The Origin and Evolution of Religion
What is commonly called the “Old Testament” of the “Holy Bible” is probably the oldest historical recording of religious belief. It orignated as five original books given to Moses by God that details the creation of all there is, leading up to the liberation of the Hebrews from bondage in Egypt.
This document puts forth the details of creation and states that in the beginning there was darkness and God, the ultimate supreme being, commanded that there should be light and then separated the light from the dark and this was the first day.
God then created the “heavens” and the “Earth” and separated the water from the land or “firmament.”
From the waters and the land God commanded that there be all sorts of beasts, animals, insects and other life forms.
Then God created man (or mankind) in the image of God. The first man was known as Adam. After God created all this, which according to the testament, took six days and on the seventh day God rested.
After a while God saw that man was lonely and created woman from the man’s body, from a rib. This woman became known as Eve.
Adam and Eve resided in an area created by God known as the “garden of Eden” which was a great place to live, it had lots of food from the trees and bushes, there were no predators to hurt man, the climate was wonderful, man was safe and happy.
God told Adam and Even that they could eat the fruit of any tree save one, known as the tree of the knowledge of “Good and Evil.”
One day a serpent or snake came to Eve and spoke with her telling her that the fruit of that specific tree was good and not to listen to God. She ate of that tree and gave some to Adam and told him it was good and he was to eat it, which he eventually did and suddenly they became aware that they were naked and were ashamed and hid themselves.
When God found out about these events, God became angry with Adam and Eve, gave them garments of animal skin and sent them out of the “Garden of Eden” into the cold cruel world to fend for themselves, least they also eat from the tree of “eternal life” and became as Gods, like God, existing forever.
Adam and Eve were “married” by God and eventually propagated, creating life from their bodies in the form of two sons, Cain and Able. One of these offspring became jealous of the other and murdered his brother, then lied about it to God.
This is the origin of serious evil doing on the part of mankind.
Eventually Adam and Eve, who lived to be a great age, well beyond the years we live to today, created other sons and daughters. The sons of God took some of these daughters as their wives and from these unions came all of mankind.
Eventually a man named Abraham, descendent of the Adam and Eve family tree, found favor with God and mankind began to know God second hand as the “God of Abraham” the “God who has no name.”
If we meld the bible with world history, Adam, Eve, Cain, Able, Abraham and the others from that time frame became known as what we today refer to as “Semites” who are the natural inhabitants of the Middle Eastern area of Northern Africa through parts of the Asian continent.
Man moves from this area far and wide and communication became impossible because God brought about language changes. Mankind also evolved differently in different areas. Some forgetting about God, never learning about God or denying the existence.
These events took place thousands of years before other forms of recorded history. Other civilizations and cultures, based on what we have found in recorded history, evolved other religious structures.
The Egyptians, Romans and Greeks, for example, adopted or created religions with multiple deities or Gods. Gods of war, Goddesses of Love, Gods of winds, thunder, water, fire and other elements.
We also know that in the Americas tribal Indians who, according to scientific and historical scholars, may have traveled here from the Middle East and Africa when the land structures were closer and waters easier to travel by boat, also established spirtual beliefs based on fire, water, wind and other elements.
We also know that man enjoyed dominating man. Powerful men would raise armies, be thet African tribes, Spartans, Huns, Egyptians, Bedouins or other cultures. They would create weapons to defeat enemies and wage war in vast numbers overwhelming smaller nations and peoples. They would also enslave many of those peoples.
The Origin of today’s Jewish religion comes partially from the “God of Abraham” and from the acts and actions of Moses, a Hebrew slave, who with the assistance of God lead his fellow Hebrew slaves out of tyranny in Egypt and into what would eventually be known as “the promised land.”
This is probably the origin of our current Middle East conflict. The conflict of Hebrew versus non-Hebrew “Semites.”
Moses and God brought all sorts of plagues, darkness and pestilence on the Egyptian leaders and their multiple “Gods” and religious leaders. On the eve of the release of the Hebrews from slavery in Egypt God, through Moses, commanded they eat a ritualistic dinner consisting of some meat, bread made with no yeast or “rising” agents (known as “unleavened bread”), bitter herbs (something like horseradish) and sacramental wine. They painted their doorways with fresh lambs blood to mark the household of Hebrews who would be “passed over” by God’s Angel of Death, who would kill every firstborn of Egypt not protected by this symbol. God also commanded the Hebrews to mark this day as the first day of their existences. First, year, first day and to repeat this ritual each year at a specific time. This event is known today as Passover. It is a "movable feast" based upon the position of both the sun and moon in the spring skies to "celebrate" the liberation based on these positions, even though the actual "day" or "date" would be as much as a month different.
Moses lead the Hebrews into the desert, an event certainly known to most of you through the classic film work “The Ten Commandments” which starred Charelton Heston as Moses. Eventually Moses went to see God on the mountain and was given a set of 10 commandments that stated that good men should not:
Covet anything from another
Commit adultery or adulteration
Honor their parents and elders
Have any other God or Gods
Take God’s name in vain
Make any graven image of idol
Keep the seventh day of the week as a holy, sacred day of rest
God eventually showed Moses and the former Hebrew slaves the “promised land” but they were not allowed to go there. Instead they were commanded to wander the lands for a period of time before they could reach this “promised land.”
They were also promised a “savior” known as the “Messiah.” Who was to come amidst a variety of details set forth in the Hebrew texts of rituals, history, laws and belief scriptures.
The Hebrew text best known is the Torah, which is essentially the “Old Testament” of the “Holy Bible.” Extracts of this have been found in what are now documented as the quite old “Dead Sea Scrolls.”
Other books include the rituals and laws of the Talmud.
The Jewish faith celebrates the day of rest of “Sabbath” on Sundown Friday night through sundown Saturday night. They are forbidden to eat of certain animals and in the strict (conservative or what is known as “Kosher”) sects cannot eat milk and meat at the same time nor from the same vessels. Meats have to also be slaughtered and prepared according to Jewish laws. Unleavened bread and sacramental wine must also be prepared properly, as we detailed in our March 2004 issue with a look at Pesach or Passover.
This, then, became the origin of today’s Jewish religion and justification for the creation of the state of Israel, which we detailed extensively in our first issue back in May of 2001.
This somewhat new and modified Jewish religion, which is still largely based on the laws and edicts of Abraham and now modified by the laws and edicts of Moses, continued along side of the multiple “god” religions of other cultures such as the Egyptians, American Indians, Greeks and Romans for about four thousand years before the next major addition with the birth of Christianity.
In the New Testament of the “Holy Bible” it was put forth that God came to Mary, a virgin, and implanted a seed within her that was to be the promised savior or Messiah.
After what as known as the “immaculate conception” she married a man named Joseph and they traveled a long distance to Bethlehem where she gave birth to the child named Jesus.
It is said when Jesus was born a bright star shinned in the sky and this brought people from far and wide to Bethlehem and to the stable where Mary gave birth to Jesus. This group of travelers included three wise men (said by some to be Arabic Astrologers). Everyone came and gave blessing and gifts to the new baby.
Jesus was what some would term a very precocious child. At a young age he was in the Jewish Temple discussing religion and theology with the elders, even though Jesus was only a small child.
He eventually came to John, a man who was baptizing people in water to receive the holy sprit from God and John baptized Jesus.
It has been noted by some historians that in the area where John the Baptist practiced there was a small sect of Jewish religious people who had a far more peaceful and liberal attitude about life and living. Some feel this may have had an influence on John the Baptist and possibly even Jesus.
Jesus wandered into the desert for a month to become purged of evil and to find his proper spirit. He eventually banded together with 12 men who became known as his disciples and they began spreading a way of life and living among the people in Jerusalem, Bethlehem and other areas.
Accounts from the New Testament state Jesus healed the sick, fed masses of people with next to nothing and did a variety of miraculous things including giving life back to the dead.
The masses of followers, praise, reports of these “miracles” and some actions of Jesus, including defying the laws calling for the stoning of a whore or prostitute, whom Jesus defended tell the mob that the first person to throw a stone must be totally without sin. Jesus also threw out merchants, gamers and others involved in mercantile from the Temple. These people, of course, were the rich and famous who were counted on to help support the Temple operations, as poor people can’t keep a church alive. So, the religious leaders were not happy with Jesus, his followers and actions.
A faction of religious leaders conspired to take this revolutionary who was practically doing terrorist activities undermining the normal routine of doing business and get rid of him.
Three years after starting his “ministry” on a formal basis, Jesus was arrested just after, during or shortly before a Passover Seder dinner. He was taken to the Roman in charge of the occupied area, then to a local King who ran the region where Jesus was a national, then back to the Roman named Pontius Pilate who was being lobbied by the local authorities to crucify Jesus for heresy. Pilate initially had Jesus flogged (beaten with a whip) but that didn’t appease the locals who insisted he be crucified.
Crucifixion was a common form of Roman punishment given to all sorts of men for all sorts of generally serious crimes. In the classic movie most of you have seen, “Sparticus” the hero was eventually captured and crucified, just as Jesus would also be put to death.
Jesus was eventually crucified that morning. His was literally nailed to a cross made of thick timber in a gruesomely inhumane manner detailed in the recent film by director Mel Gibson, “Passion of the Christ” which we detailed in our March 2004 issue.
Hanging from that cross, Jesus forgave everyone for what they did and implored God to forgive everyone. He did not die a natural death as did the two other men crucified at the same time. The Romans had to break all the bones in his body to kill him.
Jesus was then entombed and a Roman guard placed by the tomb to make sure the prophecy of his resurrecting didn’t occur (which would fullfill the biblical foretelling of the messiah).
Days later followers came to that area, found no Roman guard, the tomb open and no body. Many people claimed to see Jesus walking the lands for days after this event, thus fulfilling the Hebrew prophecy, although the formal Jewish religious vigorously disputes these events and flatted states that while Jesus may have been a prophet and spiritual man, he was not the Messiah detailed in the Jewish texts.
The heart of the Christian religion comes from the teachings and practices of Jesus over a three year period in which Jesus held with Jewish rituals and most customs (Jesus was Jewish or Hebrew and a Semite) he stated that the teachings and laws or rules from Abraham and Moses were not always proper and too extreme. Jesus was teaching those around him to be a new type of Jewish believer. He was attempting to reform the religion into a new way that had more compassion, understanding, patience and love for everyone, especially your enemies.
At what is now known as the “Last Supper” which is a Jewish Ritual now some almost 6,000 years old, Jesus wanted his disciples to keep that part of the faith and incorporated himself into the ritual, telling them a day before his crucifixion that when they drink the sacramental wine it is his blood they drink. When they eat the unleavened bread, it is his body they eat. That when they do these things again in each successive year to also remember him, as well as the Exodus from bondage lead by Moses and the Ritual ordered by God.
Jesus, the leader and teacher, then washed the feet of his followers and told them it is the duty of everyone to take care of one another without regard to their position in the world. No leader is above washing the feet of his servants or disciples.
Jesus told them that if soldiers ask you to carry their packs for 10 miles, carry them twice that distance voluntarily. If someone demands your coat, give them your cloak and hat as well. If someone strike you on the cheek, turn and let them also strike the other side.
Jesus also told his disciples that is was advisable to carry a sword and defend themselves from those who would kill or crucify them, but not to be adversarial only defensive and only when absolutely necessary.
Jesus shared his food with everyone. Jesus taught them to take company with those thought of as vile or sinful, embracing a woman who was almost stoned for fornication and prostitution and bringing her into his fold.
Jesus lead by example and people followed him automatically. He told many of his followers to leave their tools and worldly goods with their families and simply come with him with nothing but the shoes on their feet. Others would come with the tools and use them in doing good.
Jesus directed his 12 disciples to go out into the world with nothing but a defense sword in the belts and shoes on their feet. No money, no belongings. To spread the world of faith, love and kindness and to found churches expounding these beliefs.
This, of course, was not an easy task as most of the world was dominated by multi-god Romans, Greeks, Egyptians and the Jewish religion who was totally opposed to Jesus and his followers. As a result the spread of the words and wisdom of Jesus, which would be come known as Christianity (from Christ, the Greek word for Messiah) was slow and required the disciples and their followers make many, many modifications and hid rituals under the cloak of existing rituals.
Easter, for example, is the Christian celebration of the resurrection of Jesus, it is, however, not done to actual dates in anniversary of when it actually happened, which would be only a few days after the Jewish Passover. Easter is built around (and acknowledged by many Christian theologians) a Pagan holiday and ritual of springtime and solstice. It is done this way to hide the true meaning and shroud it around an existing holiday that is more politically correct for the time and place.
Christmas is another Pagan based ritual. It is freezing cold in Bethlehem on December 24th and no shepherd would be in the fields that night as the song “The First Noel” states. Most theologians tend to agree the birth of Jesus was probably in summer or fall, not winter. But, there is another Pagan solstice holiday and a tradition of giving gifts and thanks, so many Christian elders built their own fable and ritual around this period of time to make it more palatable and safer to practice least the Romans take you away.
The Jewish Passover ritual has generally been all but abandoned, modified to “Communion” in which many Christian sects drink small vials of grape juice and eat little cracker bits. The Catholic religion still uses blessed wine and drinks it from person to person in the same cup, as did Jesus. The unleavened bread has become crackers or wafers and in the New World the South Americans make their own version with either corn or wheat flour known as tortillas. There, also, the bitter herbs of Jewish Passover become the cilantro and onions of what we know today as Salsa. The converted South American Indians who were dominated by the largely Catholic Spaniards probably do more eating of the body of Christ than any other sect, as they eat unleavened bread dipped in bitter herbs several times a day, every day.
Each culture has taken bits and pieces of the Jewish faith and the teachings of Jesus and turned it into a variety of sects, each adapted to a people, climate, culture and region.
The Christian religion has, for all intents and purposes, generally totally abandoned the Jewish or Hebrew religion, faith, rituals, laws and practices, which is probably not what Jesus intended, as he seemed on bent on modifying the inhumane intolerance’s that came more from the laws of men like Moses and Abraham, than from word of God. Jesus wanted Judaism to change for the better, not be totally forgotten, as this was the first religion that directly came from a time when God walked with man, as far as can be documented based on old texts, Dead Sea Scrolls and word of mouth.
This, then, is the formation of the rift between Christians and Jews, with Christians seeming to forget their own tenants of their own savior who preached that you should forgive and forget, while loving your enemies.
It was only a few hundred years after the death of Jesus that the third major religion came into being, with the first writings of the Islamic faith by the prophet Muhammad sometime around 600 AD.
From what theologians and historians can gather, Allah, the supreme God of the Islamic world is probably the same God as the God of Abraham, only the word, teachings and followers are different and not Jews nor Christians. Muhammad was basically speaking of the same essential God, whom he called Allah. In speaking of Allah, it can be assumed that this is the same God that created the world, the animals and man – the Semites.
Allah, in fact, is view by some linguistic experts as being a variant or another pronunciation of Yewah or what is known as Jehovah to some Christians.
The Jews, Christians and Islamics, essentially, all view their God as being of the same origin and view creation as coming from the same God. They have just bickered and now fight over the history, rituals, laws and beliefs. In some instances to the death.
Originally Muhammad approached the Christians to help him bring the words of Allah and Islam, but the Christians rejected him as much as everyone else did so he went out to spread the world alone and was eventually killed for his teaching, just like Jesus.
The Islamic faith, indeed, accepts Jesus and it is believed Jesus was return to us on the day of recognizing (doomsday) to lead all the faithful, pure and true believers to heaven. This view is much like the Christian view who believes Jesus was come again and lead us all to Heaven.
The Islamic faith quickly branched off into two splinters. One, the Shiites, lead by a direct decedent who claimed lineage to Muhammad and the others, the Sunni, who evolved their own leadership based on local disciples.
The Shiites, it would seem, were the more aggressive and militant of the two sects, while the Sunni are the largest in numbers.
Because of some of the aggressive nature the Islamic view spread further and faster than any other view, eventually covering most of the Middles East, the Near East and even Far East, plus Africa. Parts if India, Pakistan, China and almost all of Northern African regions have become Islamic over the last 1,990 years. Islam seems to have to most number of converts and followers in the world, followed by the Christian faith, which is mostly the more militant Catholic sect which sent out missionaries far and wide. While the “East” and “Old World” from the Equator down south is most Islamic, most of South America and many of the Pacific islands are Catholic Christian.
In the North of Europe there are a lot of Catholic Christians, but with the breaking of Martin Luther and his own sect, plus the formation of the Church of England a large variety of Protestant religions, many of which are close cousins to the Catholic faith (such as the Russian, Romanian and Greek Orthodox sects).
The rift between Islamics and Christians intensified during the period of what is known as the “Crusades” in which Christian armies invaded the Middle East in an attempt to prevent the Islamic faith from dominating Jerusalem, considered the Holy Land by both Christians and Jews.
The Crusades is probably the true “mother of all wars” between Islamics, Christians and Jews.
Compared to the total Christian faith (which encompasses a multitude of sects including Catholic, Methodist, Presbyterian, Lutheran, Baptist and others) and the total Islamic faith (which encompasses Shiite and Sunni) all other religions, including the Jewish faith, which probably comes third on the list of total members, are small.
Islamics and Christians probably make up more than 60% of the total religious people in the world, if not closer to 75%. The rest of the population is divided into Jewish, Buddhist, a few micro religions, plus atheist (total non believers) and agnostic (let me see Jesus walk on water and I’ll give him some consideration of faith). If an all out war were to occur today based on “party lines” Islamics would probably out number Christians, but a combined force of non-Islamics would definitely out number Islamics. Such a war, however unlikely, would be a huge blood bath and all based upon the views, laws and rituals created more by men than a supreme God.
The supreme God in virtually all religions has some common elements, most of which tell mankind to be good not evil or war like.
In the 19th Century the views of Marx and Ingles has become somewhat of a religion as did the earlier views of Adam Smith with his “Wealth of Nations.”
The Adam Smith “religion” is known as Capitalism. The Marx and Ingles “religion” became known as Social-Communism. These two opposing views were responsible for the great cold war of the 1950’s and 1960’s.
In the Adam Smith equation resources and economy was God. In the Marx and Ingles equation the needs of the people and the state were God. In the Adam Smith equation individuals accumulated as much wealth as they could and bartered in commerce to create even more wealth and progress. In the Marx and Ingles equation the state owned everything and shared parcels of it with the citizens for their own need and in return the citizens worked for the betterment of the state and its citizens as a whole.
The Adam Smith equation won out, with even China now using modified privatization and capitalism to benefit the masses of people and the state.
While the communist world, as indoctrinated by men, such as Lenin and Mao, advocated the banning of religion, such as never practical nor achieved. Man would not abandon their churches, temples, beliefs and rituals, the would simply go underground so eventually open religion was frowned upon and accepted in both China and Russian.
In the Adam Smith equation it didn’t matter. In fact, religious people who had too many good, nice ethics often lost out to the atheists and agnostics, so being too religious was a benefit to the world economy by shifting the balance in the wealth of nations and peoples.
As the 20th Century came into being the sect of the scientist and their view of the world came into being as a religion, with the great leaders being Darwin, Plank and Einstein, of which the latter two drew heavily on the work of those from earlier times such as Galleleo and Newton.
Darwin put forth the concept of creation through evolution. That man simply evolved as a species from lower forms of life, possible the great apes which spawned a freak of nature. Indeed there is some evidence to show that Darwin’s view combined with the view of Planck and the other Quantumists allows for random gene mutations to occur without warning rhyme or reason, although we’ve never actually seen it happen (as an agnostic would say, let me see two monkeys make a man or woman who can "reason" and be "self aware" and I’ll give your point of view some consideration). Einstein viewed the universe as having more symmetry and purpose with a great cosmic plan. He couldn’t fully subscribe to the randomness theorists point of view.
The cosmologists and evolutionists also lend some credibility to the religious creationists. In the beginning there was nothing and it was black, so black light couldn’t exist and then one day everything became critical and unbalanced and in the blink of an eye matter and energy were released in one big bang and there was light. And after a while the light separated from the dark and bodies were formed and as they cooled elements were created and waters were upon the various “Earth’s” and eventually the land separated from the water and life began.
Randomly or from some genetic blueprint?
Einstein says that all things mold together with predictability, he proved with the A Bomb. The randomists and Quantumists point to the fact that same A Bombs don’t explode that it is totally arbitrary and without reason or logic. Einstein never totally bought into that concept.
For things to behave predictably there has to be rules of order. Rules of order implies something greater than nothing and randomness.
The geneticists have only succeeded in giving some credibility to a 6,000+ year old doctrine that “God has a plan for you” and the 2,000 year old doctrine of Jesus who said “everything is fixed and can’t be changed.”
The genetic blue prints that the scientists are starting to discover tell all living things when to die, when to start forming cancers, when to turn blonde or brown into Grey and it does not seem to be random, but fixed to a timetable.
This genetic plan may be responsible for what a person does in life, how they act, when and where they move. It may dictate success and failure in any given realm.
The evolutionists, cosmologists and scientists still can’t explain how a simple hydrogen atom gets created out of nothing. Their explanation is it always existed. Matter cannot be created nor destroyed, only converted. Energy cannot be created nor destroyed.
Indeed the Ying and Yang of Eastern religions explain the make up of atomic particles. Positive and negative, attraction and repelling actions, detailed long before Newton’s rules of motion, cause and effect.
What science can only do is arm man with an understand of things in general and give us an understand of how things work.
The concept of good and evil, which, according to the religious in many different religious view points, is not something man was supposed to know and is a stumbling block that prevents us from being as one with eternity, with the universe.
Religion, science, communism and capitalism all contain some absolutes. What’s good works, and works for all. What’s bad eventually kills us and puts a halt to things. An absolute is something no one can escape from. It’s like death and taxes. Cause and effect.
When push comes to shove it doesn’t matter what view you subscribe to. We all seem to come from the same common denominator, like it or not. Be it Adam or Atom our origin is the same. We follow the rules and we get along quite well. We break the rules and have problems.
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