After Eden: The Evolution of Human Domination

By Thompson, Elena | Anglican Theological Review, Winter 2008 | Go to article overview

After Eden: The Evolution of Human Domination


Thompson, Elena, Anglican Theological Review


After Eden: The Evolution of Human Domination. By Kirkpatrick Sale. Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 2006.186 pp. $69.50 (cloth); $19.95 (paper)

Start here: the human race has already committed ecocide. Adam, in the exercise of his blessing to be fruitful and multiply, has destroyed himself. Homo sapiens is an ecological dead end, living out the denouement of his comparatively short run: just a few hundred thousand years in all, a blip on the geo-historical radar screen.

Kirkpatrick Sale contends, in After Eden, that it didn't need to have happened that way. Up to a certain fixed point in time (for which he proposes a climate-changing volcanic explosion 71,000 years ago) humans and hominids lived localized lives of immediate relation to ambient realities. Then catastrophe struck. Big-brained Homo sapiens survived, but did so at the price of becoming killers.

Homo sapiens exhausted plant stocks, tore open the fabric of the earth, sharpened antler and ivory to pierce the hearts that gave them being. In a secondary evolution, Homo sapiens began to delight in the kill, not only from the perceived need to survive but for domination and pleasure. Why stop with lesser species? Once possessed by the desire to kill, Homo sapiens embarked upon deliberate homicide. Now in the twenty-first century, with the limits of prey approaching, there is little left to destroy. …

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