Science And Human Sacrifice (2)

Photo; cbsnews1

Photo; cbsnews1

We will return to the mass psychosis, into which Nigerians have lapsed—because it has enormous strategic and security implications, and should be of the utmost concern to government.

What needs to be elucidated now, though, is the relationship between religion and science: How early religion mystified and masked evolutionary behavior, such as curiosity, investigation and speculation.

In time, this behavior would crystallize into the body of knowledge and understanding now called “science”. Religion is, therefore, the” mother of science”: Because ritual and traditional practices provided the impetus and the context for early human efforts to collect, organize and store information.

European science, for instance, had its origins in pagan mysticism. Chemistry, Medicine, Pharmacy and even Geometry were branches of esoteric knowledge. Isaac Newton was a cultists (who is said to have enjoyed hanging people); and the early European “astronomers” were all astrologers.

Science is basically the accumulation and organization of facts, about various environmental domains—land, ocean, animal, plants, atmosphere, life, the cosmos, etc. It searches for answers to questions about observed phenomena and processes and formulates theories to explain them.

The word “science” is comparatively new, etymologically. It comes from the Latin “scientia,” meaning “to have knowledge”. Common usage dates back only to the 1700s.

“Scientist,” as applied to an investigator or a learned individual, is an even later coinage—having first been used, Wikipedia reports, by the English historian and philosopher, William Whewell, in 1833.

But a cautionary caveat is required. It is, simply, that the subject of this history and etymology is modern Western science—the science of the European Enlightenment and the ensuing Industrial Revolution.

Only the terminology and the written records are Western in origin. As the German philosopher, Immanuel Kant would put it, “the thing itself” (das Ding, a sich), certainly is not!

The truth is that, the collection and organization of raw information (or, in modern parlance, “data”) is even older than humanity itself. A basic tenet of biology, and astronomy, is that information is one of the four components (along with energy, matter and organization) of all organisms on Earth.

Organisms that are lower down on the evolutionary ladder (ant, bacteria, plants, etc.) rely mainly chemical storage systems—DNA and RNA. But the higher a specie rises in the hierarchy of evolution, the greater use it makes of culture as a means of preserving and transmitting knowledge.

African wolf dogs, for instance, teach their young how to hunt, just as young chimpanzees learn termite fishing from their parents. Chimps can also add single digit numbers, while Japanese Rhesus monkeys reportedly have schools, where the young are taught foraging and sanitation techniques.

“In 2014,” Wikipedia reports, “onlookers at a train station in Kanpur, India, documented a Rhesus monkey, knocked unconscious by overhead power lines, that is revived by another Rhesus that systematically administers a series of resuscitative actions”.

Here then, is the corollary: The acquisition, storage and transmission of information, is not the exclusive preserve of any culture or even humans generally. Nor is it unique to any time period. It is a continuously evolving process and a fundamental component of Earth biology.

In early African society, the prime agents, the chief brokers of survival information and the progenitors of intellectual activity, were the traditional pagan priests—the much maligned “Witchdoctors”—who were, in reality, proto-scientists.

Hollywood film and Sunday sermons have painted a horrid picture of traditional Priests. They are portrayed, even in Nigerian movies, as “castors of spells” and doers of evil deeds. Worst of all, their traditional roles have earned them reprobation, as the selectors of sacrificial offerings.

To be continued.

In this article:
J.K. Obatala
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