Man Versus Animal
We gained our separation from the animal world, or our ascendance to the top of the food chain … the Life pyramid, through the development of our MIND. Specifically, this was done by acquiring of speech and the cognitive skills that derived from it. We are aware of our mind and the consciousness we experience. In other words, we are “aware” that we are aware. But how does our consciousness differ from that of other animals?
The main feature that most distinctly separates humans from animals is language skills. Humans have a complex speech pattern and ability to hear and receive meaning in spoken word. Some animals, are also able to verbally converse with one another. Elephants, monkeys, dolphins and birds, among others, are able to distinguish the sounds made by other animals – especially those of their own species. If you’re a pet owner, then you also know that dogs can distinguish some human words. In the case of my two dogs, “treat” has never been confused with any other word. However, no animals come close to communicating in a verbal sense, in the same ways as human beings can accomplish it.
Therefore, because animals do not have speech, they cannot have thoughts in the same sense that humans have thought. Animals can’t think the way humans think. Humans have a rich speech pattern that enables us to think inside our heads. Animals cannot possibly have thoughts in their head the way that we do. They are not able to communicate verbally the way that we do, and therefore cannot think such thoughts in their head. Their inability to express language skills, logically means they can’t construct the “voice in our head” that talks even when we don’t open our mouths. And they surely can’t get that song stuck in their head for days like we do.
Since animals do not have speech, and cannot think the way that we do, they also do not have the highly developed skills of deduction and logic that are cognitively based upon the sense of hearing and language. I’ll say it again, just for clarity sake … language, and the thinking skills based upon language, are what most clearly differentiate us humans from animals.
Thinking is a very large part of our consciousness, therefore consciousness must feel very different to animals. Animals are aware; but thoughts are not part of their consciousness. We humans can be both aware, and experience conscious thought. Like I presented earlier, “we are aware that we are aware.” Through internal observation of our consciousness, we can be aware of our awareness. This is our left brain being aware of the right brain awareness. Our left brain can verbalize, do math, think in, and analyze words and language thoughts; the right brain is our creative side … our imagination, intuition, feelings, non-verbal, and visualization. The left brain is therefore logic and analysis, and where our language skills are assembled, the right brain is creative does not reason as the left brain does … it is the Artist, visualization, feelings, daydreaming, and Musician. Tying them both together is the ethernet called the Corpus Callosum (the veil).
When humans beings emerged from Nature, we emerged from a vision-based world that we shared with the animal kingdom. Certainly sounds were important, but not nearly as important as vision in establishing the reality of the world that was around us. The sense of vision was highly necessary for all navigation within the environment, and for identifying all of the essentials for living and survival such as finding food, avoiding danger, and identifying a mate.
This list of our left brain and right brain functions may help: LEFT BRAIN: Verbal, Analytic thought, Logic, Details, Caution, Symbolic, Rational, Objective, Language, Reasoning, Science and Math, Writing, Numbers, Facts, Planning, Order, Science, Right-hand Control, Masculine. RIGHT BRAIN: Non-Verbal, Art, Creativity, Imagination, Intuition, Insight, Holistic Thought, Music, 3-D Forms, Emotions, Big Picture, Freedom, Casual, Adventure, Colours, Subjective, Dreams, Left-hand Control, Feminine.
The left brain thoughts of humans became mapped on top of the right brain world from which we came; and which had previously completely represented the reality of the world in which we had always survived. Now pay very close attention to this following line. Our thoughts came from WITHIN – they came FROM and represented the “SELF” from the RIGHT brain. The LEFT brain awareness of the RIGHT brain awareness of “self”, has become what is known as our human EGO. Animals don’t have an ego, they only have an awareness of “self."
Now let’s take a trip to Genesis-land. The Garden of Eden - Paradise. Although it is tempting to try and imagine the “MOMENT” when humans first developed our thinking ability and our advanced human ego. Stories of alien intervention (the Annunaki), genetic experimentation and delivery to Earth from a far more advanced society than we were, etc.
But using logic and reason, we realize that it must have happened over a long period of time rather than an instant flash of magic. We also have very little hard evidence to document events at the time of our separation from the animals. However, we do have (among many similar stories) the famous story of the Biblical Adam and Eve in the Book of Genesis. This allegory provides a description of human separation from the animal world. It is a description of the development of language and thinking.
The story of Adam and Eve has almost certainly been passed down to us from as far back into our history as oral tradition (mouth to ear) extends and the earliest writers could record on tablets, walls, hieroglyphs, scrolls, and parchment. Many human cultures have very long histories of oral fables that are passed from generation to generation.
This is also evident in the New Testament where lineage is documented as a long listing of people each of whom “begat” the next. It is also likely that the early Greek writings were written from long-standing chants passed down from earlier times. These first Biblical texts were in Greek and are called the Septuagint. The Biblical scriptures have gone from Hebrew and Greek, to Latin, English, and in more modern times, most every know language in the world.
The story of Adam and Eve certainly originated an ancient time ago – when we were considerably closer to our roots than we are obviously are today. It is likely a tale that lingered in the folklore of human civilization at the time of some of the first writers. Among Sanskrit, Greek, and earlier.
The story of Adam and Eve, perhaps the most familiar to modern peoples, seems to have incredible insight about the development of our thinking mind and our emergence from Nature. The information was gathered from a mixture of cross civilizations and their interactions along trade routes and rulership powers.
The story of Adam and Eve begins in the Garden of Eden, where we are at one with nature. There are two named trees in the garden: the Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. We can eat freely from the Tree of Life. At this point, we are harmonious with nature in a visually based world without words. Up until this point in time we have not developed thinking ability or human ego and do not see ourselves as separate from the environment around us.
This was almost certainly the state of living things prior to development of human speech. Adam, could eat freely from the Tree of Life and continue to be in harmony with and a part of nature. He could walk without clothes and not be ashamed – he could not “think” about the fact he was naked. In nature, prior to thinking and human ego, there was no judgment of good or bad. In nature, everything just exists. It just WAS. Remember, thinking, and human ego must be present in order for us to have the ability to make judgment.
Before thinking and human ego, we were harmonious with nature and lived freely, equally and non-judgmentally with all other living things. When we were a part of nature, we didn’t make judgments between good and bad. We didn’t need to. However, as soon as we ate the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, we separated ourselves from nature. Prior to the development of human ego (i.e. eating the fruit) there was no right or wrong. There is no right or wrong in nature – things just are. No one stares at the sky at night and says “gee, that grouping of stars looks stupid.” In nature, things are on course, designed for regeneration, and one flower doesn’t care what the other one looks like.
Only humans are able to think and therefore to judge – and this is a major causation that separates us from the animals. Development of judgment coincided with development of human thinking consciousness and ego. The ability to judge, or eating the fruit from “the tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil,” is a trait that gave us the ability of God:
“And the Lord God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil” Genesis 3:22
And, what is the penalty that comes along with this ’God-like" Knowledge of Good and Evil (or ability to Judge)? The Bible says … It is death. Hmmmm. Let’s go a bit deeper.
“But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” Genesis 2:17
The creatures in nature do not have thinking consciousness or ego – hence they do not understand or fear death. Life just IS. Animals will do everything possible to avoid death because of the survival instinct, but they do not HAVE THE KNOWLEDGE that they will die some day and they CANNOT think about it.
Humans FEAR death because we have thinking ability and an ego that separates us from nature. Our thinking ability and human ego are so strong that they necessarily lead us to a knowledge that WE WILL DIE. The knowledge that we will die is terrifying to our ego, because our ego feels so much a part of our atmosphere and life, and feels permanent to us.
“And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.” Genesis 3:7
“And the Lord God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the Tree of Life, and eat, and live forever: Therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the Garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken. So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the Garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the Tree of Life.” Genesis 3:22–24.
In nature there is little concept of life and death … it is all but an eternal cycle. Living things just exist – without human ego there is no sense of a beginning or end to life. Life just IS. When we were apart of the Garden of Eden, we could eat freely of the Tree of Life. But when we developed thinking and human ego we became separated from nature. We could no longer eat of the Tree of Life – we became aware of our own mortality and were forevermore banned from experiencing life without death. Life was no longer harmonious.
Interestingly, in the Story of Adam and Eve, God keeps the secret to life (the Tree of Life). We were once a harmonious part of nature and life, but when we acquired the knowledge of good and evil (our ego awareness), we no longer could be part of the “way of the Tree of Life”. Even today, the origins and meaning of life are our greatest mysteries. We may not ever find out our true origins. But we keep searching, reasoning, testing, going inside and outside of ourselves.
The story of Adam and Eve (when not taken literally) is very enlightening, and insightful; however we must accept the fact that it is an allegory … it is myth with a deeper meaning. The allegory focuses on a particular moment when Man became separated from Nature – when in fact the transformation occurred over a much longer period of time.
Just a thought …
~Justin Taylor, ORDM., OCP., DM.