Bare Bones Biology 185 – Fiction

Every human person arrives with an inborn mental capacity and a phenomenal ability to integrate experience into a logical world view (https://factfictionfancy.wordpress.com/2013/05/01/). Personally, my brain seems to prefer pictures and holistic patterns rather than the details of fact or fancy. Supposedly, my kind of brain belongs in an artist, or a story-teller, rather than a scientist. And it’s true, my colleagues seem to be much more devoted to details than I. So it’s difficult to understand why I chose to become a biologist.

Maybe it’s because I also know, I feel like I have always known, that it’s better to start with real facts on the long journey of life, and use those facts to integrate one’s self into the patterns and pictures of the whole living earth. Facts are universal. Therefore, it’s safer to build one’s life around facts than around individual opinions – but only if the facts are integrated into the patterns and visions of the reality of the whole living earth. Individual facts — out of context – no. They box up our brains into one or other category with no escape – no way to join the flow of Life — as in reality it consists of the emergent confluence of billions of factoids.

Historically, story-telling has transmitted the factual wisdom of the generations – teaching behaviors that empower the communal welfare within the superior powers of the environment. On the contrary, for the most part, the stories that are raising up our children today teach behaviors that are destructive to community, and assume powers that humans do not have. Listen to Carl Sagan, an author/scientist.

“We live in an age based on science and technology with formidable powers, and if we don’t understand it, by we I mean the general public, then who is making all the decisions about science and technology that will determine what kind of future our children will be living in? Just some members of congress? There’s no more than a handful of members of congress that have any knowledge of science at all. . . This combustible combination of ignorance and power, sooner or later will blow up in our faces. Who is running the science and technology in a democracy if the people don’t know anything about it. And the second reason I’m worried about this is that science is more than a body of knowledge. It’s a way of thinking; a way of skeptically interrogating the universe with a fine understanding of human fallability. If we are not able to ask skeptical questions — to interrogate those who tell us that something is true – to be skeptical of those in authority, then we’re up for grabs for the next charlatan political or religious supremacist that comes along. It’s a thing that Jefferson laid great stress on. It’s not enough, he said, to enshrine some rights in the constitution. The people have to be educated, and they have to practice their skepticism and their education. Otherwise, we don’t run the government. The Government runs us.”

That is why I stated, when I began this series, that I would not deal in metaphor, but in measurable facts. We surviving humans need to face the facts of life so that there may be a human future. Instead, we are hiding our heads in fictions that are not viable. Our youth have ended up believing that the facts are metaphors and the metaphors are factual.

normal_ian-symbol-danaus-plexippus copy

But today, for the first time, I am praising a work of fiction. Barbara Kingsolver, another scientist/writer with perhaps what we would traditionally consider a more feminine perspective, has written a lovely piece of fiction entitled Flight Behavior. Flight Behavior is a holistically beautiful book that is built upon biological facts and human truths that invite us to deal with life and death realities. And with skepticism and education.

And it’s a good read.

This is Bear Bones Biology, a production of FactFictionFancy.com and KEOS radio, 89.1 FM, in Bryan, Texas. For a podcast of this week’s program go to http://www.BareBonesBiology.com or click on the link below.

http://barebonesbiology.com/bare-bones-biology-185-fiction

Prof. Sagan quote is an excerpt from the Charlie Rose Show. I recommend you listen to the full version of the interview: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_iyFw8UF85A

Flight Behavior, by Barbara Kingsolver, was published by Harper and is also available as an unabridged audio book published by Harper Audio.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: