstein’s epiphany that the ability to do a thing is not a justification onto itself. Specifically, I would urge caution in the areas of genetics and nanotechnology. It might also be beneficial to recognize, as much as we have grown to understand our world over the course of history, there is surely as much yet to discover of at least as much significance. Of particular note are the implications of quantum physics, which seem to indicate an underlying plane of reality which exists and operates in apparent defiance of known physical law. We might also consider, in a renewed spirit of humility, an increasingly evident Creator might have something worthwhile to say regarding that which was created.