Campfire cultural evolution reported in ScienceDaily and ScienceShots 22 September 2014, ABC News in Science 23 September, and PNAS, September 2014 doi: 10.1073/pnas.1404212111. The control of fire is considered a major turning point in human evolution, and much has been written about how the ability to use fire enabled evolving humans to cook food and fend off predators, and therefore contributed to our physical evolution. Polly Wiessner, an anthropologist at Utah University suggests that fire also enabled human culture to evolve as campfire conversations stimulated the imagination, and developed a broad sense of community with distant people and with the spirit world.
Wiessner has researched the conversations of Kalahari Bushmen in Africa as they sat around their evening campfires, and compared these conversations with their daytime communications. According to Wiessner “these people live from hunting and gathering. For 99 percent of our evolution, this is how our ancestors lived. What transpires during the firelit night hours by hunter-gatherers? It helps answer the question of what firelit space contributes to human life”. Her analysis revealed that daytime conversation mostly dealt with practical economic issues and gossip whilst evenings spent around the camp fire involved storytelling, chat about distant or dead acquaintances and religious ceremonies, along with singing and dancing.
Wiessner suggests the control of fire, and fireside conversation, stimulated “cognitive capacities to form these imagined communities, whether it’s our social networks, all of our relatives on Earth or communities that link us to the spirit world”. Weissner also commented that “non-human primates” don’t maintain mutually supportive ties outside their group and said “we are really unique. We create far-flung ties outside our groups”.
Editorial Comment: It is of interest to note that the Bible indicates that humans have always been able to control fire. When Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden of Eden and had to make their living by farming God refers to eating bread. Bread has to be cooked. Furthermore, a descendent of Cain, Tubal-Cain, is described as one who forged metal tools. This involves very sophisticated use of fire.
The author of the paper is right in describing man as unique, but once again the evolutionists have gotten the history backwards. Having control of fire has certainly enabled us to have a time and place where we can develop community cohesion, share historically and socially important stories and teaching, and make use of our imagination. But it was not control of fire that sparked our creative imagination, but rather the reverse. Because we are made in the image of the Creator God, we were made creative to be like Him, and for that we needed imagination.
We know about God not because we have used our campfire imagination to invent socially binding beliefs such as God/religion, etc., but because He has revealed this to us in His Word, the Bible, which also tells us human beings have not spent 99% of their history as hunter gatherers slowly progressing socially upwards. Man was created and appointed to be a settled gardener, and then after Adam sinned, settled farmers. The first nomad was Adam’s son Cain, who was punished by God for murdering his brother, by being unable to any longer grow plants successfully, so he moved to either trading or hunting. (Genesis 4:11-12) The first stone-age hunter gatherers only appeared on the planet after man had been scattered by God’s judgment at the Tower of Babel, and had to survive off the land using whatever resources were available. These people already knew about God and the spirit world, but because they were in rebellion against God they used their imaginations as they sat around fires to invent false gods and false religion. (Ref. culture, worship, communication, technology)
Evidence News vol. 14, No. 17
22 October 2014
Creation Research Australia