I had never heard of “Don Trent Jacobs” until I found this video on google, but I thought it was a really interesting piece and found Jacobs to be articulate and coherent in his mini-lecture. As most readers know, I think the Jaynesian theory has a lot going for it in terms of brute explanatory power, especially in regards to ubiquitous phenomena such as religious fundamentalism, schizophrenia, and shucksters worldwide. I think my favorite part of the video though would have to be the cool archeological pictures, particurally at 1:11 and 1:26.
I will let Jacobs’s political views stand on their own merit, but I encourage you to reflect on what he is saying in historical terms. Nine-tenths of our history was wedded to religious totalitarianism (see Hitchen’s excellent “god is not Great“), so it is no surprise that we have barely pulled away from the psychological trauma that is ideological indoctrination.We have been falling prey to the “hypnotic” suggestions of authority figures for millenia. First it was the gods themselves who led us, helped us, and deceived us. Then it was those who mediated between god and humanity, the seers, oracles, and shamans of past and present. Then it was humanity itself that birthed the bureaucratic class of spiritual middlemen that we now know as “organized religion.”
I highly recommend the critical examination of Julian Jaynes‘s groundbreaking work The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind so that you can think for yourself as to whether this theory explains what he claims to explain, namely why theistic belief has been so thoroughly ingrained into our sociological history. I have yet to see a more parsimonious theory to explain the ubiquity of religious belief. Surely we should give our ancestors some credit and not simply dismiss religious belief as an “irrational” or “superstitious” attempt to “explain the world.” If we take Heidegger or Hegel seriously, we must be open the suggestion that our dynamically coupled self-understanding and basic perception of the world is continuously shifting depending on historical and evolutionary context.