By David N. Livingstone

Although the concept that all humans are descended from Adam is a long-standing conviction within the West, one other model of this narrative exists: people inhabited the Earth sooner than, or along, Adam, and their descendants nonetheless occupy the planet.

In this attractive and provocative paintings, David N. Livingstone lines the background of the belief of non-adamic humanity, and the debates surrounding it, from the center a long time to the current day. From a multidisciplinary standpoint, Livingstone examines how this substitute suggestion has been used for cultural, spiritual, and political reasons. He unearths how what all started as biblical feedback turned a theological apologetic to reconcile faith with science—evolution in particular—and was once later used to aid arguments for white supremacy and segregation.

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

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

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64 In his 1584 treatise De l’Infinito, Universo e Mondi (“On the Infinite Universe and Worlds”) he argued that the universe was infinite and that numerous other worlds existed in which non-adamic humans practiced their own religions. 65 Others nevertheless shared the same viewpoint. ”66 The parallel here advertised between distant space and distant time was one that was to recur frequently in subsequent discussions about Adam’s ancestors. In one way or another, then, the advance of global geographical knowledge rendered troublesome the conventional chronicles on which Christendom had long based its identity.

At the age of thirty, he was accused of atheism by one of the local synods of the French Reformed Church, though the charges were dropped. Ever since then La Peyrère, a qualified lawyer, had been in the service of the Condé family, enjoying its patronage as their fortunes permitted, and had also been part of a French diplomatic mission to various European 26 countries. Even though La Peyrère had been tinkering with his pre-adamite heresy for fifteen years or more, so long in fact that the circulated version of the manuscript had called forth an extended critique from Hugo Grotius in 1643, he had already established himself as an expert on Greenland (and later Iceland) before Prae-Adamitae made its formal appearance.

And having been duly escorted to Rome at the pleasure of Pope Alexander VII in 1657, he embarked on penning an official recantation that was so subtly phrased that he never came to the point of actually denying the existence of pre-adamites. He announced that it was his Calvinist upbringing that had corrupted his thinking yet contended that his opponents had failed to deliver persuasive arguments or evidence to prove his theory false. In such circumstances, he went on, the only way a controversial issue could be resolved was by appeal to an acknowledged ecclesiastical authority—namely, the pope himself.

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