So, what’s that got to do with anything ? What relevance for today ?
Well, I think the question is: where did we come from ?
Various cultures have different creation stories. In the Mayan culture, the god of Maize is very highly valued because Maize was the basis of their society and culture and so, for that reason, it was included in their creation story.
These tools are between 1 and 2 million years old.
So, why is it that some of these Miss USAs don’t think evolution should be taught in schools. I don’t happen to think Miss. France would say the same thing. There is a reason and it dates back to the protestant doctrine brought to England by Henry XIII and exported to America by the first settlers. And it would seem it’s still there today.
I think we have to remember in all this that the theory of evolution is only 150 – 200 years old. It’s still not been universally accepted, even though I think the mainstream of society does accept it.
So, the question of where did we come from seems to have been answered but the question remains: what relevance for us today ?
The fundamental question it seems to me is what is our nature ? And how do you define us ? These tools give a basis for our common humanity and at the same time reveal insights into what we are. To make these tools perhaps required language and certainly required an evolution of our brain. The second tool, the handaxe, has been found all over the world over a period of over a million years. Over this period, the design hardly changed. What does that say about our ancestors and about how good the tool was ? What do these tools say about technology and how fast it is changing today compared to how fast it was changing then – it’s growing exponentially. The Adam and Eve story was written down about the time of the first writing (give or take a few thousand years) putting humanity on a pedestal but does that pedestal really exist or is it just a social construct ? In my opinion, our nature comes from the evolutions in our brains throughout the various stages in development more than from a story written down at the precise moment when we were trying to explain what had happened a few thousand years ago. Coincidentally, it’s not strange that at that point in our development, around the time of the beginning of writing in it’s more developed form that we tried to write down an explanation for us being here. Simply, it wasn’t perhaps based on any evidence whatsoever. After all, how were our ancestors to know what had happened millions of years before. There was no writing or other evidence to tell them.
I think the other reason that people don’t understand it is because it’s so complicated. To understand the comings and goings of homo erectus, neanderthals, homo sapiens and others is more complicated than God made man and woman. But maybe if it was taught in schools, more people would understand it.
Four quick remarks, Paul, though you have raised one big subject!
1. Ignoring or denying evolutionary science is just the same as Copernican or Newtonian science was once ignored and denied. But, for medical researchers in particular understanding DNA applications is akin to understanding evolution. Great inroads have been made in combatting maladies from sickle cell aneamia to lactose intolerance, palladism to Huntingdon’s Chorea, that have required biological understanding at a DNA level. That also involves understanding the mechanics of evolution. We do and use that knowledge in altruistic, humanitarian ways.
2. The future lies in controlling evolution. That’s coming soon (see TED talks). Once it’s a norm, and it will be despite certain ethical debates to come, anti-evolutionists will have to start eating their hats!
3. Controlling epistemologies is the power game of religions – not sciences! Science progresses through open exchange. But religions extol their own epistemologies as the true ones and thus fight against competing epistemologies. This is very undemocratic. Generally such religious epistemologies don’t compete alone in a religion vs science arena. Political power issues are very much at stake. Note how the Holy Roman Empire has lasted such a long time in guarding the power, the glory, for ever and ever – Amen. Yes, it is still exceedingly powerful, as the catholic church, despite the Roman empire itself collapsing 1500+ years ago! American fundamentalists likewise hold a lot of political power – as any American senator seeking the Oval office knows and so appropriately moderates his/her language to get them (100 million) on his/her side (check out G.W.Bush transcipts and how they evolved before his second election when he was given the tip off!)
4. Understanding evolution has provided many insights into our humankind origins, But apart from this being a purely academic exercise, it has taught us many lessons about ‘existence’ – simply by asking questions and persuing answers. That can only be a good thing. Anyone who feels the mythical apple taken from the tree of knowledge led to sin entering the world should return to a neanderthalensian state of nature, shut up, forget everything he/she has ever learnt, and be happy with it!