I know, one who makes fun of young-earthers should probably keep her own mouth shut about problems she has with evolution, but I have them anyway in exactly the area of Jeff.
So, Jeff shows up and comforts Jo’s Grandpa at the end of his life. And, as Jo points out, there’s a scientific explanation–that “the brain in extremis contorts reality into one final rationalization to make it all better at the end.” But why would our brains do this? It’s not like you can get out of death. Everyone dies.So, while I see the benefit to the individual, I don’t see why this is a coping mechanism our brains would evolve to develop. Yes, it may make facing death easier, but you can’t not face death. And, once you’re dead, you can’t pass on your genes, so it’s not as if you can really select for a good death as a trait you want to pass on to your offspring. By the time anyone knows you’re capable of it, it’s too late.
So, why waste the energy?
And how would comforting deaths even evolve? Are we talking mate selection based on great-grandparents? “I have three cows, six rocks, and your son can graze on my sons’ land until my death. Oh, and did I mention my grandmother eased into death?” “Well, then Bob, I’m happy to give you my daughter to marry your son.”
Or older “Ogg, I will mate with a woman of the Uglok clan for their deaths are always calm and unscary!”
Although, now that I give it some thought, I can see how it’s selected for–child deaths. If you think of just how many children used to die before their 18th birthdays, and how many women whose children died were still in their childbearing years, now I can see how this is indeed selected for. Women whose children died horrible, scary deaths would work to lessen their chances of continuing to reproduce. In places and times when childhood mortality is so great, who could bear bringing a child into the world knowing how great the chance is that the child will suffer and die horribly?
But, if the child’s brain kicks in to comfort itself and the child’s parents with stories of supernatural beings who care and are there with them, then it makes the prospect of having more children, even if some of them may not live, more palatable.
Well, this is depressing.
And the truth is that I honestly don’t care if someone like Jeff is just in your brain. Everything is just in your brain at the end of the day. If it makes the tragedies of life easier, and doesn’t hurt other people, I have no problem with it.