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The Human Mystery: Unraveling the Past, Exploring the Future (free webinar)
New discoveries in human origins research complicate the scientific interpretation of our past. Until recently, it was widely believed that our species, Homo sapiens, appeared in a unique form in East Africa around 150,000 years ago. Spreading throughout the world, this new “species” simply replaced all other human variants that they encountered. It was also generally believed that human culture appeared almost in a flash, a kind of “cultural big bang,” centered in Europe. Counter-evidence, whether newly discovered or reassessed through powerful new techniques, supports a major reinterpretation of the once-accepted “recent out of Africa” perspective and the accompanying “cultural big bang.” The new interpretation, however, is not without its problems. The new view undermines a Eurocentric view of culture, but it prompts puzzling questions about why cave art should appear at almost the same time in widely separated locations. The evidence for the Paleolithic interbreeding of various forms of humanity (Neandertals, Denisovans, and probably many others) presents a fundamentally new view of the hybrid nature of our species. At the same time, it reawakens old anxieties about our diversity and unity as a global species. Perhaps not as a coincidence, the new view of our past comes just as we acquire the technology to influence the future of human evolution by using advances in fields like genetics (gene editing). What do new interpretations of our origins mean for human beings living today at this pivotal moment in evolutionary history? What do they suggest about human unity in light of human variation? Can religious perspectives offer affirmations of human unity and inspire a hopeful human future?

5:00 PM ET
4:00 PM CT
2:00 PM PT
10:00 PM London, UK

May 19, 2021 04:00 PM in Central Time (US and Canada)

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