What If Ancient People Really Were Hearing The Gods?

Discussion of the bicameral mind, Jaynes's neurological model, the dual brain concept and neuroscience research, present and historical.

What If Ancient People Really Were Hearing The Gods?

Postby Dustin » Thu Dec 05, 2013 2:14 am

There is one truly troublesome part of Jaynes's thesis which is:

What if "hallucinations" don't figure into this at all, and all those ancient people really were hearing the Gods?

What if the Gods really are angry at us because we became impudent? Or because they were attacked by evil demons? What if that's why we can't hear the Gods anymore?

What if at least some "hallucinating" people today really aren't "hallucinating" at all, but they have been chosen by the Gods to be able to hear the messages of the Gods, even though the Gods are not talking to most of humanity anymore?
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Re: What If Ancient People Really Were Hearing The Gods?

Postby Jimbean » Tue Jan 14, 2014 9:03 pm

why would this be true?
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Re: What If Ancient People Really Were Hearing The Gods?

Postby Moderator » Mon Jan 27, 2014 5:32 pm

Although it comes up from time to time in discussions of Jaynes's theory, I don't think there is any evidence (at least that I've seen) that would support this idea, and there is a great deal of evidence to support the voices as hallucinations hypothesis.

Evidence to support the voices-as-gods hypothesis would be, for example, highly specific, substantive information conveyed that could not possibly have been known by the voice-hearer. This has never happened.
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Re: What If Ancient People Really Were Hearing The Gods?

Postby Dustin » Sat Feb 08, 2014 11:51 pm

I realize that this is a very "hard sell" in this day and age. However, it seems more plausible than the evo-psych explanation provided by Jaynes. It would seem implausible that all those millions of people would have hallucinated unreality for thousands of years simply because it was a convenient method of social control. Somebody would have figured it out.
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Re: What If Ancient People Really Were Hearing The Gods?

Postby Moderator » Mon Feb 10, 2014 3:20 pm

The auditory hallucinations aspect of Jaynes's theory is often the most difficult for people to accept.

However, after talking to many people that have the voice-hearing experience, or reading enough case studies, one comes to appreciate the conviction many voice-hearers have in the reality of their voices. More often than not, patients labeled as schizophrenic cannot be persuaded that their voices are coming from their own brain. The perceived reality of the voices is a key aspect of the voice hearing experience.

We now have actual case studies that are highly representative of the bicameral experience. See for example, R. Hulbert, "A Schizophrenic Woman Who Heard Voices of the Gods." We can then extrapolate back from the large body of research on present day voice-hearers, command hallucinations, and hallucinated companions in children, to the psychology of people living in ancient civilizations.

People who hear voices today are not thought to be experiencing divine revelation. The voice hearing experience during the bicameral period was probably not all that different, other than it took place in the absence of subjective consciousness.

As to the lack of questioning the voices -- over time, with the weakening of the voices, people did come to question the reality of the gods... we see this in the Greek Enlightenment.

Jaynes's bicameral mind theory provides perhaps the best explanation for the the origin of god beliefs. Although there are many competing theories as to the origin of religion, Jaynes's theory is supported by the a wide range of historical as well as current psychological and neurological evidence, and there is no scientific evidence that contradicts it. As such, god beliefs today should be viewed as a vestige of bicameralism.

For those that argue that voices past or present are actual communications from immaterial beings, the burden of proof is on them. To date, no credible evidence has been provided to support this hypothesis.
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