banquet for bacteria

Everything is relative including the meaning of words, the meaning of meaning, and meaning itself. The truth we assign to things is never true from all perspectives.

Consider, for example, a picnic in the park. Mum, dad, and a couple of kids, sitting on a blanket eating sandwiches, boiled eggs, and other picnic food. One of the kids is unable to eat all of the food ze has taken (the "...eyes bigger than your stomach..." syndrome). Ze surreptitiously disposes of the uneaten food by throwing it into the bushes. One of the parents notices and criticises the child along these lines: "Don't throw that food away, there are people starving in XYZ country. What a waste! I paid good money for that. And another thing, haven't I told you not to litter? You are spoiling it for everyone, making a mess like that!"

Actually, the food does not go to waste. Bugs and worms eat part of it, and bacteria eat the rest. The food thrown away can be called "waste" only from a limited, self-centric and self-serving perspective. The so-called "waste" is manna from heaven for bacteria. Likewise, the food that is "thrown away" is only "litter" from a limited, self-centric and self-serving perspective. From the perspective of a sandwich-eating beetle, the food thrown away is not "litter"; the taste, smell and sight of it is not unpleasant. The child may be a litterbug and the litterbug is the better off for it.

The underlying principle is that anything and everything is seen through a particular pair of spectacles. But there are many pairs of spectacles in the universe. There is no right pair, or wrong pair, correct pair or incorrect pair. From the universal perspective, there are no privileged frames. From the perspective of Everything That Is (ETI) there's no such thing as waste. Nothing is ever wasted.

Is the human perspective the one and only? No. Does the human perspective override everything else. No.

Do humans have more rights than other creatures and things? No. Do we have the right to use and abuse nature to the detriment of all else, including ourselves? Well, the bible says that God granted humankind dominion over nature, and the problem with dominion is that it tends to backfire on the dominator. Dominion is not wrong. It's not right. It produces certain outcomes that elicit certain reactions in the dominators and the dominated.

Humans tend to believe that we are the beginning and end and centre of everything, (it's a fallacy and it's pathetic, so you could call it the pathetic fallacy). How we think about waste (per the discussion above) is one example of the pathetic fallacy. Another is how we took centuries to move from believing that the universe revolved around our planet, Earth (Terra), to believing that the universe revolved around our sun, Sol, to believing that the universe comprises only our galaxy, the Milky Way, etc etc.

A thing called the anthropic principle is an extreme instance of the fallacy. The Anthropic Principle is just another way of saying that the universe is surprisingly hospitable to the emergence of us. Yes, well the universe is as it is and was as it was and that's why, how, when and wherefore we emerged. If the universe were different to the way it is and was, well then different beings may or may not have emerged. Who cares! Talk about tautologies. It's just the old, tired "argument by design" of the proof of the existence of God, usually mounted by people who are either ignorant and/or should know better. Let's just leave it at that.


Anonymous said...

You really have a unique point of view. Thanks for commenting too on my start-up blog :)