The Tyrant King

In the history of our immensely fertile planet, which has been a veritable oasis in the cosmic desert of the Universe, there has arisen an extraordinary variety of living organisms, in all shapes and sizes, from the smallest microbe to the largest reptile or mammal. These organisms differ in every possible feature one can think of, whether in size, colour, texture, shape, diet, habitat, behaviour, method of reproduction or locomotion, defense mechanisms, perceptual systems, and the duration of their lives. What is true of these organisms, however, is that, with very few exceptions, their behaviour has been almost completely determined by their genes. Thus, changes in an organism’s behaviour could only occur when there was a change in the underlying genes that determined its behaviour. This made these organisms less adaptable to changes in their environment than a species like us humans, whose behaviour is not subjected to the almost global limitations of genetically-determined behaviour. The fact that their behaviours were genetically determined also made these organisms much more vulnerable to changes in their environment, whatever the cause.

It is difficult for most people to understand just how unusual and revolutionary this change was. Because we are familiar with rapid human behavioural changes, changes that are visible even over the evolutionarily insignificant period of a few decades or centuries, we have grown accustomed to these changes and therefore regard them as normal.

Previously, the fact that an organism’s behaviour was determined by its genes limited the damage that any single species could do to other organisms, as well as to the environment in which it lived. In a sense, then, the tyranny of genes – the fact that an organism’s behaviour is mostly or wholly determined by its genes – is Nature’s safeguard against any species from becoming too dominant, and thereby disrupting the balance that exists in all systems, whether these systems are animate or inanimate, such as the Earth’s rotation and the regular motions of the planets around the Sun. Even the fearsome tyrannosaurus rex, named the “tyrant king” by us humans, was not able to tyrannize over other living creatures in the way that we humans have done during the Earth’s recent history. For, unlike us, it is debatable whether these dinosaurs caused the extinction of any species during their long period of existence.[1] Considering how much harm and devastation we have wrought during our very brief period of ascendancy over the Earth’s many other inhabitants, “tyrannosaurus rex” is a much more appropriate name for our species rather than the carnivorous dinosaurs with the large mouth of pointy teeth. For while these fearsome dinosaurs caught and devoured their prey, just like any other predator, they did not tyrannize over them, and they most certainly did not put other organisms in cages or subject them to other forms of captivity, as we are wont to do, especially in the case of those animals that many of us like to eat.

After several billions of years of an incredible variety of different life forms on the Earth, the human species can be regarded as an experiment conducted by the Creator: why not create a species that is free from the tyranny of genes, a species that is able to speak, create, comprehend, and express wonder at the great and glorious Creation, and see what happens? There is, of course, no need for us to try to answer this question, for, preoccupied as most of us are with all things human, we know exactly what has happened. But what we do not yet know is how this divine experiment will end.

The primary question now is whether we are intelligent enough to recognize the very grave dangers that lie before us, which are due to our overly great cleverness and arrogance in supposing that we can solve all the problems that confront us – problems that are entirely the result of our extremely foolish collective behaviours. For if we fail to see the errors of our ways and correct them before it is too late, then this divine experiment will clearly have been a catastrophic failure. Because many of us believe in the foolish conceit that whatever is done by human beings must necessarily be good, we are rendered blind to the great injustice and devastation that we are presently wreaking on the many other inhabitants of the Earth by our liberation from the tyranny of genes. In being liberated from this ancient wisdom – a wisdom that has enabled an enormous variety of different organisms to flourish and co-exist with each other during their time on Earth – we have become the true Tyrannosaurus Rex, the Tyrant King that foolishly and arrogantly tyrannizes over all of God’s Creation, as if we, and not the true Creator, were the masters of this wondrously fertile domain that we call the Earth, a planet which we have been privileged to inhabit, but which, increasingly, because of our colossal stupidity and selfishness, we are now in the process of marring, disfiguring, and destroying by our tyrannical collective actions.

[1] It is, of course, impossible to answer this question, but we can consider the analogy with whales, which are the largest sea creatures of all time, and therefore the largest animals ever to exist on the Earth. Even though whales must consume vast quantities of food, there is no evidence that they have caused the extinction of any of the species which they consume and depend on for their long-term survival, since their prey species are able to reproduce rapidly and in very large numbers.