In a few recent discussions I have had, anthropocentrism has sprung up as a watchword
. This appearance has manifested especially in conversations seeking to examine the rational motivation
of a Creator
in becoming (or otherwise creating) our Universe
(and indeed, from the perspective of the theological theory of Pandeism
, this probably presents the single most important theological question which may be considered). But it is all too easy to object that whatever rationale is raised to answer this proposition is simply a projection of human thinking, and so simply cannot be reflective of what might motivate a Universe Creator (or, indeed, to protest that the idea that such a Creator might have had a 'motivation' at all is a similarly human conceit projected large).
Now, I will tell you honestly that when I think of anthropocentrism the first thing that comes to mind is the tendency of serial science fiction
media makers to accommodate the needs of costume
designers by generally having their intelligent alien life forms resemble humans in all but a cosmetic way. Bipedal
, two arms, two legs. Genitals
, to accommodate distinct sexual dimorphism
, placed where the legs meet. Head
atop a neck
. A frontal face
sided by a pair of ears and frontally featuring two forward-facing eyes above a mouth
occupied by teeth
and a tongue
, used for the multiple purposes of ingestion
(or other aeration
, and vocal communication.
Appended to these physical features are a fundamental set of philosophical
similarities. The alien civilization will have notions of religion
including watchful deities
(of the judging and rewarding/punishing kind, as often as not) and fruitful communication
with the same, religious veneration
of especially esteemed ancestors
, spirit world
s, and prophecies
. In similar veins will they have concepts of war
, structures of government
(whether headed by emperor
s or council
s or executive
s). They will wear clothing
at least covering all the same bits modest
humans feel compelled to cover.
Now I grant that it is highly unlikely that an alien species would exist which would share most of the physical features having familiarity
to man, and any civilization of intelligent beings arising on another world might have extremely different ideas of modesty
, and on and on.
But, just as the ready availability and friendliness to atomic attachments exhibited by the carbon justifies some degree of carbon chauvinism
-- the idea that organic life will originate as carbon-based -- I submit that any being possessing intelligence
, even supernatural intelligence, will possess certain characteristics in the exercise of that intelligence which we would find familiar. One of these is a philosophical curiosity
-- the desire to fill void
s in knowledge, to determine why things are as they are.
And, it is true, we know of no actual alien life, and of no creature other then man who exhibits our level of curiosity, such that we engage in philosophy to hypothesize about our Universe. Monkey
s and dog
s and squirrel
s exhibit a less potent, and fleeting, physical curiosity, but they surely don't complain of the need to determine the meaning of their lives. But were I to point to a squirrel snacking a nut
and suggest that the reason the squirrel was so doing was to assuage its hunger
, it would not make much sense to suggest that we can't know that squirrels feel hunger, and are only anthropomorphically projecting our human experience of hunger onto this nonhuman creature.
By the same token, while it may be simply a guess
to suppose that our existence befits a Universe crafted to fulfill a void in its crafter's knowledge, it is a better guess than to suppose there to be no rationale whatsoever. And it is, I contend, not at all unreasonable to begin by drawing from our own experience, examining what sorts of things compel us to engage in creative acts, to determine what motivation may rationally be supposed to have spurred the creation of so remarkable a thing as our Universe.