Human Beings Are Different From Their Ancestral Species

By Douglas Rushkoff. Published in What Are You Optimistic About? on 30 October 2007

Now that we’ve gotten false notions of ‘God’ out of the way, we come up against the question from which he insulated us: If human beings are not the ‘chosen species,’ then are we at least capable of transcending nature, from which we emerged?

Our most natural inclination should be to kill each other, one way or another. From plankton to pachyderms, the myth of nature as a sustainable and loving collaborative is about as absurd as that of a Creator. Unless we prove different from every other species, we will continue to compete with the rest of the planet’s inhabitants for a disproportionate share of its resources – and with one another for the spoils of this ongoing war. That’s just life.

I’m optimistic that human beings can be different from our ancestral species and that the endless comparisons between human behavior and that of other species are, ultimately, misleading. I hope that although sponge colonies fight endlessly with those of a different color, this need not mean that humans are destined to do the same.

I’m optimistic that, having been liberated from the myth of intrinsic meaning, human beings will gain the ability to make meaning instead, and that this unique ability will give us the opportunity to disobey biology’s commands.