The Gospel of ‘Shrooms: A Mycophiles’ Book of Genesis.
(Based on some comments heard on CBC Radio.)
Long. long ago in Africa, when our distant primate ancestors searched around for something to eat, on the margins of the forest and savanna lands, some of them learned that when they turned over piles of old, dried elephant dung, there were mushrooms growing there.
Some of the ancestors chose to, or were forced to, eat them.
By surviving this feast, those who survived learned which mushrooms were safe to eat.
The safe type of mushroom happens to have some interesting biochemical properties: it contains a compound which, at low doses, gave the diner better visual acuity: having slightly better eyesight, these individuals could then spot other food more quickly, and also could spot animals easier. This gave them more time to determine if the animals they spotted were a threat, or were a potential dinner treat. So some became better hunters and gatherers.
In becoming better gatherers, and Thinking they would be even better hunters, they sometimes found and ate more of these mushrooms. This is how they discovered that the compounds in the plant had another property which kicked in if larger doses were ingested: the compound is a natural aphrodesiac, and so the better hunters also came to have larger numbers of offspring…
Again, some thought they should take much larger doses: the result of this overdosing on the biochemical compound is that the mushroom eater now has what we would think of as a religious experience.
The hallucinatory experiences would, presumably, lead to some to begin to ask questions about their experiences and so the path of evolving intellectual and philosophical concepts begins.
And, after communing with God or whichever deity they thought they were experiencing for a while, and when the quantities of psychotropic compounds in the blood streams dropped back to the natural viagra level, our stoner ancestors then went forth and multiplied, mightily, mightily.
After which they went out and hunted and gathered more, to feed themselves and their increase.
Over time, all these forces of better eyesight, the amplified successes at hunting and gathering, and the increased libido, meant their genes spread faster than the genes of others. Compared to the others, the number of decendants of the mystic mycophiles mushroomed….and evolution followed its’ course.
And the story goes on.
** Written Jan. 31, 2009. This was originally posted on another blog I had.