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Sunday, April 11, 2010

*THE GOLDEN EVOLUTION (Part 25): WHAT ABOUT THE ORIGIN OF LIFE? (Part B)



The following continues the serialization of Chapter 5 on Religion from SIMPLE SOLUTIONS for Humanity:



But how old is very early Man? A 13 million old fossil (Pierolapithecus catalaunicus) from Spain was identified as, maybe, the last common ancestor of all apes. Lluc, a man, had facial features similar to us. Generally, though, the primate needs to walk upright and have small canines (teeth), to qualify as an early man. According to some accounts, a 7 million year old skull of a great ape (Sahelanthropus tchadensis, Superfamily Hominidae) was found in Chad in 2002 and might be our earliest man-like ancestor. They all get names. This one was called Toumai.

Do we look like this? Well, if our skull is crushed and aged for 7 million years, maybe. Anyway, Toumai created a small splash of controversy about evolution and any sort of missing link (ML).



The most famous ML, Lucy, an Australopithecine, was, perhaps, a million years old, and the Australopithecus afarensis specie survived a million years, almost ten times longer than us (so far). But these early specimens are linked to Homo sapiens sapiens only as equivalents on the family tree that died off, but, maybe not.



The story of the Leakeys is interesting. Louis (also known as L.S.B.) was born in Kenya in 1903, his English parents being missionaries. In 1931 he made his first trip to the Olduvai Gorge (now Tanzania), but did not return to do serious excavation until the 1950s. Mary Nichols was born in 1913, became an expert of the early Stone Age, married Louis as his second wife, and sired
Richard in 1944, who made his first fossil find, a giant pig, at the age of six. Mary found Zinjanthropus boisei in 1959 (Louis was sick that day) and suggested that it lived 1.75 million years ago. In 1960 Mary and other son Jonathan found what amounted to Homo habilis, dated to be 2 million years old. In 1972, Richard, who doesn't think Lucy is any sort of ML, found a second specimen of the same, which dated back 1.9 million years. All of this occurred in the Olduvai Gorge.

The upshot of this all was their claim that the Homo genus did not evolve from Australopithecus. The whole family went on to discover an assortment of other origins, but absent from all this was family harmony.


In 1974, Donald Johanson, an American, found Lucy in Ethiopia. The surprise was that in 1978, Johanson came to a conclusion that Lucy was not an africanus, but another species, he named Australopithecus afarensis, a possible missing link with Homo sapiens. If this is confusing, just know that the field is rife in controversy. As bewildering as the paleoanthropology might be, the field has been well studied and generally logical and scientifically sound in developing origins. The shocker comes in surveys on the origin of human life, that is, the knowledge, or lack of, of the citizenry.


But the field of human origins is, at best, still speculative. In 2006, Wil Roebroeks of the Netherlands and Robin Dennell of the U.K. wrote in Discover that, perhaps, “we are all Asians.” Recent fossil finds in Georgia (former USSR) argue this case. Further, the purity of Homo sapiens is also called into question, as there is evidence of interbreeding with Homo erectus and other early hominids. But these are mere experts. What do the American people think?


A Harris Poll of 1,000 adults in the United States in June of 2005 showed on the question, “Do you think human beings developed from earlier species or not?


o Did 38%

o Did Not 54%

o Unsure 8%


More than half of Americans DON’T believe in evolution as it applies to human life!


To the question, “Regardless of what you may personally believe, which of these do you believe should be taught in public schools?”:


o Evolution only 12%

o Creationism only 23%

o Intelligent design only 4%

o None of these 3%

o Unsure 7%


About twice the number of Americans believes that only creationism (meaning, created directly by God) should be taught than those that believe only evolution should be taught! Intelligent design (ID) means creation by a powerful force, so that is just about the same as God.


This 90+% belief in God figure for the Nation has huge implications on the future of education, and certainly, extends to stem cell research and cloning, although rapid advances are being made, and a person’s skin might well substitute for stem cells in the future, side-stepping one conservative hurdle.


ID was largely created by a Seattle think tank, the Discovery Institute, and their logic is a lot smarter than that of the Fundamentalists. DI found an ally in President George W. Bush. Between the Pentagon and DI, their notion is that we now have fewer science majors because of atheistic biology beliefs of Christian conservatives, so, we need to change this trend. What Frankenstein hybrid future student can we, thus, now anticipate?


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