How Come Civilization? Why Creation? Part Two.
So we have puzzlement over why, of all the creatures on Earth, do Homo sapiens have not only the highest IQ, but relative to the next in line – well it’s not even a close contest. It’s sort of like pitting the professional baseball major league New York Yankees against a little league baseball team. Both play baseball, but the relative skills are again light-years apart.
Might I suggest that the ‘gods’, from the get-go, deliberately assisted by bioengineering or genetically engineering our advanced IQ levels? Our intelligence was indeed yet another gift from the ‘gods’. It should come as no surprise that when it comes to creation myths, the gods created humans. I’d just replace the word ‘created’ with the phrase ‘assisted Mother Nature’s natural selection process by their artificial selection of various traits in selected primates’. The end product of the ‘gods’ bioengineering was humanity with all its glorious top of the pops intellect.
There’s another puzzle. That puzzle involves the gods or ‘gods’ creating humans or humanity in the first place. Before I get to the puzzling bit, consider some examples:
The Near East: The creation of humanity, the first people, according to the ancient myths, were either born or formed by hand. Two deities were responsible for creating humankind. Often, the reason given for creating humankind was to provide workers so that the younger generation of gods could be relieved of the hard work. Kindly note that last sentence – humanity was created to do the hard work while, I guess, the ‘gods’ could eat, drink and make merry and enjoy the good life! That’s quite a common theme in mythology; gods create and rule; humans toil.
Greece: The Greek god Prometheus was a Titan who created people from clay.
Norse: Odin was the leader of the Norse gods and the creator of both the world and people.
Maya: The gods made people from corn. They used corn for the bodies, and corn meal for the arms and legs. The corn people were the ancestors of the Maya.
Australia: The supernatural creatures of the aboriginal Dreamtime created the empty world, followed by landscapes, lakes and rivers, plants, humans, and animals. As cultural heroes, they brought advances such as the power over fire, weapons, and hunting skills, as well as clan orders and wedding regulations to humanity.
Lastly, we all know about the Book of Genesis and the so-call creation of Adam and Eve from dust and ribs and probably from whatever else was handy.
Now here’s the puzzle. It’s somewhat difficult to understand why humans would attribute the creation of humans (and plants and animals) to mythological gods. I mean, even to our earliest ancestors, it’s obvious that people come from people (or at least from females – the biological role of the father might not have been obvious nine months after the fact). In most cases it’s obvious that like comes from like (that’s why Siegfried, a student of nature in the Richard Wagner opera of the same name figured out he wasn’t really the son of the dwarf Mime).
So, if direct observation tells you that people create people, why not assume an infinite backwards regression (or in reverse, generation follows generation follows generation) and there was no beginning, no first creation of people. That makes logical sense. Why would humans not accept this as the natural order of things? Now of course if the ‘gods’ really did assist in the evolution of the modern human, and told humans as much, well that explains those creation tales.
But there are several other puzzles. The first is why did some cultures seemingly defy the ‘gods’ and reject settlement civilization (cities, towns, villages) and remain a nomadic hunter-gatherer society? The most obvious answer is that not all physical geographical environments are equally suitable for a sedentary existence of permanent settlements. The Australian aborigines and Australia a case in point - too dry, too hot, too wet, too constantly changing from drought to flood and back again, coupled with a lack of a suitable native agricultural crops (wheat, corn, rice) and/or native domesticated eatable animal, like sheep, pigs and cattle. There’s more to civilization than urban living. The aborigines have culture – art, music, language, and law, the ability to cook, even though they had no cities, towns or villages.
Yet another puzzle might seem unrelated, but I’ll present it anyway. All humans are one interbreeding species, yet we have one other unique feature (apart from top of the pops in IQ) – different races or breeds. Now skin colour is easily explained by resorting to environmental factors. But what evolutionary selection pressures accounts for other racial differences, which tend to be facial features? We all look pretty much the same from the neck down; at least after you separate the males from the females. That’s apart from fingerprints (or toe-prints?), but unless you’re into law enforcement we don’t tend to identify our family, friends and neighbours by examining their fingers! How do you tell people apart? - By their faces primarily. And it’s not just the broad spectrum racial facial features – it’s just as easy to distinguish an Asian from a Caucasian as it is to distinguish two separate Asians or two separate Caucasians (identical twins excepted perhaps). What is the survival value, the evolutionary selection pressure that makes nearly everyone facially unique?
Take any other wild creature – one that humans haven’t domesticated and genetically tampered with. Say the great white shark or the common house fly or the blue-ringed octopus or cane toads. As is the case with elephants or zebras, if you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all. You can’t tell them apart. In a police line-up, of say half a dozen German cockroaches, could you identify the one that you saw crawl across your kitchen floor? I feed and watch a lot of wild birds, but I’m damned if I can tell one sulphur-crested cockatoo from another. They all look the same! Perhaps that’s why wildlife biologists and medical researchers have to tag their wildlife or little white mice so as to be able to tell who’s who.
Even with our domesticated and artificially breeding of selected species, we usually tell them apart in the first instance via their size, behaviour pattern and most of all external colouration patterns.
So why our unique faces? Perhaps the ‘gods’ further genetically engineered us that way in order to help tell us apart.
Here’s another mystery.
Say you lived 8000 years ago at the dawn of the transition from ‘primitive’ hunter-gatherer to ‘sophisticated’ urban dweller (well maybe a farmer or herdsman in a small settlement). Now you have no knowledge of modern biological evolution, the origin of species, or physical geology or cosmology or astrophysics. Would you, in pondering life, the Universe and everything (in your spare time of course) come up with an ‘in the beginning’ or ‘as it is, so shall it have ever been so’? I would suggest the latter because in your world, your environment, your environmental world view, everything is cyclic – a seemingly endless repeat of events, of events, of events, of events (like a stuck record): Birth-death-birth-death; seasons come and seasons go, but always in the same order; the Sun rises-sets-rises-sets-rises-sets; ditto the stars, their patterns and movements are endlessly fixed (patterns) and cyclic (movements); you go from full Moon to quarter Moon to new Moon to quarter Moon to full-quarter-new-quarter, etc. You witness no Big Ticket newness – no acts of grand creation. You have no real reason to assume any grand scale ‘in the beginning’.
Why would you assume that the ground beneath your feet hadn’t always existed as that solid good earth? Wouldn’t such an idea seem rather alien? It would go against the grain of commonsense.
Day after day, year after year, you see the Sun rise and the Sun set. The exact same set of observations, the circumstances surrounding what the Sun does daily, has been passed down generation unto generation. Nobody has experienced anything different no matter how far back your ancestors go. Why would you not assume it has always been that way; that way forever and ever, amen? There seems no need to postulate that some natural event, or deity, created the Sun.
That’s not to suggest you wouldn’t invent deities in order to explain natural phenomena you had no understanding of, like the tides or volcanoes or earthquakes or eclipses or where does the Sun go at night and why rain, wind, thunder and lightning? It’s just there’s no need to invent creator deities, deities who did things ‘in the beginning’.
Yet ancient mythologies nearly all adopt creator deities and an ‘in the beginning’. The Universe isn’t cyclic – it had a creation (the Big Bang event). Ditto the Sun and the Moon and the stars and the Earth (land, sea and sky) and plants and animals and humans. All were created ‘in the beginning’. Why? Maybe because there were ‘people’ around 8000 years ago who did have knowledge of biological evolution, the origin of species or physical geology or cosmology or astrophysics and were able to pass on that information to the human populace who (not fully grasping the technical fine print) incorporated those revelations into their world view: what has come down to us as mythology.
In conclusion, there are anomalies with respect to the origins of humans (Homo sapiens), some of our attributes like our intelligence and facial features, as well as our relatively rapid rise from hunter-gatherers on the plains of Africa to hunter-gatherers on the Lunar plains. Mythology explains much of this as acts of the gods (yet why creator gods), yet we reject the existence of the gods and thus gloss over the resulting anomalies. The compromise is to give short shrift to the supernatural gods, but credibility to the ‘gods’ as flesh-and-blood extraterrestrials who stumbled across Earth while exploring and colonizing the Milky Way Galaxy many hundreds of thousands of years ago.