Continuing my ongoing project, I now want to get feedback from people on this site about how you view humanity compared with other living things. Consistent with the doctrine of "ascending" and new age beliefs about humans "climbing" up the "ladder" of "spiritual evolution", it is inevitable that, at least on some level, most of you would probably separate humanity from the rest of the animal kingdom. At the same time, I also know there are a lot of vegans and animal rights type people who post on this site, so the answers may be less predictable than my last post challenging the reader to try to think outside their worldview.
For those of you who may not know, anthropocentrism, commonly referred to as "human exceptionalism", is basically the belief that humans are "above" every other living thing. This belief also usually encompasses imaginary "duties" and "responsibilities" that are bestowed uniquely upon the human species. Anthropocentrism is pretty much any belief that espouses both a "separation" and "elevation" of humanity from all other living things.
To be able to adequately address the title of this post, I am going to as quickly as possible debunk anthropocentrism from a scientific and common sense point of view and then define and explain the origin of "human inferiority".
One of the fallacies that anthropocentrism is based on is the idea of "higher" or "lower" organisms on an "evolutionary ladder" In evolution, there is no concept of "higher" or "better" organisms. All species of life have different sets of tools to help them adapt to their environments. All living things are the product of their environment, not how "progressed" they are. A polar bear has white fur that camouflages it and keeps it warm. A blue whale has baleen plates to filter feed it.
A dart frog's defense against predators is secreting poison in its skin. A skunk's defense is its noxious spray.
Some animals, like orangutans, have reproductive success by investing lots of time and energy in their offspring while others put less time into their offspring like rabbits whose mothers put relatively little care into their offspring and only feed them about twice a day, but have extremely nutritious milk so the baby rabbits grow up quickly. And other animals, like salmon, lay as many as 7500 eggs at one time and let the offspring fend for themselves.
Basically you can see where I am going with this. All of these animals are equally evolved, but in different ways. Evolution is not a ladder, it is a large, wide, tree that branches out in all directions. In the example I gave above about reproductive success, those of you who believe in the idiotic and scientifically unfounded idea of the "evolutionary ladder" you would probably place the orangutan at the top, the rabbit in second place, and the salmon at the bottom. As far as nature is concerned,each reproductive strategy is equally valid considering the length of time each of these animals have been around. The mother orangutan's strength is the great care and attention she gives her baby ( a lot better than human mothers I might add ). The mother rabbit's strength is in both the number of kits she produces and the milk she gives out which is more nutritious than any other mammal's milk. And of course the salmon's strength is in both the sheer number of eggs she produces and the offspring's ability to survive on their own. Usually the rule of thumb is that the number of offspring a mother produces and ability to fend for itself is inversely proportional to the amount of care it receives from it parent(s). Since the reproductive strategies I gave above are all equally valid, it is superfluous at best to assign some kind of subjective value judgment of "higher" or "lower" to these animals. Each strategy is just another way of getting along in the world. What might work out for one species in one environment may not work for another.
Another fallacy of anthropocentrism is that evolution=progress. There is no law of nature that supports this. Any reputable source about evolutionary biology will tell you that evolution is based on natural selection in a particular environment, not on progress. Take a look at human evolution for instance. Humans have been selected for intelligence (although that intelligence is severely malformed, but more on that later) as a direct result of environmental changes. The common ancestor that humans share with chimpanzees split off when the jungle that our ape ancestor lived in turned into savanna. The half that stayed in the jungle were selected more for their strength while the apes that stayed in the savanna were selected more for their intelligence and tool use. Humans are not masters over their environment, the environment has mastery over us and has always been the case and always will be. Intelligence is simply one more tool for survival. I will address the pathologies of the human mind in a bit, but I will point out just some of the host of problems that humans have encountered since they acquired the traits that humans see as making them better than every other living thing. Let's take the ability to speak and walk upright for examples. Sleep apnea, which can be very detrimental to health is a bi-product of the evolution of speech. Bipedalism has caused humans a lot of painful back problems. And also wisdom teeth that many human jaws cannot accommodate and can cause severe dental problems if they are not removed. In nature there are countless examples of unfavorable mutations.
I will take 2 crude examples to make a final point about the fitness of a species being linked to environmental conditions and not some subjective notion of progress. Take 2 life forms. A human and a parakeet. In one scenario lets say there is a comet heading toward earth and humans need to evacuate the Earth. Of course only a wealthy few would make it off the planet and they probably wouldn't live very long as the vast majority of planets are completely inhospitable to life. But anyway, the point is that in that particular situation, the human would be more adept to survival because of his/her intelligence and opposable thumbs to operate a space shuttle whereas the parakeet would like those traits. In the second scenario lets say that on top of a 100 story office building we have the parakeet and a human. You can probably see where this is going. And for the fun of it let's say it was someone who was really anthropocentric and thought himself so much "better" and "more evolved" than that parakeet. If I picked up the parakeet and tossed it over the edge it would be just fine and fly to safety. The human on the other hand would plunge to his death and would have no choice but to admit that the bird that he thinks he is so much better than is about 50-100 million years more advanced than he is in terms of having the ability to fly. So who was "better" had everything to do with the environment the organisms were placed in.
The last fallacy of the "human exceptionalist" point of view I will debunk is what they like to point out how much more "successful" humanity is than other living things, often times citing the changes that have come about since the industrial revolution. The problem with this argument is that modern humans are barely 200,000 years old and the industrial revolution is less than 200. The length of time that the human species has been around alone shows that humanity hasn't really stood the test of time. That is a tiny blip on the evolutionary time scale. And as far as citing the industrial revolution as "success" is even more short sighted. 200 years is a tiny speck of a tiny speck in the history of life on earth. Not to mention the fact that the "benefits" of the industrial revolution don't even come close to being evenly distributed amongst our species. I am sure many would like to argue that this brief period of our existence is evidence of the fact that humans are an "exponential" species. It is true that the industrial revolution has brought about dramatic changes such as cures for many diseases thus dramatically decreasing infant mortality rates and increasing life spans. And also ensuring greater food security (for a small percentage of our species). We also have wreaked havoc on much of the planet and have unprecedented destructive capabilities. Humanity is basically like an invasive species that infests the earth. Every other species of life does more good for the ecosystem than humanity. Regardless of whether the "good" outweighs the "bad" in technological changes it is clear that it is ludicrous to cite technological development as humanity "progressing". Even if humans ever learn to live in harmony with their planet, their co-dependency with other living things will likely never cease. So no one life form, human or otherwise would ever be "more important" than another.
Human arrogance will never benefit humanity. Take a look at the Titanic for example. Headlines in newspapers read "God himself cannot sink this ship!". Nowadays we know how badly designed the ship really was and not to mention how ill prepared the crew and passengers were to handle the disaster. While humans died in the freezing water, I am sure that any micro organisms aboard the ship did just fine.
Okay I will only briefly touch upon "human inferiority" as I have taken far too long on this post already. I mentioned in my previous topic human irrationality and mental dysfunction. I will explain what I mean. Basically the root of human mental dysfunction can be traced to our evolutionary past. Like sleep apnea or back problems that arose in our evolution, there was another flaw in the design of the human, one that exists in the human mind. Namely the inability of the human mind to fully accept the reality of what death entails: the experience of nothingness for all the rest of eternity, just like before you were born, except without any prospects of ever being born again. If you look at life objectively, sadly, you realize that this is the only sane conclusion to come to ( I won't go into it in this post however) As humanity's intelligence increased they began to comprehend death more and more. Although nonhuman animals know what death is on the instinctive level, humans have a much greater capacity to ponder life and death. The problem in human evolution is that humans developed a predisposition to make up delusions about life after death to help them cope with the reality that awaits them and every other living thing. After this fault within the human species took hold, immediately social control via religion ensued after that. Religion is basically a social system that commands you to throw away the one life you know for sure exists in exchange for a reward in an impossible to be verified afterlife. Living your life based on what exists "beyond the grave" is absolutely deranged regardless of whether life exists after death or not. I don't need to really go into the horrific consequences of this, but I will briefly shed some light on a few examples, like muslim suicide bombers who think they will be met by 72 virgins after they are blown up, or the people of Easter Island who cut down every last tree to build their statues thinking that they would be "blessed" for doing so by building the statures to "honor" their ancestors, or American soldiers going to war for non existent entities known as "god" and "country". The official credo of the American boy scouts is duty to "god" before "country", others and self. I really don't make any distinction between this and training middle eastern children to become suicide bombers, but I digress...
It is possible that the flawed brain of humanity would not necessarily be guaranteed to produce supernatural delusions, but the environments that helpless children are born into horrifically amplify their inborn mental defects they inherit by virtue of being human and rob them of almost any chance to life a life that is as free from delusions as possible. After the social control of religion took hold, several core societal lies developed that you can find in most "civilized" parts of the world. I won't go into too much detail, but I will list them.
1. There is an omnipotent being that rewards "good" or "bad" deeds after each person dies. And an empowered leader known as a priest, pastor, shaman, spiritual medium, etc is qualified to tell you how to live your life because of some "wisdom" they have that you lack.
2. Humans are too dangerous too one another to be trusted living in a "free" society, so the best way to deal with this is to give a certain group of humans, government leaders and their goons, known as police officers, basically have unlimited authority over you because they are somehow exempt from the violent aspects of human nature that apparently warrants the need for government in the first place. In addition to this abstractions known as "rights" and "laws" are somehow supposed to ensure your safety from your fellow humans. And you must also have a reverence for the abstraction you live in known as a "country".
3. The healthiest way for our species to propagate is to institute a form of sexual slavery known as "marriage". That going against human nature and shaming and ridiculing sexuality that does not fit the status quo produces happy healthy relationships and children that follow.
4. Some people are simply born "evil". They don't harm other people or act out because of the abuse they suffered as children, they just simply inexplicably chose that and it is entirely their fault for making this choice.
5. I don't want to sound redundant, but here it is. Humans are the greatest living thing to ever walk the face of the earth and likely ever will be. Nearly all of our problems can be traced back to our "animalistic" natures.
Now after we got the long part out of the way, I can finally address the topic. If you think about each societal lie, anthropocentrism really helps to sustain them. Nonhuman animals, while they may be less intelligent than we humans, are far more sane and mentally healthy than humans are. For an analogy, I would compare a human mind to the mind of another animal like this. Say you have a glass of water and a bucket of water. The glass represents the mind of an animal, let's say a gazelle, and the bucket represents a human mind. Now picture the glass of water being crystal clear and good to drink while the bucket is filled with filthy, dirty, and disease and parasite ridden water. Even though the bucket contains far more water, that water is unfit to drink. The human may be far more intelligent than the gazelle, but it is much more dysfunctional. Nonhuman animals live their lives based on truth. They do not suffer from the same mental impairments that humanity suffers from. If you think about it, rejecting anthropocentrism can lead you to reject societal lies to a very large degree. For example, what animal besides a human could possibly "need" "Jesus" as their "lord and savior"? Marriage is obviously bogus since animals that are shown to practice monogamy like beavers and many bird species have no need to get "married" and make "commitments" to one another to stay together, it is just simply an innate behavior with them. It is also worth noting that father beavers and birds are not threatened and coerced with theft in the form of "child support laws" to get them to care for their offspring. The list just goes on and on for how many dictates of society you will question and later reject once you discard the notion of human superiority.
It is impossible to understand humanity or any other species of life without studying other species because of our codependency and coevolution with all other living things. Anthropocentrism=willful ignorance and disinformation. It retards the potential to understand ourselves and our place in the world. The more ignorance and disinformation people live their lives by, the easier it is to impose delusions on them. This is why organized religions, especially Christianity and Islam either deny evolution outright in favor of "intelligent design" or they misrepresent it by saying humans are the "highest evolved" species. Anthropocentrism fuels their lies. Fuel is the key word here. Anthropocentrism doesn't cause human mental dysfunction, the inability to accept death does. It does however fuel and amplify it.
Now with that out of the way, some of you might be thinking that I am not being logically consistent when I am singling out humanity as less sane than other living things and how they are essentially the only animal that does not good for the ecosystem. That I am somehow guilty of what I am criticizing by separating humanity from other living things. On the contrary. Human beings are like any other animal. Humans just happen to be very psychologically ill animals that inflict damage on their environment and will likely play a major roll in their own extinction. The fact that living their lives based on delusions is very detrimental for them shows that they could learn form their animal brethren. The only chance humanity has for long term survival is to maintain their intelligence level and knowledge while trying to regain their, what I like to call, animalistic integrity. Having the best of both worlds can ensure a much happier, healthier future for all. A healthy human would still be the smartest and most knowledgeable animal, but his thought processes would be like an animal's. Having no delusions whatsoever and living every moment of it's life to the fullest as if it would be there last. A healthy organism does not waste it's one irreplaceable life in the hopes of a "better" and impossible to be verified afterlife.
In conclusion, putting human beings on an imaginary pedestal above other living things does not enlighten or empower the human species. It does not cause us to respect one another. It is nothing but a tool of control that can only make life worse. Anthropocentrism is embraced by small minded, short sighted, control freaks who want to impose their delusions on you. Take John Jancar for example. He is one of the worst ( or best, depending on what context you put it in ) examples of someone who embraces this way of thinking I have ever seen. Back when he was on YouTube, and is probably still the case on this website, he would constantly praise the human species as being so superior to other species of life. He never once said anything positive about other animals and showed a lot of prejudice against them. He would use the term "animalistic" or "animal" like it was a curse word. He attributes everything negative about humanity as being the "animalistic" nature in us. He always emphasized how humans need to "rise above" other living things. Although strangely enough, he vehemently denied that he believed humans to be superior to other living things. Claiming that all life has these imaginary properties known as "soul" and "spirit". Just that humans were "more evolved". I am sorry but that just doesn't add up. Even if in his worldview humans and animals are composed of the same things, a glass and a bucket of water just aren't equal now are they?
I know that was a very long post, but there are just so many intricate details in this subject. So now with this done, I want to know what you the reader thinks about humanity's place in the animal kingdom.
Below are some excellent links to further explain how erroneous this way of thinking is.