I'm puzzled by something in nieken's last paragraph; namely:

"The real problem being, for these to be allegories of psychological evolution, they would represent institutional knowledge spanning millions of years, and show perception of the creeping process of biological evolution. Nearly impossible, for either case. However, the near ubiquity of the stability from chaos creation myth should, at least, raise some eyebrows.
My questions are:
  1. What are the nature and/or limits of so-called "institutional" knowledge here? Would some sort of "knowledge" encoded at the level of DNA, perhaps, qualify?

  2. Why is some sort of organic "awareness" or "perception" of this sort nearly impossible?

    Mind you, I'm not saying we should assume it is present, if simpler causes can be found to explain phenomena that seem to beg for this sort of "perception." On the other hand, one of the seemingly distinguishing features of the human species seems to be a marked degree of self-awareness and the ability to "hack consciousness" as it were.

  3. What, specifically, makes this a "real problem" if we are as self-aware (collectively, at least) as we seem to have shown ourselves to be?

    I do see a possibly tangled question of whether this is something readily testable... perhaps it is the mathematical falsifiability of the proposition that is the "real problem"? It's been a long time since my philosophy of language and philosophy of knowledge days, so I'm not entirely up on where current thinking has taken us, aside from reading popularizers like Douglas Hofstadter or Daniel Dennett, and even those I haven't been reading a lot lately.

My sense of scientific orthodoxy on these questions is that there's been a marked shift over the last 30 years or more in terms of how logicians, neuroscientists and others have come to see consciousness and the workings of the human nervous system (and other systems that may interact with it). I know the orthodoxy of the 1950s or 1960s would probably have endorsed the notion that "species memories" or whatever one might call this sort of knowledge was a "crank" idea. My sense, though, is that science has become a lot less sure of itself (on these questions, at least) over the intervening 40 or so years.

Background: Where is my line of questioning coming from?

One source (there may be many others) for me has been a recent detour into the writings and life of Giordano Bruno. How did he intuit so many features of (at least) the Newtonian worldview without benefit of the sort of empirical observations and tools that enabled so many of his notions to be "proven" as largely valid, even if the underlying method he used to arrive at them appears to have been largely grounded in mysticism? So much that today we consider ultrarational was, mystical, magical or alchemical in the late Renaissance, when Bruno was writing the material that would later provide cause for his execution as a heretic. Will we one day be able to understand how those particular ideas surfaced? Pure luck? Or is something else operating here as well?

Not as learned, or literate as ebbixx, there is, however, an aspect to niekin's notion that has been gnawing at me since I first read it:

Quite simply, the memory of water is both an individual memory, and memory of the collective unconscious (a Jungian notion), of resting in the mother's womb, and of the evolutionary origins in the primeval ocean.

I would only suggest that the imagination, seeking its own origins, would cloak itself in those of the vessels it inhabits--both individual, and species.

I always liked the phrase ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny (however acceptable this notion now is), and cannot but feel it applies here.

Yes, I am joining imagination and consciousness for the purposes of this, but this also feels right, given the discussion of creation, mythology, and awakening.

I would even dare to suggest, at the risk of receiving the disapproval of empiricists, and scientists, that the only way we can see anything is because we have been prepared by centuries of belief.

Belief is nothing more than looking, and looking--seeing--is nothing more than belief. No scientific orthodoxy this, more alchemy.

I suppose I should add a preface and say that I'm not exactly a Christian, humanist, egalitarian, or really positive toward any ideas in that general direction, and I think that Christianity is a destructive and false way of looking at the world. That should be the obvious by the end of the commentary, but whatever. I'm also an autodidact; I buy my books from used book stores with crumpled dollar bills, not campus book stores. I'm a fan of Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, and (with a grain of salt) Jung. I distrust (but do not scoff at) academia, as it seems like academics are often trying to promote their own personal agenda under false pretenses. I have no pretenses of objectivity, or a Ph.D in Philosophy: this is an just an idea I had, that popped into my head, which is that some incredibly bright guy, (traditionally thought to be Moses, but perhaps somebody else) who understood the way his mind worked meditated a lot and worked his way back through every evolved section of the brain by isolating different aspects of his consciousness, and figuring out what part of the world that he understands as a whole they were involved with. I am a nihilist who does not agree that there is inherent value in anything, believes in the non-duality of existence, of a will which animates both reality and the representation we create of reality in our minds, but with no "god" actually deciding what happens. I think that reality is understood by the absolute greatest minds by taking disparate input and intuitively understanding the structure behind it through observation and intense thought. I believe that this type of intelligence is discouraged in a world which encourages others to create absolutes, as this form of intelligence is not perfect, yet powerful in its ability to grasp concepts in a pre-linguistic, non-compartmentalized, abstract way, where individual parts are integrated into as broad a system as possible, and the true way that nature is structured becomes more and more accessible to the mind. I believe that those who created some religions and most myths had much of this kind of intelligence.

I think that most religions, to a great extent, are metaphors which provide a system of intuitively describing the evolution of the human mind, turning traits gained from past animal ancestors into gods and mythological events, and highlighting potential pitfalls and unresolved conflicts which commonly occur between different parts of the conscious brain. To me, mythology is the history of the brain from its origins in the primordial waters, explaining aspects that the different parts of the brain that the human whom the mythology belongs to gained from an ancestor species he evolved through, and all mythologies represent a culture's understanding of the history of their own minds through culturally relevent metaphor and belief, and perhaps the future changes the culture believes it will experience due to impending resolutions of conflicts, and changes in the general balance of power which certain conflicting areas of the brain may have. I have come to believe that in the case of the book of Genesis, what is being described is a corruption of mythology as a way to understand the mind, replacing an understanding of one's mind through metaphor by ascribing moral values to a creator (time) God, who is usually described as amoral or both helping and hindering in other religions. It strikes me as a different form of religion, one which is created by someone with a solipsistic point of view who is in denial of this tracing the world back only to what they were, who seeks to externalize the creator/time God into an omni-potent human-like intelligence, and thus seeks to "humanize" the process of creation and destruction in his mind's eye, to create a false view of reality by projecting his personal fears onto a God who not only created him, but creates rules which protect him from others, listens to his fears, and punishes the "bad". By externalizing a god in this manner, and making him so powerful (and solitary), man also loses the original purpose of a mythology: to explain how his mind works, and some selective bits of its history. Man becomes at war with himself, does not understand who he really is, and loses much of his ability to understand himself and his place within the world, regaining an understanding of himself only if he seeks it out away from those around him. For most, the only hope for a context to their existence is the corrupt mind-virus which was created to take away the context in the first place. The creation myth in the book of Genesis is both amazing in the profundity of what is realized by whoever birthed it, and for what is left out: what "isn't good" that allowed the things that God saw as good to exist in the first place!

Now, the evolutionary details may be flawed. I am not an expert in evolutionary biology. But I've done a slight bit of research, I didn't just Make Shit Up, and I believe that I'm on to something which represents why God is so profound and yet so profane at the same time.

1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

This is a statement of what cannot be known, what comes before there was such a thing as a nervous system, only a feeble cluster of nerves, incapable of perception, if anything. Effectively, its making an assumption.

2 Now the earth was a formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.

Before the brain could see, it had no senses, except maybe a crude form of taste. It simply existed. It floated about, not knowing what it was, only performing a few miniscule functions. To reach this part of the mind must be to simply exist without any perception, thought, or reaction at all. It is almost non-existence.

3 And God said, "Let there be light," and there was light. 4 God saw that the light was good, and He separated the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light "day," and the darkness he called "night." And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.

Eventually, primitive eyes developed, and we became capable of sight. A whole new way of life came into being. Now, what was once a simple, vague, murky existence had an input flowing through it, from which a much greater ability to make evaluations about one's enviroment could be developed and selected for. Time has shown that this ability to perceive light, to see, is a valuable ability, and this new ability was only useful during the day, not during the darkness of the night. This meant that learning to differentiate between the two was of utmost importance.

6 And God said, "Let there be an expanse between the waters to separate water from water." 7 So God made the expanse and separated the water under the expanse from the water above it. And it was so. 8 God called the expanse "sky." And there was evening, and there was morning—the second day.

If one exists in the water, one's entire world is water. Except when one reaches a place that is not water. This must be something else. Thus, the sky became known. Curiosity and a thirst for knowledge, not being a characteristic of highly primitive brains, must have meant that it was not even questioned that there was more water above the sky, and there was this weird thing which prevented them from swimming any farther to reach this new water which perhaps had more food. Time has left this understanding of the sky as this thing above us.

9 And God said, "Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear." And it was so. 10 God called the dry ground "land," and the gathered waters he called "seas." And God saw that it was good.

Land appears! And the brain learns that it exists, for a brain unequipped to handle the existence of land will surely be foiled by it if it ventures too near to it, and washes up upon it. It begins to make its first steps towards understanding this strange new thing, and there is a new distinction that must be made; a new understanding of where and where not to swim. The water is all in one place now, as there is something else besides water and sky, and the brain is no longer so crude as to make the mistake of seeking water past the sky.

11 Then God said, "Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds." And it was so. 12 The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good. 13 And there was evening, and there was morning—the third day.

Here, the step is made to land. The nutritional riches of the land become available in the bodies that the brain now occupies, as the transition is made to land.

14 And God said, "Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark seasons and days and years, 15 and let them be lights in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth." And it was so. 16 God made two great lights—the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars. 17 God set them in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth, 18 to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that it was good. 19 And there was evening, and there was morning—the fourth day.

Now, greater understanding becomes necessary. To survive, the new land creature needs to develop a greater understanding of the things which were of lesser importance in the water. Instincts become refined, eyes better developed; instead of mere day, the creature must now take advantage of the moonlight. The stars come into focus, being invisible to the undeveloped eyes of the past. Perhaps here, knowing the difference between night and day meant the difference between life and death. Maybe the brain became nocturnal, as a way to escape newly evolved predators, predators who can only be hidden from, and not understood. Time has shown that whatever the reason, this division between night and day has stayed with us, and there is still a part of us that shuns the day, and flits about the night. Maybe we're amphibians of some sort here. Maybe fear, and the terror of being eaten were refined here.

20 And God said, "Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the sky." 21 So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living and moving thing with which the water teems, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 22 God blessed them and said, "Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the water in the seas, and let the birds increase on the earth." 23 And there was evening, and there was morning—the fifth day.

Now, the brain becomes more aware of individual creatures. Birds which could swoop down and attack us are recognized and ingrained into our instincts. We start to look at the sea as full of individual food items, as well as predators. We begin to engage in predation ourselves, preying on the tastiest morsels. Time has left us with this memory. In it, we are reptiles of some sort now, perhaps, still living by the waters.

24 And God said, "Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: livestock, creatures that move along the ground, and wild animals, each according to its kind." And it was so. 25 God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.

The brain ventures away from the water, the land is no longer a mere point of advantage from which the creatures of the water can be preyed upon. A whole new world of predators and prey opens. We wander the Earth, become various mammals, encounter fascinating new ways to eat and be eaten, learn a lot, and time has left us with these memories.

26 Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, b and over all the creatures that move along the ground."

And then the time of man began, our brains reached a similar state to what they are now.

27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

The God you seek is simply time, and all that it has left for you to discover in the depths of your own psyche. I may not have it 100% correct, but you've got it all wrong. Time is what's missing from this equation! The external forces of the world on your evolution, over time!

28 God blessed them and said to them, "Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground."

You're worshipping what some very smart person from ancient times has been able to discover about their brain's past through introspection. You've mistaked instinct for reality, without applying it to the outside world. You're making a big mistake! Whoever wrote this was the smartest solipsist in history! No, no, this is a curse, a misunderstanding...you're making a horrible mistake of cosmic porportions!

29 Then God said, "I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. 30 And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air and all the creatures that move on the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food." And it was so.

And the illusion perpetuated itself, an explanation from the depths of what's left of our past minds...You're worshipping your own brain! It's all in you head! Your God is not a God, but a representation of the history of your brain, minus all the stuff lost because of natural selection! Your entire religion is a war within your own mind that you've somehow externalized!

31 God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day.

Time has cursed us all if we believe that the good parts of the history of our brains is the history of the universe! We are doomed!

1 Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array.

This is not a completion; this is an error! Solipsism! This is stagnation! Death! This is a monstrous lie!

2 By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested a from all his work. 3 And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.

Man created God. He somehow reached all the way back to the beginning of being, to the first instincts, but thought it all happened in one week.

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