Tuesday, January 08, 2008


A Universal Basis For Science And Religion, Part 7

Universal Basis, Part 7- Neolithic

About ten thousand years ago we discovered that we could eat the grains of some grassy plants. This had some advantages that we couldn't say "no" to. A farmer could (in the right environment) produce more grain than he, or even his family, could eat. Even more important, grain could be stored in a dry environment so that the tribe could survive through a season of bad crops.

But this created a problem. The more farmers the more surplus, which created a strong motivation for an increased population. If we continued to govern ourselves by mutual conformity this would result in an unstable society. In addition we could not move our crops easily, so that the traditional method of fission and migration was not available.

The method of stabilization we chose still remains active. Our shaman said that we all had to worship his muse, who was a supershaman like Hermes or Odin. That
put us in a Bose-Einstein distribution in behavior space so that our society was stable as long as we had a central religion. The shaman, who represented the tribe to the muse, became a priest who represented the god to the tribe and partook of the god's authority.

This allowed him to take the surplus grain and store it for bad years and also use some of it to support technical specialists like potters and metalsmiths.
Eventually the village had to hire barbarians to guard the reserve grain and their leader became the king. The King's muse took over and became the top god.

Although we retain aspects of the post-Neolithic civilizations such as community religions with a Superking as the top god and authoritarian priests, in recent years priests have to share authority with secular bureaucrats.

According to Wikipedia, "Arnold Joseph Toynbee CH (April 14, 1889 – October 22, 1975) was a British historian whose twelve-volume analysis of the rise and fall of civilizations, A Study of History, 1934-1961, was a synthesis of world history, a metahistory based on universal rhythms of rise, flowering and decline, which examined history from a global perspective." It contained a description of the life-cycle of a [post-Neolithic] civilization in five steps:

(1) The creation of the civilization by a "Creative Minority" meeting a challenge.

(2) When the challenge is met the civilization is taken over by the "Dominant Minority".

(3) The "External Proletariat", affected by the civilization but not in it, maintain pressure at the boundaries.

(4) The External Proletariat provides mercenaries to the Dominant Minority. The Palace Guard takes over the civilization and runs it into the ground.

(5) The "Internal Proletariat", the alienated non-elite of the civilization, seek escape through new religious cults.

The post-Neolithic civilizations were replaced by Western (i.e., euro-american) Civilization whose terminal period we are experiencing.

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