Some days you have this great idea you think you’d like to blog about, and other days you just get totally sidetracked by some other idea which bullies its way to the forefront of your brain. Okay, maybe that doesn’t actually happen to you. But it happens to me with alarming regularity. Thus today, Jeff Watson posted an article on Facebook concerning humor, and suddenly all the disconnected thoughts I’ve had over the last week congealed.
For instance, it was only yesterday that Fakesister and I were having a conversation about what sets humans apart from other animals. (Our conclusion: not much.) But this is a topic which occupies some people endlessly, particularly if they happen to be anthropologists. Maybe what sets us apart from other animals is our endless (and fruitless) need to be special.
It used to be that anthropologists defined humans as the only creatures who use tools. That pretty much got shot down by chimpanzees, and then by crows, and so on. So we had to come up with something else. And one of the ideas was that we are the only species with an awareness of our mortality. Which is a neat trick, because it’s entirely unprovable. And to paraphrase Fakesister (correct me if I’m wrong), an unprovable concept is not a useful way of looking at the world.
I personally believe that animals do, in fact, have an awareness of mortality, but that is…not a useful way to look at the world. If it were true, what difference would it make? Would I care for them any more, or any less?
This brought Fakesister and I to the topic of religion, which is the poster child for unprovable opinion. We acknowledge that we are both out of the mainstream here. Believing in “God” requires something called “faith” and both Fakesister and I seem to be congenitally incapable of it.
Perhaps you are now wondering how this all ties together? It’s that the article about humor says our ability to grasp jokes may be what defines us. There we go again, trying to find something which sets us apart and makes us special. As Fakesister said, and I completely agree, “God” did not create man in his image. We created him in ours.