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We don’t know if God evolved, but belief did

ucyprlc21 January 2015

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Written by Rebecca Caygill, Media Relations Manager

How and when did organised religion begin? It’s a big question and one that Professor Steve Jones (UCL Genetics, Evolution and Environment) set out to answer before a packed Darwin Lecture Theatre last week in his Lunch Hour Lecture, ‘Did God evolve?’, on 20 January.

After clarifying that he didn’t actually know if God evolved, Professor Jones spoke about where religion began and where science predicts it is heading, based on evidence. Starting with farming, he took us on an enlightening and amusing trip through the history of the evolution of religion.

Evidence for the link between religion and farming goes back thousand of years not only in fertility rites for crops, but also to the story of Adam and Eve who were expelled from Eden to “till the ground”.

Adam and Eve, St Mary's Eastham, Wirral Credit: Sue Hacker on Flickr

Adam and Eve, St Mary’s Eastham, Wirral
Credit: Sue Hacker on Flickr

From studying maps of the Holy Land overlaid with modern locations, there may be truth in biblical texts about places such as the Land of Nod, where scientists have found farming originated with pigs, sheep, cattle and goats.

With farming came an explosion in the population, which moved to the east and west, changing language along the way. Language is constantly evolving at the same rate – to notice changes within our own lifetimes, we only need to listen to old TV or radio recordings.

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