The Invention of God: The Natural Origins of Mythology and Religion by Bill Lauritzen
In this book Bill Lauritzen postulates a brand new theory of Invention of Gods by the Homo sapiens. His theory is that primitive people might have believed that gods came from volcanoes (as they lived therein). He puts forth a convincing argument based on his research and references. Bill has reference to more than 200 works (from research papers to journals and books) in this small 160+ page book (EBook). The book is neatly compiled into nine relevant chapters with appendices like Timeline (I liked this section) and References. There is an interesting mention in the book, based on the likely belief prevalent at that time, that Egypt’s dead Pharaohs are kept at the base of a pyramid (representation of a volcano) with the eternal hope of their resurrection.
We all have heard stories about life emerging on this planet due to some cosmic collision; like a comet with a nucleus carrying life matter hitting the Earth. There, however, doesn’t appear any credible evidence to that effect. The comet theory by and large remains only in the realm of fiction. In this case, Bill’s argument about emergence of life abiogenetically after volcanic eruptions is convincing.
Volcanoes and Oxygen are the two important areas on which his theory of Invention of God is based.
Volcanoes as the originators
Volcano eruptions not only created myths of gods and their wars but also gave impetus to the ideas of creation, sustenance and destruction of life. The life-death-rebirth concept of Hinduism is also equated to the volcanic acts of eruption, dormancy and re-eruption. The cosmic-egg (also mentioned in the Rig Veda – the oldest recorded book in human history) as the originator of life of the universe is nothing but hot flowing lava / magma, rolling down as a fire ball in water.
Oxygen as the soul
Very rarely do we come across such convincing evidence in any case as we have here. The author has lucidly presented that oxygen was the original soul thought about and worshiped by ancient people across the globe. He cites examples from various religions / mythologies ranging from the Far East (Oriental) to Greek, Egypt, Rome and Africa.
After I had finished reading the book, I revisited the chapter ‘Volcanic Lightning Bolts’ for it carries, in my view, the essence of the postulated theory by explaining the god-demon wars like the one between Zeus and the Titans (Greek) or the one between Rama and Ravana (Hindu). Volcanic eruptions are accompanied by thundering and lightning as if coming from the blue and cloudless skies. Whether the lightning bolts silenced the ferocious inferno or it died out after spewing out its matter is best left to our imagination.
Though not mentioned anywhere in the book, mountain peaks have a special significance as Gods’ abodes. Zeus lived on a mount as did the God of Mosses. The preacher of Islam is said to have received his orders from the top of another mountain while Shiva, the God of Hindus abodes a mountain in the Himalayas. These mythical beliefs give credence to a volcano – seismic theory related to emergence of gods etc.
This book is written in simple English without any use of jargon or tough words as are so commonly found in works of similar kind. You don’t need to possess knowledge of philosophical and medical / technical terms in order to understand the content. In fact, you can go through it without feeling the need for a dictionary at all. The book is very engrossing and a pleasure to read. It is not heavy on your head.
Overall a good read.