Religion and the origins of civilization: The conversation continues

In a recent article here — “Rewriting the history of religion, civilization, and the human mind” — I talked about the article/essay in the June issue of National Geographic that details the discovery of Göbekli Tepe, a temple complex in southern Turkey that promises to overturn commonly accepted notions about the role of religion and human consciousness in the origins of civilization. I also philosophized a bit about the synchronicitous resonance between this discovery and the new age of neuroscientific investigation into the origins of consciousness that kicked off in the 1990s, right around the time Göbekli Tepe was discovered.

Now the conversation continues: Electric Politics has just published an interview with Charles C. Mann, the author of the NG article. It’s available as a 39-minute podcast that’s both downloadable and streamable. Here’s the teaser/description:

At what point does an original idea engender action? And to what extent does that action set a lasting course? We can examine the social history of an idea, written, as it were, in stone, at Göbekli Tepe, an archeological site approximately 11,500 years old (or perhaps even older) in southern Turkey. Before the invention of agriculture, before pottery, hunter-gatherers in a collective effort raised enormous, spectacularly carved megaliths for mysterious ceremonial purposes. What an incredible story! To tell it I turned to Charles C. Mann, whose essay in this month’s National Geographic is a must read.

About Matt Cardin

Teeming Brain founder and editor Matt Cardin is the author of DARK AWAKENINGS, DIVINATIONS OF THE DEEP, A COURSE IN DEMONIC CREATIVITY: A WRITER'S GUIDE TO THE INNER GENIUS, and the forthcoming TO ROUSE LEVIATHAN. He is also the editor of BORN TO FEAR: INTERVIEWS WITH THOMAS LIGOTTI and the academic encyclopedias MUMMIES AROUND THE WORLD, GHOSTS, SPIRITS, AND PSYCHICS: THE PARANORMAL FROM ALCHEMY TO ZOMBIES, and HORROR LITERATURE THROUGH HISTORY.

Posted on June 26, 2011, in Religion & Philosophy and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Hey Matt. Good article. What do you think about Buddhism?

    And check out my website as well. New posts to come.!

    Cheers!

    • Glad you liked the article, and thanks for the good words.

      What do I think about Buddhism? I’m not quite sure how to take the question. It feels like trying to answer “What do you think about movies?” or “What’s your take on water.” Very broad! 🙂

      The type of Buddhism I’m most familiar with is philosophical Buddhism, as mediated through the writings of various authors and linguistic-philosophical interpreters in English, e.g., Alan Watts, D.T. Suzuki, Shunryu Suzuki, Richard Baker Roshi, Pema Chodron. I’m well aware that this is quite a different animal from the on-the-ground Buddhism, particularly of the folk type, that’s practiced by millions of people around the world in their real daily lives, as much as the Christianity that’s lived by millions of everyday people is a far cry from the Christianity of the mystics and theologians, which is much more congenial to me.

      So if I say something along the lines of “I’ve been profoundly influenced by Buddhism,” which is a true statement, this carries the implicit distinction I just made. I’ve been influenced by philosophical Buddhism as expressed and explained in English by various Western and Eastern translators and interpreters. And that influence, most of it from Zen Buddhism specifically but a significant dose from the Theravada tradition (or actually the Theravada vibe or attitude), has been rather profound. I love Buddhism’s up-front focus on the necessity of actual self-work and transformation, and also its recognition of the essential groundlessness of the identity that most of us take ourselves to be, as contrasted with the deep heedlessness of these things that characterizes so much of my native conservative Protestant religious-cultural landscape.

      • Very good Matt!

        =) I realize it´s a broad subject, but still…

        I like Buddhism as well, and I recognize a lot of the authors you cited there in your response. I have a (not well liked for my audience) post on my blog about it:

        http://antinatalismo.blogspot.com/2011/04/buddhism-and-antinatalism.html

        I realize that some truths that buddhism speaks of are profound. Like in a terror-like way, that not a lot of folks are willing to understand. Of course, the same can be said about some points of other religions, but I find that buddhism strings a lot of right chords for me.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *