- This is gonna be a rambling rant, as usual.
- I believe in evolution, not intelligent design. But, part of what’s really cool about evolution is that it creates things that look intelligently designed. It’s therefore very convenient to talk about a species as though it was built to some deity’s specifications. So, I’m gonna make liberal use of that metaphor. Feel free to replace evocative, convenient, and technically incorrect phrases like “We were designed to survive” with the more boring, stilted, and accurate “We naturally happen to be ridiculously good at surviving because if we weren’t better at it than most of our innumerable competitors we wouldn’t exist” if you feel like it.
When I walk into a pharmacy (and, as a typical New Yorker, I buy a remarkable amount of my stuff at pharmacies), I’m often struck by the ridiculous number of things that we have to cure our ailments.
Mostly, it’s a reminder of the amazing variety of ways in which we break: Our bodies crack, leak, buckle, and bleed. Things grow on our bodies and in them. They eat us. Our organs stop functioning or function too quickly or too slowly. We itch. Even our brains–the things that are supposed to be us–often behave in ways that we wish they didn’t. Pharmacies have all sorts of things to cure many of these ailments and to make many more of them more tolerable.
Even stranger, we’re often troubled when things function exactly as they should. Our faces and bodies sprout hair; our nails grow long; sex leads to pregnancy. The pharmacy has solutions to all of these problems too–problems caused by a perfectly healthy body doing what it was designed to do.
There are even solutions to the problems caused by our solutions to other problems.
And, of course, things are pretty awesome as a result. We’ve slowly developed methods (some complicated but many amazingly simple) to tinker with these extremely complex machines that we live in–that we are–to get them to do what we want. We’ve built sprawling pharmacies, and we live long lives with amazing consistency. We’re happier and healthier; we even look better.
But, that is exactly what we’re doing: We’re tinkering with our bodies, and it’s fascinating. We’re now using the most sophisticated machines that we’ve ever encountered to do tasks for which they were never designed. And it’s working! More specifically, we pursue not just survival, not just reproduction, but happiness.