The rejection of science, mathematics, philosophy, literature, and the Ancient Greek and Roman contributions to western thought in favor of a despotic and supernaturally-based Stone Age social order, is wrecking the progress the United States has made in improving the daily lives of human beings.
The essays in this book are the result of thought experiments from the point of view of a non-religious woman thinker. Thousands of years of accumulated cultural experience cloud our picture of what early humans were like. What we assume to be inevitable behavior in our species has been formulated after the fact by modern people, and from a persistent supernatural view of the origin of our world. A misunderstanding of cause and effect prevents a rational discussion of human behavior; the effect (who we are now) does not indicate design, purpose, or direction toward an inevitable outcome for our species. The purpose of early humans was not to become modern humans. Their task was to survive, and survival meant adapting to the specific environments they inhabited.
Physically we may be identical to our ancestors, who lived 200,000 years ago, but the human brain can be used in many ways, and the adaptability of early humans arose from practical invention, not from abstract intellectual theories. Now as then, most of the brain’s activity is not under our control. The function of the brain is to operate the body and to make sense of the environment; today, information about our world is provided by images and spoken and written language floods our brains moment to moment, but this is a recent addition to our social environment, and was unknown to our ancestors.
We think of human language as being exclusively verbal, but it is clear that we possess at least two languages of thought: magical and mathematical-rational. These languages of thought show evidence of being discrete; the products (ideas) are distinct and contradictory. A mathematician or scientist will use abstract thinking in his or her work, but then declare belief in a supernatural dimension populated by magical beings, who routinely overthrow the laws of nature. These are world views that exist in opposition: they cannot both be true. The rational products of science and technology are routinely taken over and used by magical thinkers to destroy nature, at the expense of people, animals, cities, land, water and atmosphere, all in the name of religion.
The supernatural and rational functions may not be equally active in an individual: some people are so dominated by magical thinking that no amount of observation, demonstration or proof will lead them to accept natural conditions as the source of explanation for phenomena. This magical or supernatural focus is the default mode of human thinking and can be found in humans worldwide. It predates rational thinking, which is a relatively new function; rational thinking must be activated and cultivated through education.
Magical thinking is thought by child development specialists to be active briefly in childhood, and then to disappear in favor of rational thinking; human development is described as a ladder or concept of levels – this scheme is artificial and misleading. Magical thinking is not only present, but dominant in most adults in the United States, who rely on magic as the explanation for physical reality. This mistake is responsible for poor outcomes in personal lives and public decisions.
Do these two languages pre-exist in the brain as products of evolution? Do they represent continuity with the languages of other species? Mathematics is the language of physical reality: mathematical relationships are intrinsic to nature and basic to understanding the substance and organization of both living and nonliving matter, energy systems, and the history of the universe. Mathematics is essential to the culture we have created, and yet it’s descriptions of reality are alien to man’s original view of his universe.
It is the fate of a rational thinker to be vastly outnumbered by people for whom the default state of mind is irrational; magical thinking is fundamental to being human, but the failure to initiate and cultivate the rational function is manmade. The rejection of science, mathematics, philosophy, literature, and the Ancient Greek and Roman contributions to western thought in favor of a despotic and supernaturally-based Stone Age social order, is wrecking the progress the United States has made in improving the daily lives of human beings.