An Alternate Bi-Cameral Mind
In The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind, Julian Jaynes famously posits that the peoples of the ancient world were not just metaphorically writing about hearing gods, but that their brains were actually divided into a portion of the mind which “spoke” to the portion of the brain that then acted. So they literally “heard the gods”, from a materialistic origin inside their own heads.
So here’s my semi-whacky Christian counter-proposal to the idea: Both in my own experience, and with abundant evidence from what I can see in people in the world and around me, demons are capable of throwing “fiery darts” at us, which I believe at least partially manifest as throughts inside our own minds which we frequently mistake for our own thoughts.
I don’t have it because I didn’t save it, but recently someone put up a screen shot of someone on Reddit lamenting that while they were watching a movie or something, suddenly the thought “I’m trans now” went through their mind, and they couldn’t get rid of it. Many people have experienced the sudden inexplicable urge to jump off a high place, which I figure is just them taking a long shot. I expect all “suicidal ideation” stems from this; why would normal human biology put up the idea that it should kill itself?
I also don’t think demons, principalities, etc. are omniscient by any means, and I think it would make perfect sense for them to also be developing their means and methods of evil over time.
So, consider this possibility instead: Early in human history, the demons did not cloak their fiery darts, pretending to be our own thoughts. They openly presented themselves as external beings. Surely the short-term advantages of this are obvious.
But over time, they started playing with deceiving the humans into thinking it was their own thoughts that the demons were inserting, and they discovered that while this might be superficially less appealing, it offered a great deal more opportunity for more subtle mischief and evil. An external demon playing at being a god telling you to kill yourself might not be very effective. However, visibly, the thoughts seeming to come from “inside the house” can be.
My non-whacky position is just to think that Jaynes is wrong, the ancient world was speaking in metaphor, and they were well aware that it was metaphor as a literary technique, one that is more subdued than in the past but alive and well today. We do not assume that because Death is a main character in Terry Pratchett’s work that he literally believed in a skeleton with a scythe going around reaping souls.
But I would also propose an alternate explanation that the facts Jaynes claims to exist are correct, but rather than a change in human biology, what it actually represents is a systematic and large-scale change in strategy by evil.
So, rather than a “breakdown” of the bi-cameral mind, it remains with us to this day. It’s just that instead of the “god” portion of the mind speaking with the voice of a god, it speaks to us in our own voice, fooling us into thinking the thoughts it wants us to think.
But that’s just some casual weekend musings. It’s not particularly important either way.
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