Göbekli Tepe and Godspots
Göbekli Tepe appears to be c. 11,600 years old.
That’s before Stonehenge.
Before the Great Pyramid.
Every Thursday, I enjoy an hour-long phone conversation with an OMG-er in Texas.
Interestingly, we often end up agreeing on many things, but how we get there sure differs.
I think that our well-considered differences create a good measure of mutual respect.
Yesterday, he taught me about Göbekli Tepe, an astonishing recent archeological find in Turkey.
Take a peek at National Geographic and the Smithsonian for mind-bending photos and facts.
Upshot is, researchers believe that Göbekli Tepe may well be the first (discovered) “human-built holy place,” according to the chief archeologist, German scholar Klaus Schmidt.
Not only that, but the discovery completely messes up the standard, working assumption that farming pre-dated civilization.
As the Smithsonian Magazine puts it (see link above):
Scholars have long believed that only after people learned to farm and live in settled communities did they have the time, organization and resources to construct temples and support complicated social structures. But Schmidt argues it was the other way around: the extensive, coordinated effort to build the monoliths literally laid the groundwork for the development of complex societies.
National Geographic puts it otherwise:
We used to think agriculture gave rise to cities and later to writing, art, and religion. Now the world’s oldest temple suggests the urge to worship sparked civilization.
So there is no evidence of homes there, no evidence of a water source, no hearths.
It was a mecca. A gathering place. A sacred space for a shared religious belief system.
Drawn together for the purpose of worship, it appears that our ancestors learned to live in community.
The mysteries of Göbekli Tepe are much better detailed in the links I placed above than I could begin to capture. Read those to get your goosebumps about the expert opinions and perplexions on the find.
As an aside, I checked on youtube for more linkable clips about this discovery. Be warned that one will either find a grainier review of the information and pictures found on the links from the Smithsonian and the National Geographic above, or sensationalized documentaries that make reference to the “Biblical Era” of the Garden of Eden and Noah’s Flood as if a) these “events” are historically traceable; and b) as if the majority of biblical scholars believe these events to be historically, literally “true.”
That subject matter alone is bloggable, but for now it would serve only as a distraction from the point I want to make here:
It appears as if humans need community, and humans need God.
We aren’t meant to be, or at least aren’t wired to be, autonomous, either from each other, or from some “greater power,” if you will.
Recently there was all sorts of hullaballoo about neurologists discovering a “Godspot.” Turns out it isn’t just one “spot,” but rather an array of brain firings that also go off when one engages, for example, political or moral thought.
NPR did a fine review of science and religion, and danced with this godspot notion. One story concerned an man who developed “temporal lobe epilepsy” after he underwent brain surgery to remove a tumor. The gentleman, who was Jewish, suddenly saw visions of the Virgin Mary. “Why would the Virgin Mary appear to me, a Jewish guy, lying in bed looking at the ceiling?” he laughed. “She could do much better.”
Turns out that it’s worth wondering whether mystics and charismatic leaders also have experienced such “seizures.” At the very least, some scientists figure, their temporal lobes were in overdrive.
But the author of the NPR article, Barbara Bradley Haggerty (who wrote a book entitled Fingerprints of God), asked Orrin Devinsky, director of New York University’s epilepsy center, the following:
Does the fact that we can track spiritual feelings in our temporal lobe mean that there’s nothing spiritual going on?
“No,” he says simply.
Think about a man and woman who are in love, Devinsky says. They look at each other, and in all likelihood, something fires in their temporal lobes.
“However, does that negate the presence of true love between them?” he asks. “Of course not.”
So does the fact that we can track religious expression for 11,600 years–some estimates suggest that it is closer to 13,000–mean that we are simply meant to, or at least are wired to, worship…together?
Cool. This makes me think of the way the northern European settlers in these parts bunched together by their home country and denominations (Irish Catholics, Norwegian Lutherans, Swedish Baptists- Lutherans- Covenant. etc) built decent churches before they had decent homes..