12 Feb


NEANDERTHAL MAN photo: Neanderthal Man Neanderthal2.jpg
Anyone who might be usefully influenced by this will stop reading any moment now. The rest will say “Yes, we know that, but what can we do?” And because I’m an honest man, I’ll admit that I don’t know either.

A long time ago, before the first literate man devised any kind of alphabet or cuneiform representation of his thoughts, was the longest of ages. Ahead of him, mankind had the discovery of drawing on stone walls in caves to make. Ahead of him was the wonder of the discovery of fire. Ahead of him was the simple understanding that round things moved more easily over the ground than do squarish things. And in that early time he did most of his evolving.

Evolving, or evolution, was damned important because without it we wouldn’t be who we are. Without the trials and tribulations of those primitive ancestors of ours we would be very different today – maybe physically and certainly mentally.

The tribe will have been important in much the same way as the pack has always been important to wolves, the ancestors of our domestic dogs. But unlike wolves, the human tribe will have had more than just a pack leader but an increasingly knotty hierarchy that, though simple, was complex enough to protect the entire tribe, and that hierarchy will have had its eye on the enemy within as well as the grisly bear without. For unlike a pack of wild dogs there will have been the threat from internal strife.

Those early men, though primitive, were far from stupid. They had brains, and they used them. And creatures with intelligence need rules, or laws, to hold a tribal family together or all hell might get let loose. So even in the long, unbelievably long, period of pre-history, there were laws, and I dared say that if a member broke those laws he risked being cast out, and being cast out at a time when mankind was the feeblest of the carnivores would have been no joke.

Slowly, imperceptibly, certain traits would become more advantageous than others because they led to greater favour within the tribe. A toady would have been no real threat, so he was accepted and probably helped up the nearest greasy pole, but a spirited individual … he was a different matter. And the traits that evolved protected the individual, his own family and ultimately the entire tribe. And it is those long-forgotten traits that entered the fields described by Darwin as evolution because they contributed, ultimately, to the survival of the fittest, but intellectually rather than physically.

Those traits sowed the wind of human survival.

And from them has emerged the whirlwind.

Because the very traits that helped bind a simple society together were the very same traits that provided our ancestors, and through reinforcement down that countless generations until they became instinctive, ourselves, with much that is now abhorrent. And try as we might, we can’t shake them. They are responsible for the current spate of Muslim outrages and the murder of innocents because too many years ago to be easily understood, treating folks from outside with distrust and hatred was a survival thing.

And kowtowing to a stupendous range of spirits to whom imaginary control of human affairs was given, and communicating especially via the witch doctor or individual who claimed spiritual powers, over hundreds of thousands of years became entrenched in the human psyche. Why else do people still attend churches and mosques today?

Of course, too recently to have had more than a peripheral effect on evolution, the worship of a panoply of spirits morphed into monotheism, or the worship of a single deity. The change will have been simple because the element of worship and a special being to act as a conduit of that worship was the same. One god supplanted the many with indecent ease.

And the human population grew, and grew and grew. Tribes became nations and more vulnerable to pressures from other nations. There were even divisions within nations as one variety of the dominant religion divided and became more than one entity, at war with all the rest for no reason other than they were different.

And blame gets muttered in dark corners.

“It’s the muslims” or “it’s the catholics” … and nobody looks to see the real cause of the problems. Prehistory. Evolution. The inbuilt tendency for people to believe what they pick up during their formative years even though they know what they’re believing in might well be nonsense. Take a look into human psychology and you’ll discover that being told that there might be something really wrong with your beliefs is possibly worse than working it out for yourself because you rebel against feeling foolish, and you’ll begin to suspect that the whole sorry mess must continue forever or you’ll look like a twerp.

But it all hailed from unconscionably long eras of prehistory and was a survival essential. Now it’s the present and threatens, if taken to the ultimate, our survival. What was good and positive is now bad and negative.

Somehow we must breed out the need to believe in the absurd because it’s that belief that is behind the aforementioned atrocities. Not a belief in a particular creed or faith but a belief in religion itself, and even more the capacity to swallow it hook, line and sinker.. And I mean any religion. Because if we are to survive at all as a species then we must cast away our need for spiritual leaders and the gobbledegook they are charged to infect us with. It’s part of the genetic heritage we’ve brought from the dead past with us, and threatens, via violence and foolish nationalism, to create a dead present.

We might have sowed the winds, but do we really want to reap the whirlwind?

But then, those of you who know this are still reading. Those who reject it aren’t.

© Peter Rogerson 12.02.15


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