Evolution Book Response
When choosing a book for this assignment, I immediately knew that I wanted to read something on evolution. My first thought was to go with The Origin of Species, by Charles Darwin, whose name is used almost synonymously with the theory of evolution. However, after discussing my choice with several people who had previously read the book, I was informed that the content of the book was somewhat or according to some, “unfathomably dull”. Based on this general consensus I now looked for a new source to for fill my lust for a book on the subject of the change of species over time.
I decided to check in the school's library for anything that might match the criteria of what I was looking for. In my search I came across the book: From Ape to Adam by Herbert Wendt (published 1972). Since I knew the bell would ring soon, I decided to check the book out. Later at home I began reading the first few chapters; this was the book I was looking for. I found this book very appealing because it was not just about how evolution occurred, but about how the theory of evolution evolved. This book does not focus its efforts on how evolution began with the creation of a common ancestor of all living things because even today, scientists are still unsure as to the answer. Instead it shows the struggle of how one species attempts to understand how it came into existence. This book really made me think about who I am and how much it has taken to make me exist. I'm Gunther and I'm the result of over 6 million years of events. This thought inspired by what I read and the class notes on the law of conservation of matter and energy made me imagine where the atoms and particles that I am made out of have been before I ever existed, that every part of me and everyone else originated from the same source at the beginning of time. This scientifically based statement seems to pull the worlds of religion and science closer together than many may think possible.
What immediately drew my interest was the parts that theorized the origins of ancient myths such as the mythical creatures called gorgons based on what is believed to be some of the first recorded evidence of modern man's interaction with his closest living ancestors. These meetings of two species with the same genetic narrative are proof that modern man did not evolve in a straight sequence of events where a new species emerged as the old one died out. More likely it was that modern man existed alongside those with the genetic code that he had evolved from. With the two species competing for resources, modern man was more efficient than his primitive neighbor and out competed him.
Besides what has been previously mentioned, this book discusses not only what the current theory of evolution is but every major step that contributed or dis-contributed to the current understanding of how modern man came to be. As with most older scientific debates, religion made the subject of evolution very controversial. Fearing criticism, few were bold enough to stand before an audience to discuss the ancestors of man. Many people openly mocked anyone who claimed that man evolved from a primitive ancestor. This was very similar to the situation with Galileo who claimed that the earth orbited the sun and was not the center of the solar system.
Proof such as ancient tools like arrowheads and stone hatchets were regarded as mere coincidence, chipped rocks that just so happened to resemble a primitive tool, just a natural phenomenon. Cave paintings discovered all across Europe were said to be only the practices of a local artist who had expressed his talent in the cave. It wasn't until later that the important discovery was made, of human-like bones along with the bones of other animals, charcoal, and various stone tools were found in caves, fossilized under layers of limestone. Later many cave paintings were authenticated when it was discovered that some if the images painted on the walls extended below the layers of limestone that made up the cave fore. This proved that these artifacts were indeed authentic since it would have taken over a thousand years for the limestone to form in that thickness. Later, early human remains were discovered all over Europe alongside the tools they had used and remains of the animals they had eaten. After these discoveries, most of the scientific community began to look closer into previously discovered artifacts and art. From closer observations, they were able to determine that ancient humans had a fairly developed culture that included art, ceremonial rite of passage from child to adult, and burial rituals for the dead.