Ch1 L34: Beliefs – part VIII (sacrifices II)

  1. To resume the discussion about human sacrifice, we saw that it’s a rational decision by nature [1]. Thinking tells us to sacrifice short-term gains for long-term benefits [2]. So, our primitive ancestors killed one because they believed [3] that it would save many.
  2. We embarked on the journey to know how we’ve evolved to fight Death [4]. Then Homosapiens created the concept [5] of causality [6]; so they looked for the causes of Death. Unfortunately, we can’t find out what was exactly going on in their mind but we can imagine a plausible scenario backed up by some historical or paleontological evidence.
  3. When you connect two adjacent things to each other [7], the connections can grow indefinitely. Then you would realize everything is related to each other. Food chains could be good examples to consolidate the belief. Nature (soil, water, and air) would grow plants which are eaten by animals and it goes on and on till they die and go back to nature through decomposition or being consumed by insects or scavengers [8].
  4. One thing that we could conclude is that nature is the giver and taker. Besides, its changes could resemble a living thing. What does a living thing have which enables it to grow? They were looking for a cause but they couldn’t find the exact cause. So, they named it “soul”.
  5. These days we have many metaphysical debates about the existence of the soul, but what the early human beings related soul to was very physical: breathing. It makes sense because the first index [9] of death is there’s no sign of breathing [10, 11].
  6. As they assimilated [12] the nature to living things because they both change, they thought that nature must have a soul as well. This belief that everything has a soul is called animism [13].
  7. Some people still have faith in animism, and the others who don’t believe it also experience it every time they watch a video. We respond to combinations of lines and colors as if they’re alive [14].
  8. Therefore, they had to deal with nature which gives and takes. However, I think that natural deaths didn’t lead them to develop the sacrifice ritual. Something more powerful and terrifying must’ve happened: natural disasters.
  9. We should also consider that natural disasters couldn’t affect a nomad’s life as much as a farmer’s. You could hardly leave your farm and possessions after an earthquake. Besides, the risk of migrating to a new land and starting from scratch, dealing with new problems, possibly new enemies, after dwelling in a place for maybe many generations, was so high that they’d rather find a way to deal with nature.
  10. In the 29th post, we discussed the difference between cause and reason [15] and how everything has a cause was translated to everything has a reason. If you believe that everything has a soul or consider them a living thing, you can easily imagine that they have intentions, so there’s a reason behind their effects.
  1. This tendency to seek and see humanoid characteristics in other things is called anthropomorphism [16]. Almost all the objects, plants and animal characters which have a story in the Disney cartoons have been anthropomorphized.
  2. So, when the primitive people tried to think about a natural disaster like an earthquake, they’d most probably assimilate it to an angry [17] predator, since the release of energy in an earthquake looks like an angry reaction. Why is nature angry? Obviously, because it’s hungry. In this situation, the best solution to pacify the hungry nature would be feeding it.
  3. You see how we can rationally come up with horrible conclusions if we’re not well-informed or we’ve developed wrong beliefs. We’ll continue the discussion in the next post.


[1] Link to the previous post

[2] Link to the 32nd post in which we discussed fights between Head and Heart.

[3] We’ve discussed beliefs through several posts, and as the title of this post implies, we’re still exploring it. So, here’s the link to the first post about belief, if you’re interested to catch up.

[4]  Link to the first post

[5] In the 12th post, we studied how the brain created concepts with which we can understand the world around us [Link]. You might think that we’ve discovered causality but I think that the concept of causality explains how many things are related to each other. 

[6] Link to the post about causality

[7] I came up with the term ” the law of adjacency” to explain how the brain can relate two things to each other and I used it in several cases. Link to the post in which the term was used first.

[8] I gave you a short story. As you know, a food chain has more plants or animals.

[9] In the 19th post, we talked about signs and index is the sign which signifies causal relationships. Link

[10] You can find the etymological link between soul and breath in the following link

[11] The words spirit, inspiration, respiration, etc. also have the same root.

[12] We studied assimilation and accommodation through three posts starting from Link

[13] Link to the wiki page about animism

[14] Not only videos can emotionally stimulate you but they can stir you up to the point that you might act upon them. As an example, a Japanese guy married an anime character. Link

[15] Again Link to the post about causality

[16] Link

[17] We briefly talked about the mechanism of anger in the 4th post. Link



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