Most helpful positive review
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Tower overlooking quicksands
on July 23, 2011
The approach, accuracy and style of this book are impeccable: this is evinced by the reviewers, whom I join late. My focus is on its value and principles as applicable to the situation where we, as advanced forms of humanity, stand today. In setting out these positions and values Mr Koratsky offers directions that do not oppose further evolution. It warns against present attitudes, tendencies that could counter or (in one interpretation) effect a reversal in evolution.
On Evolution, many books have been written in the last half century. And on a wider range of man's inquiry on the life he is born into - which includes propositions that hold that, while evidently there are related species, these rise in steps and not slopes; and some say there are no races - much is being discussed in the new debating arenas: ranging from TV discussions, interviews of media-enhanced individuals, to blogs.
There is a need for solidly based books, of printed kind, to establish firm positions. This book, written in clear but precise language, using a battery of terms (as other authors now do) from technology and warfare - for Evolution has to deal with enemies - is an excellent tower overlooking quicksands.
Arena describes the present situation appropriately: arena means sand, a fine if gritty word whose origins are Etruscan. There, used for gladiator fights and for sports. Theirs a fine, tough, longlasting culture that was the foundation of the spirit that would spread across Europe after sevenhundred years, placing firm bases of knowledge, discarding sand as a basis for theories and discussion.
Earlier, the stepping stone that was Crete in the Mediterranean traffic of knowledge, also had arenas for the combat of athletes and bulls. The Minoan culture was wise and distinctive, giving precedence to the female sex, unwittingly in step with Evolution.
And yet, during those seven centuries, away in the lands that similarly bordered the Mediterranean, beyond the Minoan enclave, little material progress was achieved. A number of tribes were allied by a different novel belief, a single God that the Egyptians also had invented. The Minoans who preceded both cultures had a Female, as Deity. The ancient people to their east chose a Man. I found it interesting that Koratsky makes the point that genetically the default sexual characteristic is the female. One should admire the Minoans, even if their right choice was perhaps a guess!
A glimmering of mankind's need for order is evinced by the One Man-God religion which postdated documents ascribe to Abraham, whose people wandered in the more barren lands, with drought and migration making for a sandy story - in which some men lived to 900 years - a history dating from the days of the Minoans. A long story, indeed, we could argue. All was sand as was the desert encompassing these writers staying for more than 200 years in Egypt. (I omit the excellent Nile and its reeds, for brevity). Did all 12 tribes go to Egypt? More sand.
Religious dogma and the Theory of evolution have to be considered as opposing arguments. Religion does not function without a Deity or some supernatural force. The 6-day creation of the earth view has been tempered with compromise views that it is symbolic and we have arguments - and consequently books - on Intelligent Design. It all adds to the growing whirlwind of uncertainty.
I feel that only an acceptance of evidence and rigid application of logic can enable us to have a full understanding of how Natural Selection functions without a Lady (hopefully Minoan) Goddess or some (probably bad-tempered) God to make the choices.
Perhaps an awareness that the debate on Evolution is often held in a bunker, as in a golf-course, led me to read Living with Evolution or Dying without it. The Life and Death issue that it proclaims seemed precise. I had always accepted that Death was the motive element in Evolution, contrary to political correctness that harps on the "positive" hope and hoick forward view. And as I read, it did prove to be a guide, as its title promises, to Understanding Humanity's Past, Present and Future.
Living with Evolution, in natural and precise style, followed the fairway that science has clearly marked, towards the greens and their level field of conclusions. Necessarily it has to deal with the opposite, Dying without It. And throughout warning about the danger, as in the past, of remaining head-in-the-sand - floundering in superstition and divination, and a powdering of hope.
Many works have interpreted Evolution. This book keeps a clear view directed on the principles of Natural Selection. It made me think (all of us would wonder): imagine in the early stages of life emerging that all random solutions had been accepted, that all mutations had been judged equal, all mixes had prospered, all directions taken: the surface of the planet would have been clogged with perhaps jelly at first, a sea of limbs of all kinds and innumerable combinations of extremities... layers and layers of unselected creatures all considered equal and viable. A writhing mass, that would have meant the death of all. Every time life emerged, non-selection would lead to death ...and soon, inevitably, the end of all.
I considered Koratsky's concise historical passages well-balanced. I sought a Historian's view and he wrote: "His sense of history seems excellent to me, e.g., the medieval quarrels between Church and State: although one might admire the sheer intellectualism of the medieval canonists and their adversaries, even though it was all built upon the most fallacious assumptions. I am sure that he is correct on the threats to evolution via the welfare support for the physically and mentally lazy and the spread ..." In other words this Historian considered that we are applying artificial obstacles in the path of selection. One may consider it a return to struggles on quicksand: intellectualism based upon the most fallacious assumptions.
He does not find it difficult to do away with Goddesses or Gods: he views the forces of Reward and Failure as those which have guided evolution away from wild proliferation as I wrote two paragraphs above. There is a serious warning in this excellent book: some sectors that preach the pleasant or positive approach of all ideas, all cultures, all people being equal is becoming the mantra; canons by which too many are led.
This work leads us to ponder on the inevitable overpopulation of our Earth. One hopes that the author will offer us a sequel that should inevitably deal with the dangers of a new woggly-base culture which, as he notes in the final pages, is rewarding failure and punishing success.