Part two of my ranting and wandering musings all about the Gaia Theory and the purpose of Humanity. THis paper covers two possible ideas not normally considered to explain humanity and our sentient capabilities.

Gaia Theory and The Purpose of Humanity
(part 2)

Sean Duffy

     Gaia Theory states that the Earth is one being, and every ecosystem we can recognize (and quite likely a few we don’t even know exist) all play a part in keeping this macro-organism alive. We have come to learn that in every ecosystem, there are certain “keystone species” which, if removed, would radically alter the nature of the system. Even non-keystone species play a part in the stabilization of the living Earth, from the smallest micro-organism, to the proud lion, to, as one would logically assume, the human being. But really, there seems to be at least two major problems raised then by this scientific deduction. Primarily, what ecosystem, if any, does a human really fit into, and what purpose then could a human possibly serve to benefit the Earth? Secondly, since there is a growing inclination on the part of human societies to actually destroy ecosystems and damage our planet, how could we possibly be of any help? It all boils down to the same universal question that has been asked time and time again: What is the purpose of Humanity?
     These are tough questions to answer, and the immediate answers that do spring to mind can be rather troubling. The question of what ecosystem we fit into naturally is one that will likely remain unanswered, because it is impossible to go back and see. Although, if the evidence towards hunter-gatherer society is accurate, then we can at least take comfort in the fact that we once fit into whatever systems we were a part of without destroying it. Once again, the second question has very unpleasant implications if answered outright. As such, I will propose two sub theories here. The first will be the pessimistic mutterings of many of my fellow cynics, and the second will be the final realization I reached.
     Humanity serves no beneficial purpose towards the living planet Earth. While the organisms of various ecosystems could be equated to cells in a system, we can more accurately be described as a bad viral infection. We are virii. The only ecosystem we fit into are the sprawling urban and suburban structure of artificiality. Like a Virus, the human moves into an area, infects it, uses the resources of the organism against itself for the sake of reproduction, and moves on. We deplete resources we don’t have to, we pollute and damage untouched land for the abstract idea of profit, and we utterly transform the landscape into an ugly mocking shell of what it once was. We seem to take a perverse pleasure in this, and can even be accused of doing it intentionally, especially in this day and age. Nobody in our society is innocent. In short, this theory states that the purpose of humanity is to spread evil.
     There is disturbingly little refutation that can be validly offered against this theory that would not sound like mere rationalization. A point that cannot be overlooked, of course, would be the harmonious relationships that many Native American cultures shared with the so-called “wild and untamed lands,” while still being able to build some of the world’s greatest societies. Unfortunately, it can then be countered that even if there was harmony, there was no defined purpose for the development of sentience, (Recall we are operating under the idea that we are the way we are for a reason, not because of an evolutionary fluke or the whim of our Creator.) as well as the sad fact that these harmonious cultures were brushed aside by the viral infection of the rest of humanity. The primary counter arguments to be made are of the extremes of perspective, but are effective when placed together nonetheless. Firstly, being a virus would imply infection, and or origins of an extremely external nature in relation to the Earth, which seems highly unlikely. Second, I ask that you pause after reading this sentence, close your eyes, and look deep inside yourself to answer this question truthfully: Am I evil? No, it goes against human nature to believe oneself evil, and if we were truly evil, and meant to be efficiently spreading evil, then it would be an innate part of our core being, and we wouldn’t bother resisting it. Nobody thinks their evil, and I’m inclined to believe the majority of people are right in thinking so. Finally, the viral argument lacks once again the explanation as to the purpose of our sentience, other than as an effective tool to aid in our quest.
     I just don’t buy it. We may be making mistakes that make us seem that way, but I believe that if the Gaia Theory is correct, even to a partial degree, then humanity serves an integral and increasingly important role in the development of the world. The idea of sentience has been the only hang-up in finding a simple and obvious answer, but it ultimately became the solution. The very purpose of our being is based upon our free will, ability to learn, and most importantly our ability to implement complex projects! Whether you believe the Gaia theory to the point that you think the Earth is in itself a self-aware or sentient being, or you believe that there is a God and he has a plan and purpose for us, or just that we developed out of some native evolutionary process from the living organism, the purpose of humanity remains the same. We are here to protect the Earth. We are the guardians, the white blood cells, and also so much more. From the pragmatist’s point of view, we not only see that there are cosmic forces out there that threaten the very existence of our planet, but that they will eventually have to be confronted, whether in the form of an asteroid, the destruction of our sun, or even, trillions of years down the line, the complete halting of the Universe (theorized as the point in which all energy would have been expended or spread too thin to sustain any life.) We as humans are problem solvers, and when confronted with a problem that threatens our very survival, we do extraordinary things. The problem then, is that we just aren’t doing a very good job. We forget that the only thing keeping us alive right now are the delicate systems of the Earth, to which we must at some point protect if we wish to continue with our living.