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May 24

And Man Created God

In Brief—From unseen spirits that were either friendly or unfriendly, our distant ancestors created the spirits that slowly evolved into the gods that are worshiped in the modern world. Imaginary then; imaginary now, but humankind’s creation has come to poison our world and cause the misery that we see around us today.

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The Evolution of a Delusion—

The Judeo-Christian Bible includes both the Old Testament, the Torah of Judaism, as well as the New Testament. It presents a deity who can be good and forgiving but, all too often, is murderous, vindictive, jealous, capricious and inconsistent. Though some Christians assert that the Bible is the exact word of God, the deity presented displays the same characteristics as the men who wrote it. Ipso facto, the Bible is the product of men, not of God. Humans created God.

When humans evolved from their simian roots and came down out of the trees, their pattern-seeking brains endowed the environment surrounding them with unseen spirits. Threats and mysteries abounded. The rock over which our ancestor tripped housed a malevolent spirit that was intent on making life more difficult. It had to be asked for forbearance. The breeze in the grass might be just the wind or it might be a lion stalking them. The lion’s spirit had to be placated by an offering. The untimely death of a child was an indication that the spirit was angry with its parents. The spirit had to be begged for forgiveness.

By contrast, the bush with edible berries or a successful hunt, were the spirit’s gifts and required thanks. Victory over an enemy was a sign that the spirit felt the victor’s cause was just. A sacrifice was in order. Some spirits were malign, others were friendly. They came to be formalized and given names. From the unseen spirits were born deities and religions grew.

The Human Factor—

We are all different. Aside from age, size and gender, some are intelligent, some dull; some are assertive, others are passive; some are adventurous and others restrained. Leaders led, followers followed. The glib stood out while the quiet ones remained unobtrusive. It’s true today and it was true in past.

All of us were children once. Children believe what their parents, elders and teachers tell them. If told the invisible spirits are real, children believe it. The beliefs of the clan are deemed true and the children grow up to teach their children about the spirits. Generation after generation adopts the beliefs of ancestors. It’s safe and traditional to follow in the well-worn footprints of the elders.

Then some intelligent and creative individual comes to doubt the many spirits and decides he will tell his children and neighbors his idea about the one ruling spirit he calls “God.” He decides that his “God” wants him to travel around the area and share his vision. He is persuasive and it isn’t long before more militant believers determine that the neighboring clan must be forced at sword’s point to honor the one “God.”

Centuries pass and the political leaders and appointed prelates determine that only their approved version must be accepted. Non-accepted versions that profess different views are abandoned or suppressed and the holy books are dutifully rewritten by followers. Mistakes are made. Versions of the same chapter differ on happenings or omit important elements with the passage of time. Translations are misinterpreted.

More centuries pass. Divisions in the religion take place. One nation conquers another. The “Others” are killed or converted to the accepted belief. One group of powerful prelates and political forces substitute a newer accepted version for the old and disapproved version. A second group insists that the old version is the true one and must be retained. Believers in the same deity kill one another over the order of succession of their leaders. Religion has been created and corrupted by humans.

Though much simplified for the sake of brevity, this is what has happened within just the Abrahamic religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Other religions are much the same. The deities created by humans would have to be delighted by the turmoil.

The Abrahamic religions taken together—and that includes the Eastern Orthodox Catholic Church administered by the Patriarch—comprise about 31.5% of the planet’s humans. The other 68.5% are non-Christian and non-Abrahamic believers who, of course, think all other religions are in error. Christians believe that the 68.5% who are non-Christians are in error. Which group is right?

Could all religions be in error? From imagined spirits came God. Goodness, how the delusion has prospered, how the resultant strife has created rivers of blood, how divisiveness has grown. Human inventiveness has created the whirlwind.

Disagree? Tell me how or why. The Comments are your vehicle.

4 comments

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  1. Jim Newton

    Don, I find it hard to write about this. I am an agnostic and I think many of your thoughts and conclusions are right, and I certainly think much of the violence in the world is religion-related. As a gender activist I often find men justifying their violence and misogyny with quotes from the
    Bible and being unwilling to listen to any contrary evidence or sense of justice.

    But I’m not an anti-God activist. I can’t understand the origin of the universe with a simple reference to a big bang and the universe just suddenly existing from a singularity leaves me asking for antecedents, which no scientist can provide. This suggests to me that there is something more than “it just happened.” My questions about what there was before have been asked by philosophers virtually since we first had self-awareness. And those questions still just hang there.

    Did God create me, this person? No. Did some intelligence think up the universe and then let it go on being and leaving it alone? I can’t rule that out.

    1. Don Bay

      The deity that we know from the Bible, is just plain illogical and unsupported by the evidence. As I see it, all belief in such a deity is bad in that it shuts off the full use of the mind. To have faith requires belief in the unsupportable. In short, it is a delusion that prevents humans from using their full brain without restraint. Believers may be smart in other ways, but they have shut down their critical faculties in the false belief that goodness and solace comes from their deity rather than from the firing of the synapses in their own brains.

      I am comfortable with not understanding why the cosmos exists. Science is whittling away at the unknown. Bit by bit, the origins of “all that is” are being answered. Undeniably, there are many questions for which there are no answers…yet. But as I said at the beginning of this response, neither Christianity nor any religious beliefs have yet produced logical evidence for the existence of a deity who created everything. Thousands of years and many religions have failed to produce even one shred of credible evidence for a supreme being. Show me credible evidence and I will at least admit there is a power greater than myself. Until then, I remain an atheist and freethinker using the brain that I have. There is freedom and fresh air in that. I recommend it.

  2. Dave Meyers

    Pondering the universe is daunting at the very least. And, while I do not believe in God as he is described in the Bible, I often get stumped by the how and why of the universe. My best guess is that we are a happy accident…. Just like chocolate and peanut butter.
    Your piece is spot-on Mr. Bay. You know my feelings on the subject in general. But, I’ll go one further with your report on the origin of God and the myriad of issues ‘he’ has caused, by pointing out one more human invention that serves to control, confuse, and strike fear in those that need an answer for all that they can’t explain……the Devil.
    Now there’s a fairytale you won’t lull you children to sleep with!

    1. Don Bay

      You have hit the bull’s-eye with your guess that humans are a happy accident. Through evolution we have risen to the top rung (so far) on the ladder of life. The next rung up—if humanity lasts long enough—is the cyborg or thinking robot. Best bet is that it won’t be long.

      Sounds like you have read my blog post on Christians worshipping Satan. The “logic” of the Bible, you know.

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