Vision and hearing are the primary senses through which we interact with the world on a daily basis. The sense of vision developed more than 500 million years ago during the Cambrian Period. The evolutionary history of hearing is not known as well, but probably occurred 150-250 million years ago. Most importantly, advanced speech combined with hearing is uniquely human and developed only about 100,000 years ago. We share the sense of vision with the animal world, but speech and hearing as an advanced communication medium is uniquely human.
In Darwinian evolution, the most complex neural networks first developed around the sense of vision and then for humans around the neural networks developed for speech/hearing; hence those neural networks have served as the foundations for advanced cognitive abilities. Different sets of cognitive skills have evolved from vision and speech/hearing: the parallel processing mode of vision has led to emotions, feelings, understanding, and creativity; whereas the serial processing mode of speech/hearing has led to deduction, logic, and science. The intellectual skills we developed from the senses of vision and hearing have enabled us to evolve from the living world around us and to establish a transcendent position on our planet. The vision-based and speech/hearing based cognitive skills are also largely separated anatomically into the right and left cortical hemispheres.
Inherent in the sense of vision, going all the way back to the Cambrian period, are the cognitive concepts that there is an outside world and that there is something (“self”) viewing and interacting with that world. The sense of vision has also served to differentiate whether other animals are the same (“group”) or different than self. This has been critical for survival and reproduction. Self-identity and group-identity are vision-based right brain cognitive concepts that are based deep in the genetic code and are fundamental motivators of animal and human behavior. Today we still observe many ways in which humans exhibit strong grouping behavior, especially sub-groups within our species.
The 2 different sets of cognitive skills serve as a basis for understanding human consciousness, philosophy, and many aspects of human psychology and behavior. Our consciousness involves a thinking left brain and a silent, feeling, and aware right brain. The writings of the Greek philosophers contain strong examples of the left brain attempting to describe the realities of life as contained in the right brain and to integrate the right and left brain functions in the guidance of human groups. The left-right cognitive interactions also serve as the foundation for the human psyche as described by Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung, and as tested by Myer’s-Briggs.
From the earliest of times we have bonded together to enhance our survival and to make our living conditions safe and comfortable. The earliest human groupings evolved directly from the vision-based right brain of the animal world and are based upon herding and dominance hierarchy instincts. As we developed from hunter/gatherers, through towns and cities, and even to larger early Civilizations, our organization and grouping behaviors were largely modeled by the right brain functions of the animal and vision world from which we came.
Belief in God has been common to many, if not most, human groupings. It is likely that this belief in God comes from our left brain wonderment about all of the unknowns about the world around us. Religion has served a major role in managing human groups and civilizations – with god often being at the top of the dominance hierarchy. Human history and civilization development can be viewed as a struggle to integrate the speech/hearing-based intellect (left brain) with the vision-based right brain in governing human groups. Western Civilization has very strongly incorporated the left brain into group guidance; less so for most other current civilizations.
The Life Drive permeates all of life and is the force that drives Darwinian evolution. It is theorized that Life is a previously unidentified parameter in Einstein’s Theory of Relativity and that it exists at the conditions opposite to the Big Bang conditions. Most religious and belief systems, whether god-based such as Judaism, Christianity, or Islam, or spiritually-based such as Buddhism or Taoism, are oriented towards the ultimate truth that is Life.