|Scene from 2001 A Space Odyssey|
One of the most delicious of intellectual pleasures for Puritans is wallowing in their own sinfulness. We have had in the past thinkers like St, Augustine, who was merely the father so to speak, of generation after generation of people who wallowed in their sinfulness. The sort who constantly dwelled on their own wickedness over and over again; enjoying the narcissistic and prurient pleasure of heaping coals on their heads and luxuriating in the contemplation of their utterly wicked sinfulness.
Thus we get someone like St. Augustine who shrieked and wallowed in his own infinite wickedness and with great masochistic pleasure recalled his sexual “sins” and heaped reams of abuse upon himself. All of which gave him immense and intense pleasure.
The blood-bespattered, slaughter-gutted archives of human history from the earliest Egyptian and Sumerian records to the most recent atrocities of the Second World War accord with early universal cannibalism, with animal and human sacrificial practices of their substitutes in formalized religions and with the world-wide scalping, head-hunting, body-mutilating and ecrophilic practices of mankind in proclaiming this common bloodlust differentiator, this predaceous habit, this mark of Cain that seperates man dietetically from his anthropoidal relatives and allies him rather with the deadliest of Carnivora.6In other places Dart said things that mans ancestors were:
The loathsome cruelty of mankind to man forms one of his inescapable characteristics and differentiative features; and it is explicable only in terms of his carnivorous, and cannibalistic origin.8Robert Ardrey has been if anything even more scathing, albeit more poetic: To quote:
As Cartmill states, the early Christian philosophers believed that free will gave human beings the choice to be good or bad; therefore, humans can be corrupted, a distinctively Christian philosophy that extrapolates to nature itself having gone rotten. This view of the depravity of human nature is related to the idea of man’s fall from grace and of the Christian notion of original sin.
Thus in the end the “killer ape” notion is basically religious and owes much more to Christian doctrine concerning original sin, the fall of man, and innate human depravity than it does to the supposed Scientific evidence for it. That it was embraced by so many is hardly a surprise given its similarity to those Christian notions. So it had the comfort of being familiar and in a “scientific” guise resurrecting and re-burnishing those notions while at the same time having the frisson of allegedly being daring and outré which this notion was most definitely not.Although more spectacular than the claims of contemporaneous scientists, Robert Ardrey, the writer who popularized Dart’s theory, held views of human nature that did not differ greatly from the Scientists, nor from the ancient Christian beliefs of a fall from grace and original sin. To Ardrey, however, sin is good. It is a strength that “Cain’s children” possess by virtue of their enlarged brain and their carnivorous lifestyle: “Man is a predator whose natural instinct is to kill with a weapon.” Ardrey argues that humans are not the product of special creation; they have naturally, rightfully, and nobly inherited genes that carry the “scars of the ages.”8 For Ardrey it is war and the instinct for territorial acquisition that led to the great accomplishments of Western man.26
19. IBID, p. 154.