Date Tags humans

Correlation is not Causation. Any student of statistics has heard this repeated time and again. But the world is complex and dynamic, and our mental capacity has to fit in the 20-Watt, 3 pound organic mass inside our skulls. We’re wired to see patterns and when we notice B happen right after A enough times, we’re liable to think “A caused B”. This is good for the survival of the primitive human. But we are not primitive. Are we? Perhaps to prove we are not, there were those philosophers as Leibniz who went so far as to deny that causation even really existed.

But any reasonable person would accept that we can justifiably say that “A causes B” provided a governing model and evidence to support said model. Fire causes burns. This is useful and, moreover, reliable. It’s not a far stretch from there to allow statements of the form “A prevents B”. From there, “The absence of A causes B” or “The absence of A prevents B”.

And so, given an acceptance of causation, through action and inaction we have effects on the world. Note that these aren’t usually easy or possible to trace (see chaos theory or the butterfly effect). Given that every event could have generated a multitude of outcomes (even the staunch determinist has to allow for the probabilistic nature of quantum mechanics) there are an infinity of possible worlds that never come to be.

In a subset of these possible worlds, our inactions or actions permit or create a person who brings as much concurrent peace, harmony, and joy to humanity as is possible. A savior.

But we have acted or not acted, and thus this person does not exist. Our actions have prevented this person, or the absence of our actions have prevented this person. This person could have existed in an infinity of forms, and some of these (an infinity of these) have been rendered impossible by us.

We could all have effected a different chain of events, but we did not. We could all have brought into being a savior to the world or become one ourselves, but we did not. Our awareness of this effect is irrelevant. A murderous machine is defective and requires termination regardless of its awareness of its nature. Therefore we are all guilty of causing harm to humanity. We are all sinners.

Of course, this same line of reasoning can also bring us to its opposite conclusion. Logic is fun!