Given the sense of security that religious faith brings to people -such as quelling the fear of death, answering many of life's important questions, and in addition, the protection of these things through community, is it likely that religion was a necessary component of the evolving human? Perhaps, the first humans who were able to ask "who am I, and why am I here?" used religious belief to protect themselves from those who lacked this cognitive ability.
If this is true, then doesn't that mean that some or most people cannot help how religious ideas overpower their sense of reason. Science and reason then becomes the scalpal for removing this sense of security.
Ah, Joan, you knew or met Marija Gimbutas too. I was at her house in California on a visit in 1991. She wrote a forward to a book on archaeology that I was just completing.
How I envy you. She was a remarkable woman and we had very sweet moments talking about children being a gift to the community, and the forgotten role of women from the ancient past. We sat on a rock on Crete looking out over the ocean and she told me stories about her childhood and how happy it was before the many invasions.
She told me about a snake that came into her garden in California and she gave it a saucer of milk.
How did you happen to meet her? Was she as remarkable to you as to me? She was a tremendous help to me in sorting out my chaotic life.
Oh, sorry, I was so excited to learn you had been to Marija's home I didn't read the next sentence about her writing a forward to your book on archaeology. What is the name of your book? I very much enjoy that topic and was able to do a little sight seeing while I was doing my research.
Joan, I was writing a book called "The Goddess of the Stones: The Language of the Megaliths". It involved discussing and, where possible explaining, the meanings of prehistoric symbols (spirals, lozenges, cupmarks, circles, ....). A Los Angeles film director had approached me wanting to make a film, and in the course of two years he got three scripts written. I visited Riane Eisler and Marija Gimbutas because of this. The book version is fairly technical, and partly out of date because of further discoveries---so I am beginning to prepare an updated version which will be better. I just loved Marija for her life, work and friendliness. She died of lymph cancer about a year after I met her.
How interesting! I went on a search of Old Europe with Riane Eisler and Gimbutas, and Joan Marler, Gimbutas' editor, looking for temples dedicated to women and some that had become temples to men after the conversion to male dominated gods. They were extremely interesting people. Olympia Dukakis was part of that group.
We met with Margaret Papandreou, former wife of 30 years of Andreas Papandreou, then prime minister of Greece. Margaret had some real issues about gender roles and with Eisler, Gimbutas, Marler, and Dukakis, they provided an excellent new perspective on the role of women in history and especially in Old Europe. Margaret and I paid very close attention.
Please let me know when your updated version comes out.
I just checked in my personal library and I have your book. One whole bookcase is dedicated to archeology and I had never connected your name with that book.
I joined a group of women with Joan Marler to seek out women's temples in Ireland. That was an interesting experience, especially with the Druid and Celtic overlay. Spiral, snake-like curves, triangles, chevrons, Celtic crosses ... all such interesting histories.
"Archaeomythology: Old Europe and the Irish Mystics." International Transpersonal Association Conference, Killarney, Ireland, 1993.
Ah that's very interesting Joan. I am working on early Irish Neolithic temples right now, i.e. recumbent stone circles. Already there is a major discovery to report which will require a detailed paper. Meanwhile I mention it as a single paragraph in my next book which is with the Oxford printers: An archaeology of Earth Mother sites and sanctuaries through the ages.
India has many varieties and a sizeable population of tribals. If religion can in any way benifit them, it should be evident here. The tribals have no religion and some educated tribals do claim that they have no religion. Christians, as is their habbit, take advantage of their ignorance and poverty to proselityse but this does not seem to have benifited the tribals in any way. There are some individuals working among the tribals to provide them medical services and education and this seems to have some effect on trial life. A prominent person among them was Baba Amte, who received the Magsaysay award for his services. He was an atheist and so provided means for improvement for tribal life, without the benifit of relegion. Baba Amte's son and daughter-in-law have continued this selfless service after him.
That religion can anyway benifit tribals is a figment of imagination
Madhukar, what an astute observation. As you know, I believe many of religious projects raise a great deal of money and the poverty status of the community remains untouched. Feeding and providing medicine and medical care are valuable actions, but they do not change the underlying systemic problems creating poverty and enabling diseases.
Your description of Baba Amte, his son and daughter-in-law sound like interesting and effective people. I have not heard their names before. I found several articles about him; here are three I shall read:
Thank you so much for this introduction to a remarkable family.
It is indeed very unfortunate that some great Indians like the Amte family do not receive the international publicity as Mother Teresa did, although they really deserve it. The selflessness of the entire Amte family is very inspirnig. Whenever I think of them or read about them, I feel the hollowness of my own life.
In paleolithic small groups, the individual who served as the conduit between everyday reality and the presumed entities at work that could answer the questions of human abstraction, "who am I, and why am I here?" was the shaman. When agricultural civilization started some 7 to 10 thousand years ago in certain areas of the globe, the shamans evolved into castes of priests, supervising more complex systemic faith and belief paradigms.
I believe the temptation was almost too great not to abuse the privilege of the esteem the masses held for them. To assert an arrogant hegemonic element of elitist control over social arrangements was nearly inevitable.
Sam...thanks for the insight.. I'm reminded about my Western Civ. class in college and when I learned of the many atrocities the church/state union brought to many of the countries in europe..I suppose there has been thousands of years to perfect and sharpen the skills of those who wish to use religion to acquire power, wealth etc...
Religion was invented a long time ago when the knowledge of man was very small. It was used to explain what we didn't know. Since that time, our understanding about everything around us has increased. As humanity continues to learn and evolve as a species, we slowly remove the shackles of religion, live a moral and just life because it is the right thing to do. Until we learn that, religion will exist.
What is the purpose of religion? The underling concept is control of the masses. It doesn’t matter if it is for good or bad purposes. It is all about control. It doesn’t matter the instrument of that control, whether based on fear or guilt to use the two most common. They all have a payout. Do this and you get this.
The evolution of humanity needs to outgrow religion in order to progress as a species. We have to take the necessary steps and choose to live a life based on a rational moral self-interest not false belief.