The Evolving Monkey blog is not about knowing or even learning as much as it is about trying to understand. The blog posts of the Evolving Monkey are attempts to understand some aspect of the life that I–We–live. The Evolving Monkey makes no claim of certainty, so the views within the articles can change, especial over a period. Manifesto! is an attempt to consolidate the current understanding of the Evolving Monkey. Manifesto! is a living document and will constantly be updated, changed and improved to reflect the evolving understanding of the articles found in the Evolving Monkey.
We can have no certainty in our knowledge. We cannot be certain of anything we know, and anything we think we know we should always hold some doubt about it. No matter how confident we are about some bit of knowledge or understanding, some fact, currently unknown to us, could pop up that will change our understanding of that knowledge. We can never be absolutely sure that some unknown fact will not change our understanding of something we feel confident we did understand. Annoying I know, but that is just the way it is.
Does this mean the universe is unknowable? I can’t prove it in any absolute way, but I believe there is a real universe that exists whither I exist or not. I also believe that I, and humanity in general, have quite a bit of knowledge and understanding that is absolutely True. The problem is that we can never be certain which thing we think we know is true and which is not. For example, we may know something that is in fact absolutely True and for which no facts exist that will ever contradict that knowledge, but we can never know that, not with any certainty. Take for example the absolute speed limit of light in a vacuum. Scientist seem certain about that speed limit and that it does exist, but who knows, someday we may discover exceptions. That same with the theory of evolution. I’m sure it is True, but who knows.
, Religion, and Spiritual Stuff
There is no . does not exist. Unless you consider the universe a , which I do not. But it should be point out that the universe is all powerful, all knowing, and does have consciousness, although not a central consciousness (that we know of).
You might ask, rightfully, how can I be so certain about that after everything I just wrote about the lack of certainty of knowledge. Well, atheism is not about certainty. And I’m not certain in any absolute sense. I just know, or believe, that there is no reason to believe in a . I see nothing in life or the universe that makes me believe there is a . I especially do not know of any reason to believe that any of the religious beliefs of humans are true. In fact, just the opposite, I see much in the universe that make me believe, if anything, that there is no . For example, whenever there is a tragedy, say a mass shooting or an airplane, those who are not killed always give thanks to and will say was with them, even while so many others have died. So if was with them, he must not have been with the others who died are were hurt. I think it more likely that some people just got lucky and others did not. Most likely, those who are killed had a variety of beliefs about , and those who lived also had different a variety of beliefs about .
Even if some does exist, there is no reason to believe in him. I say that because this , if he is real, has given us no reason to believe in his existence. Life and the universe shows no indication of a . So if, per chance, I should die and I’m surprised that there is a and an afterlife, I’m not worry about it. I think a , if he does exist, knows I did not believe not out of any evil but simply because I have no reason to do so. I also think, a , if he exists, is mature enough not to need to be worshipped.
I have not bothered to give a definition of . It’s hard enough to give definitions to things that are real, much less to something that is not. But I will define in a modern American way as a supernatural being, that has great knowledge and power and a unified consciousness. So by this definition the universe itself is not a . Although the universe is all powerful, and all knowledge does reside within it, and it did create all things, and it does have consciousness (us), it is not supernatural because it is nature itself and it does not (as far as known) have an unified consciousness.
Science is beyond cool. Science is perhaps the greatest, or at least one of the top greatest, innovations that we humans have come up with. But most people do not have a firm understanding of what science is. Even those who do science as a job do not always seem to have a big picture understanding of it.
Science is not about certainty. There is no certainty in science. There seems to be a lot of confusion on this point. Science is a very creative endeavor that tries to get closer to certainty, but it never gets there. Science doesn’t even try. An individual scientist may feel certain about this or that, but the community of scientist are never certain, and there will always be someone trying to prove that other scientists are wrong.
Science is about discovering ideas that work. Science is very pragmatic and is all about what works. It might be that the knowledge that scientist discovers, which works and contributes to the betterment of humanity is also absolutely true. But we can never be certain of that truth because we can never know if there is some unknown fact that will change our understanding. But if we have some knowledge, and it seems to work and can be reproduced by other scientist, and that knowledge can be used to do useful stuff, like build a computer or launch a rocket, then that is good enough. It is important to understand though, that as useful as that knowledge may be–it might be enough to take us to the moon–but it is not absolutely true. An example of this is Issac Newton’s laws of gravity. Newton’s ideas are so good they are still taught in schools, and they do so because his ideas are very useful, but they were superseded by Einstein’s Theory of Relativity. Newton’s ideas are wrong, at least in a sense, but no one cares because his ideas are so useful.
Society and Individuals
According to Margaret Thatcher, “…there’s no such thing as society. There are individual men and women and there are families.”
First, an argument could be made that a family is a miniature society. But I’m going to pass on that discussion and argue that a society is just as real as individuals. To make the claim that Margaret Thatcher is making is like saying that there are no buildings, just individual bricks and 2×4’s. Bricks and 2×4’s are the building blocks of buildings, and individuals are the building blocks of societies and communities and families.
Human beings, individual human beings, are social animals. Societies are built from individual humans, and human depend on those societies for our survival and happiness.
Which is more important, a well-ordered society or individual freedom? To my thinking this is something of a false choice. There cannot be individual freedom without a well-ordered society. Both are necessary. But, while establishing a society is easy, even natural, establishing individual freedoms for everyone is much harder. That is one reason freedoms should be glorified and highlighted, but we must not forget though that those freedoms cannot exist without a society.
But a society can be well ordered and deny freedoms to its citizens, just as it can be well ordered and promote freedoms. In fact, a well-ordered society without freedoms seems to be the natural way of things.
Alternatively, what if the society is not well ordered, a kind of anarchy. The natural course of anarchy, as I see it, is to first give rise to gangs and war lords and dictators, then if the people in those societies are lucky there will be some pushback for democratic reforms, although that can take a very long time.
A well-ordered society comes before individual freedoms. The reason for this is simple: There can be no freedom without a society.
Philosophy have struggled for thousands of years to devise a consistent and useable system of philosophy. Many noble efforts have been made to find a great ethical system. This is a good thing to do, but it has proven to be frustratingly difficult. It’s not just having a bunch of commandments telling everyone what to do, it’s a justification of why those commandments are the right ones. After all, anyone can come up with a list of commandments. It is okay to have rules, but it is also to have some justification for those rules.
Obviously, ethical systems cannot be connected to a belief in and it must be humanistic. Statements about gods will are not appropriate for ethics because the Evolving Monkey assumes, believes, that there are no gods. The ethics of this blog are human centered, that’s because we are human. This does not mean that animals and nature must be ignored. Humans are totally dependent on our environment and ecology. Besides, who wants to breath dirty air?
Finding a great ethical system that works well in all situations is important. And I have ideas on that, but I will write about them as I develop them more fully.
A government is not a business. This is because it is not being run for a profit. Perhaps it is more like a non-profit organization, but even this falls short. A government has many conflicting forces working on it. One group is trying hard to pull it this way, another group wants to pull it that way. Therefore, a system of checks and balances is so important. It prevents wild and unpredictable changes happening too quickly.
The most important part of the government of the United States is its checks and balances. Democracy is only one part of that overall system. Democracy is the most important part of those checks and balances but without the many other checks and balances in the American system of government, the United States would not last.
A slow government is frustrating for some, but it is necessary. Yet, that does not mean a government like the United States’ could not be better and more efficient. I am not sure what changes would be necessary to make the United States government more efficient with adding more risk of sudden, risky changes by well-meaning and not so well-meaning politicians..
The Evolving Monkey believes there is a real world that is separated from any consciousness. In other words, this reality exist wither anything is conscious of it or not. Exists requires no consciousness. This is not the kind of thing that can be proven scientifically, but I believe it best explains the reality that we observe.
There is a Truth out there. There are things that exit, forces and differentials and matter, and they exist regardless of any consciousness. We humans and other life forms are simply a byproduct of existence. We are not the reason for it.
The nature of and actions of this stuff that exists is the domain of science.