Thursday, October 17, 2013

Atheism is a recent Neolithic invention: Ancestral humans were spiritual people

For the sake of simplicity, this put up treats “atheism” as synonymous with “non-spiritualism”. Technically, one can be religious and not imagine in any deity or supernatural currently being, despite the fact that this is not quite common. This publish argues that atheism is a recent Neolithic creation an creation that is poorly aligned with our Paleolithic ancestry.

Our Paleolithic ancestors have been most likely quite religious individuals at the very least these belonging to the Homo sapiens species. Earlier ancestors, these kinds of as the Australopithecines, may have lacked ample intelligence to be spiritual. Apparently, often atheism is linked with higher intelligence and a deep comprehension of science. Many properly-identified, and excellent, evolution scientists are atheists (e.g., Richard Dawkins).

Properly, when we search at our ancestors, spirituality appears to have emerged as a consequence of improved intelligence.

Spirituality can be witnessed in cave paintings, such as the one particular beneath, from the Chauvet Cave in southern France. The Chauvet Cave is believed to have the earliest identified cave paintings, relationship back to about 30 to forty thousand many years ago. The painting below is on the include of the e-book Dawn of art: The Chauvet Cave. (See the entire reference for this publication and other individuals at the conclude of this post.)

The most commonly approved idea of the origin of cave paintings is that they have been employed in shamanic or spiritual rituals. By and huge, they ended up not utilised to convey details (e.g., as maps) and they are typically found deep in caves, in locations that are virtually inaccessible, ruling out a “decorative” creative purpose. As De La Croix and colleagues (1991) observe:
Scientists have proof that the hunters in the caves, probably in a frenzy stimulated by magical rites and dances, handled the painted animals as if they were alive. Not only was the quarry frequently painted as pierced by arrows, but hunters truly might have thrown spears at the photographs, as sharp gouges in the aspect of the bison at Niaux propose.
Niaux is one more cave in southern France. Like the Chauvet Cave, it is entire of prehistoric paintings. Even however individuals paintings are thought to be much more recent, dating again to the conclude of the Paleolithic, they follow the very same styles seen nearly all over the place in prehistoric artwork. The styles level at a existence that gravitates around spiritual rituals.

Isolated hunter-gatherers also supply a glimpse at our non secular Paleolithic past. No isolated hunter-gatherer team has ever been discovered in which atheism was the predominant belief among its members. In fact, the lifestyle of most isolated hunter-gatherer teams that have been studied seems to have revolved about religious rituals. In many of these groups, shamans held a extremely large social position, and strongly affected team conclusions.

Finally, there is reliable empirical evidence from human genetics and the study of present day human teams that: (a) “religiosity” may possibly be coded into our genes, to a bigger extent in some men and women than in other folks and (b) people who are spiritual, particularly these who belong to a religious or religious group, have usually better health and encounter lower ranges of depression and stress (which probably affect overall health) than those who do not.

There was when an ape that turned intelligent. It invented weapons, which drastically multiplied the potential for loss of life and destruction of the ape’s organic propensity towards violence violence usually inspired by different religious and cultural beliefs held by diverse groups. It also invented tasty food items rich in refined carbs and sugars, which little by little poisoned the ape’s human body.

Could the current invention of atheism have been just as unhealthy?

Surely religion has been at the resource of conflicts that have triggered considerably loss of life and destruction. But is religion, or spirituality, truly to be blamed? Many other elements can direct to a wonderful deal of loss of life and destruction, sometimes immediately, other occasions indirectly – e.g., poverty and illiteracy.


Brown, D.E. (1991). Human universals. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.

Chauvet, J.M., Deschamps, E.B., & Hillaire, C. (1996). Dawn of artwork: The Chauvet Cave. New York, NY: Harry N. Abrams.

De La Croix, H., Tansey, R.G., & Kirkpatrick, D. (1991). Gardner’s art through the ages: Ancient, medieval, and non-European artwork. Philadelphia, PA: Harcourt Brace.

Gombrich, E.H. (2006). The tale of artwork. London, England: Pheidon Push.

Murdock, G.P. (1958). Outline of globe cultures. New Haven, CN: Human Relations Area Documents Push.
Title: Atheism is a recent Neolithic invention: Ancestral humans were spiritual people
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