Some of us have always been atheists. Some of us are moving toward atheism and the changes can be hard to accept.
Having distinguished ancestors is nice, but how distinguished is pond scum? What's okay about being their descendants; what's not okay?
Our progeny need not be superior; they need only be adapted.
Indeed, they should be superior (better) adapted to their environment.
What we arrogant humans think about evolution and how it has progressed to the point of sentience is all fine and dandy, but it's still arrogance. We are not superior in an evolutionary sense to a nematode wurm for instance.
I agree with all you say, Rob, about evolution merely being adaptation - not a trend toward smarter or more superior. Nevertheless, I think we have the potential to grow beyond evolutionary selection. I think we have the capacity to organize our reproduction globally, to guide our own development. Not in the present corrupt political climate, of course. If we can breed dogs, we can breed us. It would require a more sophisticated global collaboration and a more just world, a more connected fairer culture.
The problem with using words like "superior" is that it gives the impression that evolution is a ladder, with "inferior" life forms at the bottom, and "superior" life forms at the top. Instead, a better model of evolution is a tree with spreading branches. Simple organisms are at the base of the trunk, with more complex organisms a the tips of the branches, and a great number of steps between.
A tree is a better metaphor. According to the cyanobacteria article The Nerd referred to, those simple organisms at the base of the trunk are still with us in many forms.
What's not ok is thinking that since we are animals that we must always do what is "natural." Rape is natural. Cannibalism is natural. We need to remember that even though we are descendants of pond scum, we should always be looking up, not looking back.
Today's Repubs, who never tire of saying they will repeal regulations, are looking back.
A fundamentalist I know recently told me he wants them repealed. I told him he wants to bring back the law of the jungle. He didn't reply and I figured he hadn't thought of the consequences.
always good to get a bit of moralising in there to keep us all on track :)
I'm also pretty excited to have "pond scum" relatives!
I mean, i assume by pond scum you mean algae? I think people just don't usually take the time to understand how amazing a critter it is and just judge it based on a superficial glance. But if folks got to know different algae species better they'd probably be favorably impressed.
Even just under a microscope, it friggin looks cool!! Not even getting into all the various adaptive strategies they've taken on over the years, and really intense ways such a little thing can have a big impact (good and bad) on its environment.
Several years ago during a lunchtime chat with friends, the subject of the human body's many frailties came up. Before we finished, I asked "How can we not tell anti-evolutionists that their god f*cked up?"
I googled the expression and found that during the 1950s, a student in a New England college had used it in an essay and the college expelled him. He went to San Francisco and became one of America's beat poets.
For about a year, I googled it every few months and each time found more hits than the time before. I started using it to check public library computers for net nanny software.
Darwin himself did not coin the word 'evolution'. His word used was 'transmutations'...and when you tell a Christian this - they seem quite puzzled. When you ask if they believe living things can 'mutate' - they agree. It's just that word 'evolution' that they have been taught to disown - just like the word atheist.