Reading time: ca. minutes
When I wake up in the morning, suddenly everything is there: me, the world and everything in it: perceptions, thoughts, feelings.
I hear our rooster, see my room. It's already warm and a bit humid. Vague flashes of a dream I had. Oh, and I really need to go to the bathroom.
Or is it?
It seems normal because over the years I, and all of us adults, have become accustomed to how life presents itself. The colors, shapes, sounds, feelings, etcetera are checked at lightning speed with what is already known in our memory. Eventually, at a certain age, there is not much left to surprise us anymore. We have to travel, visit museums, see movies and read books to be surprised again.
We think we know how the world works. We know about distant continents, other peoples and other cultures. We know about stars and galaxies. Science has mapped and explained it all. We have learned it in school or by educating ourselves further along. We know about the earth's rotation around the sun. We know about atoms and molecules and the functions of our bodily organs.
But of course there has been a time, both in our own lives and in the life of mankind as a species, when we did not know what we know now. Early humanity had no idea of the modern insights of astronomy or anatomy. Life then was overwhelming, unpredictable and full of danger.
We are animals having natural instincts, but our larger brains allow us to do more than just what our instincts make us do. So we have invented stories that give meaning to what is happening around us and predict what may happen next. This gave us an enormous headstart to the survival of our species.
We began to think about how and why the world is the way it is. We can make tools, but who or what made the world and for what purpose? We encounter all kinds of phenomena that seem to have a life of their own. Sometimes the forces around us are benevolent, but sometimes not at all. How can we influence them? How can we protect ourselves? How can we take advantage of the things the natural world present us?
These issues are the beginning of both science, technology and religion. People developed the skills to become scholars, artisans and priests. We learned to farm our food and built cities, schools, observatories and temples.
We observed a certain order in the movements of life and the heavens, which became even more important with the advent of agriculture. When are crops ready? When is rain coming? When events are not going as foreseen, should we appease the powers that govern the movements of the geological phenomena that influence the growth and health of our crops and livestock?
We have an almost inborn need to seek explanations for what we do not understand in order to feel safe, in order to be powerful. We seem to need answers to these ultimate questions. We invented the gods and the individual self and then we created the one God in the image of the one self we think we are. And society is formed consecutively in alignment with what the priests think will benefit them and this society.
Science has later replaced many of the stories of religion and has proved the stories to be myths. But many scientific theories reveal the same underlying thought structure that is also inherent in religion: hierarchism. More about that later.