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Prozac of the Neanderthal ,The origins of Human Religious Behavior

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positivepsychology.net H2'ed 10/17/09
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Therefore, if one runs into a person who is totally devoid of sexuality or aggression, .One can assume that the person is suffering from some kind of disease or condition. If one examines the human brain one can easily locate those parts of the brain which are in charge of sexual and aggressive behaviors. At the same time if one cannot locate the original site of a universal behavior it does not mean that the behavior does not have an origin in the human brain. It just means that one does not have the instrumentation or the knowledge to find it.

We should remember that the human brain is the most complex machine on the planet. And up to very recent times man's knowledge of its basic functions were not known. Aristotle referred to the human brain as the cooling system of the body. In other words Aristotle's explanation of the human brain was that it's just a radiator. A look at the content of the bodies of the Egyptian mummies show that they are all missing the brain. Apparently, in the process of mummifying of the deceased they used to cut out all of the internal organs and at the end, they would put back those organs that were going to be needed in after life, into the cavity. Since they thought that the human brain has no value they used to throw it away.

If one investigates any archaeological site one would notice that there are several items which are commonly seen in all of them (if the site is intact). These items include utensils, weapons, jewelry and religious artifacts. Each one of these artifacts represents a universal behavior. Utensils represent hunger and thirst. Jewelry represents human sexual behavior and, weapons refer to human aggression. Since religious artifacts represent religiosity one can postulate that human religious behavior is in the same universal behavior category as the rest of them.

The oldest documented religious behavior is recorded among the Neanderthals. Although Neanderthals were totally different from homosapiens (us) they did leave a few artifacts which point to the possibility that they were the first animals who developed religiosity. These artifacts include burying the dead with utensils, weapons and food. This behavior represents a belief in life after death, which is fundamentally a religious belief.

Big bang in anthropology

The Big Bang Theory is usually utilized to refer to the origins of the universe. however, there is also a Big Bang in evolution. Homo sapiens appeared on the planet Earth about one hundred thousand years ago (maybe more but not less) And although it's a common belief that there has not been much of a change among the homo sapiens from the beginning until now one can easily see an evolutionary process in human brain development which is superimposed within the evolution of human species.

About sixty thousand years ago, there was a significant change in human behavior which represents a significant change in the function the human brain. However, since we do not have any fossils of the human brain itself our studies are limited to the study of the skull which does not show any significant change.

The change in function of the human brain can be confirmed by the significant change in human behavior that the giant leap indicates. All different components of the brain got integrated so well that it made the human brain much more functional.

A careful analysis of the archaeological sites shows the appearance of the dependence upon language, knowledge to self, compassion, the creation and utilization of complex tools, and appearance of religion. The best indicator of development of compassion is the observation of human bones, which indicate that the person had sustained severe injuries but the victim had died of natural causes not related to the injury. This finding promotes the idea that the person must have been taken care of by others. Such behavior is specific to the last generation of the Neanderthals and homo sapiens after the big bang.

If we put these facts together then we can easily see why human beings developed religiosity and how it became a part of human genome.

If a human is capable of developing insight to self and is a social animal and has devolved compassion, Living in harsh environments of sixty thousand years ago, he is going to be badly vulnerable to depression and anxiety. Considering the fact that the most potent human instinct is motherhood and a human child requires a minimum of twelve years to become independent one can imagine how a mother would have felt if she would observe her child being stolen by an animal in her view.. That individual without any doubt would have developed clinical depression. Therefore, those humans encountering such terrifying experiences, in those harsh environments would not have survived the following clinical depression if they did not have the innate tool of religion to deal with the problem. It is well known that severe depression, if not treated, is a fatal condition.

We can observe similar religious behaviors in societies which were totally isolated for tens of thousands of years, making the learning theory of religiosity null and void.

For example Australian Aborigine s who were separated from the mainland about thirty thousand years ago and native Americans who were separated from the main body of Asia about fifteen thousand years ago, all indulge in some type of religious behavior.

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Prozac of the Neanderthal ,The origins of Human Religious Behavior