|The evolutionary psychology of middle-eastern theocracy
||[Jan. 24th, 2010|05:30 pm]
Anyone can see the strong correlation that exists between the desert environment|
and theocratic ideology (we ultimately have the atmospheric hadley cells to thank for
this prevalent theocratic ideology). The question is 'why'.
One principle of evolutionary psychology may be called 'the musical chairs effect'.
It is the principle that, in areas where food and water are undependable and sporadic,
nature selects for people who are self-centered- people who hog resources for themselves
at the expense of others. The musical chairs effect causes dominant/egotistical character,
but that alone can not explain theocratic ideology. Theocratic ideology is based on the
psychological trait of paternalism- the desire to make others dependent upon oneself or some
other entity, thus simultaneously dominating people and providing for them. The god is seen
as 'the heavenly father'- a dominant being whose accepting leads to eternal reward and whose
absence leads to eternal punishment -the sort of position that a paternalist desires to be in.
So, how can deserts select for the psychological trait of paternalism? The answer is in
the few oases, wadis (streams that are flowing only part of the year), and rivers in the desert.
With water concentrated in such limited areas, it is easy for a gang of people to dominate them,
and make the other people subject to their will. The gang that dominates the water sources can
use the other people for labor and defense, so it would not want to simply take all the water for
themselves and let the other people die; rather, it would manipulate the other people as it pleases,
in exchange for water. Such a social arrangement is called 'hydraulic despotism'.
The people that see the water-dominators as gods who are their masters and providers,
and consequently blindly serve said dominators, are rewarded with plentiful water, and the
plentiful food that they use the water to grow (aka heaven), whereas those people who reject the
water-dominators suffer the absence of water, and consequent dehydration, starvation, and death
The Nile river and it's kingdom of Egypt is the clearest case of such theocratic hydraulic despotism.
Note that in ancient Egypt, it is well known that the pharaoh was seen as a god of sorts. So great
was the symbolic servitude of the Nile's water-dominators that the great pyramids were constructed-
giant masses of carefully-cut quarried stones which took countless hours of hard labor to build, and
which serve no practical function, but only serve as monuments to the dead human 'gods'.