How spiritual was ancient man?
Archaeologists, in a desire to understand symbols, drawings, and practices, have made huge assumptions that ancient man was highly spiritual, that he was gifting gods and nearly every form of "creative expression" he displayed had to do with the spiritual realm.
But, ancient man lived a very practical life involving survival. It is much more likely that he was accounting for the story of his life to share with his offspring, to make them wiser and more able to handle the rough realities. This is akin to a farmer teaching his sons how to milk cows, plant crops, and bale hay rather than pondering the stars and their existence. He is working to make them self sufficient when they must depend on themselves to survive off the land.
If ancient man was drawing on caves, it was unlikely that like us today with free time he might have been having artistic musings, it was more likely he was documenting the realities of his life and what he saw and encountered daily.
Perhaps he was documenting what was outside the cave, what he contended with every day. Ancient man looked at the world around him as resources. He was more involved with what weather was changing and what plants were ready for foraging and what paths the animals were taking. He was likely not considering his mortality or any universally big picture.
In survival mode, there isn't actually a lot of leisure time to pay heed to imagined creators.
But, what if ancient man shared his world with others who were so far advanced ahead of them in the timeline of knowledge, civilization, construction, mining and more, that to our early ancestors, these beings were Gods, all knowing, powerful, capable of casting judgment, ordering them around, and giving them reward if they served well?
For ancient man, God was on earth.
Some examples of why the gods were earthly for ancient man comes in the form of evidence. Babies heads were formed to look pointed like the gods and fellow man was literally sacrificed to the appetites of these carnivores to appease these gods.
When we look at it this way, the very development of religious concepts was based on man's interactions with earthly gods. Why else would they deform skulls everywhere from Africa to the Pacific Northwest and South America? Why else would they perform sacrifices to gods in everywhere form the South Pacific to Central America and Europe? Was there something "genetically implanted" in Native people around the world to have similar practices? Nope. They were all exposed to the same "gods"- the earlier civilization.
If we today cohabitated with beings 100,000, maybe 200,000 years ahead of us, we might think they were gods too.
These glyphs in Chaco Canyon, NM - are they spiritual renderings of other realms and dreams or were they schematics?
If you look at Native legends, they tell of real events, but there is lack of knowledge of how these remarkable things could be - balls of light, people coming up from the earth, etc., and so magic was attributed to these extraordinary events, but were these events the result of a religious miracle or the technology of the giants and references to the "gods" were references to these superior beings?
If I saw someone phase in and out like a transported being on Star Trek, I might have to say it was magic. I might tell the story as if there person were from another world, a higher power, Heaven, or the like.
Was man looking to the heavens for his gods or was he living on earth with them?