If we’re to grow up as a species, we need to address the systems that infantilize us.
-- TheraminTrees

I recently posted a question to Steve Shives for his “You Had to Ask” series, wherein I asked for his thoughts regarding population growth and the problem it poses for our continued existence on this planet. No great surprise, Steve had no solutions among his musings, but he noted importantly that, as a problem, population growth is far more obvious and blatant than something like climate change, yet the latter at least gets some lip service in the halls of government, while the former gets next to none. In thanking Steve for his response, I suggested the following:

I suspect we as humans will only fully address that problem when we have grown out of our adolescence as a species. That of course means thinking far more rationally than we do now and rejecting wishful thinking, woo, and the biggie, religion.

The fact is that humankind is in various stages of its adolescence, depending on where on our planet one chooses to sample. I submit that the level of adulthood in any such sample is reflected in its rationality, as suggested above: embracing reason and science and dismissing those practices which are either not fruitful or counterproductive, with religion heading that list. By that measure, Homo sapiens remains very much mired in puberty, with figurative raging hormones manifesting in everything from random violence and gang warfare to science denial and jihad. These irrationalities deny their own effects and insist on their continuance without change, because their foundations say it must be so. Worse, when coupled with technological advances, they conspire together to threaten both our species and the continued viability of the planet which spawned us.

“When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things.” Whether Paul said that or not doesn’t change the necessity of growing up, of becoming an adult, and facing reality. In part this entails confronting the mistakes made in adolescence and making a mature, concerted effort to correct those mistakes to better address the path forward. It does NOT mean giving up the Child’s sense of play or wonder or the occasional absurdity which makes humankind the only Terran species which laughs, especially at itself. It also doesn’t mean eradicating all future mistakes but embracing a healthy attitude toward them along with resolving them. It DOES mean relinquishing those actions which are less childlike than childish, including belief without substantiation and purposeful ignorance and stupidity, borne of unfounded and illogical dogma and disordered thought processes.

We are at that point in our arc when we can be conscious of our actions and at least some of their products and should be able to choose wisely, to preserve ourselves and our future. The obvious question is:

Will we?

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Comment by Loren Miller on March 20, 2016 at 11:35am

There are so many venues where we need to grow up that it's frightening, Michael, whether you want to talk about population control, climate change, war, or any one of a thousand other issues which get driven by ego and an us-vs-them mentality.

As I said before, sorta, I want it to work and am willing to contribute along those lines, but I'm not sure it WILL work.

Comment by Michael Penn on March 20, 2016 at 9:45am

I see your point, Loren, and I totally agree. Yet, I hold out for my belief that there is a teapot orbiting around Saturn and if we ever get there we can find it and have some tea. No evidence, just something in my head.

Things like this are why we are not growing up and also why religion goes on with so much nonsense. Many get mired up in the shape of the teapot, how it orbits, and what type of tea is inside.

Comment by Loren Miller on March 19, 2016 at 7:28am

I miss the Hitch too, Gary, and I flatter myself that I've learned from his example, though I will never be the brilliant autodidact that he was.  All I want to do is give occasional expression to what I see going on here on A|N and maybe stir a little thought and conversation.

Comment by Gary S on March 18, 2016 at 8:04pm

That darn logic and reasoning. I still miss Christopher Hitchens, he was so charming in his delivery of extreme logic and intellectualism.

Comment by Loren Miller on March 18, 2016 at 12:57pm

The way I hear it, Daniel, Muslims in the middle east and elsewhere are breeding perhaps not quite like rabbits, but not far off, and I've heard more than a little rhetoric about Islam dominating by population in the not so far future, yet one more reason to distrust it.

Ruth, I suspect you and I are talking about much the same thing, and I think it likely we both see it as wishful thinking at this moment in time.  I HOPE we (relatively) hairless apes can learn and grow and mature and save ourselves and the planet.  What I'm afraid of is that too many of us are entirely too shortsighted to do so.

Comment by Bertold Brautigan on March 18, 2016 at 11:31am

Brought to you by your friendly neighborhood religion:

Comment by Ruth Anthony-Gardner on March 18, 2016 at 11:15am

I've long thought that species maturity will require us to collectively master our own evolution, i.e. we'll need a universal mechanism to restrain population to levels the planet could support and also decide on our own selection criteria (how we'd like to be in future). To even imagine a cooperative process of this sort, everyone will have to embrace a human identity broader than religion, race, class, family, etc. Perhaps, after it's really obvious we've screwed the pooch and we're all going to die out, some will grasp our common cause. Most probably won't, due to religious meme mind control.

Comment by Bertold Brautigan on March 18, 2016 at 9:56am

>Whether we're too stupid collectively to do so remains the unresolved variable.

My point precisely. Given developments of the last, oh, say 20 - 30 years, from where I'm sitting the indications ain't good.

Comment by Loren Miller on March 18, 2016 at 9:52am

While the necessity for humanity is a valid question, I'm selfish enough to want to keep on cranking and to see my daughter have a similar ability to do so.  The problem is that there are those who, either consciously or unconsciously, express a death wish through their thought processes and resultant actions.  Whether maturity occurs through winnowing of those who are unwilling to change or the education of those who are willing, I would prefer that our species continued on.

Whether we're too stupid collectively to do so remains the unresolved variable.

Comment by Bertold Brautigan on March 18, 2016 at 9:36am

I like your metaphor, but it seems to imply that phylogeny recapitulates ontogeny. I think there's a distinct possibility that we're not just growing slowly, we're regressing. Continued evolution may or may not require humans.

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