The First Murder?
The story of Genesis offers us a mythic, symbolized story of the first murder, when Cain, son of Adam and Eve, killed his brother Abel. Curiously it wasn’t the act of murder that got the first family kicked out of paradise; instead, that first offense, nibbling fruit from a tree at the behest of a talking snake, led to the second great offense, which was murder. Outside of literalists who steadfastly insist on believing in a 6000-year-old planet and a talking snake, the symbolism of the story is hard to miss. The fruit eaten by the man and the woman came from a tree called the “Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.” In other words, humans know right from wrong and animals don’t. This makes Cain’s act homicide, whereas we don’t consider it such when a lion gets a gazelle, for example. But when in time DID human beings come to grasp such concepts as morality and immorality? At what point in time did we eat that fruit? The fact that humans developed, i.e. evolved, this higher nature, an ability to comprehend morality, while at the same time remaining in possession of their animalistic urges, is the fertile soil from whence springs the werewolf—and the werewolf springs eternally.
Scientists can’t tell us what kind of weapon was used to murder a man in northern Spain 430,000 years ago—but they can tell us, by examining the wounds to the skull, that his murderer struck him with it TWICE. Did this primitive killer appreciate the immorality, the “wrongness,” of his action? The fact that the bones of the deceased were found at the bottom of a deep cavern, along with the remains of numerous others, and that the only way those bones could have gotten there is if they were carried there by other humans, is suggestive. Was this a sort of funeral, or merely a way to get rid of decomposing bodies? If the former was the case, then we can safely say that humans DID at that point possess the ability to ascribe meaning to death, and that murder was likely already an established taboo.