Well, some scientists say we are, and some, such as Sir David Attenborough, say we have ceased selecting, the term used to show natural selection. Frankly, they are all way above my pay grade.
ince I do not understand evolution, I’m going with “yes” because I would love to know what we become in, say, a million years. Actually, I think time has much to do with why people deny evolution’s validity. Indeed, evolution is no longer a theory; it is fact based on empirical evidence.
However, we evolving creatures cannot comprehend time in terms of millions of years, let alone billions. Neither can I. Take my parents, for example. Both were born before the Wright Brothers changed the world forever at Kitty Hawk. Yet, they lived to see Neil Armstrong step on the moon.
In between those events they experienced the world at war for the first time, with my dad fighting in France under General John J. Pershing, and after the war becoming a part of the Roaring ’20s — the Jazz Age, the Age of the Flapper — that opened our culture to obscene optimism that made people unaware that financial disaster approached and Wall Street would tumble-down like Humpty Dumpty’s wall.
Alas, they endured the Great Depression, helped silence the exuberance of the ’20s, as loyal Americans helped win WWII, and put the country back together in its aftermath.
They were born during Teddy Roosevelt’s presidency; Dad died when Jimmy Carter was president, and Mom lived to experience George W. Bush.
My point is that during all that time, the world evolved from horse-and-buggy transportation to almost routine flights into outer space. Yet, my dad’s 77 years and my mom’s 91 were not even eye blinks in the tide of times. So, how can anyone question evolution, which we count in millions and billions of years. To deny evolution is to deny life.
Having said that, another measure of H. sapiens’ evolution is religion. Sounds weird, I know, but the history of human kind shows clearly that religion — no specific faith — is arguably the greatest influence on human culture. No other pursuit or interest to which peoples commit their lives is as strong as religion. That was true in our pre-history as it is today. Yet, unlike the expansion of the physical and mental progression of H. sapiens, a study of ancient religious world views reveals we have not evolved very far from the mouth of the cave, metaphorically speaking.
Follow along. I think this is fascinating, and I think it explains a lot about where we are politically, culturally, and moralistically.
To be sure, we continue to be superstitious, the most salient article of faith of ancient peoples. According to a study produced by Nicholas K. Rauh at Purdue University (http://web.ics.purdue.edu/~rauhn/ancrelig.htm):
In a word, ancient peoples were extremely superstitious. All around them natural phenomena released destructive energy that they could not understand. All they knew is that these forces were greater than human kind. Ancient polytheistic world views focused on the causation and/or the “deterrence” of destructive or frightening natural phenomena. Lacking scientific understanding prehistoric peoples presumed that any force more powerful than humankind — lightening, floods, earthquakes, volcanoes, etc. — were inherently divine or the direct manifestations of divine forces.
Okay, having read that, is Pat Robertson of the 700 Club superstitious when he said, “If enough people were praying, (God) would’ve intervened. You could pray. Jesus stilled the storm. You can still storm.”
Was that a superstitious reaction or advice? I’d say a bit of both. Superstition (religious faith) prompted him to say God would have stopped it if enough people prayed. Notice he did not specify which god he was talking about or define enough.
Then, here is the late Jerry Falwell:
AIDS is not just God’s punishment for homosexuals; it is God’s punishment for the society that tolerates homosexuals.
Was Falwell revealing his superstitious bent or was he sure of his God’s existence? Again, no god specified.
Ancient religious peoples, and most ancient peoples were very religious, Professor Rauh says, may have blamed Hadad, the storm god, or Inanna (Ishtar, Aphrodite), goddesses of love and fertility. Maybe the goddesses created gay love to confound human kind. The ancient gods loved to mess with people, especially the Greek gods. Zeus was forever having his way with human women, impregnating them, as Yahweh did Mary, and then bragging about his demigod progeny, infuriating his wife Hera who in turn punished his offspring for their father’s dalliance.
Of course, precious few Christians would call Yahweh’s fecundation of Mary a dalliance, now would they?
However, today, not all superstitions relate directly to religious belief. How many of us at least bow to these:
GRAVES AND GRAVEYARDS
“It is believed to be bad luck to plough up land that has previously been used as a graveyard. It is also a waste of time, as any crops grown on the site will be stunted,” writes Richard Webster in The Encyclopedia of Superstitions.
“Everything inside a graveyard is sacred, and it is bad luck to interfere or meddle with anything found there. … It is unlucky to pick any flowers growing on a grave. … It is particularly bad luck to use pieces of broken tombstones for paths or roads. Frequent accidents will occur as a result.”
Anyone agree with Richard Webster? He is an award-winning, multi-million selling
author, ghostwriter, mentalist, hypnotist and magician. Wikipedia.
OPEN AN UMBRELLA INDOORS
“A common superstition is the belief that opening an umbrella inside a house causes bad luck. The origin of this is that the umbrella acts as a shield against the sun or rain outdoors. To open it indoors offends the spirit of the umbrella, who will cause bad luck to occur as a result.”
APRIL FOOL’S DAY
In the past, very skillful liars led me down the garden path to the bramble bed of fools. My problem is twofold: I trust people and I am gullible to a fault. Here’s what Webster says:
“The custom began in France, in the late 16th century, when the Gregorian calendar was adopted. This changed the start of the New Year from March 25 to January 1. As March 25 coincided with Holy Week, the New Year had traditionally been celebrated on April 1. When the date changed, many peasants paid surprise visits to their neighbors on April 1 to trick them into thinking it was still the start of the New Year. Gradually, the custom spread around the world, and people look forward to this day as an opportunity to play tricks on their friends and colleagues.”
Punxsutawney Phil is perpetrator of a very popular superstition that no one should NOT enjoy, but should NEVER believe. Read this:
A report in the Christian Science Monitor revealed this fun fact: “Flipping through the history books, it seems Punxsutawney Phil has spotted his shadow 99 out of 114 times. That would mean poor Pennsylvania rarely gets an early spring. However, according to the Stormfax Almanac, the groundhog is only right 39 percent of the time — a failing grade in school terms.”
WALKING UNDER A LADDER
Now, maybe this has a practical origin. Walking under a ladder can, conceivably, invite something to be dropped on you. But, no one really knows this one’s origin.
Again, Richard Webster:
“Walking under a ladder is believed to cause bad luck. No one really knows why, but at least three theories have been proposed. The most likely theory is that a ladder forms a triangle when placed against a wall. The triangle symbolizes the Holy Trinity. Consequently, when you walk through it, you effectively insult the Trinity and attract the devil. The second theory concerns the use of the ladder in hangings. The ladder would be propped against a beam to allow the person about to be hanged to climb high enough to reach the rope. A third theory dates back to ancient Egyptian times, when people believed you might see a god walking up or down the ladder while you walked under it.”
I agree, this post is much too long and is only my personal indulgence. I’ll end it here, but pick up the theme tomorrow … or the next day … maybe next week, next year, next decade. Hang around. Come back. Or not.