>Re: >anthropological news

Eduardo G. Moros (moros@castor.wustl.edu)
Fri, 19 Dec 1997 09:38:40 -0600

Glenn Morton wrote:
> At 09:50 AM 12/18/97 -0600, Eduardo G. Moros wrote:
> >There is a subtle fragrance of error in believing things should be some way or
> >another because we think that that's they way they ought to be.
> So, how does one determine whether it is you or I who is doing that?

We both do it. Is it enough to admit it?

> >I have told
> >you several times that, IMHO, you tend to push way too much in the direction
> >of your zeal.
> Maybe, but what about the observational data that I present. Are we simply
> to ignore it because it doesn't fit our theological perspective?

I have not mentioned theology here. I have been talking about the inferential model
you developed to explain data in the direction of your zeal (and that's fine).
I would tell the same thing to any other evolutionist doing the same thing.

> You have
> committed here a subtle argumentum ad hominem. You are implying that a
> zealous person does not need to be listened to.

Not true. I'm not implying anything. I'm just saying that, IMHO, you seem to
be pushing a bit to much, perhaps a bit beyond of what the data can say. But
don't pay attention to me too much either :-), I'm sure Galileo's ideas were
perceived the same way. Let me put it this way, honestly and humbly, if I
were you I would exercise more caution. But then again, I'm not in the
position to tell you anything.

>Does my "zeal" mean that my data is erroneous?

NO. It doesn't make it right either. I guess only time and research will tell.

> Show me where the data is erroneous and that will temper my zeal.

I have not said that "your" data is erroneous, I said that your interpretation
of the data appear very speculative at times.

> >> And by the way, lions etc don't carve the skulls of their dead into shallow
> >> bowls.
> >
> >Are you sure? Are you sure lions don't do that? There is a probability you
> >know, that they could, a probability which is higher than that of
> macroevolution.
> Oh come now. Talk about pushing too hard in a direction.

You got it, I was doing it on purpose. They way I sounded to you is how you
sound to me.

> When was the last
> time you saw a lion or a kitty cat take a stone tool and *carve* the skull of
> a comrade they just ate.

I believe they have powerful teeth and paws, not to mention that they are in
the custom of dragging their prey for miles on all kinds of terrain. (See
how one can keep on finding self satisfying explanations?)

> Come on, tell me when you saw this. When was the
> last time you saw a kitty build a religious altar. But Homo erectus built
> one at Bilzingsleben 400,000 years ago. They paved a region around a large
> stone, placed a bison horn on each side of it and apparently sacrificed
> people, since there was a human skull, and no other human bones, at the foot
> of the big stone.

There could be alternative explanations - that's my point.

> >> And I presume you would hold that those New Guinean natives who got
> >> Kuru from eating the brains of their relatives are not human and were not
> >> engaging in religious activity.
> >
> >You certainly have a way for confusing the issue. We were talking about
> >hominids is a distant past, now you equate that situation with contemporary
> >humans. Humans are by nature religious, even atheists are religious. The
> >argument that because we have today cannibalism mixed with religious
> >sacrifices implies that hominids were religious because they were cannibals is
> >simply non sequitur.
> Why should we treat differently an ancient human who behaved identically as
> a modern human would? What is the basis for your saying that an ugly
> two-legged hominid who buried his child with grave offerings or who buried a
> comrade with flowers is not like us? Or who made a flute to play a song, or
> made spears with which to hunt (the oldest spears are 400,000 years old)
> Other than predjudice what evidence can you provide?

Well, now you call me prejudiced !!!

> Don't you know that the Western World did not recognize many of the
> indigenous peoples as human because they were different looking and the were
> not "civilized" like the European and thus the Europeans could enslave them,
> kidnap them or simply kill them.

Yes I know that, but what does it have to do with evolution? You like to mix.
Are you now accusing me of some kind of racism?

> These primitive peoples *were* engaging in
> activities with stone tools identical to those of the ancient hominids, *were*
> creating altars just like the ancient hominids but according to you we are
> supposed to accept today's primitive peoples as fully human but not anyone
> who lived before some arbitrary time, even if the activity appears to be the
> same.

You sure sound sure of yourself (*---*). I love it when you say "according to
you", you are putting words in my mouth. Again, as with the brain, these
people are here, here today, I can see them, I can talk to them, I can study
them first hand (in my country of origin they remained completely isolated
until very recently). I'm afraid that 400k yr. can confuse things.

> glenn

Glenn, thank you very much for giving of your time to argue this skeptic. I'm
afraid I can not continue this line of argument however, lest we end-up
regretting what we say. I can be poignant myself and my one-liners are
directed so, seeking to spark a short but revealing thought.