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"Stop me if I start to turn this into a story. It's not a narrative that makes sense. It's just what happened. " That's what I said to my former therapist a couple of years ago when I went back to her for help in working through the aftermath of a rape that had happened the year before. As I write in , we must integrate traumatic events into the stories of our lives in order to heal from them. I wanted to do that but I wanted to do it without doing violence to the nonsensical, meaningless aspects of what had happened. For the story to be true, I had to resist the urge to make things make sense. Life happens. While everything in life makes sense at the level of mechanical causes and effects (even if we don't happen to understand those causes and effects), not everything makes teleological sense. Accidents happen. Bad things happen to good people. Child molesters win the lottery. Tsunamis sweep away murderers and philanthopists alike. We have a hard time with this. We tend to think in stories and we like those stories to make narrative sense. Hence the well-documented tendency of people with Alzheimer's disease and other neurological disorders that cause profound disturbances in memory to make up details -- without knowing that they are doing so -- to make the story of their days make sense. You've probably done something similar yourself if you've ever been asked "why did you do/say this or that?" and then struggled to come up with a rational explanation rather than honestly admitting, "I don't know. " I'm thinking about all of this today because it's a national holiday here in [should i chew cialis] this theocracy where several major Presidential candidates prefer the biblical just-so story of creation to the seemingly purposeless process of evolution and where no candidate has a hope of achieving that highest office unless he or she swears unswerving fealty to Christianity. I had similar thoughts during last summer. Eastern Shore Sanctuary cofounder Miriam Jones and I were bringing a load of straw and chicken scratch back from the feed store one day when we got talking about the talk I had given at the recent AR2007 conference. It was hot and dry as it had been for weeks. The heat seemed unrelenting with no hope of rain on the horizon. I remarked that I had a newfound empathic understanding for the psychological state that provoked the progenitors of the patriarchal faiths, struggling to survive in the midst of drought and desertification, to imagine an angry sky god and invent rituals should i chew cialis to appease him. They didn't know why it wasn't raining or if it ever would rain again. Angry at the earth for failing to feed them, they turned their eyes to what was starting to seem like the more powerful sky. Should i chew cialis searching for answers with malnourished minds while in the grip of dehydration-related delirium, they imagined a jealous father up there in the sky along with the unrelenting sun. But why the need for an explanation at all, Miriam wondered should i chew cialis, why the need for an explanation for everything? Why do people everywhere seem to make up supernatural stories for everything they can't explain naturally? Why not just tolerate not knowing? And how does our peculiar penchant for religion fit in with what I said in my talk about human and non-human animals performing the same cognitive functions albeit in different ways? At first, that question seemed to summon up the all-too-familiar spectre of human exceptionalism. Some nonhuman animals do seem to engage in rituals similar to those of people. As George Kennedy reports in Comparative Rhetoric, "Zoologists have identified what is known as an 'assembly call' among crows, which consists of a succession of long, raucous cries, distinct from the short caws they use a contact calls in their own territory. Their assembly, or 'flocking, ' and the vocalization associated with it seem to be a reaffirmation of group identity analogous to human ceremonial speech on public occasions. " Elephants when walking past a place where a loved one has died and routinely by gently touching them with their trunks. But there's no evidence for religion as such among nonhuman animals. Faced with tragic life circumstances they don't understand, nonhuman animals don't, so far as we know, invent deities and then try to appease them. I thought about this for a few moments and then it came to me: Faced with incomprehensible difficulties, every animal calls upon its usual problem-solving strategies, for better or worse. We're the kind of animal that solves problems by figuring out causes-and-effects and then contriving technologies to get what we want. (We also like to move. More on that another day. ) Religious ideas simply extend the quest for causes to the supernatural. Religious rituals are essentially technologies by which to win the favor of deities. In the case of the war god in the sky who eventually morphed into Yahweh/God/Allah, the idea was to appease his jealous demand for obsequient devotion and unthinking obedience so that they could get back to the garden that the earth used to be. Like so many of our technologies, that one has backfired repeatedly. Conceived in traumatic circumstances in which people weren't thinking very clearly -- starvation and dehydration both inhibit cognition and stimulate hallucination -- and then codified as rationalizations for conquest and dispossession, the patriarchal religious ideologies and their associated technologies of crusade, jihad, and subjugation of the earth are the psychological fossil fuel driving Humvees and bulldozers all over the world. Seen in that light, religion isn't so exceptional after all. It's just one more example of animals using their primary means of problem solving -- for better or worse -- when confronted a new problem. The question is: Will we evolve new strategies in time? We can't hope to become different kinds of animals overnight. But we could use our favored cognitive tools more wisely. Hence my dedication to truth in story-telling, even if that means the story doesn't make satisfying sense.


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