Monday, April 5, 2021

What is “Earth Centrism”?


The Earth Centrist’s perspective acknowledges that Earth; her material constituents and physical processes, unfolding one day at a time, are our fundamental touchstones of reality.  

We acknowledge Earth and glory in understanding her pageant of Evolution and appreciating how that pageant is reflected within our own bodies. 



The justification begins with the physical fact that humans were created out of Earth's processes.  


Science shows us that we belong to the mammalian branch of one of Earth’s amazing animal kingdoms.  Yet, it’s undeniable that something quite unique happened around six million years ago when certain apes took a wild improbable evolutionary turn.


By and by, besides the marvel of our two hands, we developed two feet and legs that could stand tall or run for hours and a growing brain that learned rapidly and remembered. 


During this period our brain physically morphed in some significant ways that enabled it to host a profound leap in cognitive information processing, storage and retrieval ability. 


On the outside hominids learned to make tools, hunt, fish, and select plants, plus they mastered fire for cooking and better living.


On the inside our brains were growing and benefiting from the new super nourishment while human curiosity and adventures started filling and stretching our Mindscapes with experiences and knowledge beyond anything the "natural" physical Earth ever knew.


By Mindscape, I mean the product of all that our body/brain perceives and processes, which of course, evolutionarily speaking, was dependent on our brain’s hardware keeping pace with and driving the ever increasing volume of information and thoughts.


While the human mind and spirit seem ineffable mysteries, they are also of tremendous consequence and real-world physical power.  They drove our growing ability to study and manipulate our world; to communicate and record our experiences; and to formulate explanations for a world full of mysteries, threats and wonders.


People learned to think and gossip and paint pictures upon the canvas of cave walls, and even better, upon the canvas of each other’s imaginations.  We’ve been adding to our mind’s awareness and complexity ever since.



Of course, while all this was going on our extraordinary human mind was also beginning to wonder about the ‘Why’ of the world it observed and the difficult, fragile, short lives we were allotted. 


In seeking comfort and answers to unknowable questions it seems inevitable that Gods would inhabit our Mindscape. I suspect inspired by buried memories of being coddled within mom’s protective loving bosom those first couple years of life.


No doubt these “Gods” enabled further successes, though not through super-natural interventions, but rather through their ability to form, conform, reform and transform the Mindscapes of the masses of people beginning to congregate. Thus, combining pragmatic civil societal needs with universally felt, but keenly personal questions, fears, and dreams.  


After the middle ages tribal stories; accepted ancient doctrines; and religious “truths” were no longer enough to satisfy our Mindscape’s growing desire for ever better understanding and power over our destinies and the biosphere that sustains us. 


The human mind took another tremendous leap forward in awareness with the Intellectual Enlightenment and the birth of serious disciplined scientific study.  Science’s success was dazzling in its ability to learn about, control and manipulate Earth’s physical resources and to transform entire environments.


Science was so successful that today most believe we are the masters of our world and too many have fallen into the hubristic trap of believing our ever fertile Mindscape is reality itself.  


Which brings me to Stephen Gould’s NOMA, his non-overlapping magisteria of science and religion and the key he was missing.  Namely, failing to appreciate the fundamental difference between the realm of Physical Reality and realm of our Human Mindscapes (both individually and collectively).


Science and religion are subgroups of Human Mindscape, whereas Physical Reality simply IS, regardless of human anything.


Science seeks to objectively learn about this physical world that we find ourselves embedded within, but we should still recognize all our understanding is embedded within and constrained by our brain's Mindscape. 


Religion and Philosophy are all about the human Mindscape itself, with its wonderful struggles, fears, spiritual undercurrents, needs and stories we create to give our live’s meaning and make it worth living, or at least bearable.   


What’s the point?  It’s about better appreciating our ‘frame of reference’. Our dreams and desires aren’t the center of Creation.  Earth is.  Our gods are reflections of our own egos and Earth is the stage that created all of its characters.  


This is important because too many have convinced themselves that they actually have a personal Almighty God in their back pockets, when in fact it’s merely their own Egos transformed.  Our Gods are as transient as governments and the human species itself. 


Religions, heaven, hell, love, science, arts, political beliefs, even God, they are all products of the human Mindscape, generations of imaginings built upon previous generations of imaginings, all the way down.  That is not to say science and religion are the same thing, they are not!  


Science is dedicated to honestly and objectively understanding physical reality, while religion is concerned with our human imagination; our spiritual needs and our struggles through our short live's.  They are different and both are necessary human inventions.


Still, both destined to be swept away by the hands of time, while Earth and life will continue its dance.

 


Being an Earth Centrist isn’t something one can simply choose to be.  It’s a result.  It requires some honest curiosity, a passion for proactive learning, a willingness to do the serious homework, and learn from one’s own mistakes.


The connections and visceral appreciation emerges bit by bit, during a lifetime peppered with periodic insights, cosmic giggles and aha moments that accumulate and afford ever better resolution of the reality we are trying to grasp, plus, being a lot of fun.  


One day I was looking at the labels we place on each other and ourselves and found that “Earth Centrist” was the only one that came close to describing my own experience and state of mind.



Top image source NASA, Apollo 8 Earth Rise

Image of Earth's horizon and moon, NASA, SpaceStation

The other images are my own.



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