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Note: The following document is provided for informational purposes only, as no containment protocols have been put into place for SCP-5737. Historically, SCP-5737 has been assumed non-anomalous due to its near-universal presence in humans, and I expect that many will conclude this document with that belief still firmly in place. As the description below addresses an issue of significant personal value to many, discretion is advised when reading.

- Dr. Copeland, head researcher for SCP-5737

Item #: SCP-5737

Object Class: Explained

Special Containment Procedures: Because of the extensive period of time elapsed between SCP-5737’s occurrence and the present day, as well as the unacceptable risk of any method of ongoing containment causing an MK-Class “End of Human Consciousness” scenario, SCP-5737 is functionally uncontainable. Containment efforts are to focus on minimizing the effects of SCP-5737 expression among extant human cultures via the promotion of humanistic politics and maintenance of containment procedures associated with identified Groups of Interest. The existence of SCP-5737 is to be confirmed only to Level 4 and higher Foundation researchers; individuals without Level 4 clearance who become aware of SCP-5737 are to receive targeted amnesticization.

Description: SCP-5737 is a hypothetical ontological shift, presumptively dated to the Ediacaran period (635-541 MYA), that affected the ancestral Nephrozoan1 and all descendent lineages. The suite of physiological characters resulting from SCP-5737 permit the emergence of the set of qualia commonly described as “spiritual/religious experiences”. As spiritual or spiritual-like practices have been observed in both protostome and deuterostome lineages, the influence of SCP-5737 is presumed plesiomorphic2, and lineages in which spiritual-like practices are not present are hypothesized to have secondarily lost its influence.

Due to the extremely widespread expression of SCP-5737 across bilaterian taxa and its universal expression across human cultures, several non-anomalous theories have been developed by civilian organizations as to the origin of its effects. These theories include SCP-5737 promoting social bonding and group cohesiveness, serving as a motivating force for the acquisition of resources and territory in early hominids, and being an emergent property at a certain level of cognitive development conferring no significant fitness benefits. However, the development by the Foundation of the Hume and Akiva scales has allowed accurate analysis of metaphysiological changes in organisms expressing SCP-5737-dependent behaviour, which permitted its anomalous nature to be determined.

Human susceptibility to SCP-5737 expression follows a normal distribution, with approximately 15% of the human population considered abnormally prone to spiritual experiences and approximately 10% considered abnormally resistant. Cultural factors explain more than half (55%) of this variation. Additionally, individuals diagnosed with or who meet the criteria for autism spectrum disorder have a significantly higher likelihood of being resistant to SCP-5737’s effects than the general population. Research into the heritability of SCP-5737 susceptibility has proven inconclusive due to heavy confounding from upbringing and culture. In humans, SCP-5737 displays a mild antimemetic quality: individuals frequently express an inability to accurately describe the qualia produced by SCP-5737. Despite this, a number of indices have been developed both by the Foundation and by civilian organizations to estimate the degree of SCP-5737 expression in any given individual3. Variability is also observed in emotional response to SCP-5737: while a majority of people (~60%) display no marked emotional response to the possibility of spiritual experience, the remaining 40% are evenly divided between individuals expressing openness and optimism regarding the possibility and those who claim such an experience has or would be significantly distressing for them. Typical methods of inducing spiritual experiences include the use of psychoactive substances, repetitive movements, and the recitation of creeds or songs, although spontaneous ones are also commonly reported.

The presentation of SCP-5737 has been most extensively studied in Homo sapiens; however, ethological, paleo-anthropological, and paleontological research has revealed that it presents in similar ways in other species. The following table provides a generalized overview of major taxonomic groups in which evidence for SCP-5737 expression is present either behaviourally or physically: for more information, please see Document 5737-583-X4 (“Validity and Ethology of Behavioural Markers for High-Penetrance SCP-5737 Expression Across the Tree of Life”, by Foundation researchers Dr. T.I. Copeland, Dr. P.W. Goldschmid, and Assistant Researcher A. T. Zhang.)

Taxonomic Group Behaviour/Documentation
Homo sapiens Religious and spiritual behaviour in modern humans has been extensively documented. Approximately 93% of the current human population professes some degree of religious or spiritual belief; among the remaining 7% the majority also report at least one non-contextualized experience that aligns with sensations typical to SCP-5737. The recreational or ritual use of entheogens across diverse human cultures, even those with notable negative side effects, provides further evidence of the social significance placed upon expressions of SCP-5737.
Pan troglodytes Ritual behaviour is also well-documented in chimpanzee societies. The emotion-like states, symbolic information transmission, and metacognitive behaviour that are permissive of SCP-5737 expression are extensively evidenced. Pre-death and post-death care, as well as deliberate post-death silence, controlled vocalization, and observation of corpses indicate the presence of a death culture. Ritualized behaviours indicating respect and awe are also frequently directed towards water. At the onset of heavy rains, a “rain dance” is performed involving rhythmic movements, repeated behaviours, and controlled vocalization matching religious rites of Homo sapiens; individualistic spiritual experiences are induced and expressed by behavioural displays and continuous observation resembling obeisance directed towards waterfalls and streambeds. These forms of pious expression are both individualized and normative, illustrating the qualitative nature of SCP-5737 expression.
Homo sapiens neanderthalensis H. s. neandenthalensis is one of the best-known examples of non-human SCP-5737 expression both among the Foundation and the civilian population. Deliberate burial of the corpses of conspecifics, as well as the provision of grave goods, provide evidence a well-developed death culture. In particular, the inclusion among these grave goods of the bones of other animals and stone and bone items unusable as tools indicates that the metaphysical nature of these things was valued above the physical.
Loxodonta sp. Mourning behaviour in African elephants has been extensively documented, and individuals have been observed burying the corpses of deceased members of their kin groups, as well as, occasionally, unrelated animals including buffalos, cows, and humans. Some have been reported to observe the cycles of the moon, bathing preferentially upon the full moon and performing behaviours resembling obeisance, including the waving of branches and focussed observation, in the direction of a waxing moon. As SCP-5737-dependent behaviours act as a positive stimulus inducing or intensifying its expression in other individuals, the conviction with which multiple human subcultures believe African elephants are fully capable of religious and spiritual behaviour serves as an additional indicator of its expression in this genus.
Arthropoda Cognition in arthropods is variable, in part because different arthropod groups display dramatically different social structures. The most developed cognitive abilities seem to be within the Hymenoptera: experimentation on Apis species illustrates the presence of the emotion-like states, symbolic information transmission, and metacognitive behaviour that are permissive of SCP-5737 expression. There is also controversy as to whether recently-translated writings from Pseudomyrmex ferruginea4 illustrate thought processes dependent on SCP-5737 or simply superficially similar. To date, full expression of SCP-5737 has only been observed in arthropod species or races that are themselves anomalous. See also documentation for SCP-4067.
Ammonoidea See documentation for SCP-4246.
Therapoda See Addendum 5737-1.

Addendum 5737-1: Paleontological evidence for SCP-5737 in therapods

In primary investigation of SCP-5737’s influence on metazoan evolution and cultural development, the Horizon Initiative was contacted for consultation, with particular research efforts focussed on the methodology by which they pursued the integration of themes from extant scriptures into a conceptually coherent whole known as the Universal Texts project. During discussions, Initiative representative S. Yilmaz informed Foundation representative Dr. T.I. Copeland that Foundation conjecture regarding SCP-5737 could be useful in contextualizing certain artifacts which the Initiative had contained in 1999.

A Berriasian5 paleontological dig site had retrieved multiple fossils that resembled deliberate engraving and embossing from a fluvial shale deposit and had published images of the fossils in the supplementary data of their preliminary results. Initiative webcrawlers identified potential anomalous activity and the fossils were taken into Initiative custody to be interpreted. The fossils were determined to be casts of engravings that had originally been made in an unknown, but likely soft (less than 3 on the Mohs scale) substrate. With the aid of three-dimensional scanning and spatial rendering techniques and pattern analysis software, Initiative linguists managed to reconstruct and presumptively translate the symbolic language used. The Foundation has been given limited access to Horizon Initiative servers to view these documents.

Addendum 5737-2: Personal reflection of Dr. Copeland

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