My Year of Naturalism

A while back, I asked people to comment on their perception of the importance of teaching evolution and the natural origins of mankind. I said that I would get back to the subject. And so it begins. This little bastion of Internet absurdity declares 2010 to be the year of Naturalism. Over the next 12 months my goal is look at some of the challenges we face as a species from the perspective that our behaviors, both in creating the dangers as well as responding to them, can be explained on the basis of natural origins and evolution.

In Pliny’s opinion there is nothing more important to our collective future than getting the majority of humanity to stop thinking of ourselves as fallen angels but instead, rather magnificent beasts. That we are a product of natural selection. That we have drives, instincts and behaviors guiding a lot of what we do just like any other animal. We are on our own to solve the problems and face the dangers that we, apparently first among all those species that preceded us, can anticipate and possibly avoid. That we may be the first beast able to recognize the existence and importance of these natural drivers, study them in detail, and work to prevent them from leading to our own demise. We are the first species with a concept of future beyond the next brood. What will we learn about ourselves and where will it lead our individual and societal behaviors and governmental structures if we embrace this? One thing is for sure; unless we come to understand what we truly are we have no chance for the long term. Can humanity reach adulthood - the point where fantasy about what we’d like to be gives way to understanding and comfort with what we are in fact? It doesn’t look all that promising when I look around. But I am an eternal optimist.

So fairly often over the next 12 months I’m going to try and discuss events and global challenges (global warming, energy conservation, etc.) from the perspective of animal behaviors. No moralizing or arguing about creationism, religion or the lot (except in the occasional post on morals, religion and the lot...). So with all due respect to Joseph Merrick, "I am an animal!" Happy New Year!