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The Evolution of the Human Mind: Part 2

Updated on October 20, 2016
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The Emergence of the Modern Human Mind

"...many modern scientists [assume] that human behavior can only be explained in physical terms, and ignore the fact that the human mind or psyche is to some degree an independent entity, which can change or develop along its own lines, without necessarily altering physical structure." -Steve Taylor, The Fall: The Insanity of the Ego in Human History and the Dawning of a New Era


Though each and every human has personal first-hand experience with it, though it is the most foundational element that makes each of us who we are, the human mind to this day remains one of our most elusive and least understood mysteries. So arriving at any sort of definitive conclusions as to when and how the unobservable human mind evolved and developed over the course of tens of thousands of years of human history can be difficult to say the least. The one thing that we can be certain of, if the evolution of life is any indication, is that humans and the rest of the animal kingdom share a common origin. So, the question is, at what point did we stop being animals and start being humans?

Anatomically modern humans first appeared roughly 200 thousand years ago. Though soft tissue, like brain matter, doesn't last nearly as long as hard biological materials, like bones, it's assumed that because the skull has not changed since the first appearance of anatomically modern humans that the physical brain has seen little to no change from this point forward.

As is still the case today, the only evidence available in any pursuit to understand the human mind is the output of the mind. Our clearest form of expression of thoughts and ideas is through verbal and written communication. In the case of human history written language is the best insight we have available. Of course, if our goal is pinpointing the emergence of the modern human mind, and written language is a product of the modern human mind, we have to delve into prehistory where the window into the minds of our ancestors isn't so clearly articulated. Our next best indicators that signify the emergence of the modern human mind capable of reason is in studying their tools, artifacts, habitats, and behaviors.

However, the invention of writing does aid in the effort as it signifies a point in history when the modern human mind was most definitely present. This defines a range of time. What we're looking for happened sometime after 200 thousand years ago, which is the earliest known point that the brain was physically modern, and about 5500 years ago (3500 BC) when the earliest known form of writing was invented.

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Anatomical Modernity

Homo sapiens first appeared in the same region that many species of the Homo genus originate, the Great Rift Valley of East Africa. For the first 100 thousand or more years of Homo sapien existence their behavior seemed to be no different than any other species of hominid. They were hunter-gatherers who lived in small groups and migrated all throughout the African continent.

About 70 thousand years ago, whether it be due to climate change or the massive Toba volcanic eruption, the Homo sapiens population was reduced to less than 10 thousand mating pairs, causing a bottleneck in our evolution. Near the brink of extinction, it was the descendents of those who survived that soon began to exhibit much more modern behaviors that aided them in accomplishing something in a relatively short amount of time that very few species of animal ever had, populate the entire planet.

Around 50,000 BC something happened. This period is often referred to as the 'Great Leap Forward' or the 'Upper Paleolithic Revolution'. It's still debated whether it was as abrupt a change as it appears to have been or whether it was a gradual change not clearly reflected in archaeological evidence, but it's around this time in our history that an abundance of more complex artifacts begin to appear, as well as signs of more complex behaviors. Prior to that 50,000 BC mark Homo sapiens made stone tools not unlike those made by the Neanderthal for hundreds of thousands of years prior. But after that mark, not only did stone tools improve, but tools in general began to diversify in function and purpose. No other tool-making species of hominid ever improved on their tool design. Now, instead of just using stone tools for cutting and skinning animals, they made smaller spear/projectile points, engraving tools, knife blades, and drilling and piercing tools.

This is also around the same time that the massive migrations out of Africa began. At this point the Neanderthal (Homo sapiens distant cousins) had inhabited the much colder European continent for nearly 200 thousand years, clearly exhibiting the capability to survive the adverse conditions and etch out a living for themselves. Yet, within 20 thousand years of the massive migration of homo sapiens out of Africa and into Europe Neanderthals disappear completely from the fossil record. By 20,000 BC all of Europe was densely populated by semi-settled early humans. By 10,000 BC Homo sapiens had populated the entire planet, including North and South America, standing alone as the only remaining species of the Homo genus. So, in the span of just 60 thousand years Homo sapiens went from less than 10 thousand mating pairs in Africa to worldwide domination.

Clearly there were some significant qualities that began to surface during that span of time that were uniquely human. The tools alone show a more advanced capability to conceptualize a result first imagined then brought to fruition. In this span of time we also see more advanced hunting methods, tools for fishing, art work like cave paintings and carved figures, and decorative artifacts like beaded jewelry. Artifacts found many miles away from where they were first created suggests the possibility that prehistoric humans of this age engaged in trade. It's also in this age that early humans began burying their dead. Being that this all occurred many thousands of years before the invention of writing it's difficult to know for certain, but many suspect that the dramatic advances towards modern behavior in this era may be due to developments in verbal communication.

It was around 9,000-8,000 BC that the early humans of northern Mesopotamia (in the region of modern day Turkey) first discovered agriculture, or more accurately horticulture. Where before humans had to migrate with the changing of seasons to survive much like many other species in the animal kingdom, the discovery of horticulture allowed humans to settle in one location permanently.

Exceptionally large settlements developed in Catal Huyuk (7,500 to 5,700 BC) in Turkey and the Lepenski Vir settlement (dating back to 7,000 BC) located in the central portion of the Balkan peninsula. The Lepenski Vir culture gave way to the Vinča-Turdaș culture (5,000-4,500 BC), which at one point had populations estimated at 2,500 or more in some of the larger sites.

There are several differing theories that attempt to explain what caused the transition the humans of this region made from the traditional hunter-gatherer lifestyle to cultivating plants and domesticating animals, but no consensus has been reached. The recent discovery and ongoing investigation of Gobekli Tepe in Turkey has only confused matters further.

While these advances towards behavioral modernity certainly widened the chasm between humans and animals (and all other hominid species), and while they most definitely gave humans a distinct advantage in establishing themselves as the dominant species amongst the animal kingdom, they don't tell the full story. There was another dramatic change in human development around 5,500 BC that draws a dividing line between humans of primal cultures and those who brought about another very modern and uniquely human characteristic... civilization.

Behavioral Modernity

"it is an error, as profound as it is universal, to think that men in the food-gathering stage were given to fighting... All available facts go to show that the food-gathering stage of history must have been one of perfect peace." - WJ Perry, Archaeologist

"For the first ninety-five thousand years after the Homo sapiens Stone Age began, there is no evidence that man engaged in war on any level, let alone on a level requiring organized group violence. There is little evidence of any killing at all." - Richard Gabriel, Anthropologist


Contrary to popular belief, human characteristics like violence, war, social stratification/oppression, materialism, and male dominance are not inherent primal human traits bubbling up from some long ago repressed inner caveman. These are very recent behavioral developments in the context of human history. It could be said that the traditional idea that humans transitioned from 'savage' to 'civilized' is backwards. Hunter-gatherer humans were by general rule egalitarian, non-violent, and much more group-minded and self-less.

Many experts agree these traits developed late and suggest that they were probably the result of the discovery of farming and the change in lifestyle it brought about. The general assumption has always been that the discovery of farming led to larger settled populations, which led to increased social interaction, which led to the sharing of ideas, which led to advances in inventions and technologies, which eventually led to the dawn of civilization. The logic here in regards to changes in human behavior is that a settled lifestyle would allow for the accumulation of possessions which would create social stratification, it would create divisions of labor between those who work the fields and those who build homes or provide other services, and farming would give value to land and therefore make people territorial, eventually leading to war when resources were limited.

While this is a logical view, archaeological evidence reveals a very different story.

"the prevailing view is still that male dominance, along with private property and slavery, were all by-products of the agrarian revolution...despite the evidence that, on the contrary, equality between the sexes - and among all people - was the general norm in the Neolithic." -Riane Eisler, American Scholar, Cultural Historian

"There is the same lack of evidence for violent conflict throughout the simple horticultural period of history as in the hunter-gather era. Graves don't contain weapons; images of warfare or weapons are still absent from artwork; and villages and towns aren't situated in inaccessible places or surrounded by defensive walls." - Steve Taylor, The Fall: The Insanity of the Ego in Human History and the Dawning of a New Era


The term 'Neolithic Revolution' can be misleading as it actually took over six thousand years (9,000 to 3,000 BC) for farming practices to be adopted throughout Eurasia. As noted above, there were a number of large human settlements that formed after the discovery of farming in northern Mesopotamia and Europe, with some of these places having populations in the thousands. These are not, however, classed as 'cities' or 'civilizations' as they did not have organized governments or class systems. Much like the humans of the hunter-gatherer age, these horticultural settlements showed no signs of class distinction or gender inequality.

In looking at the evidence, rather than the transition to a settled lifestyle gradually bringing about social stratification, gender inequality, and the penchant for war and violence, the five thousand years or so between the beginning of the Neolithic Revolution and the dawn of human civilization in the Middle East shows that these behavioral changes came, not as the result of a slow, gradual progression within these growing human settlements, but rather quickly, originating from an outside element introduced into these cultures, like a seed planted in fertile soil. Behavioral changes that appear to have been the catalyst that led to the first human cities, rapid urbanization, and eventually the dawn of full fledged civilization.


The Dawn of Civilization(s)

"The thousand years or so immediately preceding 3000 BC were perhaps more fertile in inventions and discoveries than any period in human history prior to the sixteenth century AD" - V. Gordon Childe, Archaeologist and Philologist

"a tremendous explosion of knowledge took place as writing, mathematics, and astronomy were discovered. It was as if the human mind had suddenly revealed a new dimension of itself." - Anne Baring and Jules Cashford, The Myth of the Goddess


Earlier I pointed to the invention of writing as a point in human history when the modern mind was most definitely present. The earliest known form of writing was Cuneiform, invented by the Sumerians of southern Mesopotamia around 3500 BC. Other discoveries, like mathematics and astronomy, and inventions like organized governments and laws, began to emerge in this same time and place and are attributed to the Sumerians as well. Unlike the rest of the populated world, who continued to live as they had for numerous generations, the people of these budding societies in southern Mesopotamia were clearly not content to do the same. Then, in the centuries to follow, very similar advances towards civilization began to happen to the west in Egypt, then to the east with the Indus Valley Culture, then to the north in Akkad. All of them seemingly independently from one another as each had their own unique language and culture.

Sumer (3500 to 1940 BC) -http://www.historyfiles.co.uk/KingListsMiddEast/MesopotamiaSumer.htm - "Sumer was one of the first great civilizations, emerging slightly ahead of that of Ancient Egypt and up to a millennium before that of the Indus Valley culture. Located in southern Mesopotamia (modern Iraq), by the late fourth millennium BC Sumer (or Ki-en-gir, 'Land of the Sumerian tongue'), was divided into approximately a dozen city states which were independent of one another and which used local canals and boundary stones to mark their borders."

Besides being the inventors of the first city-states and the first civilization, here's a partial list of other inventions credited to the Sumerians: the wheel, the sailboat, the first written language, frying pans, razors, cosmetic sets, sheppard's pipes, harps, kilns for firing mud bricks and pottery, bronze hand tools, the plow, the plow seeder.

They also invented the first government, which was a combination of a monarchy and a democracy, they established the first laws, and they were also the first astronomers/astrologers, and the first mathematicians. The number system they used was a base 60, rather than base 10 as we predominantly use today, because 60 is a handy number when tracking inventory as it can be divided by halves, thirds, fourths, fifths, sixths, etc. In fact, it's the Sumerians numbering system that we still use today to track increments of time.


Egypt (3400 to 30 BC) - http://www.historyfiles.co.uk/KingListsAfrica/EgyptAncient.htm“From around 3500 to 3000 BC there were great and very sudden advances in craftsmanship and technology, which culminated in the working of copper, stone mace heads and ceramics.”


"Archaeologists have never been able to conclusively answer the question of who the original Egyptians and Sumerians were. But evidence clearly suggests that the Egyptians who "civilized" the Nile region were immigrants from the desert areas. As Bran Griffith points out, in North Africa recorded history begins against the background of mass migrations out of a growing desert. He notes that "pre-dynastic Egyptians were a jumbled assortment of tribes, many of them recent arrivals from the deserts." - Steve Taylor, The Fall

The Egyptians have a good number of inventions to their credit as well, including paper (papyrus), scissors, locks and keys, the first calendar with a leap year, surveying, black ink, a numbering system that included fractions, communication through carrier pigeons, and of course pyramids. While there is evidence that they shared ideas and engaged in trade with the Sumerians, it's clear from their unique language and form of writing that their civilization developed independently.


Indus Valley Culture (3300 to 1700 BC) - http://www.historyfiles.co.uk/KingListsFarEast/IndiaIndusCulture.htm“As the first great civilizations took shape in Sumer and Egypt, a people of unknown origin who were centered in the Indus Valley in modern Pakistan and India began constructing their own series of cities. These were as remarkable as any the world had yet seen, and at the same time trade flourished, and a system of writing evolved.”

The Indus Valley culture is still very much a mystery to us, mainly because the form of writing they invented for themselves has not yet been deciphered by modern scholars. Unlike the Sumerians and the Egyptians, it is unknown what became of the people of this culture. They are probably best known for their skills in architecture, and most notably for their sewage system which rivaled societies in Europe just a couple of centuries ago.


'Saharasia: The 4000 BCE Origins of Child Abuse, Sex-Repression, Warfare and Social Violence, In the Deserts of the Old World' by James DeMeo
'Saharasia: The 4000 BCE Origins of Child Abuse, Sex-Repression, Warfare and Social Violence, In the Deserts of the Old World' by James DeMeo

The Saharasian Armouring Hypothesis

In his book, Saharasia: the 4000 BCE Origins of Child-Abuse, Sex-Repression, Warfare and Social Violence, in the Deserts of the Old World, historian and geographer James DeMeo compiles his results, after studying the behavioral development of humans throughout the course of history, and has put forth a rather interesting, albeit controversial, suggestion.

Basically, he suggests that human patriarchy was coaxed out of humans by a dramatic climate change that transformed Mesopotamia, northern Africa, and western Asia into a desert around 4000 BC. A behavioral change that then propagated throughout the region when the people of those dramatically dried-out lands were forced to migrate towards land near riverbanks, transforming every culture that came in contact with them. He reached this conclusion based on patterns he saw in human behavioral changes when he mapped them out using archaeological and historical research data combined with in-depth reviews of standard anthropological databases covering over a thousand distinct human cultures.

DeMeo uses the terms Matrism and Patrism to distinguish between the two behavioral types. He defines Matrist cultures as "democratic, egalitarian, sex-positive and possess[ing] very low levels of adult violence", where in contrast to that he describes Patrist cultures as being those who "tend to inflict pain and trauma upon infants and young children, subordinate the female, possess high levels of adult violence, with various social institutions designed for the expression of pent-up sadistic aggression".

"There does not exist any clear, compelling or unambiguous evidence for the existence of patrism anywhere on Earth significantly prior to c.4000 BCE." - James Demeo

There is definitely some validity to what DeMeo is pointing out. There was a transition from Matrism to Patrism that can be seen throughout the Middle East, northern Africa, and Europe, where Matrist cultures were systematically replaced by the more aggressive (and progressive) Patrist cultures. Matrist cultures, being predominantly peaceful, were simply no match. Where the controversy arises is in his explanation of where these Patrist humans first came from.

In DeMeo's view, the dramatic climate change in this region of the world around 4000 BC (see 5.9 kiloyear event) coaxed these behavioral changes out of these groups of humans that he associates to Wilhelm Reich's psychological concept of Armouring. Basically, the pain and suffering that came from the abrupt climate change into an arid baron desert caused the people of this region to "wall themselves off" from the natural world as well as from their own feelings. They suppressed their natural pleasure-seeking impulses and replaced them with pleasure-denying instincts. This psychological change is what DeMeo feels caused the people of the Sahara region, who he calls Saharasians, to deny their maternal-infant bonds, their male-female bonds, their connection to the natural world, their sexual instincts, and their trust and openness to other humans. This change would alter how they treated their children, giving them less attention and affection, treating them more harshly, causing the children to psychologically armour themselves in the process, which would then propagate from generation to generation.

Opponents of this hypothesis point to cultures who have lived in the adverse conditions of the Sahara desert for numerous generations who still very much fit the bill of Matrist cultures, or who have at least maintained relatively egalitarian traditions.


'The Fall: The Insanity of the Ego in Human History and the Dawning of A New Era' by Steve Taylor
'The Fall: The Insanity of the Ego in Human History and the Dawning of A New Era' by Steve Taylor

The "Ego Explosion" Hypothesis

"The Fall, then, refers to a change which occurred in the psyche of certain human groups around 6,000 years ago. It was the point in history when these peoples developed a strong and sharp sense of ego. The Fall was, and is, the intensification of the human sense of "I" or individuality." - Steve Taylor, The Fall: The Insanity of the Ego in Human History and the Dawning of A New Era


"the great change - a change so great, indeed, that nothing in all we know of human cultural evolution is comparable in magnitude." - Riane Eisler, American Scholar, Cultural Historian


It's said that necessity is the mother of invention. So then what was different, necessity wise, in the case of the Sumerians and others in that region that brought about so many inventions and revolutionary new ways of doing things in such a relatively short amount of time? It's not like the environment they lived in was somehow unique in its conditions where human necessity was greater there than elsewhere. Humans have lived in every environment all around the world for tens of thousands of years, etching out an existence in the most adverse of conditions, without the same output of creativity and problem solving capabilities, before or since.

So, what was different about this environment? Or, was it maybe the people who were different? Not different physically, but psychologically. These inventions were born of a fundamental change in the human psyche that made these things seem necessary where before that was not the case. If necessity is the mother of invention, then discontentment is its grandmother, because it's discontentment that first gives birth to necessity, which then births invention.

"Discontent is the first necessity of progress" - Thomas Edison

In his book, The Fall: The Insanity of the Ego in Human History and the Dawning of a New Era, psychology lecturer and author Steve Taylor takes the findings of James DeMeo a step further, explaining how these changes could be tell-tale signs of the emergence of a more prominent ego, or sense of individual awareness. A change he calls the "Ego Explosion".

"my own research indicates that almost all indigenous peoples, if not all at one time, were matrilineal societies before the European conquest and colonization." - M.A. Jaimes Guerrero, Anthropologist

In this light, the behavioral differences between 'matrist' and 'patrist' cultures are the symptoms of this enhanced ego, with male-dominance, war and violence, materialism, and negative feelings towards sex and natural functions of the body come from having a more distinct sense of "I" that separated us from our bonds with nature. An ego that, in effect, 'walls us off' from the external world; from the natural world, from each other, and even from our own bodies. A similar separation as was discussed in Part 1 of this series where the conscious mind's perspective is concerned.


Angels on the sideline,
Puzzled and amused.
Why did Father
give these humans
free will?
Now they're all confused.

Don't these talking monkeys
know that Eden has enough
to go around?
Plenty in this holy garden,
silly monkeys,
Where there's one
you're bound to divide it.
Right in two.

Angels on the sideline,
Baffled and confused.
Father blessed them
all with reason.
And this is what they choose.

Monkey killing monkey
killing monkey
Over pieces of the ground.
Silly monkeys
give them thumbs,
They forge a blade,
And where there's one
they're bound to divide it,
Right in two.
- Maynard James Keenan
Tool, "Right in Two", 10,000 Days

Signs of the Emergence of the Modern Ego in Ancient Mythology

Considering the same group of people who are credited as the inventors of civilization were also the first writers, the first mathematicians, and the first astronomers, it appears something significant happened in the development of the human mind somewhere very near that 3500 BC mark. If we're to associate changes in behavioral patterns with these intellectual advancements, then it appears the change happened closer to roughly 5500 BC.

The establishment of the first Sumerian city-state, Eridu, also represents the first known instance of a human settlement that exhibits class distinction, as Eridu, and every city-state established afterwards, was built with a temple at the center. The inhabitants governed the masses that lived all around the temple, coordinated the work load, and the work force would carry out the labor and provide for those in the temple.

Once writing emerged, a much clearer window into the psyche of the people of that age opens up to us. Initially writing was invented as a way to keep track of administrative needs. Tracking goods and accounting for labor. Needs that in themselves suggest a (new?) need to account for what's owed to an individual. And as noted above, along with writing, its in this age that we being to see significant advances in technological capabilities and inventions. In this light, writing, inventions, technological advancements, and the birth of civilization are symptoms of the emergence of the modern human ego. An ego that brought with it an enhanced sense of self, and a separation from the natural world.

Once writing became sophisticated enough to convey the oral stories of the people of this age, we begin to get a much stronger sense of the minds of the people of this age. Some of the oldest known written texts, that are not administrative in nature, are mythological stories. Much like the more well known stories of the Greeks and the Romans centuries later, the Sumerians also told stories of male and female gods and their interactions with humans. In fact, according to the Sumerians, who history shows to have been the inventors of many of the tenets of civilization we still use in some form to this day, it was these gods that taught them. And it would seem, in light of what's discussed here, that the various 'fall' myths of this age may not have been purely fiction.

The most well known of these is, of course, the Adam and Eve Garden of Eden story in Genesis. According to that story, Adam and Eve deliberately chose to behave contrary to God (nature) by breaking the one rule they were given, which resulted in what would seem to be a more acute sense of self-awareness, as it says they then became conscious of their nakedness. Rather than behaving according to the laws of nature/God as the rest of the animal kingdom does, these two are said to have made a choice based on their own individual wills and desires. Or, in other words, rather than behaving according to God's will, they were behaving of their own individual free will.

The Sumerians also tell a very similar story of a 'first man' who's immortality was lost due to his choices. A story which includes a plant that gives eternal life. And according to Iranian mythology, the first man, Yima, lived in a 'walled garden', complete with a 'tree of life', where they knew 'neither hot or cold, neither old age or death, nor disease', and where father and son walked together, each looking but fifteen years of age. A sort of 'golden age' which eventually came to an end when the weather became more harsh and the garden was destroyed by snow and ice.

Likewise, in other mythological stories, in what would seem to mirror the transition from matrist to patrist behaviors as discussed above, cultures like the Greeks and Romans and even Chinese mythology speak of a 'golden age' before humans became corrupt, and life became more difficult and full of suffering.

"The need to possess land and material good is, like war and patriarchy, a specifically fallen characteristic. In fact, some of the world's Fall myths explicitly state that the "love of possession"was one of the negative effects of the Fall. This is especially clear from the Roman poet Ovid's description of the human race's decline from the original Golden Age:


There broke out ... all manner of evil, and shame fled, and truth and faith. In place of these came deceits and trickery and treachery and force and the accursed love of possession ... And the land, hitherto a common possession like the light of the sun and the breezes, the careful surveyor now marked out with long boundary lines." - Steve Taylor, The Fall: The Insanity of the Ego in Human History and the Dawning of A New Era

In Conclusion

It would seem that the ancient mythological tales, that are nearly as old as civilization itself, all but confirm what modern science and archaeology are slowly uncovering, which means these stories may not be as 'fictional' as once thought. They seem to show that the people of these ancient societies who told these stories were aware of the changes emerging in humanity and recognized their significance.


It's in this age that the modern human ego appears to have emerged, separating us, and even pitting us against, the natural world that we are a product of. While the rest of the animal kingdom, and even indigenous humans, seem to be content with living in harmony with the natural world, since the dawn of civilization modern humans have behaved as if it is foreign to us. We began to study it, conquer it, and learn to bend it to our will. Rather than behaving in accordance to the laws of nature/God's will, it's from this age forward that we have behaved according to our own individual 'free will'.

What I find most interesting is how well this all fits with the account of Adam's creation in Genesis. It's, of course, always been assumed that this story is describing Adam as the first human God created, thus making it seem more a mythological tale than a realistic real-world scenario, especially given our modern understanding of human evolution. However, if read in the context that the creation of humans in Genesis 1 and the creation of Adam in Genesis 2 are actually two separate events, and that Adam's creation took place in an already populated world, then the rest of the story from that point on lines up quite nicely with what's observed here in human history.

First of all, you've got the introduction of 'patrist' type behaviors coming from external sources, introduced into the already established societies along the various river banks of the region. Behaviors more akin to the nomadic tribes who arrived in these societies, who brought with them their own languages, where both their behavior patterns, and their language, soon enveloped and altered the societies they were introduced into. All of which appears to have been set into motion by that dramatic climate shift that both DeMeo and Taylor speak of. This all falls right in line with the tower of Babel story from Genesis 11.

And, if we were to really go out on a limb and take literally the lifespans attributed to Adam and his descendants, given the 'already populated world' scenario, then compared to naturally evolved (or Genesis 1) humans, they would seem god-like in comparison, meaning all of those seemingly fantastical mythological stories of the Sumerians, the Egyptians, the Greeks, the Romans, etc, could very well actually be talking about, or at least be greatly inspired by, the descendants of Noah who were 'scattered' in Genesis 11.

Outside of this rather 'crazy' suggestion, we've got little explanation for a whole host of related pieces. We've got no explanation for the phenomenon of 'life' that animates animate matter as its just dismissed as a 'given', we've got little more than conjecture and speculation in our attempts to reconstruct the evolution of the human mind, we've got a will that seems 'free' though that would not exactly compute in a purely causal universe type scenario, we've got little answers as far as the discovery of farming is concerned, and we've got much the same issue with understanding the rapid advancement leading into the dawn of civilization.

Simply overlaying the Genesis account across known history, lining up the creation of Adam with the first appearance of 'patrist' type behaviors right in that same region and time frame that Genesis describes itself as being set in, and it manages to resolve all of that all at once. And it simultaneously offers context to those first few chapters of Genesis, which then in turn makes the rest of the bible from that point forward much more clear. After all, according to the story, everything in that first chapter of Genesis seems to have adhered exactly to what God's will mandated, including the humans who managed to populate the earth and establish dominance in the animal kingdom. From Adam and Eve on, humans behaving contrary to God's will could be said to sum up the primary theme of the whole thing.

Then again, maybe I'm just off my rocker and need a nap.

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    • A.Villarasa profile image

      Alexander A. Villarasa 4 years ago from Palm Springs

      @Headley:

      Don't take a nap and please continue giving us, ordinary mortals, excellent tutorials like this hub.

    • HeadlyvonNoggin profile image
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      Jeremy Christian 4 years ago from Texas

      Thank you for the encouraging words, A.Villarasa. This hub in particular was a difficult one for me. It covers a lot of ground and I was always conscious of trying to keep it clear and on point. Completing it was, at times, an overwhelming challenge I wasn't always sure I'd accomplish. So, I am thrilled to hear you got something out of it and I appreciate you sharing.

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      Methodskeptic 3 years ago

      So, I read this one because I was pretty much done with the Genesis 1 debate and you said it was your strongest argument.

      So, about 60% of it is a pretty decent wikipedia-level stroll through prehistory. It's all right, but nothing that really constitutes an argument. I'll note again, for the record, that everything we know about the ancient world has its own particular body of evidence supporting it and was discovered without Biblical corroboration nor needs any such thing going forward.

      About 30% of it is some, um..."unusual" theories about psychological development from James Demeo and Steven Taylor. Demeo is a quack who believes in magical orgone energy, not a legitimate historian or geographer, and legitimate science doesn't progress through bubblegum pop spiritualism books. But whatever, I can sort of get behind the notion that a sudden climatic shift might prompt social and cultural upheaval, leaving aside the whole "noble savage" thing he proposes. Steven Taylor is a psychologist, not an archaeologist or historian specializing in "transpersonal psychology" which, to put it mildly, is not a very rigorous discipline.

      And then in the last 10%, when you get to the conclusion, that you finally state some kind of thesis argument. It's your same old fallacious Argument From Ignorance and Argument from Personal Incredulity.

      ::We've got no explanation for the phenomenon of 'life'::

      An argument from ignorance that deserves nothing beyond curt dismissal.

      ::we've got little more than conjecture and speculation in our attempts to reconstruct the evolution of the human mind::

      And conjecture and speculation are all you have offered. But, what you've said is also wrong: you're obviously not following some very exciting developments in neurology and neuropsychology. You'd rather keep your romanticized ignorance that cries out for a god to relieve us of the need to actually do the hard work of discovering real answers.

      ::we've got a will that seems 'free' though that would not exactly compute in a purely causal universe type scenario::

      Again, all the actual science indicates that "free" will is an illusion. You're not very up on the current state of research. You think a better answer is that each of us has a tiny little god inside of us with the power to ignore the laws of nature to make choices independent of physical states? But we covered this in your "9 Reasons" post and it's a large and fascinating subject that probably should be addressed elsewhere.

      ::we've got little answers as far as the discovery of farming is concerned, and we've got much the same issue with understanding the rapid advancement leading into the dawn of civilization.::

      And so much better it is to fall back on Bronze Age bedtime stories rather than actually going out and doing the work to actually learn something. I'll quote again from Richard Dawkins, that I may have mentioned before: ""Mystics exult in mystery and want it to stay mysterious. Scientists exult in mystery for a different reason: It gives them something to do."

      Or, in simpler language, from Irish stand-up comedian Dara Ó Briain, "Science knows it doesn't know everything; otherwise, it'd STOP. But just because science doesn't know everything doesn't mean you can fill in the gaps with whatever fairy tale most appeals to you." (watch it, he's funny =) www.youtube.com/watch?vuDYba0m6zte)

      So, you've started from a romanticized pseudohistory promoted by fringe scientists, you've overlaid your own religious convictions on top of that wobbly foundation, and you call it your strongest argument.

      It is as fractally wrong as the hubs I read earlier: that is to say, if you zoom in on any specific detail, it's just as wrong as if you step back and take it all in as a whole. You mention the story of Adam fits in at one point--I read it just last night, and wow, it really doesn't, not even a little bit. You say this sounds just like the Tower of Babel legend--maybe, if I temporarily suspend my deep suspicion of Demeo and Taylor, I can sorta see how it resembles it to the degree a photograph taken through a stained glass window can dimly be said to show the outside world if you squint hard enough and ignore the distortions. But then I step back and shrug, because tenuous and unverifiable correspondence between spiritualist mumbo-jumbo and ancient myth really isn't that compelling.

      So, yeah, if this is your strongest argument, I was hoping for better.

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      Methodskeptic 3 years ago

      [I'm going to do my best to walk back a lot of things I said before--bear with me.]

      Just for laughs, I kept digging on James Demeo--

      --Saharasia website is eye-scaldingly unprofessional, hosted at OrgoneLabs.org.

      --Saharasia is published by Natural Energy Works books, which publishes other books by Demeo as well as writings related to the Orgone Energy movement, mostly regarding its deceased founders and people connected to them.

      --Orgone Laboratory homepage is titled "James Demeo's Research Website."

      So, what we have here is not a legitimate researcher, but rather a fringe quack who believes in magical energy fields and spends his days self-promoting and self-publishing his pet theories which have no traction in the mainstream academic press.

      I know I have a tendency to get snarky and I was just digging for entertainment, but it stopped being funny. It's really sad to see, honestly. Demeo is really out on his own, trying to promote falsified theories that are a dead letter in the scientific community. I really would not base any of my conclusions about the ancient world on research by this man.

      I remembered something that I said early on--and I regret that I have let myself get so confrontational and forget this as I hammered away at the things I disagreed with--I see a lot of myself in you. I used to be where you are at for many years, still believing in lots of different things. I read Neale Donald Walsch's "Conversations with God" and was amazed, I had books on trying to Astral Project, I had a pendulum that I used to try to use to measure energy fields with. I worked two summers during college at a metaphysical bookstore that offered therapeutic massage, acupuncture, and energy healing. Saharasia would have been right up my alley.

      I got out of it after a while, because nobody was listening and it really didn't do much for me. Then one day years later a co-worker said to me "I home-school my kids so the public schools don't indoctrinate them with liberal ideas, like evolution." That UPSET me, and launched me on a trajectory of studying real science and understanding methodological skepticism (wink wink) and ultimately realizing that my theism wasn't supportable.

      So, I'll soften my criticism at this point--I think it really comes down to the fact that you're basing your theories on the works of Demeo and Taylor, and I don't think they're legit. They're spiritualists with a romanticized view of the past, and I can totally see how that fits hand-in-glove with certain interpretations around the Genesis story. It fits a lot better than Genesis 1 fits Evolutionary History, if you're inclined to view it that way--so I see now why you were wanting to talk about 2-11 instead of just chapter 1.

      A much better read regarding the dawn of civilization and the influence that changing lifestyles, technologies, agriculture, and animal husbandry techniques would be Jared Diamond's "Guns, Germs, and Steel." I'll buy you a copy, if you want.

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      Methodskeptic 3 years ago

      TL;DR--I let myself get annoyed by the Genesis 1 debate and the ancient history theories because I used to believe in very similar things and so they're things I've already encountered, believed in, but later rejected, and I was wrong to let myself get so confrontational about it.

      I am very sorry. I'd like to keep talking, though.

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      Jeremy Christian 3 years ago from Texas

      Methodskeptic,

      There's much more to it than just this one article. It's not the totality of my argument. But if asked which 'one', I'd have to go here. It outlines the behavioral progression of humanity and attempts to get a sense of what was going on 'mind-wise' by stepping back and looking at the whole picture. There's much more, some in the other hubs, some not yet written.

      I appreciate that, but there's no need to apologize. I have no problem with you criticizing my ideas. That's why I put them out there, to be criticized. But I'm going to need specifics because there's a lot that backs up what I'm saying, way more than I've been able to commit to writing. So general dismissals because it's crazy/silly/laughable/whatever, don't do much to convince me there's nothing to this.

      "Saharasia website is eye-scaldingly unprofessional" - I like that. That's a good way to put it. While I knew DeMeo referred to Reich's idea of physcological armouring, I didn't know all the 'orgone' stuff. But it's not DeMeo's suggested causes that I'm interested in, it's the evidence he collected. I read up on objections made about his work, and while there were some in regards to his explanation of the cause, there was little in the way of the behavioral patterns pointed out in the evidence he collected.

      The more significant thing here that might give you sense of how this whole endeavor has been for me throughout this process is that this idea isn't based on DeMeo or Taylor's works. It was a prediction. I began to take on the daunting and intimidating task of researching and attempting to track behavior traits and patterns throughout the ages in an attempt to see if there was a noticable/traceable behavioral change that could actually be seen in the evidence. It's my reasearch that led me to this. While my 'cause' is different, the evidence they based their ideas on was exactly what my idea predicted if true. Not just the behavioral change, but the timeframe and the location as well. I had no idea prior.

      The same thing happened with the Sumerians. I knew next to nothing about them. But through this idea I 'predicted' that if these things did indeed happen in this particular place and time, in an already populated region, then it should be apparent. The more I learned about the Sumerians the more I was blown away by what I found. It was more than I ever expected to find. And this has happened over and over. This idea of mine kept making accurate predictions the more I fleshed it out.

      Understand, this isn't a 'faith-based' thing. My faith would remain even if this whole thing crumbled just because of my life experience. I'm not some believer clinging desperately to some half-cocked theory. I'm an avid and insatiable fan of life, of humanity, of science and history. I want to know how it all works. Everything. As a believer I believe the answers will be revealed beyond death, but I want to figure it out before the answers are just given to me.

      I've added Jared Diamond's book to my ever-growing 'read' list. That thing grows five times faster than I can keep up with.

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      Methodskeptic 3 years ago

      The problem is, You're looking for things which agree with the bible, and simply dismissing any bits that disagree. Like for example, if Adam wasn't the first man, why did god have to parade all the animals before him to find him a suitable companion? Why did he have to magically create a brand new rib-woman when Adam would have had plenty of other women to choose from? Why does god say "is is not good for man to be alone" when according to you he was not alone? Why does the bible say that every living thing with breath died in the flood when that is clearly not the case? Why does it even say there was a worldwide flood when nothing of the sort ever happened? Why does it say that languages were confused in a singular event when we know that is false? The list of things that the bible says which aren't true, which are only rescuable through post-hoc justifications and creative interpretations is mind-boggling. I'm not compelled by the predictions you made as you studied because every part of your investigation was bent towards confirmation bias.

      You're also going straight to the supernatural explanations for things that could explain it, and disregarding other possibilities. The corollary to Sherlock Holmes' maxim about unlikely explanations is that you must first establish that other explanations are impossible before jumping to unlikely conclusions.

      Behavioral shifts could have come about because we got mystically ensouled at some point and developed libertarian free will that magically allows our brains to ignore causality. Or, it could be that behavior shifted because lifestyles shifted.

      The shift to city life and to an agricultural model could create an awareness of the value of durable goods--houses, livestock, stores of food. We may have started killing other people and taking their stuff because of some fall from grace, or it may have been because now, they had enough stuff worth taking. You and your friends attack a band of hunter-gatherers, you make off with maybe enough food for a week. You and your friends attack a farming settlement, you make off with maybe enough food to get through the winter.

      Settled living also made people much more aware of family relationships. For a hunter-gatherer, it doesn't make much difference who fathers children--it's more efficient to share labor and knowledge and survive as a group. But for a farmer, who owns a house, land, a self-replenishing herd of stock, suddenly who he leaves his estate to becomes more pressing. Since he's spending less time at home, since farming takes more man-hours, suddenly he's got to worry about who's making time with his mate when he's away from sunup to sundown. Larger communities also allowed for a concept of anonymity to be discovered. In small groups, you know who everyone is by sight, and you can reciprocate for good or ill treatment relatively easily. But in large groups, not everybody knows each other well, and it becomes harder to hold people accountable for bad behavior--the very notion of "getting away with it" is only possible under an agrarian, large-community setting.

      Stores of food and livestock also created the concept of wealth, as well. There's really no such thing as wealth to a pre-agrarian society. Weapons and tools are replaceable, and wear out quickly. Clothes aren't manufactured out of value-added materials. But once agriculture gets rolling, things like bricks, cloth, metal tools--those represent capital investment, something to protect, something to kill to keep or to kill to take. Also related to wealth is the concept of "surplus." There's no such thing as that in a pre-agrarian lifestyle. It doesn't pay to have a large family, or to spend every waking moment toiling, you're just going to deplete your environment of resources. Farming is harder work, more work overall in fact, but one thing it does do is scale up with the effort put in. Every child you have is another pair of hands for work with only a few years' investment.

      Agrarianism also forced people to start thinking ahead. Nothing on the so-called "Paleo Diet" keeps very well. But grains, those can be stored. Planting crops requires the concept of delayed gratification, and a fierce desire to make sure that your investment is followed through.

      I have no need of supernatural explanations when naturalistic explanations are infinitely more likely. Theories that attempt to retcon Bronze Age fables into historical fact are more improbable than any number of perfectly understandable, natural consequences of changing lifestyle. I'll also reiterate that every discovery ever made, every question answered, every mystery explored, the answer to date, 100% of the time, has been "not supernatural." No god ever indicated. No myth ever corroborated. No magic ever measured.

      Why should I jump to the conclusion that the cause is anything but the natural consequence of changing lifestyles?

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      Jeremy Christian 3 years ago from Texas

      Methodskeptic,

      "The problem is, You're looking for things which agree with the bible, and simply dismissing any bits that disagree."

      I'm not dismissing anything. We just haven't talked about all of that. When I say this viewpoint clarifies the bible, that's exactly what I mean. That includes these things. For example, the bit about God bringing the animals to Adam. Notice what it says. He did so 'to see what he would call them'. Adam was different. Adam, having free will, the first of his kind, meant that he was essentially the first creator besides God to add to the universe. Even something as simple as naming an animal is something being created, not of God, but of Adam. As for Adam's companion, that's another clue. All the other animals had mates because they have limited lifespans and procreate. Even the humans in Gen1 were said to have been made male and female. But Adam wasn't supposed to die and therefore had no need to procreate. But he would be alone in this world in that he would outlive everything else. He needed a mate. Not to procreate with, but to be with. It's only after the 'fall' that Eve was to have to bare the pains of childbirth because it was after they broke the rule that they would 'surely die'. Once they proved capable and willing of behaving contrary to God's one rule, God immediately gave them an expiration date. Now they were going to have to have children to perpetuate life.

      "Why does the bible say that every living thing with breath died in the flood when that is clearly not the case?" That's another important clue. Notice it was only Adam that it says God breathed the breath of life into him. All the other animals, and the other humans, came about naturally. Only Adam was formed and God blew the breath of life directly into him. Then, later in Gen6, God says His "spirit will not contend with humans forever" once Adam's descendants began mating with humans. Mixing with humans actually diluted this spirit. And it also diluted the genes that gave such long life, as is evidenced by the rapidly declining ages after the flood. It was these, the humans who inhereted the 'breath', those who were now 'wicked' as a result of free will, who the flood was meant for. Like a scientist working with a volatile element or virus, God hit the 'quanantine' button because of a contamination. And unintended result. This is why it says He 'regretted putting humans on the earth'. As for the flood itself, it's only in how it's translated that it's global. The people of that age doing the writing had no idea what 'global' even was. A catastrophic flood in that plain WAS the whole world to them.

      We don't 'know' the languages being confused in a singular event to be false. We only 'know' what we know post written history. This predates that. However, in tracing back the languages we know that Sumerian and Egyptian and the Indus Valley and Akkad all had their own unique language each when their writing system began. All really close to one another in both location and timeline. And we know that semetic speaking tribes coming in from the desert and overrunning established cultures transformed them. The same goes for indo-european tribes to the north. There's actually quite a bit, language-wise, to this.

      "Or, it could be that behavior shifted because lifestyles shifted."

      First, the bahavior shift came first, then the dramatic alteration of lifestyle. Second, lifestyle changed elsewhere as well with the spread of the agricultural revolution and behavior didn't do the same. Look at the numerous largely populated cultures to the north that predate Sumer, like Catal Hayuk, the Lepenski Vir settlement, the Vinča-Turda culture, etc.

      I understand the current ideas regarding the transition to 'behavioral modernity' as far as lifestyle change goes, class stratification coming about through developing working classes who had needed skills and could provide service, the storing of grains, "looking ahead", delayed gratification, and all of that. That's what this whole hub was about. Highlighting the disconnect between these 'broad-stroke' ideas and the actual evidence.

      "Theories that attempt to retcon Bronze Age fables into historical fact are more improbable than any number of perfectly understandable, natural consequences of changing lifestyle"

      It's nothing more than assumption that these are "bronze age fables". It's when we critically analyze those things that are taken as a 'given', like this assumption for example, that's when we really begin to open doors.

      "I'll also reiterate that every discovery ever made, every question answered, every mystery explored, the answer to date, 100% of the time, has been "not supernatural.""

      To this point. Are we done? Do we have all the answers? Or could it be the answers up to this point served to reveal this? You've said this multiple times, but it simply makes no sense. Again, what would 'supernatural' evidence look like? A gap in the explanation is what it would look like. Something lacking 'natural' cause.

      "No god ever indicated. No myth ever corroborated. No magic ever measured."

      The evidence is "corroberating myth" right now. That's what I'm pointing out. And how do you measure 'magic'? It's not like Egon building an electronic gizmo to detect ecto-plasm is real science. You're talking about magic which is the total opposite of science. This statement simply makes no sense.

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      Rad Man 3 years ago

      "For example, the bit about God bringing the animals to Adam. Notice what it says. He did so 'to see what he would call them'. Adam was different. Adam, having free will, the first of his kind, meant that he was essentially the first creator besides God to add to the universe. Even something as simple as naming an animal is something being created, not of God, but of Adam."

      Are you saying other people of the time had no language? They had no words for those animals? Because from what I read, your saying it takes free will to name things, but clearly not only do other people have other languages but so do other animals.

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      Rad Man 3 years ago

      As I've said before, claiming the human mind is unobservable is not understand what the mind is. The mind is a description of a few things the brain does. So saying that an abstract like the mind is unobservable is like saying baseball is unobservable. We can sit at a ball field and watch a ball game, but we can't actually watch a ball game, we can watch someone throw a ball and someone catch a ball and even someone hit a ball with a bat, but we have to see all these things together to know we are watching a ballgame. For example, we know when the game starts and where the warm up ends by the changes in behaviour of the players. The mind is the same thing as a ball game in that it's detectable by the observation of the collection of a few specific things.

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      Jeremy Christian 3 years ago from Texas

      Rad Man,

      "As I've said before, claiming the human mind is unobservable is not understand what the mind is. The mind is a description of a few things the brain does. So saying that an abstract like the mind is unobservable is like saying baseball is unobservable. We can sit at a ball field and watch a ball game, but we can't actually watch a ball game, we can watch someone throw a ball and someone catch a ball and even someone hit a ball with a bat, but we have to see all these things together to know we are watching a ballgame. For example, we know when the game starts and where the warm up ends by the changes in behaviour of the players. The mind is the same thing as a ball game in that it's detectable by the observation of the collection of a few specific things."

      I'm not sure how understanding the mind to be the culmination of multiple contributing processes in any way changes the fact that the mind is not observable. Yes, it can be determined, based on the type of thought a particular stimuli may invoke, particular areas of the brain show activity when that type of thought is invoked, consistently. But observing a higher concentration of oxygenated blood in a particular lobe of the brain does not equate to being able to actually 'observe' the psychological experience an individual is 'seeing' in their "mind's eye". It still can't be observed and therefore shown to materially exist at all. We just have to take each other's word for it that we're experiencing thought. If our discussions have shown us anything, it's the difficulty we humans encounter trying to convey 'unobservable' ideas and viewpoints.

      Your baseball analogy is a good one, with one small tweak. Imagine, rather than watching the game, your listening to it on the radio. Only you've never seen a game before. Never seen a baseball field, or a baseball, a glove, a base, none of it. All you've got is what you can glean from the man on the radio describing what's happening. You don't know the shape of the field, you're not even certain you understand the rules. But you notice patterns. Like crowd reaction whenever certain things happen. Inflections in the commentator's voice when specific things happen. There's a lot you can deduce about this information. But you've still never actually seen a game. You just have this one crude form of information gathering to understand.

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      Rad Man 3 years ago

      What you would see is a collection of things that when put together we call a ballgame. The mind is no different, it's a collection of things that when all happen we call a mind. I'm aware you have a mind and we haven't met or talked. I have the evidence in your writings.

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      Jeremy Christian 3 years ago from Texas

      Rad Man,

      What I'm trying to stress in the story about Adam naming the animals is the language. The way in which its described. God is testing this new creation. He's curious about it. Like bringing animals to Adam to 'see what he'll call them'. Every other living thing that has the capability to speak or communicate, its communication capability evolved naturally. It's 'of God' just like everything else natural. What Adam says and does comes from another source. It comes from Adam's will. His own mind. It's 'of Adam' rather than 'of God'.

      As for who had language when, there's really no way of knowing. Until writing was invented there's no way to know how well humans before that communicated. Whether it was a sophisticated language system or whether it was more animal-like. Our mouths had already evolved to where they were capable of making sophisticated sounds and words, but whether or not they were used to actually speak a recognizable language is unknown.

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      Jeremy Christian 3 years ago from Texas

      Rad Man,

      "What you would see is a collection of things that when put together we call a ballgame. The mind is no different, it's a collection of things that when all happen we call a mind. I'm aware you have a mind and we haven't met or talked. I have the evidence in your writings."

      None of that changes the fact that the mind isn't observable. Being a culmination of multiple processes doesn't change that. It still isn't observable by anyone. The psychological experience is something that undoubtedly exists, but that cannot be empirically proven to be there. The only reason any of us know it's there is because we 'are' the matter that makes it, so we experience it. So who's to say similar unseeable/unobservable things aren't happening in matter elsewhere, totally invisible to us?

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      Rad Man 3 years ago

      Sorry, but the mind is detectable, Doctors detect the mind everyday. There are tests that determine when someone is brain dead. They and we look for the collection of things we call the mind, one of which is thought. Brain scans can determine if thought is happening, even if we don't know the thoughts. So this is nothing like the undetectable God that doesn't even appear in tests on prayers. Having a conversation with someone is direct evidence of thought. Wind is direct evidence of air. What direct evidence do you have for God?

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      Jeremy Christian 3 years ago from Texas

      It's actually very much like God. What you're talking about is brain activity. Which we assume is the physical manifestation of thought. Nobody can actually 'see' these thoughts, or prove they're there and happening, we just assume they're happening if we see brain activity. So, an unseeable/unobservable cause for what can be observed is inferred. Yet actually proving these psychological experiences are actually happening are just as unprovable as God existing.

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      Ian Stuart Robertson 2 years ago from London England

      The scientists can now implant a microchip into the human brain to enable a paralytic movement. What next for the future of homo - sapiens?

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