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Middle aged hetrosexual, WASP male. Middle of the road, reasonably sane and  reasonably employed.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

The Church of Allan. The evolution of religion. Part 2

A serialization of the Book; The Plain Truth About God! @2002

Humans began to slowly dominate their environment several hundred thousand years ago, and since then our evolution has been developing at an ever-increasing rate.

This included the high point of the hunter-gatherer communities, the mass killing of herd animals on a many-band or tribal basis.

The hunt, and then the mass hunt, gradually declined as an activity essential to the community about ten thousand years ago with the invention of agriculture. This, and the invention of writing about five thousand years ago, may be taken as the official end to pre-history.

The last part of our long journey from pre-humans to modern man also includes the oldest traces of religion and art. Thus Man the philosopher was born.

The development of the human mind over the last hundred thousand years led to the unprecedented awakening of a new order and purpose to life that we are only now beginning to fathom. Our position with regard to the other animals centers around two apparently contradictory truths.

One is that we have much in common with them, indeed even more than is generally realized. At the same time, we represent an entirely different order of being that has never before been seen on this planet.

All species, with only the recent exception of humanity, evolved by a process of mutation and natural selection. This came about through the changes in inherited genes that were duplicated repeatedly during successive divisions of cells following the fertilization of an egg.

The duplication process at work on the molecular level of cells turns out millions of copies of itself within close biological tolerances. This process ensures a kind of natural conservatism that maintains the “status quo” and ensures a distinct and unchanging species.

Powerful biological forces make the cells resistant to change and it is only through the very rare slip-up of the chemical reactions that hereditary traits depart from the master plan that guides one generation of cells to the next.

Eventually a mutation does occur on the genetic assembly line, and although rare, these small discrepancies occur simply because nothing is perfect. The molecule departs in a small way from its inherited blueprint and this is what makes evolution possible.

As we said, Man is not only a different kind of species, but also the pioneer of a very recent and completely new kind of evolution.

But before we get into the reasons we stand apart from the millions of other species that are now alive, or have become extinct over the ages, let us look at the basic workings of evolution that can be demonstrated with a colony of ants.

Adding something poisonous to their environment, such as a pesticide, produces a catastrophic event that will kill off almost all of the millions or even billions of ants.

You will notice that we said almost all of the ants. If they all had identical genes, then they would all die. However, because of genetic error or mutation, we have an effective insurance policy against total disaster. The total population of ants is neither identical nor uniform.

Out of the billions of individuals, there might be a few - a very few - that through a rare combination of mutated or rare genes, will happen to be more resistant to the effects of the pesticide. Therefore, out of a population of a billion ants, the survival of as few as a handful will insure the future of their kind. They will pass on the resistance to that particular poison and give rise to a new population of individuals. Ants that can survive and multiply in what would normally be a deadly environment.

This process is at work in all species, because every population has individuals with a wide assortment of traits that make them capable of adapting to a wide variety of environments.

It must be said that this process plays havoc with the individual. Millions may perish from changes in the environment, climate, or available food supplies. They all die so that a few may progress to a better model of their species.

This in a roundabout way is God at work. Many are sacrificed for the good of the few. The long-term gain however, is the survival of the species.

Evolution works in terms of the entire population. Survival depends on being in the right place, at the right time, with the right genes.

All the living things on this planet, with the exception of humanity, have all the things they need to survive right on and in their bodies. Their genes alone determine what sort, shape, and size, they need to be in the daily struggle for survival.

People, on the other hand, do not only depend on just their genes to get by! They also learn and pass on accumulated knowledge from one generation to the next.

(Learning might play an important role amongst the lower animals, but it is always a one-generational / one-dimensional lesson.)

We, however, are the only animal that takes the accumulated knowledge of all previous generations and then uses this as a foundation to expand and build.

This was the very first step, in the mists of our distant past, which started to set us apart from what we now refer to as the “lower animals.”

The dominate influence of heredity on evolution is that given a reasonably stable environment, the focus is on the status-quo. People on the other hand may use their inherited brains to make their own shelters and weapons, and even their own environment. Learning and traditions acquire a new order of importance.

We can now say that cultural evolution has overtaken the importance of genetic evolution.

The progressive step that made humanity different from the great apes is that we no longer need any outside pressure to bring about change. At some time in the past we ceased to adapt to the world at large in the conventional way and became self propelled, generating our own internal pressure.

In other words, we not only adapt to change, but in our own way we “make” change occur.

Allan W Janssen is the author of the book The Plain Truth About God (What the mainstream religions don't want you to know!) and is available at the web site www.God-101.com

Visit the blog "Perspective" at http://God-101.blogspot.com

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2 Comments:

Anonymous jerome k said...

I found this interesting, Allan, seemingly based on many truths, like a scientific article but you lost me when you mentioned the word 'god.' Faith is not a scientific thing because people accept a belief system, then make everything fit around it, like a self-fulfilling prophecy. The bible, if you are taking that as any proof, is a series of man-made documents, translated and selected to suit particular doctrines. It was written over various times (by man), based on early beliefs including some pagan ones.

Mankind cannot pass on knowledge except in libraries, archives and museums, etc. What happens internally in man is a form of updated learning, generation after generation, which helps us to deal with an ever changing world of improvements, developments and inventions; modern evolution. To a certain extent, it could be said that social control is the key to belief in heaven and hell, a form of father figure who can be fierce or kind at a moment's notice. The heirarchy which appointed itself can only continue to try to explain away the bad events as being something other than the way of nature. Man's arrogance and his assumption he can control everythng, like he can control other people (one of his many faults!) is a fantasy when it comes to controlling nature and her melting icecaps, flooding, volcanoes, earthquakes, famine and so on. He 'fiddles while Rome is burning' by invading other countries for egotistical reasons and not looking after the planet.

I liked your article for its passion and energy, but I differ in your supposition that there might be an all-seeing, all-singing, all-dancing being who dispenses wisdom, wealth and poverty from a throne just above the sky.

Peace.

Thursday, February 14, 2008 10:58:00 AM  
Blogger Allan said...

Jerome I agree with everything you say except the fact of a God
If you read any of my stuf you will find I don't believe God interferes in any way. Not from the evidence anyways!

Thursday, February 14, 2008 11:00:00 AM  

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