Many of the world’s problems are directly related to people’s refusal to think. I’m not referring to the kind of thinking that is synonymous to having a gut originating opinion. This type of thinking is ubiquitous. It’s the type of thinking that gives free reign to dictators and yields power to congressional representatives in pseudo-democracies. The kind of thinking to which I refer is summed up in René Descartes’ reflective statement, Cogito, ergo sum. Sadly, this sort of thinking is scarce.
The most remarkable scientific advances of our times have been in the fields of physics and genetics. Biology has taken major strides since Ernest Rutherford discovered the atom’s nucleus in 1909 and Francis Crick and James Watson announced the double helix in 1953. Among these advances is a new understanding of the nucleus of the atom as, essentially, a vacuum. This modification of our scientific understanding of material reality did not undermine our estimation of science. Rather it demonstrated one of its basic characteristics. No scientific thesis intends to be the last word.
I’ve heard people say, “The value of a human life is incalculable.”
No, it isn’t. We set a value on lives all the time. The valuation requires some big generalizations, is based on hard-to-pin-down factors, and differs with the context in which it’s measured. But there’s no doubt that a life has definable value.
As a person who exhibits dominant African genes, it’s always a privilege to visit the region from which my ancestors were kidnapped about two or three centuries ago. Although they were probably abducted from one of the tribal nations in the west, placing my foot anywhere on the continent evokes an indescribable feeling of belonging. Admittedly, all of my sentiments are not warm and fuzzy, for the African social scape is cluttered by chains of colonization that in many ways appear to be permanent.