Existence of God: does God exist?

 

 

 frontje-definitive answer

 

INTRODUCTION

A humanosopher is a humanist/philosopher who uses the information, provided by paleos (scientists such as paleoanthropologists and archaeologists: all scientists who are important for the reconstruction of our past, I name ‘paleos’) to reconstruct the modern and science-based human origins story as an alternative for the monotheistic Adam-and-Eve story.
Because neither philosophers nor humanist do this, I name myself humanosopher. Isn’t that great?
I even go so far that I insert here a photo of myself with an Erasmus-hat! (I never wear it) 

Nevertheless I have you, dear reader, several new insights to offer:

- a theory of the beginning of linguisticness, the characteristic that made us from apes to humans
- the decisive role that females playded, not only in this ‘big bang’ of humanness but also in most further developments, such as the use of fire and agriculture
- the onset of religiously experiencing of the world as a result of our linguisticness
- the origin of our species: Anatomic Modern Humans
- the beginning of overpopulation and of machism
- the beginning of monotheism, of judaism, of christianity and of islam
- idea for a new belief: in the power of being humans

I was ‘humanosopher’ in aptitude: I started when I was eighteen. Now I’m seventy-eight. After sixty years I dare to say that I now have to present you a consistent and coherent new creation-story. From A to Z science-based. However, for much of our early past I have gaps to fill up with speculations. Even our paleos and other scientists have to fill up gaps and do this with speculations. Nothing wrong with speculations as long as they are not presented as facts, are coherent with the actual facts and stay open for discussion and adjusting. Then we may name them educated guess.

As an humanosopher, I have a new creation story to present. Complete with the origin of our religious feelings and of the idea ‘God’. Also with the origin of the monotheistic God.
These are two different things. Atheists don’t realize this and some of them, wanting to free us from the disastrous God-belief, contest also our religious feelings!
But apart from that this last is a windmill-fight (such as combating our sexual feelings or hunger feelings) it is also wrongly: our religious feelings are basic to human togetherness and loyalty. Both are indispensable for a globalizing economic cooperation and democracy.

On the question : does God exist? my answer is: it depends on what you mean. When you ask: does the God of the churches and the mosques exist? my answer is: sorry, that is a patriarchal invention of some thousands years ago. But when you feel: there must be something! then my answer is: you are right, and I’ll give you an ample explanation of your feeling in this booklet.

In the following three chapters you will read my new view on our human origin story: the appearing of our linguality and the sung/danced creation story of the human word world. And I present a workable definition of human nature.

In the second chapter you will find new views the origins of monotheism, Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

In the last chapter I’ll develop an idea for implementing the new and universal belief (in the power of being human and of democracy) in our globalizing society. Implementing without the slightest forms of urge, let alone any imposing.

 

 

Chapter One

HOW WE BECAME HUMANS FROM APES

 

  1.  how it started 

Ten million years ago the climate became cooler and drier. Miocene jungles, until this moment reaching to halfway Eurasia, gradually retreated into the direction of the equator, being replaced by open savannahs. Eight million years ago the jungle where our earliest ancestors lived in Northeast Africa, especially east of the Great Rift, started to undergo this change. It is there that our story begins.

Our earliest ancestors were hominoid apes. Frans de Waal (Bonobo 1997) says that, if we want an image of our earliest ancestors, we should look at the bonobos. They are the only kind of chimpanzee whose environment never changed. A species will only change when its environment changes. The environment of our earliest ancestors changed totally (became savannah), so our early ancestors changed totally. The environment of the chimpanzee ancestors changed much later and partially, so the chimpanzees changed partially. Here, we will name our earliest ancestors ANBOS (‘ancestor-bonobos).

Presumably our ANBOS lived where their oldest fossil remains are found: in Ethiopia. Far more north than where the ANBOS of today’s bonobos lived: in the rainforest of Congo. The Middle –Awash, the location of those earliest fossils, is barren desert now. But six mya it was a lush savannah environment: good to live for ape-man.

It took tens of hundreds of thousands of years for their jungle to turn into a savannah. The ANBOS never perceived this change; for them the world was in every phase like it always was. So their physical adaptations to the new conditions passed unnoticed for them. But for our story these adaptations are crucial.

The savannah is a diverse environment, consisting of open woodlands, mixed with impenetrable shrubs and grasslands accommodating herds of many kinds of grass eaters.

The ANBOS lived in the woodlands, where they, like many present-day apes, spent the nights in nests high in the trees. But these woodlands along the shores of rivers and lakes didn’t contain the fruit trees their ancestors used for sustenance. For food, the ANBOS had to roam the open grasslands: a dangerous area because of the big cats that preyed on the grass eaters. Lions, saber-toothed tigers and giant hyenas were formidable predators. The saber-toothed tigers were specialists in preying on pachyderms: rhinoceroses, hippopotamuses and (ancestors of the) elephants. In a short sprint, the tigers ran under them and ripped open the bellies with their saber teeth. After the downfall of the mighty colossus, the ‘tiger’ fed on the entrails only: his teeth were too frail for the rest of the cadaver. The rest of the carrion was left to lions, giant hyenas and vultures.

I want to emphasize that the Miocene (22 – 5 million years ago) savannah was characterized by megafauna (large animals) and was much more dangerous than the current Serengeti. Though the little ANBOS were much stronger than we are now, they needed special armament to roam the grasslands safely. What kind of armament?

Today’s chimpanzees protect themselves against leopards by throwing anything they can grasp. This can be illustrated by the story Jane Goodall tells about adult chimp male ‘Mister Worzle’:
The bananas she left for the chimpanzees in order to study their behavior in her neighborhood, also allured baboons (a large and brave monkey) that frightened some female chimpanzees. But Mister Worzle did not give a centimeter of ground and threw anything he could grasp: grass, branches, once a bunch of bananas (the baboons were happy!). Soon he discovered that stones worked and that bigger stones worked even better.

Our ANBOS needed to become ‘professional’ stone throwers. They could not take a step on the open grasslands in safety without their armament of stones. One stone was not enough to ensure their safety; they needed a handful of stones. But how can apes carry a handful of stones? Animal hides were plentiful enough everywhere on the open grasslands. Saber toothed tigers ate the entrails of their kill. Lions and hyenas with their mighty jaws were capable of eating the rest of the carcass followed by the vultures, but the basically inedible, hairy skins were left over. We will see that those hides played a crucial role in our story. For now: the ANBOS used leftover animal hides to carry things; and with their long experience in braiding and wattling their sleep nests, tying these hides was easy.

But how will apes carry bags filled with stones? How do bonobos and chimps carry heavy things? They use their hands, so they must walk upright on their feet. Our ancestor-bonobos needed to become bipeds: without carrying some stones for armament, it would not be safe for them to venture into the open grasslands. In tens of hundreds of thousands of years our ancestor-bonobos, having no other choice, turned into bipeds with longer and stronger legs, special pelvic and buttock muscles, special midriff and blood circulation. At least they made a good start developing these properties, good enough for foraging on the savannah. It was not safe for them to sleep on the floor, so their hands and feet kept the adaptation for climbing: they still needed them to make sleeping platforms high in the trees of the woodland and to climb rapidly on moments of danger.

Females had to carry their babies and gather food for themselves and the rest of the troupe, so they couldn’t carry and throw stones. Males couldn’t gather food: they had to offer protection, because predators were always watchful for moments of inattention. So the ANBOS cultivated a division of labor from the very beginning. Women and children gathered food: grass seeds, tubers and roots which they dug up with digging sticks, larvae and insects, eggs and small animals. The adult men did nothing but provide safety. The groups who practiced those behaviors most effectively, flourished (by keeping more young alive) and soon outnumbered the groups that were clumsier at these adaptations. Over tens of hundreds of thousands of years, through hundreds of generations, the population exhibiting these behaviors survived.

The same mechanism applies to group harmony. Because of the big cats, the open savanna was a dangerous environment for apes and forced them to maintain strict group harmony. That was not a big problem at all: bonobos live in female-dominated groups characterized by group harmony. They solve all tensions with sex. 

Dentitions. Left: chimpanzee. Middle: australopith. Right: human

 

Clearly, our ANBOS ‘professionalized’ and optimized this behavior too. The dentition of male bonobos still shows large canine teeth that can be used as weapons in sexual competition – although: chimpanzee canines are larger. Fossil australopith dentition shows reduced size of the canines: partially as a result of the need for grinding hard food like grass seeds, but also as a result of reduced male competition. That our ancestor-bonobos solved all tensions with sex, is clear because while the size of the canines was reduced, the penises were enlarged! Of course the ‘attractive’ red vaginas of bonobo females and the heavy scrotums of bonobo males were not practical for bipeds, so those were reduced in size too. Every time the women were in estrus, this intensified male competition and group tensions. Therefore, the women’s periods became less noticeable as well. All these reductions were compensated with nice breasts and buttocks for the women, and continuous sexual willingness: mechanisms for reducing tensions and fostering group harmony.

Didn’t the men hunt? No way. For the first millions of years our ANBOS were scavengers. Australopith bipedal locomotion was not fast enough to compete in hunting with the savannah predators. Nevertheless, besides birds eggs, insects and larvae there was yet another protein source for them on the savannah. This is why I was dwelling before on the saber toothed tigers: there were hides all over the place, left behind as inedible by the other meat-eaters of the savannah. These hides provided a new niche for the handy ANBOS. There was protein-rich tissue left on the hides to pick and scrape them with the sharp edges of bones, shells and stones. And when a hide was scraped totally clean, it made a perfect bag to carry things such as stones, or it made a blanket to use in cold nights, a screen against sun, wind, or rain. These multipurpose hides were the ANBOS‘s first and only property. The ‘paleos’ lack attention for the importance of the hides in the technical development of our ancestors, an omission that is understandable because hides are not preserved at archaeological sites (just like digging sticks and similar soft-material tools). Actually, this use of hides marked the beginning of ‘the stone age’: the beginning of the use of stone flakes for processing hides and the evolving of larger thumbs on their hands.

Savannah; NB the grass spots were smaller and the woodlands more affluent in early times

 

All these environmental changes and physical adaptations developed unnoticed by our ANBOS. Just like normal apes 10 million years ago, they made their daily foraging routes in a vast foraging territory. In the course of two million years, even more open grasslands became part of their territory and daily route. All necessary adaptations developed during this time. By 6 million years ago, our ANBOS were experienced savannah foragers. They had evolved into a new kind of chimp, a totally new species in the history of life on earth: the australopiths.

The only thing which remained unchanged, was their way of life. They would leave their nests early in the morning, wander along a route they knew perfectly, gathering food along the way, and finally arrive at the next woodland where they would share the gathered food and then make their nests high in the trees. The only part of the routine that changed, was that instead of eating their food while ranging on the grass lands, they carried most of the gathered food (tubers, grass seeds, larvae, eggs, and so on) to their camps to be distributed equally among group members. This change was necessary in order to maintain harmonious group relations through equal sharing.

During 99.5 % of the long time span our species existed, our ancestors were first gatherer-scavengers and later gatherer-hunters. It is important to keep this in mind when we try to understand ourselves.

 

2. names for the things

So far, the ANBOS didn’t stand out from other australopith species, such as afarensis or africanus, whose remnants our paleos have found in Africa. Neither in bipedalism and using stones for defense, nor in scraping and eating rests of tissue from hides and developing longer thumbs, nor in using hides for transportation, our ANBOS distinct from those other hominine species. Now we get to the incidental invention that made our ANBOS leave the Australopithic way of life and that led, in the end, to our human condition.

 There was food enough to find on the savannah, but women had to know when and where food was available. In a rain forest, food hangs from the trees: the only thing you need to know is where to find the next ripe fruit when you are finished with your tree. On the savannah, living was far more complicated. Searching for food implied more knowledge (for example of seasonal variations) and this knowledge had to be transferred between generations. So the ancestor-bonobos needed more communication than normal rain forest communication (cries, gestures, facial expressions and other body language).

 It was bound to happen somewhere and sometime in the australopithic world. In one group, a young woman developed the practice of imitating with her hands and fingers what she meant: [water], [stone], [a special plant], [a special larva], [saber tooth tiger], [a special place], [a special act or operation], you name it. Her girlfriends understood what she meant, and laughed and laughed and made the pantomime also and laughed for an hour more. Next day another girl thought of another pantomime, and again the had great fun. The group became familiar with this habit: it became a useful part of their communication. This better communication improved cooperation, benefited survival, and the group flourished more than australopithic groups without this handy practice. When young women moved to a neighboring group to find a mate, they took this habit along, spreading this gesturing practice over the whole clan and tribe. Our ancestors!


I made a picture of this pivotal moment. The sitting girl left tries to transfer what is in her own mind into the minds of her friends: the sweet berries that they may find along that morning’s foraging route. The sitting girl to the right is trying to get it, while the standing young man is just feeling uneasy: it is dangerous to get out of the safety of the group too far, as the big cats are always on the look-out. But then the other girl gets it! They cry and laugh and run over to the group. The whole day they make the same gestured imitation of [berry] over and over, laughing and crying.

The next day the other girl thinks of a similar imitation of something they can expect on the foraging route of that day. And again they are gesturing and laughing and shrieking the whole day. Essential here is that one ape discovers she is capable of making another ape think about something that is only in her mind, not in the actual environment.

This was an incidental, casual beginning of a new group culture. This new ‘culture’ was contingent, because it was not necessary for surviving. The childish game might have been forgotten, in which case we would be still a kind of ape men in the African savanna today, or have been extincted like other ape men populations from that times. However, this playful habit turned out to be helpful and useful. It improved group cooperation. Perhaps you can imagine a better anecdote for the beginning moment. But it was bound to come. There is an iron law that, when something is possible, it will happen sooner or later: this law was valid already 3.8 billion years ago, from the start of life on earth.

 An incidental new habit … a huge step towards becoming human! It was a totally new phenomenon in the history of life on earth. All group animals have their own means of communication. But in no other species individuals can communicate about something beyond their awareness, about something in another place, in another season, in the past or in the future. These gesture-imitations of things by our ancestor-bonobos were (the beginnings of) names for the things, enabling them to communicate on a new level.

 Once an animal can name things, something special happens at the mental level. It is not only a better means for communication and cooperation. It is not only a way to transfer knowledge from one generation to the following, thus building up a reservoir of knowledge in the entire population. It also is the creation of a (feeling of) distance between the namer and the named thing, the creation (or experience) of distance between a creature and his environment. The subject vs object situation was entirely new in the history of life: a creature that was no longer totally dependent on his environment, a creature that could objectify things in his environment.

One might also see this as a parallel to the professionalizing of the ape’s ability of throwing, which enabled a distance between the thrower and the object: only this time in the mental sphere. It creates a feeling of power over the object, even – or just – when you are not powerful. 

It started with nothing, but I think it started from the very beginning. Because the need for more communication existed from the beginning, and the free hands with those ten fingers were available from the beginning. It started from nothing and it started slowly, like all developments in nature, like the beginning of life itself on earth. 

It started incidentally, with a single gestured imitation. But it proved to be a useful habit in a world which demanded better communication. So it grew quickly into ever more names for ever more things. Our ancestral tribe became an entirely new kind of animal in nature, a species with more flexibility and inventiveness than all others, even than other hominid populations whose groups remained without such a cultural habit of communication.

More flexibility and inventiveness than other animals: the result of their new means of communicating (with names for things) which provided them with the power of consultation and conference with one another. Two know more than one, and as a group you can solve big problems. One hooligan may be a timid boy, but as a group, hooligans are terrifying. It is the catching and inspiring stack-up of inventiveness. Australopith groups devoid of this facility of conferring with each another – boisei, robustus, aethiopicus, even afarensis– died out, presumably with some help of the ancestor-australopiths, the ‘hooligans’ of the Pliocene savannah.

Around the time of ‘the great jump’ of our species, ca 2.5 million years ago, all other hominids got extinct. Hominids is the name palaeontologists give to bipedal apes of the Mio-Pliocene period (Pliocene is 5 – 1.4 million years ago and Miocene is the preceding era). The common name for these Pliocene hominids is Australopithecus. 

     3. the big jump: fire 

We are not sure which fossil, if any, belongs to the population of animals that could name things. Brunet, head of the French group which found the 6-7 million year old hominid skull in Chad, is shown with the skull, saying: "It’s a lot of emotion to have in my hand the beginning of the human lineage…" But there is no label on the skull, and it is impossible to know if the skull in his hand is from an ancestor-bonobo, or from a prey of the ancestor-bonobos. 

Around 2.5 million years ago, the ancestor-bonobos evolved into ancestor-australopiths. There is proof of their existence: not a skull, but stone tools. 


At 15 locations east and west of the Kada Gona river, Ethiopia, Sileshi Semaw and his team recovered more than 3000 surface and excavated artifacts, dated 2.6 –2.5 million years ago. [Journal of Archaeological Science (2000) 27, 1197-1214]

Makers of these well-flaked artifacts: Australopithecus garhi. Archaeological name of these earliest stone industry: Oldowan.

Other early Oldowan sites, older than 2 million years ago: Olduvai, Omo, Bouri, Lokalei.

 

 All these 2.5 million years old artifacts were found together with animal bones, many of them with stone-tool cut-marks. A recent publication about cut-marks on bones from the Dikika site in Ethiopia demonstrates that stone ‘knives’ for processing of bones of scavenged carcasses may have been used even earlier: 3,4 million years ago. So these artifacts are butchery tools: the cut-marks on the bones are the result of "hunting and/or aggressive scavenging of large ungulate carcasses". 

To me, these Kada Gona tools are the hallmark of the second big jump of our ancestors: the domestication if fire. As the outcome from the first jump: names for the things. It was again the climate that triggered this second jump. For five million years, the climate had been stable without giving much reason for changing behavior. But now the Ice Ages began, the periodical increase of ice caps on the poles and around the high mountains. Now there were cold periods (stadials, maxima) interspersed with warm periods (interstadials, minima). It started with a dramatic cooling and drying. Jungles receded to a narrow and interrupted belt around the equator; savannahs turned into deserts. There were ever less trees to sleep in, ever more natural fires. 

The ancestor-australopiths knew some attractive qualities of fire, and they were not the only animals who were lured by the far clouds of a natural fire. Vultures and other carrion eaters and even antelopes approached carefully, enticed by carrion and salty ashes. The females that could name things knew that some tubers and other plants, normally not edible, were edible after the work of the fire. 

Again it was bound to happen, and again with female initiative. Why? It has to do with food, and women have to feed their children. In everything they do, they are motivated by the need for more and better food for their children. Presumably this time it was an old and experienced woman, a grandmother who had the courage to take a glowing branch of an smoldering natural fire. Trembling with fear, she took it to a safe place, fed it with dry grass and wood and breathed in new life: fire. 

Terrified, of course, the other ancestor-australopiths observed from a distance, screaming in fear at what the grandma did. She held a tuber on her digging stick in the flames. When she thought the tuber was done, she tasted it, went with the tuber to her granddaughter. Granddaughter would remember this moment ever in her life. 

Too nice, this ‘just-so-story’? Then consider this: gorillas have been observed sitting near a smoldering fire in nights when the temperature on the savannah approached the freezing point. But no ape is known to ‘feed’ the extinguishing fire with combustible material.

But our ancestor-australopiths did: because they already had a name for fire, they gradually lost their instinctive fear of the fire and got a feeling of power over it. After this, of course it took many generations before they had developed the technique to carry the fire from one campsite to the other, as live charcoal in a bovine’s horn or in some similar way.

 

4. dating the first use of fire 

How I dare  assume that this taming of fire occurred some 2 million years ago? Most paleos don’t go farther back than the 790,000 years old Gesher Benot Ya’aqov site in Israel, where charred wood and seeds were recovered. Some brave paleos accept the evidence from Swartkrans and Chesowanja dating 1.5 million years ago, but that is the limit. 

For me as a humanosopher, there are two kinds of clear evidence that are indicating an earlier use. One: there is no other way our ancestor-australopiths could have evolved into larger beings, than through some kind of radically improved food supply. As experimentally proven by Richard Wrangham, a raw (not cooked, not grilled, not roasted) chimpanzee diet would be simply inadequate to sustain larger-brained beings of human size. Two: palaeontologists such as Ralph Rowlett and Randy Bellomo studied the differences in the soil beneath a natural fire and a campfire. The soil under campfires reaches much higher temperatures and a campfire leaves behind a bowl-shaped layer of highly oxidized and magnetized soil. At Koobi Fora in the African Rift Valley, Jack Harris of Rutgers University in New Jersey found such evidence of campfires dating 1.6 million years ago. Fire control must have started a long time before that moment.

Perhaps controlled fire existed even earlier than these 2 million years ago. The first ‘professional’ stone tools found at Kada Gona are 2.6 million years old. They attest to a new niche for protein: meat. 

For the start of meat consumption, we have to look back to about 6 million years ago: to the hides that could be found all over the Miocene savannah. In the following millions of years the hooligans of the savannah, ever more audacious with their stones, learned to chase away feeding predators from their prey. That was the moment when the males began to contribute to the diet: carrion became an increasingly important part of nutrition. 

About 2,5 million years ago, the earth climate became even more cool and dry: the onset of the Ice Ages. Woodland savannah began to turn into desert savannah. The carrion competition grew more fierce. The best sources of carrion, the pachyderms (elephants, rhinos, hippos) had skins that were too thick for lions and hyenas and vultures to penetrate. Those predators had to wait until, after two or three days, the skin cracked open by decomposition gasses. However, with their knife-sharp stone tools the ancestor-australopiths could start processing the dead animal immediately! 

The evidence of the stone tools of Kada Gona (2,6 million years ago) is recently transcended by the publication of the Dikika Research Project: evidence of stone tool use and meat-eating dating back 3,4 million years! And who made and handled this early stone tools? In June 2010, the discovery of Kadanuumuu, a 3.6 million years old australopith, was published. Its skeleton was found in Afar, where also the famous Lucy-skeleton was found. Kadanuumuu was nearly a half million years older than Lucy, much taller and had a more humanlike shoulder blade. So in my view, these people were the butchers of the Dikika antelope from 3,4 million years ago.

 artist impression of the Dikika child

Meat was a new protein niche for our hooligan ancestors. It incited them to improve their stone ‘knives’. For millions of years, the standard way to make a ‘knife’ or scraper had been to smash a stone against another stone or rock, and then pick out the best ‘knife’. In the new circumstances, this was no longer sufficient. I think knapping the ‘knife’ from a core stone with a hammer stone was too risky for long, bent ape fingers (they still needed those ape fingers for climbing quickly into trees for sleeping and safety). But in order to improve the stone ‘knives’ they needed some knapping technique; and in order to develop a knapping technique they would need shorter, "handier" fingers. 

Evolution had to find a balance between the need for long, bent fingers for climbing and making nests in trees on one side, and the need for shorter, handier fingers for knapping better knives on the other. It was the use of the fire that altered this balance. Since the fire provided protection from predators, this made it possible to stay on the ground instead of climbing in a treetop to build nests. Because our australopith ancestors no longer needed to climb trees at night, they no longer needed long "ape" fingers. This allowed the development of shorter, handier fingers suitable for better knife production.

    5. the impact of fire control on communication 

I started my fire-paragraphs naming it ‘a big jump’. The most important aspect of it comes now:  the impact of the campfire on communication.

Before this momentum of fire control, communication was limited to daytime: during the foraging hours and the food sharing upon reaching the next sleeping place. Before twilight, for safety purposes, everyone had to climb high in a tree to make a nest, which effectively ended communication. But now, with a campfire keeping predators at bay, they could rest and communicate all night long! Those nightly hours could be used for nothing else but communication. They began dancing and singing around the campfire. In my view, dancing and singing cannot be separated here, which why we may call it danced singing. 

Why danced singing? I repeat: for our ancestor-bonobos, normal ape communication (cries, gestures, facial expressions and other body language) was extended with a humanlike component: names for the things. Those names were produced with hand gestures, not with cries. For apes have no neurological control over their voice: ape cries are controlled by the limbic system. But they weren’t deaf, like present-day sign language users. Their gesturing came with accompanying cries. In the long evenings around the campfire, the growing gestural communication with names for the things became a proto-form of sign language: physically no more than an extension of their ape body language. The screeches were a proto-form of singing. Later more about danced singing. First: What did they communicate? 

One might say: nothing at all, they just wrapped themselves in a hide and went to sleep while only one of them (a man of course) kept his eyes open and the fire burning. Speculating in this way however, one might easily overlook that they were a subspecies of bonobos: fervent communicators! In their new, more dangerous habitat they lived in closer togetherness than their rain forest ancestors, so they needed to be even more social. The new circumstances in combination with their bonobo-like inclination had already lead them to their new habit of names for the things.  

So: what did they communicate? I propose it was the exchange of thoughts, expressions of what was going on in their mind: in other words, they were sharing emotions. For example the memory of some shocking event in the past day. Communicating these emotions took the form of performances. Let me dish up a possible ‘performance’ here. The threatening encounter with the dangerous buffalo!  

The men had made a line with their stones at hand. The buffalo had hesitated, perhaps he remembered an encounter with a troupe of those apes, resulting in a hailstorm of painful stones. He scraped with his hoofs. After some long lasting seconds the buffalo had turned his back and moved. 

Now, quietly around the campfire, a woman, with that threatening event in her mind, got up and imitated it with emotional gestures. The others screamed in approval. A man jumped up and imitated the buffalo. The emotional screaming increased. Other men jumped up and made the defense line, with imitated stones at hand. Then the ‘buffalo’ slunk off, and the screaming became jubilation. And calm returned in the group. But the nice performance stayed in everybody’s mind, and after several quiet minutes some women jumped up again and repeated the performance. And again, and again, until everybody wrapped himself in his hide to go to sleep. Evening after evening they did ‘the buffalo’ over and over, until a new event was subject of a new performance.

Generations after generations similar nightly performances became ever more sophisticated, and the gestured communication too. Sophistication means that the gestured ‘words’ underwent standardizing and shortening. Because when the beginning of a gestured ‘word’ is already understood, you don’t need to finish the whole gesture. In a group of women gossiping by sign language and cries, each woman wants to contribute her share. (Why women? Hunting men make no noise. But gathering women chatter and laugh: noise chases serpents away. Even today’s Pygmies – when not hunting –move through their forest chatting loudly and laughing and clapping hands for the same reason.)

Expressing such emotional thoughts the person used her/his whole body (just like bonobos do today) with accompanying cries. The others responded with imitating gestures and cries, and many of them jumped up and joined the communicating person. And when communicating very emotional items, the whole group was dancing and crying, over and over. From generation to generation, this behavior became ever more ritualized, controlled and refined. 

When I say ‘ritualizing’, I mean, as neatly formulated in Wikipedia, "behavior that is formally organized into repeatable patterns, the basic function of which is to facilitate interactions between individuals, between an individual and his deity, or between an individual and himself across a span of time." Ritual synchronizes the activity of participants, a phenomenon that contributes to group cohesion – which can also contribute to survival. Some scholars also suggest that human ritual behavior reduces anxiety. It makes me think of the ‘war dances’ of the Yanomamö , as preparation of a raid. A more modern example may be the ritual drilling of recruits in the barracks.  

This development towards better expression through more refined body control affected both dancing and singing. First the dancing. Our ancestors were sharing emotions in an evermore ritualized mode of body language: their bodily expression of experiences, feelings and thoughts evolved into a kind of ballet, of formal dancing. In the course of this evolution, the specific gestures for specific meanings became more formally stylized. A more modern example of extremely stylized and formalized dancing is the 19th century Balinese religious dancing (as described by Dutch colonials) where women told a complex story without any word – just by dancing. In a way, present-day sign language for the deaf functions in a similar way: especially when this concerns a message with emotional content, the sign language may look like a kind of ballet dancing. 

Next the singing. Our ancestors were like bonobos, so much more expressive than chimpanzees, who are more silent. Just like their dancing was gradually ritualized, the accompanying cries and calls underwent ritualizing in the evening-after-evening performances. Over the generations, this gradually led to better neurological voice control. The more meaning and information one can convey by voice, the more impressive and effective the resulting performance will be. 

I will get back to this combination of dancing and singing later, in the context of the origin of our religious feelings.

    6. homo erectus

The control of fire turned the ancestor-australopiths into Homo erectus. Fire use began in one group of ancestor-australopiths, but soon spread throughout all groups, by exchanges of sex partners and group interactions (in a way similar to the dispersion of agriculture later on). The H. erectus population dispersed over Africa and started the first Out of Africa migration into Eurasia.

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Traditionally H. erectus is always imagined as a male. So I was glad to find a reconstruction of a female H. erectus on the blog-site “Kay Nou = Our House”. Thanks, Kay Nou. Her digging stick was nice; but she missed her hide bag. So I gave her one. Unlike in this picture, she was never alone on the savanna, nor elsewhere.

Finds from an earlier period, in the archaeological sites Dmanisi (1,7 million years ago) and Flores (descendants of Java hominids from 1,6 million years ago) show a more primitive hominid, with a more primitive toolbox. So many paleos today believe that it was an earlier hominid, H. habilis or H. rudolfensis that spread Out of Africa into the Far East, developing to H. erectus. A later erectus group returned to Africa as ancestors of the Turkana population. For the humanosopher, this theory of a much earlier Out of Africa migration corroborates the early use of fire, because moving out of the tropics requires fire-use.

7. lingual creatures

Our species is the only one in nature which controls fire. This unique capability was directly related to the fact that our ancestor-australopiths were the only species to become lingual creatures, developing names for the things. Let me expound the new concept of linguality that I already mentioned before.

A lingual creature experiences his world as a named world. It knows his world just like all other animals know their world. But with names for the things, it can confer about the things with companions: two know more than one, and a whole group can solve big problems. As mentioned before, names for the things created a (feeling of) distance between the namer and the named thing, the (experience of) distance between a creature and its environment. Between subject and object: our ancestors became the first and only creatures who could objectify things. Objectifying generates (a feeling of) power over the things. It resulted in the use of fire, and this in turn facilitated the jump forward of nightly gestural group communication. It generated a new kind of power over other species of animals, making our ancestors into the ‘hooligans’ of the savanna.

Names for the things is what made us humans. It may have been the result of a casual and fortuitous girls’ play. It was not necessarily caused by some gene mutation or brain growth or the emerging of syntax: such developments were rather result, not cause.

Having several names for several things is by itself not enough to become a lingual creature. Look at the family Washoe. This is the group of chimpanzees who were made to learn ASL (American Sign Language) when they were young and in a human family setting, presently living at the CHCI of Central Washington University of Ellensburg, in the lifelong care of Roger and Debbie Fouts[1]. The Washoe chimpanzee family is able to use 300 different names for 300 different things. You may call this proto-language, but this does not necessarily mean they experience their world as a “named world”. What makes an ape into a lingual creature? In other words, what transforms animal gesture communication into a language?

Language is a stock of words, a vocabulary, an inexhaustible stock of names for a countless number of things: making one’s whole world into something that can be experienced primarily as a world of named things.

clip_image002[6]How do we produce our present spoken vocabulary? With phonemes: sounds that have no meaning of their own (the vowels and consonants of the alphabet), but are the building blocks of an endless number of words. We produce those phonemes with our speech apparatus: throat, tongue, lips and cheeks. But apes cannot produce enough similar phonemes, because their throat is too short and their tongue too narrow. Experiments in training a young chimpanzee to speak resulted in p-p for papa and c-p for cup, pronounced without vowels. The most serious handicap however is that apes cannot really control their voice. Their cries are neurologically driven by the limbic system: an evolutionary older part of the brain, the same that also produces our own cries of pain or anguish or rage or ecstasy. When we hit our thumb with a hammer, we cannot withhold a cry of pain: the older parts of our brain are beyond conscious control.

How could our ancestors – even Neanderthals may have lacked the modern speech apparatus – build up a stock of gestured words without being physically able to produce phonemes? In his groundbreaking research on modern sign languages of the deaf (such as American Sign Language, ASL) William Stokoe[2] has showed that gestured languages can be just as flexible in combining gestures as spoken languages can be flexible in combining phonemes. Stokoe named the sign language alternative for phonemes cheremes: gestures without intrinsic meaning which by combing them can be used as building stones for an endless number of gestured words. Just like we speak all our words by uttering a limited number of phonemes in countless different combinations, modern ASL achieves something similar by combining 55 cheremes (base gesture elements).

So the gestured ‘sign’ language of our ancestors may have evolved from simple gestures denoting specific objects, into a stock of names or a vocabulary using combinations of cheremes, making an unlimited number of ‘words’ from a limited number of base elements: small and quick hand configurations, hand locations and hand movements.

To illustrate this development, let me briefly go into a nice parallel: the similar development of script (written language). 8.000 years ago, ever more people in the Middle East lived as farmers in villages. Each family contributed a part of the yield of their fields and cattle to the ‘temple’ (the common hall for religious anniversaries, for meetings and barter with other villages, and for emergencies). To prevent parasitical behavior and envy, the temple functionaries needed to register each family’s contributions exactly. In early Sumeria, these notes were engraved in the clay of the storage urns (later of clay tablets). The first notes were pure imitations, drawings. These were at best ‘minimal art’: a representation divested of all that was not strictly necessary for identification.

In due course, these representations became more and more stylized symbols. This was the start of Sumerian writing: pictograms, simple representations of what was meant. A simple depiction of a head stood for <head> and two wriggling lines for <water>. But soon these two symbols combined meant <drinking> and even <drink>. In this way, the pictograms became more and more schematic. The big jump came when some pictograms got a sound value, mostly the initial sound of the word-symbol. Soon there was a complete alphabet. The symbols did no longer point to some specific object, but came to represent just sounds – initially mostly consonants. By combining these by themselves meaningless symbols, now every possible word could be written easily. Such written language made it possible to record personal messages, enactments and laws, oral traditions, heroism of the successive kings, important events, scholarship, poetry, philosophy, everything. This written language started the historical era (before the invention of script, one speaks of prehistory).

The earlier development of signed language may have followed a similar route. The cheremes (snippets of sign language) initially came into human communication as very simple and direct gestures. In due time, some gestures got the function of syllables: they evolved into building stones (cheremes) for signed words. Didn’t those cheremes make the gestured communication slower? After all, instead of making one primitive object-sign, you now had to combine some small gestures (cheremes) to indicate the same object. This question can be answered in two ways.

In the first place we can refer to the universal linguistic abbreviating propensity: the aversion to repeat an already uttered word or sentence element – and when you repeat it nevertheless, you do it mainly to give it extra emphasis. We may assume that from the beginning there was a natural tendency (just like in modern sign language) to make the language gestures as fast and simple as possible, if only for communication efficiency: when just the start of a gesture is already enough to be understood, you don’t need to finish the whole gesture. The faster you can produce gestures, the shorter the time you need to make your point or to contribute to a discussion.

In some cases however, the use of cheremes (even when these were as small and fast as possible) may have resulted in more complexity. For instance, instead of one gesture for the object “ tiger” you might now need to use a combination of three quick cheremes to indicate the same object. So why would people opt for increasing complexity? Here the second answer comes forward. The price one may have paid for a little more complexity, at the same time bought a huge advantage: thanks to using cheremes, the number of possible words and expressions now became really limitless. While primitive sign language might have had a gesture indicating “tiger”, it may not have had gestures specifying “reddish tiger” or “wounded tiger” or “a cloud in the sky shaped like a tiger”. The use of cheremes made it possible to say (gesture) all this, and more.[3] Eventually, they made it possible to discuss even abstract concepts for which no simple gesture would ever have been adequate. How important this was, we will see when discussing the evolution of the creation story as a central factor in the evolution of mankind.

Now three other questions occur that have to be answered. Firstly, is it admissible to infer ancestral behavior from the cultures of present-day hunter-gatherer tribes? The humanosophic answer is: yes we may, because there is a continuum between our modern behavior and that from our ancestors, a continuum that is transmitted by genetic inheritance, tradition and inveterate habits. Old usages and practices and customs stay alive till they no longer fit. The same goes for language characteristics: deeply rooted in communication practice, they are transmitted from generation to generation as a vital part of a culture.

But if is this a valid comparison, then may we also assume that the signed communication of our ancestors developed towards the same level of sophistication (especially regarding the emergence of cheremes) [4] as modern sign languages such as ASL (American Sign Language)? Our deaf populations possess modern human brains, don’t they, and are integrated into a modern urban culture that requires more sophistication, for example in order to discuss the stock exchange by ASL? The humanosophic answer is: yes, we may, because the modern sign language is a flower out of the seed from the gestured linguality of our Early Human ancestors. In essence, it is the same flower as we can see sprouting when our modern babies pick up language from their environment, irrespective of whether this is gestured or spoken language.

The third occurring question is: why would people eventually switch from gestured to spoken language? The answer is that signed language may be adequate, but less so when you have your hands full, or in a situation that you can only hear each other. For this reason, from the very beginning visual communication has been supported by making sounds such as guttural and dental clicks, labial sounds, and emotional cries. Even from the beginning of gestured communication, such vocal additions were structural word parts. So we may suppose a continuum between the most primitive gestured communication and the ‘click!’-languages of nowadays San people of southern Africa (and our own gesturing even when we are talking on telephone). There has been, however, a turning point in this continuum: the rise of the ability to communicate with sounds alone, without gestures. We will talk about this in the paragraph Anatomical Modern Humans.

To summarize: in the paragraph about the first use of fire, we speculated about the Australopithic population to which we could attribute the wonderful innovation of controlled use of fire. We found Kadanuumuu (estimated 1,5-1,8 m. high) a good representative because of his humanlike posture, much taller than “Lucy” (1,1 m. high, dated 3,2 million years ago), and yet hundreds of thousands of years older. We supposed the use of fire here because such a taller population of Australopithecus afarensis must have had better food at his disposal. In its turn, control of fire in our view assumes the presence of linguality.

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Excavations between 2005 and 2008 in the Afar Region of Ethiopia uncovered an upper arm, a collarbone, neck bones, ribs, pelvis, sacrum, a thighbone, a shinbone and an adult shoulder blade. The partial Australopithecus afarensis fossil is dated 3.58-million-year-old and nicknamed Kadanuumuu, ("Big Man" in the Afar language).

Fragment of Kadanuumuu’s lower arm bone  to muse about: apart from throwing stones, this very 3.58 mya bone may have been used to gesture with companions. Kadanuumuu as a lingual creature!

‘Ardi’, Australopithecus ramidus, from 4,4 mya Afar Rift Ethiopia, had an ape-like short thumb. The hominid species Australopithecus sediba, recently found in South Africa, was presumably from A. africanus origin and possibly a transitional species to H. habilis and even H. erectus. It has a humanlike thumb but is only 1.98 million years old, 2.42 years younger than Kadanuumuu. Somewhere during those 2,42 million year-long interval, the more humanlike thumb of Sediba must have evolved. The skeleton of the much older Kadanuumuu, “Big Man” provides no hand- or foot bones, so in fact we cannot know yet what kind of thumbs he may have had. Hopefully, ongoing archaeological research will clarify this.


[1] see www.cwu.edu/~cwuchci

[2] William Stokoe (1919-2000), Professor at Gallaudet University of Washington, DC, was the creator of the linguistic study of the sign languages of the deaf. Before, the sign language used by the deaf was generally believed to be a corrupt visual code for spoken language, or elaborate pantomime. Stokoe’s first and eye opening book was Sign Language Structure (1963) and till the end of his life he was the indefatigable champion of the language of the deaf.

[3] cheremes emerged in thousands of generations of dancing/singing the creation story of their world. The story grew in detail and complexity; so did the gestured representation and performing.

[4] The research of Stokoe and others on signed language reveals how easy it is to produce adjectival or adverbial and other elements of syntax with modification of or additions to the gestured words by facial expression and posture changes: “Adjectives need neither to precede nor to follow nouns as physically distinct elements but can appear simultaneously as modifications in the performance of the sign language word. Likewise, adverbial modification of gesture action is natural effect of the way that visible gestures are performed.” Other grammatical elements of language such as the pattern of Subject-Verb-Object emerge spontaneously and inevitable in a social phenomenon as language: one cannot participate when one doesn’t know the meaning of the spontaneously emerged words, as little as one doesn’t follow the spontaneously emerged rules. Chomski’s speculation that grammar is the essential characteristic of human language doesn’t make sense. Names for things is the essential characteristic.

8. lingual consciousness

There must have been a moment in history when acting from instinct became less dominant than acting from deliberation and consulting. No two captains on the ship of your thinking! With the advent of fire control, our ancestors demonstrated that unlike normal animals, they were no longer acting purely by instinctive reaction to sensory impulses.

Thinking? Animals? Of course animals do think. Most kinds of mammals and birds make scenarios in their brains: they weigh the different possibilities of what can happen or be done, in order to choose what is best. Intelligence is widely spread! We are used to seeing some kinds of animals or birds as more intelligent than other kinds, but every species exhibits its highest level of intelligence in its own special niche. The tortoise is the most intelligent animal in the tortoise niche. And where instinct is concerned: only ‘lower’ kinds of animals act exclusively by instinctive reactions. Group animals act largely by learning, example and intelligent trial and error. The animals we use to label as ‘most intelligent’, are nearly always group animals. But intelligence is a personal quality: as far is intelligence is concerned, not all dogs are created equal.

But consciousness is unique to humans, isn’t it? It depends on how we define ‘consciousness’. If you mean: being aware of one’s environment, then this applies to animals as well. Every mammal does continually process environment information, unless it has been knocked out. Do you mean: self-conscious? Apes, elephants and dolphins evidently display self-consciousness. As proven in several experiments[1], they are able to look in a mirror and be aware that they see themselves.

What then is unique to humans? The main difference is not that we, as all mammals, are thinking beings, but that we on top of this animal thinking have names for the things. Animal thinking is the manipulating of things with representations (mental images of the things) in the brain. In our human thinking, these representations have labels, ‘handles’, ‘grips’: the names that enable us to ‘grasp’ things. So we are able to handle things better: not just when communicating about them, but also for easier and more inventive thinking. If we define creativity as the ability to combine things, then our names for the things make it easier to make new combinations, and therefore to think in a creative way.

So when we speak about a concept of ‘human consciousness’, we really ought to name this lingual consciousness. Consciousness is not unique to humans, but lingual consciousness is.


[1] p.e. G. G. Gallup (1970) Chimpanzees: Self-recognition and after him many others on other animals in addition to elephants and dolphins

 

9. linguality and its consequences

The philosophical term ‘linguality’ is the translation of Heidegger’s concept Sprachlichkeit. In the work of another hermeneutic philosopher it appears even as ‘linguisticality’, but for humanosophic purposes the word ‘linguality’ suffices. However, our definition is not exactly the same as Heidegger’s.

What is then the humanosophic definition? We already defined ‘humanosophy’: the humanist/philosophical view on human nature as the mental condition of an ape who has begun to use names for the things, gradually finding himself in a named world, in a virtual ‘words-world’. The definition of linguality in this context (in another sense than just ‘the ability to use language’) is obvious: with ‘linguality’ we mean the mental predisposition to experience the world in concepts. This is the characteristic that makes us humans unique among all animals.

Seen from a wider perspective, linguality is the latest, most complex culmination of a natural, even universal development. According to the American astrophysicist Eric Chaisson, the universe started with the simplest kind of complexity: the mere fusion of hydrogen and helium into primordial stars. This fusion produced complex molecules that endured in the clouds of dust around the implosions of those first stars. In favorable environments, on some planets of the second generation of stars, such complex molecules (matter) could generate even more complex combinations, like RNA on Earth. In the rare ideal circumstances on our own planet Earth, the complexity of matter progressed step by step to the evolution of DNA, and eventually of more complex life forms. This evolution was about finding ever more refined tricks to absorb energy from the environment. The cell was a step, and so was the super cell, was multicellularity, were organisms, were sensory organs, were brains, was intelligence. Living in groups was a step. The lingual consciousness of humans is the ultimate trick, the (preliminary?) culmination of complexity of matter in the Universe. But: still serving to absorb energy from the environment to stay alive and multiply.

Our lingual consciousness, the grasping, comprehending understanding of the world, started with the first gestured name. In the beginning, it was still rather inadequate. Nevertheless, eventually the humans had to rely on it: they had made instinct secondary. When you no longer use an organ it will shrink, and something similar happened to our instinct. Because the humans began to understand their world with a lingual understanding that was still weak and unreliable, they fell prey to incertitude. Therefore, this is the first major consequence of linguality: it made us into worrying apes’.

By itself, incertitude is not a new phenomenon in the Universe. When an animal comes upon a situation where his instinct cannot give an adequate impulse, it may feel uncertain. But for humans, incertitude became a more permanent part of daily life experience.

One cannot live with constant incertitude, so the early humans developed two anguish allaying mechanisms. The first one was repetition: rhythm, dancing, singing, rituals: I already mentioned some scholars who suggest that human ritual behavior reduces anxiety. Tradition has the same effect: doing things the same way they had be done since many generations. Consequently, the early humans were astonishingly conservative. Over more than a million of years, the form and material of their hand-axes showed virtually no change. In their named world, the most important tradition and ritual was the danced singing of the creation story every night around the camp fire.

The second anguish-allaying factor became belief: a firm inner conviction that things are the way we want them to be, or at least are the way somebody with status and/or authority says they should be. In primitive times humans were not yet acquainted with the concept of authority: in the group, they were more or less equal. Therefore the most important parts of their belief were not based on some kind of authority, but rather on magic (fear allaying ritual actions) and myth (tradition-based elucidations of the world).

Until our scientific times, it was never important whether a story was true. It mattered only if it was a good (useful) story, a story which people wanted to be true, which was felt to be relevant to their existence. Just like in a later era, in the time of patriarchal society, the story of the birth of Eve out of a rib of Adam became a good story because it was just what the men wanted to hear, as a reinforcement of their supremacy. Such stories had to be true.

The thus acquired certitude enabled our ancestors to intervene in their environment. As I said before: names for the things also gave them (a feeling of) power over the things. linguality created a distance between the understanding brain and the object, the understood thing or phenomenon. Humankind became a factor in nature that mastered a mental but also an instrumental power over the world, the first critical intervention in the natural environment being the control of fire. The inner conviction that some ritual words – such as incantations, charms or spells – evoke magical forces that can create or destroy, is just as ancient. Knowing somebody’s name gives a feeling of power over him. Naming somebody can be felt as disrespectful, or even be understood as violating the named one’s integrity (which is why in several traditional religions, including Judaism, the actual name of the feared powers (be it natural elements such as a tiger or a volcano, or the gods, or a single God) may not be spoken aloud.

As another consequence of having names for the things, the ability to exchange complex thought scenarios with each other became a powerful new strategy: two know more than one, and people now could share their thoughts and overcome the biggest problems. Essentially, this is the power of democracy.

Some other consequences need to be mentioned here. Between the lingual creatures and their environment, an apparatus of thousands of concepts (the sign language codes associated with representations in the brains) arose, which created a ‘virtual’ world. All things in our world are named things, but how can we be sure that this is the only world? Many philosophers (Plato with his cave metaphor; Kant with the thing as representation and the thing in itself) wrestle with the feeling that, besides the world we know, there is a another or even more real world, but one which slips out of our hands as soon as we try to name and know it: talking about it is by definition not possible. Perhaps this philosophical ‘second’ or ‘real’ world exists in the larger part of our thinking: lingual consciousness takes only 20% of our actual thinking.

A last important consequence was the emergence of the bastion of holiness. Our ancestors kept their incertitude at bay with belief and magic rituals. They believed when and where they couldn’t know for sure: these beliefs were imagined certitudes, pseudo-elucidations, not based on hard evidence. Deep in their minds, incertitude lived on. So the necessary elucidations were canonized into holy elucidations. Holy is unassailable, untouchable: something holy may not be doubted or called in question. But this runs counter to the progress of our lingual consciousness, our knowing, our rationality. To the only ability which can really free us from incertitude. This contradiction between holiness and rationality is the most dramatic consequence of our growing into lingual creatures.

By briefly discussing these important consequences of the emergence of our named world, a world consisting of named things, I hope to have given some meaningful context to my new up-filling of the concept linguality.

 10. religion explained

Religion Explained: The Evolutionary Origins of Religious Thought is the title of a 2001 book of Pascal Boyer, a French-American anthropologist. Because of its actuality and its daring title it is a much discussed and translated book. Most of the reviews, however, are not very enthusiast, complaining of its dry and abstract philosophical and cognitive-psychological argumentation. Even more serious is the conclusion that the book does not really explain the phenomenon of religion. Boyer himself excuses this lack of satisfactory explanation with the statement that “religion is not a single entity resulting from a single cause.”[1]

But is he right? Couldn’t religion in essence be just that: a single entity resulting from a single cause? For the humanosopher, who explains consciousness as lingual consciousness, the obvious mission here is to unravel the real evolutionary origin of religious thought.

Our ancestors, now armed not only with stones and sticks but also with fire[2], spread from the tropics to the temperate zones in Africa and Eurasia. It was a slow migration: about 30 miles per generation. When a successful group became too numerous, tensions arose and then soon a little group of young women, children and men would decide to move to a new territory. I assume that this land may already have been known because adolescents had to make a long journey as part of their initiation in adult life – upon their safe return, they were able to recall for the remainder of their lives the faraway regions and people they had encountered on their journey.

The settlers of new territories were the first humans who gave the mountains, rivers, lakes, marshes, fruit trees and wild animals their names. For humans, lingual consciousness became more dominant than the instinctive consciousness of other animals: in that lingual part of our mind, things exist to the extent we have a name for it. For our ancestors, as lingual creatures, those first name-giving settlers were the creators of their tribal territory. People always had (and still have) the practice of defining a total group as one person (The American for all Americans, The Australian for all Australians) and in a similar way, our ancestors spoke of The Big Ancestor.

I dare not to speculate exactly when and where this process began. The first hard evidence (in my opinion) of how these humans expressed the experience of their world in danced singing, is Bilzingsleben: an archaeological site in Germany, a H. heidelbergensis campsite from

370.000 years ago (Reinsdorf interglacial). This is the first known place with evidence of a special dance place between 3 huts[3].

clip_image002[8]reconstruction Bilzingsleben camp site of Early Humans, 370.000 years ago

These Early Humans were lingual creatures. But humans are part of the animal world. In their own mind, they were not lingual creatures but animals. Honestly spoken, not even in our mind, dear reader, we ourselves are lingual creatures. I mean: we are not continuously aware of it. Just like fishes are not aware of water. The Early Humans felt they were animals originating from a special kind of animal. Their way of thinking was totemistic.

We may compare the Early Humans’ step into new territories with a newborn baby’s entrance into a new world. Right after the sudden and painful experience of birth, felt as a cruel separation, newborn babies would like to be part of their mother again, just as they had been before. They feel strangely isolated. During the long time they sleep, this isolation is felt less acute, especially when the usual moves, shakes and sounds continue. But when awake, they need the unceasing and loving attention of their mother and others to give them the confidence of safety. Slowly and gradually, neurological programming can then do its work letting them grow up, step by step, to normal childhood and maturity.

The same step by step development characterizes the experience of the environment (world) of our ancestors. As lingual creatures they lost the instinct security of their ancestral animal world, coming more and more to live in a named world; a world full of named things. In the previous chapter we saw how they cope with the loss of the instincts security, but the anthropological literature is full of descriptions of how pritives or their shamans try to get in toutch with that formal animal carelessness.

The Early Humans were confronted with an ever growing number of names for an ever growing number of things. This mass of names would grow into a chaos in their heads if this mass lacked any structure. The most obvious structure herein is the story: the linear a-to-z telling. This structuring function was accomplished by their creation story: the ritual story of how their world had begun and developed, inclusive humans, up to how it was now. (Their ‘world’ was the tribal territory, and ‘humans’ were the people of their tribe. People of other tribes, with strange languages, were not real human because “they couldn’t even talk”; but they could become human by adoption or marriage: by incorporation in the tribe, which for them was humanity.)

We today, being lingual creatures, are in this respect not really different from Early Humans: we still need to comprehend our world in a story. It strings loose facts and events together into a coherent whole that provides meaning. When a moving, stirring event befalls us, we feel a strong need to tell it to others: we feel sharing it is the best way to come to terms with it. For the humanosopher, the loss of the monotheistic creation story in the free world’s consumers society, without replacing it with a new and more suitable alternative, is the cause of the moral decline. Our conscience has no longer a common, universally shared basic story. In the Introduction I referred to Tony Judt and his tormenting concern. In www.homanosophy.org  I not only repeat this origins story and our today’s critical situation, but also present a potential solution.

Back to Homo heidelbergensis, perhaps the first lingual creatures. The little group of young women, children and men who settled new territories, were the first ones to give the things in that territory their names. For lingual creatures, this is what defines the existence of things. For their descendants, the ancestral settler group was personified in ‘epic concentration’, The Big Ancestor.

We need to emphasize here that this tribal Big Ancestor is in no way synonymous with the figure of God as worshipped in today’s main monotheist religions (Judaism, Christianity, Islam). That modern God was constructed 400,000 years later: only a few thousand years ago. We will discuss the recent origins of this monotheistic God concept in the next chapter. The tribal “Big Ancestor” we are talking about here and who has companied us some 2 millions of years, was not regarded as a specific person but rather as a reference to the mythical ancestral group and its world before. A very different concept: I was not a man, nor a woman, nor some kind of animal: it had it all.

So the early Big Ancestor is in essence ourselves – it personified the first little settlers group – and even later thinkers and shamans have always remained aware of this. In the classic Greek-Roman culture of the first century BC, this still was the central and deepest mystery of the Mystery Cults and of the Gnosis movement: that God is ourselves. Let us take a closer look at her/him/it, in the form he still figures as a central force in the creation stories of present-day ‘primitive’ populations such as the Australian Aboriginals.

The creation story of such tribes still tells how in a long-ago Dreamtime[4], the Big Ancestor entered the tribe land on a special place and began to journey all through the known world. Everywhere on his journey She/He/It deposited mountains, lakes and trees and all the special features of the land. She/He/It also left, in a special place, the little souls who could fly into the wombs of women who passed by that place, the same place to where the souls return after death. The Big Ancestor could travel through the sky or under the ground. Once finished with his creation effort, She/He/It departed from the land through a special hole in the ground: the land now was ready for the tribe.

Special creations (mountains, trees, animals etc.) were also important Figures in the Story, with special tasks or abilities. This Story of the creation of their world was so important to them, that they believed their world would come to an end when they no longer sung-and-danced their world. And that makes sense: it was a named world for them. And it still is for us – but we are familiar with the fact that the world goes on even when we are never dancing-and-singing it.

In the dawn of humanity there never was a tribe without a sung-and-danced Creation Story. Over thousands of generations of singing-and-dancing the essence of our world and our community, this practice has become so-to-speak a part of our genome. It lives on within each of us as our religious feeling. We are born with the expectation of experiencing a sung-and-danced representation of the world and togetherness. When a baby cries, it will be quiet or even begin to smile when mama sings-and-dances with the baby in her arms. This is the base of the religious feeling that remains with us even when we are convinced secularists or atheists. It is this ancestral practice of dancing-and-singing the world that makes us “incurably religious” as theologian Dorothee Sölle defined it[5], even though she herself did not see the link.

This instinctive reaction does not just apply to babies. Many grown-ups will feel an urge to dance when hearing dance music. In a similar way, many people will experience deeply rooted feelings when hearing religious music such as the Matthäus Passion or In Paradisum. And in fact, the chants by the public in football stadiums do also have the same effect.

All these common, instinctive reactions to singing and music led me to presume that the sung-and-danced creation stories by our ancestors played an important role in the group cohesion, which is why this social song-and-dance mechanism is basically still working even in the nature of western people today.

The insight in how our ancestors lived their named world, we learned to understand by studying the mentality of the Aboriginals. The creation story as described above, they name it a Dreaming. When we muse upon the mentality of our western ancestors, not of the Middle Ages or the Roman period, but let us say of the Cro-Magnons, the ‘artists’ of Chauvet or Lascaux, then we can see them as the Australian Aboriginals of today, and imagine their mentality. Their Dreamings had already evolved over thousands of generations, along with the evolution of the prehistoric economy. But still their mythology, their rites and laws, and their sung-danced Dreamings, were highly interrelated. Ritual and ceremony, especially the initiation rites of the girls – and later of the boys – were a means of uniting these facets in a re-creation of the past. They knew all the features of their domain softly singing the Dreaming of it. The hunter never got lost because every feature he met, was part of his Dreaming. Outside his domain he was a stranger in a strange land, bereft from the comforting support of his Dreaming. The Cro-Magnons  were – and the Aboriginals are – acting in the never-ending drama of spiritual life. Their physical needs can only be met by full participation in the rites that link them with spiritual forces and spiritual beings. The Cro-Magnons were, and the Aboriginals still are, ‘incurable religious’. And also we are, in our deepest unconscious realms. It is in our genes. 


[1] “Religion Explained’ reminds me of “Consciousness Explained” by Daniel Dennett: this book didn’t explain consciousness either

[2] this position seems seriously questioned in the recent PNAS article of Roebroeks and Villa (March 2011) “On the earliest evidence for habitual use of fire in Europe”. However, they emphasize that their research concerned (a) the European fire use and (b) the producing of fire: they didn’t question the use of fire by keeping smoldering charcoal obtained from a natural fire (c) even daily fire users such as the Mbuti and Andamans aren’t able to make fire! But nevertheless they are never without it, becaus every woman carries with her a burning ember wrapped heavily in fire-resistant leaves; the first thing they do when they stop on trail for a rest is to unwrap the ember and, puting some dry twigs around it, blow softly once or twice and transform it into a blazing fire. (See Colin Turnbull The Forest People. NY 1962) Aboriginal women always carry with her a smouldering branch of special wood. How could archaologists after a couple of years find a trace of such a randomly use of fire?

[3] I was glad to read that Steven Mithen in his book Singing Neanderthals (2006) describes this same excavation, with the “demarcated space for performance (!) … to sing and dance, to tell stories through mime, to entertain and enthrall …” [‘mime’: Mithen has no idea of linguality, and even speculates that Neanderthals had not yet language!]

[4] an important concept of the Aboriginals, but one that is found with ‘primitive’ populations all over the world: it indicates the time of the beginning of being human, when the ancestors felt themselves still being animals, a part of the animal world, not yet lingual creatures with their existential incertitude as ‘worrying apes’

[5] Dorothee Sölle (1929 – 2003) was a German liberation theologian and writer who coined the term Christofascism

11.  noble wilds

Our ANBOS, the Homo erectus people, the Homo heidelbergensis people, the Neandertal people, the early AMHs (Anatomical Modern Humans, our immediate ancestral kind), all unknown with effects of overpopulation,  were noble savages. Noble savages no less or no more than the antelopes and the elephants and the hyenas are.

99,5 % of the time of our kind our ancestors were gatherer-hunters, and essentially we retain the gatherer-hunter nature of harmony and peacefulness – at least the longing for it. For fierce people like the Yanomamö  anthropologists and missionaries reported low spirits and desperation among those groups. Unfortunately, the same anthropologists and missionaries fail to offer any explanation for this unhappiness among these tribes. My personal hypothesis is that such desperation may be caused by people like the Yanomamö not being able – due to overpopulation stress factors – of a lifestyle according to their innate nature of peaceful humanity.

Today most primitive societies are horticulturalist. We see a sharp distinction between the ancestral GH-behavior (equality between the sexes and the generations, complete absence of exercise of power, in short ‘noble savage’-behavior) and the interpersonal relationships of humans since the overpopulation situation changed human behavior. The best short-term we may use here for cultures showing this more recent behavior is AGR, as this suggests both aggression and agriculture. However, horticulturalists are not yet farmers. They slash and burn a field in the jungle where they grow sweet potatoes or plantains, and usually live in longhouses or shabonos. For some months each year, they happily take up their old gathering/hunting life, but most of the time they need to guard their village against hostile neighbors. War makes men important. AGRs are what becomes of GHs in an overpopulation situation.

Today there are scarcely people who still live as pure GHs. Even in the most remote territories the economic life has changed; even people who see themselves as GHs, do part-time farm work, keep some cattle or have some additional form of income. But in their child-rearing and communal lifestyle they still keep their old GH-tradition as a valuable heritage, and are proud of it.

The only anthropologist who studied the life of GH-people in comparison with the life of horticulturalists and primitive farmers is Hugh Brody.[1] To give an impression of the GH-mentality, here are some quotes from of his book The other side of Eden (London, 2001):

In a tent made from hides – but it can also be an igloo or a government’s prefab – the baby awakes. She is taken up, cuddled, breast-fed, and people are talking to her: she hears the voices of people in the room. Above all the familiar voice of her mother who says she’s drinking fine. It is her own decision if and when she drinks or stops drinking. The sounds of voices are reassuring to her. When she dozes off after drinking, she goes in mothers amautik, the baby carrier that is part of the parka, against mothers back. The mother senses by the baby’s movements when her child must relieve herself; then she takes the baby and holds her above a proper place, talking in a cheerful tone. While wiping her clean, mother says: “Now you’re done again my fatty, my darling.”

Grandfather comes near for a while and says, with his face close to hers: “Dear little wife of mine! You are my little wife? Yes, you are!” The mother smiles and holds her daughter up: “Mother? Yes, you are my mother!” Because the baby was born shortly after the passing away of her grandmother, she is seen as the atiq, the ghost of her grandma, and she has inherited her grandmother’s name too. Though all babies are cherished, an atiq is extra loved and adored as an obvious link in the chain of generations.

Babies are treated with respect – like everybody is treated with respect. Babies get all they want. They may sleep when they want, they never are brushed off because babies can never do something wrong[2].

From the beginning of their life children listen to stories. Nothing is concealed for the child: it picks up only what it can handle. Grandfather tells of the creation of the sea mammals, the principal prey of the Inuit. Stories with all sexual and bloody details, and mysteries. The children listen as long as they want, often hearing the same stories repeated, growing up with them. They see how adults respect each other and that everybody has her/his special abilities and tasks. They learn the names of the animals and plants effortlessly and grow up as Inuit.

All anthropologists who have studied the scarce GH-communities, report the same: notwithstanding the desert- or icy cold character of their environment, people are strikingly healthy and happy. They all interact with their children, with each other, with animals and plants in a respectful way. Nature is hard and merciless, meaning that for GHs, existence itself is precarious. On awakening, you will not always know for sure whether you will find something to eat that day. But for them and their ancestors, it had always been like this. Today, the few remaining GHs still are living like the social animals from which we all descend. Yes: noble savages.

Perhaps the example of the Inuit is not adequate: even among Inuit, warfare is known. Any overpopulation stress will induce violations of their aboriginal behavior. Can we find better examples? Australian aborigines? No: even these aboriginals used to live under overpopulation stress, at least in the most attractive parts of this dry continent. The San people of South Africa? Sounds better. But even the San in their history have been reduced into evermore paltry regions, by intruding Bantu agriculturalists and pastoralists, and this could be regarded as a kind of overpopulation stress. The same applies to the Pygmies of the Ituri forest.

The utmost aboriginal GH population seems to be the Hazda, living in north-central Tanzania around Lake Eyasi in the central Rift Valley and in the neighboring Serengeti Plateau. Considering genetic evidence and click language, their closest kinship is with the San people, but nevertheless the difference is obvious. It is not too bold to assume that they are the descendants of a population that never migrated from the beginning of AMM’s in Africa. Assuming that migration may include population pressure.

But as to determining a contemporary control group for pure GH-behavior, reflecting the lifestyle of our early ancestors, we take Hazda, Bushmen and Ituri Pygmies, and retrieve the following four characteristics:

- each person is equally entitled to food, regardless of his or her ability to find or capture or process it: food is shared
- nobody has more wealth than anyone else; so all material goods are shared
- nobody has the right to tell others what to do; so each person makes his own decisions; even parents don’t order their children around
- group decisions have to be made by consensus; hence no boss, ‘big men’, chief
- as regards shamanism: only Bushmen know shamans
- initiation fundamentally concerns girls, as celebration of first menstruation

We assume that professional ethnologists can sum up more GH-groups sharing these five characteristics.


[1] Hugh Brody is a British anthropologist, writer, director and lecturer. He was born in 1943 and educated at Trinity College, Oxford. He taught social anthropology at Queen’s University, Belfast. He is an Honorary Associate of the Scott Polar Research Institute at the University of Cambridge, and an Associate of the School for Comparative Literature at the University of Toronto

[2] GH’s do not yet have that automatic distrust of human nature that we, AGR’s, civilized and thus frustrated humans, may have developed; GH’s see humans still as essentially good natured; GH’s impute special qualities and capacities to babies and children, on account of their being good natured: capacities which they as adults think to have lost

 12. overpopulation

Why we aren’t noble wilds any longer now? That’s a result of our success  as lingual creatures.

In other texts such as in www.humanosophy.org I explain the origin of our immediate ancestors, the AMHs: by switching from pure sign language (with the voice in a helping role) to pure spoken language (with gesticulation in a helping role). This made them a little bit more individualistic, a little less subjugated to the immovable conservatism of their ancestors. It brought them to use new materials than the prescribed flint cobbles (bone, horn, and ivory) for making more sophisticated tools (harpoons, fish hooks); access to new food sources (fish and other water animals, shells and other sea food). It made bigger living groups possible: some 150 or more people. It caused faster group break-ups and new settlings, so ever more groups, and a second Out of Africa movement (after the first as Homo erectus people). They spread along the coastlines of the Middle East, of India to the far East, reaching Australia in the end.

Spoken language made them a little more individualistic. It made them more open to new ideas and methods. I do not say that sign language hampers new ideas. But the groups of the Early Humans such as the Neandertals were small, mostly no more than 25 people. It was the archaic way of life that not could support bigger groups. In a small group a new idea gets little support and dies in fairness. But in a large group you find easy support from one or more young fellow thinkers. More frequent contacts between more groups new ideas and methods can easily spread.

Our immediate ancestors, the speaking AMHs, multiplied as rabbits. Some 74,000 years ago the Toba volcano exploded and caused a catastrophic extinction of plants, animals and ancestors. But after six years plants and animals slowly revived. In South Africa AMH-groups had survived the bad time with the ice age, and the tough Neandertals had survived in Southern Europe and the Middle East. A warmer time followed, and the AMHs multiplied again, as rabbits. As a plague. 65.000 years ago a second gulf of AMH-groups left Africa. This Out of Africa-B movement spread along the coastlines again, to India and the far East, but this time also to Europe, the region of the Neandertals.

Within 10.000 years the advancing AMH-groups, with their greater numbers and more sophisticated weapons,  drove the Neandertals to  ever more remote and less likeable regions, leaving them no openings for  contact with other Neandertal groups. These last of Early Humans died out 30,000 years ago. 

13. overpopulation and gender roles

Our species started in very harmonious groups with the women as the dominant gender. Survival on the savannahs was extremely precarious. Groups living in harmony flourished better than groups with tensions: natural selection advanced harmony within the groups or tribes. Millions and millions of years of harmony is what made us the most social beings in nature, while the other side of our nature – violently defending ourselves and our kin – was pushed far away to the background. On the sparsely populated savannahs, such violent behavior was just not needed for survival.

Why then are men the dominant gender now? Why did Plato and Hobbes – we name some cultural pessimists – live in a time of civil war and slavery? Why then a Holocaust, Nanking massacre or, more recently, the Rwanda tribal mass murder? Why was our natural tendency to live in harmony overshadowed by other, more violent tendencies? We find the answer in the chimpanzees, and the keyword is overpopulation.

We may assume the ancestors of the chimpanzees lived more harmoniously, more bonobo-like, than their descendants now, and again climate changes were a main cause here. Two and a half million years ago, the start of the Ice Ages caused a dryer climate, shrinking the rainforests area. This shrinking of their territories caused overpopulation among the ancestors of the modern chimpanzees, which incited a more fierce struggle for survival. Struggle and war made the males more important. In the fiercer competition between different groups, the groups with the most violent men had a better survival chance. This process repeated itself with each new Ice Age, over and over again, about twenty times. In the long run, this made chimpanzees more violent (unlike for example bonobos, who thanks to a different environment were able to retail their original nonviolent lifestyle).

For our ancestors, this situation of overpopulation started not 2 million years ago, but just some 60 thousand years ago in Northern Africa, where the Anatomically Modern Humans (AMHs) had appeared as descendants of a local African Middle Stone Age (MSA) population, who in their turn were descendants of the African Homo erectus.

At that point in time, overpopulation led not just to war, but also to male dominance. Male dominance means that men replaced women in highest status. In this hyper-religious phase of humanness it was tantamount to be leading in the adoration of the Ancestral Being. The tendency of males taking over this leading position from the women is illustrated in many cultural myths from all over the world, about males taking over the women’s holy flutes for their own ritual religious use.

For example, in the Pygmy culture, God is the forest, the Pygmies are His children. Pygmies adore their God in singing and dancing their holy songs, and on special occasions they go in the forest and bring out the molimo, the holy flute. Today, the molimo ritual has become a male business: women and children have to retire in their huts, with doors closed. But once a year women take over the ritual, showing that songs and dances and fire and molimo are women’s things. Men keep quiet, knowing that the women are right. After this performance, the women retire in their huts, satisfied to have made their point.

“God is the Forest” for the Pygmies … where is the Big Ancestor gone? The Figure that still exists for us, consumers, even when we no longer belief in the Only True Gof of the monotheisms? We still feel: “there has to be something …”. Oh yes, the Pygmies and the Bushmen still have the same Big Ancestor belief. Also the Pygmies and the Bushmen  have their special names for a Supreme Being. But for them He is more ephemeral, somethinh high in the sky, the beginning of everything. They have no special rituals or sung/dances for Him, He only exists. For their daily needs they communicate with the Forest, perform ritual dances and songs for important game animals or for environmental spirits. Later will women worship the Great Mother Earth, without losing their belief in a Supreme Being that is the beginning of everything. But never mind: our point now is male dominance.

Why did the males develop an urge to take over the dominant position from the females anyhow? The ancient division of tasks was that females cared for children and food and huts and fire, and that the task of the males was to provide safety (defense against predators) and later to hunt for the desirable meat. A perfect balance. Why to disturb this? Well, it were not the men who threw spanner in the works. It was the emerging overpopulation situation. The alance got disturbed. Providing safety from now also required fighting and being killed against raiding competing groups. A formidable task aggravation.  With no extra gratification. Males begant to grumble that they were more important for survival than females.

Bushmen first mernstruation feast Within the original perfect balance, women had a superior status because of their ability to bleed, to get pregnant, to bear children and to feed them with milk out of their breasts. It was this first bleeding that formed the culmination of female superiority. The first menstruation of the girls was celebrated in a special hut, wherein the girl, accompanied by her peers, was instructed by some older women in ancient dances and songs and in all knowledge that an adult women had to know. The young boys of the tribe, and even adult men and visitors from other groups, gathered around the elima (the menstruation hut), hoping for a glimpse of the young girls and listening to the songs and sometimes joining in.
(at right we see the same special hut, with women dancing and circling around, and in the outer ring young and adult onlookers … on a Bushmen cave drawing!)

In the new situation, where men felt that as defenders they had become more important and deserved more status, this splendid tradition of female celebration may have irritated the men. They wanted  an equally splendid  male celebration event, a same initiation ceremony for young men, in an initiation hut or whatever.

Until then, a boy became a man after his first big hunting prey, and that was it. But from now on, in many places in the world, in many populations and ‘cultures’, male initiation rituals appeared. Initially on remote and inaccessible places such as deep in the forest or dark cave halls. Because men had no own ceremonial accessories, they often robbed them from the women. As already said, often this involved the holy flutes.

Initially the male imitation of female initiation rites did not yet mean that men tried to acquire a superior position. Male rites took place stealthily, while male respect for the women remained largely intact. But in later times and in several places the male attitude evolved into machism: humiliating women into the status of inferiority, even of slavery.

The first step towards machism was men acquiring religious rituals that put them more or less on the same status level as women – as illustrated by the robbing of the ritual flutes.

The second step was that men were not satisfied with having acquired a status level more or less equal to that of the women, but that they began trying to acquire a higher status level than the women. They not only built a men’s initiation house in the village, and roughly separated young boys from their mothers and from the world of women, forbidding women and children to onlook. But they even forbid female initiation festivals at all.

Why did men not stop after step 1, that gave them a higher status? What made human males into machists? This is an important issue, because since the advent of ever more overpopulation stress until modern times women ever more have suffered from male violence and aggression, against our innate GH-nature. It is only recently (in our Western consumer societies) that women have begun to regain their ancestral equal status. So what may be the historical root of machism in humans?[1]

As a general hypothesis, we may suppose that machism is characteristic for some horticulturalist tribes that live in overpopulation stress all over the world, but not for all of those. First, an example of a group where male dominance has been established, but without machism. An example are the Amazonian Xavante, described by anthropologist David Maybury-Lewis. The Xavante have chiefs, have extensive boys initiation ceremonies, but without violence against women.

As an example of a band where not just male dominance, but also machism emerged, we propose another Amazonian band: the Yanomamö, described by Napoleon Chagnon. Their groups live in permanent threat of warfare. Chagnon observed[2] that young boys and girls are treated differently: the girls have to help their mothers at early age and spend a great deal of time working, while the boys spend their childhood playing with other boys. The boys are also encouraged to be fierce. When a toddler slaps his father in the face, father is glad and encourages his child to slap harder. From early childhood they see their mothers and sisters beaten up by their fathers and other men, for the slightest omissions. Even his mother encourages the young boy when he inflicts a blow on his sister. The boys are quick to learn their favored position with respect to girls.

How can this cultural attitude have emerged in a onetime egalitarian GH-society? Because an overpopulated world brought new situations, where for the first time women found their food sources plundered by intruders. In such a situation, they wanted fierce men to defend their food sources from stealing intruders. As overpopulation progressed, women also wanted fierce men to protect them against raiders who might abduct women who were collecting fire wood or garden produce.

In such a hostile overpopulation-world, the ‘fittest’ groups are the groups with the most violent males. Therefore, in these groups women will see violence as a good quality in males and promote this warrior-attitude in their men and sons.

There may be a deep-rooted female disposition working here. Something that reveals the deep-rooted difference between women and men. The female involvement in the propagation of their genes by means of a smaller number of eggs in comparison with the myriad of spermatozoa of men. It is known that gorilla females spontaneously lose their fruit when a new alpha gorilla won the fight with the old one. Because thei know what will happen. The first thing the new alpha will do is: killing the babies from the old alpha. The same happens at the chimpanzees: the first thing a new alpha will do is: killing the babies. The chimpanze females admit the new alpha, knowing that their offspring from him have the better chances to survive. And even our women today will adore a mighty man, how ugly or old he may be. Women are easily inclined to be loyal to the ruling power, even when it is a women-hostile monotheism. But I digress. Back to the men.

An example of how males began to justify their take-over can be seen at the Baruyas of Papua-New Guinea, studied by French anthropologist Maurice Godelier in 1967-88.[3] Baruyas are horticulturists, have gardens in which women grow taro and sweet potato’s. And they keep pigs. The Baruya men keep the kwaimatnié (flutes, rattles and other holy things) in the men’s house. At the age of nine the boys are brutally separated from their mothers and from the world of women,. To be taught, during years of initiation, that the flutes were originally the property of the women, and that one of the men’s ancestors stole the flutes from them. The men justify this expropriation by saying that the first women did not know how to put their powers in the service of the community. For instance, they killed too much game [sic], and were at the source of multiple disorders. It was necessary for men to intervene.

An even more illuminating example of initiation ceremonies of both genders, Colin Turnbull describes those among the Mbuti.[4] A girl’s first menstruation is one of the happiest, most joyful occasions in her life – and in the community also. The girl enters in the elima, a specially built grass hut, with all her young friends, those who have not yet reached maturity, and some older women. Pygmies from all around come to pay respects, the young men sitting outside the elima house in the hopes of glimpse of the young beauties inside. The girls inside sing special elima songs in a light, cascading melody, the men replying with a vital chorus. On some days, the girls burst out of the elima, wielding saplings, chasing after any particular boys they fancy. On being touched, a young man is honor-bound to enter the elima, where he may have his first sexual experience, attended to by a whole bunch of women. Over the next few days, a succession of youth may find themselves similarly initiated. The final test of a favored boy is, however, that he goes into the forest and brings back a large game animal.

The Mbuti belong, together with the Hadza and the San people, to our ‘control group’ for pure GH-behavior, reflecting the lifestyle of our early ancestors. But only the Hadza are really pure. The San and the Mbuti are coping with ‘modernity’: no longer fabricating knives and axes from flint cobbles, but using iron tools and kitchenware which they barter from farmers against labor and bush-meat. The Mbuti live already some 200 years in ‘cohabitation’ with Bantu farmers, and they not only largely lost their ancestral language, but even subject their boys to the Bantu initiation rituals, including circumcision.

14. circumcision, virginity and clitoridectomy

How came men to this barbaric and painful ceremony for their young boys at all? It is all result of overpopulation situation, of tribal warfare, of the seizure of power by the males. It is the result of male discontentment with status imbalance between men and women. To make their boys initiations as much as possible look like those of the women, the boys had to bleed too! For the Bantu culture it had got the form of circumcision, but in some other cultures, including some Aboriginal tribes, far more barbarous and bloody incisions are known. The Mbuti, how child friendly they may be, subject their boys on this Bantu ritual because Bantus consider only uncircumcised men as children, and the Pygmies are too proud to let consider themselves as inferior by those stupid Bantus.

One can see male preoccupation with virginity as a result of overpopulation stress and continuous warfare, wherein rape was a common phenomenon. Men could only be sure a young bride was not pregnant from another man when she was a virgin. So virginity became an institutional exigency for a high ranking men’s nuptial. The phenomenon is closely related to honor. “The concept of honor and virginity locate the prestige of a man between the legs of a woman,” Fatima al-Mernissi states[5].

Clitoridectomy, together with infibulation known as female circumcision, is the summit of male fear for women, and the most cruel form of circumcision. Remember that circumcision was from origin a result of overpopulation stress, warfare and male self-awareness after eons of female superiority: also boys needed initiation rituals, completely with blood. After thousands of years of male superiority, this origin was forgotten. In many regions of Africa and Eurasia, male superiority developed into machism: total subjugation of the wife to the husband and expulsion of women from all positions of power. In Africa, especially around Sudan (see this map from Wikipedia) patriarchs realized that women  retained one position of power over men: sex. When young men felt in love with a girl, he had to conquer her love. And she could buoy him in the chains of her attractiveness. This last stronghold of female power had to be knocked down. And why had their poor boys to undergo that painful circumcision and not the girls? The solution of both problems was: Clitoridectomy.

The more thoroughly the trimming of the female spots of pleasure, the better. The most practiced female ‘circumcision’ is the Pharaonic. Performed by traditional midwives. The entire clitoris is removed from the base, the labia minora are grasped with the hand and cut of. The inside edges of the labia majora are excised. Then the two sides of the wound are brought together end held together by various substances (egg and cigarette paper in the Eastern Sudan; thorns used as skewers in the Northern Sudan) until they close and heal, forming a smooth area of epidermis over the outside with a midline scar. The girl’s legs are bound together tightly at the ankles, knees, and thighs to prevent her from moving, so that the healing edges of the wound will not be disturbed. The aim is to make the opening into the vagina as small and tight as possible. In 1945 the British government outlawed Pharaonic circumcision in the Sudan, and urged to practice Sunna circumcision, being recommended by the Prophet. Today, however, only 2.5 percent of the women has had this less barbaric kind of operation …


[1] First of all: is it not a pure AGR-characteristic. Some Australian aboriginal groups know machism, while on the other hand the continent traditionally did not provide the basic condition for agriculture (grains, fruits or vegetables that can be conserved until the next year). Agriculture was imported only recently, by English colonists. So by tradition, all 263 Aboriginal tribes are GHs, but almost all tribes live in overpopulation situation.

[2] The Fierce People (1983), chapter 4

[3] ***

[4] Colin Turnbull The Forest People (1961)

[5] In Sultanes oubliées : femmes chefs d’État en Islam, Albin Michel / Éditions Le Fennec, 1990

15. onset of agriculture

The European AMHs  (Cromagnons) survived the cold winter times in winter residences in South France. There we meet the first aspects of overpopulation. The advancing ice drove the tribes together in the narrow refugia of South Europe, with inevitable struggle for hunting grounds. War makes men important. Up to this moment humans were noble wilds: equal, and with women as the gender with high status. Here and now we see the men take over the high gender status. We see them evolve their own initiation rites for the boys in remote places, deep in inaccessible caves. Killing time during the long winter months in the residences was no problem for the women: for them the daily work of nursing children, providing meals and sowing cloths went on. But the men had nothing to do. They passed time with wrestling, with telling and singing stories, and … with doing the most ingenious inventions, such as the fire bow and the arrow bow. Wolf puppies as pets led to domestication unto dogs. Our paleos have too little attention for the effects of time passing in the winter residences and see a ‘big cultural jump’ of the AMHs in ice age Europe as a flabbergasting event. Let them compare technology of the African San people with that of the ‘ice age’ Inuit. After the ice the European hunters followed their reindeers to northern regions and forgot their flabbergasting arts.

Another effect of the overpopulation is the onset of agriculture. Whilst males became warriors, females, hindered in their free gathering-around, were ever more careful for the useful plants in their teritory. They learnt that cleaning the places of peas and beans from undergrowth yielded more revenue. Of course they described this success to the mercy of the Great Mother Earth, In order to propitiate Her, they revered Her with dances and songs, and with special figurines, such as the reknown ‘Venus of  Willendorf’, from some 25.000 BC . Yet older is this ‘venus’ of Hohe Fels cave, already 35 years old.  

These first forms of growing food concerns peas and beans and te like. For the real agriculture: staple plant food that can be stored and sowed in the next growing season, we have to move to the Middle East.  After the ice, Middle East women started with cultivation and breeding.

You see: I’m now taking big steps: I want to start with monotheism now. Female charms and rituals became dominant again. When hunting yielded no longer, men could better help their women with plowing fields, harvesting and domesticating bovines. After the male invention of plow and wheel, men became farmers. The Neolithic villages were still peaceful and equal, with offerings on fertility goddesses as the dominant religion. The noble wild was still alive or back again. But not for long.

Trade business evolved. Dryness and other natural catastrophes could whole regions on the move to find a better place. Villages could get in the clinch because of access to water. War makes men important. Headmen became warlords. Warlords became kings. Surviving people after a lost war were enslaved. Farewell noble wilds!  Bronze Age, Iron Age: still farther away the noble wild. Most people were enslaved, lost their ancestral creation stories and languages. Religion became the religion of the winning king or emperor. But in our nature, in our deepest desires, people remained noble wilds, desiring for harmony, being the most livable lifestyle for humans.  

 

         

 CHAPTER TWO

THE IRON AGE AND THE RISE OF MONOTHEISM

 

The onset of the Iron Age (1300-600 BC) appears to have been triggered by a catastrophic drought and starvation, the breaking adrift of the Sea Peoples (pirates from Greece and Anatolia) and the devastation of Bronze Age civilizations such as the Hittite empire, the Mycaenean, and the Ugaritic civilizations, with at the same time a temporal decline of Egyptian and Mesopotanian civilizations. It was the beginning of warfare and raiding by horse-riding pastoral peoples from the Russian steppes. The decline of the Hittite empire contributed to the rise of the Assyrian empire that would dominate the Middle East for centuries. At the same time, the onset of the Iron Age started the decline of the ancient high status of women: in society in general, and particularly in the agricultural religions. The rise of monotheism around 600 BC established the definitive victory of male dominance in religion.

Is machismo the reason that monotheistic religions are so hostile towards women? For an answer, we need to look at the beginnings of monotheism. Monotheism is a product of the Late Iron Age, when ever more AGR-villages, originally peaceful and egalitarian, were subdued and enslaved and became part of bigger realms of warlords who had become to godlike emperors. Big Men and their guards kept harems of women, a young man could only get a young woman for himself after proof of real manhood: a killer of enemies. In short: monotheism is a product of horse-mounted warrior bands of dynamic young males who raided and robbed unarmed peasant villagers under the banner of their war god.

Originally, in the pantheon of the empires of the Iron Age these war gods were just lower gods under the Upper god, the heir of the Big Ancestor figure in the ancestral creation stories.

The pantheon was an anthropomorphic image of a royal court, with the father on the head of the table of the gods, and his daughters and sons as the lower gods. The original father god was El, also among the Jews (as the name Isra-el suggests).  

One of the lower gods at the royal table was the Storm God. All over the Middle East, young warriors interpreted this storm god as their special god of war, and began to offer their sacrifices to this war god instead of to the upper god. In the glorious times of king Omri and his son Achab, when the superpowers Egypt and Assur suffered under the attacks of the Sea People, the little kingdom of Israel (881-822 BC) conquered a modest empire (including Juda). This success was ascribed to Omri’s war god, Yahweh. This same development, gradually replacing a peaceful upper god by a lower war god, can be seen in the whole region: the Babylonian god Marduk was initially a lower war god. Baal, from Ugarit, evolved from a storm god under father El. And so on.

 

Zoroastrianism

The first formal monotheism was founded by Zarathustra. Around 800 BC, this Bactrian priest saw with grief the decline of the old tribal morality. He saw warriors offering to the war god while neglecting of the old Upper god of the tribe. Zarathustra preached the Supreme god Ahura Mazda (‘big lord’), who had to be adored in the pureness of the temple’s fire, and who should be served by noble behavior: thinking good things, saying good words and doing good deeds.

17th century representation of the main elements of Zoroastrian belief  

In the following centuries this new belief, Zoroastrianism, got many followers in Mesopotamia. It posed the belief in one God, The Lord, who was not worshipped in the form of a physical statue. Central in this belief was a dualistic tendency: a continuous struggle between good and evil, as represented by good and bad behavior, by angels and devils, by heaven and hell. It also assumed an ‘end of times’ and a ‘last judgment’. It promised a Messiah, a resurrection, and paradise in a hereafter. For the fire rituals in its temples, it prescribed extensive purity. In short, it was a totally new and modern belief for its time. In comparison with other contemporary religions, Zoroastrianism was more women-friendly and more tolerant.

Judaism  

Around 700 BC in Jerusalem, the Yahweh priests also needed a new belief. However, not in concern with the moral behavior of the people, but rather with a view on the people’s money. What was the situation? Since centuries, the Jewish farmers were subdued and bled by either the Egyptians or the Assyrians. But in an interlude around 700 BC both superpowers happened to be temporarily impotent, so for the Israeli Yahweh priests this offered an exquisite opportunity to execute an old plan. A similar plan had been tried out a century before, but then it had failed; now the situation was more promising.

A short culture-historical explanation is perhaps helpful now. The Jewish population consisted mainly of farmers, who tried to ensure the yield of fields, orchards and herds by offerings on a manifold of altars and ‘holy heights’ all over the land. Because agriculture is from origin a female business – the vegetable world was the women’s domain – hunting was men’s business -  the fertility gods were still mostly goddesses and the rituals mostly female ‘magic’, like everywhere in the primitive agrarian world. Only when the productivity of hunting collapsed, in the long run the men understood that it was better to help the women on the fields. And possibly it were men who helped in the corrals, domesticated bovines, invented the plow and the cartwheel, and trained oxes to pull plows and carts. From then on men became full time farmers. However, the female goddesses remained the mayor part of their spiritual world, until the Judaic patriarchs in 622 BC developed monotheism and men definitively the woman expelled from religion say.  

Zoroastrianism is one of the first forms of monotheism. Originated in the frustration of the tribal priests by the skewed offering of the young warriors to only the war gods. The loss of their ancestral morality inspired Zarathustra (and presumably other priest, such as Methusalah) to create new rituals and offerings to the ancestral Big Ancestor, the Creator of their tribal world. Zarathustra’s God was Ahura Mazda (Great Lord). Zoroastrianism survived and was an extraordinary humanist religion, that brings out the best of every person. Fostering equality and respect to other religions.
The Judaist patriarchs of Jerusalem were motivated by a political idea: to concentrate all the agricultural products of the Jewish tribes to one and only altar: that of their temple. Why? The Jewish tribes were for centuries exploited by either Egypt or Assyria. Around 650 BC both empires were shortly powerless. The Israelic priests – decennia before fled to Jerusalem in Juda – thought this situation a chance to gather as much money as possible to create an own standing army, so that they would be released from the usurpation by the superpowers, and possibly to become a superpower themselves! A splendid idea, moreover fueled by the opportunity of a young and willing king. In 586 BC the magnificent plan chattered and the priest were expatriated to Babylon. The Babylonian king was a Zoroastrist, and Zoroastrianism was one of the popular religions in that metropolis. The Judaist priests used all kinds of stories and zoroastric elements (angels, heaven and hell, struggle between good and bad, final judgment, messianism) to fit up their shabby Jahwism. Alas, they added three own elements: hostility against women, hostility against every other religion and divine election delusion. This made judaism to a bad religion. And alas, it has been this bad religion that became base of christianism and islam.

    Christianity  

Christianity started as a Jewish sect around the beginning of our common era. It was initiated by a higher educated middle class Jew Paulus, who wanted to modernize Jewish religion. The Jews were part of the Roman empire, where mystery cults already had become very popular, especially among the higher educated middle class. Several Greco-Roman mystery cults concentrated on a cult hero (Osiris, Adonis, Bacchus, Apollo et al.) who sacrificed himself for the saving of the believers and resurrected.

amulet from mystery cult of Orpheos Bakkos, who sacrificed himself for the saving of his believers, and resurrected, every year on the same holy days  

These cults were ‘mystery cults’ because it were competitors of the official antique religions. All too openly rituals would have provoked actions of the official Jupiter priesthood, so the initiates had to swear secrecy. The mystery cults of Greco-Roman antiquity included not just the Eleusinian, the Dionysian and the Orphic mysteries: every big town had one or more specific cult varieties. One could be initiated in more than one Mystery cult and at the same time remain a formal believer in the official state religion.

A special mystery cult was the Mithraism, which was widespread in the Roman military legions.  

Initially, the Tarsisian Paulus adhered foremost the ‘Christians’, a Jewish sect in Jerusalem and Antiochia, followers of an executed Messiast-prophet Jesus. But after disagreement with other leaders of the sect he went back to his home town Tarsus, where he hatched the idea of a Jewish mystery cult around a Jewish hero Jesus. After fifteen years he renewed the contact with the Christians of Antiochia and joined them again. He undertook four proselytizing journeys in the Roman world, preaching a mystery-cult-like Christianity.  

In the meantime the Jerusalem leaders created their own episcopal variant of Christianity. The origin of the religious office of bishop lay in the proselytic character of Christianity. This Jerusalem version proselytized under the mass of the poor, not only with the gospel of a happy hereafter, but also with alms. The money for that came from rich supporters (mostly wealthy women) who were convinced by the idea of an imminent end of the world and a fitting disposal of one’s wealth. The apostles continued Jesus’ approach with increasing success. They needed special helpers to manage the gifts and to organize the feeding of the poor. The supervisor was the επίsκοπος, the bishop: a function of growing importance in every Christian community (church).

 Until the year 180, five variants of Christianity existed:
1. Ebionites. The simple descendants from the first community of Jerusalem. Before the year 70 (the siege and destruction of the town) they had escaped to Transjordania. For these original Christians Jesus was no God but rather an excellent human who was adopted by God as his son on the occasion of his baptizing by John the Baptist in the river Jordan.
2. The Marcionites, followers of Marcion, who rejected the Jewish bible and accepted women as equal prophets.
3. The Arians, followers of Arius, an Alexandrian priest who stated that Jesus, being son of God, was created by God and therefore, like the Holy Ghost, was of a lower status than the Father God.
4. The Paulinic and gnostic Christians, mostly living around Alexandria. Gnosticism would remain one of the strongest competitors of the episcopal church concept until well into the 4th century.
5. The episcopal church, that turned out to be the ultimate winner. In 180 the bishop of Lyon, Irenaeus, started an attack against the gnosticism. In his clever and influential book Adversus Haereses, he qualified the gnostic writers as heretics. Irenaeus also argued that the Roman church ought to be the principal seat of Christianity. After Irenaeus, church father Tertullianus continued the attack against gnosticism, Marcionism and all other deviant views. He also demonized women as a lower form of humans, considered to have been created from a ribbon of Adam, and to be deceptive ports of the devil.  

The main difference between the gnostic and the episcopal concepts had to do with the role of the individual believers. In gnosticism, individual faith was based on the personal, emotional contact with (and experience of) Divine Truth. In this respect, gnosticism was built on a principle similar to (in some respects borrowed from) the earlier pagan mystery cults. What mattered, were your personal feelings: your individual relation with Jesus. In the episcopal variant, individual faith was in the first place some kind of conviction that you shared with all other members of the community: something that had to be agreed upon. In the long run, agreeing about the actual content of belief became a matter of decision left to the bishops: believers just had to accept such decisions – or else they would be kicked out of the community. Gnosticism, while attractive for those just-converted believers who wanted to maintain some personal, half-pagan elements in a new Christian context, thus formed a threat to the more formally organized episcopal ecclesia, and in particular to the authority claimed by its bishops. The church fathers demonized individual ‘gnosticism’, and praised commonly shared, doctrinal ‘belief’ as the supreme virtue.  

The struggle between the different variants of Christianity came to a height in the 3th and 4th centuries. It was eventually won by the episcopal variant, partly because this one was the best organized, and partly as a result of political developments.  

In 250, when the Roman emperor Decius started a persecution of the Christians, more and more young Christians were actually seeking a public form of martyrdom. In prison they wrote letters, with eulogizing and gnostic content. Friends and admirers outside prison edited and popularized these letters, spreading often contradicting ideas end views. It became important to establish some kind of formal, common doctrine in order to safeguard ecclesiastical unity. The leaders of various Christian communities gathered in councils to agree upon an official doctrine. In these councils, decisions about the Christian doctrine were made by intensive discussions followed by voting. The majority decided what would become dogma, and what not. Actually this was a totally new phenomenon in the Greco-Roman religious world, perhaps in the entire human history. In the end, one might say that persecution of Christians led to a need for more organization, therefore strengthening the episcopal church concept.  

Greek-Orthodox icon depicting the main decision-makers at Constantine’s 325 Nicea council

 

Mother Isis with the Godchild Horus

In 313 the emperor Constantine felt the need to establish one universal religion for his entire empire. At that time, Mithraism had become widely accepted, especially in the legions. But the Mithras cult was a personal affair, not a collective doctrine. Mithraism had no organisation, no councils. So Constantine choose the episcopal form of Christianity, because of his unity and organization, which also offered him an effective instrument for morally disciplining the masses. However, a problem was that within Christianity, there still was an acute conflict between different groups regarding doctrinal points: especially about the divinity of Jesus, or rather about the scope and extent of His divinity. Therefore in 325 Constantine organized a big council to end such quarrels once and for all. From then on, Christianity was official state religion with a divine trinity established by vote. With the support of the mighty emperor, Christian zealots began to destroy statues, temples, book scrolls, cult objects and other hallmarks of non-Christian beliefs.

On the other hand, one should not forget that even within the strict episcopal concept of Christianity, many old pagan elements were retained (although remodeled) in order to ease a smooth and widely supported conversion to Christian beliefs. The Trinity of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost reflected in some ways the old pantheon (Zeus and his sons) while the Virgin Mary was given a prominent place in order to provide a new, Christian alternative for the goddesses in the old pantheon.

   Islam 

 In recapitulation, in the Iron Age we see tribes, each cherishing their own ancestral Big Ancestor Figure, extending their own cultural sphere, either by war or by trade or a combination of both. Their need to reconcile different spheres implied the need for a shared Supergod Figure. John Bowker describes this trend in detail, in his God. A brief history (London, 2002): in the Nile Valley, in Asia, in India.  

A similar development took place in Arabia, home of the Islam. This dry peninsula, situated conveniently between Western Europe and the Far East, had become prosperous by transit trade, and also itself produced the main ingredients for the incense used in the religious rituals of the Greco-Roman world. Its wilderness and dryness kept the peninsula out of the reach of the Persian and Roman armies, so the prosperity of the Arab tribes kept booming. In the end, however, the Romans built harbors for tall ships on the Egyptian Red Sea coast which enabled them to bypass Arabia and to trade with India and China in a more direct way.  

Impoverished Arab tribes then moved north, only to be contained by both the Roman and the Persian empire in Arab buffer states on their borders, meant to limit Arab immigration. The same limes politics practiced the Romans on the northern German tribes of Europe.  For the Roman Byzantines the Ghassanids were the buffer state, and for the Persians the Gerrheans. In both cases, these buffer states were strong enough to supply the empire with soldiers; and both buffer states had already been influenced by Christian missionaries: the Ghassanids by ‘Monophysites’ and the Gerrheans by ‘Nestorians’. Both Christian denominations were hostile against each other. After a period of balance of power, Romans and Persians got in a deadly clinch, causing the collapse of the Persian empire which was subsequently taken over by the Arabs.  

In this situation, with a grown but now impoverished and desperate population, the Islam was born. Several prophets/gang leaders gathered bands of young warriors to benefit from the weakness of the superpowers. Mohammed was one of them. He got support of three rich friends, who believed in his idea of one Arabian supergod, like the Jewish and Christian gods: they hoped that such a common ideology would create the unity that was needed to end the trade-hampering ghazwas (tribal raids). With their money, Mohammed armed a gang of young mujahedeen (emigrants, hoping on a chance to emigrate to the northern lands with ‘ever flowing waters’).

When the Persian shah tried to annex Gherreah for more tax output, the Gherrean king opened the sluice for mujahedeen gangs, for help. Just when Mohammed arrived with his gang, the Shah had resigned from his plan and the Mohammed gang was not welcome: for Gherreans they were vole people with a western dialect and probably Monophysites!

The Mohammed gang returned to Mecca. There they found the gate closed: the Meccans were afraid from hungry troops. The gang of the friends risked expiring, but luckily arrived a request from Medina: for help in a quarrel with a Jewish tribe. Mohammed succeeded in help, and more: he made Medina his base. After several laborious years (and some narrow escapes) the friends became successful: when Mohammed died, half Arabia had been pacified by the new ideology.  

Mohammed’s leadership was continued by his friends Abu Bakr, Omar and Uthman from the Quraisj-clan, not by his adopted son Ali who was from Mohammed’s Hashim-clan. Under Abu Bakr, the entire Arabian peninsula was Islamized. Under Omar a big part of Persia, the Levant and Egypt followed. Under Uthman followed the rest of the Persian empire and more parts of North Africa. The Islam ideology had turned out a great success story.  

Mohammed had pretended that his ideas came from his God, Allah, transported to him by an angel. Like other prophets, he produced Jewish-Christian aphorisms to inspire his followers. In later days the remembered aphorisms have been gathered in a ‘holy’ book, Koran. This book, however, mainly consists of fragments of sermons of later imams which still referred to Jewish-Christian theological origins. Moreover, the sermons are hastily recorded by someone who incidentally mastered the art of writing. Those casual quotations became later part of the Holy Koran. When you read Soera 2 Al-Bacaira, you meet a clumsy narrative, when you compare it by the narratives in the Bible. But when you realize that you meet hastily recorded quotations of a sermon (comparative with the quotations in a college cahier), you recognize a Jewish/Christian sermon for an audience familiar with the content.   

692 Jerusalem Rock Dome inscription (mosaic)

 

The oldest inscription of the Islam, in the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem, is a theological-political statement of the Omajjid Caliph abd al-Malik meant to deny the claims of his monophysitic Byzantine opponent Heraclius. The inscription dates from 692 and reads: "Oh people of the Book, (…) the messiah Jesus son of Mary was only the messenger [muhammadu-n] of God (…) it is not on God to take a son …". So theologically, in 692 the Arabs were still involved in some Christian doctrinal discussion, but at the same time they were already developing their own specific theological framework – including special prescriptions such as salaat (obligatory prayers) and zakaat (tax).  

In 737, the Arab conquest machine was stopped by the Francs at Poitiers. To prevent disintegration of the enormous Arab empire, a common Arab creed was needed more than ever. So from now on, the Abbasid Caliphs would actively foster the further development of Islam as a specifically Arab denomination. The Koran, the sira (biography of the prophet) and the hadith (the conduct of the prophet) now got their definitive form and content. Also the fiqh (ethics) and the sharia (legislation) were formally written down.  

As mentioned above, Mohammed’s leadership was continued by caliphs of the Quraisj-clan and not by his adopted nephew Ali from his own Hashim-clan. After three Quraisj-caliphs, the Hashim-clan was on turn, but Ali was murdered soon by Muawija, nephew of the Omajjad Uthman. With Muawija the Omajjads got the power, in a series of 14 caliphs, from 661 to 750. The murder on Ali and his son Hussain was also the beginning of the schism between the Sunnis and the Shiites. Shiitism is mainly living in Iran and a part of Iraq. The rest of the Muslim world is mostly Sunni.

 

The later history of monotheism

At first sight, monotheistic religions seem rather stabile systems. Christianity endured in the Western states until the breakthrough of the free market and is still holding out in not free societies. The eventual breakthrough of the free market society in the Western states was made possible by the fact that in Europe the secular power always has been divided. The heads of state (emperors and kings) never succeeded in subjecting the local counts and dukes. To finance their wars they were forced to borrow money at the bankers of the cities, in return for liberties. Slowly the power shifted from the gentry to the bourgeoisie. The Church had to move along, at the expense of several schisms and separations like Protestantism and Anglicanism. All religious denominations kept their conservative character, and kept trying to slow down the inevitable innovation and progression.

The Islamite empire was progressive under the Abbasid dynasty until in 1258 the Mongols devastated Bagdad and killed the last Abbasid emperor. Around 1500 Portuguese and Dutch seafaring entrepreneurs got around the Islamite trade monopoly with the Far East, and this was the end of the Muslim golden age. The Islam was of no help. On the contrary, the Islamic patriarchs consequently prohibited all forms of innovation and progression. The Islam became a monolith of social conservatism and remained so to this day.

The Western bourgeoisie sucked in all the innovations of the eastern trade during the Abbasid era, (mostly Chinese) technological innovations such as paper making, gun powder, typography, wind- and watermills, scientific innovations such as algebra, medical and chemical science, and developed all these achievements in a laborious struggle with churches and landlords. But it is the economy that inspires the mentality of the intelligentsia. The Enlightenment was unstoppable. After the French Revolution in 1789, the European bourgeoisie got a firm grip on the market and the industry. The break-through of the free market after the sixties of the twentieth century was the death blow for monotheism.  

 

 

CHAPTER THREE

A NEW BELIEF AND HIS IMPLEMENTATION

 

We may assume that it is possible to create such a common new belief because we all have in common that we are human beings, with the same origin story and the same desire for happiness. We ought to share a belief in the power of humanity, based on the power of names for the things, the power of consulting each other, the power of democracy. The free market economy is slowly globalizing and will hopefully free more and more people. This process will progress more smoothly with the presenting of a story that, in the end, will have the power to replace old, restrictive religious views.  

the power of humans is

the ability to combine individual inventiveness  

We humans are a species that operates together, in a group context, like wolves and hyenas. By coordinated cooperation, the latter manage to capture even a much bigger and stronger prey such as a gnu. We humans are not as speedy and don’t have the strong bite of wolves and hyenas, but nevertheless we do have those animals sitting in our zoos, and not vice versa. The power of human cooperation lies in the capability of combining individual initiative and inventiveness into a whole that is more than the individual parts. The foundation of this human strength and inventiveness is the fact that we, unlike wolves and hyenas, do have names for the things. Two of us know more than one, and our language enables us to exchange ideas within the entire group: therefore as a group, mobilizing everybody’s inventiveness, we can handle big problems in a powerful way.

Today we live in masses, in huge cities, in nations and united nations. The free market economy, flourishing in the western lands, is slowly but irresistible spreading all over humanity. The free market economy weakens and demolishes old traditions, religious loyalties and cementations, and it uniforms people to consumers. It is the free market situation that revolutionized western societies and that made it possible that I can devise, write and publish a book such as this. The free market situation empties churches and make God-belief unbelievable. But a common belief such as Christianity functioned as foundation of the conscience of his believers. Now it is no longer the common belief in the western societies, the conscience of the consumers are missing his foundation. Ill fares the land was the last book and heart cry of public intellectual Tony Judt. The new mondial elite of superrich people feels no loyalty to humanity or democracy anymore, and lack any notion of common good. Judt scented that the mayor reason of it is the absence of a common ground, a common creation story. But he was no longer able to make work of it: he died. I want to be his agent.

One of the reasons why we need some kind of common, universal belief, has to do with cooperation and decision making. People need to believe in something that motivates them to work together and to (sometimes) opt for common actions instead of going their own way. In order to be able to trust each other, they need to know that the other people share the same belief: a shared belief is an important factor in making common decisions. It is one of the most important foundations of making decisions together: as a group, as a community, as a state, as mankind on this planet, which after all is the only place where we can live.  

It may be clear now that the new belief of our common future ought to be rooted in the combined power of humanity. For two million years, our kind was on its way to our era. In this long-long time, our kind survived many bottlenecks of near-extinction (such as the one caused by the Toba volcanic explosion mentioned before). Our ancestors survived by their ability to combine individual inventiveness. Today our numbers are too big for a common deliberating. How can this power be mobilized in the massiveness of a nation? In a large group it is difficult to find a way of coming to a common conclusion. In a free nation like the Western societies the mobilizing of everybody’s inventiveness is instituted in democratic and party-regulated elections. The needed opinion fashion is free.. Freedom of the individual decision is a big asset; long live the free market! OK, it gives us no alternative Big Story. Of course not: the free market is no more than an economic mechanism. When we want a new ‘Big Story’, we have to, and we can,  make it ourselves.

How to make this new ‘creation story’ ?  

That it can be made, I show in this book. But it doesn’t make any impression when it is the work of one singe old man. It has to become a cooperative project of all official scientific institutions of the world.

Or better: the UNESCO starts up this cooperative ‘university’s project’. Because the UNESCO, as the UNITED NATION’s educational, scientific and cultural organization, it "encourages international peace and universal respect by promoting collaboration among nations. Conducts studies, facilitates knowledge sharing”, and so forth. It will be eagerly interested in this project, because it touches the foundation of the Universal Declaration of 1948. The Universal Declaration is based on the "recognition of the inherent dignity of all members of the human family" (Preambule). With other words: everybody’s dignity is grounded on the fact of being a human. In 1948 it was not yet possible, neither politically nor scientifically, to work out this ‘being human’. But since the sixties the free market freed the way and generated the money for field- and other scientific work. Today such an ‘University’s project’ is bluntly and plainly possible.

In its ideal form I see the following scenario:

- a majority of the world’s great thinkers and publicists sees the need of the project and convinces the council of the UNESCO to start with working out his base: everybody’s ‘being human’

- the UNESCO publishes his intention to let work out the ‘being human’ as the base of the Universal Declaration of 1948, and invites the whole scientific world to nominate people for a writing team of five persons that has to create the basic Origin Story

- the UNESCO provides a rigid statute that screens the project of every political influence

- the writing team receives the order to come within a year with the proto-story

- publication of the proto-text (an easy-reading text, only the basing is scientific)

- the writing team is been given three years for working out all the relevant scientific comments, and for publication the first version of the ‘preliminary-definite’ text of the Human Origin Story

- every three years an up-dating of the ‘preliminary-definitive’ text is published: it is a never ending project because the scientific research never ends. The UNESCO project is growing along with humanity.

                

This is the ideal scenario. But a lesser ideal form of it: as a cooperative project of all official (governmentally paid) universities of the world, will also have a worldwide influence.

In this way we get a new belief, with its scientifically based Origin Story.

We can believe in it, because all human possibilities of knowing something are employed and stay being employed. It is democratic because the scientific world is democratic. Everybody who has a relevant comment, is welcome.

Now the implementing.

Only the announcement of the project by the UNESCO will generate a storm of protest of all bastions of religious say. This tumult will awaken the public curiosity.

The nomination and the election of the writing team will generate the interest of the media.

Already the proto-text will become a bestseller. Panel discussions all over the world increase the reputation and sympathy with the project.

Of course it will increase the fury and attacks of the fundamentalists also, and perhaps the bastions of religious say will come together in common self-defense – whereas the UNESCO-project is not an attack on the bastions at all. The UNESCO-project is no more than it is: the working-out of the base of the Universal Declaration.

Nor will a cooperative project of all official scientific institutions of the world be an attack on somebody’s personal conviction. The motivation is pure scientific.

All this growing commotion and excitement will plant the new Origin Story in everybody’s mind. Every individual will recognize her/himself in it, because we have only one origin.

The publication of the preliminary-definite text of the Human Origin Story will be a super-bestseller.

Because of the co-operation of the whole scientific world, the Story will have authority.

It will have impact on all disciplines of humanities and philosophy.

It will have impact on all that is to be said about humans.

It will have impact on everybody’s self-esteem.

Far more positive effects can be provisioned. When this project is realized, we will soon wonder why is has stayed off so longtime …