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?
Haven't heard of this particular hypothesis and I don't think there's much if any empirical evidence to support it. It sounds like a plausible explanation but is really one of many plausible explanations.
I think that one of the consensus hypotheses out there is that religions were the byproduct of early human's attempts to deal with the death of loved ones. That's where the whole "bury the dead" thing came from and likely some of the most primitive "religions" if you can even call them that.
I don't know anything about this subject, but it intrigues me. So I am commenting to be notified of others who comment. ;-) What was the name of the book you read? I would be interested in reading it too. I'm not sure I understand your suggestion, but I do understand how organized religion used belief to benefit from others. Bill Bryson touches on this in his book "At Home: A Short History of Private Life".
The book was "On the Origin of Religion" and I just finished it actually. I have to say this is one of the most interesting manuscripts on this subject I have ever read. The evidence that the author compiled was quite sophisticated this was no haphazard hypothesis.
If so, it sounds like some serious woo-woo.
That goes against what I've previously read on the subject. Archeological findings have shown that Yahweh was the war god of the Ugarit pantheon. The prevailing thought on the subject is that Yahweh was adopted by the marauding Jews who slaughtered their way through the area and picked up a lot of the culture of those they conquered.
I want a lot of supporting evidence before I accept this book as anything more than blather, similar to the un-scholarly crap that Acharya S spews all over the religious debate.
This doesn't seem plausible to me. The most likely explanation, to me, was to to make sense of the world. To answer questions like where does lightning come from?
Pretty much, yeah. This books seems, from this brief description, that it's very simplistic. It's kind of like Zeitgeist.
Certainly, people grabbed onto religion and used it to elevate themselves in society, particularly as the priest class, but its creation was likely a far more organic evolution from spirit and ancestor worship. That doesn't mean they created it from scratch for that purpose, though.
Yes I heard it. A book I read..believe it was called "The Dawn of Sex"? explores that too. Apparently, even today of the VERY few that exist, the very small tribal communities (under 200 peoples), don't/didn't have organized religion (not I wrote "organized". Does not include sporadic superstitions and such). It apparently came about and strengthened with civilization and greater population growth. Makes sense to me, as I see religion as more of a way to control a large population by a select few.
Ok.. I've finished the book and I'm telling you guys there is something to the theory. The book needs to be edited a bit.. i found a few grammatical errors and such.. but the actual sentiments delivered and the evidence was very high brow. I bet that this is a pre release version that was put up on kindle while the book is being published. The book uses patterns in mythological data, archaeology, and other evidence to lay down a very convincing theory that hunters and gatherers were responsible for the development of Yahweh and were waiting in the wilderness benefitting from the "burnt offerings" that were being left by communities like the Israelites. I would love to hear about anyone else who has read this book I'm actually almost blown away by it.