Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Evolution of Belief: Calling All Consciousness

Some time around 7000 B.C.E., mankind  began to deify thunder storms. To the modern mind, this seems strange and incomprehensible. Storms only possess the energy they passively acquire according to laws of physics. They neither create nor direct anything actively or sentiently. Yet people very quickly began to treat them as though they do, and continually tried opening reasonable dialog with these sky-gods.

I'd like to suggest that our relationship with wild and domesticated canids had a great deal to contribute to this conversation. These species may well have started the whole thing.

You see, animals live in a world where SOUND = LIFE. Something rustles in the thicket: it's either something stalking you as lunch, or it's something hiding from you, and worth pursuing as a potential meal.

When wolves are left by their parents for a period of time, the reply of their mother across the valley reassures them that She Still Lives. No reply to a midnight howl? Evidence that She may have ceased to be. When this evidence reaches a critical level, grief begins.

Domesticated dogs cry for their family members (if they learn the language as youngsters), and can hear sounds of insect life in the walls of their houses long before their human companions detect visible symptoms of infestation.

Here on the hillside, we have a few poopsies (notably, Followers) who talk back to the weather. All the while displaying ambivalence: is the approaching thunder something to hide from or defy (confront/attack)? They remain indifferent to lightening strikes, ignoring the visible (and actual) danger they pose. Animal consciousness finds its likeness through sound.

Did our Bronze Age ancestors, confused by their experience of global warming and atmospheric volatility, take a cue from dogs? If it makes a sound, it lives. If it lives, it has measurable power, is independently motivated, and can be engaged on its own terms.

In a very short time, historically speaking, we managed to ascribe infinite power to a select few sky-gods, dismissed the mind's right to question their motivations and have made no real progress as far as negotiations are concerned. Which may be to say: we've made no progress at all from the primordial declaration of BOOM-WOOF.

Did we domesticate wolves in an attempt to horn in on their cosmic chit-chat? I know we all feel fancier saying we wanted to use dogs as sentinels and garbage disposals, but I'm beginning to suspect that that is all a lie.


  1. Which leads to the question... why did we domesticate the cat? Or did we? Maybe the feline domesticated us. Excellent post.

  2. Oh, cats. They're just to keep beds warm in the winter. Yeah. Although, I do wonder...what with their association with g~ddess worship and with village wise women ('witches') who were targeted by sky-god cats remind us that it is also possible to maintain passive indifference toward the weather and not die?

    Thanks, as always, for your visit from the Other Side! =))

  3. Well, next time there's a storm here, I'm hiding behind a dog until they let me know whether its intentions are benign or not.

  4. Dr. Heisenberg would surely approve that course of action! =))

  5. LOL Well, yeah. Today I'm not so surely...

  6. The poopsies are always right! One of my cats believes in the ominous powers of the sky gods for she hides in terror everytime a storm comes. The other two are completely indifferent. I have no fear, for I sacrifice muppets to the storm makers, it seems to keep them happy.

  7. Might explain all the Dry out your way lately... ;) Thanks for your visit! =))

  8. I would imagine that the poopsies extraordinary auditory and olfactory senses (along with their other attributes) have long held mankind in awe. The fact that they are so willing to form a pack with us does, however, make me wonder at their lack of discretion. :D

    1. Ah. So like all great Love stories, there's Mystery. =))

      Perhaps this is as good a place as any to take a sharp turn into modern times...