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Charles Darwin’s discovery was surely great. But let’s not dismiss all other thinkers – Aristotle or Socrates, say – who came before him

G G Simpson, quoted by Richard Dawkins, suggested that the great thinkers of antiquity are now worthless

By on Monday, 6 August 2012

A sculpture of Darwin outside Bradford Town Hall made out of sand (Photo: PA)

A sculpture of Darwin outside Bradford Town Hall made out of sand (Photo: PA)

This is the opening paragraph of Professor Richard Dawkins’s famous book The Selfish Gene, quoted in its entirety.


Intelligent life on a planet comes of age when it first works out the reason for its own existence. If superior creatures from space ever visit earth, the first question they will ask, in order to assess the level of our civilisation, is: “Have they discovered evolution yet?” Living organisms had existed on earth, without ever knowing why, for over three thousand million years before the truth finally dawned on one of them. His name was Charles Darwin. To be fair, others had had inklings of the truth, but it was Darwin who first put together a coherent and tenable account of why we exist. Darwin made it possible for us to give a sensible answer to the curious child whose question heads this chapter. We no longer have to resort to superstition when faced with the deep problems: Is there a meaning to life? What are we for? What is man? After posing the last of these questions, the eminent zoologist G G Simpson put it thus: “The point I want to make now is that all attempts to answer that question before 1859 are worthless and that we will be better off if we ignore them completely.”

I said the other day that there was something about it that made me sit up and take notice.

Working out the reason for your own existence is certainly the mark of an advanced society or an advanced individual. This is what Socrates did – he reflected on his own existence, and he came to a remarkable degree of self-understanding. He was the one who remarked that the unexamined life was not worth living. Aristotle, too, believed that self-reflection, what he called phronesis, was the highest possible human activity. Aristotle was of course a biologist, and much of his life was spent in observing not just himself, but nature too.

But neither of these men knew of evolution, though they may have had inklings of the truth. In fact the Greeks, though very advanced in mathematics and philosophy, were at a practical level poor scientists. They did not even invent the arch, even though they could predict eclipses and study the planets (quite an achievement, considering they had no telescopes).

My point is that the Greeks, though ignorant of many scientific achievements of later generations, were not the sort of people that one should dismiss; yet that is exactly what the quotation from G G Simpson, within the quotation above, seems to do.

The year 1859 – the year of Darwin’s great scientific discovery – surely is an important year, even a watershed. But to dismiss all the centuries that come before seems mistaken. But it has to be said that this is a common mistake. Human beings love to see certain events as key, and somehow changing all that went before. Perhaps one can see the Darwinian moment as marking a paradigm shift (I have no problem with that), but should one see it as the greatest paradigm shift ever, which is clearly what Professor Dawkins believes?

All this reminds me of the way that his contemporaries reacted to Isaac Newton. Alexander Pope wrote:

Nature and nature’s laws lay hid in night;
God said “Let Newton be” and all was light.

This implies that Newton’s discoveries were more or less the most important thing since the creation of the world – though it is worth remembering that Pope was famous for his irony.

The problem I have with seeing Darwin as the inaugurator of a new age (though he undoubtedly was that in a sense) is the implication that everything that went before was gravely lacking. Not only are Aristotle and Socrates worth treasuring – they represent human achievements never bettered in certain important respects – but it is also true to say, surely, that Darwin did not come from nowhere, and that he, too, like all of us, was a product of his time. In other words, without the pre-history, without those who went before him, Darwin himself would not have been the man he was.

So, in reply to G G Simpson, one would have to say that what preceded the year 1859 simply cannot be ignored. Not even Darwin started from scratch. No one does.

  • Jonathan West

    I think I am far less confused about that than you are.

    As a general principle, we base our beliefs and decisions on evidence (or at least we try to most of the time). For instance, if you see a bright blue sky outside, I doubt that your immediate reaction would be that you would need an umbrella to go out, because you know from direct evidence that rain normally falls from clouds, not from a blue sky. 

    Science is nothing more than evidence-based thinking carried out very thoroughly and with plenty of time and effort available both for theorising and checking those theories against observation and experiment to the highest practicable degree of confidence.

    In other words, science is not different in kind from the ordinary everyday thinking we both do, it is just done much more thoroughly and carefully.

  • Dlflanagan

    We have Christ as head of the Church but alas we are indeed a Church of sinners and some saints and many scoundrels.
    Christ claimed he came to call sinners, not the righteous.But then again we are ALL a fallen people and always will be.

  • buckingham88

     ‘Every human’s parents were also human’
    Really Julia.
    Which came first, the chicken or the egg?

  • JabbaPapa

    I’m NOT “squirming around with words,” I’m providing some fundamental and basic philosophical objections against the doctrines of positivist materialism, insofar as they inform the writings of Dawkins and the ideas of his followers.

  • JabbaPapa

    Your statement that belief is generally based on evidence is fundamentally flawed — people routinely believe things that are either supported by no evidence at all, or that can in fact be contrary to evidence.

    You yourself believe in the truth of various extremely dubious statements about religion, despite the fact that contrary evidence about those statements has been provided to you by several people belonging to a religion.

    And it is of the nature of most axioms that they are not supported by evidence, but simply by the shared consent of those that believe them.

    And that’s without even getting dirtied in the nitty-gritty of semantics, semiotics, hermeneutics, and epistemology.

    The definitions of much of our standard vocabulary, which is foundational to everything that we can believe, are established not by evidence, but by mutual consent.

    Furthermore, you are very clearly using a definition of the word “evidence” that is simultaneously too broad (by claiming that all beliefs are based on evidence) and too narrow (by implicitly or explicitly claiming that evidence must be of a peer-reviewable material nature, or it isn’t evidence at all) — in other words, you’re trying to have your cake and eat it.

    Either 1) all beliefs are based on evidence, in which case you will be forced to accept that even those beliefs that you personally disagree with are based on evidence ; or 2) evidence has a particular, narrow definition, that excludes some forms of data or statements, in which case you will be forced to accept that there is no strong link between evidence and belief.

    Or of course, your usual favourite, 3) ignore any contrary discussion and any data or input that disagrees with your a priori approach, and carry on believing whatever biased nonsense motivates your thinking ; despite the irony of your claim that this thinking is “evidence-based”

  • JabbaPapa

    If you shake a flask of sand and find that the denser parts fall to the
    bottom, they are selected on the basis of their density. It may be
    logical but does not require any intelligence on behalf of the sand
    grains or from any other source.

    This is a totally inaccurate description of what happens when you shake a flask of sand.

    The final positions of each particular grain of sand will not be determined by the density of each particular particle — but by the size of the particles, the smaller grains tending to slip between the gaps between the larger ones and sink to the bottom, and by random indeterminacy (randomness exists within causality) — and that’s not even accounting for entropy, which can cause some of the larger grains to split into smaller ones as you shake the flask, or can even cause a breach in the integrity of the flask itself, or can cause you to drop the flask on the floor, etc.

    In fact, your claim that denser particles would fall differently to less dense ones is incompatible with Galileo’s discoveries about gravity, let alone Newton’s !!!

    All existing organisms have evolved to the same extent according to their environment.

    In fact, the relationship between organisms, species, and their environment is a dynamic one. For starters, consider the drastic changes to the environment that we live in that have been caused by our own species.

    Your understanding of this aspect of evolutionary theory is out of date.

  • JabbaPapa

    Your statement You follow doctrine is clear evidence supporting the accuracy of my analysis.

  • JabbaPapa

    Galileo didn’t fancy being roasted like a chestnut, old or otherwise. So he recanted.

    What cobblers !!!

    In fact, Galileo’s work was financed by the Holy See.

    He was punished for using the financing that had been given to him by the Church to publish attacks against the Pope, who had been Galileo’s principal supporter in the Vatican.

    Galileo decided to disobey one simple editorial request, that would not have affected his presentation of the validity of his theses in the slightest — but would in fact have strengthened them in the environment of the pro et contra debate on the question that existed at the time.

    Galileo’s childish and selfish actions led directly to a slower propagation of his own theories than would otherwise have been the case.

    Galileo was punished for his acts of rebellion, not for his theories, because the publication of those theories was financed by the Holy See, and the Pope personally.

  • Jonathan West

    At some point, I hope you will have a contribution of substance to make to the discussion.

  • Jonathan West

    The scriptural claim is that God does  answer prayers, not that God can answer prayers but doesn’t. So, if that claim is correct (and not your unscriptural revision of it in your comment above), we ought to be able if only statistically to find evidence of prayers being answered.

    The fact is that the test has been performed as I described, using a lot of money from the Templeton Foundation. It was carried out according to proper scientific standards and written up in Pubmed. There was no evidence of intercessory prayer having any effect.
    But that of course is the wrong answer as far as you’re concerned, and so you must find some way of discrediting the methodology, to persuade yourself (if nobody else) that the methodology was invalid.

    I suspect you would have thought differently had the results been positive.

  • karlf

     Then correct me and I will adjust my view. Do you follow doctrine or not Jabs?

  • snafu

    Yes, let’s turn the question that way:

    Imagine that a well-conducted, well- controlled, study on intercessionary prayer found significant results in favour of the truths of Catholicism.

    What should Vincent Nichols do?  Should he proclaim it from the rooftops as significant evidence against the prevailing atheistic materialism?  Or should he dismiss it as a flawed hypothesis that assumes positivist materialism is 100% correct?

    Your comments imply the latter, correct?


  • JabbaPapa

    Which part of “I know exactly where you’re trying to steer the discussion” did you fail to comprehend ?

    I suspect you would have thought differently had the results been positive.

    WRONG — again.

    Large numbers of studies exist showng sometimes positive, sometimes negative, sometimes neutral results in the “testing” of such things as homeopathy, faith healing, ESP, etc etc — the results of ALL of these tests are invalidated by the inherent randomness of test results concerning non-testable proposals.

    That “test” is, as I keep on pointing out to you, a complete parody of scientific methodology, pertaining as it does to a proposal that is NOT constitutive of a valid scientific hypothesis, for reasons that you appear to be too stubborn to accept.

    I would trust NO pseudo-scientific “studies” whatsoever about any non-scientific question, regardless of what the results of those “studies” might happen to be.

    That you should put your faith in this pseudo-science is quite perfectly abysmal, and you should not be surprised if others should dismiss it utterly.

    The scriptural claim is that XXX — not your
    unscriptural revision of it

    1) Unsurprisingly, Scripture does not inform scientific methodology in the contemporary understanding of this — that is because the Bible is NOT a Science textbook

    2) Faith is NOT centred on Scripture — Scripture is a work that has been produced by the Jewish and Christian Religions, both as a repository of religious texts, and as a tool for the teaching of the Faith. Neither of these activities form any part of the exact Sciences

    3) It’s pole-dancingly ironic that you should be defending “scripture” (albeit in your frankly bizarre misconception of the nature of its contents) and complaining that my comments are “unscriptural”

  • JabbaPapa

    Every single philosophical approach in existence follows whichever doctrines belonging to that approach, including both yours and mine.

    It is a false claim of NuAtheism that atheists do not follow doctrines.

  • JabbaPapa


    It should be dismissed on the basis that it’s pseudo-science based on a flawed hypothesis that assuming that positivist materialism is 100% correct.

    Though in this case, given that you’re positing a declaration from a Catholic Bishop  concerning these matters, it would be uncatholic for that Bishop to dictate on doctrinal matters that the Church has no authority to define — if he were to make such a statement, it would be formally heretical.

  • karlf

    “Your statement You follow doctrine is clear evidence supporting the accuracy of my analysis” ???
    I’m not a ‘NuAtheist’, but what doctrine do they follow?

  • Jonathan West

    If you want to understand how testing of such things like homeopathy is carried out, take a look at Ben Goldacre’s article in the Guardian 

    or go and buy his book Bad Science.

    Ten hopefully you will begin to understand how you can’t label questions “non-scientific” and so declare them by fiat as being off-limits to scientific enquiry.

  • Jonathan West

    By he way, clinical trials have a biblical precedent. Take  a look at Daniel 1:1-16.

  • karlf

    So do people who don’t believe that unicorns exist follow a doctrine that “people who don’t believe in unicorns don’t follow doctrine”?

  • Nat_ons

    Sadly, Aristotle, Albert the Great, Athanasius Kircher et al suffer from two of the most grave deformities in modernist Anglo-Saxon minds – they could be studied, if at all, under the terrible disability of kind approval from the Church, and much, much worse still .. they were not English (or some cast off culture drawn from England). 

    Even the easiest accessed (if at times least scholastically reliable) sources could help any lazy scholar to improve his presentations; of course improvement is not the issue for polemicists, making a point (even an easily dismantled one) is the goal; often all one can do is plod on showing error as error, witnessing to the truth and indicating how it may best be understood .. perhaps demonstrated and maybe verified too.

  • karlf

     in reply to you below:
    Jesus believed in the prophets and their prophecies. How do you know that he
    didn’t believe that the other sacred scriptures were records of real events too?
    A great many people today (incredibly) take the stories of the Old Testament literally,
    so what is the likelihood that the ordinary person of Jesus’ day was intellectualising
    as to whether they should be taken as allegory or not?

    When Jesus said “Have you not read that from the beginning the Creator
    ‘made them male and female” he was clearly referring to “God created man
    in his image; in the divine image he created him; male and female he created
    them”. Where is the indication that he did not believe Genesis to be a
    factual account of the creation of humankind? Why would we doubt that he means
    what he says?

    If the Old Testament was not meant to be taken literally, surely this would
    have been made clear in the Bible to avoid the inevitable confusion that

    I’m making perfectly valid points here, and you needn’t get annoyed simply
    because they go against the teachings of your religion.

  • JabbaPapa

    If you want to understand how testing of such things like homeopathy is carried out

    I already do understand how the testing of homeopathy is carried out, thank you.

    I’ll grant that homeopathy is not the best example in my overly short list of pseudo-science ; nevertheless, variable results are provided by the testing of homeopathy.

    The actually scientific testing of the claims of homeopathy limited itself to answering the question “does homeopathy provide sufficient positive results to justify its funding by the public health services” ; the answer to this specific question ended up being “no”.

    Homeopathy is not verifiable, and it is only partially falsifiable — that is why it is pseudo-science ; not because of the results of the restricted amount of testing that is actually possible.

    Homeopathy is not verifiable for the following reasons :

    1) Because it overlaps the placebo effect, so that there is no meaningfully testable distinction between the two

    2) Because it is also a form of faith healing, which is inherently untestable (faith not being empirically observable)

    3) Because the material effects of the minute quantities of active ingredients are non-observable in vivo (this is theoretically a technical limitation, that could theoretically be overcome, but it would require a forensic technology VASTLY in excess of current capabilities)

    4) Because human testing of homeopathy in some scenarios would be contrary to basic medical ethics — any doctors withholding treatment from even volunteers in the case of any serious illnesses would be in violation of the most basic medical ethics

    Animal testing cannot demonstrate the effects of medicine in human beings

    5) Because most practitioners of homeopathy typically combine their “treatments” with conventional methods anyway.

    Homeopathy is a fringe case, located between the testable and the untestable ; though it is mostly untestable.

    The claims of homeopathy are not scientific claims, because they fail to constitute properly acceptable scientific hypotheses.

    Pseudo-science and non-science have it in common that they are unamenable to proper testing, whether partially or fully so.

    That extremely silly “prayer” test is invalidated by so many false assumptions and grotesque pseudo-methodology that it continues to be vastly embarrassing to even contemplate detailing them.

    Blatant, straightforward, pseudo-science.

  • JabbaPapa

    And ?

    Is this supposed to be suggesting that anyone has condemned clinical trials themselves ?

    If so : strawman.

  • JabbaPapa


    Your question does not appear to be comprehensible.

  • JabbaPapa

    I’m not a ‘NuAtheist’, but what doctrine do they follow?

  • C_monsta

    As Jesus was a creationist you are safe to ignore his explanation for the origin of man., aren’t you Fr. ALS?

  • Lazarus

    The reason why the question is not framed in such a way that a (scientific) test could be devised is that it is not a scientific question.

    So back to your dilemma: either you are ruling out any rational enquiry which isn’t scientific (and doing this -paradoxically- on non-scientific grounds) or you are left to tackle the specifics of the non-scientific but rational arguments offered to explain where they’re going wrong.

  • karlf

    Try reading it slowly then

  • JabbaPapa

    A great many people today (incredibly) take the stories of the Old Testament literally

    Once again — Biblical literalism is an invention of the 19th century.

    And NOT “a great many people”, but “a tiny minority of fundamentalist extremists”.

    It is either straightforwardly anachronistic or anthropologically inaccurate to attribute any contents of Biblical literalism to any period in History prior to 19th century, or to anybody outside of the Protestant sects that adhere to its teachings.

    I’m making perfectly valid points here

    No you’re not.

    You’re banging your head against the wall on the basis of some grossly false premises.

  • karlf

    That article is an unbiased critique is it? And that 7 point creed is such nonsense – trying make believe that evidence based analysis contains the follies of religion

  • Acleron

    With no substantive argument I conclude that you don’t know if your god has any effect at all.

  • Jonathan West

    Before you go too far down that road, you might care to look at William Oddie’s recent article about Marie Stopes’ antisemitism.

    I’ve no idea whether she was antisemitic or not, I’ve not researched the matter, but I am sure that it has absolutely nothing to do with the question of the morality of abortion.

  • Acleron

    OK, perhaps I should have said vibrate the flask rather than shake it. It will act as a semi-fluid and then segregate according to density. But any segregation is still without any guiding hand, intelligence or indeed a god.

    Sorry but current evolutionary theory is clearly that everything has evolved to the same extent. If you examine a modern evolutionary tree, you will see that all extant clades finish on the same line. That line is ‘today’. In a quickly changing environment, the slowness of evolutionary change means that some species will die out. Some changes in adaptation are easier in terms of mechanism and thermodynamics, those clades will survive, others won’t. Exactly as we are seeing. 

    Again, I loosely used organism instead of genetic space, but when talking to somebody who thinks that man ascended in some way, I wasn’t going to explore the details involved.

  • karlf

    Nonsense – Adam and Eve were used to explain human creation for centuries.
    Please try answering my questions for once instead of dodging past them.

  • Jonathan West

    Well, let’s put it differently. If we can’t frame it as a scientific question, a question which could be decided by observation (at least in principle, leaving aside any mere technological difficulties with finding the answer), it seems to me that what we have is a well-known philosophical issue, an Unfalsifiable Proposition.

    Many unfalsifiable propositions involve God, but by no means all. One well-known one is the Omphalos hypotheses. In it’s modern form is also known as the five-minute hypothesis or Last Thursdayism. 

    Taking the Last Thursday variant (the others differ only by date) this is the hypothesis that the whole universe spracg into existence (or was created) last Thursday, complete with us and all our memories of older times, and that the join is so perfect that there is no means by which you can distinguish your real memories since last Thursday from your synthetic ones from before.

    There is no possible observation you can make by which you can disprove the Last Thursday hypothesis. But I suspect that you do not devote much effort to the idea that it is true. 

    I suggest that your proposed sustaining mode of God’s operation is unfalsifiable in exactly the same way. We can’t disprove it because there is no possible observation we can make that would decide the matter, but by the same token there is no reason to think it is true.

  • Acleron

    Interesting revision of history, shame it doesn’t fit with two pertinent facts.

    1) The indictment and sentence of Galileo includes this statement.

    ‘The proposition that the Sun is the center of the world and does not move from its place is absurd and false philosophically and formally heretical, because it is expressly contrary to Holy Scripture.’

    So we have to consider, have you misinterpreted the facts or did seven cardinals lie in the indictment.? Please notice that three others didn’t sign this piece of infamy. If you are correct, the indictment is fallacious and we have to then question anything else derived  from this body. That presumably includes any other evidence you can accrue to support your hypothesis.

    2) Just why did your pope apologise?  

  • Acleron

    You make claims about atheism that you clearly do not comprehend and for evidence you give a religious site that makes the same claims? Hilarious.

  • karlf

     Yes C_monsta!  And these fellows:

    “For Adam was formed first, then Eve.” Timothy 1

    “Enoch, of the seventh generation from Adam, prophesied also
    about them when he said, “Behold, the Lord has come with his countless
    holy ones” Jude 1:14

    “But death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who
    did not sin after the pattern of the trespass of Adam, who is the type of the
    one who was to come.” Romans 5:14

    “the son of Enos, the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son
    of God” Luke 3:38

    But Catholics believe that Jesus and St. Paul that they know better!

  • JabbaPapa

    With no substantive argument I conclude that you don’t know if your god has any effect at all.


    Given that my Faith is the direct result of a direct personal revelation, it would be rather odd if your notion were accurate, don’t you think ?

  • JabbaPapa

    You appear to be attempting to erect your own opinions into just such an Unfalsifiable Proposition.

    Of course, it’s outrageous that your method to achieve this goal is to simply reject any and all opinion contrary to your indoctrination.

  • karlf

     Please give details of your personal revelation.

  • Acleron

    So as I said earlier, it’s all in your mind and you don’t know if your entity is real or not. I can further conclude that it has a very low probability of any effect on reality. Your idea might have an effect on reality. The presence of the actions of the church are proof of that, but it doesn’t equate to your entity being real. 

    But as it something totally within your mind, have you ever considered that what others claim in your religion may not be the same revelation? If you were honest, you would admit that you could never know if they were the same. It may perhaps be an emergent property of some simple process in the brain. This would explain why catholics are born into catholic families and muslims into muslim families and rarely the twain exchange. 

    The above would also explain why you cannot comprehend the difference between not believing in a deity and believing a deity doesn’t exist. The latter of course, not being a property of an atheist.

  • JabbaPapa

    OK, perhaps I should have said vibrate the flask rather than shake it.
    It will act as a semi-fluid and then segregate according to density.

    Not according to the latest research that I’m aware of, but yes there is a strong qualitative difference between vibrate and shake (vibration being causative of the fluidification that you mention), and thank you anyway for the effort towards a more rigorous approach.

    Sorry but current evolutionary theory is clearly that everything has
    evolved to the same extent. If you examine a modern evolutionary tree,
    you will see that all extant clades finish on the same line. That line
    is ‘today’.

    There is a danger of a “Presentist” fallacy in any theoretical approach to any question relating to origins, biological or otherwise, which is of course just as true today as it was in 19th century, in the Middle Ages, or between 2000 and 3500 years ago while Scripture was being written, or in the future, or in any times.

    (Presentism being used with a slightly out-of-normal definition, sorry)

    Ultimately, evolution occurs at the single cellular level — and as such, it is not directly observable — despite being artificially inducible via genetic engineering !!!

    If you’d said something like “all that lives is a result of an evolutionary process” I’d have agreed — I mean in that sense, in His Flesh, the Christ Himself was the result of that same general evolutionary process.

    In a quickly changing environment, the slowness of evolutionary change means that some species will die out.

    Yes and no.

    The shift from one species to another is possible within a single generation, and it has been possibly observed, albeit not verified as such AFAIK. The case of the tangerine orange is an interesting one, the species when it was discovered existed as one individual plant.

    OTOH, yes, it’s obviously the case that environmental shifts might cause some species and rtheir descent to become inherently unviable in the new environment.

    Again, I loosely used organism instead of genetic space, but when
    talking to somebody who thinks that man ascended in some way, I wasn’t
    going to explore the details involved.

    Less presumption on your part that those with different beliefs than yours must therefore be of inferior education and/or intellect might lead you to better quality conversation with others.

    You falsely assume that the public declaration of beliefs concerning supernaturality that are different to your own must indicate some sort of intellectual inferiority, of either education or capability.

    This is not accurate, nor is it objective.

  • JabbaPapa

    It’s a triple or quadruple negative statement — you cannot expect it to be comprehensible.

  • JabbaPapa

    That article is an unbiased critique is it?

    It’s not a “critique”, not in the slightest.

    Oh — and you asked a question.

    Forgive me for answering it !!!

    The article is a theological analysis of  NuAtheist doctrine.

    evidence based analysis

    I can’t see that you have provided any of this, and I can’t see that the primary theses in The God Delusion are based on “evidence”, as opposed to the doctrines and a prioris of relativist Marxist-informed post-structuralism.

  • karlf

    try this:
    Do the non-believers in unicorn exisence follow a doctrine of “non-believers in unicorn exisence don’t follow doctrine”?

  • JabbaPapa

    Right — I “don’t comprehend” my own statements about NuAtheism.

    Why do you expect that you should be taken seriously when you come up with such massively objectionable crap ???

  • karlf

    The article is nonsense for the reasons i gave. Now please answer the other questions, such as “How do you know that Jesus didn’t believe that the other sacred scriptures were records of real events too”

  • Acleron

    Nice of you to read my mind, especially as you are inaccurate and subjective. Anybody who considers that any genetic space has evolved more than any other genetic space is talking rot. The ascent of man has no place in evolutionary theory or research.

  • JabbaPapa

    I am rapidly tiring of your extreme naïvety concerning the Art of Literature.

    Adam and Eve were used to explain human creation for centuries.

    Nope — the Adam and Eve story was used to help illustrate the Mystery of human origins for Millennia. (among other things — it remains an extremely incisive critique of the human condition, as well as being an illustration of the tender complicity of friendship and love between man and wife)

    Anybody failing to understand that a mysterious story with a talking snake as the primary antagonist cannot possibly be intended to be literally believed as some sort of “historical” account, but should instead be understood implicitly as including symbolic and/or metaphorical contents is somebody who is in urgent need of an education..