The big mistake made so often by both religious, and often non-religious, is that somehow we are a special animal. A not-really-an-animal animal.
But we are not.
Special, that is. Okay, so we’re special in that we are top of the class. We can do some seriously cool and clever stuff (and some downright terrible stuff), but we are not a different category to other animals.
I was watching a fascinating nature programme on the BBC just now, about the biggest land migration on the world – that of the Caribou in the Alaska / Canada area. Just seeing how the herd have to fend for themselves in such a harsh and threatening environment was enough to recognise the severity of the challenge. As well as climate and physical geography to contend with, there are predators such as grizzlies and wolves waiting at every moment to ensure their own continued survival. These predators are themselves on the edge. 80% of wolf cubs die, and the average wolf will not live past four years.
It’s tough, for every animal.
So I got myself another glass of pinot.
Our relative comfort has allowed us delusions of grandeur. We look at these animals and see struggles for survival played out in a scenario of a purpose-driven life; one of survival and reproduction. It’s just that. Survive to reproductive age, succeed in mate selection, and hey presto! Job done.
We throw about philosophy, religion, meaning and purpose, jobs, materialism, hedonism, asceticism, so on and so forth. But really, when it comes down to it, we are just animals. Fancy animals, but animals nonetheless.
Just with very long retirements.