While the Creationists and the Scientists are still slugging it out in the fight between “intelligent design” and evolution, it’s clear in my mind who the real authority is. I’ll go with science any day, because they encourage me to use my mind. Creationists on the other hand prefer that I stop just short of wearing a chastity belt and pack a handgun in my handbag (In God we Trust, but carry a handgun just in case!) and basically be afraid of everything outside my front door. One childhood spent in the midst of a series of fundamentalist religions is quite enough brainwashing to last a lifetime.
So naturally when I recently read “The Worst of the South,” an article by Hal Crowther in my latest issue of Oxford American magazine, he brought a few things to my attention that I hadn’t thought about in a long time. As a kid, I used to love to sidle up next to my daddy either in the living room or stretched out bared toed on the porch floor while he and my uncles discussed the Bible and other religious matters after dinner at Grandma’s house on Sunday.
I avoided the kitchen and the women cleaning up like the plague. Sure their gossip was fun sometimes but they were better at speaking in code in case their subject matter wasn’t appropriate for tender young ears. On the other hand the men usually talked about the bible and religion, or an even more tintillating subject, life after death.
By the way, several of them, including my dad, made a pact that whichever of them died first, he would try to find some way to contact those still here. Almost every one of them is gone now and I don’t know for sure if their pact extended to me or not, since I was mostly seen but not heard, but I haven’t perceived anything supernatural so I’ve just about given up on life after death. I’m sure they would have confirmed it by now as they were all a stubborn lot. Still it’s not difficult for me to picture them even at this moment in wherever their idea of Heaven would have been, maybe sitting barefoot by a creek bank with a fishing pole in hand, still talking about those very same things.
They used to speculate that God’s punishment for Cain after he killed his brother Abel was a black skin, thus the beginning of the Negroid race. They would also wonder aloud who the duce Cain married when he was kicked out of Eden. Creationists have an answer for that too. They will tell you that Adam and Eve lived a very, very, long time and probably produced many more children than Cain and Abel. Cain probably married one of his sisters they say. However, I like the answer Hal Crowther came up with and wrote about so humorously in his article:
Close readers of Genesis 4:17, where the fratricidal Cain, expelled from Eden and settled in the land of Nod, “knew his wife” and fathered a son. We don’t doubt that he knew her well; but where did she come from, since no humans other than Adam’s dysfunctional little family have yet appeared? Was Cain’s bride on the short and fuzzy side, and does that make him the Bible’s first liberal?
That got me thinking. I hadn’t read or thought an awful lot about evolution since LUCY – (by David Johanson & Maitland Edey) was published around 1980. Lucy, if you’ll remember, was a partial skeleton about 3.5-million years old, and was then thought to be our oldest human ancestor. It was speculated that she may be the missing link between mankind and the apes. But I also learned from Crowther’s article that Lucy and I were both far behind in evolutional theory.
It seems that the Washington Post reported awhile back that geneticists from MIT and Harvard have concluded that human beings and modern chimpanzees share 99.4 percent of our DNA. I’ll let Mr. Crowther tell you in his own words, again from the article:
As reported in the Washington Post, geneticists at MIT and Harvard have concluded that human beings and chimpanzees not only evolved from a common ancestor 6.3 million years ago, but actually enjoyed (we assume) a million years of interbreeding before they went their separate ways romantically. So the modern human is a monkey-island mongrel, a hybrid primate with intimate blood ties to modern chimpanzees, who share 99.4 percent of our DNA. Remember the so-called “Missing Link” between apes and humans? The Missing Link is you, pilgrim. You and me.
Gives us something to think about, right?