4. Consciousness, Society & Progress

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What does it mean to be “human”? Isn’t it kinda cool you can even ask that question? Imagine a stone going “what is it to be a ‘stone’?” Okay okay I’m being unfair. Let’s pose that question to the next nearest intelligent life-form whose existence we are aware of. So next time you meet an orangutan ask the orangutan, “What is an orangutan?” You’ll probably have to use sign language since Orangutans aren’t well versed in English and.....oh wait, that’s right, Orangutans can’t even vocalise, let alone wonder what it means to exist. Clearly the gap between humans and any other lifeforms is ineffably vast. So what does it mean to be “human”?

To answer that question we must understand where we come from. We are all children of evolution. Evolution has wrought us, from the single celled organisms that appeared a few billions years ago we have been carried on the crest of evolutionary processes to what we are today, homo sapiens. What was this process that has seemingly performed a feat of magic? How can you get a human being from cells that are little more than bundled proteins?

To be quite honest, gaining a functional understanding of evolution is really easy. All the information that’s required to ‘make’ you is encoded in your genes. Approximately 99.9% of human genes are common to everyone and the remainder accounts for the differences. Genes change from generation to generation

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