I read a very provocative theory the other day on the origin of religion.  The book claimed that hunters and gatherers lived in sophisticated tribal nations during the transition to civilization and basically created Yahweh and other gods to manipulate resources out of early settled communities.  Anyone else hear about this?

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I'd recommend starting with peer-reviewed papers on the topic:


The only book I could find titled "On The Origin of Religion" seems very light on peer-reviewed evidence and very high on woo.


Here's the excerpt from Amazon:

This revolutionary manuscript brings the most guarded secrets in history to light overturning everything you know about the development of civilization. Learn the jaw dropping revelation surrounding the connection between hunters and gatherers and the Book of Job. Discover the influence nomadic tribal nations had on the origin of monotheism and learn about the role they played in the Biblical Exodus. You will not believe your eyes as the author unravels the Gnostic code revealing what forces were behind the rise of Christianity. 


Anytime I see phrases like "secrets" "jaw dropping revelation" and "you will not believe your eyes" my conspiracy theory/woo antennas go up.

This book's author name is a pen name, the book itself was published like two weeks ago and the website promoting the book was launched yesterday, so I really hope this isn't the book you're referring to, David.

Im telling you the book description is crazy i agree but it came up on my free list and i downloaded it and the book contains a theory that A.  I have never heard in my life and I've heard them all.  B. after reading the book I'm telling you the evidence was more compelling than i thought it would be.  

The analysis on the Book of Job was totally groundbreaking.  this book must be a pre release to something I swear.   I mean, just consider for a moment the book's central thesis.  It claims that the Book of Job was authored by hunters and gatherers.. and it gets to this conclusion using a slate of evidence..i.e. patterns in the mythologies about dragons (apparently the Book of Job contains several references to dragons).  Remember in Job there is "The council in heaven"? The book shows how this was a known aboriginal metaphor for a group of nomadic tribal leaders considering what should be done with Job.. clearly the civilian... they decide to begin testing his limits using punishment training and reward... i mean tell me you have heard of this?  All I am saying is that I happened upon it and it was rather compelling.

There are a lot of stories I've never heard of and I'm sure that many of those stories are as outlandish as this one. But that's not how I base the legitimacy or truth of an assertion.

For that I need to empirical, peer-reviewed evidence and the more extraordinary the assertion the more extraordinary the body of evidence required.

I'm glad that you enjoy the story. It just seems a bit overly fantastical for me.

A.  I have never heard in my life and I've heard them all.

And this would make it more believable ... how exactly?

B. after reading the book I'm telling you the evidence was more compelling than i thought it would be.

How well cited was this evidence?  Many of these books make a lot of shit up.  What we need is some sort of consensus amongst the scholars.  A lone nut can say anything.

If it's properly researched, the evidence that the book is based upon will be peer reviewed, not the book itself.

well it used a ton of direct wikipedia quotes and other source quotes.

Did you source the Wikipedia quotes?  Wikipedia is generally pretty good on most things, but on any kind of contentious subject, it can be a bit sketchy.  It's only as good as those who review the articles, and anyone can have an agenda.

Anytime I see phrases like "secrets" "jaw dropping revelation" and "you will not believe your eyes" my conspiracy theory/woo antennas go up.

Ditto.  Sounds like conspiracy-theory nut-jobbery, not anything from a scholarly source.

Reminds me of a caller to the Atheist Experience, a few weeks back.  He justified having some bizarre belief by saying, "Yeah, but how much would it blow your mind if it was true?!?"  That is not how you support a claim.

Some Europeans would really like to be able to claim that they created and are responsible for western religious culture. Could this be some of them?  Typos and bad grammar are not good signs.   I'll also await the peer review.   

can someone who owns the book take a quick glance at the sources listed?  A general estimate and a couple examples may be helpful.  Also, I could tell from the link provided who the publisher was.  As far as the "woo" in the description, this could have easily been a marketing ploy by the publisher.  I think I need a little more information before I'd be interested in reading it.  Thanks in advance.

I took a look at the source list and it was in the hundreds.  a ton of wikipedia but also direct quotes from charles mann, alan taylor, and a slew of Biblical scholars like carol newsom and the like.  The book basically lays the claim that hunters and gatherers existed in populous tribal nations and were strategically coercing civilians to deliver daily offerings of food to the edge of the wilderness boundary using religious manipulation.  It centers on the Book of Job describing it as a template that hunters and gatherers were using to literally domesticate human beings..  I've read it now twice and I've double checked many of the quotes I can't find any woo in it to be honest.  The break down of Job seemed totally legit.

I'm not commenting directly about the book but the entire premise is wrong. First Yahweh isn't even a real word. It's an attempted transliteration of the word/symbols for God in the Hebrew bible, and was first used in 1869 (see http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=yahweh ) The symbols used have no vowels, like the entire Torah, and the word is unpronounceable - in Hebrew it's spoken as Adonai or Shaddai.

The book of Job is part of the later parts of the writings of the bible and only became "official" in the 2nd century BCE, long after the origins of religion. It's a strange book, in which the translations of words, verses, and even chapters are still confusing to scholars. I'd want to know what translation the author used to interpret Job.

Like all beliefs and stories from the Bronze Age and earlier, wars, conquerors, killing and enslaving people were part of ancient stories. This is how cross-pollination of beliefs and religious practices occurred. Even the early Israelites often worshipped the pagan gods around them, while maintaining the one all-knowing, all-powerful supreme god. The claims about the origin of Yahweh in Babylonian or other earlier times have been around for awhile, and often try to say there is an ancient conspiracy by the Israelites to hide their God's origins. It sounds like this book is another version of this unsupported claim.


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