From the February 2018 magazine.

Confessions of an Evolutionist

Her ability to debate was no match for the bottle. Luckily, when she got to Step Two, she had a new language

I am an armchair anthropologist. And an evolutionist. I grew up in a household devoted to a religious faith and promptly left the church as soon as I could take an independent breath. I went to college and studied physics, biology and history. Feeling intellectually superior now, I enjoyed debating with my classmates about the existence of God and the controversial topic of evolution versus creation. We all spoke in a self-righteous lingo, each of us eager to show off our new, brainy language.

After all, our species evolved and we became masters of the world by developing a complex language system. Once we moved from hunting/gathering groups to more stable societies it was language that held us together. And the most amazing part of our communication was (and still is) the unique ability we have to talk to each other about things that do not exist at all, for example, folklore, legends, deities and myths. No other species on earth does this. In the anthropology books I read, the reason humans were able to survive in large numbers was because they shared in a common belief system. These beliefs, rooted in language, were what held empires and cities together.

-- Michele K.

Columbus, Ohio, USA

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