The Decent of Man
Many years ago when man had barely learned to walk upright, and before he reached the age of concepts and language (both of which I would suggest developed simultaneously) he lived a frightened life, the only stable things in that short life being the daylight, when he could venture forth, and the night when he must hide away.
So man emerged first into a “No God” Phase, here then was the true atheist, no belief, just fear of everything, and a dependence on his own capabilities, but it was downhill from there.
The turning point was about 2.5 million years ago, when man first developed carnivorism, this in turn lead to anticipation as a vital requirement of the hunt. The ability to see “what is not there” in order to plan an attack at some stage in the future which then lead to a highly sophisticated imagination. Having evolved as a pretty poorly designed animal, slow, not very agile, weak, with no good natural weapons, we needed something to set us apart from the other better evolved animals who where stronger and faster than us, and considered us just a tasty snack. It was mans imagination that saved him, and his ability to “see” things that were not there, and that imagination was the foundation for mans greatest strengths, but as a two edged sword it also formed the foundation for mans greatest weaknesses, spiritual belief being one.
As he further developed his imagination and sharpened his communication skills and abstract concepts, his daily life appeared puzzling to him in so many ways. Death, birds in flight, volcanoes, woman, and the absence of the Big Mac.
However, nothing puzzled him more than the Sun, it appeared every day, warmed his body, and allowed him to function, and disappeared again leaving him to wait for its reappearance the next day so that he could get on with his life. In effect it “ruled” his life.
As his overriding fear at that stage in his development was the fear of death, the logical thing to absolve that fear would be to blame it on the sun, an object that clearly was the bringer of all life.
So was born the first theist, man explaining, to himself, his worst fear by delegating it to a higher power, and then allayed that fear by deference to this visible “higher power” the sun.
As man is mostly a herd animal and the herd has a natural inclination to look to a leader there was a natural evolution of a small band of the fitter, more intelligent, stronger, and/or those who happily preferred to lead rather than follow. These “leaders” gave direction to the herd, which in turn made it more powerful, and turned it into a force to be reckoned with, even by nature itself. However, as man’s communication and reasoning powers developed it became clear that these “leaders” were only human, they suffered and died just like everyone else, so they clearly did not have all the answers, most especially to the “death” question.
This created a power vacuum and while man still required the day to day leader to organise the herd and create wealth and security in matters that he did understand, something else was required to protect him from all those factors beyond his understanding.
So up stepped another form of leader to fill this power vacuum, the “spiritual leader”, a person who lusted for power, but may not have been a likely candidate not being fitter, faster, or even more intelligent than the others, but through convoluted language and abstract concepts would give the impression of being possessed of a knowledge over and above the norm.
So drawing on mans natural inclination towards inertia, and his reluctance to spend time and energy thinking for himself, especially in a world when it required all a person’s energy and thought on a daily basis just to stay alive, the “spiritual leader” stepped forward with all the answers.
While the first of these “spiritual leaders” may have been the explainer of man’s main “unknowns” Life & Death, and its dependence on the visible sun as the higher power, others viewed this position with envy, they too wanted a free lunch, but finding the main position filled used the same techniques to promote the Gods of other “higher forces” that affected man’s life that stage in his evolution.
“Higher forces” such as the Sea, wind, war, wine, food etc. the list was endless. And so was created a “higher forces” trough wherein many “spiritual leaders” could all stick their snouts at the same time, life was good, especially for the many “spiritual leaders”.
Man had then entered his most sophisticated phase to date, the multi God phase. Huge numbers of “spiritual leaders” were employed building temples, healing the sick, and generally making money, rain or shine. Because no matter what natural or manmade calamity befell man, there was a “spiritual leader” who could step forward and sort it out, (for a price).
However, this multi God phase was a victim of its own success, the creation of so many Gods created confusion, and discord. Did one worship the wine God if one wanted a good grape harvest, or the rain, or earth God. This discord and confusion also created a new generation of atheists, but this time atheists who’s views were based on knowledge or the absence of it. Up until then man either did not think much about Gods in his daily life, or when he did he believed blindly those “spiritual leaders” who clearly knew better than he did.
By this stage man entered a stage in his evolution where he spent more time thinking, thanks mainly to those non spiritual leaders who had lead them to a period whereby every waking moment was not taken up with simply surviving leaving more time for thinking, questioning and philosophising.
A lot of this philosophising took the form of criticism of the concept of spiritual belief, and the various “spiritual leaders” found themselves under attack by questions and ideas that started to undermine the whole concept of multi Gods. In effect they had too many Gods to defend, so it was inevitable that at some stage one of the “spiritual leaders” would come up with the One God concept. A God that was not visible, or touchable, but was responsible for everything that was.
It was then that man entered his “One God” phase. For a while as the One God concept developed its obscure arguments and ploys to ward of criticism, it existed side by side with the multi God phase. But as multi God meant multi weaknesses in the arguments to defend them and One God provided less weaknesses, as being beyond our understanding it presented less targets for the unbelievers, so the one God concept finally won out.
As a result of the one God concept, a more limited number of “spiritual leaders” had access to the trough and that in itself presented a problem. As greed, envy, and a lust for power is an inbuilt trait in many men, they too looked for a means of entry to this most lucrative field. As it was destroyed by knowledge, it was impossible to bring back the defeated multi God concept so they searched for another way, and eventually came up with the multi understanding of the single god concept. This variation was again inevitable as more men strove to get a slice of the limited cake, the answer stared them in the face, just make the cake bigger.
And so man entered his multi understanding of the “One God” Phase, and herein lies the theistic problem. There is a clear parallel here with the “multi God” phase, as more and more different understandings of the “One God” emerge, just as more and more “Gods” emerged in the multi God phase, then the whole position is weakened and more and more criticism is levelled at them, criticism created by the contradictory and indefensible position that these multi concepts present.
So the problem for theists now is where is this “God” concept to go in an effort to outmanoeuvre its critics and retain some form of credibility, and in so doing continue to exist. In the light of world communication, the proven immorality of many religions, and more leisure time for thought, is there now nowhere else for the god concept to go but to expire under the weight of its own lies, myths, and complexity and finally bring man back to his first pure atheistic state, but hopefully a longer lasting atheistic state as it will be one born of knowledge and not ignorance.
And so man will enter his final and permanent “No God” Phase, imagination yes, but no belief and no fear either.