This is an image that has floated around the Internet for the last little while in atheist and anti-religion circles on Facebook, Reddit, and Twitter (among others).  For those who might have trouble reading the text in the image, here it is:

Suppose that every memory, written word, and piece of technology on Earth was destroyed all at once, leaving humanity to start completely from scratch. Everything we have come to know about science would eventually be discovered again. Given a few thousand years, people would figure out chemistry, and rediscover the same elements we know now. People would once again understand biology, including its evolutionary origins. People would eventually see the motions of other galaxies in the sky, and work out the details of the Big Bang. This is the glorious part about science – it can and would be replicated. I can assure you, however, that your story about a talking snake would be gone forever.

Specific stories – Genesis and the story of Adam and Eve chosen for this argument – would certainly not come up again. Likewise, any specific parts for any religion likely wouldn’t resurface. But it’s probably safe to assume that tribes and groups of people would make up new religions. During the phase of rediscovery, there would be gaps in the knowledge, and religion would surely be invoked to fill those gaps.

You could even go so far to say that certain themes in would also return – creation, miracle births, resurrection, saviors, apocalyptic threats, elemental worship (worshiping the sun, water, air, etc) and a spirit world for good and evil (heaven and hell). We’ve seen these themes arise in pre-Christian religions – for example, the Mayans and Egyptians – so there is already precedent.

It’s saddening to think that conflict and wars would be fought all over again. Humanity would end up right where it is today.

Here’s what part of the Facebook community had to say:

  • If some people think religion is a waste of intelligent time how much more of a waste of time is it to speculate and dwell on this nonsense scenario?

    • Luke

      It’s quite obviously a thought experiment. Many good discussions come from thought experiments, so I don’t think it’s wrong to have them.

      Carlos, you seem to be defending religion passive aggressively – instead of trolling, why not come up with a few points to encourage debate, rather than simply saying it’s “nonsense”?

  • Paul

    Well we wouldn’t remember Beethoven, the Roman Empire, The Cold War, Hiroshima, etc. God would still reveal Himself to mankind in some way. Man has a need for God. He is built that way. That is what makes us different than the rest of creation, we are made in His image.

  • Paul

    Also we would have the Theory of Evolution either. I wonder what other way man would make up to try to explain how we got here? Hmmmmmm

  • Paul

    Sorry meant to say “we would NOT”

  • Stephanie

    You are right, Paul,.. for only TIME tells that story, just as it has. It would just be named some other theory. I mean,.. you do know that time is a major factor in evolution. So eventually,… we , or they, would.

  • vickie

    cavemen drew on walls to show “to who” the past?
    it survived centuries, maybe they were telling us something?
    That higher technology is doomed from the start.
    Look around, how did they make pyramids?
    records, 4 track, 8 track, cassette, CD’s, video, DVD
    I can’t find the right format for you tube now…
    maybe the caveman isn’t prehistory but our future…
    are we as smart as a caveman?