Evo Psyc Lecture 1
Big Question: What are we?
Origin, nature, meaning or essence of being human?
Creation myths offered answers
ALGONQUIN
Humans created from the body of “mother earth” by her wise son
Glooskap. But Glooskap is killed by his evil brother Malsum, who
is himself later killed but whose spirit now haunts humanity.
Lesson: Humans are derived from “good” and “earth” but
haunted (like other creatures) by dark spirits.
Evo Psyc Lecture 1
Big Question: What are we?
Origin, nature, meaning or essence of being human?
Creation myths offered answers
GREECE -- AGES OF MAN
Golden age: happiness, no labor or suffering, but in time arrogance, contemptuousness,
destroyed men
Silver: men had to work, they complained and fought among themselves – Zeus
destroys them
Bronze (1 and 2): men were resourceful, hard working, heroic, but war-like and they
destroyed each other.
Iron: current age, most men are rude, selfish, greedy only a few virtuous men, which
why the gods don’t destroy us all.
Lesson: Humans are self-centered and greedy with only a few virtuous ones scattered about.
Our ancestors were often better than us, but flawed as well. The gods will eventually do away
with us and try again.
Evo Psyc Lecture 1
Big Question: What are we?
Origin, nature, meaning or essence of being human?
Creation myths offered answers
Enuma Elish Babylonian creation myth
The father god, Apsu, intends to kill the younger, lesser gods, whom he finds
bothersome. He is foiled by his wife Tiamat, put into a deep sleep and killed.
Others gods convince Tiamat that she should avenge Apsu’s death by killing
Marduk, the leader of the lesser gods. Tiamat and Marduk battle. Marduk wins
and proceeds to split Tiamat’s body in two, using the parts to create the earth
and sky. He then kills Tiamat’s new husband, the demon Kingu, whose blood
drips on the earth creating humans. Marduk declares that humans must work
for the gods.
Lesson: Humans are the accidental result of divine violence; destined to toil for
gods.
Evo Psyc Lecture 1
Big Question: What are we?
Origin, nature, meaning or essence of being human?
Creation myths offered answers
Genesis Creation story:
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
The earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the
deep; and the Spirit of God was moving over the face of the waters.
And God said, "Let there be light"; and there was light.
And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the
darkness….
Historical context: Jewish reaction against “irrationality” of
Enuma Elish
Message: The earth and humanity are a reflection of the
order, rationality, and divine purpose of the Creator.
Creation myths: Common themes
• Trickster or devil: who thwarts or perverts
the creator’s intentions. Helps to explain
flaws in both creation and human nature.
• Creation from divine body parts, fluids, or
excrement. (1) creates intimacy between
creation and the gods, creation is imbued
with spirituality. (2) connects creation with
child-like drive to explore and create. Gods
“toy” with creation.
• Creation as accidental, unintended: Helps to
explain limits of human understanding;
disorder, mystery, suffering.
• Genesis story is rather unique in
emphasizing intentionality, order, reason,
goodness, and human importance. May be
foundational to science! Questions could be
asked and reasonable, intelligible answers
could be expected in return.
Evo Psyc Lecture 1
Big Question: What are we?
So how do we “ask questions” to nature? Science.
Scientific approach to question
From a scientific perspective human origins are found in the
theory of evolution. Humans evolved, and because we
evolved our nature (what we are like, both physically and
psychologically) has been affected by that long slow process
of evolution.
Thus, to understand human nature we must first understand
evolution.
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Evo Psyc Lecture 1 Big Question: What are we?