Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Humans origins



In my opinion, there are as many creation stories as there are world views. Some people believe everything was created by a deity; others hold the belief than humans sprang, fully formed from some other existence. A few are completely uninterested in explaining where they came from; their concern is with their own ethnogenesis. Many are allegories, never meant to be understood as concrete fact.

I think all creation myths have an element of truth, many were allegories to explain the long process through which a people or a species comes into being and becomes self aware.  From the biblical Genesis, I see truth in the idea that man was molded from clay, a theme that crops up in many cultures across the globe. The Dine (Navajo), believe that they emerged from an underworld. The Theogony paints the first act of origin as being the division of Chaos into Gaia (Earth), Tartarus (one version of the Underworld), and Eros (love); for humans, that is a good of starting place as any other.

From a practical stand point, I see human evolution, through the process of natural selection combined with sheer dumb luck, as the best way to describe where we came from. I can see the process, hold evidence in my hands. Creation of humankind, by means of evolution or through some form of Divine intervention, does not negate the beauty and uniqueness of any individual or any world view. As a great deal of my spiritual practice centers upon observing what goes on around me, evolution makes the most sense. For someone else, they may observe something different that I am not in a position to see.

I'm really bothered by a  trend that I'm seeing on the social media sites I frequent: Creation bashing by Atheists and Pagans where all stories are automatically painted with the same brush of disdain, derision and disrespect.  Take this, for example:

Origins of Humans - What biologists think happened - What palaeontologists think happened - What archaeologists think happened - What geneticists think happened - What Christians think happened - What actually happened - evolution, creationism, god

An acquaintance of mine, who I often agree with on political thinking, posted this up one day.  Most of  the comments were pretty nasty, but one jumped out at me. Somebody claimed that the "What Christians think happened" caption should be changed to "What ALL religions think happened".  That's a pretty big fallacy, one that highlights that particular Atheist's view of religion and their lack of knowledge about any belief system outside of Judeo-Christian thinking, never mind the tentative nature of scientific investigations into evolution shown by the image (I know somebody who has been in Africa studying fossil humans, and he would be the first to tell you that human evolution is not this simple and that there are gaps that scientist are struggling to understand in the fossil record).

 I've been seeing many Pagans embracing the sometimes humorous, sometimes thought provoking graphics produced by an atheist group, but I'm also seeing a lot of Christian bashing going on as subtext (many of these will take a single element of one particular sect of Christianity and point out the belief isn't strictly logical, sometimes without any background explanation of where the idea came from or what it is about). When we bash other faiths, it opens the door for them to bash ours.  I have nothing against Atheists; my husband is as devoted in his atheist beliefs as I am in mine. When we have time, we've had some wonderful intellectual discussions about religion, faith, evolution, the nature of the world and what it means to be human.  Respect and a willingness to listen makes those conversations incredibly fascinating.

I believe that everything cycles through nature; whether it's nutrients, pollutants, ideas or energies, what goes around once, will certainly come around again. In my experience, when it does come back around, it tends to bite us on the collective backsides. It doesn't matter what you believe, as long as you live within the limits of politeness, treat people with respect, and try not to belittle others, I'll tolerate your beliefs, whatever they are.  If we, as humans, keep feeding this "us" vs. "them" rhetoric, we will soon find that there is no us, only "I" and the everyone who isn't "I" is them, and the world will be a very lonely, unhappy place. Origins only matter to a point, and for the most part, origins can't solve the problems of today, they can only serve as starting place for understanding each other.

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