The Evolution of Religion
I recently read the book The
Heathen's Guide To World Religions by William
Hopper, and it is frikkin' awesome. (See also WordPress.) Is examines
the history of civilization w.r.t. religion and the evolution of various
popular religions. Why yes, religions, like all human values, culture
& mythos, do change over time. A good subtitle for the book would be
“What *Actually* Happened”. The Bible is one source
for historical information, but there are many others and most of them are
much less dubious. The Heathen's Guide is very highly recommened
for all heathens who want to understand the history and delusions of the
major religions. It is written in a irreverant and very accessible style.
Apparently, various other historians have been
discussing this subject recently as well and tell a similar story. The
Da Vinci Code is a fictional murder-mystery that examines the
same religious history, though with a bunch of extraneous crap thrown in.
There is also brewing controversy and disillusionment in popular culture
about the divinity of the Bible. This is good. And there is a movie
version of The Da Vinci
Code being developed that threatens to turn biblical skepticism
into a popular cultural phenomenon. (It's not like that many people
read books.) Maybe if the Catholic priests could have kept their penises
in their pants, the sheep wouldn't be questioning the unquestionable.
You should read the entire Heathen's Guide, but many of the
important points are covered below.
- The early Jews were nomadic tribes that wandered the edges of
the deserts around 10,000 BC and lived a pretty harsh life. The early
Jewish faith was polytheistic, meaning that they worshipped many gods that
they ascribed to the natural forces around them. (Most ancient people
were polytheistic in this way; this is the principle of the “God
of the Gaps” at work, where gods are created to fill in
gaps in human knowledge. If you didn't understand solar mechanics,
you might be tempted to consider the sun to be a god, and you might
be tempted to sacrifice some virgins to insure that the sun rose the
next morning. After all, if you made the sacrifice and the sun rose,
then you did the right thing, right?) Hopper refers to these gods as
- Abraham lived around 1,600 BC. He was leader of one of these
nomadic groups of Jews, but really by this time the world had passed the
nomads by and now had real cities, real trading, and real armies.
- Abraham had made a ‘deal’ with the god El-Shaddai,
literally “the god of the mountains” (one of those Gods of the
Gaps) that said that Abraham and his followers would worship and sacrifice
to the god and the god would make the people wealthy and prosperous.
- Abraham apparently had seven sons, but at supposedly starting at
99 years old may have been too old to have actually fathered them; only
his wife Sarah knows for sure. He supposedly lives to be 200 years old,
and Sarah supposedly is still having children into her hundreds. (They
probably actually lived to be relatively old, but not this old.)
- Abraham's followers and their descendents lived around the Nile
Delta region and were prosperous and their numbers swelled. The family
became known as “Israel”, which means “perserverers
- Then everything goes south. Some of the descendents said
“Screw it” with respect to Abraham's deal with the mountain
god, and then there was famine. (Not that there's necessarily a causal
relation.) So the people moved, found work in other Egyptian cities,
and things were good again, for a while. The thing is, as immigrants,
they were always second-class citizens and never really owned much.
Many became indentured servants of the wealthy. This servitude went on for
a few generations until the land-owners became opulent, the class system
more rigid, and the Jews became abused. They eventually became true slaves
of the state of Egypt and the seeds of revolution started to germinate.
- Moses was a Jew who was secretly adopted by the pharaoh's wife.
He was raised to be royalty, but was stripped of all title and rank when
his secret was finally revealed. Moses was kicked out of the kingdom
by his brother Ramses and became a shepherding nomad with a tribe of
nomadic Jews. His new, non-royalty life doesn't set too well with him,
so he snaps.
- Abraham's god of the mountain is supposed to be watching out for
the Jews, but he's not, so Moses charges up a nearby mountain, Mount
Sinai, to confront his god about this. His god happens to be home and
apparently tells Moses to go and free the Jews and the god will help.
Apparently, the god identifies himself as “Yahweh”, which
means “I am”. (Doesn't seem like that much of an inspired
name to me; maybe he could have called himself “Descartes”
or something.) This name is translated in the King James Bible as
being “Jehovah”, though there doesn't seem to be any real
reason for the differences in the translation. So, this is the God of
Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, so I guess I'll start using a capital
‘G’ to indicate that it's a proper name.
- Moses goes to confront Ramses and apparently performs some magic
tricks. Ramses is unimpressed. Apparently, more arguing about whose
god is bigger ensues and more magic tricks are performed (also known as
“articles of faith” to believers), and Moses wins the freedom
of the Jews and he brings them back to Mount Sinai.
THIS PAGE IS STILL UNDER CONSTRUCTION
- The Ark of the Covenant isn't lost and never has been. It's in
Ethiopia. King Solomon and Queen Sheeba's son ‘liberated’
it from the Jews for safe keeping. The history of Ethiopia is very
- The word “Satan” doesn't actually refer to an evil
fallen angel. It actually refers to human intelligence or wisdom.
I can see why religious folks would fear this.
- Looks like the League of Nations/UN carved up the Middle East after
WWII in such a way as either to indirectly exterminate the Jews once and
for all or to keep the Middle East constantly in turmoil so as to avoid
the emergance of an Islamic superpower. The League of Nations kicked the
Palestinians off their own land (which was taken from the Jews by the Arabs
in ancient times) knowing that the Palestenians really had nowhere to go.
The British occupied Israel for ten years and forbade the Jews to have
any weapons right up until the day the British pulled out. One could
easily expect a Jewish slaughter, which is what the PLO was counting on.
“It seems that the entire state of Israel went to sleep the night
before totally unarmed and defenseless, and then miraculously woke up
the next morning not only owning weapons, but being a very real contender
for the most heavily armed nation on Earth.”
- Jesu (“yay-soo”) was just an ordinary man (Duh!) who
happened to be a Jewish rabbi. Jesus Christ is the name of the religious
icon constructed from his image.
- John the Baptist and Jesu were cousins.
- Jesu hated organized religion and took every opportunity to
trash-talk the orthodoxy.
- Jesu's mother Mary was never described as being a
“virgin”. The Hebrew was translated improperly. What she
was actually described as being is simply a “young girl”.
- The story of Jesus' birth is not even
an original tale and is in fact plagarized from a book called The
Golden Ass written 500 years earlier by Asclepius. Impregnated by
God, virgin birth, donkey ride, manger, the whole bit. In fact, virgin
births for great leaders was a common mythology at the time.
- There's a lot more... need to flesh this out...
The 1611 King James version, perhaps the most famous book
ever written by a committee, may reach poetic heights, but Alter says
it is fraught with "embarrassing inaccuracies" and often substitutes
Greek or Latin words and Renaissance English tonalities and rhythms for
[Trouble brewing... If you were an indoctrinated fool, how you feel
to discover that the King James bible is not the "Word of God" but rather
the word of a committee. Also, definitely do not do a web search on
the "Council of Nicea"... another committee, which formed the whole of
the religious canon of Christianity from a tight selection of letters
written by fanatical cult members over three hundred years before.
Christ's divinity was decided by a majority vote of the men present.
Much of the body of the bible was written by a schizophrenic who was born
a hundred years after Christ's death.]
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