The Fallacy of Social Evolution

First of all, let me define my terms. What do I mean by social evolution? Well, it’s a close companion to the theory of evolution. It basically states that all of our social behaviors have evolved for millions of years and are still evolving. You should note that this evolution has no direction. It doesn’t understand if it’s going up or down or left or right or if it’s going round and round. It is basically a balloon full of hot air which goes wherever the wind blows.

But, according to this particular theory, a few thousand years ago, someone tied a rope to that balloon. Then someone tied another and another and then they kept tying ropes for a few thousand years. Now, the balloon couldn’t go wherever it wanted to. Rather, it is controlled by the people that tie and cut the ropes. Generally, the system that handles tying and cutting the ropes is known as the government.

Now, the government in the 21st century is largely influenced by the people that are governed. If the people don’t like the government, they stage a coup d’etat and overthrow whoever is governing. Egypt is a recent example. And then, the people have the power to bind and loosen the ropes that lets the balloon float.

That is a quite convenient arrangement. What it means is, now we have the power to shape tomorrow’s world. Now, there is a social organism which controls it’s own social evolution. That is quite interesting. It is also quite intoxicating. It feels good to be in power.

Now let me get to the point. The world I see around me fits the last description. Humans do have the power to shape tomorrow. But what I don’t agree with is the beginning. The Darwinian theory of evolution. Because the Darwinian theory of evolution and social evolution are quite contradictory. I don’t mean to say that a thing such as a contradiction exists in the world of Darwinian evolution, however, it does exist in the world where I live.

Where is this contradiction? I’ll tell you. We all know that humans have an inherent desire to do good. Even the bad things that people do must have some element of goodness in it. So, when we try to shape the tomorrow by forming laws, we desire to make the world better. Not worse. But good and bad don’t exist in the naturalistic world. So then, what the heck is Joe doing forming laws?

But since I am feeling generous today, let’s grant a morality to naturalistic philosophy. Suppose that good and bad is the product of evolution. So, we have a set of standards defined by a blind process of which one we don’t like and one we strive for. Alright. But if that’s the case then we are actually being controlled by the process of evolution and we aren’t actually shaping the world of tomorrow. We are just playing out a script that has been written by a blind process which in all probability does not exist. We are the puppets and the universe is pulling the strings. You know, there is a word for it. Fatalism. Where Dr. Fate decides everything and you don’t have the freedom to choose anything.

So, any way you look at it, in a naturalistic framework, it is self defeating through and through. BUT, (and it’s a big but) it seems that it is true. We just need to look at our history to know that mankind has actually shaped the world we see around us today. So, maybe it is true. If you have read so far, you must be wondering what does it mean? Why is it important?

It is important because we are shaping the world of tomorrow. With each action, we are changing the world. However, it is more important today that it was before because of the prevalence of the scientific methodology in the modern thought. I don’t mean to say that the scientific methodology is wrong. It is perfect. But I’m not sure if that is the right methodology to apply in the regards of social or cultural reform.

The reason is, science helps you determine a certain category of truth. Namely about the physical world. However, there are certain things that science can not tell you. It can’t tell you the meaning of love (or meaning of anything for that matter). It can only help you gather information. Nothing else. The scientific methodology consists of trial and error. In layman’s terms, it is about gathering data from experiments and then refining those experiments to reach the truth.

However, this particular method itself is problem for social evolution. Because it means experimenting with society. With people. Testing on human subjects without their informed consent is considered a crime. Still it’s ok to do so under the label of social evolution. In social matters, it is better to find the right way without experimenting. Otherwise, humanity will incur a great loss.

Supposing that any civilization tries to go by the literal meaning of social evolution and tries to find the ideal government or society. If a society goes in the search of utopia, who guarantees that it will ever get there? Who’s to say that they will not fall into the thousand pitfalls of all the modern and ancient philosophies and become just another casualty? Just a tragic tale telling others to not go by a certain route? Just another case study at a community college?

Who can by certainty say that such a system even exists? And who is to say that with our finite knowledge and understanding we will ever find it if it exists? Who is to say that we will not keep trying the wrong way until every single one of us ceases to exist? Modern thinkers say, “Our morality is constantly evolving. What is good today might not be good tomorrow!” All I can say to them is, “Nonsense! You were a good thinker yesterday but today you are not!”

This is the problem with our generation. We don’t know the truth and we don’t know what is truth. I wrote a story to illustrate what I have said in this post. There can be a thousand wrong ways in which humans may try to evolve the society into. However, there can be only one right way. There are many angles at which one can fall but only one angle at which one can stand.

This is one basic property of truth. Truth is exclusive and it eliminate all falsehood. Once you know the truth, you can tell what is false. A single truth can eliminate a thousand lies however a thousand lies can not point towards a single truth. The scientific method is not a reasonable method for social reform. For it assumes nothingness in the beginning, it will lead to nothingness in the end.

What then, can be the solution? Should we just settle for things just as they are? By no means. I said, in a naturalistic framework, it is self defeating. Not in the theistic framework. In theistic framework, social reform is possible. However, it is not evolution. For one, unlike evolution, it has definite goal. It is reformation rather than evolution. I told you that I wrote a story. Go read that if you haven’t.

Read it? No? Go read that. I’ll wait.

Waiting…

At this time, we do not need to figure out the thousands of ways in which the civilization can fall. We need one way where it can stand. Since the theories like the one that I have just discussed makes it crystal clear that we do not know which way we should be going, it’s obvious that we should take advice from someone who does know.

Did you notice the description of the stranger in that story? A stranger that fell from the sky an instant before! Someone who knew the way and was willing enough to help him. Someone who cared enough to come down to earth to help him.

Well that story never ever took place, however something similar took place in our world. Check your history books. About 2000 years ago, you will find a figure in history that has changed the whole world. His legacy is unparalleled. In 3 and a half years of public ministry, he turned all the philosophies of the world upside down. He showed us a model to live by. Philosophers searched for truth. He claimed to be the truth. The atheistic thinkers of the 21st century talk about a world constantly changing, evolving in God knows what! But for past 2000 years, his figure, his message and his impact has stayed constant.

Only in what he says, I see hope for our world. Only in him I see the remedy for our society. Only in his teachings I see a way to change our corrupt nation. Let the darkness be pierced by the shining light of his glory. Let the nation be conquered by his love. Let his body prepare for the coming battle. Let the church arise!

The Safest Route

He was still in his office when he heard the news. A riot had broken out in the city. Office was closing up and everyone was going to their homes. And so was our hero. He had called his home and everyone was safe, however he was still worried about them. As he was leaving his office, he was wondering which way he should take.

He was gifted with an analytic mind by birth and he loved to solve puzzles. Also, he was of that particular type of dreamers who saw adventures everywhere. To him, life was never dull but a bit much too exciting. To add to that, he was liberally exposed to video games in his childhood where he had saved the universe countless times. So, to him, this seemed like another adventure of which he was a hero.

Who knows? One day, maybe he will really save the whole universe. But for today, he wasn’t fighting to save the universe, he was just trying to get to his family. But to him, it was all the same. His family was his universe. So, as he was leaving his office, the child inside of him had already envisioned the whole adventure. His goal was set and now the work had been given to his analytic mind.

He told himself, there are six possible ways I can reach home. Since the goal is to simply reach home, it would be best to avoid any conflict. Which route would be the safest? Considering such incidents in the past, the neighborhoods around the city and the news he had heard so far, he determined a particular route that should be safe.

He kickstarted his bike and started his journey towards his home. Just a couple of blocks later, he saw some people coming in the opposite direction. Judging by their faces, they looked confused and a bit afraid. He concluded that they are probably in the same situation as he. He asked them, “Is it safe this way?” pointing towards the direction in which he was going. “No.” said a stranger. He hit the brakes and asked, “Do you know which way would be safe?” The stranger inquired, “Where do you want to go?” “The mad gorillas park.” “That way… I don’t know… but don’t go this way. It isn’t safe.”

Considering this new bit of information, he turned around and headed towards his second option. Just a few blocks later, again, a similar episode followed. So, in his quest for reaching his home near the mad gorillas park, he turned towards his third option. Again, a similar episode followed. However, this time it had twist.

The stranger seemed to know a safe way to reach the mad gorillas park. However, the problem was, the way he was describing wasn’t in any of his options. He was describing a completely different way. Our hero didn’t even knew if this way really existed. The other startling thing about this stranger was, it seemed that the stranger wasn’t normal and acted like he had just fell out of the sky an instant before.

The more startling thing was the intensity with which the stranger showed the way to our hero and stood there as if demanding to our hero to take that route. As he looked at the stranger, it seemed as if the stranger was getting larger and larger by every second. The stranger just stood there, but he stood there with a force of a mountain.

Our hero had never felt anything like it before. In his heightened state of mind, he did something he would have never done. He took a route that he didn’t know to reach a place he did know through a city that was trying to devour him all because he met the strangest stranger he ever met.

Not surprisingly, the stranger was right. Our hero reached his home safe and sound and lived happily ever after.


^ That never happened. I made it up. Why? Well, I wanted to tell something and I needed an illustration. You can read all about it.

Managing Information

I’m studying and working. Plus, working in a field that is changing everyday. Everyday something becomes obsolete and without learning something new, one’s skillsets can become obsolete very fast. And then, I like to do a lot of reading outside of my field. What this means is, I have to be on top of a lot of information. I have to keep track of it. I have to revise it periodically.

So, because of this requirement, over the years, I have developed several techniques and I thought, I’d share it. The first step is to classify or categorize this information.

However information is not like carrots and potatoes. You can’t separate one from other so easily. Sometimes you can but not so often. It flows from one category to another like our conversations flow. We start discussing cars and end up debating religion. You can’t say where one ended and second began. That is because conversations are basically an exchange of information. Of ideas.

This makes it pretty difficult to create a system that can handle all kinds of information. One of the reasons why pen and paper are so successful is because they are very flexible. However most of software aren’t. Most software work on definite structure and this structure restricts it from being used for certain kinds of information.

But, let’s get back on track. As I said, first task is to classify. I’d basically like to classify the information in three sections. One, small tasks. Two, big tasks. Three, detailed studies.

  1. Small tasks: Small tasks are things that you can do in a small amount of time. In this section, I basically define tasks that can be completed under 4 hours of time. However, about 80% of these tasks take less than 1 hour. Also, sometimes I take big 4 hour tasks and divide them in subtasks of smaller amount of time.
  2. Big tasks: Big tasks are things like a project. Reading a book. Detailed study of a particular subject. Things that can’t be finished in one sitting. I normally work on 1 or 2 big tasks at a time. These big tasks get divided in smaller tasks and then I schedule these smaller tasks.
  3. Detailed studies: In this section, I put all my studies and reading. All the things I read go into this section. I’ll talk about this later.

Managing tasks

Small ones

Did I ever tell you that I use Emacs? Well, I do. I use it a lot. And I use it for task management also. In fact, there is so much written about it for task management that I’m not going to go into it. I’ll just tell you to go here.

Big ones

Well, here be the beasts and dinosaurs. In here you’ll see things like “Read: The art of computer programming (all finished volumes) by Donald Knuth” However, finishing this task will take hundreds of hours. All the projects and ideas go into this section as well. And then one by one, each one get divided into smaller tasks when I get around to actually do these things.

Detailed studies

This is basically things like reading essays, books or documentations to learn and understand new things. The irony of this activity is, without doing this, you can’t do anything else. Yet, nobody will tell you to do this. They will only tell you to do other things…

The way I do it is in the following order: Read, revise, reference. First I’ll tell what I do in each of these things and then, I’ll talk about the tools that I use.

  1. Read: Does the thing that you are doing right now need an explanation of how? If so, then the end of the world is upon us! But, I do one little thing that you might not be doing. I highlight the main points and phrases. I highlight key information points. Why?
  2. Revise: Because it helps me to revise. If it took me an hour to read a particular article, and I have highlighted it, it will take me only 10 minutes to revise it. However, for this to happen, the highlighting should be accurate. If you are too liberal with the highlights it will do you no good…
  3. References: By God’s grace, I have very good memory. Once I read and understand something, I can recall the concept anytime. But what I can’t recall is the exact phrases used in describing it. I might forget the terms. That’s why when doing something else, I might recall a particular concept but can’t recall how exactly to phrase it. So, I go back to that original article/book whatever it was and search for it.

So, those are the three activities I find myself doing frequently. Now, first and second activity can be done on printed media quite well. However, I don’t know if the third can be done. And even if it can be done, it won’t be as efficient as in electronic media. I’m talking about web pages and ebooks. If you want to search for some word or phrase in a document you just need to give it a command. That’s why I choose ebooks over printed books.

The tools I use are the following:

  1. Emacs: You might be wondering what the heck is this emacs thing… well, it’s a thermonuclear word processor. It’s on the verge of achieving sentience! It’s a wild beast. But once you tame it, it becomes your greatest ally.
    • Org mode: Org mode can be called as the crown jewel of emacs. It can do so many things that I’m not sure that there is a complete list anywhere. I use it to write notes, capture notes and tasks(org-capture), write blogs (org2blog), do study assignments (export to pdf), manage and schedule tasks, track habits and so much more.
    • Deft: This little extension of emacs can be used to do access your notes very quickly. Basically you just start typing and it will search for that particular word in all your notes contained in different files. It basically does a full text search.
  2. Evernote: This piece of software is absolutely awesome. It is basically designed to be a note taking program. But it does much more than that. It syncs those notes across different platforms. If you haven’t tried it, you really should.
    • Evernote clearly: Evernote clearly is an extension for chrome and firefox web browsers. It does few things which are very useful. One, it makes the web pages easy to read by removing all the other useless things and advertisements from the page. You can also annotate things on the web page using clearly. Once you are done reading/annotating you can save that web page to your evernote notebook. Available to you any time you like. Even if the original web page moves or gets deleted, you’ll still have a copy of that web page. It’s just great tool.
  3. Xournal: I use this program to annotate pdf files. In other words, ebooks. So it is easy for me to review/revise what I have just studied.

With the help of these tools, I can easily do things that I need to do with information. Read, revise and reference. And I can also manage the information regarding my time with the same tools. Which is a bonus.

A compilation of Essays (2012)

A few days ago, I had an idea. Guess what? Ideas have consequences. Sometimes in blog posts. This is one such post. The idea was that I should compile a list of all the essays I have written in the year 2012 and create an ebook so it can be read offline. I have done just that. You can download the ebooks right here:

PDF: 2012
epub:2012.epub (It’s a zip because wordpress wouldn’t allow epub directly for security reasons…)

Hanging by a thread

There it is. Everyday, before my eyes. Following me everywhere. Like my shadow. A quiet but eager witness. My companion. It is there since I was a child. As far as I could remember, it was always there. When I was young, I used to play around it. It was everywhere in my little world. Everywhere I went, it was there. I used to tell others about it, but I realized nobody else could see it. Only I could see. How can it be? I often wondered. How can they not see it? It’s as plain as daylight. A golden thread hanging from beyond the sky.

In all my days, it has been at the center of my cosmos. Its mystery, has kept me enchanted many nights, and its beauty, converging before the rising sun, is my great delight. Yet there is something amiss. For there is an aura of inexplicable splendor that surrounds it. It fills me with absolute fear when I get closer, around it. I can not explain it in words because there are no words to describe it. It’s as if I know that with just one touch, my whole world will be swept away. In all these years, I have never touched it.

I know it’s strange, but it is the truth. It is strange because it is the truth. For all these years, I’ve been right here. Going to places, talking to people day in and day out. Every day is another circle. A circle around the center which I dare not touch. It is easy. It does not require much enterprise. My feet has learned the way. Every step and turn, engraved in the eternal day. That is where I have been all these years. This is my life, my night and day.

I’ve been here for many years now. In these years of peace, I’ve marked the safe pieces. The places in which I’m at ease. I avoid the bad places, places torn in deceit. Away from golden cord, far from the abyss of darkness, in this ring of gray, I’m perfectly me. But something tells me that this will not last. At the midnight, shadows conspire. Something is not right. In my soul I feel the whole globe on a tipping point. A storm is coming.

The darkness moves before my eyes. Blinding me. My eyes can’t see the golden thread, the source of my life. The shadows dance around me, as if I was a campfire. Dark clouds cover the horizon as the blood red sun sets on the other side. Thunder and lightning! Cold winds blow past my face as I stand stricken by terror. Standing apprehended inside my safe haven, my circle betrays me. A storm has risen right before my eyes and I did not see it.

I fight the shadows but they evade my blows, I try to stand my ground but the wind pushes me. I am weighed down by the world that I made. Being crushed by the dual fists of fight and fatigue. As I loose my strength, I fall on my knees. Looking at heavens in a plea of help. As I try to see through the darkness that surrounds me, I see a glimmer. A feint golden sparkle. The heavens have heard my plea as I am reminded of the thread that has sewn my life.

Just a glimpse is enough to revitalize every organ in my body. My soul is elated to a degree heavenly. My aim is set and I launch myself towards it. The gods of the storm try to overpower me, but they are dead. The dead have no power among the living. The thread gives me life as I run towards it. Pushing away the darkness that surround me, I hungrily step towards the light. I am there and for a moment, time stands still.

The storm is stricken immobile, like a murderer caught red handed. I see around me and the whole world has stopped. A gentle voice calls my name. It tells me a story. It tells me that a boy fell into a well. So, the villagers lowered a rope for him to climb out of the well. But he did not. I asked, Why? The voice tells me that the boy did not knew that he had fell inside a well. He also did not know how much his parents were missing him. So the boy continued to live inside the well.

How can that be? How can he not know he had fell inside a well? The voice tells me, I am asking the same question. Look around you! Are you not in a well? Behold, even before your birth, I have lowered a rope for you to climb. For so many years you have seen it and you still haven’t understood my love for you. Look, the thread that binds my heart with yours is before you. Take hold of it and live! I hear a thunder, and look back towards the storm.

My life flashes before my eyes. I see my childhood. I see all the events that led up to this point. I see the darkness that was before me. I see beyond. Beyond the darkness I see a great and mighty hand. I see maneuvers that shaped me, pointing towards the thread of life. It all becomes crystal clear. I turn towards the golden thread and do not look back. I take hold of it.

On that fateful day something wonderful happened. A lost son found his daddy. A loving father found his lost son. The gap between two worlds was bridged. The heart of the son was knit together with the heart of the father. My heart was knit with God’s. Christ was the thread.