So... What are we?
You've probably heard this question before in front of a "would be significant other," accompanied by butterflies in your stomach, a lump in your throat or that weird tingling in the sides of your mouth that let you know you just might throw up. It can be exciting and even a little nerve wracking putting a label on ourselves. We are both complex and simple, often spending a lot of time confusing the two. In a time where science often struggles to compete for our attention, it's important to remind ourselves of what we've learned to be true about ourselves. Like Socrates said, "If smart people write it down, you should memorize it. It'll save you a lot of frustration and time..." Or something like that.
Where Do We Come From?
There are a lot of hypotheses when it comes to human origin. Some appeal to our desire for fantasy and will to create more than others. There's so much of history and existence that we are far from understanding but the evidence we have points us to scientific Theory of Evolution. It's very strange, that in world that relies so heavily on science that evolution is still debated, often regarded as "just a theory," forgetting that it is equally categorized with "Gravitational Theory," or "The Germ Theory of Disease."
Most college freshman can't give their Anthropology 101 professor an accurate definition of evolution without a quick Google search from their pocket (a luxury we didn't have when we were there). Sadly, it's still something that's often brushed over in a lot of American public schools. The theory of evolution does not exist to eradicate faith, fantasy or curiosity. It exists because it is the most tested, explainable, backed by evidence you can see, smell, taste or touch theory of the origin of all life, including humans. Don't worry about doing that quick Google search. We got you ;)
Evolution: (ĕv′ə-loo-shən, ē′və-)
Change in the genetic composition of a population during successive generations, often resulting in the development of new species. The mechanisms of evolution include natural selection acting on the genetic variation among individuals, mutation, migration, and genetic drift.
There's a lot to get into but there's a really great article "Applying Evolutionary Anthropology" by Mhairi A Gibson and David W Lawson that comprehensively explains Evolutionary Anthropology and goes over a lot of it's common misconceptions (Naturalistic Fallacy, Social Darwanism, Behavioral Diversity & Genetic Determinism).
How Long Have We Been Here?
Cro Magnon 1 (Smithsonian)
While our ancestors have been around for about 6 million years the earliest evidence for our current modern species Homo sapien, is around 300,000 years old. Homo sapiens evolved in Africa. Like other early humans, they gathered and hunted food, and evolved behaviors that helped them respond to the challenges for survival in harsh or unstable environments. Scientists sometimes use the term “anatomically modern Homo sapiens” to refer to members of our own species who lived during prehistoric times. The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History has a great article called "What Does It Mean To Be Human," that goes into the modern human fossil record. It's definitely worth checking out.
Skhul V (Smithsonian)
How Many Races of Humans Exist Today?
Open Reading Frame (National Human Genome Research Institute)
Just one. We're it. Race is a synonym for Species. Over the past 20 years the estimation of human protein coding genes has ranged from 10,000 to 100,000 (right now it's 20,000-25,000 but genetic studies are very fast paced and that number is likely to change with new information) alongside an estimated 500,000 non protein coding genes. Regardless of how many human protein coding genes exist, the ones that you actually see, like skin color, hair texture and eye and nose shape only account a handful of these coding genes. We can unapologetically and unequivocally say that calling someone that "looks" different from you a different "race," is scientifically ignorant. Genetically, you have far more less in common with someone with a different blood type than someone from a different continent, culture or defining physical feature.
Humans Are A Part Of Life And Nature
When someone says they went outside and experienced nature, our minds usually paint a picture filled with trees, water sources and wild life. However, it's just as accurate to say that about cars, buildings, tv's and satellites. Although we may like to think so, we are not separate from nature. We are a highly evolved species but our actions often mimic the most primitive and predictable forms of life. We form cultures like bacteria, we colonize like ants, value individualism like spiders and seek out environments more suited for our survival like viruses. What separates us from nature is often a construct of our minds. We easily forget that 300,000 years is a very small fraction of existence on this planet, much less the known universe. It's important to remind ourselves that our own pride often gets in the way of our understanding. Life is worth diving into and understanding... We die and stuff.
Van Philosophy Live Vlogcast Episode 20 Tonight on YouTube!
Last week we celebrated 50 blog entries of our Van Philosophy Blog and tonight we're celebrating our 20th episode of the live podcast (or vlogcast as we like to say). Sadly, we won't be able to stream tonight but tune in Wednesday 10/14/20 and get in the chat as we talk a little bit more on what we think it means to be human. We absolutely love hearing what you have to say so don't be shy! We started Van Philosophy Live Vlogcast in an effort to recreate those long late night miles of conversation after a show while out on tour so we could keep each other awake on the way to the next city. We're happy to have you along. Get in the Van!
Special Thanks To Our Supporters on Patreon!
Patreon is a platform where you can support your favorite artists and content creators and get special exclusive content in exchange for your monthly support. On our Patreon Page we have tiers starting just $1. Your support goes a REALLY long way to ensure we can keep writing articles, produce weekly Youtube content, write new music and release new albums. We couldn't keep going, especially during this pandemic, without the generous support of people like:
Nancy B, Renne T, Spence R, Steve B & Rachel E.
You can get your name added to this list by supporting us on Patreon for just $1/month.
If you'd like to make a one time contribution this month like Jeff C, William H, David M Grass Cutters and Nancy B you can below. We'll have a special thank you package filled with our latest releases with donations from $1-$25 sent straight to your email. Thanks so much! It means the world to us!
We'll go over it a little more in tonight's vlogcast but we're working on a few new songs and putting the finishing touches on a new music video this week! We can't wait to show you! As always, our Patreon supporters will get access to all the new content we're working on before it's officially released.
Fall is here and you'll need to stay warm on those cooler nights hanging out by the fire. We think you should look good while doing it! Check out our new Fall arrivals on our apparel store!
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We have a special group on Facebook where we can interact and bounce artistic ideas around. It's a lot of fun and it's free! Click the image below to join!