Saturday, July 08, 2006

Pondering about the fate of humans

Famed British astrophysicist and best-selling author has turned to Yahoo Answers, a new feature in which anyone can pose a question for fellow Internet users to try to answer. By Friday afternoon, nearly 17,000 Yahoo Inc. users had responded.

(Officials at the University of Cambridge, where Hawking is a mathematics professor, confirmed that Hawking wrote the message but said he would have no further comment.)

Hawking's question was: "In a world that is in chaos politically, socially and environmentally, how can the human race sustain another 100 years?"

Some of the answers were short — "get rid of nuclear weapons" — and others vague — "Somehow we will." Many were doubtful: "I don't think it is possible unless we expand into space," one user wrote.

A number of people suggested thinking differently, ending bickering or fostering cooperation.

In a June 13 speech in Hong Kong, Hawking said the survival of the human race depends on its ability to find new homes elsewhere in the universe because there's an increasing risk that a disaster will destroy Earth.

He said that if humans can avoid killing themselves in the next 100 years, they should have space settlements that can continue without support from Earth.

Over the next week, Yahoo employees are expected to work with Hawking to sift through the answers and select one or several to highlight as best responses.

I have thought long and hard about what my answer would be, and I say for humans to survive we MUST abandon religion for starters. I know that is a rather radical statement, but religious beliefs have brought us some of the most terrifying and bloody events in the history of civilization and serves as a "ball and chain" to the ancient past and backward thinking. Sam Harris writes, "Religious faith represents so uncompromising a misuse of the power of our minds that it forms a kind of perverse, cultural singularity—a vanishing point beyond which rational discourse proves impossible." Since many of those who hold the power believe their ancient superstitious texts to be the "true" word of their gods, we may end up screwed because in reality there are no gods or supernatural beings to save us from ourselves. Harris states that "We can no longer ignore the fact that billions of our neighbors believe in the metaphysics of martyrdom, or in the literal truth of the book of Revelation, or any of the other fantastical notions that have lurked in the minds of the faithful for millennia—because our neighbors are now armed with chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons.

Do you think the human race can sustain another 100 years?


CyberKitten said...

Do I believe we can survive another 100 years - Hopefully... but I'm far from certain.

I'm afraid that I'm coming to the opinion that we're just too stupid a species to survive much longer.

Sam Harris is right. We have peoples who believe that the world was 'created' 6000 years ago and that Armageddon is coming to clense the world of evil... and they have nukes to make sure it happens... That's not exactly a formula for a confident future.

But I can still hope.

Duane said...

I believe humans will survive (barring an event such as an asteroid from the outside). What I am less optimistic about is what that survival will be like. We are now like roaches: we crawl and survive everywhere finding and using every little niche we can.

I wouldn't be surprised to see us enter a dark age where the nation state system breaks down and where there is mass starvation leaving behind a new strain of perhaps more highly evolved humans free of the loyalties of nation state that got us here. One day we must have a global federation of states. It is the only way. Getting there however may well be a rough ride of hundreds of years.


I think as duane, and as Godesky says in his 30 theses; "Civilization is fragile, humans not."

It appears as inevitable, may be the question shall be; How to do it painless? And accept it.

Your idea is very good. We have to start by the religion dilema.