The ancestor of man * was an opportunist. The species fed on everything edible available: plants, fruits, nuts and roots, supplemented with some animal nutrients from fish and small animals if these were easily available. Primordial man (hereinafter referred to as Primo, by which all hominids are understood from at least Australopithecus) was a multi-food eater; not really specialized in one particular type of food. He adapted his diet to the circumstances. This increased his nutritional options. Primo had a natural curiosity, which made it possible by trial and error to test unknown products for edibility or other usefulness. For example, he was not dependent on one type of food or one environment. But this required further development of his brain, if only to remember what he had just gained in experience. Memory and reproduction, but also combining experiences, were more developed in primo than in other animals. It was a “weapon” with which Primo held his own.
Originally, meat was not part of the standard diet. Primo was not really built for hunting (yet); he lacked the speed needed to catch an animal, he lacked the weapons such as claws or sharp teeth and the power to kill prey. Primo was not a carnivore. His stomach and intestinal tract had little resistance to germs that are present in (dead) meat. We still feel resistance when we see dead animals or when we smell meat that has been lying longer. A genetically induced defense to ensure that we do not try foods that can harm us. In exceptional cases Primo did feed on meat from animals killed in a forest fire, from which the germs had been killed by the burning.
The ancestor of man lived in a “paradise”: a wooded and wetland environment in a relatively warm climate, in which sufficient food was available for him. He was well adapted to his diet: he had arms with hands and a movable thumb for grasping. Legs to stand upright and to pick fruit from trees. He could dig and climb and thus could obtain plants and roots in and under the ground as well as nuts and fruits in bushes and trees.
Primo had a number of limitations: his skin and hair suited the mild climate and offered little resistance to the cold. He had few natural enemies and his build and behavior were therefore not designed for flight or hide. The number of larger predators in this area was limited because there were no large groups of grazers in the wooded area. They forage for food on steppes and plains. Primo lived in small family groups; a social context in which different individual competences and skills together had to guarantee the survival of the group as a genetic whole. It was mainly the female tribesmen who gathered food, while the main task of the males was to protect the group and determine among themselves who had the strongest genes to pass on these genes to subsequent generations through reproduction. Men were therefore more powerfully built than women who benefited less from a muscular body when gathering food.
The non-dominant males in the group assisted the dominant male in protecting the group and lend support to the females in obtaining food by breaking branches with nuts or fruit and catching fish and small animals.
Primo, who lived mainly on fruits, plants, nuts, and tubers, found that it was easy to use a stick to dig out the tubers, or knock the fruits out of the tree. Because few sticks are really well suited for digging and also beating fruit from trees or shrubs (firmness, length, manageability), once he found a good stick, he kept it with him as a kind of private tool. A good stick gave him / her an edge over the others. Carrying the stick required an important adjustment, making it difficult to use his hands to walk. More and more often he started walking upright, which opened up new, but not less, perspectives.
The use of sticks and walking upright also meant that sticks were also used by men as a weapon in the struggle for leadership or as a weapon against enemies. The stick (the staff) has always remained an important symbol of power for the man / human being and is also often used as a symbol in religion.
The ideal original habitat for the ancestor of humans and the virtually absence of large predators, resulted in a strong increase in the number of ancestral people. Probably, possibly in combination with climate change, a shortage of food arose, which may have resulted in groups fighting each other for food to an increasing extent and vehemently. In the absence of natural enemies, the primo became his own enemy and thus took a regulatory action in limiting the number. It was mainly the powerful men who fought against opponents, using primitive weapons such as sticks, bones and stones.
Meat was an exceptional delicacy. Only occasionally did the opportunity arise for Primo to be near a forest fire and to obtain from the scorched ground a still edible piece of roasted meat from a burnt animal before other animals could get it.
The problem with eating meat was that a dead animal contains germs that make it unfit for consumption by primo. Consumption was only relatively safe after incineration. It was a very unstable food source because it was uncertain when a burned animal large enough to feed the entire group was found. The rare fire-seared meat was easy to eat and didn’t need to be eaten right away. Primo was therefore very alert to the smell of fire and then went to great lengths to remove edible scorched dead animals from the burned ground. Even today, the smell of burnt wood still evokes the association with food in some.
Probably once after a forest fire, the stick with which a primo tried to pull a dead and roasted animal off the hot earth continued to smolder. He dragged the still smoldering stick and accidentally discovered that he could start a fire with it a little further away.
An important step towards a rational solution for the use of meat as a food source was that one or more primo groups no longer waited for an animal to be killed and scorched by circumstances (fire). They made successful attempts to kill animals themselves and burn the self-killed animal in the fire. This greatly increased the food options. In the future we can refer to these representatives of the hominids by the generic name homo sapiens or “human”.
The next big step was almost inevitable: man learned to keep the fire going after a fire with wood or other combustible material and he learned how to take this fire with him as the group moved on. Man was now “holder of fire”.
The ability to feed on meat and the possession of fire made humans less dependent on the forests in the warmer climate. There was a great migration towards colder regions with less competitive groups of people, where the large numbers of animals now formed a new food source for humans. With the help of fire and with the skins of captured animals, man could arm himself against a colder climate, against which his own fur offered insufficient protection.
Eating meat led to another, at least as crucial, development in humans: the ability to reason.
Since man is not a carnivore and hunter by nature, he could not rely on his innate actions to obtain meat. There was no pattern of instinctual attitudes and actions that enabled him to hunt and kill larger animals. The ability to do this relied largely on experiential learning. People had to anticipate circumstances in which natural action: the spontaneous response to certain stimuli and situations, given through the genes, did not lead to the desired goal. The responses of the native herbivore had to be delayed and other useful responses had to be triggered at the right time. This meant that he had to use previous experiences as a substitute for reality: to evoke response patterns without the immediate circumstance justifying these responses. He developed the ability to simulate reality – to evoke stimuli that lead to action or delay action – on the basis of previous experiences. This capacity to simulate, the internal production of process-based action and reaction (if a, then b or c, if b then x, if c then y, etc.) formed the impetus for what we now call thinking. However, the full thinking will come later, as we will see later.
Man learned to stockpile dried fruits, plants and herbs, nuts and dried meat. He therefore had the opportunity to swarm the world and leave the overcrowded regions of origin. He went in search of a suitable living environment with sufficient food, now including meat in addition to the original food. Humans came to the colder areas, where various flocks of herbivores lived. The rougher climate, the different seasons, the need to hunt, the often new and unfamiliar environment in which he found himself and the greater threat of predators, which were abundantly present in the areas with a lot of game, demanded a lot of adaptability from man. It forced him to rely even less on the genetically ingrained survival methods and more and more of his own experiences, but also to use the experiences of ancestors and others in what had now become a really hard struggle for existence. Man now had to adapt to the environment or adapt that environment to man. Natural action was increasingly supplanted by complex combinations of experiences and applications thereof. The brain adapted to this new behavior and the new parts evolved into a place where processes that we call “thinking” could take place. Man learned through “try and error”. All this required a spectacular development of thought. In the new way of life it was no longer possible to start from innate instinctive methods of survival. People were increasingly dependent on knowledge and experience. This knowledge and experience had to be passed on to others in order to prevent it from being lost. After all, it concerned responses to stimuli and situations that were unnatural for humans and therefore could not be passed on via the genes.
The transfer of knowledge and experience took place on 3 levels:
– the transfer of direct daily experiences to each other. Necessary to make life possible in ever-changing environment and circumstances.
– the transfer of skills important for making weapons and clothing and for the different methods of hunting different prey.
– the transfer of interesting learning processes from the past, through storytelling. The latter was necessary in order to “recognize” parts of a new environment or situation and to anticipate them in the correct way.
By passing on ancient stories with stylized images of the history of man, man tried to maintain his link with the origin. In these stories, which at their core can be found almost identically in all religions, it is told of the original environment (paradise), in which man still lived ‘in peace’ with the animals: not yet a natural enemy of the animals ( carnivore). Often, as in the Bible in Genesis, somehow or other reference is made to ’the great cover’: the origin of thinking (the tree of knowledge), the accompanying loss of the connection with one’s own place in the nature (original sin) and the departure from ‘paradise’ (Adam and Eve covered their nakedness from that time: they had to dress) This transfer required an increasing degree of communication. The new way of life also necessitated more and different communication. The different ways of gathering food: the women gathered and the men hunted, resulted in an often protracted physical separation from the group. Experiences had to be exchanged that were not shared by all other group members. In addition, experiences that had been gained a long time ago or about matters that were unknown to those members of the group who were not there. Sometimes it was also more than a single experience, a whole process. The original communication, based on gestures and postures, supplemented with supporting sounds, was no longer adequate. The sounds were expanded and increasingly came to represent fixed concepts: man started to talk and the more complicated his thought processes became, the more the old form of communication was supplanted by words, with which it was possible to convey thought processes.
In contrast to this stood the development of the collective experience of the “mystical”.
The new way of life had alienated man from himself, from his original living environment and from his place in that living environment. Thought had supplanted the original and natural direct response to stimuli and situations and thus severed the automatic bond or unity with the environment. This ever-increasing loss of direct contact with the natural and original environment and with one’s own natural, instinctive values could only be compensated for by preserving and transferring ancient rituals and experiences that were not affected by the “new thinking”. By switching off or diminishing thinking, people came back into contact with the original human being. This original man in turn had a natural connection with everything that surrounded him: still knew the “unconscious understanding” of the environment; the mystical consciousness of your own archetypal form and the place you originally have in the whole of everything that surrounds you. It was what we would now call the experience of God.
It was mainly the men who, for their role, hunting and taking care of survival strategies in an unnaturally colder climate for man, their natural original course of action supplanted by thinking. For the women, this went more gradually in the form of storing useful information about the immediate environment for food collection and suitability for the tribe and their children and information about the social structure within the tribe to improve the chances of that tribe’s survival or to optimize their own children. But everything still mainly from the original genetically determined context with the environment and innate actions. The men therefore identified the woman with the origin, with the bond with the earth: the primeval mother who could show them the way to their own lost place in the world. * Women became part of – and also the center of – the world. mystical experience of men. Great powers were attributed to them and the woman was revered as a symbol, and was sometimes also assigned an important role as a medium in that worship. However, the women themselves were not participants in the group mystical experiences. They also lacked the need for this because they had not denied their origins and ties with the environment to the same extent as the men.
Over time you see that on the one hand the role of the woman as a natural bearer of human identity emerges in many ‘beliefs’, but at the same time being the man, through the necessity of the hunt and the protection of the group against the hostile environment has become important role, tries to safeguard by elevating thought and the mystical experience to the highest values that a person can attain and subsequently declare these values primarily to the exclusive right of man.
Remarkable is the important and “magical” role the hand played in many beliefs. The hand was the most important part of the body for the original man. The hand was a unique and indispensable tool for the actions required to feed man: picking, climbing, digging, and peeling. It was also what distinguished man (most) from other animals. Not the brain / thinking, but precisely the hand that is so emphatically linked to the archetypal form and ancient way of life of man, has remained an important magical symbol in most beliefs.
Faith is: The non-intellectually understood connection (s) with everything around us.
The development of “faith” was stronger among the people who settled in an environment that was hostile to human beings: the colder regions, in which people depended largely on hunting for food. In these areas, the original human way of life was the least useful. Here man was heavily dependent on his developed mind, which inevitably led to further alienation from his own identity. Due to the increasing dominance of thought, the retention of that identity presented problems and the living environment offered few points of identification for the images passed on of the origins of man. For the people in this environment, the connection with their own archetype and the original living environment was less and less rooted in reality, could no longer be ‘understood’ and was maintained by placing it outside reality in an ‘other reality’: that of faith. The natural bond with the environment enclosed in man himself and the right actions in that environment inspired by nature, from which man became increasingly alienated by the new way of life, were now transferred to “gods”. Originally it was understood that the gods resided in man himself, but as alienation increased, the gods were also increasingly placed outside man as elusive and incomprehensible phenomena. The more hostile the environment, the more aggressive the gods became and the rituals devoted to them.
Where man lived in an environment that showed less differences from the original living environment, where the denial of his own origin and identity was small, forms developed that were more based on the “inner understanding” and becoming aware of the environment and the environment. man’s place in it (eg Buddhism and what we call primitive beliefs). These shapes emphasized the unity of people and the environment. Throughout the history of man, however, a form has been sought everywhere and at all to overcome the loss of the natural understanding of one’s own place and role in the totality of environment and universe by religion; by God, whatever and whoever that God may be.
The concept of “man” is a fairly arbitrary way of describing the distinction between “us”, human beings, and everything else. Although everything follows the same law, “everything that is” is distinctive from each other. Every individual, every plant, every organism is different from all others or different from everything else.
This diversity, these differences, are critical when it comes to survival. Were we all the same, we would not have the variety of skills and competences necessary for the survival of the group / species. We would suffer from incestuous species poverty. Then we would be extinct before the end of the next century.
We can create classifications based on these differences. Classifications based on origin / city / region, based on education, intelligence or competence. Based on appearance or sports performance. Or based on preference for a football club or type of music. Differences that do not necessarily arise from genetic modifications.
We can also create layouts based on skin color, face or eye shape, or body build. The 6 typifications most commonly used for skin color are based on the strength of pigmentation. This is genetic. The strength of the pigmentation has historically adapted to the degree of ultraviolet radiation in the area inhabited for many thousands of years. These genetically transmitted differences do not change quickly when the living environment changes. It remains a difference that is based on pigmentation and does not say anything about other distinguishing properties. Although the living environment that genetically determined the pigmentation properties may also have anchored other distinguishing properties in the genetic material. But also genetically determined distinctions say something at most about the generality of characteristics of a group and nothing about an individual. Each individual will be different from everyone else. It would be helpful to emphasize and appreciate precisely that diversity.
On the other hand, it is also useful to describe the common features of larger clusters of organisms in order to gain insight into precisely what is distinctive. There are gradations in the degree of distinction so that we use species-distinguishing terms based on similar characteristics to give a simplified description of the different species. Thus, on the basis of a generalization of similar characteristics, we have arrived at the term human. As part of the coarser mammalian characterization. And that is again part of the animal characterization. Or further from “Living things”, from organisms that live on the earth. For organisms, you can generally state that if 2 individuals can produce offspring together naturally, they are highly likely to belong to the same species. Although the term “species” is a fairly arbitrary indication of distinction.
“Homo sapiens,” or “man” is a being attributed by ourselves, by man, to exceptional characteristics and qualities. For the sake of convenience, the characterization “man” is used in this piece, even though the distinguishing characteristics of “man” are still – and rightly – a scientific discussion going on