Adam's Ancestors: Race, Religion, and the Politics of Human Origins

Adam's Ancestors: Race, Religion, and the Politics of Human Origins

by David N. Livingstone


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Although the idea that all human beings are descended from Adam is a long-standing conviction in the West, another version of this narrative exists: human beings inhabited the Earth before, or alongside, Adam, and their descendants still occupy the planet.

In this engaging and provocative work, David N. Livingstone traces the history of the idea of non-adamic humanity, and the debates surrounding it, from the Middle Ages to the present day. From a multidisciplinary perspective, Livingstone examines how this alternative idea has been used for cultural, religious, and political purposes. He reveals how what began as biblical criticism became a theological apologetic to reconcile religion with science—evolution in particular—and was later used to support arguments for white supremacy and segregation.

From heresy to orthodoxy, from radicalism to conservatism, from humanitarianism to racism, Adam's Ancestors tells an intriguing tale of twists and turns in the cultural politics surrounding the age-old question, "Where did we come from?"

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781421400655
Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press
Publication date: 03/15/2011
Series: Medicine, Science, and Religion in Historical Context
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 282,387
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.80(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

David N. Livingstone is a professor of geography and intellectual history at the Queen's University Belfast, Northern Ireland, and author of several books, including Putting Science in Its Place: Geographies of Scientific Knowledge, The Geographical Tradition, and Darwin's Forgotten Defenders.

Table of Contents

1. Beginnings: Questioning the Mosaic Record
2. Heresy: Issac La Peyrère and the Pre-Adamite Scandal
3. Polity: The Cultural Politics of the Adamic Narrative
4. Apologetics: Pre-Adamism and the Harmony of Science and Religion
5. Anthropology: Adam, Adamites, and the Science of Ethnology
6. Ancestors: Evolution and the Birth of Adam
7. Bloodlines: Pre-Adamism and the Politics of Racial Supremacy
8. Shadows: The Continuing Legacy of Pre-Adamite Discourse
9. Dimensions: Concluding Reflections

What People are Saying About This

Nicolaas Rupke

A great piece of scholarship and an equally great read. Particularly instructive is Livingstone's discussion of monogenism, polygenism, and the various ways these theories of human origins were used in the social and political arena. This is a substantial contribution to the history of anthropology, of evolution theory, of race and racialist thought, and of science and religion.

Colin Kidd

A remarkable achievement. It is a tightly organized and coherently packaged account of a set of ideas which mainstream scholarship now ignores. Controversial themes and explosive issues abound in Livingstone's work, which is important, topical, and fascinating.

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