Evolution Day is the anniversary of the first publication of The Origin of Species on November 24, 1859. Also celebrated is Darwin Day which commemorates the birthday of Charles Darwin who established the theory of natural selection which provided for a biological process behind evolution.
The year 2009 will mark the 150th anniversary of the publication of The Origin as well as the 200th anniversary of Darwin’s birth.
Did anyone watch “The Human Family Tree” recently on the National Geographic channel? One of the most fascinating facts found out, after checking the DNA of 350,000 human beings from every corner of the planet, is we all come from the same area of Africa.
200,000 – 150,000 years ago: The genetic journey of everyone alive today began with one woman — “Scientific Eve” — who lived in Africa and passed along her DNA through special cell structures called mitochondria, which only women pass down to further generations. What that means is, we are all related: Black, White, Yellow, Brown . . . we’re all the same. Our DNA varies by 1/10 of 1%, and that small percentage is what gives us our individual identities.
The color of a humans skin comes not from DNA, but where our ancestors migrated to. European ancestors lived in cold climates, so skin pigmentation lightened over generations. Those living in warmer or hotter climates retained the darker characteristics. It makes it interesting, then, how much race (which actually doesn’t exist) plays the role it does in society. I wonder how racists would actually feel if they knew they were hating their brothers and cousins? My guess is they would not believe the evidence when presented to them. All one has to do is look to people like Linda Jenkins, Bill O’Reilly and their ilk to understand facts have little meaning to them.
So, readers, how do we change the minds of people bent on destroying race relations, when the evidence of DNA points to the non-existence of race? Is it even possible?
Scientists think they’ve found the origins of human empathy in studying orang-utans. They found that laughter is contagious and important for animals that live in groups. “Empathy helps one communicate with social partners … It helps form social bonds and it’s supportive in terms of cooperation.”
Another study examines our potential for violence and finds, “Contrary to popular belief, we are born violent. Until the age of three, our impulses run riot. There is no stopping the urges which come from the emotional centre in our brains.
But as we grow up, we start to develop the part of the brain that allows us to control our aggression – the pre-frontal cortex.”
What causes some people to not control their tendency to be violent? What allows others to remain passive, calm and peaceful? What part does our culture and our experiences play? We know laughter is contagious. Is violence also?
When you read stories like those telling of the people gathering to protest at The University of Notre Dame tomorrow, you can’t ignore the mass hysteria, how much greater the threats of violence are because too often violence creates violence. Does being a part of a group who are furious give permission to behave in ways we might find unacceptable as an individual?