How did humans come to their current opinions of nature and how we should relate to it? Kevin Reilly suggests that nature influenced our religious beliefs, while the Economist article titled “The Plough and the Now” advocates that advancements in technology led to new power systems and social relations. These two combined factors have shaped modern beliefs which have in turn shaped the perception of nature, which is a repeated theme in Ishmael. Nature affected ancient religions while technology changed social interactions. Thousands of years later, these combined changes of humans perspectives toward the world are adjusting how they handle nature.
“Mesopotamian and Egyptian Civilizations: A Tale of Two Rivers”, an essay by Kevin Reilly proves the point that nature forms spiritual beliefs cause. While the Nile River was calm and predictable, the Euphrates River was erratic and caused much destruction each flooding, this reflects in the beliefs of the people by these rivers. The Nile was a god to the Ancient Egyptian people, it flooded annually, was easy to travel on, and provided fertile soil. “The Egyptian god of the flood, Hapi, was a helpful deity, who provided the people’s daily bread. Egyptian priests and philosophers were much more at ease than were their Mesopotamian counterparts.” (Reilly 39). The Mesopotamians also had a god of the flood, however this one was feared, in fact, most of the Mesopotamian nature gods were seen as evil. In the end, the Mesopotamians created much more powerful cities due to their “humans versus nature” beliefs and need for greater technology, bringing with them into the modern age their notions of nature.
Advancements in technology, more specifically agricultural technology, caused a shift in social interactions. An example of this was the switch from the use of hoes to ploughs in Mesopotamia. For thousands upon thousands of years, humans were hunter gatherers until they began to cultivate various plants and to settle down, to speak in other terms, they became agriculturalists. At this time matriarchy was strong because of the fact that the women were the ones who were bringing in crops using the hoe. As the population grew, the hoe no longer functioned well enough for the high demand of crops, and thus the plough came into place, and with it patriarchy. “It is possible that societies which had very strong notions about ‘a woman’s place’ or ‘men’s work’ were the ones which adopted the plough.” (Economist 74). One of the ways to be sure that matriarchy did, in fact, exist in Mesopotamia is to look at their deities. Even when patriarchy was strong, an all-powerful goddess still existed. To this day, economical roles of women have stayed the same due to these farming techniques.
In the novel Ishmael by Daniel Quinn, one of the central themes is that human beliefs, for their entire existence, have affected how they handle nature. A conclusion like this could be drawn for ancient times, however it makes more...