Knowledge, even the best scientific knowledge interprets experience through human cultural understanding. The origins of culture and language and social life involved the use of symbol, ritual and metaphor. Words themselves as concepts have these origins and are limited in their representation of phenomenon. They can serve to illuminate a way to envision an experience or to suggest a way that another might have a similar experience but they are not the experience. The direct experience is somewhat irreplaceable as a source of what we know especially in terms of what we are or where we have come from. In the early years of language there was fewer words and they were more directly linked to what they were referring to. Ironically in our modern age we seem to have come to a place where we look to and rely on greater abstraction as part of our experience. We could say that it has come to a point where it has largely replaced experience. We so often look to others, who and what we think to be more dependable, more external sources for much of our understanding about life and knowing.
Gary Gutting’s article “Does evolution Explain Religious Beliefs” in the New York Times http://nyti.ms/1n5tswg
In Gary Gutting article he interviews the philosopher Michael Ruse. Ruse begins by making similar claims as I have made in the first chapter yet he goes on to use reductionist and abstract ideas and theories that foster a fragmented, mechanical, perception of human development and evolution. Science itself has developed a language and culture that needs to be examined for its relevance in claiming to capture truth. Its revelations may be quite relative at best. There are many conceptual reductionist as well as holistic models of evolution and social and cultural evolution that explore evolutionary and human developments in more creative ways than Ruse suggests. All conceptual models are ways of seeing but is it possible that the unfolding of consciousness is a much more complex occurrence that goes beyond our ability to understand from rational conceptual thinking? Can the direct experience be known in this way?
Another way to perceive the development of religion is that it emerged at the same time that the dualistic brain was developing and at a time of increasing abstract thinking. Religion kept humans grounded and connected to something more fundamental and present in their being. I think that there is good reason to ask if it might have served than as it does at times in modern days to keep individuals connected to something more fundamental in our origins in a way that words, concepts and abstractions are not able to do; something more authentic that can not be expressed so easily. Symbol and ritual became a way to do this and they still can serve in this way that points us back to a more experiential knowing which involves a more vast and direct realisation of how we fit into life on this planet and the universe, if not skewed in their use and intent. Abstraction and rigid rational concepts have limitations in explaining that which is not of a linear, mechanical nature and more and more the world of science these days is realising that the mechanical model and methods used for understanding the universe is limited in this way. But they are still being utilised despite the reality and risk that, with such an encompassing focus and conventional reliance on our mechanical conceptual perceptions, we might become them. In fact have we not become more mechanical in our ways at a cost of ignoring what is not so mechanical about being human or being a creature of this world and universe.
We experience a deeper connection to the direct experience of life when we come to understand how to differentiate it from abstract, symbolic and conceptual thinking. I think that it is highly possible that religion served to ground man in the direct experience of life and that it can continue to serve in this way today if we can see clearly the divisive influences of culture, science, language and even religion. They are divisive in that they have the ability to take us away from ourselves.Religion evolved as a cultural way of being aware. Even religion has developed in a way that has forgotten its origins. We don´t require religion to develop the necessary awareness that I am writing about.