Debunking the theory of linear history

December 30, 2014

ape-to-man-evolution

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We all came from monkeys. Than slowly developed in to different species of humans than the smartest of them ran the others out and that’s who we’re all from. Many a scientist and lay people state this as a fact. Though they have no way of proving it just as Darwin’s theory is not a theory but a hypothesis. A supposing based on particular evidences that a particular position could be true. But if one had a different position one could make a hypothesis based off of the same evidence and could possibly be true. What if from all these “human- people- apes” skeletons I assumed not that people came from a more primitive people who came from monkeys but that monkey came from a more sophisticated kind of monkey that came from a “human like monkey species”. Ok that may or may not make sense but the point is someone made a link and therefore a hypothesis based on evidence, they were very influential, interesting, innovative and other people caught on. But someone else may see the very same skeletons and not make that link maybe they’ll just assume that there were once another species of animals who roamed the earth and now do not but their resemblance to human being doesn’t connect them.

We share a lot of genes with apes and monkeys. They also kind of sort of look like us. We also share 60% of our genes with bananas they look nothing like us. You know what else scientists believe to be quite like human beings? Rats. So they test products on rats to see if it’ll work on humans. So unless the layperson is willing to accept themselves as a cousin to rats and bananas I don’t see how we should accept the ape thing. Besides the obvious fact that they can’t prove it. In science in order to prove something you have to be able to falsify it. Meaning if I do a study that says 60% of women like to travel while 40% of men like to travel, that’s great. And if my research method is sound it adds value to the scientific body of knowledge. But it doesn’t hold much weight until other scientists do the same research and find the same results. If other scientists find that in fact the opposite is true, that more men like to travel than women my research will become of less and less value until it disappears as irrelevant. If researchers do the research over and over again and find similar results the outcome of my research will hold more and more weight until we begin to treat it as a fact: Women like to travel more than men. You can’t do that with evolutionary theories. Monkey turning to human is a hypothesis that can never be tested and never be proven, so why do so many take it as fact?

In class one day my teacher said to us “they’re trying to promote a linear history which simply isn’t true, the idea that we were all primitive before and now we’re advanced is nonsense -look at any time in history and you will see primitive people and technological advanced societies”. As a westerner this is often exactly how we think and the “we came from monkeys” theory only drives that farther. As tough as it is to be black (it isn’t tough at all only society makes it so) I would never want to be white. Sometimes when I hear white intellectuals talk I am overwhelmed by their blissful ignorance. They see history solely through their lens, Greeks- Romans- Dark Ages- Enlightenment. They ignore or don’t know about the 800 years Moroccans -Muslim, African and Arab, ruled over Spain, they don’t mentioned the extensively long rule of the Ottoman empire and neglect the richest man to ever live, King Mansa Musa of Mali -Muslim and African though I admit they give the Chinese credit at times. But it seems among the layperson and the intellectual a sincere and genuine belief that no other people on earth where ever successful but white people. That no other time was technically advanced but our current time. That no other people contained troves of knowledge like we do. It’s not only frightening and racist it’s bizarre.

So granted I don’t have white friends the only time I hear their thoughts is online and in speeches. Racism is embedded in this country’s (America) blood. So I guess I shouldn’t be surprised though somehow I am each time. One of the leading theories in how the Egyptians built the pyramids is that they had alien help. It’s impossible they did it themselves if we can’t figure it out, must be some bizarre unfounded explanation. What makes it impossible is the belief that we are the greatest people to ever live, the belief that technology only gets better with time, and a linear view of history that says no one before us did anything great. It’s also and ethnocentric view that says everyone who does anything different from us is primitive and lives in the “third world”. This kind of worldview is a disease in the heart. It never crosses our mind that people who live like Bedouins may actually want to be Bedouins. Does it never cross our mind that they like they way they’re living and don’t want to change? Here in Jordan there are two families, one close to me and one close to the mall that I see on occasion. They live outside. With their animals, their families and their little tent. All around them are apartment buildings. Must I assume they’re just too poor to get an apartment or is it possible that they see all around them and like living like Bedouins with their donkeys and their family close together?

On a trip to Petra, an old city in Jordan, with my sister a guide took us around he mentioned that he lived in an apartment but one of the caves belonged to his grandfather and on occasion he would sleep there. There were also some Bedouins who lived in that space. Singing for strangers, siting on top of caves, selling their knick-knacks and riding their animals, must I assume they’re all poor and miserable? Or is it possible that they’re ok and not interested in “modernity”. Either could be the case but it’s not right of me or anyone else to assume that everyone wants to live us. And we should caution our selves that the urge we feel for everyone to be “modern” may be a discomfort in our own modernity. We think “How can they be happy with so little when we have so much and are still miserable?”

This is also a reason I don’t like jumping onboard to support “education”. I know how strange that sounds but the truth is, what does “education” mean? What kind of education? When we say some is uneducated what do we mean? If by not having an education we mean a person has no skill set by which to communicate with the world around them and earn a living or be of some value to themselves and others then yes everyone needs an education. But if we mean by education “western education” I take serious pause at the idea that the world needs to be educated, i.e. read our books, learn our history, use our computers and learn our way of thinking so they can be “progressive”. American education does a lot of harm to non-white students. It teaches them “world history” i.e. their history in one class and “American History” i.e. white history in another along with “European History”. I never learned Moroccans ruled Spain for 800 years in school but I learned a lot about slavery. I remember one day my teacher, a white guy showed us a slide show of picture after picture of brutalized slaves. I don’t know why he did but I know how angry and how sad I felt. That’s all I knew of my history: African slavery then a fast forward civil rights Martin Luther King and we’re all free. Only in an African History class in college and my own research did I begin to learn that Africans weren’t just weak idiots who sold each other out and ended up enslaved.

But I was fortunate enough to go to college and have that interest people who aren’t only learn one side of African history. The self blame that happens every time a young black man is killed by police, which seems to be very often of late, is just a carry over to what we were taught in school. If Africans didn’t sell each other out we wouldn’t have been enslaved, if there weren’t so much black on black crime the police wouldn’t be there.

The idea of a linear history is damaging. If I weren’t blessed to have some interest in African history and to be Muslim I wouldn’t think to question it. The world is a vast place and Allah spread out his bounty all over the land. Sometimes some countries were primitive; others were advanced and others somewhere in between, all during the same time. There are no people on earth who don’t have a history to be proud of, to be ashamed of, to be rejoiced by.

Sometimes out of anger and frustration black people react by saying we came from kings and queens, which I think is beautiful and true. But it’s just as true as saying white people came from primitive ancestry. Both are true but the opposite is also true, black people came from primitive ancestry and white people came from kings and queens. It is of more value to acknowledge history than it’s to warp it. I wrote a poem a while back called ‘I came’ (take a read) out of the frustrations with a white people who believe blacks came from nothing and with black people who say we came from kings and queens. Neither and both are true. I don’t know what causes whites to continue to tell a history that excludes or minimizes the great achievements of everyone else. Maybe it’s a fear that if they acknowledge anyone else’s achievement it minimizes their own. Whatever it is as a Muslim woman of African ancestry it is extremely important for me to value the diverse history in my blood and the diverse human history, neither of which came from monkeys.

*I don’t believe all white people are actively racist I do believe most (just being nice I want to say ‘all’) white people are passively racist. Unless you actively attempt to not be racist and ethnocentric you will be racist because that’s what you were taught in school, white history matters others not so much. That’s not your fault but to continue in blissful ignorance after gaining any knowledge of this topic or to ignore the concerns of present-day and historically oppressed people is.*

Book: Love, Life & Faith coming this summer, 2015

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