History of religion is not written on the pages of any particular holy book.

In hunter & gatherer societies animistic religions are a natural result of explaining the unknown around human existance. As the hunter & gatherers are dependant of the skill and sheer luck of a small gruoup of individuals, the animal spririts and their willingness to help humans to survive are most important source of rituals and religious activity.

Ancestor worship is the religion of the early sedentarist agrarian society. Ancestors who are buried where the soil provides for the food, are the ones asked for help, when a crisis emerges or to prevent any possible crisis. The animists may be more proficient at war than the ancestor worshippers, but the ancestorworshippers will conquer all the land from the animists in the end, because of the faster growing population as farming provides for greater surplus of food, and the ever growing population will be needing all the arable land they can obtain from the hunter & gatherers.

Ancestor worship will eventually develope into a pantheon. This is because of emerging urban culture. The potter or the blacksmith are not as interrested economically to worship the ancestor that provides for rain as the farmer is. So, they will revere their own ancestors who provide for their own trades. The pantheon may support higher echelons of society. Those with the warrior “ancestor” may become kings, who derive their moral right from the properties of their ancestor as protector, or simply from the right of might.

At the same time the nomads have had to develope a god that is easy to move around along the herd. This applied to the mongols, the isralite goat herders and later to arabs. A god that is invisble and does not reside in one place or temple, but is everywhere as the tribes of the nomad nation. It was refined into a thought of one god, out of intolerance of other gods.

As the animist is only interrested in the existance of sprits, that might help a human being, this is not a point where an animist might show much interrest towards any other gods as his/her own. The ancestor worship recognizes other ancestors in other places. Ancestors are bound to land and a particular place. The pantheon is tolerant to other gods, as the acceptance of many gods does by no means deny the existance of other gods. In fact traditionally pantheists have easily recognized their own gods from among foreign gods not by names but by atributes. A god of the trade is god of trade, wether it is called Mercurius or Lugh.

The nomad life is allways moving from one place to another, so a god may not be bound to a one place. There is also the danger, that if people do as pantheists and assume the worship of other gods in foreign countries, whole tribes and even nations may loose their cultural identity. So it was important to discredit the other gods. Even totally disbelieve them. So, it was not out of some long philosphical dialogue, not to speak of divinal revelation that the idea of monotheism was born.  It was born to serve certain kind of lifestyle.

The monotheistic religions have spread far and wide by violence. The intolerance of the single god towards other gods and the cultures they represented, wether it be that of one of the many islamic or christian sects, has acted to destroy other religions. The idea of singular intolerant god has been embraced by historical empires, and it has served imperialistic gains perfectly. It has provided the ultimate moral authority to do so much wrong and to take the property of lives of other people. It has been an endless source of “casus belli” when the empires have wanted to conquer other nations and steal the property of smaller tribes. That is why the “religions of the book” are now spread around the globe.

The Invisble Pink Unicorn:

http://500questions.wordpress.com/

Advertisements