why are we worth anything?
In the long and evolving history of the Earth, many powerful and great species have come and gone. Dinosaurs come to my mind, but also wonderful sea creatures, species of flying animals, and other can be found now only as bones in our museums. We know a lot about these once living beings by their bone structures, but what do we know of their brains, their ability to think of themselves as unique and important individuals? Did dinosaurs ever wonder why their world was coming to an end, or did they simply plod along until there was no more food, when they had to lay down and die?
As a child I wondered at these animals, being something of a budding scientist at about age five. A dinosaur bones were found in an area and a museum came and took it away for their collection. I would go to the museum at times to see it in the display case, but now it's been retired, I am told. Yet I wondered more about the animal itself. Was it self-aware? I didn't know what that word meant at an early age, and I still struggle with exactly why it would make us so special in the Universe at large. Maybe it doesn't. Perhaps self-awareness is more of a curse than a blessing, because we know one day we are all going to die. Some of us find comfort in our religious thoughts, of a life after this, but others of us who doubt that scenario have to ask ourselves, what makes us so special as a species, and do we have a right to exist?
All things change, so the saying goes. Once the Earth was much different than it is today. The huge coal and oil deposits tell us of another age, a warmer age, with higher humidity and higher carbon dioxide levels than we have today. It was an age of animals we would not recognise today unless we had museums to show us what these fantastic monsters and microorganisms were actually like. One day will some other creature evolve intelligence as great or greater than our and wonder at our bones found in layers of rock and...