Science and human sacrifice (5)
A common battlefield occurrence, for instance, is a scenario in which a commanding officer will select a detail of men to attack a certain enemy position, knowing that they cannot succeed—and that all are likely to be killed.
Yet if the men refuse to go, they’ll die anyway—since the officer will order them shot for cowardice. In warfare, it is sometimes necessary to sacrifice the lives of a few individuals, either to distract the enemy from a more important target, or as part of a strategic retreat.
Military strategists though, are not the only heirs of the sacrificial ethic. Test pilots are, for all intents and purposes, sacrificial offerings. They are paid to risk—and sometimes give—their lives to confirm the viability of a new, untried aircraft design.
Both the space era and the atomic age owe much to the living ethos of human and self-sacrifice: The spirit of daring and death-defying courage that can be traced directly to the rituals of pre-industrial Africans and other early humans.
Although every safety precaution was taken, the originators of the early space missions knew very well that some astronauts (and possibly other personnel) were going to die. Space-related deaths have occurred in China, the U.S.A., Brazil and Russia.
Likewise, all of the scientists and engineers involved with the U.S. Manhattan Project, which produced the atomic bombs dropped on Japan during World War II, knew they were working with extremely dangerous material and that their lives were at stake. (There were, in fact, fatalities).
Human and self-sacrifice is thus an evolutionary ethos, a notion that permeates our culture and our consciousness. While the practice may have largely receded into our past, the ethic has been perpetuated through art, film, fiction, drama folklore and tradition.
The point modern ritual/traditional murderers miss, is that, beneath the mystical pretense of our ancestors, was the reasoning that has crystallized into what we would call “scientific thinking”.
Pre-industrial priests selected human offerings methodically and, in most instances, for logical reasons—though the real motives were camouflaged.
What were some of these reasons? One was to protect the physical (genetic) integrity of the group. Even today, in certain remote villages, children born with certain afflictions are brutally murdered. Sometimes they are tortured, to discourage them from “coming back”—in the belief that their origins is “spiritual”.
In reality, the job of the traditional priest was to purge the population of undesirable human specimen. This would include individuals with deformities, strange behavior or who simply were so different, in physical appearance, that their reproduction was considered a long-term threat.
It is possible, even probable, that the widespread use of albinos, as sacrificial victims, is a case in point. Homosexuals, especially lesbians, were almost certainly high on the traditional priests’ list of prospects. That much can be inferred, from the fact that reproduction is the prime concern of all living organisms on our planet: And homosexuals are an obvious threat to the reproductive process.
Casely Hayford’s report on the structure of Ashanti priesthood comes to mind. But there was not only a Guild of Priests. It is also well known, among contemporary anthropologists and other scholars, that each priest is merely the visible component of an extensive—but hidden—institution.
The members of these secret societies, which the pre-industrial priests headed, informed their leader of homosexual activity and other anomalous behavior. This, plus their observations, doubtless influenced the priests’ selection sacrificial victims. To be continued.