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Windevoid

Ancient beliefs and evolution.

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Evolution says that humans came from an ape, baboon, chimpanzee, gorilla, or monkey (not quite sure what the difference is).

So why, then, do all ancient cultures say that humans (and some of our earliest technology) were made by gods? None of them say we came from animals, as far as I know.

What's going on, here?

Edited by Windevoid

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The simple answer is that humans used to be part of nature and they studied nature through observation and logic. We simply have forgotten that nature was divided into its various aspects for study and these were given human characteristics to help in remembering their relationships. We in modern times misinterpret these various aspects of nature as "gods". This exact same misinterpretation underlay the the legends, myths, religions, etc, etc, etc for four millinea.

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Small correction. Humans ARE apes. We share a common ancestor with those others you listed, but we didn't so much "come from" apes as much as we are a type of ape.

 

Now, specifically to your question... How sure are you that NO cultures said we came from animals and that ALL said we came from god(s)? That seems like a mighty assumption that is quite likely to be untrue.

Edited by iNow

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They weren't far wrong in that humans are special in some fashion.

 

Our simian ancestors passed through a particularly deadly bottleneck. Evolution made sacrifices in a number of other areas just to increase our brain size.

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In addition to what iNow said, there are quite a few religions that assume interconnectivity between humans and animals. According to buddhistic doctrine humans can be reborn as animals and vice-versa. As such humans are not apart from the rest of the animal world.

Similar beliefs are held by smaller religious groups, such as Australian aborigines, who believe that animals and plants were people during the creation period.

Essentially the premise of OP is flawed in several ways.

Edited by CharonY

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They weren't far wrong in that humans are special in some fashion.

 

Our simian ancestors passed through a particularly deadly bottleneck. Evolution made sacrifices in a number of other areas just to increase our brain size.

 

 

I don't believe humans are really very special at all. We're more dextrous than most animals and a little more clever, no doubt, but what really sets us apart is simply language. We are capable of passing down learning across generations and this led to numerous advances in language use such as writing, the printing press, telecommunications, and the internet. It is language which allows each generation to progress and not that humans are somehow "special".

 

Thanksa for the post.

 

"This also comes from the many Egyptian Gods, like Anubis and Horus."

 

This is completely untrue. There is no such basis for these so called gods within 1000 years from when they arose.

 

 

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Evolution says that humans came from an ape, baboon, chimpanzee, gorilla, or monkey (not quite sure what the difference is).

 

So why, then, do all ancient cultures say that humans (and some of our earliest technology) were made by gods? None of them say we came from animals, as far as I know.

 

What's going on, here?

 

Actually not all cultures say men were made by gods. There are quite a lot of creation myths that say we came from animals. Others have us coming from rocks or mud. Some really badly thought-out ones even have men witnessing the creation of man. This is why we call them myths.

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Actually not all cultures say men were made by gods. There are quite a lot of creation myths that say we came from animals. Others have us coming from rocks or mud. Some really badly thought-out ones even have men witnessing the creation of man. This is why we call them myths.

 

There are at least a couple Egyptian myths about the origin of man. The better known probably dates to later times and has the god Khnum make man from clay on his potter's wheel. The other is older or at least has elements that are older and has man springing from tear drop of Re', the sun "god".

 

 

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Thanksa for the post.

 

"This also comes from the many Egyptian Gods, like Anubis and Horus."

 

This is completely untrue. There is no such basis for these so called gods within 1000 years from when they arose.

 

There are at least a couple Egyptian myths about the origin of man. The better known probably dates to later times and has the god Khnum make man from clay on his potter's wheel. The other is older or at least has elements that are older and has man springing from tear drop of Re', the sun "god".

So we don't get off topic, let's not debate when religions arose/specifics of any mythology. The examples were just used to show the OP was starting with a false premise, which seems to be a fair consensus.

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For one, our cultural memory doesn't extend past a few thousand years in any great detail. The religions we're aware of are not hundreds of thousands of years old.

 

Second, at no point was anyone alive to say "wow, my grandpa was an ape!" Everyone who ever lived was basically the same as everyone who was alive at the same time they were. The differences between generations would have been basically imperceptible. You would have needed someone to hang around watching other people for at least tens to hundreds of thoudreds of thousands of years to even notice a change, and if you wanted them to realize we share a common ancestor with other apes or monkeys, you're talking millions of years.

 

 

So in summary, we don't have religions that teach evolution as a result of it being past down because oral tradition is essentially a giant game of telephone and we don't retain detail from long enough ago for evolutionary scales, and even if we did, no one has ever been alive long enough to notice evolution acting on humanity because the human lifespan isn't long enough to observe enough human generations.

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There are at least a couple Egyptian myths about the origin of man. The better known probably dates to later times and has the god Khnum make man from clay on his potter's wheel. The other is older or at least has elements that are older and has man springing from tear drop of Re', the sun "god".

 

 

There is a common denominator for these beliefs. They are all based on observation of various entoptic and other visual neurological phenomenon. The potter’s wheel is the “tear drop of Re” is the bindu, is the Adrop, is the six pointed star, is the Eye of God, etc.

You made need to make another thread for this.

 

 

J.E.T.

Edited by Sayonara³
Quote tag fixed

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For one, our cultural memory doesn't extend past a few thousand years in any great detail. The religions we're aware of are not hundreds of thousands of years old.

 

Second, at no point was anyone alive to say "wow, my grandpa was an ape!" Everyone who ever lived was basically the same as everyone who was alive at the same time they were. The differences between generations would have been basically imperceptible. You would have needed someone to hang around watching other people for at least tens to hundreds of thoudreds of thousands of years to even notice a change, and if you wanted them to realize we share a common ancestor with other apes or monkeys, you're talking millions of years.

 

 

So in summary, we don't have religions that teach evolution as a result of it being past down because oral tradition is essentially a giant game of telephone and we don't retain detail from long enough ago for evolutionary scales, and even if we did, no one has ever been alive long enough to notice evolution acting on humanity because the human lifespan isn't long enough to observe enough human generations.

 

 

The Bible says that "Adam named the animals" which could certainly reflect the development of language as the result of a genetic mutation such as Chomsky suggests. Obviously man couldn't remember millinea of evolution if we can't even remember the most basic and important events of human history but there is certainly no reason to suppose that our ancestors couldn't look at a fossil and put two and two together.

 

What happened to our memory?

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The Bible says that "Adam named the animals" which could certainly reflect the development of language as the result of a genetic mutation such as Chomsky suggests. Obviously man couldn't remember millinea of evolution if we can't even remember the most basic and important events of human history but there is certainly no reason to suppose that our ancestors couldn't look at a fossil and put two and two together.

 

What happened to our memory?

If you're asking what happened to our cultural memory, I'm going to refer back to the telephone analogy I made before. Have you ever played a game of telephone? You tell something to the person next to you and they pass it along to the next and so on. Once it's gone through a dozen or so people, there will be some noticeable differences between what you said and what the final person heard. It comes from a combination of accidental mishearing, misremembering and intentional manipulation on the part of various individual over the course of the chain.

 

When relying on oral tradition especially, history is like a long game of telephone. Over the course of hundreds of thousands of years, you have so many details that get left out, misremembered, added, forgotten or changed from one generation to the next that whatever people believed at the start has gotten lost. Even if any element remained, it would be practically impossible to dostinguish from what was added or changed in the intervening period and the context would be quite different.

 

As far as being able to put two and two together with fossils, our ancestors were no better or worse equipped to accomplish that 100,000 years ago than 10,000, 5,000 or 1,000 years ago. Without some understanding of natural selection and Mendellian inheritance as well as information regarding geological time scales, connecting those dots is much harder.

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If you're asking what happened to our cultural memory, I'm going to refer back to the telephone analogy I made before. Have you ever played a game of telephone? You tell something to the person next to you and they pass it along to the next and so on. Once it's gone through a dozen or so people, there will be some noticeable differences between what you said and what the final person heard. It comes from a combination of accidental mishearing, misremembering and intentional manipulation on the part of various individual over the course of the chain.

 

 

Yes. This is one of the biggest problems even during recorded history. Not only does the story evolve but the details get muddied because all the place names change and word meanings change. But this shouldn't be a prime problem since the invention of writing as original narratives should exist. They don't exist (at least dated and in context) from before 2000 BC because such sources aren't comprehensible. It's little better since 2000 BC since few sources exist and they tend to be religious in nature. Not until the 7th century BC Greeks is there anything approaching a continuous history and many of the details are hazy at best.

 

I doubt our oral history was so broken and confused. They would have taken great pains to assure it was passed down correctly. When writing was invented this oral history would be among the very first things recorded yet it appears to be lost nearly its entirety save bits and fragments which might exist in legend.

 

As far as being able to put two and two together with fossils, our ancestors were no better or worse equipped to accomplish that 100,000 years ago than 10,000, 5,000 or 1,000 years ago. Without some understanding of natural selection and Mendellian inheritance as well as information regarding geological time scales, connecting those dots is much harder.

 

Certainly they lacked the vast data that we have but they would be aware that these fossils must be extremely old since marine animal fossils would be found high on dry land. A great deal can be pieced together from observation and logic alone.

 

388a. It is N. (the dead king) who inundated the land after it had come out of the ocean;

 

This specific sentence might be so ancient that it even pre-dates writing itself, yet the concept that land might have once been part of the ocean seems quite clear.

 

They also would probably see fossils for which no animal was known to exist including some dinosaur bones. But we seem to have no memory of ever writing such words. They knew that animals came and went and likely changed. They would have guessed at the mechanisms just as we do though they would not have large amounts of supporting evidence.

 

There seems to be a disconnect between ancient and modern times caused by much more than just our habit of downplaying ancient knowledge and capabilities.

 

http://www.sacred-texts.com/egy/pyt/index.htm

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Yes. This is one of the biggest problems even during recorded history. Not only does the story evolve but the details get muddied because all the place names change and word meanings change. But this shouldn't be a prime problem since the invention of writing as original narratives should exist. They don't exist (at least dated and in context) from before 2000 BC because such sources aren't comprehensible. It's little better since 2000 BC since few sources exist and they tend to be religious in nature. Not until the 7th century BC Greeks is there anything approaching a continuous history and many of the details are hazy at best.

 

I doubt our oral history was so broken and confused. They would have taken great pains to assure it was passed down correctly. When writing was invented this oral history would be among the very first things recorded yet it appears to be lost nearly its entirety save bits and fragments which might exist in legend.

I'm sure they did their best, but we're talking tens of thousands of generations, here. Photocopy a document 10,000 times and I'd be shocked if it was still legible, and that's making an exact duplicate. Maintaining perfect oral tradition, especially while trying to continually add to it since history keeps happening, is very difficult. The first person might teach 20 years of history to their child. The next 40 years. The next 60 years. A thousand generations down, you're trying to teach 20,000 years of history. That's a lot of information that is going to wind up getting a lot more compressed than the initial 20 year story was. The more thins get compressed, the more detail gets left out, and the farther back something is, the more times it will have undergone compression until you're covering thousands of years of history in a few sentences, which isn't really enough to convey anything meaningful.

 

And that's without data loss just from mistakes and embellishments which also happen. People are better at remembering the details of recent history than ancient history.

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I doubt our oral history was so broken and confused. They would have taken great pains to assure it was passed down correctly.

Even our written records suffer from these problems. The Bible, arguably one of the major written works of mankind, it just totally riddled with translation and transcription errors. Some deliberately put in to support or detract from some point of view at the time, some just simple mistakes. And you can't argue that the above were caused by not taking enough great pains.

 

The simple truth is that errors -- both the intentional kind and the unintentional kind -- happen quite a lot.

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Even our written records suffer from these problems. The Bible, arguably one of the major written works of mankind, it just totally riddled with translation and transcription errors. Some deliberately put in to support or detract from some point of view at the time, some just simple mistakes. And you can't argue that the above were caused by not taking enough great pains.

 

The simple truth is that errors -- both the intentional kind and the unintentional kind -- happen quite a lot.

 

My copy of "Jailbird", which I am currently reading on my Kindle, contains the obviously wrong phrase "He was one of the few friends I had nude in prison."

 

And that's with 21st Century technology!

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My copy of "Jailbird", which I am currently reading on my Kindle, contains the obviously wrong phrase "He was one of the few friends I had nude in prison."

 

And that's with 21st Century technology!

Are you sure that's a mistake?

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Are you sure that's a mistake?

 

Yes, very much so. He also tells us how many yean old his partner was when they met.

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The problem with spellcheckers is that no one ever proof reads anymore.

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Nah, I've got some old physical copy books with fun errors in them. I think it's less that fewer people are careful about typos, and more that the barrier to releasing words out into the world is so low that even the people who don't put as much effort in can pull it off.

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I'm not completely sure who but some few of the ancients did indeed get parts of it right, I read this many years ago but if memory serves me there was some Greek ( i think) BCE that suggested a hierarchy of complexity among animals and even suggested some relationship with each other but he didn't get a mechanism or he didn't quite go far enough with decent... it's been many years but i am quite sure there were some in the ancient world who questioned these things but never quite got all the parts at once.

 

The ancients did find fossils, fossil proto-ceratopsins were mistaken for the mythical

 

griffin_fc.jpg

 

mammoth fossils were thought to be cyclops, there are a few more examples i think.

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If you're asking what happened to our cultural memory, I'm going to refer back to the telephone analogy I made before. Have you ever played a game of telephone? You tell something to the person next to you and they pass it along to the next and so on. Once it's gone through a dozen or so people, there will be some noticeable differences between what you said and what the final person heard. It comes from a combination of accidental mishearing, misremembering and intentional manipulation on the part of various individual over the course of the chain.

 

When relying on oral tradition especially, history is like a long game of telephone. Over the course of hundreds of thousands of years, you have so many details that get left out, misremembered, added, forgotten or changed from one generation to the next that whatever people believed at the start has gotten lost. Even if any element remained, it would be practically impossible to dostinguish from what was added or changed in the intervening period and the context would be quite different.

 

 

This is an assumption. It is a very commonly made assumption and very logical since it is supported by evidence. But it is still an assumption and all the evidence applies only to times since 2000 BC. I actually don't believe the concept of deterioration of information over time applies to the time before 2000 BC and especially not to times before the invention of writing. Admittedly there wouldn't be any evidence it did apply even if such deterioration existed.

 

Modern thought is based on a lot of assumptions and this is one that is likely wrong. The simple fact is that it is ludicrous to believe that the invention of cities was possible without theory; theory had to be maintained through oral tradition. Since man did progress in an apparently straight line fashion before 2000 BC the logical conclusion is that their theory (science) could be passed generation to generation intact.

 

I believe that this ability to pass information was due to the nature of their language and the reason all history and science before 2000 BC is lost is that there was an invisible change in the language.

 

As far as being able to put two and two together with fossils, our ancestors were no better or worse equipped to accomplish that 100,000 years ago than 10,000, 5,000 or 1,000 years ago. Without some understanding of natural selection and Mendellian inheritance as well as information regarding geological time scales, connecting those dots is much harder.

 

 

I've never been much of a Darwinian myself. He had keen insights but "survival of the fittest" is not by any means the best fit logically nor with the evidence. Any sentient being looking at a strange fossil or an out of place fossil is going to see change and great lenghts of time.

Edited by cladking

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I actually don't believe the concept of deterioration of information over time applies to the time before 2000 BC and especially not to times before the invention of writing. Admittedly there wouldn't be any evidence it did apply even if such deterioration existed.

So, you're saying that even though we know that written works -- using a form of storage that is inherently significantly more permanent than human memory -- incur a significant number of errors, you're assuming that oral histories were kept perfectly. Okaaaaaaay.

 

I don't know any off the top of my head because I've never looked into it, but I have to suspect that there is some evidence of this. Surely groups that fractured and at one time shared a history ended up telling different versions of the same story after it drifted through the years. I know that several fables and myths ended up with many different versions told, for example. It is just my opinion, but I think you are severely underestimating the natural effects.

Edited by Bignose

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