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Sacrifice

One of the things that Bart Erhman goes into in “God’s Problem” is the business of sacrifices. We know that animal and human sacrifices have occurred throughout history and there are plenty of biblical stories that include animal sacrifices. It’s only natural to wonder how that got started.

I’ve read quite a bit about early primate behavior and there may be a connection here. Food distribution among primates is based on power. The most powerful in a group get first pick, the best selection, be it meat or fruit, and others get what’s left. So right away, the most basic need for survival is filtered through this hierarchy.

So say you’re munching along and someone more powerful than you wants your food. What to do? If you’re strong or stubborn, you fight. If you’re neither, you give it up to placate the bully. This pattern of social behavior is ancient, goes on for millions of years. Still happens among schoolchildren.

Along come protohumans who look around and see everything as alive – the wind, the rain, the sun, all these are endowed with a personality. And it’s not hard to imagine they would view a bad storm, volcano, tornado, massive forest fire or other natural disaster as an expression of anger.

So they respond to fury the way they always have – try to placate it with food. They’ll even provide it pre-cooked on a fire. Thus sacrifices.

Written by Influential Prose

September 3, 2014 at 2:17 am

Posted in behavior, evolution

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