The Human Flower,Nicole Scott,Free Inquiry

“Full many a flower is born to blush unseen and waste it’s sweetness on the desert air.”

—Thomas Gray, “Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard”

How does one like me reconcile the conviction that the human race will be gone in less than a hundred years due to global warming, resource depletion, and population increase? I have studied the issues carefully and concluded that there is no hope. Climate scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Met Office Hadley Centre for Climate Science and Services in England project a 10°F rise in average temperature by 2100. If that happens, the human race will die.

My first reaction was to condemn the human race as inadequate to the task of survival. From an evolutionary perspective, we are not fit. We have succumbed to myths that we are immortal and this world and life is only a stepping stone to eternal life. Religions have won the day by promising things that can never be proven wrong. But they have compromised human survival by promoting endless growth of population and resources, believing that God will provide.

But then I developed a new, less critical view. Considering all of nature, the universe is indifferent to survival. There are billions of lifeless galaxies and stars. Galaxies collide and stars explode, wiping out many planets. Most planets are lifeless balls of stone and gas. Where life has evolved, countless animals and plants suffered painful existences and became extinct. The universe or any god does not care. I have often thought that if there were a god who made it all, then it is very inefficient and wasteful or just not all powerful. So, I don’t believe there is one.

And so it is with humans. We are products of nature, and nature does not care. We can flower and show a brief flourish and be gone. Humans struggled for centuries in a difficult existence. Our numbers barely grew for thousands of years. Many died painful and horrible deaths. The universe did not care.

About two hundred years ago, we discovered that carbon sequestered over the millions of years by plants and animals could be burned to produce heat energy. We harnessed that energy in engines, and it made all the difference in human advancement. Food increased, which led to population increase, knowledge explosion, and great progress and the flowering of humanity.

So now we are a beautiful flower, and the universe could be thought of as pleased. Are we wasting our sweetness on the desert air, never to be observed by any other possible intelligences? Will we flourish and quickly die as the forces that have propelled us become exhausted? I think so. It’s too bad, but it is the nature of the universe.

But is it possible that humans with our intelligence can rise above our natural fate? It’s possible, but if we are to succeed, we had better get moving. Survival will require a worldview based on rationality and science that so far we do not have. We will have to abandon our hope for an afterlife and face the reality that this is it. Our main ethic must be to keep humanity going for the benefit of this world and future generations.

“Full many a flower is born to blush unseen and waste it’s sweetness on the desert air.” —Thomas Gray, “Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard” How does one like me reconcile the conviction that the human race will be gone in less than a hundred years due to global warming, resource depletion, and population increase? …

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