Evolving Ourselves: How Unnatural Selection and Nonrandom Mutations are Changing Life on Earth

By Juan Enriquez and Steve Gullans

Portfolio/Penguin | 2015 | 352 pages

An essay by Fred Beauford

Will the choice then be a better God, or no God?

I am sometimes truly amazed at the direction reading books can take my mind. As I read this highly interesting science book, all I could think of was Theology; and especially Monotheism. 

I should add, in fairness to Evolving Ourselves, that the authors in no way dealt with religion, although, in many ways, the book is all about religion—it is only a quirk in my own mind that that led to this essay.

In Monotheism, this all knowing, all seeing, personal God revealed itself some 5,000 years ago in the burning deserts of the Mideast.

Our two authors point out that “About 7,500 generations ago, our type, Homo sapiens, began to build, create, and pillage small villages. What we refer to as “civilization” began about 500 generations ago, with the advent of agriculture.”

In other words, when this God was first conceived we were a wild “all natural” species, surrounded by other “all natural” species, who wanted nothing more than to have us for lunch.     That was before we started creating unnatural environments.  

“Unnatural environments have been very good for humans;” the authors of Evolving Ourselves points out, “as we domesticated ourselves and our environments, we gradually removed the obstacles to a long life span. For most of our history, for most people, days were filled with malnutrition, disease, and violence. A major concern was not to get eaten. Predators of all kinds were far more common until our massive and deliberate kill-off modified our environment to such an extent that we must search really carefully to find any of the most-common big animal predators.”

But you can also see why we craved something, or someone to look over us, protect us, to allow us to live. So what if we had to bow down to it daily! That was a small price to pay.

All kinds of Gods sprung up, but the one that finally captured much of the world was the demanding God of the Hebrews. And now, that God, who now has many names, is wedded to the amazing technical progress Homo sapien has made, which is well documented in Evolving Ourselves .

Now, we have become the architect, the creative designer, and have managed to sanitize much of our lives, and Evolving Ourselves point out that even more wonders are coming. And, I might add, much dread that we just might be too smart for our own good.

So, do we still need this God of the desert? Does it boil down to continue to worship an ancient, irrelevant God? Or, no God at all, as Friedrich Nietzsche would have it?

Daily, headlines tell us that the desert people that created Monotheism, and refined it over the years, seem to think we need this God, now more than ever; and many of them are willing to destroy the entire world in the name of their God.

But the question for me is that if we can create this brilliant new world the authors of Evolving Ourselves gives us, still beset with dangers, to be sure, but far better than anything before it, all by using this wonderful mind we are blessed with-- can we now create a better, more peaceful God?

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