Throughout history, the human mind has evolved and continues to do so. DMSG subscribes to the idea that consciousness is the flavored and biased interpretation of information, and as society and information have continued to evolve, so have our minds. For many millennia, human beings had no concept of the color known as blue and weren’t able to distinguish it from the environment when they even happened across blue colors. Every culture’s language, from Japanese to Hebrew, incorporated the color blue into their vocabulary last, in regard to the other colors, and ancient Greeks even described the sea as being a dark wine-like purple, rather than the blue we’re familiar with today. In Africa, the Himba tribe still has yet to develop the word for “blue” and when presented with things that are colored blue, do not recognize it as blue at all. Similarly to how humans developed an increased idea about the colors around us through the creation of new words, religion and faith have also developed based on how our ancestors’ minds worked. The Bicameral Mind theory is a theory that states that, at one point in history, humans had a far different consciousness than our own, with their rational functions of their brain being interpreted as auditory hallucinations, seen as messages from deities to these humans., rather than as the thoughts that they were. For these early humans, their minds were divided into two parts, with one part of their mind appearing to speak to the other part of the mind, with the lateral mind listening and obeying; hence the term “bicameral.” In this article, we’re going to dive into this theory, which has been substantiated by the differences in context and language that have been observed in very early literary works, as well as in the anatomy of the brain, and explore what the concept of “G-d” really is.
Starting off with the anatomy of the brain, which as an organ generates the anatomy of the mind, we’re going to focus on the left-and-right hemisphere of the brain, as well as schizophrenia, as both of these concepts come up a lot in Bicameral Mind Theory and lend a great deal of credence to it. Julian Jaynes, who created the Bicameral Mind Theory, believes that the command hallucinations that ancient people with bicameral minds experienced came from the interactions between the right brain’s processing’s and the left brain’s language centers, creating a dynamic in which the unconscious but calculating right brain issued commands to the left brain’s language centers. In modern humans, these portions of the right brain are dormant now, but Jaynes has highlighted that studies show that when people experience auditory hallucinations, it corresponds directly to increased activity in the right brain. Due to this, Julian Jaynes believes that schizophrenia is an anachronism in the modern world, a vestige of the bicameral minds that ancient humans possessed. Schizophrenics do not hear just random voices but often experience “command hallucinations,” in which they hear commands from strange sources and seek to carry them out. In addition to this, a common symptom experienced by schizophrenia regards religious delusions, in which people feel that G-d is speaking to them, that they are prophets, and so on. Overall, Bicameral Mind Theory does have a good basis in the biology of the brain, and schizophrenics have given a great deal of concrete evidence to support the claims that the bicameral mind exists, if not in everyone in the past, in at least some people even today.
According to bicameral mind theory, the minds of humans operated this way as recently as 3,000 years ago and explain a large part about how we’ve inherited religions, rather than created our own in the years since. It’s not because these religions formed in these early years were more correct or less susceptible to abuse that we see in New Age faith cults today, but rather that they spoke with an authority to people that modern faith simply cannot match. It is believed that the mind during this time had no semblance of self-awareness and things like introspection, which captivates people today to no end in an effort to discover themselves, is completely absent in the literary historical record, seen in works like the Old Testament. In these early days, our own thoughts were interpreted as sourced from the divine, rather than from ourselves, and these commands have been recorded in ancient myths, legends, and historical accounts. The commands that the Jews received in the Old Testament, as well as the commands that the Ancient Greeks received in their epics, are theorized to show proof of this process. In Ancient Greece, the concept of artistic muses was quite different than anything we’re familiar with today, where the humans of that era had written that they heard their muses “singing” to them the poems that they’d write down. In this early era of humanity, spirituality was not compartmentalized to sections of our lives, but rather dominated every waking and sleeping moment of these humans’ lives, purely because with every thought their bicameral minds produced and “received,” it was just interpreted as blatantly spiritual in nature.
Looking back at the literary historical record, we can see that human consciousness changed over time in how things were recorded, and which things were recorded. Earlier parts of the Old Testament, like the Book of Amos, are profoundly different than later parts of the Old Testament, like Ecclesiastes. By the time that Homer’s Odyssey was written, we have evidence of an early form of consciousness emerging. Things like doubting the gods, which hadn’t been talked about previously, become more common as time progressed and newer works were made. In the Old Testament, the idea of even doubting that there was a god was completely out of the question, because as stated in the previous paragraph, His existence manifested in every conscious moment that humans experienced. As time went on and the consciousness that we’re familiar with today continued to evolve and manifest in humans’ minds, more and more we began to experience crises of faith and doubt in G-d that had never been on the table in previous ages to begin with. Faiths changed as well, as the idea of things like prophets took hold, where people could speak on behalf of G-d, channeling what G-d wanted to say, whereas in earlier eras this was not the case, because their concept of G-d spoke to everyone in every moment. In the early world, everyone was their own prophet, and their rational processes were their own gods. On a side note, perhaps the reason that the Abrahamic G-d is presented as male has to do with the notion of authority in the ancient world, when almost only men could hold positions of power in these earlier communities, with people simply conflating the authority with masculinity.
This has a multitude of effects on modern day spirituality, where humans feel more detached than ever before to spiritual matters, and a nihilistic atheism has taken hold in many developed countries, where in a world seemingly devoid of meaning, things like hedonism have been prioritized. Rather than say that life and religion are pointless though or that spirituality is a figment of our minds’ misinterpretations, I’m going to explore why our faith, even in this shakily-atheist organization, has been an excellent guide for how to behave and how to think, When people had this relationship with their rational processes, where the mind’s deductions and creations were seen as authoritative, where a lack of self-awareness may have allowed people to live in ways far more harmonious with the universe around them, humans were far more content with their lives, because they lacked the mental troubles that came with consciousness. The universe had an unparalleled clarity to it in the eyes of these earlier humans, and as people began to group together in larger settlements, the ubiquity of divine commands in the minds of everyone gave rise to the structured cultural norms out of necessity, as early organized faiths took on the role of settling these disputes regarding divinity. This dynamic that emerged from the material conditions, where people began to cohabitate in settlements, gave rise to the faiths that many people know and love today. In Buddhism, a religion formed roughly 2500 years ago, we see that things like meditation, introspection, and the oblivion of consciousness are given a premium, because for these ancient people that were experiencing these newfound problems, this faith allowed a way for people to deal with their developing minds. It would seem that faiths have evolved throughout history, to fit the needs of minds as our consciousnesses continued to develop.
When we look at the abuses inflicted in New Age cults in the last century, what we see are often vulnerable people preyed upon by these cults, who are often in poor financial and social standing with the wider community. In this way, New Age spirituality may be a reaction to the atomizing effects that modern capitalism has on people, given that it works with those of us most defeated by such a system. Marx said that material conditions determined social and spiritual conditions, and by putting this Bicameral Mind Theory into the context of historical materialism, it can help to destroy the essentialist notion that humans have always perceived the world in the same way. The modern mind of an American wouldn’t function as well in the early settlements of the Stone Ages and wouldn’t survive in the caves of prehistoric cavemen, because the mind as we know it has just been a tool that’s been crafted over time by language, material circumstances, and social conditions. The anxiety that modern people experience to often paralyzing degrees today, even in mundane and safe settings, was not compatible with the earlier ages, and should be approached as artificial problems, rather than as valid feelings and respectable disabilities. The caveman with agoraphobia starved without the means to hunt his prey and the soldier with too much self-awareness would never be able to muster up the bravery to march in formation with comrades to sure death by sword or spear in frontline combat. It can be said that consciousness in the modern age is a requirement for humans to function, as we have so much more information to deal with and require the introspection to make changes when our mindsets and beliefs fail us in our relationships and our careers.
While we can dismiss the existence of G-d, it is perhaps better to view G-d as a function of our rational brains and as an output of reason and logic. The divinity may seem absent now, in a world where we no longer receive those mental commands, but the value behind following those logics and reasonings shouldn’t be abandoned. In an earlier time, when people believed in gods and dragons, it could very well be the case that by obeying their rational minds, these people were in fact more rational than people are today, despite believing in what largely amounts to fairy tales. The troubles that most people have today in the Developed World are “first-world problems” simply because these material conditions give rise to uneasy consciousnesses with less basis in rationality and logic. If we can’t come to understand the historical development of the human mind, we risk letting society fall into disarray in a similar fashion to how early settlements without structured faiths had to deal with the clashing authorities of all their villagers being their own prophets. Nihilistic atheism is bad for society and by extension, humanity, simply because there’s no authority given to logic left. In the last decade, we’ve seen conservatives and liberals in America debate back and forth on issues regarding sexuality, race, and gender, with the overarching conservative response being, “facts don’t care about your feelings.” The fact that this is a phrase used today at all points to the problem our society is experiencing in an absence of faith, when values aren’t as easily shared, where the cohesion of a community is vaporized, and what actually gets done takes a backseat to what troubling feelings need to be addressed in our increasingly complex consciousnesses. The fact that America’s conservatives, who have shown a much higher participation rate in religious organizations and a much higher rate of belief in G-d, are on the pro-fact side isn’t a coincidence. The fact that progressives, who have been at the forefront of promoting social and dismantling the past for a century, have much higher rates of mental illness and are on the pro-feelings side isn’t a coincidence either. While G-d may not be rational to believe in as a tangible deity, religion carries with it enough truths about how to behave and think that those who subscribe to it in moderation are usually healthier people than those who abandon it completely.
As our concepts of gods lose their legitimacy in the modern world and their relevance within our minds, humanity needs to focus on what those gods really were to earlier people: logical and rational thoughts that guided them, coming from the right brain. The material universe is one of universal reason and logic, where feelings don’t matter unless they achieve a desired result, where the potency of our minds is determined by how much we can change the world around us with what we think, what we say, and how we behave. The brightest minds in society are not obsessed over mundane trifles but are rather oriented towards the material universe, paving the way forward in the fields of science, art, and commerce, and that is not by coincidence. All of the activity of humans’ individual mental worlds means nothing without a tangible effect on the material and social conditions, because at best in that scenario, we are simply a hyper-sensitive product of that world, rather than an agent of change. I worship G-d, but not the entity or deity that people are familiar with, but rather the science and reason that our concept of G-d descended from, because those two causes are what built up everything else around us. In an age of godlessness, let’s return to tradition and worship the rationality and principles of the universe., let’s discover more and let’s build more, because in learning more about how the universe works around us, we can come closer to understanding not only G-d but ourselves as well. Through science and reason, humans have already developed the technologies to effortlessly smite cities out of existence (atomic weapons), traverse our planet within minutes (international space station), know instantly everything that can be known (internet), create karmic systems that reward and punish people (social credit), and as our technologies continue to develop, we’ll gradually take on more and more of the fantastical abilities that our myths and religions once only attributed to gods. In worshipping science and reason, humanity can gradually become the gods that they once worshipped and build the paradises that our species have always dreamed of.