Some Thoughts on Life, Humanism and Evolution

By Dr. Arthur Burnell

I was brought up by very compassionate parents and I had many kinds of pets to care for. I was taken camping with my father and I had a love of the Australian bush early. I went to Sunday School and wanted to be able to help others. Thereafter, I did not believe in Holy Ghosts..

I became an atheist until in Medical School, where I was taught Botany, Zoology and Embryology, I then had something to believe in – Evolution - a power of good and evil.

I have read many books and those by Elbert Hubbard gave me the word “Humanism” so I had a purpose in being a medical practitioner. After the RAAF and in general practice I was able to start a Flora and Fauna Club on Kangaroo Island. I have been a member of the Field Naturalists and the Ornithologists.

I believed that mother love in all living creatures is part of our instinct and evolution, but love is not found in all male creatures. I was lucky – I had a very compassionate father.

Humanism has helped me to think of others, those who are in fear of pain – and those who need food, drink and shelter. We all need education. I have gradually realized that the female is the main sex in evolution.

Men were like an afterthought and probably started religions. Now we have too many gods and some males love wars.

The Environment

All living and inert things around us, including fresh water and seawater, the air we breath and all the pollutants are around us in our environment.

All living plants and creatures including humans are hoping to breed, and will do so if there is water and food available. Other parts of our environment will change gradually such as coastlines, earthquakes, volcanoes and droughts.


There is a good and the bad of evolution – just as there are good and bad people. There are many good plants and animals that are very useful to us, and we can learn from them. However, there are a great many plants and animals that can be used for great harm – such as tobacco and toxic weeds and all the viruses and bacteria that can cause plagues, such as Bird Flu, AIDS, SARS, malaria, tuberculosis and the mutations of these.


We need scientific men and women to help with the bad parts of the evolution. We need engineers, geologists, astronomers, vets, doctors, nurses, and all those who can help us with the pollutants in our water, food and air.

I hope those who want to go to war, their god is on their side, realise that we will have a great fight for the right and wrong in evolution.

We must win this fight – it is almost a war – not between men with guns or bombs but with wealth and poverty, and with one god against another.

Compassion in Monkeys and Apes

It is interesting to look at the evolution of compassion. There has been some research on the capuchin new world monkeys and the two types of chimpanzees – the common and the bonobos.

The capuchin seems to have the largest brain and can use a lot of different tools, and herbs. They also share between each other – part of compassion. The males of common chimpanzees eat fruit, leaves, nuts and meat and band together to kill other males of different tribes. However, the bonobos seem to like striding upright for some time but the interesting thing is they do a lot of grooming and having sex with males, with females and between other females –but not with the juvenile male or female. There is no fighting. The bonobos eat mainly fruit and herbs.

Compassion in Human Beings

We do not know about the habits of our early ancestors but it seems that traces of the instincts of other animals have been left in our genes, and we have evolved hands that have been very useful for using many types of tools. We have mothers who have a large lot of compassion and some fathers who want to fight and others with some compassion and sharing.

When we learned to use fire we also made weapons to kill animals – and perhaps other men. However, women realised that planting seeds will give food for years to come., Then the sun was the power that helped to grow things and the winter solstice became a great time for rejoicing – the sun gradually supplanted the earth mother god and the sun became the sun god and became male. That is why we have the winter solstice at December 21th.

The Male God and Religions

We see rock carvings and paintings in caves. Great long pieces of rock were stood up in the ground in long rows or circles, and they were pointing towards the east where the winter solstice sun arose. They were thought to be phallic. This was about 5,000 years ago as seen at Stonehenge, possibly maidens may have been burned there. Soon after speech and writing were invented. In the Egyptian the Pharohs were gods for the populace.

Then the Persians had one of their gods- Zoroastra. That religion reigned for many years – with a man god and a bad god or devil.

Five hundred years BC

Buddha was called the enlightened one. He was a prince and was concerned for the poor. He did not think as a god, but more of a way of life, and many still believe Buddhism is a good way for helping others – real compassion.

At about the same time, Confucius was teaching a good similar way of life.

Then the Greek scholars were thinking about democracy, mathematics and the use of telescopes and microscopes and starting science.

Jesus lived and died between 4BCE and 67AD. He died in Rome. Jesus was born to Joseph and Mary – they were Essenes and Joseph took his son with him on his travels. Jesus probably heard of the teaching of Buddha. Also Joseph was a pacifist. Mary will have given Jesus all the compassion that mothers give and Jesus taught us compassion.

Spinozza (1632-77)

He was born a Jew, but was forced to be a Christian. He said the Jesus was the last prophet. God was nature, and we have the laws of nature to help us. He talks of ethics, and was excommunicated from the Jewish faith. He probably was an atheist. His teachings may be the reason that many Jews are atheist.

The Dark Ages

Early Christians did not like females, and the religions were having wars about land and gods, and the women were thought to be witches and some were burned at the stake.

It was only around AD 1800 that women were allowed to enter universities and now it is realised that women have intellectual gifts like men .


It has been found that every male and female has many genes that are included in the egg before the female chromosomes are combined with the male chromosomes from the sperm at conception. Could this be the way that the mother gives to her children the instincts that become mother love – so many millions of years ago? It is time to get women and men together and have real elders of both sexes to overcome fighting between men.

Men have been dominant since the winter solstice about 7,000 years ago before any scientific thought was used. The earth was flat then. New research has shown us that Lithium is an element that is just like sodium in salt and calcium in our bones. We need this in our food and water and it seems to help us be happy. If we do not have it in our bodies, we get angry and many more rapes, murders and suicides in teenagers occur.

Could there be importance in taking Lithium? It seems what we need is men and women with compassion to look after our environment. Could we go back to our earth mother, and forge the time when men realised the sun came on the 21 December – the winter solstice?

I hope that all human beings will realise that it is up to all of us to show common sense. Food, water, shelter, education and space are getting tight and we cannot breed like rabbits. Greed is a great sin that we must avoid

I will conclude with quotes from three great men:-

Sir Mark Oliphant “I am certain that the world would be a much better place in which to live if women rather than men, had been its de facto rulers”.

Elbert Hubbard In 1911 American Bible – “Americans are slaves to outgrown mental habits, outgrown religion and outgrown superstition. No man can be a superior type American so long as one women is denied her birthright”.

Albert Einstein “A man’s ethical behaviour should be based on sympathy, education, social ties and needs. No religious basis is needed”.