This is an attempt to bring into discussions, currently underway, the arguments hitherto not considered or not voiced in the open because there is a general sense of fear of offending the masses, my aim is to discuss those issues that need better elucidation and to bring back the discussion to the basic premises when one is engaged in discussion/debate concerning freedom of speech and expression, and freedom of thought and conscience.
There have been attempts made by lawyers and judiciary to address this issue, progress has been made, albeit slowly and painfully, I am not discounting this fact.
With regards to freedom of thought and speech one must begin the discussion with the sound understanding of the human history, evolution, our place in the cosmos.
The fundamental flaw in understanding freedom is a failure to acknowledge where we come from and how we come about. The discussion always starts without taking into account the natural process of birth, and evolutionary history.
To illustrate my point, I would like to quote Professor Richard Dawkins from “Unweaving the Rainbow: Science, Delusion and the Appetite for Wonder”. “We are going to die, and that makes us the lucky ones. Most people are never going to die because they are never going to be born. The potential people who could have been here in my place but who will in fact never see the light of day outnumber the sand grains of Arabia. Certainly those unborn ghosts include greater poets than Keats, scientists greater than Newton. We know this because the set of possible people allowed by our DNA so massively exceeds the set of actual people. In the teeth of these stupefying odds it is you and I, in our ordinariness, that are here.” I would highly recommend you to watch this beautiful 4-minute video of the same on Youtube here https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=3&v=B94EtOOaoOM
Contemplate this sentence for a few days to understand the gravity of the matter and the extremely unlikely fact of our lives, now that we are here, let us for a moment reflect on that fact, did we choose to be born, importantly, did we choose to be born in a particular geography, di we choose who our parents should be, did we choose what language our mothers and fathers spoke? The simple answer to all these questions is a resounding no.
Now let us consider the history and evolution briefly, human beings have been around since 2,00,000 years in this planet, for much of our existence we did not have a coherent language and we did not have the know how to record what we experienced, the process of civilization is predicated on scientific breakthroughs of one kind or the other, humanity made great leaps because of cooking their food, cooked food meant we had to spend less energy in digesting what we ate that resulted in a surplus of energy which was utilised by the brains for thinking, this is why we are intelligent. The next ground-breaking advances were primarily because of agriculture, domestication, and then group formations, the social structures that slowly emerged had a powerful evolutionary advantage in the form of safety of young, distribution of labour, strengthening of altruism, also increased in group – out group distinction and rivalry among different groups. Somewhere along the line we also stupidly started believing in supernatural entities because we could not explain thunder, flowing water, volcanos, rain, lightening etc., This however is a significant step because that was the first attempt by human beings at understanding the surrounding which we found ourselves in.
Because of the advantage large groups provided, we gradually built civilisations and developed scripts for our languages, the advent of the scripts meant an explosion of transmission of ideas from one generation to the next and also from one civilisation to the other. Large civilisations also brought in the necessity to form social structures and need for keeping, the ones that took unfair advantage of the society, in check, so that society as a whole can be peaceful and prosper.
That is where we must start our question of individual, because till this point, individual had no restrictions, it is because of the social structures that we imposed restrictions on some of our freedoms for greater good, the people make a compromise with their freedoms so as to be happy and lead a life of considerable comfort afforded by being a part of the society.
However, with such social structure, the inherent problem of power vested by the people in few individuals to safeguard the society at large started to erode those freedoms not forgone too, the freedom of speech is one such freedom which was never willingly compromised by the individuals but the rulers gradually eroded that and we have the recorded history as a testament to the atrocities committed because of this erosion.
With this background, one must understand the importance of freedom of speech as a guardian against fascism, oligarchy, and dictatorship.
We had no choice in where we were born, nor did we choose our parents or the language, so it becomes imperative to question our loyalties to narrowly defined notions of states and nations particularly blind following of the people who espouse those narrow definitions of nations, language, ideology etc., At the same time, since we find ourselves in a social structure that should enable us to grow to our full potential but fails miserably primarily because of the greed and fascistic thugs that try to erode our freedoms, we must constantly make efforts to better the society we live in, that is our social and moral responsibility.
Recall the opening lines of “Unweaving the Rainbow”, this is the only chance we get to live a life, we must live a meaningful life, a considered life, a person who is not reflective is no better than a tree that stands for a thousand years without much change.
It is you and me in our ordinariness that need to fight the forces that try to divide us, it is our responsibility to bear the burden of protecting freedom of speech and expression against all those that try to take it away from us. Without that fundamental freedom, our societies will not be conducive to humanity.
So it is up to you and me to fight the current attack by the BJP/RSS and Narendra Modi and his thugs.
Rise India and fight for your the most basic and fundamental right, the right to be able to think, the right to be able to speak without the fear of oppression and persecution.
I am Dr Yogesh D, currently a postgraduate in Anatomy, I studied medicine to help the society, and eventually realised the larger social evils that are at the root of the misery of millions, hence decided to pursue a field where I can educate many young people so that the roots of misery, particularly religion and superstition can be eradicated slowly but permanently. I also intend to pursue a PhD in genetics and neurosciences so that I can do research that will help us understand ourselves better.
I am so fucking tired of seeing/reading things that have to do with religion. I don’t buy into any shit, yet I have to let go of my freedoms, my right to live a peaceful life where in I can concentrate my energy on doing something worthwhile. No sir, the religious nutbags will not let me live my life the way I see fit. They will not stop until they have ruined every single day of mine, have taken away all my freedoms, and have clamped an ever tightening noose around my throat, the more I struggle against the noose that binds my speech, and diminishes my life, the religious will pull at it even more, and suck out the life out of me.
I feel asphyxiated because freedom is my oxygen, and it is being sucked out from around me everyday.
I wish to continue scientific research, but this country offers me no space to embark on that endeavor.
It is a country of a billion idiots and it will be ruined, dragged back to the ages that we dare not recall.
The complacency of the majority (who will be the ones that will suffer) in this betrayal is heartbreaking to say the least.
The problem with literate but uneducated Indian people is that they have no concept of freedom, they have been enslaved to the idea of religion for far too long and far too fiercely has that been imposed upon them. I am fortunate enough to have some very bright minds as my friends and thanks to the internet, I can still breath.
But I keep wondering, when they come for my blood, I am sure they will (Narendra Dhabolkar, Kalburgi, Pansare are a few examples)… What will I be able to do?
The way things are going with the judiciary in this country, it is quite evident to me that I won’t get any solace/refuge there, the constitution can not protect me because of the innumerable holes in it, the people will not extend a hand because they will be the ones that will be demanding for my blood.
#NarendraModi may well be the doom of India as we know it.
The most compelling argument for “No god” is, history, paleontology, archaeology and biology.
If you study history carefully and understand archaeology, add evolution to that knowledge, you can not believe in something supernatural.. What I mean by this is…. In the history books we read how the civilizations came and went and along with the civilizations the gods of those civilizations have vanished, and this has been going on over and over again, new gods are invented and killed off, now keep this in mind and consider evolution of varied life forms on the planet, as far as you can see, no other animal worships or believes in any god, so why do humans believe in such supernatural things? it is because of the crucial differentiating factor between humans and other living beings, the crucial differentiating thing is how the brain works, the propensity or the capacity to form complex theories about the surroundings and to assign causality to events…
This particular characteristic is very useful for survival, so natural selection kicks in and selects individuals who form reasonable theories about their surroundings that help in their survival… The human brain goes on discovering more and more, and explains some things that are easy to understand, and then there are events that happen in his/her surroundings that s/he can not explain, he can’t find any causal relationship with anything else that is around, since the brain is getting good at forming theories, it starts making theories about the difficult events, (the human brain would rather have a conspiracy theory to no theory at all, that is how evolution has crafted our brains).
This is the reason humans invent gods, which again was a slow and gradual process, and this is the reason why you see gods or thunder, rain, light earthquakes and rivers and mountains in all civilizations and tribes, each inventing their own versions and giving these phenomenon a name in their own language… Then all this process goes into hyper drive when the communication between individuals becomes more understandable due to developing language…
Now comes the part of evidence to support this theory, and the evidence is in archaeology and paleontology, and evolutionary biology. So, if you combine all these disciplines you will see that gods were man made so you don’t need to believe in those folklore anymore because science can explain the unexplained phenomena, certainly there are some things we still have no clue about, but we don’t need to substitute god for the unknown because there is no need for it, as our history should make it clear. This is why I say there is no way any supernatural entity exists.
Consciousness is a loosely defined or ill defined term in most instances. Here I would like to make my contribution to that confusion.
In almost all cases, when we try to define consciousness, what we inadvertently do is to think only about the human beings and their capacity for consciousness. Till date most leading philosophers and biologists have mostly failed to apply that concept to organisms other than primates at the most.
For the purpose of encompassing the experiences of all living organisms I would define consciousness as “The awareness of any organism to its surroundings”. This definition does not include the quantitative measure of consciousness and the levels of consciousness in any particular species.
What use does this definition have? By defining this way, I would like to point out the basic physiologic processes of consciousness in any species and this will in turn lead to applying the concept not only to beings with a brain but to all living organisms and cells.
I will give you a few examples to illustrate my point. Take for example a bacterium, it is a prokaryotic single celled organism which, can we consider this as capable of having any consciousness? Not if you define consciousness as a product of neurons.
Now let us consider what this individual bacterium does and how it interacts with its surroundings. A bacterium needs to feed, so it needs to correctly identify which is food and which is not, it needs to identify what is there in its’ surroundings in order to survive and replicate, so how does it achieve this?
The answer to that is in the multitude of chemical interactions that occur on the surface of the bacterial cell wall as well as inside this bacteria. Bacteria have numerous cell surface proteins and other molecules which help the bacteria in identifying different types of other molecules, including other bacteria and viruses and even many eukaryotic cells which it comes in contact with, thus leading to chnages inside this single celled organism either to gulp in the molecule, or to replicate, or to secrete toxins and so on.
Now, the bacteria is reacting to the external factors in its surroundings, even though its capacity to identify the other molecules is limited by the space and it being a single celled organism, but it still does interact with a variety of other molecules, all that is happening inside and on the cell surface of this bacterium is plain chemical interactions, it does not think as we do, but it does not need to do the complex thinking because it is a simple single celled organism, on the other hand complex, multicellular organisms need better capabilities than that because of the difference in supplying the required nutrition to the cells which are arranged in differing variations. The cells in us differentiate during embryo genesis to form particular types of cells with set functions. The work of supplying nutrition and other things are taken care by a different type of cells.
Even in multicellular organisms, each individual cell is aware of its’ surroundings through intercellular and many other types of interactions such as hormonal, neuronal interactions. They are aware of their surroundings with the help of same molecules that help the bacteria, in some cases a slightly different type of molecule with differing modes of working , this can also be called as awareness of the cell. As demonstrated in the case of cancers, where in the cells lose these particular molecules or their functions due to mutations.
Consciousness applies to single cells and it applies to multicellular organisms with brains such as humans, but the capacity varies based on the requirements.
We humans have highly evolved brains, which is a collection of neurons which have a particular function. That is cognition, memory, homeostasis, language, integration of sensory inputs and so on, this evolution has made it necessary for human beings to develop a process of thinking to survive and adapt efficiently to varying environments. This also gives us the capacity to think abstract things such as mathematics, cosmology and the very process of evolution that lead to such beings, capable of reflection and theorization.
A human being develops from two half cells which unite to become one cell and go on multiplying and differentiating to finally produce a complete organism, and throughout this process and till the time we die, all that happens in our bodies is chemical interactions and reactions to different stimuli.
Each species has a different capacity for consciousness dependent on the constitution of the body, be it unicellular or multicellular, there is no need for mystifying the concept of consciousness for all practical purposes, be it philosophical or medical.
If you ask me, life is a misnomer coined by the idiots of bronze age humans for the lack a better understanding.. Let me try and define life for all the people who might find it maybe interesting and amusing too.. (I warn you.. some may find this disheartening and hurtful) Life is a term which tries to capture all the complex and not so complex chemical reactions that occur in a cell that lead to cellular integrity and preservation of the cellular structure and it’s organelles along with genetic duplication and replication which are also an integral part of being a cell and are nothing but elaborate and some times erroneous chemical reactions.
Note: I do not own the images, they were taken from the internet and were not protected by any copyright, if you feel these should not be included, I would respect that, but I would appreciate if you let me use them for illustration. These images are actual photos taken with scanning electron microscopes
For the sake of those interested I want to make a very small correction to your notion of evolution.
First thing, all living organisms have evolved to the same degree.. It’s characteristics are determined by the usefulness of the characteristic that living organism has.. If there is no rate limiting characteristic to an evolutionary change, it might get preserved over generations due to various interacting factors or it might get lost at some point, the rate limiting ones are the ones that matter in evolution mostly, because, for example, if an evolutionary change means that the organism with that trait lives longer and produces many offsprings, then that will eliminate most of the species which do not carry that genotype, hence it is rate limiting.. others which do not have such rate limiting effect will have no effect on continuation of species, and such will be just evolutionary byproducts, which might be very useful, like language in humans… but that is not a very good rate limiting factor..
And for your information, many animals do have some sort of communicating powers, we just don’t understand their language all the time, we do understand some very faintly, but not all,
And one more important thing is, speciation occurs because of accumulated genetic changes, and these genetic changes are dependent on environmental factors, exposure to radiation, genetic replication and such factors, and contrary to popular belief among theists, it is not just a random and chance occurrence.. and these genetic changes happen differently in different geographic, environmental conditions, that is why we see certain marsupials specific to certain areas and so on.. so based on these changes and evolution by natural selection, we get equally evolved species at any given point in time, but we erroneously favor certain particular characteristics that make us human as the yardsticks to measure evolution. That in my opinion is not correct. Just because we love some things about ourselves like overt reasoning and language does not make us superior to any other living organisms.
My best example would be compare yourselves to HIV, it is highly successful at replicating itself and continuing its progeny and it is ruthless at it, but it does not have any language or thought process, which does not matter to it at all.. not even remotely, it is highly evolved to sustain its replication cycle, there is no need for it acquire language.
I hope this is sufficient.
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