Forget the Imagery
Since we have used our imagination to create supply and demand, what if we removed the imagery of an ape evolving into a man, would we find human collectiveness growing into greed or consumerism?
I never forgot taking one of my cultural class in grad school with Alan Hirsch. We had some intense dialogue during our live session that ended with the director of the program apologizing to my wife and me for his actions; I must say that I held my own because facts always debunk logic. One of Hirsch’s problem, much like this book is that some authors try to force readers to subscribe to their conviction; conviction is free. Harari believes we somehow gossiped and believed in a myth the led to the growth of human civilization (he called us species). The belief that we have become earthly gods by using a collective myth to bypass evolution makes this book a great story book, rather than scholarly historical fact. It is challenging for me to take authors seriously when they suggest that we evolve from something and it is quite offensive when authors (unless they are atheist) suggest Christianity is a myth. However, since this is not a debate or defense of my Christian belief, I will give an unbiased review.
Harari’s summary of human history only covers the last 70,000 years, but since we existed for more than 200,000 years, this borderline fictional book is not exhaustive. I call this borderline fictional because it was pretty darn close (400 pages) and writers try to communicate nonfictional in much shorter pages. If we ignore the suggestion of a collective myth, we will find the author challenges our motivation in history. The questions to ask is simply this: Are we upset because we might have evolved or that our religion is challenged? More importantly, did the book trigger consumerism and the effects of human happiness? The stories or myth we have on the caveman is that they were ‘primitive’ and that we have evolved with society to create an advanced, yet changing society. Since we have used our imagination to create supply and demand, what if we removed the imagery of an ape evolving into a man, would we find human collectiveness growing into greed or consumerism? If there are supply and demand (or rich and poor), wouldn’t that give rise to the supplier making himself an earthly god in the next 50 years? The book has four parts:
- The Cognitive Revolution: “The appearance of new ways of thinking and communicating, between 70,000 and 30,000 years, constitutes the Cognitive Revolution” (Kindle, Loc 352). The believed theory for this is random genetic mutation that changed how sapiens think and communicate; they call this the “Tree of Knowledge.” It seems like someone read the book of Genesis.
- The Agricultural Revolution: He called this a fraud because we no longer wanted to be hunter-gatherers, but he missed an opportunity to realize that farming can support more people than a hunter-gathering society. The evolution in this revolution led to specialization and perhaps the barter system, which was a new way to communicate and trade. We could argue the agriculture would have influenced new language and technology to meet supply and demand because of our specialization.
- The Unification of Mankind: Harari claims that we have always known where we are going and the world is one big family. However, I find this to be a contradiction of his writing. If money, religion, and imperial vision play a role in our culture, it is evident we are not heading in the same direction. I started studying on how to become a keynote speaker because corporations pay as much as $127,000 for 45 minutes to speak to an audience. The willingness to pay a speaker that much money tells me that people still lack direction and with the diverse religious institutions, it is clear that some people believe they are already living in ‘paradise.’
- The Scientific Revolution: He believes that our ignorance fueled rapid scientific innovations. The challenge is that as consumers, we do not subscribe to scientific ramifications because we will just buy ourselves out of dangers. Our acceptance is based on how much we know or care to find out. I am in a doctoral program while others may choose not to pursue education so while the availability of information or knowledge may divide us, we become unified in our ability to choose what we want.
One of the most overlooked aspects of culture is the understanding and mentality behind it. When I visited Hong Kong, there was an obvious language barrier, so it was much easier for me to accept the culture through interpretation. However, London was much different in culture. While it was easier because they spoke English, I had to memorize a few words (like ‘lift’ for an elevator or ‘toilet’ for the restroom), which inadvertently caused me to take on a different personality. As we evolve with culture, our expressions and appreciation will change. The fundamental questions we must ask ourselves is not historical, rather, it is a question of our identity: Who am I? The answer to that question will help guide how we engage people and the world in which we live.
6 responses to “Forget the Imagery”
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I concur with you conclusion. This work of fiction or as I referred to it, a novel, is a very forced reading for me. I could give the nice review that you gave but it would not be heart felt or even scholarly. I like that you address, “who am I.” So tell me, who are you?
Hi Garfield. I agree with you and enjoy reading your writing each week. Can I push you on your conclusion though? I agree it’s about identity. Who are we? But, doesn’t history place a certain part in creating who we are? I think we should ask the tough historical questions.
I think the question of “who am I,” is the most fundamental question man can ask. It is what separates worldviews.
While Harari is obviously comes from a different worldview, do you think there is anything redeemable in his writings?
The “Stop following me” cartoon is awesome!
I think if LGP6 took a vote, this book would lose, for sure.
Having said that, was there anything redeeming in it for you? Did you come away with anything to apply to our studies and/or your dissertation?
Great post filled with truth and showing you have a great intellect and a backbone – that’s why you are a leader, a great leader for the Body of Christ.
Thank you for the reminder that we are not “mindless” that have absolutely no control over our destiny. We are more than a glob of molecules that have no eternal purpose, we are more than a “raging river” of unconscious beings…we are eternal beings that have choice, linked to an Eternal God.
What was your takeaway on next steps as a Christian leader after reading “Sapiens”?
Great blog! I like how “unbiased” your apporach is to your non”debate” apporach to Sapiens. 🙂 I totally agree with you on the lack of and disconnect from the the facts in this book. I too also found it to be “fictional”. Why do you think the author approached the material from this nonfictional type of approach?