Survival Instinct

People view man’s history in different ways. How they see man’s survival methods influences their daily lives, political views, and religious convictions.

Some see our history as a biological evolution, a theory that sets in opposition man and his environment; constant change is seen as the primary survival mechanism. People with this view tend to have very fluid beliefs which can change or adapt as needed; in their mind, they can only survive by this constant adaptation to meet each new obstacle. Firm long-held beliefs are seen as the surest way to obsolescence or extinction because believers cannot change without compromising belief.

Others see man’s history from a religious or spiritual perspective filled with omnipotent, unseen, sometimes supernatural power(s) fighting amongst, through, and/or with man; in this way, survival often is seen as triumph over the power(s) and/or as triumph via the power(s). People with this view tend to have firm, long-held beliefs that do not change; in their mind, their survival depends on the belief in the power(s) – to change belief is to risk survival. Change of belief is seen as a path to destruction by the power(s) or by the power(s)’s opposition.

These two opposing views seem irreconcilable. They are not on opposite ends of the philosophical spectrum because one has to do with science and the other with religion. Instead, these two views are so different because of how they view survival itself. I’m not going to debate the views; frankly, I don’t know which one is right. Man has survived a long time with his religious beliefs as a compass; modern psychiatry acknowledges the need for belief in our lives. Perhaps evolutionary theory is a new one; yet, man has changed and adapted many things, including those religious beliefs. [Personally, I think that, over time, the two balance each other out. The trick is to find the right time to change and the right time to remain.] With such deep philosophical differences between the two views, is it any wonder that our two-party political system has divided, generally, along these lines?

But how do these two opposing survival mechanisms find common ground? Can each side find a way to compromise without risking survival?