Thursday, October 18, 2012

A Genesis of Gods

     Every culture has evolved slowly over the past 100,000 years, through many of the same paths. Very early man did not know a deity. They learned the art of survival and how to deal with unknown natural phenomena in the school of hard knocks. Fears and superstitions controlled most of their lives. They began to attribute mysterious events to invisible forces who seemed preoccupied by surprising human beings with experiences they could not understand.
     After a few thousand years, and lacking any tools to determine otherwise, mankind began giving these unseen powers names related to their specific personalities. Some unseen powers seemed to control fire, some seemed to control lightning, some seemed to control the effects of rain and water, etc. By observing the behavior of these many elements controlled by unseen powers over the years, they began to piece together the probable risks of each. When things went bad, it was assumed that the unseen power was angry. When things went well, it was assumed that the unseen power was happy. It didn’t take very many years until humans began to associate their own behavior with the good and bad times exhibited by the unseen powers and attempted to influence them to avoid the bad times.
     This same behavior can be found in practices today; i.e., some sports participants use the same rationale as ancestors of 30,000 years ago. When on a winning streak, they sometimes wear the same clothing or eat the same foods whenever competing in the hopes that this behavior will bring them luck, or appease the unseen powers for continued wins. Go figure!
     Eventually, attempts to appease the unseen powers and keep them in a happy mood included offering them gifts. The type of gifts depended on the name of the unseen power and probably included such things as fruits, grains, or a cherished bauble. As the unseen powers continued to behave occasionally in an angry mood, these simple gifts became more serious until they included the sacrifice of animals or humans.
     This is where the Biblical saga begins. Early legendary figures such as Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Moses, etc. all were in the habit of making animal sacrifices on an altar to appease their monotheistic unseen power and as atonement for disobedience, or to honor their God. Sacrifices of the Hebrew culture varied from agricultural products, to birds, to animals, depending upon the resources of the persons making the atonement sacrifice, but only the Temple priests were allowed to slay the animals used in sacrifice and place sacrifices on the altar.
     Hebrew sacrifices could only be made on the Temple altar in Jerusalem. When the Temple was destroyed in 70 CE, sacrifices could no longer be made. If, and when, the Temple is rebuilt, Orthodox Jews will resume the practice of altar sacrifices according to ancient tradition handed down through more than 8,000 years.
     When Christianity came into existence, the philosophy of sacrifice was continued as atonement for disobedience. Jesus’ death became the ultimate sacrifice for all of Christianity. Today, when communion is served, the elements of bread and wine represent the symbolic body and blood of a sacrifice for the forgiveness of disobedience, or in remembrance of the one who was sacrificed.
     In an age when there are few natural phenomena that we cannot explain, unlike 10,000 years ago, we still practice rituals for keeping the Gods happy in order to avoid their potential wrath, and for this obedience we expect a reward of spiritual immortality in return. Today, we have a huge collection of knowledge about the world we live in as well as the universe surrounding us. We know the awesomeness of creation and generally attribute it to a creator. Yet, we continue to acknowledge this creation through rituals that were developed by superstitions out of fear and ignorance.
     Early man had no concept of the physical nature of the world he lived in. Only in the last 100 years has our knowledge been accelerating by enormous strides in the fields of science and mechanics. We now know that everything in and on this planet, including all life forms, is composed of elements (atoms) that were created in the death of stars billions of years before us. And, that these elements are eternal. Atoms do not die; for all intents and purposes they exist forever. We (all life forms) do not, but the material of which we are made, does.
     The atomic composition of our brain produces neural energy resulting in the creation of thought, visions, imagining, creativity, memory, etc., which are not confined by the physical materials of which we are made. These neural products reflect our character, experience, and knowledge. When our bodies expire, the neural generation of these reflections cease. Our bodies decompose, releasing the elements of our physical composition back into the atmosphere to be used again. Our atoms are recycled into new life. Our thoughts, visions, imagining, creativity, memory, etc., continue to exist only in the minds of people who knew and remember us.
     With today’s archives of knowledge, why are we continuing to practice religious rituals that are based on superstitions and ignorance in the acknowledgment of our existence?
     What would happen to humanity if it were released from the shackles of ancient superstitions and acknowledged a creator for what he/she IS, or has done? Would this in any way diminish the nature of a creator?
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