What Does it Mean to be Human?
Posted 3 Nov 2004 at 17:35 UTC by steve
The recent discovery of Homo
floresiensis, a meter-high relative of Homo Sapien dubbed the
"Hobbit" by the media, has created a religious
controversy similar to that posed by
machine intelligence. Nearly
all creation stories describe man as the unique possessor of certain
floresiensis appears to have been "a thinking, reasoning,
toolbuilding, talking, fire-using being, human in all the ways that
matter and yet a being of a completely different species". Many of the
same folks who resist the idea that machines could become conscious,
thinking entities are also alarmed at the idea that another species
could possess these qualities. Even worse for tradition (but perhaps
good for proponents of machine intelligence), some suggest if Humans are
"special" that Homo
floresiensis may be "semi-special", implying that a continuum
between the two states is possible.
Meanwhile, at least one
theologian says there is no threat
to religion from either Homo
floresiensis or intelligent machines -
and points out that Hobbits never posed a problem to J.R.R.
Tolkien's beliefs. One Anglican theologian says that the new discoveries
may be another nail in
the coffin of fundamentalism but shouldn't affect mainstream
religion at all.
Let me start by offering a simple "Oh Brother!" :)
As a believer, I have no problem whatsoever with any discovery of bones,
but I often do have a problem with the irrational conclusions made by
some who unreasonably extrapolate their findings. Thankfully, time
often provides an answer for that - the scientific literature is repleat
with examples of "the scientists will have to rethink their theorys".
If the bones of a short human-like creature are found with tools, it
poses no challenge to my belief system, and shouldn‛TM]t to others. We‛TM]ve
had examples of animals using tools for a long time. Even finding life
on Mars wouldn‛TM]t cause me a problem. I would gladly jump and down with
the NASA rover crews.
If tomorrow, bones from the millions of missing intermediate stages
predicted by evolution were found (Ok 1), it still fails to answer the
basic questions of the existence of our awesome universe.
I'm sure there are some, maybe even many, that would have their belief
in a creator shaken by some new scientific discovery, but I find it sad,
and intellectually dishonest to paint all believers with this same
brush. It makes for easy target practice I guess. I have no idea how
many are like me, but I challenge any Christian, Jew, or Muslim to read
their scriptures and be honest about what it says and what it does not.
More links, posted 3 Nov 2004 at 23:53 UTC by steve »
OH NO, my religious beliefs are all wrong! Whatever will I do?
Scientists are so smart and I always believe them and especially the
media's TOTALLY undestorted view of what the scientists said when they
say that these were humans. Oh wait, now they're saying these
definately were never humans but that they were apes. Sure it's
contradictory, but I believe the scientists wholehearedly. So to help
resolve this contradiction, and to keep the argument going, the
scientists scientifically named them homo-something to help us realize
that these apes are perhaps human contradictilly speaking. Naw,
they're not really apes after all, they're hobbit-humans. Wait did,
they say "human" they meant apes, but really they're something else.
Yeah, they're like apes, like humans, they're hobbit humans. They're
special, because the scientists say so. Yeah, they weren't ever
human, and then they are. That's so cool. That's special. Wow
scientists are so smart. I'm glad I believe everything they say about
these human-not-humans who lived 18 million years ago. Or was it they
lived up until yesterday? 18 million years ago or yesterday, it's all
the same to me. Yeah, I believe everything scientists say. They say
christians are just religious nuts and they'll prove them wrong too.
I really believe they're showing everyone how smart they are. I
really believe everything they say, don't you?
So what if these things were humans or not humans? Isn't it more
important that at first they said they were 18 million years old, and
then they said, no wait they were here as soon as yesterday? If their
dating equipment is that far off, then doesn't that just show how much
they really don't know and how off the dating equipment has been all
along? Their credibility really suffers. And then, hey, they started
saying they were definately humans, then they came back and said, no
wait, these guys were never humans, they were some type of ape, but
we'll call them homo-fecicious. Yeah, that's it, they were little
hobbit type humans (as if they still were a type of human which they
already said they weren't that they were ape). So it just goes to
show you how scientists will say anything even when they know it's not
true just to keep a dumb argument going and to keep on getting
research money. There's really nothing to see here when it all comes
down to it. I mean, they already admitted that regular apes were
closer to humans than this thing was. Just a bunch of fanatic
scientists trying to hold on to something that isn't there to try and
start something. They're not even sure themselves what they've got
there. My guess, is when they quit pointing the finger at all
those "hyper-fundamentalist zeolots" that they'll be the ones saying,
(without saying "we were wrong") we have to look at this deeper, and
explain about how they're being more objective than the religious nuts
are and how that Christians still don't really know anything.
Ok, so after this one blows over, we'll all be waiting with baited
breath for the next time they find some more bones. Watch as they can
say, "I told you so" and then a few days later to say, "we need to
look at this and it will take more research." It's a cycle that
repeats itself over and over. But we should always believe the
scientists really know these things are what they say they are.
In reality, it's a scientists dream to either find a new human species
themselves or see a scientist find a new human species. They're so
wanting this to happen that they'll do just about anything, even
create a hoax.
It's like winning the homo-lottery! However, the record isn't too
good. Many of the so-called homo-whatevers have been discounted as
either apes or pigs or strangely come up missing or else are just
contemporary old men or women with arthritis. So it just goes to show
you that scientists will do just about anything to get this great
honor. Even if only for a moment in the lime light. So when you see
one of their "human discoveries" in the news, and again how the
religious nuts will shrivel, just sit back and say, "yeah right" and
go on about your businesness. It'll all blow over, and there won't be
anything of substance left when it's all fully investigated. I mean,
scientists have been doing this for years. If they really had
irrefutible proof, then it would be on the web. You can see both
creation and evolution sites that effectivly refute whats out there.
It also goes to show you how rabid and hungrily salivating the media
machine is on this topic too. They WANT the scientists to win and the
religious nuts to be put to shame.
wow, posted 4 Nov 2004 at 04:50 UTC by steve »
Reading that made my brain swirl... ;-) I actually thought the media
coverage was pretty balanced on this one. The BBC website presented
both the Desmond Morris rant that said the discovery could "destroy all
religion" and the article by theologian David Wilkinson suggesting the
discovery poses no problem at all for religion. I'm definitely in the
latter camp. Religion has survived plenty of controversy before (like
coping with the discovery that the earth isn't the center of the
universe), so I don't see any reason to think this will do it in.
The info I've seen on the find itself seems both pretty consistent about
the dating and the classification. And given that there are multiple
complete skeletons (not just a few fossils), it seems improbable that
this is anything other than a real find, whatever the eventual
significance to science and religion.
I do find the similarities to the machine intelligence fascinating
however. I've often argued theology in the area of robotics/AI or even
alien intelligence but this brings that same argument to something in
the realm of fact instead of conjecture, which makes things more fun.