(I am posting this as a way to play with ideas I have been reading & thinking about. I have not vetted all info, yet. I welcome opinions or links to corroborate or argue against anything within.)
When I proposed the thought experiment (see last post) of your consciousness being someplace other than right behind your eyes, it sounded absurd.
I mean, what would a Human Being be without consciousness as we know it?
Actually, if we could go back 100,000 years, we could see.
Well, maybe not *without* consciousness, but certainly without the higher thinking humans exhibit today.
Humans had consciousness in the way a cow or monkey does.
No artistic expression. No language. No significant building. Just eating, surviving, procreating like the rest of the animal kingdom.
From what we can find, humans existed in our modern biological form for 150,000 years before the 50,000 year period we call “human history” begins.
These Paleolithic populations created sophisticated stone tools and left evidence of their advanced culture in the cave paintings of southern France, dating to at least 30,000 years ago. Although anatomically modern humans first appear in Africa about 150,000 years ago, their archaeological remains show little sign of modern human behavior.
We had 100,000 years of living like, well, animals.
So the idea of our philosophical, imaginative, wondering, self-aware brains being absent from our heads is not so crazy after all.
In that “Pre-History” state we functioned much more like the rest of the creatures of the world did, and still do: In balance with nature.
When resources are high, populations grow. When resources are slim, populations shrink.
But at a certain point, something clicked in our brains and we started thinking bigger. We pursued growth and progress and started taming the earth and acting as if we were separate from the rest of the Universe.
Rather than live within the resources of the planet, we started to shape the planet to better suit our needs and desires.
We cultivated the land. We build structures. We tamed fire. We started painting on the walls and carving figurines. We started the exponential growth towards cities with cultural and technological advancement.
Traditional Christian dogma might say that we were stepping into our role of ruler of the kingdom God made for us.
“And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.”
Progressive Christian thought might say that was we took a bite from the tree of knowledge and became separated from God. Before they ate the fruit, they were naked and without sin. Afterwards, they felt shame. (And all the modern neurosis that comes with conscious thought.
“But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” -Genesis 2:17 “And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.” -Genesis 2:25
Terence McKenna & Graham Hancock have theorized that perhaps it was at this point that humans ingested medicinal, hallucinogenic plants for the first time – and in doing so unlocked language functioning in the brain. Making way for all sorts of cumulative learning across generations.
You can find a dozen sci-fi books (and at least 1 big haired researcher on the History channel) who attribute the shift to a visit from aliens at that time.
Whatever happened, something shifted and awakened the minds of homo sapiens.
And this new force on the planet was as significant as fire. And just as powerful.
And, just like fire, it could benefit or destroy, depending on if it is controlled or unchecked.
- A controlled fire brings warmth, cooks food, gives light and elevates the quality of life.
- An unchecked fire destroys life and landscape.
- A controlled mind problem solves, cooperates, and finds harmony.
- An unchecked mind is anxious, irrationally fearful, & destructive.
Some would argue that this mind shift is actually some sort of “Progress Virus” unleashed upon the planet, inside the brains of homo sapiens. As we approach the Singularity of Artificial Intelligence, genetic modification and biotech mastery one could wonder – has the Progress Virus been guiding us towards an evolutionary post-human species all along? This shift in our mind was a seed that sprouted — Perhaps present in our DNA all along.
Maybe this seed was even present in the DNA of the planet itself. And all of evolution was leading up to a time when the Progress Virus would be triggered and consciousness would grow.
On maybe we were touched by God, making us in his image.
I don’t know if any of these ideas are more than fantasy.
Only that there was a time when humans did not act, and presumably think, like they do now.
And this hard-to-fathom scenario is enough to open up massive possibility and crack loose any certainty about who we are in the Universe.