Whatever you’re wearing today, it may very well include some chains…!
Twenty-five hundred years ago the celebrated Greek philosopher Plato used the thousands of underground caves from his land to make a point. Humanity lives chained in a cave-like fantasy world where we only experience the shadows of the real world outside. Knowing nothing else, the shadows become our reality. Until, that is, someone comes along to free us from our ignorance.
Every savior-prophet throughout history who has tried — from Plato to Moses to Buddha to Jesus to Hawking to Spielberg — has been called crazy. Some even killed. As a disappointed Plato said: “We prefer the comfort of our chains.”
Lately there is a new wave of savior-prophets in white lab coats. Our neurobiologists who are uncovering dazzling new realities about our existence almost monthly. It’s hard to resist the allure of those who offer you exciting new answers to such old questions as: where did I come from? why was I born? is there a purpose for living? why do I do what I do? can I change me? what happens when I die?
The outstanding Irish author-philosopher Iris Murdoch summed up Plato this way: “We live in a fantasy world, a world of illusion. The great task in life is to find reality.”
Aye, Mateys, but there’s the rub on this wave-tossed journey of life! What in the world is reality??
It would seem neurobiology’s answer is, in part, genetics — the ways and whys our complexity of genes evolve and interact to make us who we are. To crack these genetic codes — we do almost daily — is to have insight into the long sought reality both Plato and Murdoch yearn for us. As of 2013 selected genes have been found to explain such ways and whys as: why I am tall… deformed….bright…rapacious… ready to war… responsive to certain fragrances… inclined to marry certain mates… likely to be obese….likely to suffer dementia …want to believe in a god….inclined to read this with disgust for questioning science.
Correction — this is not questioning the work of science, only its role in the popular mind. Just as we have now learned that medieval Christianity [religionism] was not the ultimate answer to our questions, now we are about to learn neither is modern science [scientism]. Both have been crucial rungs on a ladder to Truth which still has many rungs left to climb. Patience more than pride is the order of the day
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