Revolution #156, February 15, 2009

Letter from a Prisoner:

Looking at the World Differently, Scientifically

Thoughts on The Science of Evolution and the Myth of Creationism

The following is an excerpt from a correspondence from a prisoner who wrote to Insight Press, publisher of The Science of Evolution and the Myth of Creationism: Knowing What’s Real and Why It Matters by Ardea Skybreak. Insight Press forwarded the letter excerpt to Revolution so it could be shared with our readers.

I bought this book because I’d had the great fortune of reading it in RW as a series a few years ago [editors’ note: Ardea Skybreak’s work originally appeared as a series in the Revolutionary WorkerRevolution newspaper’s former name]. I was absolutely fascinated by Ardea Skybreak’s presentation of evolution scientifically and exposé of the myth of creationism. It was and is very beautiful and enlightening.

What I enjoyed most about the series and now the book is that it has caused me to think and look at life and the world differently, scientifically! And not in a way that causes me to feel that I’ve lost the sense of purpose and destiny and amazement religion is supposed to provide. Rather, with new found purpose! Let me quote from one of my favorite parts of the book: Since there’s really no particular special purpose to our existence?

Does that mean we don’t matter? Does it mean we might as well kill each other off because there’s no god out there to care what we do one way or the other? Does it mean that our lives have absolutely no purpose? Of course not! Our lives are precious and we do matter a great deal…to each other! We should decide to “do the right thing”—and act with each other with some integrity and in ways that are “moral and ethical”—not because we’re afraid we’ll get written up by some warden-like god if we don’t, but because what we do directly affects the quality of human life. And, of course, our lives can and do have purpose (though different people will define that in different ways in accordance with their world outlooks), because we humans can choose to imbue our lives with purpose!

So here we are: a bunch of wonderfully complex living creatures, who have been at one and the same time highly destructive and highly creative, with an unprecedented capacity to consciously transform the natural world around us and the societies in which we live. There’s nothing else ‘out there’…but isn’t this plenty enough?

I love that part. It kind of throws the last shovel full of dirt on God’s grave. It gives expression to the fact that all we’ve got is each other and whether we matter ultimately depends on what we do with our capacities as a species and how we use them to be better humans or go extinct.

I’m not the only one who read this book since I got it. A few captives have been intrigued by my enthusiastic promotion of it and put down the Mario Puzo and Jackie Collins novels for long enough to give it a try. It’s amazing how much has been kept from us! How much knowledge about ourselves as human beings and how we came into existence has been withheld and for why! Not to mention the rest of the world around us. A couple of the captives who read the book (as best as our limited educations permit us to reach much higher than a seventh or eighth grade level) had never been exposed to the theory of evolution before or had gross misunderstandings or misconceptions (furnished by the ruling class, reactionaries, and various brands of religious fundamentalists) of what evolution is and how it works. One captive thought “evolution” was a religion, like Christianity or Islam!

One of the most fundamental things we all learned is that all life underwent and continues to undergo evolution. Before realizing this essential point, many of us assumed that only humans evolved, or that evolution only applied to the human species. And then there was the linear evolutionary model we’ve all seen of the chimp slowly losing hair and walking erect to conquer in our conception of how human beings actually evolved from our closest living relative, the chimpanzee. It was very easy to understand and imagine the whole evolutionary process in all its complexity, from the formation of the earth and single celled bacteria to how speciation and other natural factors contributed to evolutionary dead ends and countless “branching” of life. Very amazing.

I particularly enjoyed Ardea Skybreak’s critique of creationism and how she turned the various brands of creationists—from Old Earth to Young Earth, from Evolutionary Creationists to Intelligent Design Creationists—on their heads. Most captives grew up in this society poor and oppressed and steeped and indoctrinated in religious fundamentalism, so evolution is pretty uncomfortable to lend credence to, especially in the beginning when it’s hard for us to really “trade” our relatively comfortable dependence on a Creator for ideas and theories and such alot of us haven’t been given the opportunity to develop intellects for and use knowledge gained through education to support and sustain. The whole “scientific method” and process is foreign to so many people who have been figuratively and literally “locked out” of using it and working within it. So it was real refreshing to read how Ardea Skybreak not only articulated the science of evolution but also explained why evolution and the scientific method generally is so important for all human beings to know and be benefited by and why so many around the world do not have very much—if any—familiarity with the theory of evolution and how we’ve all been more or less kept from liberating ourselves from enslavement to religious dogma and superstition and mysticism and spirituality and enforced ignorance!

There is so much more for me to learn about and explore in this wonderful book. I have nothing but time to do what I can to immerse myself in this work and propagate a understanding of evolution and science more broadly and use my knowledge, however great or small at the moment, to encourage and motivate and inspire captives here to reconsider their purpose and power! Captives in prison are among those who need to grasp science and the theory of evolution most of all, for every aspect of our oppressive and brutal confinement SCREAMS for a liberator! Come to find out, there’s not just a Liberator but Liberators—US! OURSELVES! We can free and make each other’s lives better!

March 2007

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