November 15, 2014

Jack Miles

Dear Professor Jack Miles:

While checking around to get a notion of whom I would address, I discovered that your genius is to treat biblical characters as literary protagonists rather than transcendent of historical beings.  So I bethought me that I have a book in which I treat Satan as a protagonist.  His evil purpose is to keep humans away from the Tree of Life.  Satan knows well its secret and knows that once having tasted of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil a person is most unlikely to go to the Tree of Life.  All would be well for him, and hopeless for us, except that Eve, a woman – nay The Woman – throws him a curve and persuades him to taste of the tree of knowledge first.  This wrecks his plans in the first chapter.  But in subsequent chapters the fruit takes effect only after a delay, so history unfolds from epoch to epoch as time and again while he is misguiding some person who is just about to figure it out he has to throw his weight in the opposite direction.

I have it on good authority that the book is far too abstract and makes far too many literary references of anybody but a handful to fathom it.  But maybe you’d like a peek.  It’s light hearted, actually, in spite of the carnage.  Give me an email and I’ll biff off a draft to you. 

Sadly I now turn to my real topic.  I read your analysis in WorldPost of the current tragedy in the Middle East.  You compare it to the similar disaster of the 30 Years War.  Horrible battles were fought and other horrible things done until people sorted themselves out by religion and were able to live in peace.  I am convinced by your presentation.  I am also alarmed by the facts, as you point out, that the US is highly religious, very violent and – what you do not mention – armed to the teeth.  And we have enormous ethnic diversity.  That doesn’t sound like the makings of a happy future for us, does it? 

You point out that the partition of a nation as a last resort generally works.  I have never understood why it should be a last resort.  It ought to be reflex.  And on top of that, why should any government of any nation allow any immigration at all?  The cost down the road is going to be inconceivable.  These are, I am sure, things you have mulled in the past; I have something new to offer from the field of biology.

It turns out that if you have a social community that is more than a few hundred choosing mates from among themselves at random, that fertility will decline.  If it goes on more than a few generations, then the population will die.  The process can last maybe five generations under condition of grand mix whereby nobody marries anybody closer than tenth cousin or if the staring population starts out already rather diverse and accepts no outsiders it may last ten.  A study in Iceland found nobody whose ancestors were entirely lacking in consanguinity for more than nine generations back. 

I told you this would be new.  There is ample evidence.  Here is a link to my most recent summary.
Don’t think it isn’t your field.  This is life and death; it’s everybody’s field.

But now throw this bucket of gasoline onto the fire you already describe in which people are willing to slaughter each other over religious differences.  Those families that are more tolerant are likely to marry across the divide and incur a fertility penalty; those who are less tolerant are likely to marry cousins and teem.  You can see where that goes.  The place where people have lived the longest is Africa, where unhappy events abound among nice people.  The place where civilization is been the longest is the Middle East.  That’s where we’re headed if we don’t understand this, which is in fact the secret of the Tree of Life. 

Do let me know what you think.  If you’ll permit me to send you The Serpent’s Secret, give me an email address.  If you want to put together a teaser for one of your books I can post on my web site, I shall oblige – anything at all so far as I can foresee. 

M. Linton Herbert MD

There have been 131 visitors over the past month

Home page