Thank you to seldoria for accepting this debate. I am pleased to return to the debate stage after a brief hiatus to attend to some personal writing business. That accomplished, I am happy to be back.
I Argument: Resolved: Two separate species of relatively equal intelligence, one humanoid, and one not, can cohabit a planet, maintaining peaceful, non-threatening cohabitation.
I.a First, I want to cover a couple of points that may not be that important, and I hesitated mention of them in the challenge, but they may come up and I trust my opponent will agree to delete or include them as a part of the set-up list in the resolution description. These two planets, one inhabited by an intelligent humanoid species, and one inhabited by a non-humanoid intelligent species, may, or may not be adjacent planets, such as Earth and Mars. However, in order to fit in the narrow window of a class M planet, I suppose the necessity of climate considerations might make a more distal acquaintance improbable. As I said, I don’t think it much matters. I also did not address that each planet could have other life forms “onboard,” but I don’t think that figures into the debate either. I am happy to include both matters, or ignore them.
I.b For convenience, let’s call the humanoid species Aberians [I guess their planet is Aberia], and the non-humanoid species, Bedians [from Bedia?]
I.c The Aberians and Bedians have been observing one another for about one hundred years [the duration of “one year” varies on the two planets, but for the purposes of this debate, that is not a contributing issue] but never with direct contact. Each planet is of just one language worldwide, and these two species are the only creatures on their respective planets with a language. The aberian language is spoken with tongue clicks and glottal plosives, both voiced and voiceless, while the Bedians speak with consonants and vowels, both voiced and voiceless. Of the two, the Bedians are more outgoing, and determined one day to send a delegation of peaceful greeting to Aberia. They sent a message outlining their intent, both verbal and written, but no one on Aberia is fluent in Bedian. Aberia sent a reply with the same results, although Aberia accepts the Bedian invitation to come.
I.d When the Bedians arrive, believing their arrival point to be within the aberian capital city, they can see from their ship a respectful crowd of Aberians. None look hostile, though they do appear hesitant. The Bedians share that hesitation, open the door to their ship, and walk out onto the ramp in a huddled, small group of five Bedians; appearing to the Aberians to be a non-hostile force. Of the crowd of hundreds of Aberians, an equivalent number of Aberians approach the ship. The five Bedians begin their descent. Both groups arrive at the base of the ramp simultaneously. As the Aberians are bipedal by nature, and the Bedians typically quadrupeds, the Bedians rise on their hind feet; apparently they can do so, but cannot hold that position indefinitely. All ten raise their hands/front feet to midlevel, palms/footpads exposed in an attitude of attempt of friendly greeting.
I.e One Bedian begins to speak first, but the Aberians shake their heads; the Bedians, after some quiet discussion between them, interpret this gesture as one of misunderstanding. The Aberians, in turn, have one member speak. In response, though the Bedian misunderstanding gesture is to flap their longer ears back and forth, and some actually do this, the one who spoke shakes the head as observed done by the Aberians, hoping they interpret their own gesture correctly. The lead Aberian nods the head. It is a similar gesture by the Bedians as meaning agreement or understanding. They have just communicated their mutual misunderstanding, and all ten smile at one another in response, also apparently a universal gesture of friendliness.
I.f From this difficult, but well-intentioned beginning, the two delegations begin the long task of understanding one another.
II Argument: The Tower of Babel – unification in spite of differences
II.a We separate from this encounter to review a point in human history when, for reasons not entirely compatible with the resolution of this debate, a unified group of humanity, located at Babel, according to the Old Testament [Genesis 10: ] attempted to build a tower to reach heaven in order to conquer it. This location is believed to be in central Iraq, east of what is, today, Razazza Lake, south of Baghdad about 95km: Babel. The site, today, may be the city of Karbala. According to the story in Genesis 10,
God intervened to stop construction of the tower by confounding the tongues of the builders.
Up to then, roughly 1,000 years from Adam and Eve, all men spoke a singular tongue, or slight, but intelligible variations of the original tongue. By confounding their language, they could not continue to build. [Let it be noted that the last two sentences are of my conjecture; there is no scholarship I have found to confirm or deny the proposition. Never the less, the tower construction did cease, and the people separated and migrated away from this location in different directions, apparently according to their separate abilities to have shared communication.]
II.b While this confounding certainly had the effect of separating this unified people by disrupting their singular language, but more significant that that, a unified purpose to conquer heaven, it may have had the positive effect of proliferating the expansion of culture such that, today, we speak roughly 6,500 languages,
and have created nearly as many different cultures.
That means wide differences in food, clothing, dwellings, expression in the arts, political, economic, and professional practices, etc, etc.
II.c Certainly this has caused a challenge to our being able to get along with one another as a single species with not just cultural, but physical differences. On the other hand, we have dealt with this struggle for over 4,000 years since Babel, and we’re still here, so a lot of people are trying to get it right, in spite of the challenge of confounding tongues. One need only look at our diversity, and that should be celebrated, not limited by forced attempts to unify us once again under one banner. That unification ought to still be a matter of choice, of individual free agency. The challenge from God may be interpreted as an attempt to regain a unified status despite our many differences; to discover that humanity, after all, is a worthy goal with all of our differences.
III Argument: Lessons learned from Babel
III.a Re-read the points made in II.b, and II.c. Is it preferable to have never had the experience of diversification of language, and, therefore, culture, or are we benefitted by the expansion of our human interaction in spite of differences?
III.b The premise established by this debate’s resolution is that expansion of our body of knowledge, even about ourselves and our interaction with other creatures of our own Earth, let alone creatures of another planet, if they are ever encountered, will benefit that body of knowledge by its increase. The challenge, of course, even as could be learned by some from Babel, is that conflict is to be overcome, not merely accepted as a limitation. In ignorance, limitation breeds discrimination. “Stereotypes play an intriguing role in the human psyche. We all know that the targets of negative stereotypes can be hurt by them, and studies have shown that people who are the object of unfair bias can adopt the negative traits attributed to them.”
IV Argument: Back to Aberia, and the struggle of mingling two cultures
IV.a Much time passes, and, in time, while the Bedian delegation continues with the Aberians, and much progress is made in learning their respective languages, they determine that a delegation from Aberia ought to be sent to Bedia, and they do so, resulting in much the same positive steps made on Aberia.
IV.b On both planets, over extended time, the progress continues, and more delegations are sent from each planet to the other. However, with these increases in foreign populations, there are individuals native to each planet who develop prejudices against their visitors. On Aberia, some Aberians observe that as quadrupeds, Bedians cannot sustain a bipedal position for an extended time, and conclude that this is a defect, and that Aberians must be a more advanced culture and species.
IV.c Meanwhile, on Bedia, some Bedians observe that the Aberians take longer in raising their young, that learning to walk is an extended effort, whereas Bedians can learn to walk in a very short time after birth. The Bedians conclude that they are the master species, that Aberians are inferior to them.
IV.d However, many members of both species conclude that, in spite of the physical differences they observe in the other species, their intelligence cannot be denied, and determine that those differences, along with their respective cultures, present opportunities to expand their knowledge base because of those differences.
IV.e On the whole, then, I contend that considering the majority on both planets have concluded that their association with the other planet’s species has been a beneficial, peaceful sharing of their respective cultures, in spite of some developing deep prejudices, the experience is a positive result relative to the resolution.
I pass the argument to Con.
Holy Bible, Genesis 10: