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Are humans living up to their potential? Are we evolving at a normal pace or is something hindering our progress?


Are humans living up to their potential? You were pretty evenly split with most of you adamant when you answered yes or no.

I believe if we cannot do much better it may be time for Noah again if you catch my drift.

Are we evolving at a normal pace or is something hindering our progress?
This is really a two part question: Are we evolving at a normal pace? The majority says we are but lots of you wanted me to define evolving & normal

Is something hindering our progress? In order of magnitude here are the adjectives you used to describe either man or his problems: poor nutrition, selfishness, greed, violent, lazy, religious, unsustainable, fear, habit, population, intolerant, rapaciousness, waste, corrupt, pollution, insanity, stupid, predator, parasitic....... WOW!

Personally I have been asking this question for 47 years and one year ago I got an answer that made sense to me- lack of nutrition. I still believe if we got the proper nutrition throughout our whole lifetime we would be healthy enough to avoid almost all of the above problems and the problems we still encountered would be much easier to solve.

I want to thank all of you for sharing & participating as each and everyone of you contributed in some way. I have learned from each of you and I hope you feel the same way and please remember.
"Kindness is the best Currency"- Keith W Henline Aloha

You still have a few hours to comment----- You may have the last word.


Closing Statement from Keith W Henline

Is something hindering our progress? In order of magnitude here are the adjectives you used to describe either man or his problems: poor nutrition, selfishness, greed, violent, lazy, religious, unsustainable, fear, habit, population, intolerant, rapaciousness, waste, corrupt, pollution, insanity, stupid, predator, parasitic....... WOW!

I still believe the underlying problem is nutrition! All those other negative adjectives about humans I believe would all be less severe or go away completely if we were getting the proper food which would lead use to better health, which would lead us to a better attitude towards each other and life in general.

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    • Sep 27 2013: Moe welcome to TED, I see you haven't even taken your coat off and have already started a conversation, I love it. Jump right into the fire and get a feel for it.
      You are in good company, almost no one in here thinks that planets and animals are working in perfect harmony so you should be real happy with that knowledge but you are not. Why is that?
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        • Sep 27 2013: You have seen the light or lack of it. The bottom line to all the senseless suffering in the world is always manmade. We slaughter 150 billion animals each year for our pleasure. No sane person can look in the mirror and say "yea, so what?"
          We all know it and most of do not like it and yet we have done it for so long we have accepted it. This fact alone tells me that most of the human race is certifiably nuts. I did not grasp the immensity of the problem until we elected Crazy AWOL George not once but twice. We have been through four wars and killed millions of innocent men, women and children based on lies. We let the bankers steal trillions of dollars from us and no one even went to jail in fact most got bonuses, raises and cabinet positions! The biggest thieves in America are in charge of all of our money! We pollute our own land, water and the very air we breath, how crazy is that? Let me assure you, it is not the animals and plants that are crazy! But if you need more proof I would be glad to explain.
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        • Sep 28 2013: Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime. Chinese Proverb
          You can get almost any knowledge you want from your computer. I have learned a lot by simply learning how to ask the Google Search. Another excellent source of knowledge is Wikipedia and my third choice is Youtube. Khan Academy is another place to find out about almost anything. Simply type in what you want in simple words or phrases.

          Yes we are all a little crazy and yes it is what makes life interesting. The Buddha said happiness is found in the middle way, not the extremes. A little crazy but not too crazy, in between. Thank you very much for the nice compliment.
  • Sep 25 2013: Nothing is "in perfect harmony"--that's just a pretty lie. Animals are and always have been "red in tooth and claw", and plants conduct constant chemical warfare. We just happen to be very good at doing what all other organisms also do. Mentally separating "nature" from "man" is part of the problem. Everything we do is "natural", but that doesn't mean everything we do is good, smart, or desirable.
    • Sep 25 2013: "Mentally separating "nature" from "man" is part of the problem. Everything we do is "natural", but that doesn't mean everything we do is good, smart, or desirable." I believe this to be a wise statement.
      In order to see what I call perfect harmony you may want to look at the world from the space station. Most of our astronauts come back with a very different point of view of the world. I do not have a problem with the violence used by nature or man that is both justified and beneficial to the planet. My problem is the unjustified violence by man simply for sport, profit or pleasure.
      • Sep 26 2013: Define "beneficial to the planet" in a way that is not predicated on purely arbitrary assumptions. What is "the planet"? Are you aware that the greatest "ecological disasters" in Earth's history happened long before humans appeared? The worst of them was the destruction of Earth's atmosphere and its replacement by poisonous gas. I refer, of course, to the replacement of the reducing atmosphere by the oxidizing atmosphere. Likewise, the land was doing quite nicely before it was invaded by "plants", which set about damaging the terrain and altering it to "suit" their needs. Then the plants on land, which had been safe for quite some time, began to sustain severe ecological damage when land animals showed up. Likewise, during the cretaceous, ecological balances were again disrupted horribly when angiosperms took advantage of the damage done by grazing animals to displace gymnosperms.

        What is the objective--objective--criterion for "beneficial"? Is humanity actually some kind of extraterrestrial organism? Is our apparently conscious will innately "unnatural", if so, how did it arise?

        Is it evolution for everything else but Creationism for humans? How can we objectively delineate any human behavior as "unnatural"?
        • Sep 26 2013: Good questions Bryan... What are the answers? You are the man with all that college training, what do you think? I'm looking for answers, that is why I ask the questions. I have my own guesses but I don't pretend to know all the answers. If I did I would probably go sit under the Bodhi Tree, eat figs and teach.
      • Sep 27 2013: My answers: We are natural. Our minds are natural. Our thoughts are natural. Our acts are natural. Our stupid, stupid, stupid decisions are 100% natural. I have watched insects eat out all their resources in an area and then move on. They did not exercise husbandry. Instead, they did their equivalent of strip-mining. What they did was perfectly natural, but from a broader and longer intellect's standpoint, it was also a bad idea. Being natural didn't prevent them from doing what is not sustainable. What is natural? If we look at the world at large for an example of natural, then natural means ecological strip-mining. Eat all you can get, reproduce as much as you can. Fight each other over all the bits and pieces. Crap on everything. This is natural. Any illusion of "balance" is a product of the inefficiency of the various species.

        It is completely natural for us to strip mine the world and spew our pollution willy-nilly. It is completely natural for us to exterminate anything that competes with us, however indirectly, for resources. For us to truly be "in harmony with nature" means that we would be rushing headlong into global extinction, since nature's example is to take all you can as fast as you can, discharge your wast heedlessly, and reproduce as much as you possibly can manage.

        The idea that there is some kind of magical "balance" in nature is a product of Romantic mysticism without reference to reality. The Romantics rejected the aesthetic of the Enlightenment, which was probably excessively mechanistic and rationalistic. But they went too far in the other direction. While the Enlightenment saw "nature" as a hostile "other" that had to be "tamed" and essentially brought "under God" (i.e., society). The Romantics saw "nature" as God, to be worshiped and emulated. But just as the Enlightenment misrepresented "nature" to suit its agenda, Romanticism misrepresented "nature".

        next message..
      • Sep 27 2013: The fundamental error, which has been propagated for millenia around the world, regardless of culture, is to posit an ontological division between "human" and "nature". So long as "human" (or "artificial") and "nature" are automatically "opposite", then this will continue. What is "artificial"? Are termite mounds artificial? If not, why not? Because termites just follow internal programming and don't design the way that humans design?

        What we have to do is realize that 1) Humans are 100% natural in all we do. 2) Natural is not synonymous with "good". 3) Natural behavior is unsustainable except in the face of vicious counter-competition. 4) We have no competitors.

        We merely do what any species does when it has no competition. We take all we can, as fast as we can. This is purely natural. If we wish to survive with any comfort and happiness in the long run, we must admit the four above points and commit to "self-competing". That is, we must engage in "human husbandry", not from any silly nature worship but from simple common sense. Are we willing to throw away long-term comfort for the sake of short-term comfort? Sound familiar? It's no longer a question of "natural" or "harmony of nature". It now comes down to ancient, fundamental moral questions. Are we to be immediate hedonists or exercise moderation? We aren't allowed to put things in this way, because that runs counter the dominant paradigm, which links personal hedonism with population-level moderation (left-wing) or links personal moderation with population-level hedonism (right-wing).

        One place to start is to get people to realize that the distinction between "natural" and "artificial" is flat-out false. Everything is "natural", but that doesn't make it good.
        • Sep 27 2013: "My answers: We are natural. Our minds are natural. Our thoughts are natural. Our acts are natural. Our stupid, stupid, stupid decisions are 100% natural"
          "Everything is "natural", but that doesn't make it good."
          Bryan your point is well taken and I am inclined to agree that man is not a separate problem, just another problem. I was wrong to separate man and I will try to rephrase the question. Because man is the current largest offender, man sticks out like a large bump in the road but as evolution continues we can expect that bump to be naturally smoothed out over time. This does not sound like collegiate knowledge, who is your teacher?
      • Sep 27 2013: I graduated from Earlham College decades ago. Since then, I have been a working scientist, but Earlham still formed the foundation of my outlook.

        I would also hope that we start taking an active role in smoothing out this particular bump. When the world as a whole "smooths out a bump", it generally involves a lot of death.
        • Sep 27 2013: Death is not so bad, it is another natural process. Losing the fear of death is extremely liberating, after all there are a lot worse things in life than death, for instance fear. In fact death is the ultimate solution to all problems isn't it? I have seen the face of death and been spared for some reason I still do not understand. Amazingly the face of death is also the face of life. I'm sure you understand.
          In high school I had one chemistry teacher that had a profound effect on me, not because of his brilliance which he was but because he would tell us anything about anything, no holes barred. This was in 1964 when he explained how maggots were the ultimate surgeons for cancer because they would only eat the diseased and dead flesh leaving only the healthy flesh. Of course the AMA would never allow it because it sounds disgusting even though it works better than any surgeons knife could. It took forty years and thousands of deaths by surgeon for AMA to finally implement it as it is today. Those kind of teachers are systematically removed from the schools and Universities, that is a another problem. Thank you for patience and sharing your knowledge with us.
  • W T 100+

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    Sep 25 2013: I may not have the answer to your question Keith, but I'm sure Darwin did not help things much with his survival of the species.....or am I wrong?

    Wouldn't it have been wonderful if instead of "Survival", it would have been called "Symbiosis of the species"?
    • Sep 25 2013: "Symbiosis of the species" Yes, that is exactly how nature works and I believe we would be a lot better off if our species contributed more. However the problems got way out of control long before Darwin was even a twinkle in his mothers eye. We have been a crazy species for all recorded history and then some. I just know we can do better, I see the evidence all over the world. I see brilliance, I see compassion, I see extraordinary humans, I see healthy, strong, happy individual's. The question is why don't we all have more of these traits? Why do we keep breeding and manufacturing a species that has less and less of these fine traits instead of more of the bad.
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        Sep 25 2013: So many quotes in my collection come to mind as I am reading your response.
        However, I will just share what little I have observed in humanity through my reading and life experience.

        There appear to be two forces at play.
        The good and the bad.
        The ying and the yang.
        The black and the white.
        Or however else you may wish to describe it.

        I feel it is our choice as to which of the two forces we succumb to.
        You choose to cooperate, to love, to be kind.
        Or you choose the opposite.
        I think, for the most part, people may be good, and have off days, and/or weaknesses which they may give into........we are not perfect.

        To see a change, a real change earth wide Keith, we need to change human nature, we have to go from being human, to being humane.

        And who has the power to change all of human nature?

        What happens in a field when there are weeds among the wheat?
        • Sep 25 2013: When I look at most animal species two thing come to mind: each one is an individual with slightly different characteristics and almost all are healthy, the other thing that stands out is they all work together for the common good of the species with a healthy respect for all the other species.
          When I look at humans I see a huge diversity in characteristics and most are physically unhealthy and almost all are mentally ill to some degree. The other thing that stands out is they do not work together, have enormous distain for there leadership, other species and even there own species. There are exceptions but they are few and far out numbered.
          I think we can and must do better.

          And who has the power to change all of human nature? I do, you do, we all have the power, who has the will?
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        Sep 25 2013: Your observations are worthy of noting.

        We all have the free will to choose how we want to live our life.
        What happens is we each think the other person is the one that needs to change.
        Many individuals do not tolerate those whose belief systems are different from their own.
        Sometimes they have very little empathy, and even less patience to sit and have a quiet conversation on the differences between their belief systems........arguments, and ad-hominem remarks take over much of the time.

        Keith, there are forces at play in humanity. Forces which keep humans from finding peace and working together. Forget world peace for a minute and symbiosis among our species. Look at the family unit. Shouldn't harmony and peace and symbiosis be at play in this small scale representation of humanity? And what do you see?

        If we really think down deep inside, we are very much unable to do the right thing day in and day out. We are imperfect. Our selfish inclinations oftentimes manages to rear it's ugly head............for others it is ever present in their speech and actions.

        This is why I say that there must exist forces beyond our control.
        And that human nature needs to be changed..........and although we have the power to change (somewhat), what is the best motivation for doing so? What has been the proven motivation behind the permanent changes in human's that have attempted to modify or change their behavior?

        The answer depends on who you ask.
        • Sep 26 2013: That's quite a mouthful Mary and I can tell you have given this considerable thought. I love your perspectives and believe you have an ancient and wise soul.
          "If you can't find peace in the world look in your country, if you can't find peace in your country look in your town, if you can't find peace in your town look in your community, if you can't find peace in your community look in your family, if you can't find peace in your family look in your mind, if you can't find peace in your mind, create it."
          Do you know who said that?
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        Sep 27 2013: I spend a great deal of time giving this topic thought.
        I also spend a great deal of time discussing it with others.
        I hope you and I will live to see a better more peaceful world Keith.
        • Sep 27 2013: We already have.

          First we learn.
          Then we teach.

          Then we learn.
          Then we teach.

          Then we learn.
          Then we teach.

          Then we learn.
          Then we teach.
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        Sep 27 2013: Yes, somewhat..............thank you.........
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      Sep 29 2013: I think Darwin should have chosen a different word for "Origin".
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        Sep 29 2013: Like what?
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          Sep 29 2013: the title "Origin of the Species" implies that speciation took place subsequent to creation. That necessitates the explanation that all living things can be traced back to a single common ancestor. That necessitates the explanation that the unfathomable diversity of life forms developed over eons of time. That necessitates the explanation that each species came into being through a process of purely random selection of genetic mutations. All of this happened with no design or control. So, I think the word origin is inappropriate in the title of Charlie's seminal (no pun intended) magnus opus. I think "A Theory of Speciation" would have been more suited to reality.
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        Sep 29 2013: I definitely agree.
        As a matter of fact, today, as I was reading through an article on the fossil record and macroevolutionary changes (what a mouthful that was), I read the following:

        "So many intermediate forms have been discovered between fish and amphibians, between amphibians and reptiles, between reptiles and mammals, and along the primate lines of descent that it often is difficult to identify categorically when the transition occurs from one to another particular species."

        "That is why many researchers agree that this vast and detailed record shows that all the major groups of animals appeared suddenly and remained virtually unchanged, with many species disappearing as suddenly as they arrived."

        I have a friend that always says, "Belief in evolution is an act of faith" (clears throat)
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          Sep 29 2013: The fossil record has provided no verified instance of one species evolving into another species resulting in two species where there was only one. Creation (includes I.D.) and Evolution are two of the faith-based choices every human has to pick from. I suspect the third choice is the most popular. It is best summed-up by the phrase: "I don't know, I doubt if anyone knows, and I don't care either way anyway."
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        Sep 30 2013: You know what I have found a bit curious, the amount of individuals who say "I don't know" because they simply do not want to think about it. They do not say "I don't know" because they have read and studied both sides, and realized that it's impossible to choose a side, but they say "I don't know" because it's the path of least resistance..................THAT is a bit disturbing to me. I do hope that soon the question is settled once and for all, and that all this back and forth will go away.
  • Sep 24 2013: Nature and harmony don't mix. At all.
    The natural world is all one big mess of cut throat plants and animals in constant competition. The ones that are better at it end up on top, and the others go extinct. Humans are just better at it than the rest is all. There is no shortage of other animals and plants which cause other species to go extinct. Humans just do it more often.

    Man was never in sync with the natural world, and neither is any other animal or plant. There can be no synchronization unless you have a goal in mind, after all, and the closest thing the natural world has to a goal is evolution-- a statistically driven never ending process of elimination. Not too harmonious honestly...
    • Sep 24 2013: "If the solution is not clear move closer or further away"- Keith W Henline
      Plants and animals do compete for real estate but that is just one part of their symbiosis relationship as Mary M. describes above. All species are linked together and what one does effects the others, the evidence is overwhelming. Even quantum physics is verifying what we already suspected which is all things are connected.
      • Sep 25 2013: A symbiosis relationship can be parasitic as easily as mutualistic.
        Species are linked together in ways that make it easier for each individual species to survive. This definition includes within in completely screwing over the other species if needed. Plants and animals have been turning each other extinct long before humans ever came along.

        Humanity seems less adjusted to the natural world because unlike most animals, we're more prone to changing our environment than changing ourselves. This includes modifying the other species around us through things such as selective breeding, and elimination if necessary.
        Its just a more efficient way of going about what every other plant and animal on the planet would have done if they could. Screw over the competition and take over.

        What you see as a lack of harmony or elegance, is merely pragmatic efficiency. Like most pragmatic solutions to a competition, there's no sportsmanship about it.

        I suppose you could get closer to "harmony" with nature by reverting to the ways of our ancestors. The "natural" way to live as human beings would be as hunter gatherers, with an average life expectancy of 30, usually due to disease, starvation, or a violent death, as well as a extremely high infant mortality.
        Seeing as "harmony with nature" involves a short, hard and brutal life, I much rather the current system.
  • Oct 6 2013: There is no such thing as a "normal pace" of evolution. Such talk is ignorant superstition. There is no "pace" or "plan" to evolution. There is no "intent", no direction it is "supposed" to go in. Banish these superstitions from your mind. Evolution is the combination of multiple stochastic processes that have no purpose and no plan. There is only "direction" after the fact. There is no such thing as "progress" in evolution.
    • Oct 6 2013: Thanks for sharing Bryan, even if you are the only one in the world who believes what you just said, you have every right to say it and believe it. However if you are interested in promoting "your" ideas you may want to start your own conversation and lighten up on attempted character assassinations.
      • Oct 7 2013: How is this a "character assassination"? Please cite the actual scientific evidence that there is a "normal pace" for evolution. Don't worry about going over my head--I can handle pretty much anything in the biological literature so long as there isn't a great deal of differential equations involved. Then I have to pull out the reference works. Please cite the actual scientific evidence of "progress" in evolution.
        • Oct 7 2013: It's not what you are saying, everybody has a right to an opinion. It's when you attempt to belittle your opponent: "Such talk is ignorant superstition, just a fairy tale, people are generally ignorant, Flat-out wrong"

          You are a well educated man and your ideas will stand on there own merit without all the extra stuff. I have read your papers and you don't talk to scientific community like that so why would you come in here and be rude with people who you may feel are less educated that yourself. I know you can do better, I would bet your life on it, it just takes a little patience.
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      Oct 7 2013: Stating a fact is no character assasination. The only characters here are on the screen and assasinating some will still leave trillions behind. Bryan, your mind is way ahead of the rest, and unfortunately you can be the victim of your own success. I hope you can live with that. Future, implying direction, is a mental construct and not a fact. Our language is so full of assumptions that it is like walking in a minefield. And facts are suffocated by assumptions, they hardly ever se the light of day and even when they do, they appear as strange and unusual events.
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    JB E

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    Oct 6 2013: I say the one thing that is slowing human progress down the most is organized religion. It started in the middle ages and still plagues humanity today.
    • Oct 6 2013: Religion is just an idea, just like the laws that man makes up. The only thing that gives them any power at all is human belief. If everyone stopped believing in the idea it would dissolve. Who is to say what you believe is any better or worst that what the person next to you believes. Let me give you an example: A few hundred years ago everybody believed the world was flat, it was a wonderful idea and everybody knew it was true. The idea was preached from the pulpit, taught in all the universities and printed in all the scientific publications of the time. So how many believe that the world is flat today? http://www.theflatearthsociety.org/
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        JB E

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        Oct 6 2013: Religion is a bit more complicated than just an idea, it has ties to specific regions in the brain and can be turned on and off threw inter cranial direct current stimulation. The problem with it, is the behaviors associated with religion and religious beliefs are irrational, illogical and counter productive as well as outright destructive. Aside from these aspects of behavior that may or may not be considered detrimental to human evolution, religion can be dismissive of scientific discoveries and religious organizations by mission of action can and have historically sought out to sensor and block scientific communication and experimentation. In my opinion all these things put together are detrimental to progression of human evolution as I would like to see it progress.
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        Oct 6 2013: Keith and JB E,
        I agree that religion is an idea....a human construct.

        It doesn't seem like your example Keith, regarding the world being flat or round, is an adequate comparison. Within a short time of the idea that the earth is round (a hundred years?), people globally started believing that the earth is indeed round. Whereas, many concepts of religions have been alive and well for a couple thousand years? So, there seems to be a little difference there...yes?

        I do not agree JB E that all elements of all religions are "illogical", "counter productive" and "outright destructive". Most religions have a foundation of the golden rule....do unto others....we are all one.....love and respect each other....etc. etc. etc.

        Some people use religion as a valuable life guide and genuinely LIVE it, rather than preach it and live their lives in contradiction to what they preach. Some religious people can also be dismissive of scientific discoveries, and have sometimes moved to sensor and block scientific information.

        Religious beliefs can either contribute to humanity in a beneficial way, or extremists, under the guise of religion, can do whatever they want, based on their individual interpretation of religious beliefs.

        I believe that humans live up to our potential, when we think, feel, and evaluate our beliefs as individuals, rather than blindly following any belief without genuine exploration.
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          JB E

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          Oct 6 2013: I agree that not all religions are destructive, perhaps I was over generalizing. Buddhist come to mind and I would concede that all may not be counter productive. I would argue that they don't promote progress at the same pace as pure science and logic. I think they may even cordon off huge swaths of fundamental scientific exploration when directed to questions of the origins of the universe and of consciousness. I personally feel it's like a bad habit and can lead people to remain ignorant where as given the chance they would otherwise be quite intelligent. I do agree that historically religion has benefited society but at the same time it has been just as harmful specifically Christianity and Catholicism come to mind as well as Muslim. I just don't think it's necessary to have it be a guide to how to live and when we can live with out the fear tactics of religion to force a morality on us, will be the day we evolve.
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      Oct 6 2013: Religions, like any institution (be they political, economic, military) have a tendency to turn into ideologies. This means that a role-reversal has taken place, ie: the institution that was originally intended to serve humankind ends up having humankind serve it. (In the Old Testament this role-reversal process is called idolatry).

      Of all the various religions in the world, the religion of science is the one that is most unhelpfully limiting, imposing its narrow scientific world-view in just about every area of life, especially in medicine, food-production and economics.
      Its fundamentalist proponents preach a world-view whereby the only relevant knowledge is that which can be measured by the 5 physical senses - which is extremely limiting. 6th and higher senses are dogmatically dismissed out of hand because they can't be measured. No role then for intuition and inspiration to help solve the world's problems.

      However, at what I would call the top-end of true science, where original thinkers still can make a living far away from the funding manipulation that determines limited applied science, there is a growing convergence between science and spirituality. It is here that there may be hope, once the current tranche of religious-conservative scientists in the top jobs have retired.
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        Oct 6 2013: Joshua,
        You say that scientific involvement in medicine is/was "unhelpfully limiting"???
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          Oct 7 2013: Hello Colleen,
          Every time I go to the dentist I am very grateful for "science's involvement in medicine"; it's a much better experience than it was 40 years ago.

          I am suggesting that because science is probably the ruling paradigm of our era, any distortion is likely to have far-reaching consequences. Science's promise to the world is to manipulate the world to "how we want it".
          What happens though is that the world is manipulated through science to "how SOME people want it", for their own limited benefit.
          This is a well-recognised path in the growth of any ideology; they tend to grow towards serving a few at the top - rather than the whole of humanity. Political, economic, religious and militaristic ideologies all follow the same pattern. I guess this is why in the Old Testament a "jubilee year" is recommended every 50 years to even things out again.
          The reason I have highlighted (picked on?) science in this respect is because of its pervasiveness in all areas of life, and therefore any limitation in its serving the few at the top is "unhelpfully limiting" for the good of the whole. I suppose one could charge politics likewise.
          As a suggestion to "unblock" that limitation, I added the last paragraph in favour of the contribution of pure science and its meeting with spirituality (in the field of consciousness research, I forgot to add).
          Thank you for helping me get clearer!
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      Oct 6 2013: It seems like we may be on the same page JB E?

      I believe that it is how practices and beliefs are used by individuals that cause them to be more or less productive. People have choices, to open their hearts and minds to more information.....or not. If some folks want to embrace a belief without exploring or evaluating it, that is their choice. I know lots of people who practice a religious or philosophical belief, and are also open and accepting of other people's beliefs.

      I am aware of the hypocrisy and contradictions in various religions, and I agree that some extremists within religious organizations have not used religion for the benefit of humankind.

      I don't believe it is necessary as a guide for the life adventure either, and that does not stop me from recognizing that there ARE people who choose religions and holy books as life guides.....some of these folks use it to benefit themselves and all of humankind.....some use it simply to benefit themselves in ways that DO NOT benefit all of humankind.

      I wholeheartedly agree that the fear tactics are useless, and without those elements, people could evolve at a faster pace. To truly evolve, I believe it is essential to be able to think, feel, and evaluate our lives without a foundation of fear. To truly experience our full potential, I think it is beneficial to be more open minded/open hearted than some religions allow.
  • Sep 28 2013: Ever since humans fell out of the trees, greed has driven them!
    Humans now have devised ways to skin & gut animals as the animal lives on.
    We raise & kill more then we use & trash the rest.
    Could go on & on here but don't want to rant!
    • Sep 28 2013: Ok Gale, is there a problem and if so what do you think is the cure?
  • Sep 25 2013: You are not really proposing an idea that can be proven or refuted by rational debate. You are stating your interpretation of the natural world. My interpretation is different.

    Man is the most trainable of the great apes. Otherwise, man is not exceptional among animal species. Animals present us with an amazing variety of behaviors. When considered in the broadest context, man is just one more animal. When a new species (man) causes a major imbalance in nature, inevitably that balance is eventually restored, one way or another.
    • Sep 25 2013: Excellent perspective Barry just what I am looking for: cause and effect. As with some of the most complicated mathematical problems sometimes they is more than one correct answer.
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    Sep 25 2013: Wheat
    • Sep 25 2013: Ken, would you care to elaborate, I know what you are talking about but some others may not...
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        Sep 26 2013: Gobekli Tepe, it is where we first harnessed wild wheat changing us from hunter gatherers to include farming but this might put a spanner in the works and haven't researched it further, Australasian aborigines crossed the pacific sometime in the last 50.000 years where they colonized Central and South America. They sailed across in canoes, they didn't cross the land bridge.

        Wheat started us on the path we find ourselves in today.
        • Sep 26 2013: Ken you have brought up a good point. Some think of modern civilization starting a couple thousands years BC but this is clear evidence there were some very bright people on the planet at least 12,000 BC building extraordinary structures and living in communities that farmed, stored and shared resources.

          If anyone is interested here is a very informative video on the subject:
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        Sep 26 2013: There's this as well, it justifies an archeologist that had her career destroyed when she put forth a paper stating that man was in the America's over 50,000 years ago.

        " Tracking the first Americans" A BBC documentary.

        • Sep 26 2013: This is one of the problems with secret organizations ie corporations, religions, governments even universities all cover up in what ever way they can any truth that threatens their empire.

          As long as we are on "wheat" this will knock your socks off from the author of "Wheat Belly":
  • Sep 25 2013: Is it possible that man, in his current state of evolution, IS simply living out his Nature as a species?.......that of overrunning the Petri dish?

    Is it possible that, in only PRETENDING to Be a God, Man has simply done a half-assed job of resource management?

    Is it possible for Man to see his Original Misperception? That in which he sees himself as Separate from not only other men but ACTUALLY separate from Nature?

    Nature will restore harmony, which is really just Balance. She's just letting us play ourselves out.
    She knows we're just One Consciousness.
    • Sep 25 2013: Check, check, check and check... all of the above Your in the right place Scott
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    Sep 25 2013: .

    The money (or harmful invalid happiness) makes man "a greedy, violent, fighting animal".
    • Sep 25 2013: I had to retract my first response to your statement as both our conclusions are similar. You are right in that money and at least the desire for more money does make us more violent.
      Paramahansa Yoganada explained it in a simple way: "Wanting is pain"

      It is the wanting of something we do not have which is the problem, not the object itself.

      "INVALID happiness" I love it... way to simple, people will never buy it.. dress it up with pretty words and technical terms and maybe it will sell. Jus kidding Ying good work.
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    Sep 25 2013: I think that's because a lot of people want to conquer the nature instead of being a friend of it. How can human beings conquer the enigmatic and powerful nature?why do we need to conquer it? I think only when human beings live our lives harmoniously in accordance with the nature rules can we really benefit from our activities in long term.
  • Oct 8 2013: everything is going perfect
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    Oct 8 2013: i think we are going to fast. if we humans reach our general intelligence peak what will we do then? Great question!
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    Oct 7 2013: Hi Keith.
    I believe there is no normal pace of evolution, simply because there is no evolution; beyond adaption within species.
    Many believe there was a Big Bang.
    Many believe life spontaneously occurred.
    Many believe creature A turned into creature B over time.
    Many believe etc..etc..
    There is certainly circumstantial evidence pointing in that direction, however a large measure of faith is an essential ingredient in the mix.
    There are many conflicting belief systems, each having support from thinking people. You pays your money & makes your choice. I guess this question is for those who believe in evolution, but that's my tuppence worth.

    • Oct 7 2013: "there is no evolution" I must say Peter, I am impressed. You have balls the size of the moon IMHO. Not to many people on this planet would have the courage to make such a statement that flies in the face of most of what science has declared is true. However as we all know science has been very wrong many, many times. After all they are just little men in suits with big ideas, there does not seem to be a shortage of them. The Government, Corporations, Universities and Religion are chuck full of them.

      Imagine what the world would be like if there were no little men in suits!
  • Oct 7 2013: There are two slightly vague but key words in this question.

    Potential is a word that can be thought of from two different points of view.
    Potential as innate human ability: something which by definition must be 'what is' and not what 'can be' as humans can only really be proven to be capable of what they have already achieved.
    Potential as a what is possible for humans: Something that we cannot live up to as our imagination of possibilities will always be greater than the truth of what we have already done.
    That's not to say that we can't someday reach the second form of potential, it is simply to say that at this point in time we haven't been able to do so.

    The second key word is 'evolution' which, as many have alluded to, is not appropriate in this sentence. Evolution is by definition a random process with no goal. Human progress, while not totally structured, does not have the pure chance inherent in evolution.

    As for the speed of human progress and questions of whether it is normal or not. Normality must be determined with a comparison to something and we have no other human races to compare to. If we compare to humans 100-200 years ago, progress is made at vastly greater speeds than at that time and there is even more of a difference to eras before that. Foods may be influencing earlier dementia but ultimately we are way healthier than any time in history (life expectancy is a simple example of that). Could we potentially do even better? Sure, humans always have potential to do better but the key word here is always. It doesn't matter how much better we get there will always be further to grow. But we will also always be living up to our potential at any one point in time.

    A circular answer? Maybe. But the question was inherently quite circular.
    • Oct 7 2013: OK Julian I am pretty sure you got the meaning of the questions. How would you have worded the questions? And more important after you reword the question, what are the answers?
      • Oct 7 2013: Well the first question alludes to a value judgement: "Should humans be doing better than they are?". Unfortunately I don't believe humans should or shouldn't be doing anything. Are there advantages to doing better? Sure. Will it be better for health etc.? Sure.

        The second question is pretty much the same as the first except that it alludes to the speed at which humans have gotten to where they are now and whether it could have happened faster. This is possible however as I said in my previous comment its very easy to look for ways to improve something after the fact and we will always have the capacity of imagination to do so, regardless how how much extra 'potential' we are using.

        Ultimately, I believe humans can improve but that there is not much point in asking whether we could have improved faster. The theoretical answer will always be yes whereas the realistic answer will always be we improved as much as we could. If the question in whether we can improve faster in the future by changing things such as diet then obviously that is possible. But that is just one of the many things which are continually accelerating the speed of human growth. Medicine, improved communication and education are just some of the others.
  • Oct 7 2013: What's a normal pace? There isn't a standard for human evolution. Nor is there an optimal developmental path. Evolution is merely a record of past changes in the genome. It doesn't have a trajectory. It's enmeshed in the complex matrix of evolving species. I think the egocentric belief that our intellect can control the infinite expression of the universe...is the beginning of our natural demise.

    Progress would entail recognizing our inability to accept our limitations...and the humility to live within them.
    • Oct 7 2013: I believe our natural demise as you put it started a long, long time ago and is spiraling out of control to a natural conclusion. It is my egocentric belief that not only are we a part of the infinite expression of the universe but like a single drop in the ocean each of us has an impact. I believe real progress would be rejection of our current accepted limitations and more exploration of not just what is but what could be.
  • Oct 7 2013: The obvious answer to the 1st question is no. Many reasons were given below but lazy comes to mind. there is also the fact to reach your full potential, you must dedicate yourself fully to the effort and the question is always is it worth the effort?

    Evolution is not a continuous function nor is progress. We plateau, slip back, climb a little, slide back a little and every so often we make major jumps.
    • Oct 7 2013: Frank Bierbrauer mention lazy in a prior comment and I agree but think the root of the laziness comes from poor nutrition, also the basis of Tony Wright's book "Left in the Dark".
      • Oct 7 2013: I agree that in many cases poor nutrition can be the cause. Here is a study done at a university, eons ago.


        They had just introduced word processors to the secretaries with training. The claim was made that there was an increase in productivity.

        A grad student wanted to test this.


        He observed each secretary (yes this would affect the outcome) and collected how they used the machine. He also did interviews about their like and dislikes of the machine.


        productivity was increased but a side note was that he found the secretaries were using roughly 5 commands/techniques. If they added 1 command/technique, it could double their productivity. 2 secretaries requested to learn the command/technique.
  • Oct 7 2013: "there" potential !?..
    • Oct 7 2013: As you can see English was not my first language and has never been my favorite. You may want to take this up with TED, I am guessing they did not spend much on their spell checker. By the way the new Internet explorer has a very nice feature which allows you to highlight any word and with a simple click find out not only it's definition but lot's of other wiki info on the word. Like Wikipedia for "every" word.
  • Comment deleted

    • Oct 7 2013: Olegos Golfshtroppht's TED page has been deleted! I am warning you as I personally would not click his link... who knows what kind of mischief could be there!! The link originated in Russia. If TED deleted him that is good enough for me.

      Consider this a fair warning, click at your own risk! - Keith W Henline
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    Oct 7 2013: The question posed is so full of assumptions that the answer can only be an assumption itself.
    But assumptions are necessary as long as they are discarded after the use by date and not turned into objects of worship.
    • Oct 7 2013: Silver linings playbook: Pat to his brother Jake... "I got nothing but love for you, brother."
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    JB E

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    Oct 6 2013: The ironic thing about your question you pose here, is that I'm working on a fiction about this very subject. It's more involved of course so as to be entertaining, but in it I propose an idealistic future of humanity that seems to solve all the problems of man thus posed in this thread. What if we could live in harmony with the resources of our planet, what if we could satisfy all the desires of humans and what if we could take full control of our own evolution physically and mentally? Would it be paradise ? How exactly would we do it?
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      Oct 6 2013: What if........? I'm willing to give it a try!!!

      Seriously......I don't honestly believe we can solve all our challenges forever, because I think that as we evolve, more challenges will appear? As we fulfill our desires, more may appear? Perhaps it is the continuing desires and challenges that cause us to continue to explore and evolve? As we discover some levels of harmony, we may uncover more possibilities?
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        JB E

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        Oct 6 2013: Yes exactly, i believe the mechanisms of evolution include but are not limited to natural selection and random mutation. I propose it involves struggle, drama, death as well as birth; the drama is what gives it fulfillment, struggle is what gives it the trial, death must happen to make room for life, and birth is the next generation / iteration to begin it all again. So, in my fiction all are satisfied but as you say nothing is perfect and I have story to tie it all together.
        Personally being an atheist, the closest thing to a "religion" to me is evolution with Charles Darwin being it's champion and a personal hero to me. The idea being so concrete that I liken it to mathematics and the scientific method, I see it's touch in all things.
    • Oct 7 2013: JBE,

      I am coming late to this discussion - sorry about that but to me the challenges, the flaws, the highs and the lows all make like interesting. The hero with a tragic flaw, Oedipus Rex, Macbeth, Hamlet, etc, makes the play and to a degree life.

      So the world you describe would seem like hell to me.
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        JB E

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        Oct 7 2013: Yes, I agree, The world I described above is a fiction I am writing, but in response to the original post I believe the human race must take control of its evolution. I also stated that I believe the greatest hindrance is religion.
        " i believe the mechanisms of evolution include but are not limited to natural selection and random mutation. I propose it involves (struggle, drama,) death as well as birth; (the drama is what gives it fulfillment), struggle is what gives it the trial, death must happen to make room for life, and birth is the next generation / iteration to begin it all again. So, in my (fiction) all are satisfied but as you say nothing is perfect and I have story to tie it all together. " As someone who believes in the process of evolution when I talk about evolution I mean life, as in all life on Earth.
  • Oct 6 2013: I think that most humans live way below their potential. What holds them back? Many different causes: fear of all kinds, habit, laziness. These aspects are far more complex and involved than just three words.
    • Oct 6 2013: Frank I think you hit on three great causes: fear, habit & laziness
      fear) most of us are pretty familiar with fear as it has been used as a energy saving tool forever. After the first beating just seeing the club in the air or loud harsh grunts are sufficient to control the situation.
      habit) is something no one else has mentioned yet and is grossly under estimated in it's power. There are studies being done on memory and processing power in other parts of our body, not just the brain, specifically the heart and stomach to begin with and our sensory organs are also suspect. I personally would not be surprised if our muscles and nerves turned out to have mini-processors in them. There is so much we do not know yet.
      laziness) I believe belongs under the nutrition category.
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    JB E

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    Oct 6 2013: I believe as beings capable of taking control of our own evolution, it is our imperative to do so. The science is there for the taking and we will not survive unless we do so. The cold hard truth is that at some point, we as humans will need to control our populations and our physical conditions so that we all can survive and live within our means and ultimately colonize outside of our own planet. This means genetic engineering, bio mechanics and nanotechnology evolving the human condition. The only thing I see standing in the way of this is religion.
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      Oct 6 2013: So ... technology to the rescue again.
      How about evolving in consciousness, as an alternative?
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        Oct 6 2013: How about evolving in all possible ways simultaneously?
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          Oct 7 2013: Thank you Colleen. I shall be more careful about my phraseology in future.
          Yes, you are right, it is a case of both/and.
          My point is that more technology produced by the same mind-set will just amplify more-of-the-same problems - as happens in the history of technology. So I am recommending evolving in consciousness first before rushing out and doing another whole load of technology.
          A more evolved consciousness will produce technology which is more relevant to solving real needs in the world. For example, do we really need more sophisticated weaponry (a direct result of the old mind-set being applied to technology)?
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        JB E

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        Oct 6 2013: You say "as an alternative" to technology in reference to the idea of taking control of our own evolution. I do not see how you can have one with out the other, as it would be a conscious decision to do so. We are born and become sentient beings we are conscious of ourselves regardless of what ever technology we use as long as we are biological beings. I think technology can expand and enhance our consciousness like threw augmented reality. Perhaps it can be said that we are evolving our consciousness when we can understand things like extra dimensions and quantum physics. Maybe you can elaborate more on what your saying.
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          Oct 7 2013: Hello JBE,
          I take back that phrase "as an alternative". See my answer to Colleen's comment above.
          My basic point is that evolving in consciousness at this point in our history is hugely important BEFORE we rush out too readily and do another round of technology with the old mind-set. Of course they run in parallel, but until we answer more fully the question:
          "What does it mean to be human that technology might somehow deprive me of?"
          then we are likely, through the amplifying power of technology, to get an exacerbation of our problems, rather than a solution.
      • Oct 7 2013: JB E here is a hour long explanation of quantum mechanics which I have edited down to 15 minutes of what I consider the essentials for a general understanding. If you are already familiar with the basics you can skip to 9:30 where it talks about "quantum entanglement". Quantum entanglement is the instant communication between to protons no matter how far they are apart. This behavior is not like anything else we can explain. So far everything we can explain can not go faster than the speed of light. They have already proved this happens at least 10,000 times faster than the S.O.L. and they believe it happens instantly.


        So what does this have to do with human potential? Well as Cypher said in the Matrix "It means fasten your seat belt Dorothy, 'cause Kansas is going bye-bye."
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        Oct 7 2013: Hi again Joshua:>)

        You write..."My basic point is that evolving in consciousness at this point in our history is hugely important BEFORE we rush out too readily and do another round of technology with the old mind-set. Of course they run in parallel, but until we answer more fully the question: "What does it mean to be human that technology might somehow deprive me of?" then we are likely, through the amplifying power of technology, to get an exacerbation of our problems, rather than a solution."

        You are suggesting that before we move forward with science/technology, we develop/evolve our consciousness?

        You also say..."Of course they run in parallel, but until we answer more fully the question:..."

        I agree that they "run in parallel".....humans have created our technology, and some of the technology has helped us connect and evolve as a global community.....TED for example:>)

        We have had that question here on TED quite a lot..."what does it mean to be human", and the answers are all always different. This suggests that people perceive the life adventure (meaning of life) very differently.

        How might your proposal that technology/science be put on hold until we evolve in consciousness be administered? Enforced? Do you honestly think/feel that scientists/technologists would put their work interests on hold until we (humans) come to an agreement regarding what the meaning of the life adventure actually is? Is this realistic?
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          Oct 7 2013: Hello Colleen,
          Thank you again for your clear-sighted questions.

          In general, there are political, economic and military vested interests, as well as scientific ones, that give momentum to the development of technology. But these interests also push technology in a certain direction. The direction of that 'push' reflects a kind of "confederacy mind-set" of interests of people already in power, with the common theme of that mind-set being something along the lines of "power over Nature, and why not power over people too while we're at it" (why else would the NSA's activities come into being - it is choice to spy on people, born of a certain mind-set living in fear. It did not have to be done. The money could have been allocated to build a new hospital).

          As you intimate though, it is neither realistic nor desirable to impose a better mind-set on the world's power-brokers - especially (as you rightly point out) that that "better mind-set" will be well-nigh impossible to reach agreement on.

          So does it all boil down to power-politics then? I feel it would be sad if that was the final conclusion, because technology is way too powerful for the direction of its development to be left in the hands of a few vested interests.

          There has to be a better way. Perhaps it involves shifting consciousness. To that end, I can work on evolving myself into a more compassionate person; that's o.k. I can encourage others to do the same; that's o.k. I can make certain personal "no" decisions regarding certain technologies; that's also o.k. I do all three.
          Quite a number of TED talks are by people who "shifted consciousness" in themselves first, and then saw a way to change the world with an initiative bottom-up. I find that a very encouraging sign - may-be the best way forward yet - in action, and happening now as we speak!
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    Oct 6 2013: Hello again Keith:>)
    I believe our potential may be beyond anything that we can fully imagine or understand at this time in our evolution. Some of us may be living up to our potential, and in my perception, there is always another level of learning and growth in which we may use and discover more potential.

    What, in your perception is "a normal pace" to evolve? We don't really have anything on which there is data do we?

    I agree that nutrition is a major factor which drastically influences how we function, learn, and grow both mentally and physically.

    P.S. I was just reading through the comment thread. Apparently you changed the topic question?
    For what it's worth, I don't like that practice because it leaves a whole thread of comments that seem disconnected from the topic (as you newly post it). Why not simply start a new conversation?
    • Oct 6 2013: I believe we are quantumly entangled. You hit on all four cylinders so I will take them in the order you presented them. 1) Our potential is unfathomable, imagine what God can do and you will be headed in the right direction and only a few light years away from the truth. 2) You are right again, there is no data, if there was we could not understand it anyway with our present thinking which is extremely limited. 3) We agree about nutrition, without that understanding one cannot progress to the next level. 4) I revised the conversation because I really want people to think about how the engine works and all they wanted to talk about was what color I had painted it, my fault. I thought about both starting another conversation or giving this one more time with a narrowed question and then I just got tired. I wanted to keep the same conversation because there are so many good points that people made and they should not have to start all over again so I was in a quandary. Tired won out and as you will see on my profile my focus has changed to the soul.
  • Oct 6 2013: Maslow's theory of hierarchy of needs explains your question
  • Oct 3 2013: Manish, I agree with you on some points such as that its because we are more restless, but disagree with you as far as us not being "natural", or animals only having the need to feed. We are animals, we even categorize ourselves among the other animals and fungi. Before our technologies we were probably indistinguishable from other animals, even with basic hand tools. The fact is: The more technology we create/discover the more free time we have to do other stuff i.e. missions to mars, humanitarian aid, leisure activities such as video games or reading books, consuming excess amounts of alcohol, food etc.. etc... I personally believe that given the right environment and the right amount of time any life form that we consider primal could evolve into a civilized species.
    • Oct 3 2013: "any life form that we consider primal could evolve into a civilized species"- Taylor Cox
      I hope you are right and maybe someday it will even happen for man.

      "The greatness of a nation can be judged by the way its animals are treated"- Mahatma Gandhi

      "What do I think of Western civilization? I think it would be a very good idea"- Mahatma Gandhi
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      Oct 3 2013: God loved the birds and invented trees. Man loved the birds and invented cages. ~Jacques Deval

      Man is the only animal that laughs and weeps: for he is the only animal that is struck with the difference between what things are and what they ought to be. ~ William Hazlitt

      Taylor ! This is the real problem of a man !!! when you consider humans as an animal, you actually don't !,,, Tell me why should i not be surprised after knowing that 'An Animal have desire to go to mars or an animal has desire to earn more money !!'

      No, we have categorized us among the other animals, But by Biological means, since we have similarities ,,,,,, BUT, we all knows what we have, that animals dont have !! There is a proverb - "Don't behave like Animal". But I would like to change it -" Behave like Animal" ,,, I am not saying to be cruel to others, What I mean to say to men- " Go to mars, Achieve the highest peek, do everything where possibilities takes you, but don't be restless, be intact from within, we humans have this capability, we can do achieve this harmony."

      Keith ! you asked, how we humans can have the harmony ? My answer lies in following example -
      a man goes into the pool and waves emerges, now the desire comes in his mind to stop these vibrations of water. He tries hard to to stop every wave one by one, but no matter how hard he tries, the new one comes. He becomes restless...

      What he should do Keith ?
      Well its clear, eaither he should stop moving (No need to going to mars) or he should not be restless by these waves (be intact).

      ... this is the only way to be harmonious Keith. :)
      • Oct 6 2013: Your pool analogy is a good one. Similar to the man digging himself into a deeper hole, the first part of the solution is to stop digging.
        "There are no facts, only interpretations"- Friedrich Nietzsche
        There is no right or wrong way. What is right for you, may not be right for me but that does not make it wrong for you.
        There are two key parts to living in harmony. A) Hang out with people who believe as you do and B) Allow others the space to believe as they wish also.