Penn Jillette on Theism vs Atheism

This is an interesting take on what I’ve always considered to be an argument I didn’t want to be involved in even from a mile away, but I thought I’d share nonetheless.

Full disclosure, I consider myself a Buddhist/Quasi-Atheist in a way. I’m not wholeheartedly part of the Buddhist faith although I’ve retained a lot of the principles. If you need to what “religion” I belong to (if you must stereotype), take a gander at one of my earlier posts.

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RE: Needs and wants

Yet another comment-turned-post today.

I just read the latest post on the sustainable energy blog and everything was well thought out and perfectly reasoned, but for some reason one sentence started to nag at me a few minutes after.

“As humans, we are complex beings, and it only makes sense that our needs are complex.”

No more than a rice plant. Actually rice has more complex genes and greater numbers of them than humans. We’re just bigger… and have thumbs.

I’ve said this many times elsewhere, but it bares repeating; just because we’ve clothed ourselves in technology doesn’t mean we’ve fundamentally changed as a species.

Humans, by and large, have a contrived complexity brought on our unwillingness (or inability?) to perceive ourselves as being part of our environment. We are what we eat, breath and frolic in and yet we think we’re beyond the effects of what happens to these things and part of the problem is that humans are a species lacking foresight for the majority of our existence.

This doesn’t necessarily make us more complex; just more needy for immediate gratification vs long-term survival. Advanced planning is an acquired trait, by and large like empathy, and we’ve been slowly massaging this trait into common use for a far shorter period of time than, say speech or creating fire. Our fundamental needs are no more demanding than countless other creatures who came before us and likely well after we’re gone.

Food, Shelter, Sex, Oprah.

Usually in that order.

Water would fall into the food category as any other consumable, clothing is very much a part of shelter as we learned to cover ourselves from the environment well before we learned of “decency”, without sex no one would be here and Oprah nourishes our creative and empathetic seeds in order to wisely sustain the other three.

All else are luxuries best attained when we’ve eliminated imminent self-destruction from most of our possible tomorrows.