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Our great brains give us awareness. They also give us the ability to imagine, but at a great price: The certainty that life comes to an end for each of us. Being able to talk about life beyond life gives us a huge advantage over the other kingdoms of life. At the same time it is an albatross. For our fears about death and purpose become contagious words that instill yet more fear in others.

Animals we kill or that die never come back. Neither do the people we know, nor the plants we uproot. At the dawn of recorded time all we can do is imagine what lies beyond life. That great unknown is scary. Life is vital; it is important. We must know. Even if unknowable, we still must try.

We do not and cannot know all about the entire universe, much less what the morrow holds. What we can rely upon are our legends of survival. To the extent they work, we get through each day. By observation, we learn that rock chips can cut our flesh. From this lesson we fashion what pass for knives to butcher meat. It is a small deductive step to mount a knife on a spear to keep neighbors from stealing our wives or hunting grounds. Turning a spear into a projectile became the next deductive process. First we throw it to great effect. Then we mount it on a launching board for greater distance. And finally we reduce its size and use a bow for yet greater range.

We well remember how to find water holes, hunting grounds, fruit trees and sheltered areas. Food and water are plentiful--sometimes. Big game animals that were here yesterday may be gone tomorrow but their dried meat can sustain us for a little while. Some of the small game may go, too. We may then go to sleep hungry, or even die, if a drought caused it all. Being nomads, we can migrate. If the tribe next door has food, we can move them aside, or kill them if they resist--unless they kill us first. These are our legends for survival. Finding legends that work better has occupied us from times immemorial. This is humanity.

Our problem of the hereafter always haunts us, if secondary for the moment. A child is born; our parenting instincts take over. Although we know zilch about instinct, we obey them blindly. If we survive, we behave like our parents do. Sickness comes at random and so do plagues. Some of us survive some don't. Survivors may be left with ugly scars or infirmities. We see strange things happening all around. Light follows darkness in a regular rhythm. Rain and fog, big winds, lightening, thunder come and go but without much rhythm. Our imaginations run rampant.

Unable to know any better, we ascribe reasons for the unknown--gods govern each event. We see lightening far away, yet hear nothing. The closer the god of lightening comes to us, the louder and angrier the god of thunder gets. The god of thunder is warning us to hide. And sure enough some of us who do not heed the god of great noise are struck dead for our carelessness. "So they must be at war!" we tell ourselves. And it makes sense. In like manner, the moon god disappears when he gets too close to the sun god. And he recovers his brightness only by moving away. Our awe of the supernatural knows no bounds. We come away thinking one thing for sure: "The god of thunder cares about us!"

Our fantasies build. Since each natural event has a god, or goddess, it follows that other gods may war among themselves. After all, we war upon our neighbors. All this is deductive thinking at its best, and perhaps more importantly, deduction works in a whole new domain--the unknown--at least it seems to.

At some point we ask our elders--once we have learned to talk in the abstract: "Why must we die?" Then, once we have learned to think in abstract words we wonder "Why are we here?" What is our purpose? Wise ones among us find soothing scenarios, a garden, a heaven in which we live ever after. To males, some wise men offer heavenly virgins. It is not the other way around for in their region, it is still a man's world. In other places, goddesses reign and females fare better. These become our legends of promise.

"There is nothing to fear" is the message in common. There may even be rewards! Our wise friends know how to soothe our fears. And we believe them as we expect them to believe in our warring gods. Our legend of survival is complete and comfortable. We know what we know by trial and error.

At last we see all things connect. What else can we know, really? However, by using deduction, so useful in daily survival, we have now expanded our legends of survival to the gods. And it works. Unknowingly, we invent a new legend: the legend of enlightenment which gives us some control over our future. We are confident that with each deduction our future will be better.

We have discovered logic; A new legend is born!

Tools have been around for a hundred millennia, but at the dawn of recorded time, we are learning better how to fashion new and better specialized weapons. But we cannot control thunder. We see the great flashing lights starting fires, and if we are careful, we can use the embers to keep fires going near the entrance to our cave or in our camp. Eventually we learn that we generate heat by friction. If it is great enough, and we are patient enough, we ignite fires for ourselves. Imagine the excitement of the first human who did that. The first tool, even the first wheel, do not compare with this singular event. The chemical reaction is the most vital of our technologies even today. (Fire is the original of the thousands, perhaps millions, of chemical reactions that we control in sustaining modern life. Of course that was lost on the original masters of staring fires in controlled ways.) Legends for survival arise and expand as each new-found technology works. In the process we learn much that does not work. But we add discovery to our legends, here and there at first, then with increasing frequency. The process is slow; what is known, must be learned first before one can look beyond. Persistence to the point of virtual obsession is required just to bring one new concept into being. Review the histories of alchemy, midwifery and Witch Hunters to get a feel for how it is to grope in the dark.

Slowly we learn to domesticate animals and evolve a pastoral existence that gives us milk and honey to better our chances to survive cold winters and droughts. Somewhere along the line, we realize the marvel of reproduction, how it happens for animals and us as well. We multiply their numbers and ours without much effort. Life is secure and fun--sometimes.

We notice plants growing where we remember spilling seeds (our food) a few weeks ago, or last year. We harness that accident to further buttress our survival. As able hunters, herders, and now farmers, we have three great legends for survival. We multiply yet more. And with that multiplication comes organization of work and spare time. We create things out of curiosity, develop art beyond crude figures, create new vocabulary to describe our new activities. We learn to leave written records. By improving our ability to survive, technology came to stay, our distinctive trademark. All the while, our weaponry advances with our numbers. Each such advance enlarges the realm of our legends for survival.

Legends for both survival and promise arise as the progeny of fear. They serve different purposes. One for the here and now--we each want to live a little longer--and one for the hereafter. One feeds our bellies, the other relieves our anxieties about death. But there is no conflict for they serve different purposes, different needs. Our legend of discovery seems to enhance each of the others.

We are off to conquer the earth with three great legends in hand.

With time to spare, we realize at last we can also chip records of our existence for posterity on boulders or cave walls. We wonder and we try new things based on what we already know. Slowly it dawns on us that children must be able to decipher what we write. We develop pictures for game, the human form, and tools and leave these on tablets and cave walls. Our symbols take on meaning for others. We realize these could be strung together to create a history in stone. We can leave messages on rocks and boulders. Stories we write are all about events in our lives. They even anchor our hand-me-down legends, our technologies of the day.

Steeped in legends of survival, we always remember where the game is, where the water holes are. Legends of survival save our lives again and again--much more often than not anyway. When they don't, we wonder. Why? The question is always with us. The insightful or creative among us can find or invent reasons why. Since insight is a rare commodity (responsible for tools, fire, our technology), "creative" reasons carry the day. They become our folklore. We may find reason to ask: "Why did the god of great light flashes strike my father dead? It remains a question unanswered. Was he in cahoots with the god of thunder? The fact that the gods are angry we do not question. What else can we do? Legends of promise give us comfort of sorts. What else can we know?

Still we wonder: Who are we? Why are we here? What happens when we die? We give our newly-won free time to answering these questions. The more imaginative among us can spin tales of thunder, great winds, exploding mountains, and ethereal visitors in the sky. We set events down on stone. Stone lasts forever, wood does not. But wood is ever so much easier to carve into totems and leave messages on. And it lasts long enough for our children to read and copy.

Like our legends for survival, we accept our legends of promise for the unknown. And through millennia we march. Wisdom comes and goes with each generation, but grows steadily. Legends involve either of two features: Daily survival or explaining the unknowable hereafter.

Then a twist is added, perhaps by a tribal chief or wise man. "Behave this or that way and you will survive in heaven. If you don't, you are dammed to a burning Hell forever."

Progress for sure in survival,
but no progress on promise. "WHY?"

Of course legends of promise and survival meet at the frontiers of what is known. For millennia, those frontiers were only dimly appreciated if at all. Each entered the realm of the other with variable results, and with little awareness. Having no boundaries, origins in time, or geography, legends of promise multiplied seemingly without bound. Some adopted socialized elements, obvious from legends of survival, to develop codes to be followed. These were more practical, others were more philosophical.

Perhaps by recognizing that a single god could do everything the multitudes of gods could, a novel promise was born. Another leap unique for its time. A single, universal god is easier to understand. This new promise gathers steam and eventually rivals the others.

It is only natural that this god became God--upon whom we project our own human traits. Therein lies a dilemma. We are not perfect, but we want a perfect God who is personal and is looking out for us.

Again a problem is solved by the clever inventor--God kicks Lucifer out of heaven. So if we are not careful, we will fall into Lucifer's hands. So we better be good. Legends of promise adopt moral directives as part of their domain. With time, Commandments evolve into forgiveness. With still more time, Legends of promise extend the moral directives for the individual to those of society.

All this is natural enough. But of course, the legends of survival among societies favor those societies whose legends serve best. And it follows that societies that choose systems of governance that foster survival, eventually move ahead faster than do those that rely on Legends of Promise alone.

By this time, writing is a standard means of expression across generations. Writing leaps beyond images to the abstract. No longer on stone, it is on wood, parchment or paper. Histories of monotheism come into being and are handed down as gospel.

This transition is huge, not so much for the great leap as for its consequences. By reducing the hereafter to one option, legends of promise devolve into the question of "Whose god is God?" Again the many sages among us rise to the challenge and provide many answers, and many become independent of the original main stream. The inherent question "WHY?" remains for all.

About a millennium elapsed from the time of Abraham to Mohammed. During this time, monotheism takes on three main flavors. Each splits again and yet again over the question: "WHOSE GOD IS GOD?."

Responding to our individual aggressive natures,
monotheisms war on one another.

To this day, survival legends still say nothing whatever about the hereafter. They now carry that newly minted word "science." And they have evolved to almost become ends in themselves, for we are innately curious; curious about all things. Above all, legends of survival become rigorous in defining what is science and how is it practiced. See Scientific discipline.

The Higgs boson, if it is ever confirmed to exist, is said by some in the media to be the "God" particle. Hardly! But its mere mention with God reflects how deeply we yearn to be one with God. Not all of the world does so, but the monotheists discount the value of other systems of behavior or promise. And the monotheisms are currently at war--or rather their leaders are--as they have been now for a millennia.

Science now spawns so much technology that it invades turf within the legends of promise that sustained the hunters, herders and farmers of yore. Legends of promise that recognize and adjust to new knowledge survive the times. Those that cannot, or do not, find themselves increasingly at odds with the legends for survival. For many, the legends of survival have reduced the legends of promise to whatever it is that is behind the "Big Bang."

In spite of this progress, the hereafter is no clearer than it ever was. There is no provable answer to the question "WHY?" However,and why we came into being, is still very much an open question. The march of science increasingly conflicts with Legends of promise as to where the boundary (or boundaries) between their great realms should be drawn.

Fast forward to what?
God only knows!

However the universe came into being, and we along with it, the colors of history paint pictures in all shades and grains; only the hues remain unchanged. Therein may lie our salvation. We have our senses, our movements, our controls within the limits of nature, our intelligence. But these have not been enough. We rape the environment as we rape each other. What is missing from the survival legends is sufficient understanding of the personality and character elements exhibited by Homo sapiens. Until these riddles are cracked and modified to prevent destructive extremism in all society, we are doomed to war and more war, genocide upon genocide, terror beyond terror, in an atmosphere too heavy to breathe.

Character seems the more important of the two. This is not a new conclusion. Abraham recognized it as did Confucius, Buddha, Moses, Jesus and Mohammed. They did not have the legend of discovery. We do.


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