Bare Bones Biology 251D – Easter Sermon

I have friends, now looking back I think the real reason they befriended me was do-gooderism. That is, their idealism, or activism, around the subject of bigotry. To prove that they were not bigots, they labeled me as homosexual and then congratulated themselves for not rejecting me on that account.

It did not occur to them to make sure their label was factually true, or consider the consequences to me if it were not true; and it did not occur to me that I had been labeled. My life and my goal were, single-pointedly, to be a good scientist. At which I succeeded. But it took about 20 more years for me to figure out that I had been labeled, because it simply never occurred to me. It never was part of my reality, but only someone else’s fairy tale.

Too bad I didn’t know it at the time. It’s not easy to find your way out of a virtual closet, especially when it was an anti-bigotry campaign that locked you in there in the first place. I could have used all those years to do some actual good, rather than have the good sucked out of me to make someone else feel good – all in the name of “tolerance.”

The “Greatest Generation” did indeed aspire to tolerance as a virtue, and the succeeding generations of Americans have progressively refined this same dogooderism under different names. “Compassion,” then “love,” and now it seems that we are in the throes of “passion.” All the while refining and reinforcing our dogooderism, our self-congratulation, our hubris, while losing the root human virtues those words are meant to represent and reinforce, and while replacing any concept of reality with a fairy tale that cannot exist in the real Biosystem, but only inside a viable human culture.

150315-tree-ASC_5595RLSs copyAnd the fact is that our human culture is no longer viable, and it never was more than a small temporary branch off the factual reality of the tree of Life that can sustain itself only by means of an intricate balance of cause and effect. Or, to put it in a different way, what goes around comes around, we do pay for our sins. Or our children pay. That’s why we call them sins.

Human hubris, or pride without regard for or understanding of the reality of the checks and balances of Life itself, does not make things better – it makes things worse, and the harder we try and the more powerful we become in our numbers and in our technology – the more worse things become.

We are still trying to achieve an old dream that simply did not and does not work. It’s time to face the failure, talk about it, discuss alternatives, and try something different.

And yet this new generation is passionately resistant to discussion. They are more frantic, yet further removed from the reality of our situation, and yet more determined to do good by using failed human “solutions” to global factualities that they don’t understand and don’t want to understand. What they are doing is not different from what we were doing – only in their numbers they are more powerful.

Thus, as our human culture fragments in the face of the societal and ecological effects of overpopulation; as we try harder and harder to get what we want using methods that actually destroy what we want; as we passionately try to save everything in sight according to our own heroic vision; by that very act we are destroying everything in sight, even as the inevitable consequences of our actions become plain for the most passionate deniers to see.

That is the sin of pride reverencing ignorance. The odd determination of humans to believe our own labels without regard to reality; to prove that “we” are better, more powerful than “they,” without bothering to find out, factually, what “they” are.

We aren’t.

It’s only a pretty fairy tale. A small shadow on our root reality of Life itself that exists, not through human tolerance or compassion or love or passion, but through an intricate balance of cause and effect that we could understand if we were to reverence the reality of Life, of the Biosystem, of The Creation, of the Creator, not as we are determined to believe that It is — but to drop our own dreams of glory, no matter what they are, good or bad, and study the Creation and the Creator passionately, discuss It, conform to It, as it really is, a balance of good and bad. Not attached to our personal dream, but without and beyond.

Only when we can do that will any of us be truly working for the common good, and if we can’t do that it would be better that we complete our suicide mission as quickly as possible and let the reality of Life on Earth, the works of God, survive.

But that would require real hard work: study of and tolerance of factual reality, what we know and what we don’t know, striving for worldly wisdom. Genuinely working for the benefit of all sentient beings on Earth. Not only us.

I don’t think we have the cajones. We love our own fairy tales too passionately.

Prove me wrong.

This is Bare Bones Biology, a production of FactFictionFancy.Wordpress.com and KEOS radio, 89.1 FM, in Bryan, Texas.

An edited podcast of this blog can be downloaded at:

Bare Bones Biology 058 – Happiness

“May all living things enjoy happiness and the root of happiness.
May they be free from suffering and the root of suffering.”

I recently attended a weekend workshop at Omega Institute , where Pema Chodron explained, “The root of happiness is when we can stop struggling with ourselves just as we are, and against the world and our experience just as it is.”

She spent eight hours explaining this statement, and of course I can’t tell you about it in just five minutes, but the concept coincides perfectly with our scientific understanding of life on earth. And it reminded me of one of the most important ideas in the Bible, that is humility. When three bodies of knowledge converge, it’s time to pay attention. If we want to be “happy” or content, we need to have the humility to recognize that humans cannot change the works of God. We can’t change how the ecosystem functions. Even if we are the biggest cheese in the corposystem. Even if we are a biologist.

Biology is the study of life, and life is a fragile flower, beautiful and delicately balanced at the intersection of the interacting laws of physics. Change one little bit of it, and life will change as well. In fact, that is a definition of life. It changes as conditions change. That’s how it stays alive. But life CAN NOT change the basic laws of nature that give rise to life in the first place.

If we want to survive, let alone in happiness or contentment, we need to know what we can change and what we cannot change without destroying the interacting emergent balance that is life itself. It’s not hard to understand. It’s common sense, once we know how the power flows through the ecosystem, and if you want to know this you can download the Bare Bones Ecology Energy Handbook from my web site.

Life exists on earth because the natural laws are exactly as they are. If gravity were a tad off, or energy transfer were not as it is, we would not exist. If the diversity of species is sufficiently diminished, the living earth will not be able to accommodate the changing conditions of life. That’s how it stays alive. The living earth could die, just as your living body can die, if the balance of its needs is overwhelmed.

Technology can not change these things. We are not God; when we struggle against God’s miracle we are fighting against God, or the ecosystem, or life as it must be if it is to be. Exactly as the corposystem is now fighting in a vain and ill-advised effort to overwhelm the ecosystem. It is the worst kind of hubris to believe that we have more power or knowledge than God – or the ecosystem. I think it is the worst kind of criminality, because we know what the ecosystem needs to stay alive, and we know what will happen if we mess it up, and yet we publish continuing propaganda promoting ever greater messing, rather than to admit our mistakes and come together in an effort to bring a better quality of life to our future generations.

“The root of happiness is when we can stop struggling with ourselves just as we are and the world and our experience just as it is.” Pema Chodron

The Bible refers to this happy quality as humility. Recognizing reality for what it is.

Our experience of suffering arises from our struggle against the realities of the miracle of life.

Doing the right thing is not a struggle against reality – it is the process of going with the flow of positive human values informed by the needs of other living things and their emergent properties. The right thing to do exists where the best of human values affirm the long-term welfare of all sentient beings at all of their levels of organization.

Bare Bones Biology 058 – Happiness
KEOS 89.1 FM, Bryan, TX
Download after Monday at http://www.BareBonesBiology.com