Welcome to week 7 of Would You Rather, the game where I am given two options and must choose which one I prefer. Then at the end, I provide you with those same two choices and you get to vote for your own.
As always, the question this week comes to us from Either.io. Last week it was all about sleep, either too much or not enough of it. Thanks to Ric Gillespie for weighing in and agreeing that he should never be allowed to handle a chainsaw. As for this week, you might have already guessed the topic based on the subject line of the post.
On a basic lvel this question is about whether or not you would rather travel backwards in time or go forward. Unless of course you think that civilization ended when Mark Danger was born. However, you’re being asked to go back or forward to a very specific point. The key word in all of this is the word civilization.
Civilization as defined on Dictionary.com.
a human society that has highly developed material and spiritual resources and a complex cultural, political, and legal organization; an advanced state in social development
the peoples or nations collectively who have achieved such a state
the total culture and way of life of a particular people, nation, region, or period: classical civilization
the process of bringing or achieving civilization
intellectual, cultural, and moral refinement
cities or populated areas, as contrasted with sparsely inhabited areas, deserts, etc
So you don’t get to go back and see the birth of the universe or the first sign of life, you get to see the development of society. This makes a bit of a difference I think. If for example you want to go back to the creation story of Genesis, the earliest you could get is day six not day one. You could even argue that day six would be too far back.
Some of you will probably argue that civilization could not have developed without the universe and thus the beginning of the universe is the beginning of civilization. That would be your justification to allow you to go back and see creation or the big bang or what have you. However, my counter argument to that would be that the universe existing did not guarantee that life and by extension civilization would exist.
In other words, we could not exist without the universe but the universe could exist without us. Yes, the philosophy majors are now going to chyme in and with their own point that if nobody could perceive the universe, we could not be sure of it’s existance. At this point we all pick up snowballs and start chucking them at each other’s heads.
The final word is that this question says the beginning of civilization and I choose to go by the first definition since I’m a literalist and all.
I believe that even after all of that the question still breaks down to a much simpler one. Would you rather watch something be made or watch it be destroyed? It occurs to me that how a person answers this question would be a good indicator as to whether that person is an optimist or a pessimist.
This question has resulted in me writing more words simply analyzing the question than any of the other ones that I have done. However, the first answer I arrived at is still the one that I choose now.
I picked this answer for one reason and one reason only. I can state with a fair amount of confidence that I was not involved in the birth of civilization. However, I have yet to rule out the possibility that I will be the cause of civilization’s end. If somehow I am at fault, I would prefer to be surprised like everyone else.
Besides, the chances are that civilization is not going to end because we all through a massive going away party and then went our separate ways. We’re talking about things like wars and natural disasters as your prime candidates. I don’t even like watching that stuff on the news now. Finally, the way hardline partisans act towards people who merely disagree with them makes me think we waved goodbye to civilization a long time ago.
Also, as a Christian I believe I’ll get to see the end of civilization anyway and it won’t be pleasant. So really this one was not that hard for me. So it turns out that I might be more of an optimist than I have thought in recent months.
As I have said before, the point of this exercise is to work the critical thinking skills. I found this question to be particularly good for that purpose. So this one is a definite winner in my book. As always, I’d love for your feedback in the form of comments, votes in the poll and if you decide to blog about this yourself, let me know.