With apologies to the various back-to-nature promoters of whose fervor knows no equal; we aren’t natural people. On the contrary, we’ve lived in a supernatural world with supernatural souls for so long that we’ve decided it natural, and thus boring, when nothing could be further from the truth. We are a book read twice, and the antidote to this monotonous re-read can only be a third read. Then we will see ourselves for the first time, in the shining light of dawn. Thus, as a remedy to the plethora of lackluster, materialistic interpretations of the ourselves, I offer for examination- the hiker. The hiker, in a fierce sort of passion, climbs great lumps of rock over long periods of time, not to get anywhere, but to get back where he started. This sort of action is so contrary to natural behavior, so scandalously shocking in and of itself, that I consider it every man’s duty to consider it, if only for the duration of this piece.
We’ve all heard of the nursery rhyme regarding a certain bear who, in the spirit of adventure, went over the mountain to “see what he could see”. Unlike most nursery rhymes, which contain as much truth as scripture, this is a barefaced lie. Burn any written copies of it you own, and hang any who dare recite it. There is no bear that would climb a mountain for the view, and the view alone. I hold this as a truth and a dogma: Under the limits of human experience and the scope of human observance, a bear may climb, but no bear hikes. No animal hikes.
Man and man alone feels some inexplicable need to challenge himself to climb a rock, wasting energy, adding danger, risking life – a thing no animal does outside of necessity. Humans, it seems, are Darwin’s true Achilles’ heel. We seem to enjoy making the Survival of the Fittest more difficult for ourselves, when we aren’t ignoring it altogether. This is not the result of intelligence, as materialists love to blame our morality on, for there are few things more idiotic and more enjoyable then climbing a mountain to get to the top. It cannot be dismissed as the mere good feeling of exercise, as we have a clear preference for hiking over jumping in place for an hour. It is not inspired by the need to be a stronger person more able to reproduce, as our muscles tend to be a pleasant afterthought after the ordeal, and for the majority of us, any other form of exercise would be more convenient and less dangerous. We are either supernatural or inexplicably stupid. Choose one, but be forewarned, the latter makes it difficult to hold a strong position in a debate.
This fact becomes ever more apparent when we consider the greater fallacy of the bear; that he not only hiked, but hiked for the view. We feel a native disappointment for the bear when all he sees is “the other side of the mountain”, apparently forgetting that man climbs the mountain to see the same thing, and is not disappointed but fulfilled. Christians are still in the habit of wildly pointing to sunsets and crying, “Look! How can you say there is no God?” They miss the point. The sunset is not the magic, its the fact that we believe it to be magic that is magic. Not to push the point too far, but I imagine the honest atheist could resist the powerful charms of the sunset, but if he had any understanding of the Darwinism he lived by, he would fall at the feet of the wildly pointing Christian and declare that there is a God. The fact that we seek and appreciate beauty screams of something wonderfully wrong with us. What animal seeks a great lump of rock and finds it so admirable that it will sit and stare, and do nothing else? Dare I suggest that our surprised astonishment at these ordinary rocks and trees might mean we do not belong here? That this life is, to use an ill-fitting word, a life-long holiday?
When we do things there is no natural explanation for, like loving, believing in God, sacrificing our lives, caring for other species, painting, playing bluegrass around fires, writing books promoting atheism, and other such “tremendous trifles”, we live like we are supposed to, whether we admit or otherwise. We live supernaturally. Acknowledging this forces us to to treat our brothers and sisters, not like tools, not like toys, but images of God. And the world grows that much more sensible besides.