Is there a God? Who the hell are we? The story of humanity - a review of the book Sapiens

Last year, the book Sapiens came across my screen and I put it on my Christmas list. Long story short...I just finished reading the book. It's a good one to read, but it's not all inclusive. I guess I just expected more from it, but with every book I read I try to take away at least one nugget of new knowledge.

From the book Sapiens - I take an all encompassing/big picture view of humanity from start to finish. And finish is the new aspect. My interpretation of the book's message was that we are destined or are evolving to become ONE.

We started out as many tribes - maybe thousands but at least 11. This has been known for a long time. Following the haplotypes (mitochondrial dna lines - always passed down from mother to child,) we know that were at least 7-11 original mothers. No Eve. Eve(S).

At least 7-11. Not every human being has been typed. In fact a very small percentage of the human race has been genetically sequenced. We may find that there were 100 original mothers - that still have surviving offspring. Mother groups may have died out and there could have originally been thousands. (Incidentally - this is how they determine your "ethnicity" when you do DNA testing.)

It's almost as if humanity started as a multiplayer video game with 2000 original players. 1000 mothers, 1000 fathers  - all in geographically distinct areas. Each of them had their own skills, advantages/disadvantages, and genetic differences.

Some were better suited to cold or warm climates. Some started in cold climates but were not suited to it and had to learn/adapt in order to survive. Some of the original parent and parent tribes died out. Some of them survived. All of them moved.

When they encountered each other the did a few things - they intermingled, they fought, they learned from each other, and sometimes they exterminated each other.

And it all lead up to where we are today - a global society. No longer separated by oceans, language barriers, and cultural differences. Or hardly so, compared to what the original peoples and our most recent ancestors were encountering.

As the age of the internet, the new world order, the use of one currency and one universal language, there will be even less separating us. We will become one.

E Pluribus Unum
Out of many, one

Scary stuff, but incredibly cool. Almost as if this was the plan from the beginning. Which leads me to a few beefs with the book. The author does a great job of being politically correct and not offending anyone. This is not something I see as an asset, but it does allow the information to be spread without bias/anger.

He seems to be quite against the Christian religion - I'm guessing a personal bias entered in, but it is not really relevant. I, myself, am not a Christian but I am not an atheist. I have seen and experienced way too much to believe that there is not a master designer - even, at minimum, an uninvolved watchmaker. Anyone who has delved into biochemistry or basic quantum physics would have to admit the same (except in public, of course - we must be politically correct.) Frankly, anyone who has ever quietly watched the world would see it's design.

But I digress. I have issue with his atheist stance because it's irrelevant. You can see the design and discuss the progression without worrying about the intricacies of religion.

My other issue is with the timeline, but this author does a much better job of separating out the different homo species to make a lot more sense of human history.

This author does discuss activities 100,000 years ago, 2 million years ago, etc. This is always just a guess - even though it is presented as facts. We can not assume that radiocarbon dating is correct. It gives us a guage - based on our current understanding but is not definitive. Science is not definitive. We are always guessing (hypothesizing) and everything is up for debate and dethroning.

So we are assuming that radioactive atoms decay at a continuous rate for all time. That is presumptive. So we have observed that for 1-200 years. And then extrapolating the data for millions of years. It may be right. It may never jump around, speed up, slow down, change because of external forces, etc. But it is foolish to lay down dates as absolutes. Even when they give "ranges" those are still "best guesses."

Those guesses help us to put things in order, but we  may be off by millions of years in the process.

Why am I so hell bent on this topic? Because I read a lot of history. I have read many books written between 600-2018 AD. I read on a lot of topics - health, food, agriculture, biographies, war chronicles, scientific discoveries, diaries, religious texts, etc. I read them to get an understanding of specific issues, but have come away with much more - a firm understanding of humanity. Here is what I have discovered....

Humans have been the same for all that time. Books written by people in the 1400s are as intelligent, thoughtful, curious, insightful, and caring as those written today. The humans are JUST as smart as we are today. They were always on the cusp of something.
Based on the knowledge they had (and we subsequently RELEARN!) I can not in good concsious believe that human beings have been around for more than around 10,000 years (give or take a few thousand.) Yes, they were stopped by famine, distance, evil kings, wars, diseases. But they really weren't. Our ancestors were amazing - go get 'em, discover and conquer people. They created, the lived, the explored, the discovered....they survived. They were never stopped. Just slowed in comparison to our rate of growth. The reason we are so much "faster" is not because we are smarter but because we are more connected. Written language, Clean water, More people, efficient transportation, decreased infant/maternal mortality, human equality, More food, Electricity, Interent connectivity, Global trade... all of these things make us able to learn/do faster than our ancestors. But they would be able to do the same if transported into this side of history.

Looking at how things developed through the documented years (approx 3000-6000BC to now), it's pretty clear that there is not much more to history than that - for humans, at least. This is not a Bible thumping proclamation. The bible claims humans have only existed for 2000 years. Obviously not the case. But we were not on some slow evolutionary chain for millions of years.

Actually, I highly doubt that the humans of 10,000 years ago were much different from us at all - genetically. Yes, we are more mixed now from generations of breeding - but there were no "evolutionary" changes in that time.

The author of Sapiens separates this by breaking down what scientists call humans. Homo erectus, homo denisovan, neanderthals, and homo sapiens plus others. He says that homo sapiens have been roaming the earth some 13,500 or so years. That makes sense.

When scientists say we have evidence of humans at an archiological dig from 300,000 years ago - they are not referring to homo sapiens. Maybe homo erectus. Maybe something else. Where they human? Maybe - but not like us exactly. Were they homo sapien ancestors? Maybe - or maybe they were bred into us in some groups. It's all a maybe.

For a better understanding of what really happened all those thousands of years ago, I would recommend Fingerprints of the Gods. Again - this is not a religious sermon. That just happens to be the title of the book but it does explore when/how/why Sapiens appeared 13,500 years ago - it uses ice dating information and goes over what might have happened - a freeze and a flood that are part of every ancient human origin story - across cultures and across time.

There is much to learn from looking back - but the best gift the book Sapiens gave me was a clear idea of going forward. We are to be one. Out of many - one.  Out of chaos - order. This is the grand plan. Do your part, contribute your unique talents, and enjoy the ride.



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Thank you for your comments! I appreciate all your tips, advice, and well wishes!

Angela

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