Science Matters

Tonight we watched a wonderful documentary on Nova titled Dawn of Humanity.  It’s a real-time video-taping of the discovery of a new Homo species.  More than a thousand skeletal remains were found in the first weeks of gathering their remains from deep within a cavern in South Africa.  The carbon dating was not available yet at the time of the taping this year, but most likely the remains are around 2 million years old.  One amazing finding is that the site appears to be a cemetery of sorts, indicating these very early hominoids displayed a spiritual manner of behavior quite unexpected at such an early stage in evolution.  My thoughts on this is that a cave deep within the earth was a natural return to Mother Earth for a body that had come from her.

I was crying an hour into the documentary while seeing these scientists wearing their video cameras as they squeezed through the narrow passageway down deep into the earth, and coming upon ancient bones and teeth, untouched and unseen by humans or animals for all of these eons.  To be able to watch their work as it unfolded was absolutely incredible.  Such is the power of videotaping research, discovery and creation.  It was just overwhelming to me.  It called to mind my year of anthropology at the University of Illinois.  Though the subject matter was fascinating to me at the time, and I learned a lot, it was very dry stuff  compared to learning over the shoulder of these young Ph.D candidates.

And then it calls to mind the fact that some of our congress members  are so woefully ignorant of fundamental science, that they talk foolishness that is endangering our  very existence.    A failure on their part to understand that science and religion need not be at odds with one another is a lesson worth learning.  Denying evolution seems ridiculous and climate change denial is a recklessness that we can not afford.  The fueling of that for personal and corporate gain can not be tolerated.  We need to be prepared.  A species survives only as long as it is adaptable to changing circumstances.  And it begins with a sound education for our youth.

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