Spirit and Brain in the Emergence of the Complete Human Being on Earth

Human Thinking

It remains controversial to this day the precise point in the evolutionary chain leading from apes to modern man at which the first men, the primeval men, came into being on earth. The main reason for this controversy derives from the inability of the evolutionists to be able to formulate incontrovertible criteria for distinguishing between what, on the one hand, might have been the most highly developed apes and what, on the other hand, could already have been primeval men.

The intention in this article is to bring some new dimensions (including the spiritual dimension) to this controversial, but very important, issue that will hopefully open the way to clearer understanding. Attention will be drawn to the essential distinction between the creature man and an animal; how the creature man evolves (or should evolve) into a complete human being, what role the spirit and the brain should play in this transformation, what unfortunately went wrong along the way, the consequences of this in man today and what the way forward is.

Of course I acknowledge that there are creationists who do not believe in evolution at all. I do hope, however, that this article will shed helpful light on some of the justifiable objections they have always raised to some of the conclusions of the evolutionists.

Evolutionists speak of transitional forms between apes and man, such as the Australopithecines, the first known Hominids i.e. members of the Hominidae family into which man himself is classified. These transitional forms are therefore variously called ape men, man-like apes or ape-like men. The Australopithecines walked on two legs, had humanlike dental features and large brains relative to body size, even though their brains were still ape-sized. As far as is known, they made no tools and did not have any of the other traits that would later appear in further stages of evolution leading to modern man.

In the onward evolutionary march towards the appearance of modern man on earth (classified as Homo sapiens sapiens) certain traits appeared in addition to those already present in the Australopithecines namely, uprightness in walking (not just walking on two legs), the making of tools, mastery of fire, development of language, the practice of rituals e.g. ritual burials, the emergence of altruism and the development of human culture. All these were accompanied by a general trend of increasing brain size with corresponding changes in structure, architecture and circuitry of the brain, in keeping with the emerging complexity of activity and increasing evolution of being and behaviour. These various traits have culminated in the modern man on earth today with all that he is and all that he has achieved by way of science, technology, self-consciousness, human culture, art and spirituality.

In the emergence of man on earth the evolution and development of the brain have played a decisive and defining role. The human brain as it is today is a cardinal instrument for the coming-into-being and manifestation of those characteristics that man evinces and which distinguish him from the animals, even the most highly developed ones, and make him uniquely man.

Certain features differentiate the human brain from the brains of other living creatures. First there is the relatively enormous size of the human brain. Whilst the modern apes with the largest brains have a brain volume of about 500cc, man’s brain volume, on the average, is about 1330cc. Considering the bigger body weight of the chimpanzee, relatively speaking, the difference in size between the human brain and the brain of the chimpanzee is even more than these figures indicate.

Another distinct feature of the human brain is the development of language centres both for the understanding and for the expression of language. Further, there has developed in the human brain an asymmetry in the allocation of functions to the right and left sides of the brain; a design that has practically further doubled the brain capacity and potentiality.

Yet another striking feature of the human brain is that its enormous increase in size has not affected all its parts uniformly. Taking the lion’s share in this increased size is that part of the brain called the cortex and more specifically the neo-cortex (new cortex) so called because of its relatively new evolutionary development. This part forms the bulk of what is called the frontal brain and it is the seat of cognitive functions and intellect. On the other hand, other parts of the brain have lagged behind relatively in increase in size. Key among these are the cerebellum and the limbic system (the emotional brain). Whilst man’s neocortex is 3.17 times that of a modern ape his cerebellum is only 2.5 times that of a modern ape.

Apart from the relative disproportion between the frontal brain (the bulk of which is the neocortex) and the cerebellum (the small brain) also called the hind brain, the rapidity of the evolutionary expansion of the human brain has greatly exceeded the rate of any evolutionary change which has so far been recorded in any anatomical structure in lower animals. Again it should be pointed out that the part of the frontal brain most affected by this unprecedented speed of expansion is the neocortex, the seat of cognition and intellect.

This unprecedented speed of expansion of the human brain and its disproportionately large frontal brain compared to the hind brain has led some thinkers to conclude that there was a constructional fault in man’s brain and that this may in part be responsible for the predicaments of modern man, who in spite of his undreamt of intellectual achievements finds true humanity continuing to elude him. Indeed, history shows that it would appear as if man is set on the path of self destruction.

Concerning the anomaly in the development of the human brain and its possible role in the present human predicament, Judson Herrick in The Evolution of Human Nature said:

“The history of civilisation is a record of slow but dramatic enrichment of human life interspersed with episodes of wanton destruction of all the accumulated riches of property and spiritual values. These episodic reversions to bestiality seem to be increasing in virulence and in the magnitude of the resulting disasters until now we are threatened with the loss of everything that has been won in our struggle for the better life.

In view of this record it has been suggested that the enlargement of the human brain has gone so fast and so far that the result is actually pathological. Normal behaviour depends upon the preservation of a balanced interplay between integrating and disintegrating factors and between the total pattern and local partial patterns. So, it is claimed, the human cortex is a sort of tumorous overgrowth that has got so big that its functions are out of normal control and ‘race’ erratically like a steam engine that has lost its governor.

This ingenious theory was published by Morley Roberts and quoted with apparent approval by Wheeler. Their arguments seem to be plausible in view of the past history of wars, revolutions, and crumbled empires, and the present world-wide turmoil that threatens total destruction of civilisation.” 1

Arthur Koestler commented further on this pathological enlargement of the human brain. He wrote:

It cannot be the size of the cortex alone which ‘puts its function out of normal control’. We must look for a more plausible cause.

The cause which contemporary research seems to indicate is not increase in size, but insufficient co-ordination between archi-cortex and neocortex – between the phylogenetically old areas of our brain, and the new, specifically human areas which were superimposed on it with such unseemly haste. This lack of co-ordination causes, to use a phrase coined by P. MacLean, a kind of ‘dichotomy in the function of the phylogenetically old and new cortex that might account for differences between emotional and intellectual behaviour’. While ‘our intellectual functions are carried on in the newest and most highly developed part of the brain, our affective behaviour continues to be dominated by a relatively crude and primitive system. This situation provides a clue to understanding the difference between what we ‘feel’ and what we ‘know’…” 2

The cerebellum is part of the archi-cortex mentioned in the quote above and the neocortex, as already stated, is the bulk of the human frontal brain. Thus Arthur Koestler reasons that it is not just the large size of the neo-cortex that is a problem but rather it is the imbalance between the old brain (including the cerebellum) and the neo-cortex (the new brain), which constitute the bulk of the frontal brain.

Now the question arises as to what really went wrong and where it did go wrong.

A closer look at the evolutionary stages in the development of the hominid family, the family to which man belongs in biological classification, would appear to throw light on this important question. In the evolutionary chain leading to modern man, within the hominid family, it is generally agreed that the sequence was as follows: Australopithecines, studies of the fossils of which have shown that they walked erect; Homo habilis, the first to make stone tools; Homo erectus, the first to use fire. Then came Homo sapiens (the species to which modern man belongs) appearing in the following order: Neanderthal man, the first to carry out rites and ceremonies; Cro-Magnon man, whose marvellous paintings can still be found on the walls of caves in France, and finally Modern man. The Neanderthal man and Cro-Magnon man are, as described, considered to be human, though ancestral to modern man, hence they are classified as Homo sapiens. The term ‘Homo’ means ‘man’ in Latin and ‘Homo sapiens’ means ‘wise man’ in Latin.

A most surprising finding came to light in 1950 that the Neanderthal man’s brain was actually bigger than that of modern man by about 100cc – 200cc! This surprising fact was in fact found embarrassing since the thinking was that modern man’s brain was the biggest and that the brain size accounted for his superior intelligence. To do away with this embarrassment some evolutionists now consider the Neanderthal man as an evolutionary dead end and therefore not ancestral to modern man. There are, however, those who consider Modern man as having descended from the Neanderthal line.

Let us take a closer look, however, at the skull and brain of the Neanderthal man and see if it might throw light on this controversy and perhaps even lead to further insights as to the role of the brain in the nature of man.

The configuration of the skull of the Neanderthal man was different from that of Modern man in some striking respects. The Neanderthal man had a low forehead that sloped sharply backward. The skull was long and narrow, extending further backwards than the skull of Modern man. Modern man’s skull, on the other hand, has a high forehead, with the skull extending more upwards but less prominent and less protruding at the back than the skull of the Neanderthal man. The conclusion that some people have drawn from these differences in the skull configurations is that the cerebellum of the Neanderthal man was bigger than that of Modern man and that the frontal brain (cerebrum) of Modern man is bigger than that of Neanderthal man. As already stated above however, the Neanderthal man’s brain was bigger overall than the brain of Modern man. We can therefore conclude that whilst the frontal brain of modern man has increased enormously, his cerebellum (and perhaps some other parts as well) must have decreased to an even greater degree as to make Modern man’s brain now smaller on the whole than Neanderthal man’s brain.

Let us revisit the issue of whether Modern man descended from Neanderthal man or from a different line entirely.

There are two rival theories thus:

  1. That Modern man, Homo sapiens sapiens (HSS), evolved elsewhere from the Neanderthalians and invaded Europe. On arrival in Europe, because of the superior efficiency of HSS the Neanderthalians were extinguished or absorbed.
  2. That Homo sapiens sapiens arose from the Neanderthals, presumably from a rapid salutatory advance in a small isolated community.

With regard to the first theory, the site of origin of HSS remains a problem. According to John C. Eccles, however, “Probably we already have the answer in the very early Upper Palaeolithic findings in Qafzeh and Skhul in Palestine (Trinkaus and Howells, 1979; Trinkaus, 1983; Jelínek, 1985). The Skulls are classed as anatomically modern Homo sapiens sapiens… with some fugitive Neanderthal features (…), but they are quite distinct from the fossils of Neanderthals in nearby Tabun…” 3

The skulls mentioned in the last quote above, however, said probably to belong to the predecessor of man according to the first of the two theories referred to above, were of even larger volumes than the Neanderthal man’s brain and therefore much larger than the brain of present day Modern man!

Data of brain volumes 4 published show the various relevant brain volumes in increasing order of recency of appearance on earth as follows:

Neanderthal man’s skull
Qafzeh – Skhul skulls
Early Palaeolithic skulls
Modern (present-day) man’s skull
1,470cc.
1,545cc.
1,577cc.
1,330cc.

Thus we are again faced with the questions of why and how the brain of present day Modern man has come to be smaller than the brain of some earlier human species on earth for which the explanations given above, as to how Modern man’s brain came to have its relatively smaller size compared with the Neanderthal man’s brain would still be applicable. In fact the bigger size of the Qafzeh – Skhul skulls and of the early upper Palaeolithic skulls relative to the Neanderthal man’s skull could represent a transitional stage on the way to present Modern man at which the frontal brain had started to increase greatly but the cerebellum (and other parts of the old brain) had not yet quite shrunken that much. Hence the shape of these skulls, as described above, are said to be anatomically modern Homo sapiens sapiens with some fugitive Neanderthal features.

The line of thought expressed here would be in keeping and perhaps even explain the imbalance and dichotomy between the evolutionarily older parts of our brain and the new specifically human areas, as stated by Judson Herrick and Arthur Koestler above.

The next questions we want to address are:

  1. What caused the decrease in the size of the cerebellum and the increase in the size of the cerebrum?
  2. What are the consequences of this change in proportion?

Answers to these questions will surely throw further light on the issue of misconstruction of the human brain already mentioned above and on the cause and consequences of such misconstruction.

Already well before 1950, i.e. before the findings about the Neanderthal brain size came to light, showing that it was bigger than Modern man’s brain, especially as far as the cerebellum is concerned, Abd-ru-shin in his work entitled In The Light of Truth, the Grail Message, already drew attention to the wrong course taken in the development of the human brain, resulting in an abnormality now evident in Modern man’s brain. He also already spoke about how the taking of this wrong course was in fact the actual ‘fall of man’, and how it developed into ‘inherited sin’ with its devastating consequences. Abd-ru-shin also already shed light on the different natures and roles of the frontal brain (cerebrum) and the back brain (cerebellum) and how the two parts were and are meant to work together.

It is appropriate to say a little more about Abd-ru-shin at this stage. Born Oskar Ernst Bernhardt on 18th April 1875 in Bischofswerda (near Dresden) as the author of the Grail Message he wrote under the name Abd-ru-shin in completion of a former life on earth which was a preparation for his working in his earth life this time around.

Having established himself in Dresden, Abd-ru-shin travelled far and wide and wrote successful travel books and stories as well as plays.

Following a period when he lived in New York, Abd-ru-shin went to England in 1913 and lived in London. Whilst in England the outbreak of the First World War took him by surprise and he was interned in the Isle of Man in 1915.

In the seclusion of the internment there came an inner deepening. He pondered over questions connected with the meaning of life, with God and His Creation and the task of man in Creation. With this there awakened within him the great wish to bring much needed help to humanity and to show them the right way out of their distress. After returning to his homeland in 1919, he soon became conscious of his mission – to open the way for a new knowledge of Creation.

Between 1923 and 1937 there came into being the essays which were later brought together as The Grail message, In the Light of Truth.

The Grail Message is a compilation of 168 lectures in three volumes, dealing with all fundamental questions of life and existence, offering an explanation of the world and an understanding of the working in Creation on the basis of the natural laws.

The Grail Message addresses itself directly to the individual human being irrespective of denomination, creed or nationality. It speaks to the spirit and also enlightens the intellect thereby enabling the individual to form an all embracing world-picture.

Abd-ru-shin was, however, strictly opposed to any personal cult. He admonished the reader of his work to focus on and examine what the work has to offer, letting the words come to life within him rather than giving attention to the author as a person.

The seizure of power by Nazism ended Abd-ru-shin’s activity forcibly. For him forced residence in Kipsdorf in the Erzgebirge was ordered, where he was under constant surveillance by the Gestapo. He died, as a consequence of these measures, on 6th December 1941.

Those interested in reading more about Abd-ru-shin and the Grail Message may wish to visit the following websites: www.grail-uk.net and www.grailmessage.com.

Before going further into the insights that Abd-ru-shin gave regarding the natures and roles of the frontal and back brains, we should first dwell a little on the broader dimensions of man. Despite the claims of the materialists that there is nothing more to man than the body, there is so much that points to the fact that man is not just the body, not just flesh and blood. The conscious ego in man is spirit. The existence of the spirit predates the formation of the body in the womb and the spirit does not cease to exist at death. We do not have room in this article to go into the evidence for true existence of spirit. Let it be said, however, that through spiritually mediated knowledge, the incarnation of the spirit takes place about mid-way through pregnancy and this is borne out by the experience of expectant mothers who feel the ‘first kick’ of the baby at about that time. They also feel a distinct change in their intuitive perception also at about that time, which change will be in keeping with the nature of the incarnating spirit. Clairvoyants also see the point of connection between the spirit and the body to be the region of the solar plexus, where the cord linking the soul to the body is anchored. The solar plexus, of course, is known to be connected with the brain through the autonomic nervous system and because of its importance in the regulation of organs in the abdomen, the solar plexus is also called the ‘abdominal brain’.

Sir John C. Eccles, a Nobel laureate, ascribed the true experienced uniqueness of each human being to the spirit in man which is where the unbroken continuity of the sense of self from ones earliest memories lies. He argued that this uniqueness could not really be explained by genetics and concluded that the human soul must be a divine creation.

He said: “Since materialist solutions fail to account for our experienced uniqueness, I am constrained to attribute the uniqueness of the self or soul to a supernatural spiritual creation (Eccles 1989, p. 238)

It is the certainty of the inner core of unique individuality that necessitates the ‘divine creation’. I submit that no other explanation is tenable; neither genetic uniqueness, with its fantastically impossible lottery, nor environmental differentiations, which do not determine one’s uniqueness but merely modify it” 5

There is no room in this article to go into the detail of the creation of the human spirit and the event and process of the coming together of spirit and body on earth in the evolutionary coming-into-being of man on earth.

Against the background of the fact that the real man is not the body but spirit, Abd-ru-shin said the following about the natures and roles of the frontal brain and the back brain and how they should work together:

“As I have already pointed out once it is the task of one portion of the brain substance to receive what is spiritual like an antenna, while the other portion, which produces the intellect, transforms what has been received for use in the Gross Material World. Conversely the frontal brain which produces the intellect is likewise supposed to take in all the impressions from the World of Matter, and so transform them that the back brain can receive them and use them for the further development and maturing of the spirit. Both parts, however, are intended to work together, for it has been so decreed by the Creator!” 6

Stan Gooch a psychologist, writer and original thinker, described by Colin Wilson as “one of the most exciting and original thinkers in many years” 7 would appear to have gone very far ahead of contemporary neuroscience in the conviction he has expressed in many of his books regarding the function of the cerebellum as having to do withintuition, dreams and psychic abilities in general, among other things.

Readers are referred to Stan Gooch’s books: Personality and Evolution (cited above as (6) , The Double Helix of the Mind 8 and Total Man 9 for the evidence and research in support of these functions he ascribes to the cerebellum, an organ for which ever additional functions are also been discovered in contemporary neuroscience. Abd-ru-shin further said, referring to the frontal brain and the back brain: “Both parts of the brain should have been developed absolutely equally, for joint harmonious activity, like everything in the body.” 10

The equal and harmonious development ceased, however, when man’s development became one-sidedly intellectual to the neglect and detriment of his spiritual development, as is evident on earth today.

This one-sided intellectual development has resulted in a one-sidedly overdeveloped frontal brain and a stunting of the back brain with a disproportionate ratio of their sizes now evident in man on earth today.

Against this background it was very striking to read a quote of C. T. Morgan and E- Stellar in Stan Gooch’s book: Personality and Evolution saying: “ ‘it looks as if nature started out to make the cerebellum the highest centre of the nervous system’, it seems on the other hand that she ‘changed her mind and developed the cerebrum instead’ ” 11

For students of the bible it should not be too difficult to see a possible link between the one-sided over-cultivation of the intellect and the trespass on the part of man against the warning not to eat of the fruit of “the tree of knowledge”. Not to eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge here means not to indulge the intellect; not to give the supreme place to it. It means not to subject the spirit to the intellect. It does not mean that the intellect should not have been developed. Rather it means that it should not have been one-sidedly developed to the neglect of the spirit. The spirit should always have had the upper hand, guiding and directing, with the intellect carrying out here on earth.

Going back to the title of this article, the question we should now pose is: What is it really to be a human being?

First of all, from the evolutionary point of view, in order to pinpoint the first men on earth, as distinct from the most highly developed animals, we must also consider the cores of the creatures. Whilst animals, even when most highly developed, carry animal souls within, man carries spirit within even if such spirit is at the very beginning of its development. In the inner core lies the basic essential point of distinction between man and animal.

Trying to distinguish between the most highly advanced animals, bearing highly developed animal souls within, and the first men on earth, bearing spirits at the beginning of their development may not be that easy, if we rely only on outward forms and characteristics.

Of course with further development the spirit in man would make its presence felt and through its activity and the continuing unfolding of its nature and innate abilities transform man into a complete human being, clearly distinguishable from any animal. The development of the spirit is necessary to make man a human being. This follows from the simple fact that the real man (the core of man) is spirit and that it is in the spirit that the potentials of those attributes that make us human are to be found. These potentials must be developed and the attributes brought into activity for the creature to become a human being; a complete human being!

The corollary of what is said above is that whoever does not allow the spirit to work within him is really not a human being; cannot be a human being!

Lastly, to go back to the title of the article, the question we now want to address is: What has the brain got to do with the making of the complete human being? The answer to this question can be derived from what has already been written in this article. Since the essence of being human is in the development and unfolding of spiritual attributes, the human being developing along the right line also fashions for himself the appropriate brain for this. The principal part of the brain necessary for this spiritual unfolding is the spiritually receptive part, the cerebellum, which is just the part that has become stunted in the intellectual Modern man of today! Thus the principal part of the brain for the realization of the human essence is the part that has been stunted, the very part that is paramount for the making of the complete human being. Not that the cerebellum could have achieved this alone without the development of the intellect. No! The coming-into- being of the complete human being on earth required equal development of the cerebellum (the back brain) and the cerebrum (the frontal intellectual brain), working in a harmonious relation, with the spirit leading and the intellect carrying out here on earth!

Two questions are of course also likely to arise in the minds of readers of this article namely:

  1. Wither the evolution of man?
  2. Are there ‘complete human beings’ on earth today?

We cannot go into these questions in detail in this article. Suffice it to say, however, that the way to the correction of the disproportion in the sizes of the frontal and back brains brought about through one-sided intellectual development lies in spiritual reawakening and the re-spiritualization of man’s life. As to the question of whether there are complete human beings on earth today,

by Abayomi Aiyesimoju

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