The Inevitability Of Belief

Curiosity and Coincidence

If I randomly placed you at any point in the ~200,000 year human history, there is a 95% chance you’d be living during a period of hunting and gathering, but your mental capacity would be indistinguishable to anyone born today. Imagine what that was like, intellectually. You and your clan were the centers of a hemispherical universe, the edges of which looked reachable and yet, never got any closer. Everything you learned about the clouds, caribous, stars and cedars was based on what you saw with your eyes, thought with your brain or heard someone tell you (assuming you lived within the last 100,000 years after the creation of language). There were no books to read. There wasn’t even writing. Sumerian Cuneiform script was millennia away.

  1. Why am I here?
  2. What happens after I die?
  3. What the hell is going on right now?
  • Of course you would assume a spiritual ether when, to go along with tempests, laser beams shot out of clouds followed by a sky growl.
  • Of course you would think something was angry when the earth shook and split open from time to time.
  • Of course you would believe in the supernatural when you saw a tornado ripping up dirt, rocks and trees, and flinging them miles on end.
  • Of course you would offer sacrifices to magical gods when liquid fire shot out of mountain tops.
  • Of course you’d be blaming Hanna and Zyler’s affair as to why a drought decimated half of your population.
  • Of course you would feel cosmically special when you had a deja vu, a weird dream or a sleep-deprived hallucination.
  • Of course you would believe in curses as you watched someone having an epileptic seizure or battling schizophrenia.

Comfort

While life may be beautiful from a natural splendor point of view, its macroscopic aesthetics and diversity are because organisms have been creating different ways to kill or hump each other in one great resource war. Migrating, inflating, coiling, venom, toxins, shells, packs, spun webs, salmon runs, bright colors, camouflage, jungle canopies, coral reefs. One animal’s “amazing” is another animal’s “terrifying.” We call this bit of evolutionary change “arms races” for goodness sake. Yes, it’s elegant that a cuttlefish can change colors to blend into its surroundings, but not if this stealth squid is creeping around in the shadows waiting to eat you whole. Because then it’s a horror movie. Leopard seals have puppy dog eyes and silly swirly motions that are soooo cute, until their razor sharp teeth start tearing penguins’ heads off.

Community And Control

Lastly, tales tall, fairy and, folk have the ability to travel far beyond the reach of your voice and thus, have the power to unite large swaths of people. When a certain population believe the same story as you, then that becomes the seeds of a community. Shrewd individuals can capitalize on that by using stories to control people. Parents needed their children to stop asking, rulers needed their subjects to stop doubting. Make no mistake, we learned what we knew not just from the best stories, but the ones told by those with the biggest weapons.

Summary

Curiosity, Coincidence, Comfort, Community & Control.

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Bassam Tarazi

Bassam Tarazi

Marketing Dude. Traveler. Author http://t.co/oHy2GhSLLY. Burrito lover. Avid Leaper. TEDx Giver. Copiously curious. Regular blower of minds. www.bassam.com