OK, so our brilliant neurobiologists are continuing to unlock the great cosmic secrets to our species. And this is good. Humanity was made to know. However, lately what the boys in the white lab coats are telling us is not especially good. Because there seems to be a pattern of reductionism. A persistent diminishment of humanity’s unique nobility as captured in the Venus and the David, instead with the emphasis on how we are just a few genes away from the chimps and the dolphins.
I have a problem with this.
I’m one of those who does not believe an orangutan, given enough chances, could eventually come up with a ‘Macbeth’ or a ‘Fifth Symphony.’ Evolution has a lot of the answers, but come on guys….this is pushing the envelope the wrong way.
May I say — and I’m guessing many of you say — that the genius of words and the elegance of sounds that first filled the mind of Shakespeare and Beethoven were more than some electrical currents in a brain now long dead. Instead we have every right to presume that biology alone is not the way to locate such genius and elegance. That task calls for disciplines greater than any science can provide. Religion, maybe…? Philosophy, surely…?
Our churches and temples may be losing attendance lately, but the transcendence that religion and philosophy deal with is far more likely to be where we can locate them. Along with other such superlatives in the language of humanity such as love, honor, devotion, allegiance, and the greatest of these: love.
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