Is religion holding back humanity?

I’ve been thinking about this question for some time, and it’s become evident through my interactions with many theists on social media, that their mindset and opinions aren’t relevant in the modern world. Allow me to elaborate on what I mean. Over the past 50 years, it’s become more acceptable to be LBGT, and employers, and society in general have been more accepting and accommodating towards people who’s sexuality differs from heterosexuality. Women have gained equality in the western world, and whilst there’s still work to be done, they essentially have the same rights as males. As society becomes more cosmopolitan, and culturally diverse, racial tensions are disappearing, and people are living in an equilibrium together. You can walk through any city and see many different people from many different walks of life, and you can hear many people speaking in different tongues, and they just blend in.

Many countries in Europe are gradually adopting secularist views, as religion has had a tight grip over governments for thousands of years, and things like humanist weddings and funerals, LBGT weddings, assisted dying, abortion rights, and civil liberties have become focused on much more, but beside it is religions attempting to drag everything back into the Dark Ages where literary, economic and scientific advancement barely gained any traction, and the church had absolute control over society. The more devout the people of faith are, the least likely they are to accept the evidence of the reality they live in, and because of their selfish intolerance, they believe that society should suit just their needs, rather than the needs of the majority.

FAITH BEFORE REASON

The more reasonable and rational theists openly admit that despite them having faith, religion, especially of the fundamental evangelical variety, is harmful to society. There was a case of an abortion controversy in America several years ago, and it involved a mother of four, who was eleven weeks pregnant and had pulmonary complications and was going to die. She reluctantly had the abortion to save her life, and allow her existing four children to keep their mother, but she was severely condemned by local preachers as why was her life more important that the barely developed foetus. Their religious faith got in the way of their reason, and if she hadn’t have had the abortion, both she and the foetus would have died, and the four children would have become motherless. There’s another story, also in America where a family denied their three year old child the medication it required as they believed a god would protect them, and he was the only medicine needed. It died a slow and agonising death, yet the society they lived in allowed this to happen as they were within the crazed Bible Belt.

SCIENCE AND RELIGION

It’s true that the scientific method was indeed formalised by a theist, Sir Francis Bacon, but does that mean that at no point throughout the history of mankind that a non theist would have created a fool proof way of studying science? This is an argument from ignorance, as at the time the majority of society was religious, as it was expected. It was the norm shall we say. The Catholic Church held back the advancements in science for years, and an Italian Catholic scientist, Galileo dared to put forward the idea that the universe was heliocentric and not geocentric, and he was charged with heresy. In the famous words of Yuri Gagarin when he became the first human to visit space I looked and looked but I didn’t see God.

IS RELIGION HARMFUL TO SOCIAL ACCEPTANCE?

In my mind there’s absolutely no doubt that fundamental faith is dangerous to society as a whole. God was created in a time when people were ignorant, it’s that simple. They didn’t understand the world around them. They had no concept of the universe, and of the science of physics, biology and chemistry. They didn’t know what evolution was, or DNA, or the laws of physics or motion. Anything they couldn’t explain they put it down to God’s will. If their crops had a successful harvest, they thanked god. If their child was born healthy, they thanked god. If their child became sick, they prayed, and if it recovered, they thanked god. God became a convenient answer, but how has this mentality survived in an age when we know so much?

Fundamental religions often take the words of their holy books literally, and interpret it in a way that suits their narrative. Take human rights as a perfect example. The Christians and the Muslims formed trade routes throughout Africa. The Muslims took slaves to the East, the Christians took slaves to the West, and even though society considered slavery unacceptable (eventually), it was many years after slavery was abolished, that African Americans were given suffrage and equality rights, and to this day, racism is deeply rooted within the Bible Belt. Women have had to fight for equality, which was held back by religious beliefs, as was rights for homosexuality. Then there’s the intolerance that many religions have for other faiths, where Islam consider anyone not a Muslim as an infidel. Some religions deny certain medical care, like blood transfusions for Jehovah’s Witnesses, or exorcisms for mentally sick people. Flat Earth conspiracists, and anti-vaccers are mostly people of faith, as are child groomers and modern terrorists. Some religions normalise violence and support severe punishments like public execution by stoning, firing squad, crucifixion, hanging and decapitation. There is no place for this type of mentality in a society that is looking towards the stars. Superstition, and the occult is thankfully dying out in the majority of civilised countries, and I very much welcome a new age of critical thinkers where faith is replaced by fact, and superstition is replaced by science.

IS RELIGION A POLITICAL TOOL?

Undoubtedly and without question. Religion is about controlling the subjects of the land, through fear of retribution by god if they sin. Religion has always used its influence to manipulate and create laws that benefit them, regardless of the impact it has on other faiths, or non believers. Religion has been used throughout the ages to justify war, and the assimilation of land. When Christianity first arrived in Europe, many theologists claimed it was to promote Christianity, but this is nonsense. It was about power, controlling land and gaining wealth, just like the Crusades were. They waged wars, and left with gold and jewels which they robbed from their victims. The battles between Israel and Palestine is because fundamental Jews believe the land is theirs because Abraham gave it to them. American Presidents say God bless to their military before they send them into conflict, even when it’s about oil, or riches, or political advantage for America, especially when their agenda is communism, which they used as a ploy to support the Khmer Rouge after they’d committed genocide on Cambodian citizens. America uses God as an excuse to arm yourself to the teeth, as it’s your God given right to bear arms, and it’s a multi billion dollar business.

The theocratic revolution in Iran, and the destabilisation of Iraq due to the quest to remove Saddam Hussein and find weapons of mass destruction, has created a domino effect throughout the Middle East, where ISIL and ISIS are using the west’s involvement as a reason to justify world wide terrorism. The dreadful years of apartheid in South Africa was fuelled by white supremacy and racial intolerance, and the leaders of the National party claimed they were ordained by God to rule the lands, and this is how they gained their support for so many years.

“The Scriptures have been misused to defend bloody crusades and inquisitions; to support slavery, apartheid, and segregation; to sanction the physical and emotional abuse of women and children; to persecute Jews and other non-Christian people of faith; to support the holocaust of Hitler’s Third Reich; to oppose medical science; to condemn inter-racial marriage; to execute women as witches; to excuse the violent racism of the Ku Klux Klan; to mobilize militias, white supremacy and neo-nazi movements; and to condone intolerance and discrimination against sexual minorities.” – Mel White

A history of atheism

As we know, atheism is the rejection of Gods, and deities, and despite the term only really being in circulation for around 500 years, there have always been people, cultures and religions that don’t accept the idea of deities. Atheism is derived from the etymological Greek root word (atheos – ‪ἄθεος‬), which in its literal sense means ‘without gods’. In ancient times atheists had to move in clandestine circles, as many societies punished atheists by imprisonments, or even death. Early feminists who fought for suffrage were openly atheist as they believed that religion held back the rights of women, liberty and essential basic human rights like anti-slavery. Religion has always seen atheism as a threat, and none more so than Christians who are of the belief that a world without God is a world of corruption and sin, and without Christian values to guide you, then you’re morally bankrupt. Yet many atheists have become humanists as they’ve studied its philosophy and realised that it’s about the greater good, for everyone, not just non-believers. Humanism is about freedom of religion, but also freedom from religion, in its support of secularism. No one knows the true number of atheists in this world as unfortunately it has a stigma attached to it, and many people, in many cultures are simply too afraid to announce their atheism for risks of losing their family, their job, their friends and the respect of people they care about.

Theists will vehemently argue that man was created to believe in gods. That’s their purpose in life, and the majority are stubborn in their convictions, yet for several millennia academics have debated whether gods can exist, and whether they can provide morality and an ethical life. Archaic Greece was a notorious place for the birth of the freethinker even though they lived in a polytheistic society. Philosophy was an important part of their culture and the basis of philosophy is to question everything, so of course religion was heavily debated. Many people, including educated scholars are adamant that atheism is a modern idea that came about in the European Enlightenment, but this is simply not true. With the birth of modern science, and academics beginning to understand the world around them, atheism, at least for a while, grew rapidly as people rejected the idea that religion was a natural state of the human mind.

ANCIENT GREECE

“Men create gods after their own image, not only with regard to their form but with regard to their mode of life.“- Aristotle

One of the most outspoken sceptics in BCE Greece was ‘Carneades‘, who was the leader of the Platonic academy in Athens. He was adamant that belief in gods was illogical and rejected all dogmatic doctrines, and Protagoras‘ claimed that ‘what cannot be perceived cannot exist’, and the Sceptics (skepsis) which is the Greek word for investigation, claimed that ‘beliefs rest on shaky foundations’

“When I look upon priests, prophets, and interpreters of dreams, nothing is so contemptible as a man.” – Diogenes

As well as the schools of thought that include the Cynics and the Sceptics, the Sophists (sophistēs)who were a collection of professional teachers, were openly critical about religion, law and ethics. As a whole they were secular atheists who were openly critical of beliefs and traditions, and were extremely skilled at arguing their case. ‘Socrates‘, who was linked to the Sophists through his good friend ‘Chaerephon‘, was put on trial and charged with corruption of the young, and impiety, as he refused to believe in the gods of Greece. He was sentenced to death and was forced to drink hemlock, but this does not imply that Socrates was an atheist, but he was certainly brave enough to go against the status quo. Prodicus‘, however, who was a good friend of Socrates was a fully fledged atheist, who promoted the philosophy of naturalism, and he claimed that man was so primitive that he had to invent gods so he had someone to thank for the goods nature provides.Critias‘ had a different viewpoint altogether, and he was of the opinion that religious faith was a powerful political tool that leaders can use to maintain discipline from their subjects.

In Ancient Greece the word ἄθεοι initially began as a derogatory slur to describe someone who didn’t believe in someone’s god, or deity. The Romans who persecuted early Christians for not accepting their polytheism would have been described as being ἄθεοι. In Ancient Greece and Rome, you had to show respect to the gods, and if you were critical or held contempt it was wise to keep your thoughts to yourself to minimise the risk of being charged with impiety, but in spite of this expectancy of respect, atheism wasn’t outlawed, and people were able to believe, or disbelieve in what they wanted. It was only after the polytheistic views died away, and paganism became a target for Christian assimilation, that it became much more difficult to be an atheist through fear of being executed after being charged with heresy. Atheism, in a sense went underground for over a thousand years after the fall of the Roman Empire.

THE DARK AGES

‪There was a time when religion ruled the world. It is known as the Dark Ages.” – Ruth Hurmence Green‬

The reason it’s often referred to as the Dark Ages was because religion had a stranglehold over Europe, and there’s was a distinct lack of cultural, scientific and social development. The Dark Ages lasted until the ‘Age of Discovery‘ and the beginning of the ‘Italian Renaissance‘, where Renaissance humanism started, which once again brought about the discussion of moral philosophy not being exclusive to religions, like Greek philosophers discussed as far back as 2000 years prior. Throughout the Dark Ages, or Middle Ages if you prefer, there was no escape from Christianity, as it dominated every area of a person’s life. It had a foothold within governments and monarchies, schools were run by servants of god, and from the womb, until the grave, life was smothered by Christian doctrine. If someone was brave enough to announce their atheism, they’d get no support, as everyone was brainwashed to obey the church.

“Unbelief is the greatest of sins.” – Thomas Aquinas

There were many cases of people being charged with heresy and blasphemy, and much of the medieval unbelief stemmed from the common man being treated unfairly by the church and being of the opinion that God was being used to manipulate them, and justify the actions of the churches. It was expected that you believed, and obeyed God, and if you dared to rebel, you would more than likely face dire consequences.

“Those are not at all to be tolerated who deny the being of God. Promises, covenants, and oaths, which are the bonds of human society, can have no hold upon an atheist. The taking away of God, though but even in thought, dissolves all.” – John Locke

ATHEOPHOBIA

“A fear of atheists is also unwarranted given the cowardly nature of most atheists and their inability to intellectually justify their denial of the existence of God” – Conservapedia

As you can see from the above quote from the extremely biased, and judgemental website, Conservapedia that atheophobia is unwarranted, but mocking is perfectly acceptable, and their website mocks atheism at every opportunity, which is fine, as it’s only words from foolish people. Yet, atheophobia, or simply the hatred of heathens has been rife as long as atheists have been open about their disbelief. There are some vicious stories of atrocious acts that Christians have committed against atheists over the years, and I will share a few.

‘Lucilio Vanini‘ was an Italian philosopher and freethinker, who lived at the end of the 16th century, and the start of the 17th. He was one of the first people to suggest that humans and apes share a common ancestor, and in his second book, ‘De Admirandis Naturae Reginae Deaeque Mortalium Arcanis‘, he declared his atheism. He was arrested in Toulouse in 1619, trialed and sentenced to death. This involved having his tongue cut out, being strangled to death, then burned.

Domenico Scandella‘ was also Italian, and he lived in the 16th century. He was particularly outspoken about his atheism after studying several books on theology, and living during the Catholic inquisitions, he didn’t go unnoticed, and was eventually arrested and considered a heresiarch. Even at his trial he disputed that Jesus couldn’t have been born from a virgin mother, and he didn’t die to redeem us all. He was executed by being burned at the stake.

Casimir Liszinksi‘ was Polish, and lived in the 17th century. He was a philosopher who had studied as a Jesuit, but decided that it was illogical and declared his atheism through a paper he published. He was arrested, trialed, and charged with being a heresiarch, and the punishment was execution. This involved a burning iron forced into the mouth, his hands were burned slowly, and then his whole body was set alight. After he was pronounced dead, his tongue was ripped out and he was beheaded.

There are many more examples of why it’s been dangerous throughout the ages to admit atheism, and the reason there is much less evidence of atheistic movements than theistic movements throughout history is because history is always written by the victors, and many atheistic books have been systematically destroyed.

NAZI PARTY

‪Hence today I believe that I am acting in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator: by defending myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord. . . . And the founder of Christianity made no secret indeed of his estimation of the Jewish people. When He found it necessary, He drove those enemies of the human race out of the Temple of God.” – Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf‬

In 1933, the Nazi party in Germany began to rise into power, and at the time the majority of Germany was Christian with a mixture of Protestantism and Catholicism, and a small fraction, of minority faiths, like Jewish, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Baháʼí were outlawed, as well as most paganism, astrology, witchcraft and the occult. The Nazi party were all followers of some form of Christianity, and saw any deviation from that as heresy, and this included atheism. Adolf Hitler, with the help of his advisors attempted to unite all the German churches, and create one German Evangelical Church. Hitler banned atheistic and freethinking ideology, and the Gestapo, his secret police persecuted them. He also closed down the German Freethinkers League, (which was in direct opposition to the German Orthodox Church), who had half a million atheist members. Later that year, Hitler gave a speech addressing the German public that he had officially stamped out atheism in their country.

‪”I have not tolerated an atheist in the ranks of the SS. Every member has a deep faith in God, in what my ancestors called in their language Waralda, the ancient one, the one who is mightier than we are” – Heinrich Himmler‬

ISLAMIC STATES

In Islamic states, atheism can be treated most severely, and even though it’s 2020, and we are allegedly in a civilised era, it can still be punishable by death in 15 Muslim nations. Denying Islam, if born a Muslim gives you apostate status, and can be punishable by death for men, and imprisonment for women. Whilst this isn’t always the case, it’s still a punishment that countries who adopt Sharia Law believe is their right, and they claim that being opposed to a Islam, and Allah is blasphemy, and blasphemers will not be forgiven. The countries in question include Egypt, Yemen, United Arab Emirates, Sudan, Libya, Pakistan, Qatar, Nigeria, Somalia, Afghanistan, Malaysia, Brunei, Maldives, Iran, and Saudi Arabia. In Iran, atheists aren’t given legal status, or legal rights, and in 1965, in Indonesia, the army committed mass genocide against atheists, or anyone accused of atheism, and Saudi Arabia view atheism as a form of terrorism.

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

In America some states deny an atheist the opportunity to run for public office, or even be part of a jury, and the Boy Scouts of America doesn’t allow atheists members or officials. This is because of America’s general distrust of atheists, and because they have no divine authority to answer to, they are ethically and morally bankrupt. The Freedom of Religion Foundation (FFRF) claim that religion, as in Christianity, has too much influence over the government. There have been surveys conducted throughout America about atheists running for public office, and an average of 50% of Americans would not vote for them, and as a rule, people in public office tend not to declare atheism due to the risk of career Kamikaze. Many Americans are of the opinion that an atheist politician cannot serve his nation as honestly as a Christian, as Christians behave much better when they feel God is watching them.

America has quite a large humanist population, and despite not gaining their morals from some higher power, they’re keen to put humanity as prime importance over folklore and superstition. Despite the importance of humanity in the minds of humanists, Christians still hold much antipathy towards them. Humanism focuses on liberty and philanthropy, and Sir Francis Bacon associated it with a ‘love of humanity‘. In 1933 the Humanist Manifesto was published in Chicago, America, and it was in support of social justice, and for science and reason to be the foundation of ethics, preferably not religious dogma. They weren’t in direct opposition to Christianity, they were just offering another philosophy of life. In 1941 the American Humanists Association was formed, with the aim of promoting secularism and social activism across America.

“I am a humanist, which means, in part, that I have tried to behave decently without expectations of rewards or punishments after I am dead.”  – Kurt Vonnegut

ATHEISM ON THE RISE

It has been estimated by historians that people who identify as irreligious, or atheists potentially exceed half a billion people world wide, which is roughly just under 6% of the world population, which in itself doesn’t sound like a large amount, but if atheism was classified as a religious group, it would be the fourth largest behind a Hinduism, Islam and Christianity. Atheism is hardly a trivial matter, so why has religion maintained its intolerance towards it? One of the reasons I’ve already stated, is distrust, but it’s much more than that. Many theists are of the belief that atheists have a hedonistic lifestyle, are more likely to suffer from depression, and aren’t able to maintain fidelity with partners. They also maintain the belief that atheists are unable to raise their siblings to become upstanding citizens, that atheism is the cause of autism, or makes people nihilistic as they think without a spiritual outlook an atheists’ life has no meaning or purpose. Also an atheist rejects God because their ego won’t allow them to accept that there’s a power greater than them. I’m sure you’ll agree that this is all speculation, and misguided assumptions. Atheists are unique from each other as they have no culture, no doctrines, and no dogma. They have no formalities, dress codes, prayer rituals or worship.

Many antiatheists object to naturalism, and cannot comprehend how anyone can accept that perhaps life and the universe around us actually did happen by chance, rather than being created. This is why the atheist’s association with science, or the ‘religion of scientism‘ as I’ve heard it called, is often one of the first objections that theists bring to the table. Their distaste of ‘Darwin’s theory of evolution’ literally gets their blood to boiling point, as how is evolution possible without the hand of God? Because many atheists embrace science, as do many theists, they see science as the enemy. Some of the greatest minds to have been involved with science have had religious faith, but by being true to themselves, and true to their field of science, they’ve managed to keep their faith and their studies separate. Yet many creationists, and apologists see science as an attempt to remove God.

“The more a nation gets into darkness, the more it’s going to hate the light. The more it’s going to run from the light. And we have a generation of people who have given themselves to darkness, and they’ve embraced atheism, because it gets them away from moral responsibility to God.” – Ray Comfort

We are primates, of the great ape collective, and we are cousins to chimpanzees and bonobos. This is an indisputable fact, but many theists find it amusing to call atheists apes as though it’s an insult, or refer to atheists as nothing but animals, when that’s exactly what we are. The thing they often fail to realise is that many animals, especially other species of apes live in social groups, that require them to cooperate to survive. They have no concept of gods, yet they still form hierarchies and care for their young. Humans, despite being in more complicated social groups work the same way as their cousins, and because atheists accept this, and don’t as a rule see us as a special and superior species, theists hold contempt and reject atheists from their society.

Why the Scientific Method is so crucial?

There’s a lot of misunderstanding regarding how science works, and it’s mostly from theists who are of the opinion that everything has been created, and completely disregard naturalism, as they are fearful of questioning their faith. I’ve said before that it’s much more honest to admit that you don’t know the answer to a question, than believing that an answer can’t be questioned. Accepting what’s written in your chosen holy book, and completely disregarding other possibilities is intellectual dishonesty, and is a common form of wilful ignorance, and confirmation bias, as the individual is unwilling to put their beliefs to one side and think critically. Many theists I’ve conversed with on Twitter are of the opinion that many scientists are biased and with agendas, but any scientist who wishes to have their field of expertise taken as credible, will use the scientific method, as it’s the only real way that impartial truth can be ascertained. Another fallacy is science relies on faith, which is as preposterous as it is ridiculous, as faith is defined as accepting something that’s not based on fact, whereas science, meaning ‘scientia‘ (Latin for knowledge) is about reaching a testable and repeatable conclusion.

Sir Francis Bacon

ipsa scientia potestas est” – Sir Francis Bacon

The above quote from ‘Sir Francis Bacon‘ meansknowledge is itself power‘. Bacon was one of the first to adopt the scientific method, and is regarded as the father of empirical evidence which comes about from observations experiments, and methodology. Francis Bacon was born in London, 1561, and as well as holding several high ranking government positions, he was well known for his philosophies of science and how to reach the tangible truth, which means reality, not spirituality. His new way of studying the reality we live in was greeted, as you’d expect with much scepticism, and although he was crucial to the scientific revolution, his methodology wasn’t adopted immediately. Below are the methods that Bacon proposed:

“The man of science has learned to believe in justification, not by faith, but by verification.” – Thomas Huxley

Why is the Scientific Method so crucial?

The scientific method is an objective way to reach the truth, by avoiding bias, prejudice and personal opinion, and in science the results have to be reviewed and repeatable, so bias has to be avoided, and even whilst adopting the scientific method, mistakes can be made, but the margin of error is limited, and will be picked up upon by another scientist attempting to repeat the hypothesis, and once it’s confirmed by multiple sources, and it’s peer reviewed, it gets put forward to the scientific community as a theory, and this is where the confusion with people who don’t understand the scientific method begins. ‘It’s just a theory, and a theory isn’t fact‘. This is where they are wrong, and a scientific theory is very much a fact. The standard understanding of theory is guesswork, or an assumption, but a scientific theory is the result of an explanation which the scientific community has repeatedly tested its validity.

Flat Earth

Just like ‘Creationists‘, the ‘Flat Earth’ collective deny proven science, and like any other cult they feel ‘woke’ and ‘enlightened‘ that they know something that the indoctrinated ‘globers’ don’t. Conspiracy theorists by definition are paranoid and believe everything that’s taught is a lie.

Sphere Within Sphere (Sfera con sfera) by Arnaldo Pomodoro, located outside the United Nations, New York City

So let’s look at some facts.

Due to its size and mass, and following the laws of physics, the Earth cannot be flat. When an object gets large enough to generate its own gravity the only shape it can be is an ‘oblate spheroid‘. This is because gravity pulls from the centre of an object of mass in every direction. Gravity is derived from ‘gravitas’ which means weight. Because of gravity giving physical objects weight, this explains why when something is released, dropped or thrown, it gives the illusion of falling when in fact it’s accelerating towards an object of greater mass.

Flat Earth deny gravity, as if they accepted it, and followed the laws of physics, then their whole ideology would come tumbling down like a house of cards. They believe that buoyancy and density are responsible for keeping objects of weight on the ground. They claim this but don’t understand, or wilfully remain ignorant to the fact that density is the volume of an objects’ mass, and mass creates gravitons, and buoyancy can’t work without gravity.

Surely this is enough to disprove the illogical belief that the Earth is flat to anyone with the slightest grasp of science, but to a Flat Earth believer, not a chance, as it just adds fuel to their fire of conspiracy. Everything we were taught at school about the universe, other planets, natural satellites like the moon, stars, and our very own Sun is a lie. Space doesn’t exist, and everyone who’s ever provided videos, photos, accounts or proof is blatantly lying and is a paid actor for the ‘New World Order‘.

Flat Earth have used the saying ‘lying in plain sight’ often, & claim NASA is Hebrew for ‘deceive’. There is no Hebrew word NASA. There’s a word ‘na-sar’ which means ‘carry, bear’. To beguile or deceive is ‘nasha’. Close, but not accurate, which is a common theme with the Flat Earth community.What we fail to get through to them is the amount of people involved in this alleged cover up, and that every government in the world must be involved and there’s never been a whistleblower. Every space agency, be it private or government is involved. A ludicrous accusation, I’m sure that you’re inclined to agree.

During the ‘Cold War‘ it was a race for the U.S and the U.S.S.R to get into space first. As we know the Soviets got into space first, but the U.S landed on the Moon. Both countries were potentially on the verge of a war, and neither made a claim that the other had faked their space journey, and now the Soviet Union has disbanded leaving the U.S and Russia to work together in the International Space Station (ISS). In 1983 the president of the United States, ‘Ronald Reagan‘, proposed the ‘The Strategic Defense Initiative’ which was a defence system in space that was to protect the US from ballistic missilebattacks by potential enemies. Why would this have been proposed if he knew space was fake?

In 1956, during the Cold War, ‘Samuel Shenton‘, an English conspiracist founded the ‘Flat Earth Society’, and during the space race he managed to get many appearances in the media expressing his views and opinions. He tirelessly made claims that the Earth was a disc, with the North Pole being at the centre, and the South Pole was surrounding the outside of the disc with an impenetrable ice wall. His theories were in part taken from his interpretations of the ‘book of Genesis‘, and their current agreed model is equivalent to the map used by the U.N, despite that being an ‘azimuthal equidistant projection‘.

“The azimuthal equidistant projection preserves both distance and direction from the central point. The world is projected onto a flat surface from any point on the globe. Although all aspects are possible (equatorial, polar, and oblique), the one used most commonly is the polar aspect, in which all meridians and parallels are divided equally to maintain the equidistant property.” – Source

Many critics of the Flat Earth society claim that they are religious literal extremists, and like creationism, they accept the word of the Bible regardless of the science that contradicts it. Although science has proven that we live in a heliocentric solar system, where Earth and its neighbours all orbit the Sun, the Flat Earth society either believe that there is no solar system and we live within a contained Earth with the Sun and Moon inside the firmament, or we are at the centre of the solar system and everything orbits Earth (geocentric).

There are various apps, and websites where you can track the ISS, and if you’re fortunate enough to be below its flight path, you can see it moving with the naked eye. Amateur astronomers have taken photos and videos of it, yet Flat Earth still deny that space exists. They will literally come up with any theory to explain things like satellite TV, weather satellites and GPS working without acknowledging the existence of space. One of the worrying things about Flat Earth believers is their obsession with conspiracies. They often also believe in chemtrails (the governments purposefully polluting the atmosphere). They are sometimes anti-vaxxers which believe that vaccinations lead to more serious complications in later life and will refuse to let their children get vaccinated. They think that the 5G masts that have been erected to give faster speeds on mobile phone networks are there to give the public cancer, or more recently some theorists believe are responsible for ‘COVID 19‘. The list of conspiracy theories is endless. Yet, one of the most logical and most talked about conspiracy theories is ignored by them, as they’d have to acknowledge the existence of space. ‘Area 51‘ and the ‘Roswell Incident‘.

The theory of the Flat Earth has been a belief surrounding many archaic cultures, and to put it bluntly, it was born from ignorance as these cultures knew no better, and didn’t have the technology to adequately research. It wasn’t until 6th century BCE that the mathematician ‘Pythagoras‘ brought up the idea to fellow Greek philosophers that perhaps the Earth actually wasn’t flat after all. As you can imagine, such a ludicrous and radical claim was met with much scepticism, and it was centuries later when ‘Aristotle‘ presented what he considered as evidence that the theory began to gain momentum amongst scientists and philosophers.

Early Egyptian and Mesopotamian societies, who were regarded as the first civilised societies, believed that the Earth was a disc that floated on a vast ocean, and this belief was shared by Norse and Germanic paganism, but the Israelites were the ones that brought forth the idea that we were within a contained firmament. This geocentric belief has been questioned through Judaism and Christianity, but even until the 17th century, when the Catholic Church was on one of its inquisition missions, the idea of a heliocentric universe was deemed heresy. ‘Galileo Galilei‘ had already brought attention to himself with his theories, and was banned by the Catholic Church from teaching and promoting heliocentric ideologies, but he chose to disobey and in 1616 he put forth his theory of tidal activity, and he was charged with heresy and placed under house arrest until his death in 1642.

The Great Flood (myth or fact?)

We’ve all been told by a creationist that Noah lived until a ripe old age, and during that time he built an ARK, after being warned by YHWH that a global flood was coming, but is any of it verifiable, believable, practical or achievable?

“Now the flood was on the earth forty days. The waters increased and lifted up the ark, and it rose high above the earth. The waters prevailed and greatly increased on the earth, and the ark moved about on the surface of the waters. And the waters prevailed exceedingly on the earth, and all the high hills under the whole heaven were covered. The waters prevailed fifteen cubits upward, and the mountains were covered. And all flesh died that moved on the earth: birds and cattle and beasts and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth, and every man.” – Genesis 7: 17 – 21

• 1: Currently scientists think there are over 10,000,000 species of life on the planet. Over 1,000,000 are animals. How would the animals have all fit on the Ark? If they didn’t, where did they go? The current life on Earth is approximately 0.01 percent of life that’s existed on Earth throughout its existence, and a mass of life has been made extinct through catastrophic world events, but none of them were because of a flood.

• 2: There are limits to how big wooden ships can be build due to structural integrity. How many animals could fit on a ship whose size is limited? The Bible says Ark, not Arks. Creationists like Ken Ham believes we coexisted with dinosaurs despite evidence showing that dinosaurs lived between 245 and 66 million years ago, in a time known as the Mesozoic Era. The dinosaurs became extinct 60,000,000 years before humans first appeared.

• 3: There are no records from any civilisation of the Biblical Flood, yet theists claim the Biblical account is factual and a relevant addition to the history of the world. Egypt is right next to Canaan, but do they ever mention that one morning they noticed that the desert was a little moist? The pyramids are worn through sand and wind erosion, and there’s no evidence whatsoever that they’ve suffered water damage.

• 4: If the world flooded it would have mixed salt water and fresh water together. How could life have survived, like Fresh water fish or plants that can’t perform osmosis because the salt would have dehydrated them resulted in their death. Plants require sunlight to perform photosynthesis, and if they are under water, this cannot happen. Yet the rainforests in South America contain billions of trees and plants, and has existed as a land mass since the Eocene epoch which ended 39,000,000 years ago.

• 5: There are currently estimated to be around 6,000 languages around the world. How did the languages survive, or develop in such a short time since the flood? Languages take a long time to develop, and some linguists claim it can be as long as a 1000 years before two languages become distinctly different.

• 6: If the Flood happened within the last 6 thousand years, and civilisations perished. Why are there Aborigines, samoans, Indian, Latino, Inuits, Arabic, African, Chinese, Japanese people who are all very distinctly different, if humanity was born from Noah’s family? The world would be Jewish, but there are currently less than 20,000,000 Jews on Earth according to a 2018 census, and in 2018 there were 7.6 billion people on Earth, which makes the Jewish population less than 3%. We are supposed to just accept that the world’s population rose to 7.6 billion from eight righteous people’, who God deemed to not be wicked.

• 7: If the water submerged everything, including Everest, where did the water go afterwards?

“and the waters returned from off the earth continually: and after the end of the hundred and fifty days the waters were abated.” – Genesis 8.3

• 8: Why has somewhere like the Grand Canyon got evidence of ice forming valleys, but no sea water damage, or that sea water or the life in sea water was ever there? There are no marine fossils in the Grand Canyon.

• 9: Who maintained the ARK, fed all the animals, toilet facilities, laundry, storage, segregation and sanitation? Considering there were a multitude of predators, including dinosaurs, how did Noah’s family manage to contain them, and keep them free from illness and disease?

• 10: Who took all of the animals back to where they belonged? The world would be unrecognisable. How would they know where they were taking them? Did Noah have Google Maps? The Arctic and Antarctic would have melted under the water, so where did the polar bears, penguins etc all live until the ice returned? How did the natural order of the food chain and the equilibrium of life return to normal after such an upheaval? Life on Earth is categorised in 5 ways; Monera (bacteria), Protista, Fungi, Plantae, and Animalia. Only Animalia was on the ARK… Biologists estimate up to 30,000,000 species of insects. Even if the number was closer to the 900,000 currently recognised, where did they all go during the flood?

Does religion define morality?

I’ve covered this subject a few times, Why religious people can’t be objective, Good without God, Philosophical morality, and other articles have referenced religion and morality, but after researching world religions for a previous article, I have more opinions on the subject matter. First of all, let’s define what morality is.

Morality, put simply is a system of values which determine a person’s conduct, or put less simply, it’s a code of ethics that directs a person, and defines their mode of action and behaviour, and allows a person to define the difference between wrong or right, good and bad, and to be moral is about the greater good, in which your aim is to maximise happiness, and minimise suffering. Stanford has two definitions for morality, and they are as follows:

  1. descriptively to refer to certain codes of conduct put forward by a society or a group (such as a religion), or accepted by an individual for her own behavior, or
  2. normatively to refer to a code of conduct that, given specified conditions, would be put forward by all rational persons.

As you can see, a society or group, like a religion, has codes of conduct, but morality isn’t exclusive to religion, and isn’t exclusive to certain groups or societies, and also what you have to decide is which religion is the most moral, as many of them differ greatly as to what’s morally acceptable. Take Hinduism as an example, they value all sentient life, so to them being a vegetarian is often their lifestyle choice, as they believe they have no right to take a life, but Christians are of the mindset that God placed all the animals of the Earth for our consumption, and many American Christians support the second amendment and go hunting. A Christian believes they are morally superior to Muslims, as Muslims execute animals using the Halal method, which involves a sharp blade to the jugular artery, and the animal is left to bleed out, as opposed to being stunned or sedated before execution. This is just one example of how three of the world’s biggest religions value life differently, yet all believe their holy book gives them moral guidance.

Instead of focusing on all religions here, I will deal with Christianity verses atheism. As I’ve covered in a previous article, geographical indoctrination, a person’s faith is often defined by their family’s influence, and the society they live in. If you’re living in the Bible Belt of America, there’s an extremely high possibility that you’re going to be a fundamental Christian, as opposed to a Taoist, or Confucianist, as they tend to be more Asian focused religions and philosophies. So bearing this in mind, a Christian is left with the Bible, whichever version they prefer, but when I quote the Bible I tend to use the King James for consistency.

The Bible is a collection of books that were written thousands of years ago, and interpretations have changed through language, translations and generations. No one can take all of the Bible literally, and different branches of Christianity take certain things, and leave others behind, and some of the subjects in the Bible don’t reach the modern interpretations of morality, and this is where the term cherry picking comes into play, as often what a Christian defines as moral matches their personal feelings on the matter. In other words, they take from the Bible what they see themselves as being moral, and attempt to justify the more horrific acts, like slaughtering of babies, or a global flood as God’s will, and who can question that? Looking at it this way, a Christians morality is based on emotion, and elements of what they believe is correct in the Bible, and just like atheists a large part of their morality is subjective, and/or based on what society expects from people.

I’ve lost count how many times I’ve been asked why, as an atheist, I can categorically state why rape is wrong, as I’ve no God to guide me. Most people grow up from a child being taught what ethical behaviour is from their parents, schools, society and through experience. If a child hurts another child, and feels remorse, then their compassion and empathy have come into play, and it’ll make them sad, and hopefully this will teach them a life lesson that’s it wrong to hurt someone, as walk in their shoes and see if it’s enjoyable. As children get older, they learn that it’s not acceptable to steal, hurt people, insult their parents etc, and they learn to respect others. By the time a child reaches adulthood they should know that it’s unacceptable to infringe on another person’s rights, especially physically harming someone like an act of violence, rape or murder.

In the modern world, especially in the west, people tend to pick and choose as they reach adulthood as to what religion suits them best. They may have been raised a Christian, but encountered a Buddhist, and that way of life suits them more and they convert. They choose Buddhism because of its ethics and lifestyle, and if it’s morally suitable then great, but it doesn’t define the moral compass they already have within them.

A history of religion

As we are all aware, the Abrahamic religions that include Judaism, Christianity and Islam are newcomers, with Islam being the newest founded in Mecca and Medina at the start of the 7th century CE, and Christianity separating from Judaism after the alleged death of Jesus Christ, and finally Judaism which originated much further back, and can be researched as far back as 4,000 years ago. Judaism, whilst being old, has survived alongside Egyptian polytheism, Zoroastrianism, Babylonian mythology, and Sumerian religions, that were the first of the civilisations of Mesopotamia, and historians are confident that to continue its survival it had to adapt, assimilate and integrate other beliefs into its faith, but despite this, it still remains as one of the world’s oldest monotheistic religions.

Göbekli Tepe

The Göbekli Tepe, which is located in a Turkey, is currently what historians believe to be the oldest ritual site ever discovered, and it dates back to between the 10th and 8th century BCE, making it possibly 12,000 years old. It consists of over 200 pillars that weigh up to 10 tons each, so how they were erected remains a mystery that will probably never be solved, as with the newer site at Newala Çorî . No one is exactly sure which religion is the oldest, but it seems likely that the locations of the oldest religions can be found in the regions contained with The Levant and India.

The Levant

The Levant

The Levant, is a region in the western part of the Middle East, that’s located beside the eastern Mediterranean, and includes Syria, Lebanon, Cyprus, Turkey, Israel, Jordan, and Palestine, and many cultures have existed there, including the Phoenicians, the Mesopotamians, the Macedonian Empire, Assyrians, Babylonian and the Persians to name just a few, so to pinpoint the exact location of the first religions isn’t so simple. There are essentially three types of religions that worship Gods, and they include polytheism (worship of more than one god); monotheism (worship of one god); and henotheism (worship of one god in many forms), and all three can be traced within the Levant.

Mesopotamia

Uruk

Many historians are confident that Mesopotamia, who’s regarded as the ‘cradle of civilisation‘, is the birthplace of what we consider to be religion. Sumer, which later became Babylonia, consisted of Sumerians who are claimed to be the inventors of writing, so the first historic documented religious transcript can be dated back to approximately 3500 BCE. Mesopotamian religion was both polytheistic and henotheistic in nature, with many gods taking different forms, and historians can’t claim just exactly how many gods (dingir) were worshipped by Sumerians, but they know of over 2000. Each city in Mesopotomia had its own unique god, and the king of the gods, Anu was god of the city of Anuk. Anu allegedly possessed the ‘anûtu‘ (Heavenly power), and was the father of all the gods, demons and spirits. Mesopotamian religion was one of the first to mention a holy trinity, or triple deity that was worshipped as one, as well as Trimūrti, who’s the triple deity in Hinduism, that included Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. It’s believed that Mesopotamian religion heavily influenced the Egyptian religious backbone, and Judaism.

What did they believe in?

As I’ve already stated, Mesopotamian religion focussed on a trinity of Gods, and also worshipped thousands of lesser Gods. They believed in creation, their mythology speaks of a flood, and a hanging garden in Babylon, they believed in a heaven and an underworld where people went when they died. They accepted that priests were the mediators between god and man, and that anything good or bad that happened to them was because of their God’s will, and that each city was to be ruled under a theocracy. The later Babylonian religions believed that man was born from clay, and both the Atra-Hasis, from Akkadian tablets, and the Epic of Gilgamesh both mention of flood myth of massive proportion. The hero, Utnapishtim, is warned to build a giant ship called ‘The preserver of life‘, and he took animals on board until the flood subsided.

“The first 11 chapters of Genesis are largely set in Mesopotamia. Eden is a Sumerian word meaning “steppe,” and was a district in Sumer. The Tower of Babel was in Babylon. The Hanging Gardens may have inspired the story of the Garden of Eden. According to Genesis Abraham and Cain and Abel and numerous other Biblical figures were born in Mesopotamia and the first cities founded after the flood were Babel (Babylon), Erech (Uruk), and Accad (Akkad) there.” – Source

Zoroastrianism

Zoroastrian temple

There is a strong possibility that the majority of the world’s religions were heavily influenced by Zoroastrianism, which predates almost every existing religion, and is still practised to this day in parts of Iran and India. It deals with the concept of free will, and the dualism of good and evilZarathustra, an Iranian prophet is said to be the founder of Zoroastrianism, and the worship of the creator God, Ahura Mazdā. He allegedly created twin spirits, Spenta Mainyu was good, and Angra Mainyu was evil.

Historians believe that Zarathustra heavily influenced Judaism, and from that came the birth of Christianity. When the early Israelites encountered the Persian Empire, they were heavily influenced by Zoroastrianism’s claim of Heaven and Hell, good and evil, angels and demons.

“As the Bible narrative unfolds, the depiction of the God of Israel gradually and perhaps inconsistently in parts evolves from a God of anger and vengeance who orders the massacre of entire peoples to a compassionate father of His people in the later prophetic books which serve as a bridge between Judaism and Christianity. The geographical and societal relationship between Zoroastrianism and Judaism could be used to explain this transformation” – Source

Every good protagonist needs a good antagonist , and Zoroastrianism doesn’t let us down. Ahriman is God’s adversary and is responsible for everything that’s bad, wicked and evil, like anger, greed, envy and more serious things like death and disease. In Islam he’s called Iblis, and in Christianity he’s called Satan. Early Israelites believed in a creator, but they also believed in many subordinate gods, that were generally vengeful war gods, which sums up YHWH perfectly in the Torah and the Old Testament, and it’s only after the birth of Christ does he become a god of peace and love.

“Genesis 6.7 – I will wipe from the face of the earth the human race I have created—and with them the animals, the birds and the creatures that move along the ground—for I regret that I have made them”

What did they believe in?

As I’ve already stated, they believe in a creator called Ahura Mazdā, and his adversary, or devil, is called Ahriman. It’s arguably the very first monotheistic religion that involves prayer several times a day, and studying of a holy book called Avesta. Zarathustra was a prophet chosen by Ahura Mazdā to spread the word of Zoroastrianism, which they worship in communal temples, and was introduced to the Jewish community who were being held captive in Babylonia. When Cyrus freed them, they returned to Israel and began writing the Torah, undoubtedly influenced by Zoroastrianism.

Hinduism

Hindu temple

Is Hinduism the world’s oldest surviving religion? Some scholars are inclined to think so, but how it began and by who remains a mystery, but what is known is it’s currently the world’s third largest religion at just under 1 billion worshippers, who are mostly located within India. Many people who follow Hinduism claim that not only is it a set of religious beliefs, but it’s also a branch of philosophy of life, and how it should be lived, and is known as the ‘way of life’. Hinduism is mostly henotheistic where they worship ‘Brahman’ in its many forms, but also recognise thousands of other gods in existence.

What do they believe in?

They believe in something called Samsara which is the continuation of the circle of life through life, death and reincarnation, and believe in karma, and to achieve enlightenment through dharma which is achieved by living a moral and ethical life. Their sacred texts are known as the Vedas:

  • The Rig Veda
  • The Samaveda
  • Yajurveda
  • Atharvaveda

Many Hindus reject the claim that their religion had a beginning and say that it’s timeless, and the similar religion of Buddhism was an off-shoot of Hinduism, and shares the belief in karma and reincarnation. Hindu worship is known as puja, and takes place in a temple called a Mandir, and Hinduism, like Christianity has split off into different beliefs, and different forms of worship. Despite being henotheistic, the majority of Hindus believe in the one true god, Brahman, and the other god are various incarnations of him, and he is the one true, supreme being and creator.

Christ vs Krishna

The similarities between the birth, life, and death between Jesus Christ and Krishna are too numerous to be ignored, and if you just look at the names, you instantly begin to see a connection, as both mean Christos in Ancient Greek. Both were sent to Earth intended to be a saviour and restore peace, and both were born from the divine. They were both said to be healers and the creators of miracles, and both were allegedly omnipresent, and omnipotent, and both chose disciples to help spread the world of God.

 “Each mystery religion taught its own version of the myth of the dying and resurrecting Godman, who was known by different names in different places. In Egypt, where the mysteries began, he was Osiris. In Greece he became Dionysus, in Asia Minor he is known as Attis, in Syria he is Adonis, in Persia he is Mithras, in Alexandria he is Serapis, to name a few.”Source

Greek religion

Greek temple

Greek mythology is very fantastical, and heavily influenced Roman polytheism, and one of the rivals to Christianity, which Christianity actively attacked, destroyed temples, and removed from society was Mithraism. Mithraism was mostly found in Italy, but it became quite widespread, and the rival cult at the time, that was attempting to grow was Christianity, but why were they so keen to get Mithraism out of the picture, considering there were so many similarities? Jesus Christ was put on the Earth as a saviour to mankind, as was Mithra, who was to protect the souls of the just. Both were allegedly born at the same time, although Mithra arrived 200 years prior, and both were sons of a God, and a mortal mother. Both were murdered for their beliefs, and both rose from the dead. Mithra was the god of wine, and wine is used as the blood of Christ in Catholic Churches. When Mithra returned to Mount Olympus he was in the company of 12 other people. Coincidence?

‪Even if you step away from Mithraism, and focus on the polytheistic nature of Greek religion, once again, like Eve, it was a women called Pandora who started the trouble for mankind, but it was Zeus’ wife Hera who became the punisher, not God. In Greek mythology, Pandora is the first woman and is known as the ‘one who bears all the gifts‘ All of the Gods gave her one of their traits, and she was given special gifts that were kept in a pithos, and she was told never to open it, but being a human, curiosity outweighed her obedience and she opened it letting out greed, envy, hatred, pain, disease, hunger, poverty, war, and death.‬

‪I’m sure that you’ll agree that there are two distinct similarities between Pandora and Eve. Both are created in the image of the creator. Both are told to leave something alone, yet their curiosity gets the better of them, and disobeying good judgement can have dire consequences. Both Christianity and Greek polytheism use disobeying God as the reason why humans suffer from disease and sin. Eve’s punishment was women having extreme pain during child birth, and Pandora was punishment to man for accepting the gift of fire from Prometheus. ‬

Christianity was born within a world dominated by the Roman Empire, who, like I’ve already stated, was heavily influenced by the Greek gods, and the Greek philosophy, where philosophers publicly debated ethics, and morality. The majority of the gods were seen as trouble makers, and had no qualms in getting involved in wars with man, and YHWH, as we know was a subordinate desert war god, under the rule of El. Was Christianity influenced by Greek ethics and wished to paint their god in a good light in the New Testament, and try and take away the image of a blood thirsty hater of his creation?

Egyptian religion

Egyptian temple

One of the most influential and important deities studied by Egyptologists is Horus, as different forms of Horus have been discovered throughout Egyptian, then Roman Egyptian mythology. Horus was the son of Iris and Osiris, and Horus was considered the Sky God and was represented by the famous Eye of Ra. Iris instructed Horus to protect Egypt from her jealous brother, Set, who was the god of the desert, and they engaged in conflict for many years, but the real reason I brought up Horus, was the distinct similarity between him and the story of Jesus Christ who came much later. Some theologians claim it’s merely hearsay, whilst people like Richard Dawkins have written extensive articles where their stories are almost identical. I will refrain from attempting to join the dots on what I can’t kind conclusive evidence for, but undoubtedly Judeo-Christian tradition was heavily influenced from Egyptian tradition, as how could they have avoided each other considering Egypt is beside the Canaan region, and by far predates Israel and Judaism.

So let’s put Horus to one side, and focus on YHWH. Christians are so often obsessed with ‘Yahweh’ (YHWH) being the one true God, but is he? (YHWH) ‘יהוה is known as the ‘tetragrammaton’ and is the name allegedly revealed to ‘Moses’ as the true name of God, and it was only in the 19th century did theologians begin calling him Yahweh, or sometimes he was known as (JHVH) ‘Jehovah’ which contains the consonants from JHVH and the vowels from the Hebrew name for ‘Lord’ (ădōnāy), and despite YHWH being mentioned in the ‘Torah’, devout Jews will never say the name out loud as it’s considered disrespectful, and unutterable. As Judaism went from being regional to international the Jews began using the name ‘Elohim’ to describe their God as having superiority over others.

The ‘Canaanites‘, who were in the regions that are now ‘Syria, Israel, Jordan and Lebanon‘ that are known as the ‘Levant’ (شَام) worshipped many Gods (polytheistic) and YHWH was just one of them. ʼĒl ’ and ‘Asherah’ were the top of the hierarchy, and Yahweh was a subordinate God. ‘Samaria’ which is now known as Israel went from polytheism to accepting monotheism in the form of ‘Yahwism’, and he became Israel’s national God. Yahwism initially co-existed with primitive forms of ‘Judaism’. So how did Yahweh go from being quite low down in the Canaan hierarchy to having billions of present day followers believing he is the creator of all? Canaan worshipped a great number of Gods and there’s significant evidence of this, and it’s only more recently in the history of Judaism that they’ve looked back at the early days of Canaan and made the claim that all the time they believed in the one true ultimate God. This one ultimate God is now the Abrahamic God, and is now seen as the ultimate creator in ‘Judaism’, ‘Islam’ and ‘Christianity’.

Yahweh is potentially taken from Egyptian mythology and became a desert war God of the ‘Timna mines’ and the metallurgy that moved into early Canaan pantheon, before he became the God of the Jews. So his origin and legitimacy as being the one true God and the creator of the universe is highly questionable to say the least. Even the name Israel is derived from the God ʼĒl’ who was the original God of Israel, not Yahweh, and is claimed to have fathered many Gods who share attributes with Greek Gods. So when did ʼĒl’ become insignificant or non existent and a lesser God rise to power? This is a classic case of a cult arising from folklore and there’s clearly no more chance of Yahweh being a supreme being than ‘Zeus‘.

“Although the biblical narratives depict Yahweh as the sole creator god, lord of the universe, and god of the Israelites especially, initially he seems to have been Canaanite in origin and subordinate to the supreme god El. Canaanite inscriptions mention a lesser god Yahweh and even the biblical Book of Deuteronomy stipulates that “the Most High, El, gave to the nations their inheritance” and that “Yahweh’s portion is his people, Jacob and his allotted heritage” (32:8-9).” – Source

So what about the Ten Commandments I hear you cry, do they have any significance in Egyptian mythology? Well, I’m glad you asked, as yes they do. Heard of the Egyptian ‘Book of the Dead‘? The Book of the Dead is a collection of religious texts, and magic spells which enables the deceased to travel through the Duat, the Egyptian Underworld, to the afterlife, and was placed within a burial chamber. During the journey through Duat, the deceased would face judgement in front of Osiris, and they’d have to swear that they hadn’t committed any of the 42 sins. If they passed the test, they became maa-kheru, which means vindicated, and were allowed passage into the afterlife. The 42 sins are obviously more comprehensive than the Ten Commandments (Decalogue), they list the moral code (Divine principles of the Maat) that was expected in civil Egyptian society.

‪I have not committed sin.‬

‪I have not committed robbery with violence.‬

‪I have not stolen.‬

‪I have not slain men or women.‬

‪I have not stolen food.‬

‪I have not swindled offerings.‬

‪I have not stolen from God/Goddess.‬

‪I have not told lies.‬

‪I have not carried away food.‬

‪I have not cursed.‬

‪I have not closed my ears to truth.‬

‪I have not committed adultery.‬

‪I have not made anyone cry.‬

‪I have not felt sorrow without reason.‬

‪I have not assaulted anyone.‬

‪I am not deceitful.‬

‪I have not stolen anyone’s land.‬

‪I have not been an eavesdropper.‬

‪I have not falsely accused anyone.‬

‪I have not been angry without reason.‬

‪I have not seduced anyone’s wife.‬

‪I have not polluted myself.‬

‪I have not terrorized anyone.‬

‪I have not disobeyed the Law.‬

‪I have not been exclusively angry.‬

‪I have not cursed God/Goddess.‬

‪I have not behaved with violence.‬

‪I have not caused disruption of peace.‬

‪I have not acted hastily or without thought.‬

‪I have not overstepped my boundaries of concern.‬

‪I have not exaggerated my words when speaking.‬

‪I have not worked evil.‬

‪I have not used evil thoughts, words or deeds.‬

‪I have not polluted the water.‬

‪I have not spoken angrily or arrogantly.‬

‪I have not cursed anyone in thought, word or deeds.‬

‪I have not placed myself on a pedestal.‬

‪I have not stolen what belongs to God/Goddess.‬

‪I have not stolen from or disrespected the deceased.‬

‪I have not taken food from a child.‬

‪I have not acted with insolence.‬

‪I have not destroyed property belonging to God/Goddess.‬

Correct me if I’m wrong, but does the Ten Commandments borrow heavily from this, or is it just coincidental?

Pagan religions

Stonehenge

In a way I’ve already covered some pagan religion, as paganism simply refers to a religion that isn’t one of the main religions that’s followed, and it was initially a derogatory slur from Christianity to describe polytheism as being inferior. The reason why Christianity has such an issue with paganism is due to the commandment that states that idolatry, the worship of false gods is not to be tolerated – and it seems that important that it’s ranked as the first commandment.

“I am the Lord thy God, thou shalt not have any strange gods before Me.” 

Christianity has throughout the ages vehemently opposed paganism, and often associated it with witchcraft and the occult, and it’s been received with mixed attention. Peaceful conversion was initially attempted, as Christianity wished to spread and wipe away pagan beliefs, but faith can be very strong, and not everyone wishes to be a Christian. So the next step became oppression, persecution, and military conquest and invasion of pagan lands as Christianity spread like a plague throughout Europe. There’s no doubt that early Christianity was influenced by paganism, as Christianity rose from the shadows of Judaism, and initially began in Roman occupied lands, and the Romans were polytheist was a whole, before they embraced Christianity in the 3rd century CE.

During the time of the Roman Empire, everyone who wasn’t a Jew was referred to as a pagan, and Judaism viewed this as an advantage, and claimed superiority. They influenced the pagans by offering them something they’d never had before, redemption and the promise of salvation in the next life if they adhered to the gospels of Christ. In a way, it was a form of emotional blackmail, as the pagans were told that Judaism, and early Christianity worshipped the one true god, and he was more powerful than all of the other gods combined. Pagans worshipped gods so that their crops would grow, or they’d avoid becoming sick, or be protected from tyranny, but here was a promise of reward if they dedicated their lives to Jesus Christ. How could they resist? They’d never had a promise like this before, a god that could actually love them without sacrifice.

By 300 years after the death of Christ, the Roman Empire had taken in Christianity, and half of them were now Christians, and they were in the millions. There are stories about Christians destroying pagan temples so the pagans had nowhere to worship their gods, then they were promised safe passage if they accepted a Jesus into their hearts, but with Christianity only allowing the one true god, they were forced to abandon their polytheism. Every time a pagan converted to Christianity, paganism lost a follower, and this made an impact on Norse, Celtic and Saxon paganism, and as Christianity spread, it took away parts of pagan rituals. One of the most prominent is Christmas, or as Germanic pagans called it – Yuletide, which was a winter solstice festival. Where do think the concept of Christmas trees came from? Germany was literally covered in fir trees. It’s apparent that as Christianity spread it incorporated local customs and traditions, as what’s the best way to assimilate a nation than to respect their culture? It was halfway through the fourth century that Christianity claimed that Christ was born in December, so there’s no doubt that Yuletide, and the Roman festival of Sol Invictus (unconquered sun). Sol Invictus was the Roman sun god, and his birthday was celebrated on – wait for it – 25th December, which celebrated winter solstice, and the day was called ‘dies natalis Invicti‘. At the time the Roman Empire hadn’t embraced Christianity, and it wasn’t until a hundred years later in the 4th century that the Church, under the rule of Emperor Constantine, did they start celebrating Christmas on the 25th December. Many historians claim that it was highly unlikely that Jesus would have been born in late December, as Jerusalem would have been extremely cold, and the stables would have been shut up to keep the cattle safe.

“7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.” – Luke 2: 7-8

Islam

Muslim mosque

For anyone who’s reading this who’s wondering why I’ve singled out Judaism and Christianity, but ignored the third Abrahamic religion, Islam, then don’t despair as its time is here. Islam is the toddler, the infant of Abrahamic religions, but considering it’s so young, it’s staggering how many followers it has. This is partly due to Islamic states being theocracies, whereas inhabitants literally have no choice but to follow Islam, and in part due to assimilation of other nations and cultures during Islamic invasions that were one of the reasons for the Crusades. Islam was born in the 7th century by the self appointed prophet Muhammad who claimed to be the messenger of the one true God, Allah. But Christianity and Judaism had already been there, and made the claim of the one true God. Why did it take over 2,500 years from the birth of Judaism, to Christianity, then centuries later Allah decided the world needed to know about him, and how can any Muslim not accept that Islam was undoubtedly influenced by previous religions of the region?

They assimilated much of the Levant, often by force, and many scholars and theologises are adamant that the Qu’ran was constructed by borrowing religious beliefs, and ethics from many previous faiths, that include obviously Judaism and Christianity, but Arab paganism, and a splash of his own opinions. Muslim scholars refuse to accept this and say that Muhammad was confronted by the spirit Gabriel and he recited the words of God, and Muhammad wrote the Qur’an to reflect the words of Allah. Yet many passages in the Qur’an reflect verses in the Torah, and also match tales told by Jewish Rabbi which he’d remembered on his travels.

At the time of Muhammad’s birth, Mecca, his place of birth was extremely diverse, with both Judaism, Christianity and Arabian paganism the norm, and Muhammad would have grown up surrounded by these faiths, which would have had a profound influence on his life as he grew into a man. Initially he attempted to gain allegiance with Judaism and Christianity, but accusations of being a false prophet began to tarnish his reputation and he had no choice but to distance himself.

Despite this, Abraham was recognised in Islam, as it was in Judaism, Christianity and Baháʼí Faith, and he links all as he’s allegedly a messenger of god who links the prophets. In Judaism he’s ‘our father Abraham‘, the first Jew, and in Christianity it’s Jesus the Messiah who’s central, but in Catholicism, Abraham is ‘our father in faith’, and in Islam, he’s a link to the prophets and is known as ʾIbrāhīm. and is mentioned throughout the Qur’an. Many scholars claim that Islam is essentially Judaism with different ideologies and social expectancy.