3-TIME BARRIER

When scientists tell us that all life on Earth evolved from amino acids and the like, building blocks of life brewed in the primeval soup of life at the dawn of time, we sort of believe them, and when they tell us that Darwin’s theory of evolution is irrefutable, we sort of believe them, but when they tell us we’re monkeys, that’s when we get our backs up. If we’re intelligent, it’s because God made us that way, and that’s all there is to it.

Nonetheless, it gets harder and harder to refute the evidence that our ancestors had started prancing around on two feet as recently as 7 million years ago. As we became bipedal, and with the Sahara pump working away, we prospered in the African Rift Valleys where environmental conditions were ideal. We spent a lot of time in the water in order to protect ourselves from predators and lost most of our hair in the process. However, we found it impossible to compete with the big predators roaming the grasslands, and we certainly weren’t able to get at the carcasses until they had finished with them. To be sure, we were at the bottom of the totem pole when it came to living off the grasslands. Nonetheless, in time, we got our courage up and invested the killing fields in order to glean a few morsels from the leftovers, and we obviously found nothing but bones. Understandably, we didn’t know what to do with them, but since we were last on the scene and had all the time in the world to experiment, we eventually cracked one open. The precious bone marrow we found was avidly consumed, and when added to the rich and plentiful sea food already at our disposition in the shallow waters, we evolved in a spectacular way. By spending less time foraging for food, we had more time to ‘think’.

Since our brain was rapidly increasing in size along with the rest of our body, there was outward pressure on the cranium, and, in time, our facial features slowly morphed into what they are today. As the neocortex grew exponentially and grafted itself upon our reptilian and limbic brains, it caused an explosion of cerebral activity, and we became the thinking, talking, problem-solving emotional beings we are today.

As of that moment, we traveled in an existential world different from the other primates. But the line that forever set us apart from our wild cousins was drawn in the sand when we grasped the notion of death. After witnessing the death of a loved one, not grasping why our parent or companion was no longer communicating with us, or why his or her body was decomposing, we were probably overcome with deep emotional distress. Our feelings and our need to understand surely made something snap in our brain. That was the day we broke the time barrier, the day we realized that we too would die.

Breaking the time barrier meant we were now intelligent. We could use past experience to shape future events. As a simple ape frozen in the present, we had not known the anguish that the notion of death produces. Before, death had just been a momentary interruption in time, a sad happening devoid of meaning, and one that was not anticipated. But now, having broken the time barrier, not only did we know that we would die, but we also knew what could cause our death, and we were scared out of our wits. We saw dangers that threatened our life every which way we turned. We no longer trusted our instincts and our insecurity made us very aggressive. An everyday occurrence became a deadly threat, and fear overcame us. The forest became a scary place and darkness was unbearable. We could no longer stand the aquatic environment either, for we imagined the most terrible creatures lurking beneath the surface.

We managed to survive by taking refuge in caves and grabbing unto the (coat) tails of any outstanding individual who seemed to have answers. Through trial and error, we discovered how to make a fire and keep it going. Thereafter, we not only could warm ourselves, but we could keep the predators at bay. We learned to make weapons, and to hunt and live in groups, and our confidence grew. Nonetheless, it was hard to accept that we were animals and behaved like animals, and that our life would someday end.

2-HOMINIDS

As we twitter with the whole world and fly to the far reaches of the globe on a whim, and as we enjoy clean water and unlimited electricity by flicking a button or turning a knob, we are empowered and feel invincible. Many of the values of those who not so long ago built their own homes, raised large families, grew their own food and made their own clothes, seem to be absent from our lives.

If we better understood the human monkey and knew how the world of credit that empowered us was created, we would not only tend to reconnect with those values, but also realize how lucky we are to be living in the best of all possible worlds. More importantly, we would find serenity in that knowledge, and be more inclined to do things that fulfill us instead of those that eat away at our insides.

This blog is meant to shed light on the evolution of humans and explain how the wonderful world of credit was planned and created. The hope is that young people will read it and choose to live productive happy lives instead of overdosing on shit.

Around 65 million years ago, after the dinosaurs died off, we primates were the size of meerkats, and perhaps just as cute. In Africa, some 7 million years ago, the hominine-ape split occurred, bipedalism followed, and we started using tools. At the beginning of the Quaternary, around 2.5 million years ago, the ice age we’re presently in began, and as water levels dropped, we spread far and wide.

Glacials (maximum ice) and interglacials (minimum ice) occur in fairly regular cycles of around 20 thousand years. The timing is governed in large degree by predictable cyclic changes in Earth’s orbit, which affect the amount of sunlight reaching different parts of Earth’s surface. The three orbital variations are: changes in Earth’s orbit around the Sun (eccentricity), shifts in the tilt of Earth’s axis (obliquity), and the wobbling motion of Earth’s axis (precession).

Our evolution was subjected to these glacial and interglacial swings that some refer to as the Sahara Pump. When the Sahara was dry like it is today we migrated either south to the Sahel region, north to the Atlas Mountains, or east to the Nile and African Rift valleys, and when it was wet, some of us migrated back. Around 3 million years ago, our cortex started to grow exponentially, and it seems to have occurred while we were in the African Rift Valley. In order to escape the big predators, we spent a lot of time in the water. In time we shed our body hair, and because we had access to an overabundance of aquatic food, our brain size went from that of a chimpanzee to what it is today. We then developed language, created complex tools, controlled fire, built shelters, buried our dead, wore clothing, and built rafts to cross large bodies of water.

70 thousand years ago, the warming leg of the interglacial we’re now in was interrupted by the Toba volcanic eruption that caused a one-thousand-year winter during which most of life on earth died out. In the following 30 thousand years, as the warming trend resumed, the hominids who had prospered in Asia slowly migrated westward to Europe. The Neanderthals, who had migrated to Europe prior to the Toba eruption had been severely affected by it and were not doing very well. Their population had dwindled down to a few breeding couples. As the hominids from Asia arrived in Europe, they mingled with the Neanderthals that were left standing, but the new arrivals prospered in a spectacular way while the Neanderthals disappeared. 10 thousand years ago, as the warming cycle that we’re presently in gained full momentum, we started developing agriculture and leading sedentary lives.