The violent person - "victim" of his development?

(Published in GralsWelt 67/2011)

In the face of acts of violence like the one in Norway in July 2011, the fundamental question arises as to why humans are capable of evil. Anthropologists believe that violence and other evils are inevitable consequences of our evolutionary history. Is that correct? 

How did evil come into the world?

Many traditions tell of a "Golden Age" far in the past, when the many evils caused by human beings were said not to have existed. So what happened? Where did the evil come from?

In the past, spiritual traditions, fairy tales and legends tried to answer this basic question in symbolic stories. In more recent times, scientific theories have sought to explain human behavior based on the history of human development - and this seems to provide answers to the "million-dollar question" about the origin of evil ...

There are many indications of a fundamentally better epoch in human history: The ancient Indian (Vedic) tradition reports from a distant "Age of Truthfulness" or "Golden Age" (krita yuga), which was followed by another three ages. at Hesiod (around 700 BC) this teaching can be found again; the Bible also speaks of different ages in the book of Daniel. The best known of the teachings of the four world ages is from ovid (43 BC - 17 AD). Even medieval mystics like Joachim of Fiore (1130-1202) spoke of different ages.

So what caused that peaceful primordial phase in human history, which is ascribed to the “golden age”, to come to an end?

Anthropologists see the reasons that evils such as violence, exploitation or drug addiction came into the world as a result of our evolutionary history.

The hunted became hunters

Perhaps three million years ago, our ancestors, the australopithecines, lived in East Africa. They were frail, timid dwarves, a little over a meter tall. Their diet was predominantly vegetarian. They consumed anything edible they could gather and did not disdain insects and small animals. These pitiful little creatures were hunted by cruel predators: for example, by big cats or hyenas. Infants could even become the prey of birds of prey such as the crowned eagle. But these prehistoric people already used tools made of wood, horn, bone or stone, which gave them certain advantages.

These poor, but perhaps peaceful prehistoric men increasingly found a taste for meat.

First they used dead game, from which they drove the vultures away. Upright prehistoric humans with good visibility could see the fallen game earlier than four-legged scavengers through the vultures circling above. As good endurance runners, our ancestors often managed to get to the cadavers before the big cats and hyenas. When cutting up the prey, tools with sharp blades were indispensable.

Then our ancestors became bolder. They dared to chase away predators from their freshly killed game. To do this, they had to work together in small groups, because an individual would easily have become the prey of the predator he wanted to scare away. In addition, a pride of lions could hardly be separated from its prey by throwing stones and striking with sticks. For this purpose, fire had to be used, which early humans used more than 1.5 million years ago; probably the most important step in the cultural-technical development of man. The campfire served as protection from predators at night, allowed food to be roasted, and helped in group formation.

Eventually, the early humans, who initially seemed harmless and helpless, became hunters, big game hunters and predators themselves, having grown somewhat larger by this time. The killing of an animal that was much larger and stronger than humans - up to the mammoth - was particularly important.
This is probably how the propensity for violence arose. The first documented murder took place 430,000 years ago. (Wikipedia). After Sherwood L. Washborn the use of tools, hunting and the division of labor between man and woman became crucial for the evolution of man. (Wikipedia).

Jacob Bronowski in his book "Der Aufstieg des Menschen" also points out the importance of language:
“A slow being like humans can only stalk, chase and catch a large savannah animal that can escape quickly if this happens in cooperation with others. Hunting not only requires special weapons, but also conscious planning and organization with the help of language. "

Here the hunt is seen as an important impetus for the development of our most important means of communication: language.

Recent research that Josef H. Reichholf in “The Riddle of the Incarnation”, brought the astonishing result that 30 to 50 thousand years ago highly developed languages and cave paintings were probably created at the same time. The origin of the language is believed to have been 100,000 to 200,000 years ago in the Paleolithic Age, when there is said to have been a kind of original language.

Geography of Intoxicants
People from different cultures have been using different intoxicants for millennia, most of which have also acquired religious or cultic significance. Critics of religion therefore assume that many mystical experiences came about under the influence of drugs; similar to how some people today want to expand their consciousness in a drug intoxication in order to experience a "psychedelic *) Pentecost".
Josef H. Reichholf describes in his book "Why people became sedentary" a "geography of intoxicants":
“The hallucinogenic mushrooms and fermenting berries are to be assigned to the cold region, to the transition area of the mountainous region hemp and wine - and what belongs to the steppes of the Near Eastern highlands and river valleys? The grasses, the seeds of which were starchy enough to produce sprouts containing sugar, from which, by drying and roasting, the malt that is fermented by yeast mushrooms into beer is obtained. Further to the east, the “opium zone” begins with the poppy seeds, from which this particularly powerful drug is extracted. To the south, on the edge of the Indian Ocean, betel nuts and khat (quat) take on this stimulating and intoxicating role. In North America it was tobacco, in Central America and in the North American West it was the drugs from the peyote cactus (Lophophora williamsii) and also certain mushrooms. In South America it replaces the cocaine of the coca bush. "  (11, p. 254).
*) A euphoric state of trance, intoxication or meditation is called psychedelic.

Man as a predator

How accurate the description of humans as "predators" can be is shown by the menu of Central European Ice Age people: They mainly fed like predators, for example like the wolf.
“Meat contains protein in a more concentrated form than plants, and eating meat reduces the amount of food and the time spent on eating by two-thirds. The consequences for human evolution were far-reaching. He had more free time available and was able to use it more indirectly to get food from sources that could not be tapped with brute force, driven by hunger, otherwise (such as large animals). This fact apparently helped (by natural choice) to encourage the tendency of all primates to switch on a delay in the brain between stimulus and response. A process that eventually evolved into the human ability to postpone the satisfaction of desires considerably. "
(4, S. 45).

Anthropologists and archaeologists suspect that the path from this stage on was not far to cannibalism, they speak somewhat shyly of "anthropophages" (people eaters). This theory is supported by the fact that (ritual) cannibalism was widespread among recent indigenous peoples until the colonialists forcibly ended it in the 19th century.

The brutal ruthlessness, the urge to hunt off other - animal or human - their prey or even to kill them was, as many researchers see it today, the cause of a higher development of humans! Because without meat as a concentrated source of calories, his brain would not have been able to develop into the organ that gives him, as a “thinking being”, superiority over all other forms of life on this planet.

It took more than two million years to evolve out of the Australopithecus the Homo habilis, then the Homo erectus, and finally, about 200,000 years ago, the homo sapiens to whose kind all people today belong. Have there really been absolutely peaceful, non-violent epochs during this period?

Our ancestors wandered the world

Most of the time man was a wanderer. A hunter camp must be relocated days or weeks after most of the huntable animals have been driven away. Some consider it to be perhaps the greatest achievement of the "naked monkey" (a book by Morris Desmond; 9) from Africa that he managed to gradually colonize all climatic zones and even survive as a big game hunter in Ice Age Europe.

The difficult environmental conditions in the cold zones led to changes in behavior, accompanied by fundamental inventions (for example the sewing needle), which made a significant contribution to human development.

The climatic conditions in Ice Age Central Europe weren't quite as daunting as we often imagine. The weather was less changeable than today. In summer there were pleasant temperatures, about as in the current time in spring and autumn. The growing season was not much shorter than it is today due to the same amount of sunlight, so there was plenty of food for large animals to grow on the grass steppes. In winter it was much colder, but dry and not windy. Abundant fatty meat food that could be preserved - buried in the permafrost soil (permafrost), warm clothing and thick skins made it possible to survive in huts; because caves were rare. There were hardly any trees either, and the firewood was scarce. A warming fire made of dung, bones and bushes could only burn for a few hours a day. In return, there were no tropical diseases that might have contributed to the waves of emigration from Africa, such as Josef H. Reichholf in his book "Why people became sedentary" explains. (11, p. 188 f.)

From today's perspective of developmental history, there were only two options for our ancestors of the genus "Homo": Either to vegetate on the level of a harmless, helpless, not very large primate that can survive in tropical latitudes. Or as a wandering hunter (and robber) to increase the brain mass, to develop his "computer", so to speak, to increase the body size in order to ultimately become what we today call "man".

So the inevitably came due to development Violence into the (human) world?

Were the nomads really peaceful?

The “wild time of free roaming” of the hunters and gatherers, which lasted for millions of years, gradually passed into other forms of civilization. The very slow one biological evolutionwhich, according to Darwin, is an interplay of selection and mutation (cf. the "Darwin series “Part 1 - 7, under "Science"), was made by the cultural evolution replaced. This is orders of magnitude faster than the development through biological selection.

The hunters and gatherers became nomads whose main concern was the herds. (It is controversial whether nomads and farmers emerged one after the other or at about the same time.)

This made new forms of coexistence necessary.

In a hunter's camp, the prey was divided. A sensible custom that had stood the test of time for millions of years. Meat spoils quickly and is best eaten fresh. Whoever had captured something today and shared it with the others in his clan could count on profiting from the hunting success of another on a following day. This created interest in each other's success and a social network. Also, except for their clothing, jewelry, and weapons, hunter-gatherers had few personal possessions. Berries, fish, fruits, insects, plants, mushrooms, birds, water, game, roots belonged to everyone and no one. The shelter, a hut or a cave, had to be shared with the group, the clan.

The nomad, on the other hand, needs to know who owns which herd animals. Sharing is only partially important within your own, accompanying group. The concept of property, which dominates our life today, acquired decisive importance at this cultural level. Hunters and gatherers, as well as recent hunters, still lack the sense of this:
“Ethnographic field research shows how strongly the principle of sharing is anchored in today's hunters and gatherers. The Canadian ethnologist Richard B. Lee reports on a! Kung Bushman in the Kalahari who bought a herd of goats. Within a year, the man had to slaughter all the animals in order to feed the other camp residents. The social pressure was so great that it was impossible for him to keep the goats for a long time. "

(2, p. 66).

So maybe with the nomads, who, unlike the hunters and gatherers, could no longer share naturally, the origin of behaviors such as greed and Avarice to find?

In any case, nomads were sometimes aggressive too. They fought over pastures and watering places, as can also be read in the Bible (Genesis 13: 7-11; 21.25 and 26.20). Another biblical theme is the millennia-old struggle between nomads and farmers (Nomad Abel, farmer Cain, Genesis 4: 1–16). In ancient times and in the Middle Ages, nomadic peoples (e.g. Scythians, Huns, Magyars, Arabs, Mongols) were the terror of the settled people.

Even the Business acumen is much older than you might think. About 130,000 years ago, in the Middle Stone Age, there began an increased exchange of raw materials, for example salt and hard stones for the manufacture of tools, which speaks for real trading networks. The basic skills for trade, such as the division of labor, knowledge of numbers and proportions, the ability to communicate, etc., must have existed before the start of agriculture. Otherwise people would not have been able to farm.

The curse of property

Sheep and goats were domesticated in the Middle East and agriculture was invented around 12,000 years ago. This brought a decisive turning point in human history, which historians call the "Neolithic Revolution" and see it as the origin of higher culture.

The transition to agriculture brought new problems because social life had to change fundamentally.

The three to four hour “working day” of the hunter and gatherer became the twelve hour day of the farmer. He had to work hard for his harvest, which was also always endangered by plant diseases, pests, storms, birds and game. He even had to defend himself against nomads because they found nothing in grazing their herds in cultivated fields or even robbing the settlements.

So the farmer was forced to look after his property, to defend his property against attacks. At least now, the aggression was no longer directed primarily against animals as game or predatory game as a threat, but especially against hostile people.

Ownership of fields, buildings, tools, seeds, the harvest became essential for survival. Sharing everything seemed no longer conducive to survival, except with one's own family. In times of crisis one had to starve rather than touch the seeds for the next sowing.

From now on, the productive wealth takes on a significance which has determined the economy to this day, and which ultimately brought about capitalism. Since the primary value of property in material goods, man has been prepared to defend material property at the risk of his life or to increase it by force.

Where there is property, there are those who have less and those who have more and as a result - in the event of a failure to the extreme - the rich and the poor, later on the privileged and the oppressed, and with that exploitation and Injustice, but also … envy.

The evolution of mankind
Once upon a time the guys perched on trees
hairy and with an evil face.
Then they were lured out of the jungle
And the world paved and raised,
up to the thirtieth floor.
There they sat now, escaped from the fleas,
in centrally heated rooms.
There they are now on the phone.
And the tone is exactly the same
As in the past on the trees.
You hear far. They watch TV.
You are in touch with the universe.
You brush your teeth. You breathe modern.
The earth is a formed star
With a lot of water rinse.
They shoot the letters through a pipe.
They hunt and breed microbes.
They provide nature with every comfort.
They fly straight up into the sky
And stay up there for two weeks.
What your digestion leaves
they process that into cotton wool.
They split atoms. They cure incest.
And they determine through style studies
that Caesar had flat feet.
So did it with the head and the mouth
Created the progress of mankind.
But apart from that and
seen in the light they are in the ground
still the old monkeys.
Erich Kästner (1932)

Tightly packed together in a very small space

The population increased. About 12,000 years ago - the period from then to now is a tiny fraction of the millions of years of human development - the first settlements emerged. A hunter camp had maybe 20 members. Hundreds of people lived in early villages 9,000 years ago. 7,000 years ago there were cities with 6,000 inhabitants. The settlements were fortified to protect them against violent intruders.

People now had to live close together in a small space. This created new potential for conflict. The hunter was no longer free to leave the camp in the event of a quarrel and to keep a spatial distance between himself and the annoyance until his displeasure had cooled down. Memories of this long-blown “hunter's freedom” are still alive today in folk songs, in the longing for untouched nature, in the longing for “personal freedom” and in the search for adventure.

In the city previously unknown problems had to be overcome; from new diseases and parasites to rubbish removal to water supply. Many projects, such as city fortifications, defense or irrigation, could only be carried out in community work and had to be organized. This created new forms of hierarchy. It followed Ruler, steer, the Tax office , Wars [1] and probably already slavery.

According to recent findings, civilizations on four continents developed through wars. According to this, the main driving force for complex societies was war as the "father of all things" (Heraclitus)[2]. Armies, organizations, leadership structures, developments of weaponry, fortifications, conquests were promoted by warlike conflicts or forced by the necessary defense. Numerous skirmishes, at first only local, between groups and small settlements eventually became large wars between cities and empires. Now there were warriors, heroes, commanders, well-trained, disciplined troops. The accounts of their deeds fill a large part of our history books, and to this day the prestige of a state depends above all on the strength and striking power of its army.

The climate also played a role

In the course of human history, there have always been climate changes that influenced historical developments:
For 11,700 years, the end of the last ice age, we have lived in a time of warm, relatively stable climate (the Holocene of the geologists). Climatically, this is probably "only" an interglacial period. And the climate is not as stable as it seems to us:
6,000 years ago: Cooling in the northern hemisphere. Leads to the drying out of the Sahara. (Bronze Age cooling).
400 BC - 200 AD: "Roman Warm Period".
200 - 600: Renewed drop in temperature. Considered to be the trigger of the migration of peoples.
8th c. Until the 13th c.: "Medieval Warm Period". 
1500 - 1850: "Little Ice Age". 
Cf. also in "Short, concise, curious" on page 110 "How the climate made history".

Religion and intoxicants for cohesion

The residents of a settlement depend on one another. Running away is no longer possible. What brings them to peaceful coexistence within - with a simultaneous willingness to be aggressive towards the outside?

The takes on a decisive part of this task Religion. Even with arctic hunters, as an example of this, shamans - with their drugs - played and still play a central role; as a healer, clairvoyant, counselor, prophet or "mediator between the worlds", like Brian M. Fagan explains in his book "Aufbruch aus dem Paradies". Religious commandments formed the first (legal) regulations for community life. Religious rites, common meals, (religious) celebrations, baptism, wedding and burial rituals, mythical traditions, still promote the sense of community today.

A society without a code of conduct that is recognized by all its members will find it difficult to find a basis for safe coexistence. Even a free, democratic constitution in modern times must be "sacred" to the members of its community; even if it is difficult to address feelings of togetherness alone or to arouse enthusiasm in the form of “constitutional patriotism”.

If Josef H. Reichholf follows, then, in addition to religious rites, intoxicants played an important role in the formation of an emotional community:
"It was drinking together that led people to grow grain - and not the compulsion to feed more clan members." (2, p. 64).

In any case, knowledge of brewing beer was widespread 9,000 years ago (5), and the oldest traditional recipe for brewing beer is 6,000 years old (11). So were a (questionable) promotion of the sense of community Intoxicants necessary? Every culture uses its own special drugs (see box “Geography of Intoxicants”).

With this need for community came the evil of alcoholism and des Drug use in the world? The custom of enjoying alcoholic beverages together has retained its importance in the European (Christian) culture - for example at receptions, celebrations or at regulars' tables - to this day.

Die Erde - a self-service shop without a cash register?

Another experience from prehistoric times makes us difficult today: From the point of view of that time, the earth was unlimited in size, with inexhaustible resources. Man, on the other hand, appeared small and weak; he could do little in the face of overwhelming nature. If an area was overexploited by hunting, pasture or agriculture, people moved on and looked for another, untouched piece of land.

This age-old view was never really that accurate, not even 30,000 years ago, when the slow extermination of large animals had probably long since begun (cf. “In harmony with nature?” In “That was the wild west ”Part 2, under "History"). At the end of the Ice Age 12,000 years ago, the extermination of large animals, known as the "Pleistocene Overkill", assumed dramatic proportions.

The misjudgment of the inexhaustibility of the earth became one of the causes for the reckless treatment of nature, an evil that has shaped the human economy for millennia. Humanity multiplies at the expense of nature, and it spreads with the technical potential of high civilizations and the irrationality of parasites that destroy their hosts.

In the 18th and 19th centuries, immigrants still saw large parts of what is now the United States as untouched expanses that offered enterprising, able-bodied people unlimited opportunities. Today, when the earth is overpopulated and many resources are becoming scarce, it is still difficult for us to separate from this unconscious, but formative, ancient fallacy about the limitless exploitable earth. We only see our personal actions, which have no major, no directly visible influence on the wider environment. Despite better knowledge, we do not internalize enough how much our environment degenerates with too many people who consume too much. It is still not sufficiently clear to us that the earth is a living space that can be destroyed and not a supermarket without a till where everyone can help themselves.

Is the history of development to blame for everything?

All in all, it is not a nice, satisfying picture of human development that cultural anthropologists draw today. Violence, greed, avarice, exploitation, injustice, envy, (unjust) rulers, wars, slavery, taxes, the tax office, alcoholism, drugs, reckless treatment of nature: All these evils would therefore be inevitable side effects first of the biological and then of the cultural development of mankind.

But is it really like that? Are we still suffering from an age-old brainwashing process that imposes a fair amount of "cultural violence" on every human society? In any case, the modern mass media apparently cannot be successful without a portrayal of violence or even the glorification of violence.

So is there hope for overcoming the evils and a more peaceful future?

As far as we know more precisely about the cultural history of mankind - essentially since the invention of writing - it can be stated that humans reflected on the inhumane behaviors that evolution forced upon us from a cultural-historical point of view. There were religious, philosophical, altruistic approaches to overcoming impulses hostile to life, from which no one seems entirely free.

Despite everything, people have always felt that they are not nature's plaything and that they are not devoid of personal responsibility. It is - even as it is today - not an inevitable result of a chain of development, because the human being is more in his true essence than the result of the millions of years of development of the brain and body.

This is where religion and public research are at odds these days. Some say man is His body; the other say man is not his body, but him Has a body.

Those who have read the work "In the Light of Truth" (Book review) will agree with the second statement from personal experience and their own conviction: As a spiritual being that does not originate from matter, human beings are characterized by free will and consciousness, which enable them to make self-determined decisions for which they must then also take responsibility.
We all have the ability to develop beyond the natural constraints that may result from the biological development described above. We can creatively shape our environment and our human coexistence on a spiritual basis.

It may seem difficult to remain aware of this ancient and original truth, given the current dominant materialist and capitalist worldview. But even the so-called materialist can come to the conclusion that he has the choice between chaos and sensible action. Humanity and an understanding of nature are sensible.

It may even be helpful to know that many of the destructive impulses dormant within us stem from a long period of our development. Because whoever recognizes this programming, which was stored in primeval times, as not promoting life, can more easily overcome it consciously and advance on the way from violent predator to true humanity.

[1] In the first known war, 5,500 years ago, the fortified trading city of Hamoukar (in present-day Syria) was conquered and destroyed (Wikipedia).
[2] Not all anthropologists believe that wars were necessary conditions for cultural development. Cf. "The cult of the great mother" under "History of religion" and "The oldest city in America?„.

Read about it too "Why does God allow all of this?" and in "Short, concise, curious" page 228 "The expulsion from paradise".

Addendum 2020:
According to "Der Spiegel" No. 29/2020, in the course of human development there were important Gene mutations:
* About 7 million years ago the ARHGAP11A gene was still identical in humans and chimpanzees.
* About 5 million years ago, a partial duplication of ARHGAP11A arises: ARHGAP11B. This new gene occurs only in prehumans and prehistoric humans, e.g. in Australopithecus about 4 million years ago.
* A point mutation occurs about 2 million years ago. It causes the gene product of ARHGAP11B to migrate into the mitochondria. There it stimulates the brain stem cells to increase division.
* This second mutation seems to be crucial for the increasing brain growth of humans - from "Homo habilis" via "Homo erectus" to "Homo sapiens".

Brain volume:
* 7 million years ago: Last common ancestor of humans and chimpanzees: 300 to 400 cc.
* 4 million years ago: Australopithecus: approx. 450 cc.
* 2 million years ago: Homo habilis: around 600 cc.
* 1 million years ago: Homo erectus: around 1000 cc.
* Today: Homo sapiens: around 1300 cc.

(1) Bild der Wissenschaft, 7/2009.
(2) Bild der Wissenschaft, 9/2009.
(3) Bild der Wissenschaft, 2/2011.
(4) Bronowski Jacob, Der Aufstieg des Menschen, Ullstein, Frankfurt 1976.
(5) Der Spiegel, No. 52/2009, page 132.
(6) Fagan Brian M., Departure from Paradise, Beck, Munich, 1991.
(7) Hagl Siegfried, If it wasn't a miracle, publisher of the Grail Message Foundation, Stuttgart 2000.
(8) Hardy Alister Clavering, Man - the praying animal, Klett-Cotta, Stuttgart 1975.
(9) Morris Desmond, Der nackte Affe, Droemer-Knaur, Munich 1970.
(10) Reichholf Josef H., The Riddle of the Incarnation, dtv, Munich 1997.
(11) Reichholf Josef H., Why people settled down, Fischer, Frankfurt a. M. 2008.
(12) Reichholf Josef H., Why we want to win, dtv, Munich 2001.
(13) Waal Frans de, Der gute Affe, dtv, Munich 2000.