The beliefs of early man

This is a recurring thought of mine: After the fall of Adam and Eve, what became of human spirituality?

I know we remained spiritual creatures, but before there were any of the earliest signs of Judaism arising (before much of the crucial events in the old testament took place), what was going on during, say, the stone age and the ice age? We were cut off from God. Was there a period when humanity didn’t speak to God directly through prayer? If so, how did humans start doing this again (though in a less perfect way since we have been separated from God before being born again)? How long might this period have lasted? We do know that humans, even in the earliest ages, had some kind of believe about an afterlife, an there is archaeological evidence of rituals that happened during these early years.


I can refer you to these two sources which discuss neolithic burial practices appear to express spiritual beliefs and provide early evidence for at least minimally reflective thought about the nature of human consciousness.

The Archeology of Death and Burial. College Station, Texas: Texas A&M Press.
Clark, G. and Riel-Salvatore, J. 2001. “Grave markers, middle and early upper paleolithic burials”. Current Anthropology, 42/4: 481–90

Surely there was always prayer. How else would men between Adam & Abraham have obtained sanctifying grace or remission of sins?

Adam & Eve must have handed on what they knew to their children, and at least some of their children to theirs, and so on, by oral tradition. Over time, though, it seems this knowledge was widely forgotten or at least corrupted.

Noah seems to have had a relationship with God, but whether this relationship began when God spoke to Noah about the ark, or if he learned to pray from his parents, the Bible does not say.

When Noah’s family repopulated the earth, surely they, like Adam & Eve, would have handed on the knowledge of God to their children, and so on. But again it seems that knowledge was corrupted over time, at least in many places, as evidenced by the widespread idols found later in the Old Testament. The punishment for the Tower of Babel would likely have compounded the confusion.

Interested to see what others have to say on this.

Here are some related thoughts from part one of the catechism:

2**7 The desire for God is written in the human heart, because man is created by God and for God; and God never ceases to draw man to himself. Only in God will he find the truth and happiness he never stops searching for:

The dignity of man rests above all on the fact that he is called to communion with God. This invitation to converse with God is addressed to man as soon as he comes into being. For if man exists it is because God has created him through love, and through love continues to hold him in existence. He cannot live fully according to truth unless he freely acknowledges that love and entrusts himself to his creator.1
28 In many ways, throughout history down to the present day, men have given expression to their quest for God in their religious beliefs and behavior: in their prayers, sacrifices, rituals, meditations, and so forth. These forms of religious expression, despite the ambiguities they often bring with them, are so universal that one may well call man a religious being:

From one ancestor [God] made all nations to inhabit the whole earth, and he allotted the times of their existence and the boundaries of the places where they would live, so that they would search for God and perhaps grope for him and find him - though indeed he is not far from each one of us. For "in him we live and move and have our being."2
29 But this “intimate and vital bond of man to God” (GS 19 § 1) can be forgotten, overlooked, or even explicitly rejected by man.3 Such attitudes can have different causes: revolt against evil in the world; religious ignorance or indifference; the cares and riches of this world; the scandal of bad example on the part of believers; currents of thought hostile to religion; finally, that attitude of sinful man which makes him hide from God out of fear and flee his call.4

30 "Let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice."5 Although man can forget God or reject him, He never ceases to call every man to seek him, so as to find life and happiness. But this search for God demands of man every effort of intellect, a sound will, “an upright heart”, as well as the witness of others who teach him to seek God.

You are great, O Lord, and greatly to be praised: great is your power and your wisdom is without measure. And man, so small a part of your creation, wants to praise you: this man, though clothed with mortality and bearing the evidence of sin and the proof that you withstand the proud. Despite everything, man, though but a small a part of your creation, wants to praise you. You yourself encourage him to delight in your praise, for you have made us for yourself, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.6**

Gen 4:26, 5:24 have interesting snippets about this.

Also when we are lacking faith in God, we wish to manipulate events somehow. Fallen spirits offer us a delusion of control whether we believe they exist or not. Add the common language of sacrifice that goes back to Cain & Abel at least (see quote from CCC by fhansen).

Add a huge disaster like the worldwide inundation(s) and humanity became a bag of nerves well and truly. This sort of thing may be connected to why “mountains skip like rams”, “I look to the hills for salvation” and such like - it’s not just some vague sort of “poetics”. The Gauls were afraid the sky would fall on them.

Stephen Oppenheimer a paeditric geneticist, seconded to SE Asia/Pacific area in connection with epidemics, got interested in what the locals told him from their folklore. In “Eden in the East” pubd 1998 he critiques collections of folklore like Frazer’s “Golden Bough” by factoring in scientific findings - oceanography, genetics, linguistics - to arrive at more concrete, practical explanations for beliefs. (I have added the psychology in my previous paragraph above.) (Because it’s not concrete, I believe it would not be helpful to read Frazer without Oppenheimer.)

0 75380 679 7
Weidenfeld & Nicholson
(Paperback ed., Phoenix 1999)

(if buying please consider giving your business to a non-monopolist)

(I believe the term “Plain of Shinar” has in common with lots of place names for many peoples, been applied to different locations at different times. Most writers even when writing about the distant past probably used a more recent understanding of where a location was, even when retaining the old name. The ancients weren’t such slouches as we are told, if they decided not to be tied to the soil.)

Neanderthal Burials Confirmed as Ancient Ritual

For the record, most people today are scientifically proven to posess both homo-Neanderthalensis and homo-sapien DNA.

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