Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Archaeology Paleontology, Science, and Wishful Thinking

This started out as another interesting bit of science news:
"Human Ancestors Hunted by Prehistoric Beasts"
Jennifer Viegas, Archaeology News, Discovery News (October 12, 2010)

"Early humans may have evolved as prey animals rather than as predators, suggest the remains of our prehistoric primate ancestors that were devoured by hungry birds and carnivorous mammals....

"...At least one of the devoured primates, an early ape called Proconsul, is thought to have been an ancestor to both modern humans and chimpanzees. It, and other primates on the island, were also apparently good eats for numerous predators....

"...The study presents the first evidence of raptor predation on fossil primates from Rusinga, which was part of the side of a large volcano 20 million years ago...."
So far, so good: although Proconsul, living about 20,000,000 years back and thought to be ancestral to all human species, plus chimpanzees, seems to me to be pushing the definition of "our prehistoric primate ancestors" a little far.

Particularly for what comes later:
"...Robert Sussman, professor of physical anthropology at Washington University in St. Louis, has long argued that primates, including early humans, evolved not as hunters but as prey of many predators, including wild dogs and cats, hyenas, eagles and crocodiles.

" 'Despite popular theories posed in research papers and popular literature, early man was not an aggressive killer,' said Sussman, author of the book 'Man the Hunted: Primates, Predators and Human Evolution.' 'Our intelligence, cooperation and many other features we have as modern humans developed from our attempts to out-smart the predator.'

"He added that the idea of man as hunter 'developed from a basic Judeo-Christian ideology of man being inherently evil, aggressive and a natural killer.'

" 'In fact, when you really examine the fossil and living non-human primate evidence, that is just not the case,' he explained...."
(Discovery News)

'Man is Inherently Evil' - What is Wrong With This Picture?

I've made the point before, and probably will again, that folks like Pat Robertson, Tony Alamo, and the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas; are not all there is to Christianity. I don't think they're even representative of Protestant Christianity.

The professor's remark about man and those Christians over there is the sort of "intelligent" statement that's accepted as Gospel in some of the 'better' subcultures in America.

Repeating from that last excerpt, Sussman said that "the idea of man as hunter 'developed from a basic Judeo-Christian ideology of man being inherently evil, aggressive and a natural killer' "

So, a "basic Judeo-Christian ideology" is that man is inherently evil, aggressive, and a natural killer? Okay: that's may be consistent with the sort of philosophical posture that'll get a person acceptance in the college coffee shop.

Let's see how "inherently evil" man is supposed to be.
"4 Then God said: 'Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. Let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, and the cattle, and over all the wild animals and all the creatures that crawl on the ground.' God created man in his image; in the divine image he created him; male and female he created them. God blessed them, saying: 'Be fertile and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it. Have dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, and all the living things that move on the earth.' God also said: 'See, I give you every seed-bearing plant all over the earth and every tree that has seed-bearing fruit on it to be your food; and to all the animals of the land, all the birds of the air, and all the living creatures that crawl on the ground, I give all the green plants for food.' And so it happened. God looked at everything he had made, and he found it very good. Evening came, and morning followed--the sixth day."
(Genesis 1:26-31)
So, God made man in His image - and, according to the professor, the Judeo-Christian ideology says that man is inherently evil - so, according to Sussman, God must be evil, too.

And warped: since He "found it very good."

Or, maybe, the professor may be missing the big picture.

Yes, there are people who are stridently insistent that they are Christian - and who are very good at hating things. Others are insistent that man is, in fact, 100 percent evil, evil, evil. Never mind the first chapter of Genesis: which may not be "Biblical" about how humanity was made, by their standards. Then there's the 'hammer of God' set. (October 7, 2010)

No question about it: some folks who are convinced that they're Christians have really - odd - ideas.

Giving Sussman credit, that excerpt from Genesis has some 'evil' things in it: by some standards. Like the injunction to be fruitful and multiply. The 'better sort' in America isn't, as a rule, too happy about the idea of people having children. Unless they're the right sort - and that's another topic.

There's more about the nature of humanity, in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. (355-379, for starters) This is a pretty good summary of one of the basic ideas:
"The first man was not only created good, but was also established in friendship with his Creator and in harmony with himself and with the creation around him, in a state that would be surpassed only by the glory of the new creation in Christ."
(Catechism of the Catholic Church, 374)
If that's the same as saying that humanity is "inherently evil," then "inherently" and "evil" may have very special meanings for the professor.

Or, maybe he heard somebody mention something that they'd read about original sin - and didn't bother to follow up on the idea. Wishful thinking, of a sort, coupled with a possibly-unconscious diffidence for looking too closely at facts, is a rather human trait.

One pretty-good place to start learning about original sin is the Catechism, 388-390. Note: that's one place to start learning.

The fallen nature of humanity is accepted by the Catholic Church, yes: but humanity didn't start out as broken creatures. Which is why I take exception to what I believe is a careless use of the word "inherently."

No Wonder Some Folks Think Science is Evil

Victorian-era secularists didn't want God to exist, so they used some of the new ideas of their period to "prove" that God wasn't there. I've written about this before.

I'm quite interested in science: in part because it's a study of God's creation. (August 10, 2009) And, I'm fascinated by the way things work.

On the other hand, I'm bothered - a lot - by the 'research with intent to proselytize' attitude I see in so many "Bible science" folks and their secularist counterparts. It's one thing to desire knowledge. It's something quite different to start with a rigid assumption (like 'God isn't there,' or 'Ussher was right') and shape findings around that assumption.

Which Sussman may not be doing. He's written a book, and may be using this - quite interesting - bit of paleontological (not archaeological) research as a marketing opportunity.

Or maybe he really believes what he says. Or maybe both.

Related posts:

No comments:

Like it? Pin it, Plus it, - - -

Pinterest: My Stuff, and More


Unique, innovative candles

Visit us online:
Spiral Light CandleFind a Retailer
Spiral Light Candle Store

Popular Posts

Label Cloud

1277 abortion ADD ADHD-Inattentive Adoration Chapel Advent Afghanistan Africa America Amoris Laetitia angels animals annulment Annunciation anti-catholicism Antichrist apocalyptic ideas apparitions archaeology architecture Arianism art Asperger syndrome assumptions asteroid astronomy Australia authority balance and moderation baptism being Catholic beliefs bias Bible Bible and Catechism bioethics biology blogs brain Brazil business Canada capital punishment Caritas in Veritate Catechism Catholic Church Catholic counter-culture Catholicism change happens charisms charity Chile China Christianity Christmas citizenship climate change climatology cloning comets common good common sense Communion community compassion confirmation conscience conversion Corpus Christi cosmology creation credibility crime crucifix Crucifixion Cuba culture dance dark night of the soul death depression designer babies despair detachment devotion discipline disease diversity divination Divine Mercy divorce Docetism domestic church dualism duty Easter economics education elections emotions England entertainment environmental issues Epiphany Establishment Clause ethics ethnicity Eucharist eugenics Europe evangelizing evolution exobiology exoplanets exorcism extremophiles faith faith and works family Father's Day Faust Faustus fear of the Lord fiction Final Judgment First Amendment forgiveness Fortnight For Freedom free will freedom fun genetics genocide geoengineering geology getting a grip global Gnosticism God God's will good judgment government gratitude great commission guest post guilt Haiti Halloween happiness hate health Heaven Hell HHS hierarchy history holidays Holy Family Holy See Holy Spirit holy water home schooling hope humility humor hypocrisy idolatry image of God images Immaculate Conception immigrants in the news Incarnation Independence Day India information technology Internet Iraq Ireland Israel Italy Japan Jesus John Paul II joy just war justice Kansas Kenya Knights of Columbus knowledge Korea language Last Judgment last things law learning Lent Lenten Chaplet life issues love magi magic Magisterium Manichaeism marriage martyrs Mary Mass materialism media medicine meditation Memorial Day mercy meteor meteorology Mexico Minnesota miracles Missouri moderation modesty Monophysitism Mother Teresa of Calcutta Mother's Day movies music Muslims myth natural law neighbor Nestorianism New Year's Eve New Zealand news Nietzsche obedience Oceania organization original sin paleontology parish Parousia penance penitence Pentecost Philippines physical disability physics pilgrimage politics Pope Pope in Germany 2011 population growth positive law poverty prayer predestination presumption pride priests prophets prostitution Providence Purgatory purpose quantum entanglement quotes reason redemption reflections relics religion religious freedom repentance Resurrection robots Roman Missal Third Edition rosaries rules sacramentals Sacraments Saints salvation schools science secondary causes SETI sex shrines sin slavery social justice solar planets soul South Sudan space aliens space exploration Spain spirituality stem cell research stereotypes stewardship stories storm Sudan suicide Sunday obligation superstition symbols technology temptation terraforming the establishment the human condition tolerance Tradition traffic Transfiguration Transubstantiation travel Trinity trust truth uncertainty United Kingdom universal destination of goods vacation Vatican Vatican II veneration vengeance Veterans Day videos virtue vlog vocations voting war warp drive theory wealth weather wisdom within reason work worship writing

Marian Apparition: Champion, Wisconsin

Background:Posts in this blog: In the news:

What's That Doing in a Nice Catholic Blog?

From time to time, a service that I use will display links to - odd - services and retailers.

I block a few of the more obvious dubious advertisers.

For example: psychic anything, numerology, mediums, and related practices are on the no-no list for Catholics. It has to do with the Church's stand on divination. I try to block those ads.

Sometime regrettable advertisements get through, anyway.

Bottom line? What that service displays reflects the local culture's norms, - not Catholic teaching.