Scientific Methods

Sunday, March 12, 2006


"The discovery of a new species of human poses exciting questions about
who we are. How would we treat this close relative if one were found
alive today?

"His very existence among us would make us question all over again what
it is to be human.

We are not used to this because our ancestors successfully killed off
all our close relatives.

This has created a chasm between us and the other animals, a chasm so
big that religion went as far as to say that we are not even related to
them. Humans have souls and they do not.

Darwin put a stop to this nonsense with his theory of evolution, but
amazingly the blindingly obvious truth he discovered is still resisted
by large sections of the human population.

They stubbornly continue to insist that we are some kind of special

The arrival of "Mini-Man" is going to give them nightmares.

How can he be "semi-special"? That won't make sense. He can't very well
have a semi-soul.

So Mini-Man might just be the evolutionary jewel that, once and for
all, sets human beings firmly in the animal kingdom, where
scientifically they belong. "

Dr Richard Knight
Co-ordinator: National Information Society Learnerships - Ecological
Department of Biodiversity and Conservation Biology
University of the Western Cape
Private Bag X17
Bellville 7535

Phone 27 + 21 + 959 3940
Fax 27 + 21 + 959 1237




  • I think Desmond Morris has push his religous argument a little too far.

    By Anonymous Richard Knight, at Tuesday, March 14, 2006 9:33:00 AM  

  • Desmond Morris' article is designed to be contraversial and abbrasive to spark debate and comment. I believe that he also secondarily refers to his own personal belief, which I dissagree with, as being in a position such as his, he should be completely objective and not subjective. It is important to respect peoples' opinions and beliefs, yes, not to belittle them. I think religion and science should for the most part be viewed separately and I find it intereting why such a person as Desmond Moris would so desperately want to disprove the concept of religeon in the first place. Personally, I either accept or reject scientific material based on my own interpretation thereof. I would make a fool of myself if I went out there to disprove science...

    Desmond Morris' article is speculation, but personal emotions aside, I also see the humour, and he is actually having a dig at society as we know it, using religion, a fundamental building block of our society, as his angle of ridicule. How can you actually take him seriously?

    He raises a few interesting questions though about the "what ifs" in finding something like
    Homo floresiensis which are valid. It poses an interesting debate as to how we would define ourselves ultimately, and, as part of his argument that religion has taught us that we are separate from animals, would animal rights have to be included in our constitution, or, would human rights have to fall away?

    Would McDonalds be sued by the state for mass murder of cows, and would this lead us all to become vegetarians ultimately in fear of prosecution?

    One thing is for certain. South African politics would'nt change much...

    David Vaughan

    By Blogger davidvaughan, at Tuesday, March 14, 2006 7:58:00 PM  

  • I enjoyd your comment, David!

    By Anonymous Karen Marais, at Tuesday, March 14, 2006 11:20:00 PM  

  • Desmond Moris article says that only human have souls and the Neanderthals buried their that dead these shows that they had souls. why some animals lived in group to protect themselves, these shows that the cared about each other.

    By Blogger lethabo, at Thursday, March 16, 2006 3:34:00 PM  

  • It is really difficult to say who has and who has not got a soul. As David said Desmond Morris was both being controversial and provocative but also pointing fun at our own cultural belief system. If you assume the soul is part of a religion and an expression of religion is ritualised burial then clearly Neaderthals and even Homo Homo heidelbergensis would have souls. Homo heidelbergensis is the earliest burial and buried with artefacts – the pink axe .

    This establishes that symbolic thinking was already in Europe around 600,000 years ago. We also know that generally successively more modern hominid groups evolved in Africa and effectively colonized the rest of the world, so it is possible that symbolic thinking occurred even earlier. Now we get to Homo floresiensis they appear to have stone tools, hunted and made fire and yet their brain is a quarter of modern man. This has already shattered many ideas that brain size is critical to develop technology, what happens if we find they buried their dead? I would argue if they did then they should attend a school. With respect to the zoo, any visit to the “primate” cage is a depressing site – they are clearly behaviourally disturbed and the imprisoned captivity is possibly the reason. I would argue that primate are not suitable for display in a zoo (but then other animals also show behavioural stress). To summarize my personal view is that soul, religion and ritual burial are indicative of some form of religion and therefore we are not the only species to have possessed it.

    We now get onto care-giving, the earliest species to demonstrate this is Homo erectus who appeared to have bended broken bones. I think respect care is possibly still a long way from religion. Many animal species show care, but do any animals bury their dead? Claims that elephant graveyards exist has been scientifically considered to be no more than myth and yet recent evidence disturbs such complacency and it appears that grief and burial of a lost one does occur.

    Possibly even more strange is the case of an elephant that trampled to death a mother and child and then buried them under leaves and twigs. It could be really possible that souls and not just the possession of hominids!

    By Anonymous Rich, at Saturday, March 18, 2006 3:50:00 PM  

  • This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    By Blogger elelwani, at Thursday, April 06, 2006 11:49:00 AM  

  • hi everyone

    Topic is booked by elelwani for presentation



    By Blogger elelwani, at Thursday, April 06, 2006 11:52:00 AM  

  • I also agree too that, they must go to the zoo, in order to show people that Homo Floresiensis can be only identified as a disable human because of its size and its size does not regard them as animal.

    By Blogger linette, at Wednesday, May 31, 2006 3:28:00 PM  

  • If Homo floresiensis is indentified as a disable human,they would go to school.There are special school for disable people.

    By Blogger Kedibone, at Wednesday, May 31, 2006 4:36:00 PM  

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