Darwinian Original Sin: A Slim Volume for Everybody about Being Fat

By J Neil Burry.
Monotheistic religions have determined the ethics that control human behaviour so far and continue to do so even in secular societies.Augustinian original sin, which in the book is replaced by Darwinian original sin, has been a particularly successful ethical force. The onslaught on the environment which civilisation, driven by humans with clear consciences, has been accompanied by the “success” of six billion people on earth.

The book is an attempt to kick-start a debate on whether evolutionary theory can be the basis of a similarly successful Darwinian code of ethics centred on Darwinian original sin and the medical ethic of primarily doing no harm. It is an attempt to kick-start a debate on the sort of ethics necessary for a sustainable future.

In the process it advises fat individuals not to wait for miracle drugs or miracle politics, to do the work of losing weight, but to feel healthy guilt themselves and thereby eat less and exercise more. It points out that it is no coincidence that the environment and its ecology are on the verge of death because of the unrestricted appetites of humankind. Already human appetite has degraded or destroyed two-thirds of nature¹s machinery that supports life.

As Homo sapiens evolved those who were able to lay down stores of fat in order to get through times of scarcity were chosen by Darwinian natural selection to represent the species on earth. Those who were not able to lay down layers of fat vanished along with their genes in the struggle for existence when there was nothing to eat. When there is abundance, that normal drive which the becomes Darwinian original sin, shows itself as a pathological response in overconsumption and the obsessional acquisition of possessions.The drive to survive determines human nature which does not see beyond "progress" through consumption.

The problem of obesity and overweight, a problem of individual survival, mirrors the problem of global warming, a problem of universal survival. Both of them are problems of energy imbalance. Both are problems of overconsumption. Both are problems of Darwinian original sin. Modern economies, needing to market more and more in order to increase "growth" and prevent recession, have been so successful that the unwanted "growth" of obesity and overweight has been added to the list of modern health hazards. Ever increasing economic growth has led to "economic obesity" in the form of greenhouse gases, and this "obesity" is threatening life on earth.

The book is available in Adelaide at University Union Bookshop, Dymocks, Imprints, Mary Martins, Mostly Books and Matilda¹s.
The author will be attending the conference ­ Science and Ethics: Can Homo Sapiens Survive? at the Shine Dome, The Australian National University, 17­ 18 May, 2005 where, if asked, he can make books available.