Where The Story of Decline tells us of our transition from wholeness, harmony, and purity to decay, corruption, and wickedness, The Story of Progress is in many ways its inverse. It tells us of our transition from the lowly savagery and barbarism of our origins to modern society’s civility, refinement, and moral goodness.
Our disgust and self-loathing have become entrenched within us. Some of us feel it down to our core, some so much so that they are opting to not have children, not simply because they prefer not to, but because they believe the world will be better off without us.
The Story of Decline teaches us that humanity is fundamentally separate from all other life on Earth. It believes it is separate because of its superior mental and moral capacities. But really it is separate because it is more arrogant, greedy, and stupid than any other life form on Earth.
Despite the notion that we are changing for the worse, part of this story is also that nothing ever really changes. We never really change. Our ways of being never really change.
For millennia, humans have had capabilities and capacities that proto-humans could never have imagined. These are the very traits that have propelled humanity into its dominant position in the world today.
proto-humans had many features and behaviors that would be very familiar to all us. But they did not yet have whatever makes us humans human.
There is no objective definition of humanity. There is no objective time when humanity began. These are all stories we created for ourselves to help make sense of our world.
The creationist’s story of humanity’s beginning fails because it mistakes a symbolic story as a literal historical account.
The mythicists’ stories are stories in the truest since. They were never intended to offer us historical truth; they were only ever meant to offer us symbolic truth.
When did humanity begin? This is at least as much a philosophical question as it is a biological or anthropological one. Embedded within it is a deeper, much more fundamental, more consequential question: What is humanity?