The Higher Organism

I never liked this Dawkins “we are our genes” theory – which isn’t what Dawkins was saying in the first place but which nonetheless has become a popular idea. (& excuse)

That’s like saying novels are words that unite in certain ways to create stories, so that people won’t toss away the sheets of paper they live on. Hogwash! Words are no more sentient than genes. No, novels are something different from words, a product of their emergent properties of creating images, scenes, conflicts, and evoking emotional responses in humans – all of which are incomprehensible to the words that make them up. In a sense, we humans are likely to be “words” in a cosmic supernatural super organism whose emergent properties we cannot understand. You can wallow in the self-pity of being a slave to your genes, or you can embrace the as-of-yet barely understood reality that we are all elements of a greater being. (That’s the theology of the Church I attend on Sundays.)

One inspires you to greatness as part of a universal web of all living things, while the other marginalizes all that you do to be more than just a walking bag of genetic material. I choose to believe a third perspective – that we part of a fractal-like conscious existence. Whereas genes make organisms, organisms with a thinking mind make super-organisms, who might be the genes of something else. Thus our purpose is to understand the nature of that super-organism, whom I have a hunch is defined by our our worldview, our aspirations, and our everyday moral choices.

Drew Dudley gets it:

“We’ve made leadership about changing the world, and there is no world. There’re only six billion understandings of it. And if you change one person’s understanding of how powerful an agent for change they can be in this world, you’ve changed the whole thing.”


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