True character arises from a deeper well than religion. It is the internalization of moral principles of a society, augmented by those tenets personally chosen by the individual, strong enough to endure through trials of solitude and adversity. The principles are fitted together into what we call integrity, literally the integrated self, wherein personal decisions feel good and true. Character is in turn the enduring source of virtue. It stands by itself and excites admiration in others.
These slender little people (Homo Habilis), the size of modern 12 year olds, were devoid of fangs and claws and almost certainly slower on foot than the four legged animals around them. They could have succeeded in their new way of life only by relying on tools and sophisticated cooperative behavior
Biology is a science of three dimensions. The first is the study of each species across all levels of biological organization, molecule to cell to organism to population to ecosystem. The second dimension is the diversity of all species in the biosphere. The third dimension is the history of each species in turn, comprising both its genetic evolution and the environmental change that drove the evolution. Biology, by growing in all three dimensions, is progressing toward unification and will continue to do so.
Humanity is a biological species, living in a biological environment, because like all species, we are exquisitely adapted in everything: from our behavior, to our genetics, to our physiology, to that particular environment in which we live. The earth is our home. Unless we preserve the rest of life, as a sacred duty, we will be endangering ourselves by destroying the home in which we evolved, and on which we completely depend.
On the lawn next to the sidewalk a fire ant colony is swarming. The ants are pouring out of a mound nest, here no more than an irregular pile of dirt partly flattened by the last pass of a lawnmower. Winged queens and males are taking off on their nuptial flight, protected by angry-looking workers that run up and down the grass blades and out onto the blistering-hot concrete of the sidewalk. The species is unmistakably Solenopsis geminata, the native fire ant.
Humanity today is like a waking dreamer, caught between the fantasies of sleep and the chaos of the real world. The mind seeks but cannot find the precise place and hour. We have created a Star Wars civilization, with Stone Age emotions, medieval institutions, and godlike technology. We thrash about. We are terribly confused by the mere fact of our existence, and a danger to ourselves and to the rest of life.
The great paradox of determinism and free will, which has held the attention of the wisest of philosophers and psychologists for generations, can be phrased in more biological terms as follows: If our genes are inherited, and our environment is a train of physical events set in motion before we were born, how can there be a truly independent agent within the brain? The agent itself is created by the interaction of the genes and the environment. It would appear that our freedom is only a self delusion.
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