In this blog we’re going to look at the beginnings of religion as seen through the eyes of one of our ancestors, the cat. Cats are mammals, and mammals are our distant cousins that we share a distant common ancestry with.
Thanks to my cat, I recently had an insight into how human mammals create the crazy stories that we do. It was a Monday afternoon when I left my house to go to the grocery store to pick up some cat food.
When I left my little cat was stretched out on the floor trying to cool herself in the afternoon heat. She was sound asleep, staying cool, lightly breathing through her mouth. As I walked to the store, I noticed that there were these very strong gusts of wind that were picking up, whipping around. These same winds were fueling the fires in Southern California.
The sky was orange in hue from the smoke, like that of a setting sun, even though it hung high in the sky. The day itself was unusual, just from the sheer smoke, the gusting winds and the high temperature.
When I came back home, about an hour later, my cat was nowhere to be found. And, I thought this was rather strange because she was just so comfortable and at ease before I left. I looked around and I noticed two things. One, the hallway door was closed. And, two the cat was hiding underneath the far corner of the couch. I wondered what would cause the cat to be so scared. But, the answer was evident as soon as I called her out.
She reluctantly came to the front of the couch, her eyes wide as a bowl of milk. She was clearly terrified out of her mind. She stared in the direction of the hallway door. I immediately realized that it was the gust of wind slammed the door angrily – startling the kitty out of a deep sleep. She kept looking at the hallway as if it were some scary monster. I called to her to follow me as I walked towards the hallway door. When I turned around she had not followed me, but instead she was cowering behind a table peering around the corner seeing if I had gotten gobbled up by the monster door.
She shook and was easily startled the rest of the day. Every time she had to walk in the direction of the hallway she would make a big loop around the hallway door, and she spent the rest of the night looking in the direction of the door.
I began thinking about life for our ancestors. I realized the reason the kitty was so afraid of the door is because she did not understand this abstract concept of wind, which creates lower pressures at higher speeds, moving across the outside surface of the door causing a decrease in pressure on the outside surface, creating an air pressure imbalance with the back side of the door, causing the door to slam shut.
For my cat, the slamming door with nobody home was a supernatural event, something mysterious and unexplainable, something that needed to be honored and worshipped, something that needed tremendous attention and care, something that needed perhaps a superstitious belief system.
Unlike humans, cats are quick to forget mysterious events and can restore themselves to normalcy fairly quickly. By the next afternoon, my cat was blissfully unaware of the door and unaware of the fact that I had put the shoe in the way of the door to prevent the low pressure event from happening again. She’s queen of the house again, able to enjoy the breeze and gusts of these summer afternoon winds cooling her fur.
It occurs to me that in my cat, I am observing the beginning of mythology. In fact, all mythology is based about things that we don’t understand.
Mythology is a way of explaining life through beliefs and stories – that has little to do with anything. You see mythology is a bunch of made up stories about every aspect of life.
We are mammals just like cats are mammals- but we have a more advanced brain.
However, the advancement of brain power does not mean an advancement of clarity. Far from it. For all of our brain power we still have the most stupid, ludicrous, ridiculous explanations of causation – why things are the way they are. These stories have nothing to do with anything and yet we create entire religions and spiritual organizations and belief systems around these ridiculous beliefs.
It’s true. You and your brain are suffering from the same condition that my cat suffers from. The inability to understand the simplest of events within a context of clarity and clear causation. And so we take simple events and we build complex, complicated scenarios to answer the simplest of questions. Why did the door slam? Well it must have slammed because the moon was orange and the sun was orange and there was a fire in the north and the gods were unhappy because so many people were having extramarital sex and people were engaged in homosexual activities. And so God slammed the door as an act of punishment to terrify those of us that have evil in out hearts. And so on and so on and so on.
We build complex, convoluted, ridiculous, un-provable, unbelievable scenarios. And because we suck at determining reality and causation, these scenarios become real, actual, factual, three dimensional reality.
And this is where bullshit like The Secret really fucks you up. Just because you can think it doesn’t mean anything. Your thoughts have no more direct connection to your physical world than does your ability to stop gravity. Here in lies the problem with your brain. Your brain simply cannot distinguish the difference between and inner vision, and external vision, and inner feeling, and outer feeling, a plausible causation, and implausible, insane causation. We have no way to discern. So we are subject to the whims of an insane brain dictating out and ideas that have nothing to do with anything. So do you have a brain of an evolving human or do you have the brain of a cat, your cousin? Unfortunately, you have to decide.