Decent Quote from the Descent of Man

Exposing the Big Game

This quote from Darwin’s The Descent of Man appears at the beginning of Carl Sagan’s bestselling book, The Dragons of Eden: Speculations on the Evolution of Human Intelligence.

“The main conclusion arrived at in this work, namely, that man is descended from some lowly-organized form, will, I regret to think, be highly distasteful to many persons. But there can hardly be a doubt that we are descended from barbarians. The astonishment which I felt on first seeing a party of Fuegians on a wild and broken shore will never be forgotten by me, for the reflection at once rushed into my mind—such were our ancestors. These men were absolutely marked and bedaubed with paint, their long hair was tangled, their mouths frothed in excitement, and their expression was wild, startled and distrustful. They possess hardly any arts, and, like wild animals, lived on what they could catch; they had…

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6 thoughts on “Decent Quote from the Descent of Man

  1. No matter how strongly the christians believe it in the absence of facts-logic-science-empirical observation, for instance anti abortion is based on religiosity, that a human has a soul at conception, or any other time for that matter, that humans are special, created in God’s image, that there is even a God. I would argue the opposite. It is more likely that man created God in man’s image. In any case, if there is a God in man’s image, he does not deserve our respect or worship. Humans are just another animal, no more special than any other. Humans are the most destructive by far of earth species, of themselves, other animal life, the planet. We don’t need any more humans to drain resources, pollute the environment, crowd out wildlife habitat, wildlife, eat other animals by the millions and billions, make war on other humans (delayed abortions I guess). The earth would be better off without humans. We are not special, except in our own estimate, and feelings for ourselves and our loved ones (not unique to human animals). Christianity is a superstition and a primitive one for primitives. People have a right of freedom from religion, from superstition, from having such imposed on them. Women have the right to reproductive freedom. Biodiversity, the health of the planet is at stake. The Trumpalypse started today. On this day (January 23, 2017) Trump-GOP regime declared war on women’s reproductive rights and climate and EPA, in indirectly wildlife, which no doubt will soon be under direct assault. “Do the animals a favor, don’t breed”.


    Trump just reinstated the global gag rule. It won’t stop abortion, but it will make it less safe.
    Vox 01/23/2017 Thousands of women will die across the world, and millions will lose access to both safe abortion and birth control

    • Couldn’t agree more. I think the Christians need to reconsider. If they say we are made in the image and likeness of God and then read our history and observe our current behavior, that God does not deserve worship.

      Lest I be accused of Christianophobia, I am an ex-Catholic, existing from Mother Church because its leaders would never condemn our cruelty to the rest of Creation.

  2. I was thinking about this the other day – I happened to read a news story about yet another woman complaining about how in the Western world, to breast feed a baby is considered something that needs to be hidden, relegated to a public restroom, or out of sight.

    My thinking is this. Since we believe we are separate from animals, and made in the image of a divine being, better and more important than animals, we don’t want any reminders that we are a mammal just like any other. Nowhere is this more apparent than in human reproduction – we bear young and feed them not somewhat like, but exactly like, other mammals.

  3. “The main conclusion arrived at in this work, namely, that man is descended from some lowly-organized form, will, I regret to think, be highly distasteful to many persons.”

    What should be even more distasteful and offensive is that fact that we have not evolved enough to justify our claims of superiority. In fact the big brain we brag about has not stopped our most base and violent impulses. Instead it offers us the opportunity to amplify and disseminate them through language and then enact them in horrific ways.

    Has anyone noticed that when human supremacists compare people to the “inferior” animals that they always choose the most remarkable specimens we have produced? In the whole history of the evolution of Homo sapiens we have had one Shakespeare, one Michelangelo, one Bach, and one Newton. (They neglect to mention Hitler, Stalin, and Vlad the Impaler.)

    Well, Marc Bekoff, Professor Emeritus of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Colorado, gives a list of some attributes that separate humanity from the other species on this earth. Here is part of that list, which will probably offend human supremacists:
    1. We are the only species to hold bake sales.
    2. We are the only species who tried to leave the planet.
    3. We are the only species to engage in mass murders and wage global wars.
    4. We are the only species to hold farting contests.

    Any self-respecting animal can be grateful for exclusion from that list.

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