Friday, January 15, 2010

Guns, Germs, and Steel

Growing up, I learned and trusted in evolution. Before becoming a Christian, I read "Guns, Germs, and Steel" (GGS)(Jared Diamond).

Even in the evolutionary mindset, this had some big impacts on me:
  • It undermined my faith in science - Diamond revealed much of the underlying racism, pride, and arrogance in anthropology
  • It made me pause and consider determinism. I was a strong believer in "the future is what we make it" (the power of human will). The idea that all of world history could turn on the layout of land masses made me consider that perhaps God was in control.
Having adopting a young earth viewpoint, I still recommend GGS.

Not that Diamond is favorable to a young earth. He is an evolutionary ornithologist (studying the evolution of birds). But, everything he says makes a lot of sense from a young earth point of view.
  1. Until recently all human populations were the same (technology wise)
  2. Humans spread rapidly to all the parts of the globe they would reach
  3. There are only a handful of plant and animal species useful to man
Much of the book is exploring the first point, and it is the one that can have the biggest impact on the reader. I've never seen another book that covers pre-history so well.

My interest is in the third point.

Diamond believes that it was the layout of land masses that allowed people in the middle east to bring together the ingredients needed for civilization (east-to-west configuration provides for rapid transport from multiple, compatible biomes).

That is, perhaps, correct. But there is an alternative interpretation.

What if the plants and animals useful to man are those brought on the Ark?

They would start in the middle east, and would need to be transported elsewhere (perhaps being lost in transport, made difficult by the ice age).

In this case, the wild versions did not come first, with minor mutations for the human-ready versions. The wild versions came later...

A story from Science Daily to ponder.

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