Thus, we have always told stories about our origins. The ancients believed in various creation stories, such as one about two battling gods in which the defeated one’s body is split in two, half to create the heaven, half to create the earth. Today, we have our own stories. Many people, for instance, think that humans are the products of pure chance, and that our universe is just one of those things that happen from time to time.
Francis Crick, one of the greatest scientists of the 20th century, believed that space aliens from another planet seeded life on earth, and that’s how we got here. Indigenous Australian culture sees their origins in the dream-time stories.
Some speculate that nothing created the universe. It seems impossible that you could get something from nothing, one author wrote, but the fact that once there was nothing but now there is a universe is evident proof that you can.
Whatever one believes about origins, the concept remains important. Our conception of our past can greatly influence how we view the present. For most of human history, humans believed that we, in one way or another, came from God or gods; but today many from developed cultures believe we came from apes instead.
This shift isn’t without consequences either. Darwinian evolution, for instance, teaches that humans are evolving from lower life forms.
Consistent with this, the idea developed that certain people groups aren’t fully evolved and thus not fully human. Some have argued that these inferior groups shouldn’t be accorded all the rights and privileges of full humans. Charles Darwin agreed that Australian Aborigines should be killed because they were sub-human.
A group of tourists in the 1990’s were visiting the Nazi concentration camp of Dachau in Germany. A young German guide began the tour by talking about the theory of evolution, and he established a direct link between it and the Holocaust.
The whole idea behind evolution, he said, the idea of the survival of the fittest, helped pave the way for the attempted extermination of people who weren’t deemed the fittest.