22
May

The Roots of Religion: Genevieve Von Petzinger at TEDxVictoria



we live in a world that is absolutely infused with religion and spirituality sometimes even to the point where maybe we don't recognize it it affects everything from something as simple as the holidays we celebrate to the names that we give our children to something much more really saddening and sort of disheartening which is finding a conflict on the other side of the world somewhere I mean any given day somewhere somebody is fighting about spirituality and religion so let's take a look at how this all plays out then on a global scale depending on who you talk to there's about 20 major world religions so these are ones that are you know more than one country more than one continent add to that hundreds of belief systems and out of the seven who live on this planet is point in time just under six billion professed to follow some sort of faith now I want you to try and imagine a world with no religion what would it look like because that is the reality is if we go far enough back into our own deep history there was a time maybe not with homo sapien maybe further back where we didn't have any religion so as you can see in the slide behind me that's a very simplified evolutionary chart but it's a question that people in my field of paleoanthropology have asked how far back does the religious impulse go and how the heck would you get at that I mean it's incredibly subjective right so obviously homo sapien at the top we know that homo sapien have religion that's us but what about heidelbergensis before us in erectus and all the way back to Homo habilis you know Homo habilis 2.5 million years ago they're considered to be a good candidate for the original tool makers and you might wonder tools religion and what do these potentially have in common but if you actually think about what a cognitive leap making tools is there are some things in common for instance when you're actually making a tool so you've got your piece of stone and you've got your other piece of stone in with order to shape it you have to hold a mental template in your head of what that finished product is going to look like and also what we find what these are toolmakers is that they actually were exhibiting forethought and pre-planning they were potentially taking a nice piece of Flint with them along the landscape so that when their current tool ran out or got down to kind of a nub they could make themselves a new one so there are some researchers in my field especially a fellow by the name of Thomas Wynne has teamed up with a neuropsychologist by the name of Frederick Coolidge and the two of them have talked about something called working memory and so that's that idea of those that's sort of some it's not one spot in the brain so much is sort of several functions that kind of work together that allow things like mental templates and allow things like pre-planning now they've made the argument that even on a very basic level chimps probably do have some working memory as well of course they can also use tools they're just not very good at you know they'll basically they'll take their stick they'll whip off the leaves they'll use it to dip some termites out but then they tend to dump it that's pretty much it they're done with that tool so there's not a lot of examples of chimps reusing tools or sort of behaving in exactly the same way as what we see with Homo habilis but with that as sort of the base then that idea of working memory they've then sort of extrapolated that and said well let's talk about something that they call enhanced working memory and so enhanced working memory is basically there's several components to it so this is sort of taking that and then basically putting it on steroids so not just that basic mental template and pre-planning but now let's add to that the ability to envision and work with abstract concepts let's talk about mental time travel now what I mean when I say mental time travel is the ability to think about past and future these are actually very unusual things we take them for granted but they're not something that necessarily other species can conceive of I mean obviously your dog seems to remember about going to the vet which always saw it as an interesting thing but you know he doesn't have a strong sense of you know clear episodic memories of having been to the vet so much as this is a bad thing when I go into this building it smells a certain way and it's not a good you know this is danger so the clear ability to also say with mental time travel when I try to make a tool using this material before this didn't work very well so I'm going to do it differently this time Oh or I saw this person in the next hunter-gatherer group over do something that worked really nicely I want to do that so all of those kinds of things as well as being able to think forward so pre-planning but even at a greater degree imagination because again the ability to sort of conceive of something like a mental template when you're making a tool relies on us being able to visualize something that doesn't actually exist at that moment in time it's more again that we're looking forward and then of course the capacity to understand and manipulate symbols and so this is where we get to things like language into art so I probably saw that I said the gods spot what we're talking about there is that certainly starting in probably about I think in the 1990s once we especially neuropsychologist once they had their fancy MRIs and other brain scans they really started looking for to see know was there one spot in the brain that could be associated with God and they even actually did some study where they actually had the people in the MRI and they were like okay we want you to think about your vision of God or faith or spirituality while you're in here and we're going to see if we can map the areas of the brain that are lighting up what we're doing that and they kept getting one spot that was lighting up and so is this huge like we did it aha we found the god spot turns out it's the spot that lights up when people are concentrating so we definitely know where they concentrate but of course everybody was concentrating on thinking about God so how's the problem so but I think what really what neuropsychologists people working in evolution or working towards is the idea there's probably not one spot kind of like with enhanced working memory there's actually several parts of the brain that are all kind of working together to create that space and those types of abilities so is it all in the lobes a behind B on the slide what you'll see is that on the left hand side we have a Homo erectus so that's one point six five million years ago and then on the right hand side we have a homo sapien skull from about 20,000 years ago in Germany 20,000 years ago in Germany their skulls were identical to ours I just thought it was kind of cooler to use a sort of fossil skull for Homo Sapien now what I want you to look at though is that when you see the profile erectus has that nice big brow roads we think of but you'll notice behind that it actually slopes at quite a sharp angle backwards now look at that beautiful big old forehead on the homo sapien skull those are the frontal lobes those of course are what in many cases you know this is pretty much where all of our higher reasoning comes from are from those spots right there you know and if you think about it and what's so interesting is that while we're sitting here in this room you know having this conversation you're using those frontal part of your lobes aren't you but the question that's come up is it can physically be there but is it maybe more about wiring not just about size but then also about how is it wired how are the neural pathways moving so this is where the scholars I mentioned when Coolidge working together have made the argument that they believe that the truly modern thought that ability with all of those sort of the imagination mental time travel they believe it starts modern humans so what do I mean when I say modern humans about two hundred thousand years ago we've been able to find the earliest skeletons that we currently have of what we would call fully modern humans that means that their skeletons were identical to ours and their brain size was exactly the same now that doesn't mean though that they were actually using all of the abilities that we had and this is something that is a particular area of mind that I find really fascinating as well is trying to figure out when did they become us because we're more than just the brain size in the body it's also about how we use that brain and what's so fascinating about the early humans in Africa is that for probably about the first 80,000 years or so they're not really doing much different than the ancestor species that came before them they're making really nice tools they're surviving quite well they make good use of their landscape all of those types of things are in place but what we're not seeing is those kinds of behaviors that make us go there us and then suddenly around 120,000 years ago what starts happening is we suddenly start finding what we call symbolic behavior and what we mean when we say that are things that we would consider to be non utilitarian so not something that's useful at a very you know one-to-one ratio level of basically survival from you know so we something to keep you warm at night something to eat something to shelter you we start finding burials 120,000 years ago the oldest barrows we know of in the world and not just burials but burials with grave goods in them so in this case what we're talking about at the hundred and 120,000 mark are therefore finding a few marine shells that have perforations and some of the perforations look like they probably occurred naturally some may have been made by tools but the kicker is that those little holes in the shells have wear marks on them which means that they were being worn in some fashion now there's nothing about doing that that is remotely useful for again heat shelter food right so what's going on what's happened what's changed and this is kind of the story going forward and this is again where the winning Coolidge have made this argument and other scholars have as well that modern humans is where that big change takes place they've made the argument potentially even that the change started here but that some sort of genetic mutation or something else happened around forty to fifty thousand years ago and that that was when truly modern behavior so the full suite of behaviors that we associate with being modern right so music in mathematics and the ability to you know basically envision things that aren't there and all of these things which are very much about us and of course full language communication all that kind of thing they see it happening is around forty to fifty thousand years ago which coincides with when modern humans left Africa might've even has been as early as sixty thousand so somewhere in that forty to sixty thousand range is the time that modern humans left Africa and basically went out and populated the old world now I'm personally going to talk to you tonight about the ice age in Europe and it's not that there weren't interesting things being done by modern humans who went to other parts of the old world so in Asia and Australia there's lots of fascinating stuff but the ice age is what I study so it's what I know best so that's where we're going to stick with looking at the ice age today when it comes to Europe let's set the scene a little bit obviously we've got an ice age going on the best way to think of it is that you know an ice age is not static by any means we certainly have movement of the glacier sheets but overall definitely colder a nice icy environment but very rich in animals as well huge herds of bison and mammoths and all of these other things on the landscape so lots of things to eat so that was kind of the pull factor and what probably kept modern humans there they show up in Europe somewhere around 40,000 even 45,000 in some spots and they spread out around there and this is again is coincides with that what we call the creative explosion sometimes it's not that they weren't doing interesting things before but this is really when it starts getting interesting this is when we start finding a lot of sort of symbolic materials like portable art pieces and lots of jewelry and other interesting things in the archaeological record alongside the stone tools so what would we look for let's go back to this idea of religion and spirituality and how would we get that in the archaeological record because of course if you think about that far back basically we're working with stone tools so there's not really much to go with and so how do we start trying to move beyond that and actually look for these indirect clues well there's three main things that people in my field tend to use when they're looking at that and the first of course is burials with elaborate grave Goods so the necklace itself at 120,000 mark very interesting very cool but we can even take that a bit farther then and say what about if they're putting lots of elaborate let items into that burial impossible entities being depicted so when I use the term impossible entities we're referring to things that do not appear anywhere in nature so there's no real world like you're not referring to anything in the real world so something that's like say half-animal half-human would be an impossible entity and then of course trying to identify magic and spiritual themes in the art itself and this is on portable pieces and of course my particular area study the cave walls so let's quickly go over a couple of these I'll give you sort of some ideas of what we're seeing for an elaborate burial this one is very famous burial and it's a absolutely fascinating one this is actually one of three burials from this site this particular one is the adult male and it's about twenty-eight thousand years old it's from Russia and if you'll notice there's little white things all over his skeleton there those are ivory beads there are approximately 3,500 ivory beads in this burial a archaeologist in our field by the name of Randy white actually went to the effort of trying to what we call experimental archaeology and he actually took the mammoth ivory and practiced until he could actually get quite good at making the beads and even when he was good at it it took an hour per bead do the math on that then on top of that we actually have the fact that the two other burials at that particular site are actually of two children there's a little boy and a little girl and they're actually buried in a double burial the little boy has 4,500 beads so a thousand more than the adult male and the little girl has over five thousand so what we're seeing here then is potentially the fact that they're seeing death as being a state that's different in thin life and yet worth recognizing and worth paying attention to and worth acknowledging and frankly worth the sheer amount of effort of making all of those beads only to bury them in the ground and cover them up so something is definitely going on in that sense then of course we come to impossible entities and this one is a wonderful classic example this is a ivory carved figurine that's probably about this tall head of a lion body of a human again coming back to that that doesn't exist anywhere in nature so what's going on why are they depicting this this is not a self representation and there's people in my field who have made the proposal that maybe this could be some sort of mythology something to do with origin stories and things like that and so there's these interesting examples that exist throughout the archaeological record that particular one is about 32,000 years old what about hunting magic so what I mean when I say hunting magic is this is from the cave called neo in France and you've got a bison that's painted on a cave wall and if you notice it looks like there's almost some sort of spear sticking out of its side so in this case what people have proposed is that what we could be seeing is them almost trying to kill the animal ritually in the cave first in order to ensure success when they go out on the hunt in the real world and we do have some examples where there's not just the spears but there's also what like punctuation marks which almost looks like maybe somebody was banging a real spear or something at the image on the wall so again that suggests some sort of harnessing of some scene world there's something going on and then this is another great example here of a possible entity which has also been potentially identified as being a shaman now what they the reason why they say that is the idea that what if they were wearing a mask what if this rather than being an impossible entity is an actual depiction of a human partially dressed up like an animal so you can see the legs have a much more human look they don't look very bison like and yet the head has that very bison look and the arms are also very human so this is where they started to talk about the idea of shamanistic practices because shamans of course the term itself comes from Russia but it's applied a lot to basically spiritual practices where there are specific members of your tribe who intercede on your behalf with an unseen world whether it's to influence whether whether it's to influence the hunt whether it's to do with health and with people living SiC and trying to make them better again there's these people that do that and what's so interesting about some modern examples for instance is that there is a fellow by the name of David Lewis Williams who is a researcher in rock art who works in South Africa and he has the wonderful opportunity to actually speak with the song people who are a hunter-gatherer group who live in northern Africa they live out in the desert and they actually still practice the hunter-gatherer lifestyle and guess what they still do rock art so he had the opportunity to ask them and say so why do you guys do the art now it doesn't explain all the art but certainly shamanistic practices played a large role in it things like handprints they talked about the idea that caves were almost like a transitional place between worlds that once you go into a cave and think about you know we go in with like headlamps and lots of light and we know what a cave is geologically speaking but imagine if you didn't know it almost has a feel of maybe being a portal to another reality and they've talked about the idea of those cave walls as almost being maybe membranes that they could touch and through those membranes touch the unseen so now we get specifically to a research project that I've been working on where I said okay well let's try with this because of course modern people in Africa doing this minimum of 10,000 years difference between what's happening in Europe could we get at that is it possible are we seeing on the walls potentially some of the trance-like imagery which they have said that that's why they're doing it because you see the actual human mind we obviously trances when we go into altered state of consciousness there's many things that are culturally going to be specific to where you live like the animals you see in the imagery but geometric imagery actually happens to be almost universal and the reason for that is because our eyes are only hardwired to be able to produce certain shapes when we're in a state of trance and so this is where what I've looked at is can we find those in the caves in Europe and the studies still ongoing but I thought it would be kind of fun to share a little bit with you today which was that with dots with lines with grids yes absolutely we're finding those but some of the other ones not so much zigzags there's only about 15 examples out of 300 sites that have six eggs in them so they're not totally behaving the way that the people say in South Africa are when it comes to spirals there's only two so in that sense spirals are even more in Commons and not something that we're seeing throughout the archaeological record so what does that mean basically what it suggests to me is that you know I certainly can't give you a definitive answer and say that yes absolutely they were you know they were spiritual people living back then but the signs are definitely there to suggest that this was something that was developing something that existed and I would leave you with the I thought that their us in every sense of the word those people who lived between 10 and 40,000 years ago were modern humans so if we're capable of it why wouldn't they have been thank you

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44 Comments

  • Charles Hanna says:

    Evolution is a religion !
    It requires faith in something unproven

  • Stan Wingfield says:

    All Religions begins in a cult…. occult, culture…

  • Remy Fannader says:

    How is it possible to miss the point by such a margin ? Back to T. Deacon for the difference between mental maps and symbolic representations.

  • Steve Pracchia says:

    Your correct…..religion sucks…. but crazy thoughts of no creator…. u need to understand we ALL have been created… and not by monkeys…..

  • George Andrews says:

    The Roots of Religion: Really good drugs……….

  • scasey1960 says:

    Magical thinking is the predilection of the uneducated.

  • Jon D H K says:

    Although so many artifacts and things have been found, this talk Offers so much Speculation and interpretation of art on caves and the meanings of them, that it takes pure belief to agree this shows the beginnings of religious belief. It takes maths and measurements to create jewelry. Writing only dates back 5000yrs according to a most recent science magazine. I think many archaeologists and educated people in this field are starting on a false foundation, with a preconceived dating system and evolutionary backdrop. How can it be said modern humans have been around 200,000 yrs when known evidence of writing goes back 5000yrs? Why, if humans have been around over 200,000 yrs , is the worlds population not bigger than 6 or 7 billion? We only got to a billion around the start of the 20th century! Is it not possible that climate conditions over the last 1 million years have altered the radiation from the sun and affected the dating system completely? All that archaeologists and evolutionists think they know and the people that believe them are very likely wrong. Humans have pride and can be arrogant about their education and belief. Jmo

  • they're not us says:

    This government shill spreads disinfo

  • DrKildem says:

    Evolution is non-sense.

    Adam was the first man and he was a Muslim. Islam is the default for all born humans.

    Everything else is hearsay and fickle hypotheses and conjecture like you have in this lecture.

  • Instinctsscreaming says:

    Is it strange that the “ shamans “ were depicted having a goats head…..

  • Zed Williams says:

    18:02 Trance imagery. Most of these nonrepresentational shapes are utilized today in the graphic meditation system called Zentangle. It's affirming to hear that these shapes may have been used for much the same purpose on cave walls, 100,000 years ago.

  • Al Garnier says:

    The roots of religion are abstract fear and ignorance coupled with human greed and averice. Education and psychological reprogramming are necessary to cure early childhood indoctrination.

  • Jud Young says:

    If there are many Religions, it is because no one knows for sure how many Gods there are. ONE or MANY. If a God or the God talked to may People at a time, things would have been a lot easier in our understanding. Unfortunately, God talked to only One Man at a time and that One Man came back and said he was the Prophet. So, the Roots of all Religions are questionable. After a fit, a Man could come and announce that he is a Prophet.

  • Rob Fila says:

    "The great Russian author Leo Tolstoy (1828-1910) said: 'The religion of those who do not recognize religion is to follow everything the powerful majority does. Simply put, it is the religion of submission to those currently in power.'

    "Unless people possess firm conviction in their hearts — unless they can honestly say to themselves, "I will never compromise on this point" and, "I will stake my life on defending this ideal" — they will be swayed, unable to resist the pressures of the majority. And of course it will then be even more difficult for them to endure persecution at the hands of the authorities.

    Ultimately, such people, in everything they do, will follow the powerful majority. They will have a wait-and-see attitude and take whatever action is expedient at the moment. With the hollow of justification that "there's no other way," they will time and again capitulate to those in power."
    -Daisaku Ikeda

  • David Anewman says:

    There was never a time without religion. Atheism didn't begin until Cain made an animal equal to humans and refused to offer an animal sacrifice to save a human life. Cain was also the first Vegan. He thought animals had the same value as a man and thought it immoral to exercise blood atonement for sins.
    Instead of sacrificing an animal, Cain held Abel responsible for taking a life of an animal and imputed the sentence of death to Abel as justice for the murder of an animal. Cain required Abel to die for his sacrifice of a lamb.
    Atheists actually created most of the religions and gods in the world. They did it as a desire to worship and as a requirement.

  • 16nowhereman says:

    All of these comments are lies!

  • Blue Orbiter Corporation says:

    The theory that modern man left Africa 40 to 60 thousand years ago has been discarded.

  • Alabama Mothman says:

    The roots of science is giving you enslavement and authoritarian society. Like what google did to china.

  • bargoota bargoota says:

    only her name is beautiful…genevieve😁😁😁but the rest is bullchitt

  • Tribe of Joseph 1600 is 7 says:

    I clicked on here and got a two-bit comedian , but I laughed out loud . Sign this “womankind” a Las Vegas contract . Almost as funny as Rodney Dangerfield , but for sure , “No Respect” !
    LOL

  • Tim Rose says:

    They found mushrooms that's what!! HA!!!

  • Nathaniel Barron says:

    Lol reLIEgion is NOT spirituality… Also timeline of the different humanoid species and what they've accomplished is convoluted at best

  • Luis G A says:

    religion is ultimately a bad thing, but even atheist ideologies like a communist in Stalin and Kim Yun can be bad…

  • Rodolf Henriquez says:

    Superstition , Bad things happened to us !

  • Mohammed El Massri says:

    Some people prefer to be their own boss … Refuse to accept the fact that they are 'Organic Robots' … A creation by a Creator . Others use faith as a means for control …. for Power over their fellow men ?

  • Nomad Wizard says:

    …All religions were created by 'them' as one of 'their' major divide and conquer schemes

  • Sam Sam says:

    I lost at 2.03 when she already mentioned millions of years. Evolutionists doesn’t realise that only 4,000 yrs ago to 10,000yrs we had a highly advanced human race. Blind folded are such characters who try to push & shape & print school / college text books to condition the mass, but on the other side Religious fanatics & organisations are doing the same damage by hiding things under the rug. Just stay put people, don’t believe in this or that, the time of full disclosure is coming very soon. The cat is out of the cage. 🙏🙏

  • Mark Carlin says:

    What is the difference between "planning" and "pre-planning" ?

  • Daniel Paulson says:

    Today is Easter. I found my sweet Lord and he is solid. Eating chocolate Jesus makes me happy. Must be the holy ghost. Sorry, lost my Buddha nature for a minute there.

  • Vanie Chan says:

    There are two kinds of people that make up a religion: 1.) theists who donate money 2.) atheists who accept the donation. Religious leaders are godless people who take advantage of believers.

  • towo towo says:

    how do you know how things or humans thought 50 thousand years ago? there was no way for anything to possibly document it. let alone anything else this graduated decorated nut job of theory. anyone can make a hypothesis. but no one has any way of determining facts from only educated guesses. what a joke. get a real job and actually contribute and benefit society.

  • towo towo says:

    i think the tooth fairy implemented evolution.we find artifacts and create entire dynamics froma to z of what was, from a "chipped toenail" of a human that didnt walk around 2.5 million years ago. how can decisions be made from the most insignificant things they pull from only GOD knows where?

  • craig thompson says:

    You can't find the truth when you start from the point of your pre programmed world view of evelution which is still a unproven unprovable lie that is ridden with non rational claim's darling.

  • The Dolphin says:

    Never even defined what she or anyone in her field meant by religion.

  • wayne montgomery says:

    so basically humanity has not progressed much ..

  • Tic Tac says:

    This lecturer obviously does not familiar with computer science, that reflects our thinking model. Use term model replaces the templates, will help you understand how models in brain actively learn and track features of outside worlds. All animal brain are capable to track physical objects, e.g. insects, fishes, but only mammal can use their models to emulate others' emotional process, e.g. dogs. only human can emulate others feeling and thinking through language, another high end layer on top of physical and emotional emulation models. So the relogion is a social model, mixed with emotional model, trained into human's brain. You may observe we only have brain computing power to do this high level language based emulation on a few models, e.g. I model, you model having a conversation. Also brain computing power is only enough to emulate emotional processes on a few other models, e.g. kids may think sky is upset in raining days. we do not have enough computing power to make this sort of high end emulations on all models parellelly. That's why when you talk with your religion counter part model in your brain, i.e. god, you actually need to do context switch to assign your computing power between the me model and the god model. sometimes, the me model impersonate into the god model to get empathy feeling.

  • Ares Lee says:

    Clicked on this cuz I was expecting a "f it all" from the image they used for this video…

  • WTF Again? says:

    I reject the concept of an a priori god spot or Peterson’s Christian Archetypes.

    I’m a sociologist. Humans have pattern seeking brains as a beneficial adaptation. We have evolved to live in community which requires social cohesion through shared understandings of world.

    Voila! Religion.

  • John T. Smith says:

    States without religion; Communist Russia, Cuba, North Korea, China.

  • adam says:

    Religion is for people who are scared of the dark

  • Brian Vaughn says:

    Mental templayte
    TOOUL

  • Daniel's channel says:

    Garden of Eden and then the world wide flood of Noah's day and then Not out of Africa, but from Mt. Ararat, Turkey.

  • azzir325 says:

    Rationality demands irrationality to achieve survival. Without the ability to believe in the irrational, rationality demands suicide.

  • Jonathan Brown says:

    A world without religion would be …… heaven

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