Dr. David I. Orenstein
Anthropologist, Scientist and Humanist Advocate
Professor, Anthropology Department
Medgar Evers College of the City University of New York
Thoughts on Human Origins
As a professional anthropologist and science educator who also serves as humanist clergy, my research and philosophy teaches that all humans arose from a common group of ancestors in Africa, adapted and radiated off that continent and eventually filled every niche around the globe.
The complex journey of our species creation is founded in the material world via the means of natural selection. Theories about our creation and evolution are thus best served by focusing on the natural world and the scientific evidence for our existence. For most humanists, the spirituality that comes from seeing all things, including humans, as part of nature shines a bright light on our human connectedness to one another, the planet and the cosmos.
This does not negate other philosophies or ideas concerning first causes of creation. But it does challenge humanists to know, understand and appreciate our common humanity in ways understood through the scientific method. Indeed, rich creation stories help us understand our common human culture and our propensity to gain knowledge about the world through the use of our imagination.
Humanists understand that through natural selection, that we are a variation on a theme created by nature millions upon millions of years ago. In fact, by virtue of being alive, we are all librarians and all holders of complex knowledge. All archivists for deep meaning and truth connected to our physical bodies in relation to each other and the material universe.