Sunday, December 10, 2006

The Tell of Us All

Those of us who accept the evidence for evolution and an Earth that has existed for approximately 4.5 billion years find it frustrating when we debate Biblical Literalists who insist that the Book of Genesis is literally true and that the Bible authoritatively tells us that the Earth is at best no more than 6,000 years old. But the dogmatism that seeks to thwart the advancement of our understanding of the world is not limited to those who try to foist creationism in our schools.

The National Geographic Society, in partnership with IBM, geneticist Spencer Wells, and the Waitt Family Foundation, have launched the Genographic Project. The goal of the project is to collect genetic information from indigenous populations around the world in an attempt to determine where we came from and how we got to where we live today.

As the website for the Project explains:

“The fossil record fixes human origins in Africa, but little is known about the great journey that took Homo sapiens to the far reaches of the Earth. How did we, each of us, end up where we are? Why do we appear in such a wide array of different colors and features?

Such questions are even more amazing in light of genetic evidence that we are all related—descended from a common African ancestor who lived only 60,000 years ago.

Though eons have passed, the full story remains clearly written in our genes—if only we can read it. With your help, we can.

When DNA is passed from one generation to the next, most of it is recombined by the processes that give each of us our individuality.

But some parts of the DNA chain remain largely intact through the generations, altered only occasionally by mutations which become "genetic markers." These markers allow geneticists like Spencer Wells to trace our common evolutionary timeline back through the ages.

"The greatest history book ever written," Wells says, "is the one hidden in our DNA."
Different populations carry distinct markers. Following them through the generations reveals a genetic tree on which today's many diverse branches may be followed ever backward to their common African root.

Our genes allow us to chart the ancient human migrations from Africa across the continents. Through one path, we can see living evidence of an ancient African trek, through India, to populate even isolated Australia.”

Unfortunately, not all indigenous peoples are inclined to cooperate with the Genographic Project, as an article in The New York Times tells us, particularly Native American tribes.

And what is the objection given by members of these tribes?

“What the scientists are trying to prove is that we’re the same as the Pilgrims except we came over several thousand years before,” said Maurice Foxx, chairman of the Massachusetts Commission on Indian Affairs and a member of the Mashpee Wampanoag. “Why should we give them that openly?”

“Some American Indians trace their suspicions to the experience of the Havasupai Tribe, whose members gave DNA for a diabetes study that University of Arizona researchers later used to link the tribe’s ancestors to Asia. To tribe members raised to believe the Grand Canyon is humanity’s birthplace, the suggestion that their own DNA says otherwise was deeply disturbing.”

In other words, to paraphrase Colonel Nathan Jessup, “They can’t handle the truth!”

American Indians, as the Times article explains, “hold the answer to one of the more notable gaps in the prehistoric migration map. Although most scientists accept that the first Americans came across the Bering Strait land bridge that connected Siberia and Alaska some 20,000 years ago, there is no proof of precisely where those travelers came from, and the route they took south once they arrived.”

It is really sad that Native Americans are refusing to participate in a project that can shed so much light on our past because they place greater value in perpetuating their myths than in learning the truth of their origins.

After I read the Times article, I thought of the Mel Gibson movie Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome. At the end of the movie, the character Savannah Nix is giving “the tell” to a group of human survivors who have returned to Sydney, Australia in the years after the nuclear war that devastated the world.

She says, “This you knows: the years travel fast and time after time I done the tell. But this ain't one body's tell; it's the tell of us all, and you've got to listen it and [re]'member, 'cause what you hears today you gotta tell the birthed tomorrow… Still, in all, every night we does the tell so that we 'member who we was and where we came from.”

I believe the Genographic Project is very important and valuable, because indeed it is “the tell of us all.”


Stardust said...

But the dogmatism that seeks to thwart the advancement of our understanding of the world is not limited to those who try to foist creationism in our schools.

Native Americans have been and many are still spiritual/superstitious people. Though they do not wish to promote creationism in our schools, many of them, like fundamentalist xians and muslims, choose to remain ignorant of the world they live in and are too superstitious to consider other possibilities for how or where humans originated. My husband and I have visited reservations on several occasions during our travels, and talked with Native Americans personally and they seem unconcerned with human origins and are satisfied with the folklore.

An excerpt from Indigenous Peoples Council on Biocolonialism website:

Noting the project’s goal to map the migratory history of humankind through DNA, Marla Big Boy, a Lakota attorney on IPCB’s board, says, “Our creation stories and languages carry information about our genealogy and ancestors. We don’t need genetic testing to tell us where we come from.” Big Boy notes with concern that the project proposes to do studies on ancient DNA. “We will not stand by while our ancestors are desecrated in the name of scientific discovery.”

Anonymous said...

Tom Tom.

Jesus loves you too. I think you should tell your kids that too. Hey, they need to know Jesus is the Son of God. Might as well come from the Father.

Talk to you soon Tommy!

(Smile. It brings joy to the heart.)
Proverbs 15:30
A cheerful look brings joy to the heart, and good news gives health to the bones.

Anonymous said...

Hey, Richard here.

Just thought I would tell you I wasn't trying to be sarcastic or mean or anything. I was being serious. Please forgive me if I came off the wrong way. I just want you know that God loves you. That's all.

Tommy said...

Richard, Jesus doesn't love me. He told me this personally.

Stardust said...

do you know anonymous/Richard or is it Sable who is doing one of her anonymous posting things like she did to me? Sorry, but I remain suspicious after that little game.

if there is a jesus, he does not answer the prayers of suffering and abused children who sincerely believe in him and beg him for help repeatedly.

I was one of those children who was seriously ill as a child and was emotionally and physically abused on top of it and I truly and sincerely believed there was a god and thought I must have done something terribly wrong to deserve what I was getting because his answer to me was silence.

Look at St. Jude's Hospital or any other Children's Hospital who treat chronically or terminally ill children if you want to see just one example of mass unanswered prayers of innocent little children who truly believe and like me must think they did something awful to deserve what they are going through. Look to the xian children of African nations who are praying for a mere bowl of food and are starving to death. This should be evidence enough for anyone that a god does not exist.

This god only lives in the imaginations of those who wish to put him there.

As for happiness...why do xians always say atheists are not happy? Most of us are very happy. Just because we are fighting against religious superstition that is shoved at us on a regular basis doesn't mean that we are unhappy in our personal lives. It just means we don't have religion in our lives and would like religious folks to leave us alone about it and keep it out of our secular government.

Even if you have religion in your life, it is YOU who still have to make things happen, or who will be neglectful. The saying "God helps those who help themselves" pretty much means humans are on their own.

Groucho Marx said: "I, not events, have the power to make me happy or unhappy today. I can choose which it shall be. Yesterday is dead, tomorrow hasn't arrived yet. I have just one day, today, and I'm going to be happy in it."

Anonymous said...

Tommy, Jesus does. Maybe somebody else told you that, and you mistaken it for Jesus.

Stardust. Who said God doesn't answers their prayers. You don't know His plan nor His will.

Have you read the Bible?

Romans 8:28
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

Do you know his purpose? Do you know God?

IF you are looking for a perfect answer why this goes on, I don't have one. I wont have one until I ask Him in Heaven.

If this is a concern. Why not follow Him and pray for those kids? They need them.

Use to Love God? Come back to him. He is waiting..........................

Stardust said...

Tommy - I really think that this anonymous is sable chicken or one of her buddies trolling you.

Anonymous said...

......... no comment?

Ok. Well I'm sure I will see you both soon. In another blog or something.

God Bless.

Stardust said...

bye sable.

Tommy said...

Anonymous, if you are going to comment here, try sticking to the topic of the friggin post. The topic of this post is about the National Geographic's Genographic Project. Unless you have something meaningful to say about it, find another place to troll.

Anonymous said...

sable is a sweet name. Never been called that before.

Hey man, no need to be mean with me. No need to say "friggin" (and according to, friggin doesn't exist.) :)

Tom Tom, don't be mean. I like it hear. Sorry I didn't post regarding the topic. I will try better next time.


Sable Chicken said...

Thanks for the compliment on my name Annonymous.
Just for the record Stardust this Anonymous is not me...I do try to stay on topic....and I don't have a buddy.

as far as American Indians, I don't think they would like to be involved in this project because, who is to say that this will not be used against them. How much or little, American Indian blood do you need to change your casino member standing. At this point we do have a melting pot effect going on, becides how would that really change things when we already have a good idea were the first humans lived.

Remember what the evolutionary standard bearer Richard Leaky declared in 1977: "There is no single center where modern man was born." But now geneticists are inclined to believe otherwise. In a report from Newsweek, January 11, 1988, Stephen Jay Gould, a Harvard paleontologist and essayist, is quoted as saying: "It makes us realize that all human beings, despite differences in external appearance, are really members of a single entity that's had a very recent origin in one place. There is a kind of biological brotherhood that's much more profound than we ever realized."

So what more do they think that they will find out about our origins with this study? It seems like, it is a gathering of information for maybe something else.

Stardust said...

sable, you have done this were half a dozen people on GifS when we checked the IP address. I have site meter and is how I found out you were playing anonymous games with me on my blog. This is just another playground for you and it's not nice to mess with people...especially someone who is trying to be cordial and friendly enough to allow you to comment like tommy has.

Sable Chicken said...

It's not me! I have no reason to be annonymous on Tommy's blog.
I admitted I was Annonymous "SC" for crying out loud, it was the only way to at least try to talk to you. Don't get into the GifS rules with me they are rediculous anyway...and becides I didn't start commenting on Tommy's blog in hopes of talking to you, but I'm cool with that even though you dislike me so much. Tommy and I were having a good talk over at Dani's. It's a small world.....I'm not messing with you.

But believe me it is a little creepy to hear how bad I must sound to others.

Theerasak Photha said...

Hey man, no need to be mean with me. No need to say "friggin" (and according to, friggin doesn't exist.) :)

Well, 'frigging' is a mild swear derived from the name of the Norse goddess Frigga.

That's what you get for going on a FREE and CRAPY website like

And 'fukkit', as you already know well, is a Scots Gaelic word referring to the act of sexual intercourse.

Stardust said...

I have no reason to be annonymous on Tommy's blog.

You had no reason to do it anywhere else either. It's deceitful.

Anonymous said...

Theerasak Photha,

If I were serous, I couldn't have even said anything about the word "friggin" I did a two second look up for fun. For laughs. Nobody liked the joke I presume.

But, you went the lengths and got the good stuff. Go ahead, and pat yourself on the back. :)

Anonymous said...


sable, you have done this were half a dozen people on GifS when we checked the IP address. I have site meter and is how I found out you were playing anonymous games with me on my blog. This is just another playground for you and it's not nice to mess with people...especially someone who is trying to be cordial and friendly enough to allow you to comment like tommy has.

Check the IP on me and start crying...

this is great.

Sorry off topic again, but I'm not Sable.

Sable Chicken said...

Come on Stardust, I signed with S.C. you should have known, you wouldn't talk to me because GifS put so many lies out about me that you already hated me.

Peace, I'm not trying to start up with you agian.

Theerasak Photha said...

Check the IP on me and start crying...

Sable or not, your head is up your troll ass anyway.

Anonymous said...

that doesn't make sense to me..