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"What does it profit a species to gain the whole world yet forfeit its existence in self-provoked extinction? "
(a slightly revised version of Mark 8:36 addressed to the 21st century world)

I can assure you: I don't know you, I don't know what you believe, I have no idea what motivates your activities, I have knowledge of your virtues and vices, I have no interest in knowing your agreements or disagreements either with myself or anyone else, I have no need whatsoever of either your praise of your criticism, and it would serve no purpose for me to change your opinions, thoughts, behaviors or expectations regarding the future.

There are 6.7 billion people on the planet and for that reason I will consider your opinions merely that of 1 of 6.7 billion people.  In the great scheme of things the individual human is as innocent and also as guilty as the raindrop in the food.  Raindrops, you should know, are harmless, but when there are too many raindrops they generate destructive deadly floods.  Raindrops will refuse responsibility for the flood just as individual humans will refuse any responsibility for the mess which humans have made of the Earth.

Do you believe in science?  Do you have faith in science?  Do you trust technology?  Do you entertain the hope that technology will solve humankind's problems before those problems become so large as to overwhelm humankind?

Don't answer these questions.  I can assure you that I am not interested in your answers.  I have just spent several hours scanning dozens of books reading a sentence here, a paragraph there and sometimes an entire chapter or two.  What these books indicate to me is:

Humans have a vast amount of opinions and a vast majority of these are wrong.  

No, I don't deny that this principle applies to myself.  I began this particular line of thought years ago with a skeptical investigation of my own beliefs.  All those things which seemed certain became doubtful and all those things which were doubtful became possible and for that reason I realized that while the effort serves some useful purpose in the end the Truth becomes an elusive and impossible goal.  Everyone is born in ignorance and everyone dies just slightly less ignorant.  

So I will only say this one thing:

Science & Technology bears direct and nearly complete responsibility for the destruction of the Earth, the exhaustion of the planet's resources, the eradition of the Earth's vital ecosystems, the pollution which has provoked climate change, the overpopulation which is quickly overrunning the planet with primate hyperconsumer pollution factories, the weapons of mass destruction and all of the horrific weapons of modern warfare, and all of the drugs and addictions which render modern humans so very unhealthy and life itself a living hell for so many people.

Which is to say:

If religion had defeated science 500 years ago it is very likely that the Native cultures of the Western hemisphere would still exist, the ecosystems of the world would still survive, thousands of species would have avoided extinction, the icecaps would not suffer from unnatural melting, the coral reefs would remain pristine flourishing habitats, a Texas sized floating island of plastic pollution wouldn't exist in the Pacific ocean, and humankind would have avoided the great wars of the 20th century along with all of their WMDs.

While religion is a silly outdated superstition it is science which has destroyed the world and driven humankind to the edge of extinction.  For that reason I have no faith in either religion or science or technology or humankind.

Humans have chosen a dead-end path and there is no doubt that humankind will follow this path to its ultimate end, i.e. extinction.  

Now that you have read this you can agree or disagree or think whatever you wish.  Please do keep in mind that you are only a raindrop in the flood.  I don't blame you for anything.  

Humankind has run out of time.  Nature will begin making decisions on humankind's behalf very soon and humankind won't have any means of objecting to those decisions.  Nature doesn't respond to prayers or repentence or empty promises of reform.  

David Mathews

Originally posted to dmathew1 on Fri Jul 10, 2009 at 09:42 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I guess since you don't want (9+ / 0-)

    me to answer your questions or to offer praise or criticism, all I have to say is:


    I don't have a sig line.

    by NMDad on Fri Jul 10, 2009 at 09:46:40 AM PDT

  •  Science... (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    snakelass, The Raven, esquimaux, Apost8

    is at it's finest a quest for truth.  

    As John Lennon said, "Just give some truth."

  •  Not so fast... (12+ / 0-)

    "IF religion had defeated science 500 years ago it is very likely that the Native cultures of the Western hemisphere would still exist.... "

    I guess you've never heard of the term, "Manifest Destiny" and the role religion played in it?

    Just another day in Oceania.

    by drshatterhand on Fri Jul 10, 2009 at 09:51:12 AM PDT

  •  a tragic tale of love lost (5+ / 0-)

    Who hurt you? Don't answer that, don't care.

    Of course we will have Fascism in America, but we will call it Democracy. - Senator Huey Long

    by Marcion on Fri Jul 10, 2009 at 09:52:05 AM PDT

  •  As a species, we have not learned to control our (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    arreay, melpomene1

    numbers, our waste, our greed, our wars and our disdain for the other life forms that inhabit this planet. We fatalists know that sometime in the near future, some mega event will eliminate most of us and planet earth will continue it's journey through space/time with us no longer being the dominant species.

    "Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable." - JFK

    by moose67 on Fri Jul 10, 2009 at 09:52:14 AM PDT

  •  A bit hyperbolic - but . . . . . (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    snakelass, TexMex

    I agree about the arc of homo sapiens as a species, but you start too late.  Even before organized religion people on the North American continent decided to eat all the mega fauna.

    Whether or not intelligence is a positive evolutionary adaptation will be decided in the future, though we have 118-1/2 million more years to go before genus homo is at least as successful as the dinosaurs.

    Distrust of authority should be the first civic duty. - Norman Douglas

    by Fossil on Fri Jul 10, 2009 at 09:58:48 AM PDT

    •  Mega Fauna (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      esquimaux, Demena

      It's certainly not true that "people on the North American continent decided to eat all the mega fauna." Bands of paleolithic hunters wouldn't have had the knowledge to make such a decision, and even if they had, it's not clear that they could have accomplished it. It is true that the extinction of megafauna in many parts of the world has been associated with the arrival of humans, but the reasons are far from clear and may have far more to do with disease and other factors than with hunting.

      In fact this article (unfortunately available only to subscribers) lays out in painstaking detail just how damaging homo sapiens have been for the last 50,000 years. And neither science nor religion have much to do with it. Essential, if depressing, reading:

      •  Well figuratively speaking, that's how I took it (0+ / 0-)

        People just keep using, consuming, eating until they either decide before it's too late to take care of what's left or they keep on until the resource is gone. A decision can effectively be a defacto one due to collective ignorance.

        Most indigenous people have customs and lore that manages their local resources up to a point so that it will continue to be available... but they did not automatically start doing that immediately... it was hard learned in the experiences of their ancestors who wiped out or almost wiped out something and were wise enough to understand or just lucky. Either they end up in a balance with what's left by accident or they evolve customs, mythical, practical and even religious to explain why they only kill in some areas or don't eat some creatures or take trees only in controlled ways. So their apparent wisdom is most likely the product of long forgotten mistakes they learned from.

        The Maori in New Zealand ate up the Large flightless birds there within a hundred or so years of arriving and caused an ecological readjustment. They were newcomers to what seemed like a huge and always plentiful even limitless land and kept doing what they were doing until it was too late.

        Likewise The Proto American Indian migration from Asia had a similar experience. Who knows what the first generations back then learned when over time they experienced a decline and extinction of a previously abundant food source? Perhaps they inculcated some of the reverence of nature and more careful use of resources that we tend to associate with their culture as a result of their ancestors collective experiences... which could be a lesson for us... use it carefully or lose it. (Use it up and you lose it?)

        Pogo & Murphy's Law, every time. Also "Trust but verify" - St. Ronnie

        by IreGyre on Sat Jul 11, 2009 at 03:44:51 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  On the other hand (11+ / 0-)

    If Fact Based Reasoning had defeated Imaginary Hypotheticals earlier this morning, this diary would not exist.

  •  Exactly Wrong (13+ / 0-)

    No, it is humans' clinging to irrational superstition and determinedly ignoring science that has let our industry pick only the science that makes more stuff, rather than the rest of the science that warns restraint in balancing the whole system.

    And that religion which you mourn as the loser vs science 500 years ago was indeed the greatest destroyer of traditional cultures across the globe, starting with its own peoples in Europe and the Mediterranean. Fighting science with misguided (by kings and priests) belief pretending to be unquestionable faith has left us with the tools of science in the hands of irresponsible, half bright wasters.

    You admit most religion is worthless superstitious holdovers from ages of ignorance. Start with yourself in letting go of its vestiges of bad logic and contrived rationalizations standing in for actual deduction. Accept that science is a body of techniques, and that self absorption, short sightedness, greed and infantile aggression are what's caused us to misuse the science that hasn't help us live better in nature. Once you've got a grip on yourself, you can go ahead and try tackling a lecture to others or a condemnation of the greatest liberating and moderating practice humans have developed other than the compassion we inherited from our less human ancestors. Get back to us when you're ready.

    "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

    by DocGonzo on Fri Jul 10, 2009 at 10:04:00 AM PDT

  •  I imagine those pesky Muslims would have (4+ / 0-)

    been wiped out, or converted by the Inquistion.

    Our health care problem could have been solved by bloodletting. WTF? Where'd all our patients go?  Dead? Well, that solves that problem!

    And stoning, honor killings, and eye for an eye justice would work so well, based upon religious beliefs.

    "There's been a little complication with my complication"

    by dash888 on Fri Jul 10, 2009 at 10:07:26 AM PDT

  •  ooooooooo (0+ / 0-)

    collapse of civilization even.

    For this I had only one child?

    Gaaaa, I should has a dozen. What was i thinking!!!!!!

  •  Sorry, but we did this to ourselves. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Wee Mama

    We could have used science to do wonderful things, but we chose to harness it for our own demise.  In the end humankind's inability to accept that there are consequences for it's actions will be our downfall.  Science isn't to blame; we are.

    "Think occasionally of the suffering of which you spare yourself the sight." - Albert Schweitzer

    by Apost8 on Fri Jul 10, 2009 at 10:08:05 AM PDT

  •  I have just spent (14+ / 0-)

    ...several seconds scanning this diary, reading a word here, a sentence there, and, where I could find one, an entire thought. What this survey indicates to me is:

    I value your opinion about as highly as you seem to value mine.

    Hyperbolic preaching prefaced by scorn for the opinions of your readers, yeah, that's a winning formula.

    PragPub, the FREE monthly electronic magazine for Pragmatic Programmers, just went live. I'm the editor.

    by mswaine on Fri Jul 10, 2009 at 10:11:04 AM PDT

  •  Seems like you and the Unibomber agree (4+ / 0-)

    The Industrial Revolution and its consequences have been a disaster
      for the human race. They have greatly increased the life-expectancy of
      those of us who live in "advanced" countries, but they have
      destabilized society, have made life unfulfilling, have subjected
      human beings to indignities, have led to widespread psychological
      suffering (in the Third World to physical suffering as well) and have
      inflicted severe damage on the natural world. The continued
      development of technology will worsen the situation. It will certainly
      subject human beings to greater indignities and inflict greater damage
      on the natural world, it will probably lead to greater social
      disruption and psychological suffering, and it may lead to increased
      physical suffering even in "advanced" countries.

    You might enjoy his manifesto - said the same thing, better.

    I will start when I take office. America is ready to get rid of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy. All that is required is leadership." - Obama

    by tiponeill on Fri Jul 10, 2009 at 10:12:44 AM PDT

  •  I'm always fascinated (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    irishwitch, Front Toward Enemy

    by those predicting the imminent(!!!) extinction of the 6-7 billion of us due to "________".

    At the very least, it shows an incomplete or flawed understanding of the mechanics of evolution.

    Mark Twain -Let me make the superstitions of a nation and I care not who makes its laws or its songs either.

    by Kingsmeg on Fri Jul 10, 2009 at 10:14:04 AM PDT

    •  In the next 50 to 75 years (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      more than 6 billion people will die, and there's nothing you can do to stop it. Abandoning or embracing technology won't stop it; abandoning or embracing religion won't stop it; if they all stopped eating meat, that wouldn't stop it either.

      My guess is the diarist recognizes he's one of those 6 billion, and firmly (and solipsisticly) believes that when he dies, the world ends: the ultimate in selfishness and lack of empathy. At the very least, he hasn't come to terms with the fact that death is as much a part of the natural world as life - even one's own death.

      Rather than focus on one's individual death, it just seems more pleasant to a) make the most of the short time you have; b) make the world a better place for those you love (which hopefully is a fairly huge subset of the human race).

      Je suis Marxiste, tendance Groucho

      by badger on Fri Jul 10, 2009 at 11:04:27 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  If you think about it (0+ / 0-)

        The world population death rate is about 0.883 percent and it's growth rate is about 1.14 percent.  With a 2009 population of 6.7 billion, applying those rates means that about 5 billion people will die over the next 75 years just from existing death rates.

  •  from one raindrop to another... (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Wee Mama, Boris Godunov, Kingsmeg, Anjana

    Since you don't care what anyone thinks of what you said yet are posting it on a website for feedback anyway, I won't bother making any big statements.

    But, please enjoy a cartoon beehiney.


    "Glenn Beck ends up looking like a fat, stupid child. His face should be wearing a chef's hat on the side of a box of eclairs. " - Doug Stanhope

    by Front Toward Enemy on Fri Jul 10, 2009 at 10:14:33 AM PDT

  •  You are so right. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    irishwitch, Front Toward Enemy

    Things would be even BETTER right now if our poor, deluded,  distant ancestors had not begun banging the rocks together.   Buncha troublemakers they were.  :P

    "Theodore Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower, and Barry Goldwater should rise from the grave and devour the current Republican leadership." ~Someone I know.

    by Scrapyard Ape on Fri Jul 10, 2009 at 10:15:06 AM PDT

  •  Uhhh? (3+ / 0-)

    Define irony...

    Seems someone got up this morning, decided to type something into the computer machine and onto the Intertubes about how much they wish the computer machine and the Intertubes didn't exist.

    Ok... I guess...

    Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored - Aldous Huxley

    by abetterperson on Fri Jul 10, 2009 at 10:17:14 AM PDT

  •  You post a diary but don't want (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Front Toward Enemy

    people's opinions... and give reasons as to why everyone else shouldn't care about YOUR opinion...

    So why the hell did you even bother, and why should anyone give a fuck what you think?

    I finally put in a signature!

    by Boris Godunov on Fri Jul 10, 2009 at 10:32:32 AM PDT

  •  It was the religious (5+ / 0-)

    that wiped out the native cultures of the west.

    If religion had defeated science 500 years ago it is very likely that the Native cultures of the Western hemisphere would still exist,

    It was the Muslim defeat of the Crusaders that sealed their fate closing the spice routes. It was the Christians driving out the Muslims in Spain that sent the explorers west with the mandate to convert.

  •  Science is not to blame. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Science is a process for discovering the truth about nature. It happens to be the best such process ever devised. No person, and no civilization, can unlearn knowledge, and that includes the knowledge of how the scientific process works.

    Often the knowledge discovered by science is used badly. But that can hardly be blamed on the person who discovers it. That truth is still there, waiting to be discovered by someone else. And it will be.

    If you don't stand for something, you'll stand for anything.

    by Keith Pickering on Fri Jul 10, 2009 at 10:42:33 AM PDT

  •  Misanthropy is not the way (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    badger, Anjana

    to go through life.

    "Humans have a vast amount of opinions and a vast majority of these are wrong."

    How do you know?

    "Humans have chosen a dead-end path"

    How do you know?

    "Science & Technology bears direct and nearly complete responsibility for the destruction of the Earth"

    Science does nothing and can do nothing. People do things for good or bad, not concepts.

    If you and I disagree, then at least one of us is wrong, and it may be me. -- Reinhold Niebuhr

    by MnplsLiberal on Fri Jul 10, 2009 at 10:46:41 AM PDT

  •  I have this friend. Rainbow Jeremy. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    He don't use no techmology.  He does nothing but chill at home and smoke his own homegrown.  You can read all about it on his website.

    Passive renunciation is not the whole of wisdom.

    by play jurist on Fri Jul 10, 2009 at 10:49:30 AM PDT

  •  No better than bacteria... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    badger, Anjana, IreGyre on a Petri dish. We will spread to consume our finite resources, increasing our number exponentially until a population crash is thrust upon us, then we will do it all over again...until we learn.

    For in the end, despite all our artifice, despite the trappings of sentience, we are fundementally biological heterotrophs built to consume and reproduce, nothing more.

    The fruit of sentience is the realization of life's inevidably futile struggle against death... enjoy it while you have it, make it better for your kids, educate as many people as you can and keep the nihilism to yourself, no-one wants to hear about how it all ends and just maybe humanity will beat the odds and find a balanced solution.

    (-9,-9) pragmatic incrementalist :-P

    by Enterik on Fri Jul 10, 2009 at 10:55:39 AM PDT

  •  Diarist, you're growing on me (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Your persistence is paying off, in a very un-Keith Moon-like way.  I like your unique take on things.

  •  I was just finishing.... (0+ / 0-)

    Richard Dawkins "Unweaving the Rainbow" in which he spends part of a chapter discussing liberal antiscience rehtoric.  

    And here it is in a KOS diary.

    Well when you get sick and need an antibiotic.  Or want that vaccine for next pandemic, sorry, you don't get any.  

    Bill Maher Evolution and Vaccines

    •  Right on. For anti-science folks, do you: (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Al in NY, irishwitch

      Use electricity? That's science
      Have a refrigerator? That's science
      Drive a car? That's science
      Use a computer? That's science

      Unless anti-science folks are living like the Amish, or as pointed out upthread, like the Unibomber, they're hypocrites to the bone and deserve no attention.

      May your entire existence be one sensuous, frolic-filled experience lived in defiance of care!

      by Fonsia on Fri Jul 10, 2009 at 12:30:16 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Anti Science? maybe or.... (0+ / 0-)

        it is not Sciences fault anyway maybe he' saying we as a species are not smart enough to make use of it safely in the long run...  too many short sighted people who stampede off into destruction with incomplete understanding of discoveries and drag everyone with them.... not the scientists or innovators who are the "take the money and run" opportunists and their sheep-like supporters and followers... Science does not have all the answers on what to do with it's discoveries and the implications of them. Science after all is only the continual accretion of verifiable facts that rely on previous ones and refinement by subsequent ones. And the technical innovations that follow are tools that can be used for anything from ultimate good to total evil... and everything in between.

        Science and technology can save us... but with all the political, social, philosophical and practical obstacles in the way it is going to be very hard... and so easy to blame the scary mad scientists for the stupidity of the implementation of technology by shortsighted bottom-line fixated profiteers and empire builders. Just one Billion more and then I'll stop, and then just one more and then.....

        Pogo & Murphy's Law, every time. Also "Trust but verify" - St. Ronnie

        by IreGyre on Sat Jul 11, 2009 at 03:58:59 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  too realistic? A no hoper? (0+ / 0-)

    While it is true that history seems to show that people as a group only really respond to reality when they absolutely have to and there are few or no other choices... we don't have a digital future with only 2 possibilities: Utopia or total Doom. but it is true we just keep doing something until we can't and then are faced with what to do next.


    Easter Island (Rapa Nui) and the UK.
    .. both suffered advanced deforestation... both were running out of trees... what saved trees in England, Scotland, Wales etc was that it was big enough for local areas to be functionally out of wood while there was still a lot left and then they HAD to switch to coal or freeze... which helped jump-start the whole industrial revolution and they had a lot of ships to bring in what ever else they needed... And so they and the rest of us have been pushing coal and wood and everything else to the point where we start to have scarcities and or devastate our environment in multiple ways...

    Oh yeah Easter Island, shorter story, no more trees no boats, no coal, nowhere to go, too small, violent civil war, partial depopulation.... the disease, enslavement etc. that came after, well that was a tragic final chapter.

    Any lesson? the solutions only happen when reality forces its way down our collective throats... and that depends on the "push comes to shove" not being so deferable (like our economy recently) that things are allowed to go way past the fail-safe point. And for us today that means the solution seems more and more to partially depend on a very abrupt fall in global population due to unpleasant reasons beyond our direct control.

    So are we doomed? probably not. More catastrophic than previous "Adjustments"? arguably yes, because as a species we don't change unless we are forced to by circumstances. Those who change sooner and are using or exploring alternatives will lead the way for the rest but the same egotists and empire builders will still try and run the changes and whatever new balance is achieved.

    Very "glass totally empty"-type diary... not even admitting there is anything in the glass....but since things are going to get way too interesting for way too many people in the next 50 years or so, the gloomy take on this is understandable. The world and us will continue but the "Readjustments" should lead to hopefully wiser survivors who will be better set up technologically, socially, philosophically and practically speaking to not stampede into a follow-up crunch time further on in history. Wisdom is beaten into survivors by experience, but not everyone learns the same lessons in the same way...

    Pogo & Murphy's Law, every time. Also "Trust but verify" - St. Ronnie

    by IreGyre on Sat Jul 11, 2009 at 03:25:25 AM PDT

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