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The Biological Evolution of Religious Mind and Behavior (The Frontiers Collection) by Eckart Voland Wulf Schiefenh?vel

The Biological Evolution of Religious Mind and Behavior (The Frontiers Collection) by Eckart Voland Wulf Schiefenh?vel

Author:Eckart Voland, Wulf Schiefenh?vel
Language: eng
Format: epub
Tags: Life Sciences, Evolutionary Biology, Modern Philosophy, Anthropology, Religious Studies and Philosophy of Religion, Copyright © 2009 Springer. Uploaded By Dr Yasser S. El-Sayed, http://www.vet4arab.co.cc
Published: 2009-08-14T04:36:26+00:00


10

Explaining the Inexplicable

149

One of the important primeval myths tells of Yaleenye (see above), how he places stones and rocks into the then still swampy, wobbly and unstable Earth, thus making it firm and able to support forests, gardens, villages and humans. The Earth made hospitable is a recurring topos in the myths of the Eipo and their neighbors. Various ceremonies like planting the sacred yurye, Cordyline terminalis, the holy plant of the Pacific, were carried out in repetition of these earliest events in the history of their land. The Eipo ancestors knew that life in their region was endangered by the forces of nature: cold temperatures, seemingly endless rain (more than 6,000 mm per year), difficult terrain, famine and disease. Religion as a means to explain and rituals as means to cope helped them to survive from their first arrival 50,000–60,000 years ago at the New Guinean coast until now.

10.5 Religious Concepts to Understand Some

of the Characteristics of the White Visitors

In the beginning of our stay, the Eipo were not fully sure whether we represented real humans or some kind of spirit beings. People thought that Grete Schiefenhövel, my wife, was going out on nightly expeditions to secure human flesh for the four males of the team. An action quite similar to what spirit women do, who can enter the bodies of people and eat them from inside, thus causing marasmus, the consequence of chronic, wasting disease.

Once the Eipo had fully accepted that we were humans there was still uncertainty as to where we came from, where our home region was. They knew that we had arrived by small plane at the airstrip of Bime (there was no concept of the sea or the coast where the provincial capital is situated). We tried to explain that before that we had arrived by a bigger plane further away in the west, and that to get there we had to spend 2 days and a night in yet bigger planes which had brought us from our home very, very far away in the north-west. They could not fit this information into the framework of the world known to them. One day a woman told me, “I am sure you come from where the im bona grows, the tree which carries the sky. You must live at the bottom of this tree”. I was struck by this. The Eipo have indeed the same basic idea as ancestral Germanic people who thought that Yggdrasil, a gigantic ash tree, is forming the ceiling of the earth and growing into the sky. The Yali have the same concept as the Eipo (Zöllner 1977). The woman and others thought that we, so very different from them and thereby special, had to come from a special place.

Our origin, (kwemdina, a concept which combines the physical with the sacred) and thereby part of our character had been explained.

In a similar way the Eipo tried to understand the fact that we were able to talk, via single-side-band radio, to far



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