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Belief; the great divide

It seems probable, despite theological cavils, that Petronius was right in his saying, Fear first made the Gods. In the words of the more recent hierologist John M. Robertson; "we may be sure that primitive man took to himself the credit of his successful attempts to work the mechanism of nature for his own advantage, but when the machinery did not work he ascribed the fault to some over-ruling supernatural power..... It was the violation of [previously exploited] sequences, and the frustration of his expectations, by which the belief in supernatural power was, not created, but first called forth."

John is fairly close to the mark, and I shall discuss this presently, but first let's remember he wrote the above about 100 years ago and since then the improvements in technology and the discoveries in archaeology along with the recovery of many ancient texts clearly show the evolution of modern Christianity and Islam evolved from Zoorastraism. Both represented a misunderstanding of  Vedanta and were strongly influenced by a rapidly evolving patriarchal capitalism making religions took for social and political control.

The simplistic development of religion

We know again from the archaeological evidence that human like beings have inhabited parts of Africa for some 7 million years and that they lived in social groups. Of course, we know not much about these people but there is some evidence that some of these groups were engaging in some ritualistic practice. Science tells us that modern people like ourselves have only been in existence for some 200,000 years, however here I am not so concerned with our physical revolution, I am more interested in the evolution of our spiritual views.

Leaving ourselves aside for a moment, please consider that animals adapt themselves to seasonal changes to either migrate or hibernate depending on their situation. Animals also react to environmental phenomenon and many have the intelligence to seek or even to create shelter.

Our distant ancestors would have behaved in a similar way by taking shelter in caves and perhaps migrating with the herds of animals that were the most important food source. We must of course assume that our ancestors were not stupid, we know they sheltered in caves, we know they were successful hunters and gatherers and over time they learned how to create shelters, improve their hunting and gathering technology and eventually developing agricultural methods.

John M. Robertson asserts that fear is the origin of all religion, I would agree but also add the element of desire, after all, we pray for protection from what we fear and we pray to have what we desire. Primitive man of course was subject to the whims of nature, they had to flee when the flood came, find shelter in the storm and no doubt they witnessed many natural events that they feared like thunder and lightning. As we know ourselves, there are things we fear, and we hope or pray that these fears are not realised.

I have no doubt that from the very beginning of human like society, that the value of giving was appreciated. This seems to be a core element, which stems from the fact that we give to our children so that they may become strong so that the children will be kind and supportive towards their ageing and less strong parents who still have value within the community.

At some point the wish or desire to be saved from disaster, and the desires for those elemental things like good hunting and a full belly, a strong capable spouse resulted in fervent prayer and offerings. Of course living close to nature, observing the seasons, the movements of the moon and tides, and perhaps the correlation between the full moon and the female reproductive cycle must have come into the People's awareness at some time. The fact that the moon seemed to have power over other things, and that in the animal kingdom the strongest rules over the weak would have impressed early mankind.

In this scenario, wishes and desires became prayers and from prayers the offering of a gift evolved as an exchange between man and the elements. During different periods of history, offerings became sacrifices with the notion that I will give up what I treasure in order that perhaps the lightning will spare a life or provide good hunting etc. And the practice of offering and sacrifice remains alive and well in modern religions.

From the earliest beginnings mankind has been seeking some stability and control over nature and in that sense, little has changed in millions of years, however, over this time mankind has been learning about the forces of nature and the relationships between all life forms. Over time hunting technologies improved, the use of herbs as medicine evolved and eventually the practice of agriculture was invented and developed which gave rise to the development of permanent settlements and a rapid increase in population.

No doubt as tribal culture developed, individuals would be assigned different roles in the community depending on their level of skill and aptitude like the strongest hunter, and it seems most probable that by some fate certain individuals would have more of a capacity for leading prayer rituals, or knowing where to find the best game, or knowing what herbs to use to remedy different illnesses or injuries and the culture of the Shamen was born.

As larger communities developed the Shamen and or those with the interest began putting their heads together in order to understand and more accurately and consistently influence events of nature as well as improve their knowledge of the human condition and ways of easing suffering. During this period some 10 to 20,000 years ago, we see the development of trade and the sharing of ideas as well as continuing growth of the human population.

We know that Zoroastrianism and Vedanta were founded some time before the 600BCE, and I suspect that the development of these two faiths emerged out of the culmination of the Shamenistic knowledge which had developed up until this time.

There are of course many who believe that our physical, mental and spiritual development has been influenced by extraterrestrials forces, however at this time there is insufficient proof, although one should not entirely dismiss the possibility.

As to some over-ruling supernatural power, from all my own research and understanding, there is no absolute over-ruling supernatural power unless there are sufficient people to believe, and when sufficient people believe, some supernatural power may manifest for them for a short time. The only power, (and power here is really the wrong word) is to be found in the strength and scope of being human. And for all the priests and prophets, only Jesus and Buddha asked the people to do as they did and determined in their own hearts and minds the validity of their teachings.

Read Part Two



East vs West
The Story of Omar
  Capitalism Part Two.
  Mothers Tears
Origins of religion
Origins of religion_1
Abrahamic Religions
  Old Testament
  Oh Islam
  Women in Islam
  Polygamy in Islam
  Islam and Science
  Abandoning Islam

The Amazing
History of India

Amazing India




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