banquet for bacteria

Because everything is relative (including the meaning of words) it can be a challenge to think, speak or act meaningfully across multiple axes. Consider, for example, people going on a picnic. They get to the picnic spot and after settling down they begin eating. Inevitably, someone (often a child) will help zerself to gigantic portions of food, but be unable to eat it all (the "...eyes bigger than your stomach..." syndrome) and will then throw the uneaten food away.

Someone else (often a parent) will criticise the child along these lines: "Don't throw that food away, there are people starving in xyz*. What a waste! I paid good money for that. And another thing, haven't I told you not to litter? You are spoiling it for everyone, making a mess like that!"

Actually, from another perspective the food does not go to waste, because bugs and worms eat part of it, and bacteria eat the rest. It is only "waste" from a limited, self-centric and self-serving perspective. Our "waste" is manna from heaven for bacteria. Likewise, the food that is "thrown away" is only "litter" from a limited, self-centric and self-serving perspective. From another perspective the food thrown away represents just another model of resource allocation.

The underlying principle is that anything and everything is seen through a particular pair of spectacles, not necessarily the correct pair (whatever "correct" means) and absolutely not the only pair. In fact, there is no "correct" pair of spectacles. From the perspective of Everything That Is (ETI) there's no such thing as waste. Nothing is ever wasted.

Is the human perspective the one and only? No. Does the human perspective override everything else. No. (We tend to think it does, and we certainly behave as if it does, but we are wrong on that score (whatever "wrong" means!))

Do humans have more rights than other creatures and things? (Excluding the rights we grant themselves) the answer is "no". Do we have the right to use and abuse nature to the detriment of all else, including ourselves? Well, the bible says that god granted humankind dominion over nature, but I'm not having a bar of that.

Humans tend to believe that we are the beginning and end and centre of everything, (it's a fallacy and it's pathetic, so you could call it the pathetic fallacy). How we think about waste (per the discussion above) is one example of the pathetic fallacy. Another is how we took centuries to move from believing that the universe revolved around our planet, Earth (Terra), to believing that the universe revolved around our sun, Sol, to believing that the universe comprises only our galaxy, the Milky Way, etc etc.

A thing called the anthropic principle is an extreme instance of the fallacy. What a load of nonsense: that the universe is surprisingly hospitable to the emergence of us. Yes, well the universe is as it is and was as it was and that's why, how, when and wherefore we emerged. If the universe were different to the way it is and was, well then different beings may or may not have emerged. Who cares! Talk about tautologies. It's just the old, tired "argument by design" of the proof of the existence of God, usually mounted by people who are either ignorant and/or should know better. Let's just leave it at that.

Copyright © S R Schwarz 2007. All rights reserved.

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