I’m going to start this post off by very clearly stating that I am a spiritual person, and a general belief in some sort of encompassing deity – whether it be some sort of life force or clock maker, it doesn’t matter – is extremely important to my everyday way of thinking; however, having said that, I see no reason why a belief in religion needs to be tied into the general belief of human exceptionalism.
Maybe this is just a tad nihilistic, but the idea of a deep rooted belief in human exceptionalism seems likes a waste to me. Simply, it seems to perpetuate a belief that we, as a species, are able to do whatever we wish with our lives and everything will work out fine. This human exceptionalism makes us incredibly self-centered. It makes us entitled, and selfish, and lazy.
For a large part of human history, people have been spoon fed a belief that this world, this universe, was created solely for ourselves. People have been made to believe, speaking from a viewpoint of Western religions, that this idea of human exceptionalism should be the norm. I will not deny that many things have been accomplished thanks to this view. As this blog points out, in rebuttal to an argument against human exceptionalism, the world in many ways did adapt to us instead of vice-versa. Cats, for example, seemingly did this.
I too have mentioned, in this earlier post, how the world we know is totally built upon the thousands of small – and not so small – advancements set forth by the billions of people who came before us. People are definitely capable of amazing things. We have changed the entire world around ourselves, to suit our needs and our belief of human exceptionalism. We have changed the world so that now, when we look out on it, there is really no possible way in which someone could not believe in human exceptionalism.
That, then, is the problem. Human exceptionalism shouldn’t be a pre-determined and accepted way of life. By accepting, right off the bat, that humans are the best beings in the universe we become completely complacent. We longer strive to reach the heights we are capable of. Instead, looking around, it seems that this belief of human exceptionalism becomes more and more mythic.
Of course, there are still scads of people alive who are doing their best to improve the world; there are also untold amounts of people who look at this belief in human exceptionalism as a self-fulfilling prophecy. That worries me. That general belief that just by existing we are entitled to something, to being exceptional, is perhaps one of the worst things to believe.