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Men Make Gods

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h3{color:#4F81BD;}. 1. Other minds

To live in a society of humans, we have to attribute minds to others. This ability to infer the thoughts of others has been essential in our evolution. It may also mean we believe that minds like our own are in animals and natural events, or in beings we cannot see. Our forebears who lived by hunting attributed minds to animals, weather, deceased ancestors and even rocks. Later settled farmers were less likely to think that rocks and weather had minds, but still thought there were invisible beings who were like humans, or perhaps partly animal. As farming communities became larger, leaders become more remote, and so did the gods. By the time communities were organised into kingdoms or empires, the number of gods often reduced to one.  In each case, men were drawing on their experience of communal organisation and leadership in their attributions to the spiritual world.

To begin at the beginning: all living things have common origins in the universal DNA code.  This DNA code has four letters: A, C, G, and T, which chemists call bases. The base A always pairs with T and C always pairs with G. All living organisms – people, fish, flowers, bacteria – use the same code. Some religious believers do not believe in evolution. One cynic said “perhaps they should be offered last winter’s influenza inoculation”. 

If you have read this far, perhaps you accept that we belong to the primate family tree, which includes humans, monkeys, gorillas, and orang-utans. We share 98% of our DNA with gorillas, but 99% with bonobos. Bonobos look like chimpanzees, but are less aggressive, and have female leaders. Bonobos and chimpanzees are separated from each other by the mighty Congo River. Separation of bonobo and human lines occurred 6 million years ago. Troupes are the way most primates – though not gibbons – live. Primates stay together throughout life as family groups. Things that go with troupe life are these: a big brain, attachments, language and leadership.

Brain size is the main change in our evolution from our primate cousins. Learning and reasoning are what gave us the advantage over other animals, despite our lack of speed, bite and strength.  A large brain is also what makes childbirth so difficult. The basal metabolism of the human is 20% or more of our total energy requirement at rest, supplied as glucose.

 

Attachment is essential for human infants. We are born pathetically ill-prepared for the world, and must ensure that adults will attach to us if we are to survive. This attachment must continue for several years, an incredibly long period when compared to other animals. Love for infants is evoked by cues such as large eyes.  Dogs fit in well with humans because their thinking is to look for leadership from the top wolf. A human dog-owner does not smell much like a wolf, so the dog must detect facial cues for dominance.

 

Language is now regarded as a set of sounds (or letters) which are symbols for things and actions. The sounds do not usually point to the thing they describe, with a minor exception in the case of animal noises. This symbolic use of language is uniquely human. Primates, wolves, sea mammals and some others have systems of communication, but these do not usually reach the level of symbols. Communication in primates requires interpretation of sounds as signifiers, and reading facial expression in troupe members. While dolphins, dogs and monkeys can be trained to recognise many humans sounds as signifiers, it is not clear that they can use these sounds as symbols.

 

Leadership in a troupe means accepting direction from the most experienced elder. This is most frequently an “alpha male”, easily recognised in gorilla troupes as a “silverback”. The leader needs to make good decisions for the whole troupe, though sometimes leadership falls to the best fighter. 

 

Should we attribute minds to other animals? If so, could they have religion? Religion at least involves attributing minds to other creatures that cannot be seen. We must assume that some animals – probably apes and whales, have at least some thinking like our own. Many quite simple animals can count. New-born chickens tend to look for the biggest group of other chicks it can find. In one experiment scientists moved toy chicks into view and then behind screens. They found that a chick will go for a screen hiding groups of one plus two chicks more often than four minus two chicks. So there might be dog and chicken religions.

 

Religions vary in the degree to which they attribute minds to other animals. Buddhism has six levels. Above humans there are minor deities and demons, then asura or gods and angels at the top level. Animals are in the level below, but humans can be reborn as animals. Below them are the hungry ghost and other beings, and at the lowest level are occupants of various types of hell.

 

Attribution of minds is therefore essential to life in the human troupe. Not all humans have this ability. Some children do not acquire this “theory of mind”, as Professor Baron-Cohen calls it. We call them autistic. The signs of autism are repetitive behaviours, agitation, and failure to achieve normal language. The child with autism probably experiences the world as filled with large animals that blunder about in unpredictable and terrifying ways. 

Those of us who are successful must use our theory of mind to predict the possibilities for friendship or hostility, the way to behave in a job interview, or the right words to use in a religious gathering. But perhaps we are too good at this? What if we are attributing to minds out there despite the lack of confirmatory evidence?  In this book we will look at how the experience of community and leadership in everyday life may transfer to a world of unseen spirits and gods.

2. The Brain

 

Religions may depend on the evolution of particular features of the human brain. The increase in size of the brain between bonobos and men is mainly in the size and the number of folds in the outer layer, called the cerebral hemispheres. People were able to adapt to new food sources with climate change, and to outwit more powerful animals. But it had disadvantages. Childbirth became painful, as ever-larger skulls were forced between the mother’s pelvic bones. The crowded skull may also have caused migraine. Pre-historic peoples often engraved jagged zigzags and battlements, which look like migraine aura.

 

The increase in brain size was mainly in the outer layers. One way of simplifying the enormous complexity is to describe three layers: reptile, mammalian, and primate. Routine activities of movement and simple fear, hunger or sex drive often take place at the reptile level. Attachment, status awareness and other social functions often occur at the mammalian level. Language, planning and mathematics take place in the outer (or upper) layers. 

 

Brain capacity has been allocated during evolution according to priorities for survival. The brain needs to know a lot about the parts used for speech, and the thumb, but not much about the legs or abdomen. The brain surgeon Wilder Penfield drew a map which he called a “homunculus” – a little man –to show what the brain knows about the body.  One consequence of this is that an injury to the thumb occupies our attention more than an injury to the forearm. The English phrase is “it sticks out like a sore thumb”. The highest mental functions such as planning take place in the top front of the brain, called the prefrontal cortex, and this is the area that expanded most in recent evolution.

 

Memories are stored in the temporal lobes, at the side of the brain. If the temporal lobes are stimulated inappropriately, the may give rise to the sensation of spirits or visions. A considerable number of people who claim mystic visions turn out to have temporal- lobe epilepsy. Persinger collected the histories of a series of such mystics in1993. Dostoevsky spoke of “a few seconds of bliss, which were worth his whole life” before an epileptic fit. 

A tumour in the temporal lobe can have the same effect. In the novel “Lying Awake” by Mark Solzman, a nun has blissful visions of God, but also terrible headaches. Her doctor says she has a meningioma, so she has to decide whether to have surgery and risk losing her contact with god. So are the temporal lobes the place where God put his antenna for communication with man? 

An experiment by Kapogiannis using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanner examined which brain areas were active when people were thinking about various religious issues. He found that when thinking about “god’s love”, areas in the frontal lobes were active – the part of the brain we use for planning and moral thinking. 

“God is angry” went with activity in the side of the brain, in the parietal area. 

The sense that “God was out of touch” went with activity in the occipital lobe at the rear.  

So if we look at what the brain is doing when we think about religious issues, it turns out to be quite like familiar. God is just another person; there is not much reason to think that the soul or contact with god occur in any particular part of the brain.

 

We have a big commitment to our own continuity and that of close family. It is therefore difficult to think that we and they will at some time cease to exist. Does the person cease to exist, or there is some non-material soul that survives the end of electrical activity in the brain? The philosopher Rene Descartes thought that that non-material soul met the material body in the pineal gland. This little organ is now known to produce a few hormones, and is not a likely location for the soul. The heart used to be thought of as the organ of emotions, though we now think of it as only a pump – although an important one. It now seems more likely that the person we think of as “myself”  is somewhere behind the eyes, and the physical basis of this is the brain as a whole. The brain is a very efficient computer. Its energy supply is glucose which has to be continually replaced by the heart. Electrical activity stops in about three minutes if the heart stops. We might like to think that we and our loved ones continue after brain death. But what is the evidence?

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3. Attachment and being special

 

Attachment is the other issue that increased dramatically in the transition from primates to men. The theory of attachment was developed by John Bowlby and Mary Ainsworth. Although they are not well-known outside psychology, there are mountains in Kyrgyzia named after them. 

Human infants have extremely long childhood, so babies must compel nurturance in others in order to survive, and adults must respond. Large eyes are one of the cues for nurturance.

Human adults are exceptionally sensitive to the suffering of immature animals, so we notice the large eyes of dogs and whales. We rarely make this attribution to young rats or cockroaches.

Empathy – the ability to feel another’s suffering as one’s own – is a consequence of nurturance. The other pole of the parent-child relationship is the adult’s protective feelings for immature animals and wounded humans. Our fondness for dogs is partly to do with the cuteness of their faces. In practice this is because selective breeding of wolves for lack of aggression also selected juvenile features.  

Sacrificial suffering is a major issue for Christians, as is shahid (witness) for Muslims. The major events are the crucifixion of Jesus, and the martyrdom of Ali for Shias. 

Neurological evidence about empathy suggest that when we watch someone else suffer and identify with them, the same areas of the brain are activated in us – another example of the theory of mind. The watcher’s sensory cortex is activated in the same region as the sufferer’s. Francis of Assisi is supposed to have had stigmata on his hands. This may represent physical changes brought by extreme empathy. This pain in sympathy goes with an urge to relieve suffering.

 

The child’s need to be the centre of its parents’ attention to maintain their nurturance. Jews believe that Yah had preferred the people of Israel who were “God’s chosen people”. It draws on the very basic need for each of us to be reflected by sympathetic adults. In Freudian theory this is called Narcissism. The Narcissus myth of is a youth in love with his own reflection. It is used to describe a strong need for admiration.  Rage may be the response to denial of narcissistic need. The myth of shahid includes “In the most beautiful part of Paradise the shahid will be accompanied by seventy virgins. His wounds will glow with divine ruby light and smell of musk.” The chosen people of God is also found in the Muslim idea of ummah.   The Quran says: “You Muslims are the best nation brought out for Mankind”. “Being chosen” is also copied to some extent in Christianity.

 

Religions build on this attribution of minds, particularly by adding parent-child feelings.

Monotheisms all place great emphasis on “The word of God”, rather than images. The voice of God is clearly that of a male patriarch. For Muslims and Jews the principal deity is only known through speech, and must not be visually imaged. Christianity allows visual images, so the language of the Bible is flexible for Christians, but Jews insist on Hebrew, and Muslims on Arabic.  For Muslims the last prophet received his “very powerful thoughts” as dictation to him by Gabriel. They were a message (qur’an) from the one God (Al-illah) in the language of heaven (Arabic).

 

It is quite natural for small children to attribute human minds to objects all around them.  In wholly atheistic homes, children of this age may discover gods for themselves.  Superstitious thinking is most evident around age 4-5 when children attribute human motives to inanimate objects. Watching a plane take off, the child may say “the plane wants to get to the clouds”. When the child is frightened by thunder, he may be reassured by adults saying “it is only God moving his furniture”. Thomas the tank engine is a perfectly reasonable idea when you are five. 

 

 

“Ontogeny reproduces phylogeny” is the principle used to describe physical development in infancy. It might also be applied to the way that children’s thinking tend to reproduce animism. Animistic religions attribute minds into animals, and places, and children attribute minds to trains or aeroplanes.

So what has child psychology got to do with religion? We argue that religious theories co-opt some primate brain structures. Babies need parents, and parents need babies. Citizens need leaders. When we look at images of crucifixion or the martyrdom of Ali, we squirm at the imagined pain in our hands or foreheads. The part of the brain for sensation in the hands fires up. This response depends on an attribution that cute puppies, earthquake victims, and religious martyrs are “babies”.

4. Language

 

The ability to interpret the mental state of other people is central to troupe life. Group-living animals can make good guesses about the minds of other members, using sounds and body language. Hearing sounds and reading faces allowed primates to negotiate their position in the hierarchy. We are no different: submission to the leader was crucial in troupes that roamed and did not generally control territory.  Deference to the “alpha male” remains deeply ingrained in humans. Milgram showed that most people will administer lethal electric shocks if told to so with credible authority.

 

Face perception is the first channel we have to other people’s minds. We have highly-refined perception of facial expressions: perhaps 200 emotions can be inferred from the eyes alone.

Many expressions can be read between cultures, though some misunderstandings arise. In east Asia people focus on the eyes more, and may not notice the mouth.  Most primates are not very good at interpreting human faces, but dogs are very good at interpreting facial expressions in us, as well as other dogs. They may tilt their heads to get a better view and can see pupil dilation and other fine details. Humans have the ability to imagine the minds of others, using language and facial expression to make good guesses about their feelings. Other primates are not nearly as good at this empathy, and dogs are better. They are good at reading human facial expression. The human capacity to attribute minds seems to spill over into religion. We tend to think there are other minds – or perhaps one supreme mind – out there, even when we have no sensory evidence.

 

Submission to leadership is essential to survival in a troupe. Smiling – drawing back the lips and showing the teeth – is a sign of submission. Research on boxers show that those who smile before a fight are more likely to lose.

 

Sounds were originally verbal pointers. The vervet species of monkeys has three distinct alarm calls, one for flying things like eagles, one for baboons, one for leopards, and one for snakes. A few sounds in human language, called onomatopoeia, act as pointers. The word imitates the sound, as in “splash” or “woof”, and points to the object. Some onomatopoeia are fairly recognisable in other languages. Yet in French the dog’s sound is “ouah-ouah” and in Japanese it is “wan-wan”, not easily recognisable to an English speaker. So words for animal noises are given by convention in that language rather than being close copies of the sound. 

Modern languages have largely abandoned representation and onomatopoeia and consist only of symbols.  Words are symbols that describe things, and the sounds have arbitrary connections to the objects. Children in different countries might say “dog”, “chien, “kalb”, “inu” or “hund”. None of these names have any connection with how the animal sounds or looks.

 

Writing is also a system of symbols, tough this too started as pointers. Chinese characters and Egyptian hieroglyphics tried to draw how the object looked.  Egyptian writing then developed to use a hieroglyph to represent one consonant. For example, a picture of a duck would be read as the “s” sound, the first sound in the Egyptian word for duck. Egyptian never completely separated the sound from the picture, but modern letters have lost all connection with objects and stand only for sounds. 

 

While body language can give some cues, speech is the most important channel to other people’s minds.  Speech allows a coordinated attack on a danger animal, or asking the oldest person where water was found during the last drought. In humans the vocal folds and tongue became much more controllable, allowing a wide variety of sounds to be made.  A particular genetic area, the FOXP2 gene, allowed language to develop. People who have anomalies in FOXP2 may not develop language.  It used to be thought that humans had a unique pattern in this gene, but recently it was found that Neanderthals also seem to have had this variant.

 

Language allows us to communicate with others, but also to have more complicated private thought processes. We can manipulate the words in our minds without reference to the objects. We can have a hypothesis that there is life on Mars, without being able to picture it, or even believe it. A poker player can decide to bluff and raise the stakes while holding poor cards. This ability to manipulate internal language for deception and hypothesis is fairly recent.  The hypothetical use of language was not always so.

 

The pointing function of words to objects used to be a lot stronger. Earlier languages assumed that the name of an object gave direct influence over it. One superstitious belief in Europe was that saying one of the many names of the devil, such as “Mephistopheles” or “old Nick” would cause him to appear. Tolkien was a mediaeval scholar, and his novel the Lord of the Rings he illustrates the mediaeval idea of controlling a thing by uttering its “true name”. When presented wit the riddle, ‘speak friend and open’, the wizard Gandalf eventually realises that the original makers’ word for “friend” is what controls the door.  A holy oath or a curse could be especially powerful, having continuing effect long after the speaker was gone. 

 

The name of God had particular power in early monotheistic religions.  Jews were not supposed to say “Yahweh” out loud. For early Christians, the word Christos, which literally means “fish” but has the letters chi and rho, stood for Jesus so the fish image had profound significance.

Some speech is used only for its pleasant effect, rather than its meaning. The speech sounds in “l” and “y” give a pleasing effect. “Hallelujah” continues in Christian tradition as rousing call, though without much meaning. It copies a Hebrew phrase, “hallelu” “jah” meant “boast of Yahweh”. This pleasant or euphonic property means it is suspiciously similar to “al hamdulillah” spoken by Muslims. Speech is highly important in Judahism and Islam, which forbid the making of human likenesses. The call of the Jewish cantor or the Muslim call to prayer are especially musical.  The 99 names of God sound especially wonderful to Muslims.

 

Language is very significant for religious thought. Really important decisions might include the right day to plant the seed corn, how to choose a new leader, or whether to abandon a territory in a drought, if one of the older members described a reliable source of water. Such weighty decisions might need the “words of the gods”. Divine guidance might be needed to make the words more forceful. This may have been the basis of prophecy and divine inspiration.

5. Animism and hunter-gatherers

 

Animism is the general type of religious belief of hunter-gatherers. We will look at animistic religions of southern Africa, Siberia, Australia, and Japan.

   

 

The genetic evidence is that all humans originated in East Africa. A small group of hunter-gatherers managed to cross the arid Sahara and Red Sea to reach what is now Yemen about 70,000 years ago. Descendants of these migrants reached Siberia, the Americas, and somewhat incredibly, Australia within 10,000 years.

In animistic religions, most plants, animals, and even geological features have spirits. Ancestors are still considered to be nearby, though invisible. The belief in ancestor deities are probably associated with the start of burial of the dead, rather than abandoning human remains to predators. 

Some hunter-gatherers are still around in the twenty-first century. The Evenki of Siberia continue to hunt, though they also keep reindeer herds. Siberians also reached North America, spreading out to become the great variety of native Americans, including the seal-hunting Inuit.  Australian Aboriginal communities are now mostly urban, but some keep alive their hunting traditions.  One animistic belief, Japanese Shinto is still slightly alive. Japanese believed that a wind (kaze) of spirits (kami) had driven off the invasion fleet of Genghis Khan. This idea of a wind of the spirits of dead warriors (kamikaze) is still believed by some who attend the Yasukuni shrine in Tokyo.

 

The Bushmen of the Kalahari are probably the oldest continuous community of hunter-gatherers. 

 

Bushman hunting technique shows how walking on two legs and a cool skull gave early humans an advantage. A Bushman hunter can pursue a deer through the heat of the day, keeping his brain in its temperature range by sweating from the head. If the hunter can keep up the pursuit long enough, the prey animal will die of heat stroke.  Bushman religion involves religious ceremonies in preparation for a hunt. A shaman enters a trance, and some Bushman art seems to show that hallucinogens similar to LSD were used by the shaman. The Eland is often represented recorded in rock art and seems to have been a recurring theme in their mysticism.

Many animistic religions view the universe as consisting of three worlds: upper, middle (earth), and lower. The religion of the Incas had a three level universe. Gods lived in the sky and mountain tops, and were represented by the condor. Humans lived on the earth, represented by the jaguar. The deceased lived below, represented by the snake. The Incan cross was incorporated in the art commissioned by Spanish Catholics, but the similarity is a coincidence. The upper half has three layers: sky, earth, and below the earth. The condor, jaguar and snake represent gods, mankind, and the dead. The lower half of the cross is a mirror image.

 

Evenki place beneficent spirits inhabited the upper world, including Seveki, the guardian of the plant and animal world. The lower world was populated by both deceased ancestors, who there lived a life similar to that on earth, and, on another level, evil spirits. Although the average person could not travel to either the upper or lower world, such sojourns were made by shamans during their rituals. Assisted by spirits, including those of shaman ancestors, the shamans protected clan members from the spirits of hostile shamans and acted as brokers between the Evenki and the spirits that helped or hindered their activities. The word shaman is an Evenki word and was introduced to the Western world by the Russians.

 

Australian aboriginals also have animistic beliefs. Amazingly, the evidence suggests that migrants descended from Africa arrived in Australia about 60,000 years ago, long before they reached Europe. Australian aboriginals are now quite diverse in their clan and languages, but their religious views have some common features. The universe is made up of the usual three levels – the sky, the earth, and below the earth.

 

“Dreamtime” is the myth of the origin of the world that figures in most aboriginal religions. The Kunwinjuku people of Arnhem Land in Northern Australia have one view of dreamtime. The creation mother Yingara “sang” the world into existence. A cave painting shows Yingara carrying about fourteen dilly bags. Each one contains a baby, which she gave a language and a clan.   

 

“Song line” is another common feature of Australian animistic theories. The Darug were an aboriginal group of the Blue Mountains. Although most Darug now live as Australians, their ancient sites can easily be seen near the train route thought the Blue Mountains west of Sydney. The sky people, mainly Daramulan, gave the Darug their lore of death and rebirth. Spirits must go to a land beyond the sky (wirra wirra), so they must rise through leaves; they are white, so smoke helps them rise. Past-present- future is a closed cycle – there is no historical progression. Circularity of time is one of the most difficult ideas for us: there is no progression from past to future, but a closed cycle of birth, life, and death. 

Hunter-gatherers practising animism usually lost out to communities that planted crops and herded animals and could therefore support more children. This was not always true. Christian Greenlanders faced a very cold period around 1400, when their cows could not be fed through winter. They could have survived by copying Inuit seal hunting, but seem to have been reluctant to do so because of its religious implications. Inuit attributed souls to their prey, and gave prayer for their victims, which Christians would not copy.

 

Hunter-gatherers lived in intimate contact with nature: they stored no food, slept under the stars, and often encountered predators. Farmers slept under a roof, kept grain stores, and could keep predators away with fences. The displacement of hunter-gatherers by settled farmers also displaced many of the spirit attributions. Agriculturalists abandoned some of the spirits and elemental forces, but kept humans and higher animals. Their religions usually mutated to polytheism.

6. Polytheism and agriculture

 

Polytheism was the companion of settled agriculture. The total number of divine attributions was smaller, and divine beings were generally human-like, or perhaps higher animals. By comparison with nomads, settled farmers had wider social networks, which exceeded the number – perhaps two hundred – of faces and identities that they could remember. Their rulers might be far away and rarely seen, unlike the alpha male of the hunter-gatherer troupe.

Norse religion attributed many deities that we can recognise as human. Humans lived in the domain Midgard, while gods lived one level higher in Asgard. There were a further seven domains, including the lands of elves, black elves, and giants. The nine domains were connected by Yggdrasil the tree of life. While most deities were recognisably men and women, there were also animistic beings called Vanir, spirits of ice and fire, and a serpent chewing at the tree roots. While the gods of Asgard were mostly male warriors, there were also female Valkyries and shield maidens. The relationships of the Norse heaven were very similar to the clan structure of earth, and their theory of the origin of the world was like a family pedigree.

 

 

Greek religion also had a family history in its theory of origins. There were original beings including Chaos, the Sky, the Earth, and the Abyss. Earth and Sky gave birth to six male and six female titans. Later generations had father-son rivalries. Zeus escaped being eaten by his father Cronus to became king of the Gods. Zeus swallowed his wife to prevent being overthrown the same way, but Athena was then born from his head – fully clothed and ready for war.  This may be a way in which the new religion coming to Athens from the north could absorb the cult of Athena without challenging it. Greek mythology also had animal and human-animal hybrids in its theology, many of which have been used to name moons of planets in the solar system.  

 

The main surviving example of polytheism is Hinduism, the principal religion of India. Buddhism also started in India, though it is now almost non-existent there. Attributions of mind in Hinduism are somewhat difficult to specify. It has been said that Hinduism can be defined as monotheist, polytheist, pantheist, and atheist! Some important deities such as Vishnu can appear in earthly form as avatars, so the boundary between monkey god, elephant god and human remains ambiguous.

 

Roman religion is remarkable for its rapid progression from animism to polytheism, emperor-god and finally the Christian god. It originally included worship of animistic spirits, called Numina, associated with particular places, which included trees and boundary stones. It later became much removed from these spirits of nature. In its polytheistic phase, gods were clearly human with specific roles. The composer Holst used some of these in “The Planets”, for example Mars with war, and Saturn with old age. In the crisis after defeats by Carthage, Roman religion imported many Greek deities. There was also a somewhat secret side religion from the first century CE, called the cult of Mithras. As Rome went from republic to empire, the centralisation of power was associated with the emperor Augustus being declared a god. The next historical move was for the emperor Constantine to associate himself with the previously-reviled Christianity, and make the worship of the Christian god the official religion of the empire. 

 

The Roman transition from animism to monotheism may represent the way its citizens coped with the centralisation of political power. Polytheism usually had one deity, such as Zeus or Thor, with more power than the others, though more like a chairman than a monarch. As the king or emperor became farther away, the religious attribution also became more remote. Monotheism locates all the power in one invisible figure, nearly always male.  

 

The polytheistic religions of Arabia  included many gods, djinn, and probably a moon god. The kaaba in Mecca was the centre of worship for up to 360 and continues to be the centre of worship to the present day. The main god Hubal disappeared after the rise of Islam, as did Hanaf who protected women.  While the gods that resembled humans disappeared, djinn and the moon continued to be important.  

An interesting puzzle at this point in history is this: what happened to women? Women are prominent as divine figures in early polytheisms, but largely disappear in the transition to monotheism. Norse and Roman religion had many powerful female deities. In Christianity, only Mary the mother of Jesus remains. She constitutes the idealised mother: her forbearance is perfect, she never speaks, and has no needs of her own. Mary is also incorporated into Islam in exactly this way.

 

The relationships of heaven in later polytheism are essentially those of the patriarchal family in advanced agriculture. The head of the family is a powerful male, and property is inherited by the eldest son.  Proof of paternity becomes important, so the modesty of wives needs to be demonstrated. The relegation of female deities mirrors the loss of influence for women in agricultural societies based on property ownership by male elders. This will be explored further in chapter 9.

7. Monotheism and empires

 

In monotheism one god becomes superior but also further away. The others gods are not banished, but are relegated to the status of angels or demons. This centralisation of religious authority may follow the expansion from village to city-state, with power removed from village headmen and transferred to the monarch, sultan, or emperor.  Monotheism was usually victorious over polytheism as tribal units merged into larger collectives, and its success probably follows economic and political success. Monotheism originated in the Near East, as it is called from a western European viewpoint, or South-West Asia if you view it from other continents.

 

Monotheism developed several times, but Judaism was the most influential, as it gave rise to Christianity and Islam.  Zoroastrianism was an early monotheism, which is still practised by small numbers of Parsees in India and Iran. The ruler of Egypt in 1540 BCE, Apophis of the Hyksos, was supposed to have rejected all gods but Set. The Canaanite polytheistic religion is most relevant to the origin of the three major monotheisms.  The Canaanites attributed many deities, including Baal, Moloch, and Elion. The creator god Baal was the storm god and attributions to him merged with that of the Egyptian god Set. What happened to the spirits and lesser deities of Canaan when its worshippers moved to monotheism? The multiple gods of Canaan were not discarded overnight. Angels and devils seem to be relegated lesser gods. Judahism was probably initially monolatry -the recognition of the existence of many gods, but the consistent worship of only one deity. Moses may be described as monolatric.  

 

The old religion thus tends to be incorporated, rather than overthrown. Many European people abandoned Norse gods in favour of the Christian God between the 7th  and 10th  centuries of the common era. But the Norse and Roman Gods were not entirely forgotten. Their names stayed in days of the week and months. The midwinter feast became Christmas. Numerous unwelcome spirits continued as trolls, hobgoblins, or imps. The incorporation of the old religion is even more evident where Spain conquered the Americas and enforced a new religion. In Mexico the Aztec celebration of the dead is now the major festival of the Catholic church. In Peru the most important Catholic festival involves carrying a crucifix to the foot of a glacier, where it is recharged with spiritual energy from the apu of the Andes.

 

Islam is the most insistent on one god, yet Muslims still attribute lesser deity to angels, the moon and djinn.  Djinn are fire-beings who can influence the physical world. They have souls, and can be saved. The myth of Aladdin and the genie shows how they can be invoked by humans. Then there are angels for particular purposes. The judgmental functions of the supreme deity at the moment of death are delegated to the interrogating angels Munkar and Nakir. Allah’s spokesman to the last prophet was the angel Gabriel.  

The pre-Islamic beliefs of Arabia included worship of the moon. The crescent moon is now viewed as an omen of religious events. Pharaonic religion believed that iron meteors were the semen of gods. Iron meteorites were the only source of iron in the ancient world. The most holy place at centre of Mecca is occupied by a black stone called al-qiblah. It may be a meteorite, or fused glass.

Human sacrifice to appease angry gods was frequent in polytheistic religions but Judahism broke with the tradition of human sacrifice. Human sacrifice was widely practised in the ancient near east. The book of Kings in the Torah describes how the king of Moab gives his firstborn son and heir as a whole burnt offering during a battle with the Israelites. The story of Abraham describes the replacement of human sacrifice with animal sacrifice. God is supposed to have tested Abraham to sacrifice his son, but provided a ram as a substitute. Jews, Christians, and Muslims all accept Abraham as the first prophet. While overt sacrifice was outlawed, some of its features continue. The Christian tradition seems to continue the tradition of sacrificing a child. The numerous religions of the America before Columbus also usually practised human sacrifice.  One of the reasons the Aztecs were ineffective in battle against the conquistadors was their attempts to capture the enemy alive for later sacrifice. (The more important reason is their lack of immunity to European infections.)

 

Some religions favoured cannibalism as a way of gaining the strength of enemies, as in Polynesia, or deceased leaders as in the Fore of New Guinea. (Unfortunately the Fore contracted the neurological disease kuru instead of strength.)  There seems to be an analogy with the Christian idea of holy communion, which involves consuming the blood and body of the leader.

 

Bodily hygiene and spirituality are usually combined in the scriptures of the monotheistic religions. “Cleanliness is next to Godliness” is a saying that combines the ideas of spiritual purity and bodily hygiene. This and food prohibitions (kosher for Jews, halal for Muslims) made fairly good sense in hygienic terms.  Tapeworms were contracted from pigs, and hepatitis from shellfish. On the other hand, brewing to make alcohol kills bacteria and has good hygienic value. Although the word al-quhul is Arabic, it is forbidden to most Muslims.  Biological and spiritual issues were conflated. In the minor ablution (or wudu), water has to be used to create a separation from daily activity. Obsessional-compulsive mechanisms are evident in this, as many Muslims recognise.  The last prophet’s dislike of dogs, and the offensive nature of shoes in Arab societies may be relevant here. Symbolic purification by water is characteristic of pre-scientific ages. We now see advantage in separating our food from bacteria and viruses. Some separation of “higher” mental processes – ethics, altruism, grief, or artistic appreciation – from routine mental processes may also be necessary. Such separation should be accompanied by awareness of psychological processes such as denial and idealisation. 

 

Prophecy replaces shamanism as the preferred interface between humans and the divine realm. By some counts there 244,000 prophets in the Middle East, though the principal shared ones number about 25.  Prophets are believed to have special communication with God, who dictates through them.  In anthropological perspective, this way of externalising important political ideas as coming from gods is important for leadership. The idea of prophecy precedes the development of fully symbolic thinking independent of referents, for example the bluff in poker, or hypothesis in science.

 

Empires that claimed either Christianity or Islam have dominated much of the world at times. Despite the enormous bloodshed between Islam and Christendom, the common theological issues are very close. Religious belief is in the service of political causes, so the relationship between religious and military dominance needs to be considered next.

8. God the general

 

We need to think about the psychology of soldiers going into battle, as each of the monotheistic religions was strengthened in battle.  The powerful issues for soldiers are probably loyalty to their comrades and loyalty to an ideal. Battle readiness requires the soldier to merge himself into the collective, so that even if he as an individual dies, he lives on through the regiment. The second issue is that the soldier’s thoughts are filled with an ideal – which may be the fatherland or God’s work – that can counter the fear of dying. The believer feels part of a great army under the leadership of a righteous, wise and powerful father.

The three monotheistic religions were forged in battle. The rise of Judaism was strongly connected with the military success of its second ruler, King David. After his victory as a slinger over Goliath, David was made commander of the army by Saul.  He went on to conquer the Philistines to the West, the Moabites to the east, Hadadezer to the north, and the Edomites to the south. The Psalms of the Torah tell how David’s relationship to Yahweh gave Israel its success. Muslims revere David as a great military leader, and call him Dawud. The royal dynasty founded by David was broken after four centuries. In Jewish belief a Messiah will eventually come to resume David’s line. Christians interpret messiah as spiritual leader, rather than a king.

Submission to the will of the invisible god was central to the troops under the Roman Emperor Constantine at the battle of Milvian Bridge. He claimed to have had a vision in which Jesus showed him how the chi-rho banner would give his troops victory. The letters chi and rho stood for Christos, and mobilised the Christians as troops in his cause.  There has been a consistent parallel between the power of the king and the power of god in Christian religion. At some historical times, especially just before World War One, God and King became merged again. The patriotic hymn “I vow to thee my country” illustrates this: it starts with the earthly kingdom and goes on to the kingdom of heaven. The battle flags of the Jews, Christians and Muslims invoked the support of God.

 

Submission is the literal meaning of the Arabic word Islam, and it was what Muslim soldiers learned in the fight against the Meccans at the battle of Badr in 624. The diverse tribes of Arabia would not rally to any king, but could be persuaded to submit to a divine leader.

The qur’an is explicit that Allah sent 3,000 angels to fight for the Muslims. This desire for submission no doubt draws on our primate need for leadership, particularly in desperate battles.

 

Imagining leadership in battle as the will of god has been described in relation to king David, the emperor Constantine, and Mohammed against the Meccans. Submission to an ideal and imagined merging with regiment have therefore been pivotal in Judaism and Christianity, but even more central factor in the expansion of Islam. If believers happen to be victorious, their belief that God was on their side is strengthened. The battle of Badr started as just another raid on a camel train, which the Meccans made a weak attempt to protect. After this success the armies of Arabia went from victory to victory. Islam was not codified as religion for some years, but became necessary as the empire expanded dramatically. 

9. Where have all the goddesses gone?

 

Animistic and Polytheistic religions had many female gods. Egyptians revered the goddess Isis. 

  

 
Greeks had the mother Earth goddess Gaia, Athena of Athens, and many others. Rome had both men and women gods.  Norsemen lived partly by raiding so their religion centred on male warriors. Even so there were goddesses, including Valkyries. Quite mixed feelings were attributed to Valkyries at different times in history. They are best known as ‘choosers of the slain’, who were sent by Odin to choose who would survive the battlefield. Prior to that they were demons who preyed on corpses. Later they were female warriors called shield maidens, and finally serving wenches
p. In Christianity, Islam, and Judaism, all the significant figures are male. God is clearly a man, as are all the prophets, and most of the angels. Only Mary the mother of Jesus remains. She constitutes the idealised mother: her forbearance is perfect, she never speaks, and has no needs of her own. Islam places great stress on modesty of women, and incorporates Mary in exactly the same way. Jesus is referred to as Iesa ibn Maryam (Jesus son of Mary). 

The downgrading of the other Mary, Mary Magdalene, in Christianity is significant. Catholic Christianity has usually depicted her as a reformed prostitute or a penitent, but in reality she was probably important in Jesus’s inner circle. She also wrote or dictated a gospel, but it was of one of the 16 or so that was excluded from the New Testament.

 Why does monotheism exclude women from divine roles? To understand this, we need to follow the politics of land ownership and inheritance.  In hunter-gatherer society, the two sexes were of similar power. There was always a division of labour, as men did most of the hunting, and women the gathering. This had advantage that children were less likely to be orphaned in the dangerous business of hunting large animals. 

In early crop-farming agriculture, women spent much of their time pounding grain, but men spent less time away in hunting.   Political leadership in settled  agriculture then tended to become the preserve of male elders, a system described as patriarchy. The word patriarch currently means a senior cleric in the Orthodox church, but it really means a male elder.

 

The relationships of heaven are essentially those of the patriarchal family in agricultural society. The farm is the basis of subsistence, and needs to be inherited. In nearly every society, property is inherited by the eldest son.  Proof of paternity becomes important, so the modesty of wives needs to be demonstrated.

 

So the disappearance of female deities mirrors the loss of influence by women in agricultural societies. The post-industrial world has changed the division of labour between men and women: proof of paternity for inheritance of land is not an issue, and physical strength is no longer a major requirement for most work. In societies where religion still has major influence, women may now assume powerful positions.

10. The Editors

 

Prophecy was the accepted method for religious innovation in the three monotheistic religions  from Abraham onwards, but none claim new prophets after 622CE. In a modern psychological perspective, prophecy is the way moral religious and political leadership is legitimised. When many people are convinced by a new leader, he is assigned the status of a prophet, and what he says is assigned the authority of revelations from God. The words of a person designated as a prophet are at first in oral tradition only, but eventually they get written down as scripture. Some writings are thrown out at this time as heresy. Speech that gains scriptural status becomes more powerful than common speech. The Torah, Bible and Qur’an are each claimed to be the authentic words of God by their ardent supporters. But they took a lot of later human editing! The idea that some words have special power as words dictated by god involves an old view of language, which is hard to sustain with a 21st. century view of language as a consensual symbol system.

 

The Hebrew bible or Tanakh was defined around 200 BCE as 24 books: the five books of Moses, the prophets, and the writings. Its canon was decided by the 120 men of the Great Assembly. This closure seemed to favour books written in Hebrew before Ezra, and may have been motivated by resistance to Christian ideas. Then the Christian bible accepted the Jewish books as the old testament, but adds four gospels and letters of the apostles, and calls them the New Testament. The selection of the Christian gospels shows the editorial process most clearly. About twenty gospels were passed on, at first orally and later in writing. These were all in circulation till four were chosen in the fourth century after Christ. The selection of the canon was made by the church leaders in Rome, and most explicitly by Athanasius in Egypt. The editorial process seems to have been influenced by three values: salvation through belief alone; the relegation of women; and Jesus as simultaneously god and human.

 

The theory of salvation through belief alone was essential, as Christians in the Roman empire of the third and fourth centuries were being put to death and were promised the after-life. One reason for exclusion of claimed gospels was to reject the Gnostic heresy. The gospel of doubting Thomas was rediscovered at Nag Hammadi in 1945. His gospel story is almost entirely of sayings of Jesus, except for a reference to concealed knowledge, or gnosis.

 

The relegation of women by the church in Rome involved the theory of twelve male apostles, while Mary Magdalene’s major role in Jesus’s inner circle was discounted. The gospel of Mary Magdalene was retrieved at Oxyrhynchus in 1897, and her account is supported by a similar gospel of Philip.  Both gospels were excluded. Mary Magdalene was later defined by the church of Rome as that of a reformed prostitute.

 

The third editorial decision was on Christology. The doctrine that was approved was that Jesus was the son of god, both fully human and fully divine. There were many competing views about this. The Islamic view is that he was the prophet Isa, alongside Yahya (John the Baptist). The argument about whether Christians had to come via Judahism was rejected by some, such as Marcion of Sinope.  Docetism was the belief that Jesus was always God, but pretended to be human, and this view as supported by Peter, who became the first pope. The gospels of Marcion and Peter were excluded from the canon.

The language of the books is rarely simple or transparent. The monotheistic religions have used Aramaic, Hebrew, Syriac, Arabic, Greek, and Latin. There are famous mistranslations between them. There are mistranslations of the Christian gospels. A famous one is the way the Aramaic description of Jesus’ mother Mary as a young woman came to be “parthenos” – and then “virgin”. “Messiah” means the successor to the throne of king David for Jews, but a religious leader for Christians. However the tension about its Jewish heritage persists, for example in the Christmas carol which where people sing “to you in David’s town this day is born of David’s line . . .”

 

Words also change their sense. “Nabi” or “navi” is the word for “messenger of God” in both Hebrew and Arabic. But there were also “rasool” in Islam and “malakh” in Judahism, which at first referred to angels. The rasool were originally angels, but from John the Baptist to Mohammed the prophets were also messengers. So the referent of the word prophet is rather muddled.

 

Editing of oral traditions and differing texts for the qur’an was undertaken by the Caliph Uthman around 654 CE, after Muhammad’s death in 632 CE. Uthman standardised the qur’an and ordered that the meaning in the Qureyshi dialect should have priority. He ordered the burning of variant qur’ans, including the earliest by Hafsah, one of Mohammed’s wives. The early qur’ans were written as reminders to speakers. The modern diacritical points for vowels were added around the turn of the eighth century. Arabic without the vowels is highly ambiguous. The words “Arab” and “Hebrew” appear to be opposed, but they come from the same root, which means passer-by or nomad.   Settled people would see ‘aabiru (Hebrew) and ‘aarabu (Arab) pass by at sunset. 

The qur’an is supposed to be the exact words dictated by God in Arabic through Gabriel. Believers are supposed to learn the Arabic language as the only way to appreciate the literal word of god. The Uthman orthodoxy is why one of the many Bedouin dialects of Arabia became the official language of over 200 million people the 22 countries of the Muslim Ummah. Stories told in Syro-Aramic have different meanings in Qureyshi. Although Muslims claim that the Qur’an was written almost immediately under Abu Bakr, Arabic was hardly a written language at the time, and Mohammed did not write. The written language was Syriac. About a fifth of verses in the qur’an are hard to understand. The three consonants q-r-n in Syriac would mean a book of church readings, pronounced “qeryan-a”. The consonants h-r could mean grapes rather than virgins. Another ambiguity is a passage in the al-nur sura which is understood as advocating the hijab, but might be referring to aprons.

Some fragments of pre-Uthman qur’ans survived the burning, including pieces of a thousand qur’ans found during renovation of a mosque in Sana’a. These pieces have similar text, but differ in the order of the verses. Moreover, there are often previous versions underneath. These are called palimpsests, and the originals can be revealed by ultraviolet light.

 

Why are no further prophets claimed by any of the monotheisms after 622? Who decides who is to be called a Nabi, the word for prophet in both Hebrew and Arabic? By some counts there are 224 thousand Nabi in Islam, starting with Adam, breaking off after Jesus, than restarting and stopping rather abruptly with Mohammed. The top list of prophets comes down to twenty-five, all male. A few early Jewish prophets were female, but prophets in Christianity and Islam are nearly always male. Islam accepts all the Christian prophets and adds one more, and all the Jewish and Christian books plus a final message.

 

The idea of prophetic utterances depends on an old belief about language. Earlier languages assumed that the name of an object gave direct influence over it. Linguists now see the relation between a thing and its name as quite arbitrary, and see little reason to think of Arabic, Sanskrit or any other prestigious language as more worthy than common speech.    

[* 11.     Society evolves*]

 

The major religions were defined by 1,500 years ago, but communities of believers have continued to evolve. Christianity split into a Roman Catholic and an Orthodox branch. The Roman church then split into various Protestant traditions. These splits included a disagreement about whether to trust the pope as the presumed successor of Jesus, or scripture. A similar disagreement affects Islam: Shi’as (the party of Ali) claim descent of imams from the prophet, while Sunnis place trust in jurisprudence and holy writings. Shi’as further split into Ismailis and others, on the grounds of succession. These religious disagreements are probably mirrors of social and economic changes in society at the time.  The sacking of Constantinople by the fourth crusade was seen as a Roman imperial act and led to the secession of the Orthodox church.

Latin America was largely converted to nominal Roman Catholicism under the Spanish empire. This is evolving as there are now vigorous Hispanic Protestant churches in the USA and some South American countries, evolutions that are still going on in the 21st century. Freedom from religious persecution was a major reason for emigration to North America, so many smaller protestant communities remain vigorous there. Escape from pogroms was also the reason for Jewish emigration to the USA, so that is where the majority of those who call themselves Jewish now live. While continuity with European religions defined many colonies, some new variations of Christianity occurred. A new set of scriptures was found called the book of Mormon. Their communities went to war with other Europeans, which compelled them to make the arduous trek to Utah.  Recently some black Americans articulated their aspirations by forming the nation of Islam as a reaction to the Christianity imposed by slave masters. However, they took on a view of race and rejection of the after-life in the process.

 

Large parts of the advanced agricultural world embraced either Christianity or Islam, for perhaps a thousand years. Challenges to religious belief then started to arise through scientific discovery. Two challenges are particularly severe: the Earth centred view of the universe, and evolution of species.

 

The Earth is not now considered to be the centre of the universe. There are many planets, billions of suns, and millions of galaxies. It is still possible to describe The Milky Way as centred on our sun, and other galaxies moving round that, but the mathematics become very complicated!  This is difficult to reconcile with the special place assigned to mankind in the eyes of god. The change to a sun-centred view of the solar system is usually attributed to Copernicus, but Albumasar may have believed in sun-centred astronomy as early as the 9th  century, and Al-Shatir developed a model of rotations, which Copernicus borrowed.

Evolution is an even more direct to challenge to the theory of creation. There is now strong evidence that new species develop if fit individuals survive to breed. This is difficult to reconcile with a theory of divine creation. The discoveries are usually attributed to Charles Darwin, and also Wallace if the history is accurate. Yet Al-Jahiz, a negro Muslim of slave descent who died in 869, espoused a theory of evolution. He wrote “White and black are the results of environment, the natural properties of water and soil, distance from the sun, and intensity of heat.  There is no question of metamorphosis, or of punishment, disfigurement or favour meted out by Allah.” 

 

Christianity has been losing believers in developed countries since Copernicus, though Christianity remains strong in simpler agricultural societies in Africa.  Many countries associated with Islam have fared badly economically in recent centuries, and this has been accompanied by a decline in the advanced scientific thought associated with golden age of Islam. A biological scientist is regularly confronted with evolutionary facts, such as the mutation of influenza viruses from one winter to the next, or the movement of tuberculosis between humans, cows and badgers. This biological scientist will find it difficult to keep a simple view of divine creation, though a few do manage to combine the two areas of knowledge.

 

So what can we say about the validity of religious beliefs? For Christians and other monotheists this question becomes: is there is a creator? For animists the question might be: are ancestors still around us?  For Buddhists the question might be: does reincarnation occur, and is there a wheel of life?

 

Scientific findings have tended to push the creator back into a “god of the gaps”. Well-informed religious believers now attribute the interventions of god to the least-defined points in our knowledge: the start of cosmic expansion 13.8 billion years ago; the start of evolution 4 billion years ago; or the “injection of a soul” at some point in our primate history. These gaps have become smaller and smaller.  But materialist certainty has also retreated: at the end of the nineteenth century chemistry and physics seemed to have most of the answers. This certainty has retreated in modern physics: mass and energy are interchangeable, particles have quantum uncertainty, and most of the universe is either dark mass or dark energy.

 

Perhaps Muslims and Christians could find a cosmic struggle between Good and Evil in dark matter and dark energy? Perhaps Buddhists could find the wheel of life in our knowledge of intelligence in other species? The continuity of the self after death might also now have a different meaning. Computer algorithms can mimic human intelligence to a high degree, raising the possibility of personality being transferred to other media after biological death. Unless some persuasive spiritual view develops of the universe in the 21st century, we may have to remain sceptical.

 

Men make gods, for their own needs

 

Further reading

1. Other minds

Hood, Bruce. (2009) Supersense. a “mind design” or innate tendency to interpret the world in terms of causation and intention, and thus to ascribe supernatural cause ends with woolly plea “sacred values”

Bering, Jesse (Feb 11). The God Instinct. Theory of mind & good reputation leads to more sex.

Thomson, A. (2009). Why We Believe in Gods. Talk at American Atheists conference 09. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1iMmvu9eMrg 

Baron-Cohen, S. (1997) Mindblindness: an essay on autism and the theory of mind. MIT Press.

2. The brain

Shermer, Michael (2011) The believing brain. 

Kapogianis, D. et al (2009). Cognitive and neural foundations of religious belief. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Vol.6 (12) 

Solzman, Mark (2003). Lying Awake. Bloomsbury.

Persinger, MA. (1993). Paranormal and religious beliefs may be mediated differentially by subcortical and cortical phenomenological processes of the temporal (limbic) lobes. Perceptual & Motor Skills. Vol 76(1) Feb, 247-251.

3. Attachment and being special

Bowlby, J.(1973). Vol 1: Attachment and Loss. Vol 2:  Separation: Anxiety & Anger. Vol 3: Loss: Sadness & Depression. London: Hogarth

Ainsworth, M., Blehar, M., Waters, E., & Wall, S. (1978). Patterns of Attachment. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum. 

Kohut, H. (1971). The Analysis of the Self. New York: Intl. Univ. Press.

Erikson, E. ( 1993). Childhood and Society. London: Norton.

4. Language

Saeed, John I. (1997) Semantics.  Blackwell.

Kraus, Michael, and Teh-Way D. Chen. “A Winning Smile? Smile Intensity, Physical Dominance, and Fighter Performance.” Emotion (2013): 

5. Animism and hunter-gatherers

Roberts, A. (2009) The Incredible Human Journey. London: Bloomsbury

Inoguchi, R. and Nakajima,T. (1967). Taiheiyou Senki: Kamikaze Tokubetsu Kougekitai . Tokyo: 

Kawade Shobou. 

Lambek, M. (2002). A reader in the anthropology of religion. (includes Durkheim, Langer, etc.)

6. Polytheism and agriculture

Thomson,H. (2006) Cochineal Red. Phoenix. Moche, pp 108 et seq

7. Monotheism and empires

Abu-Hamdiyyah (2000). The Qur’an. Routledge.

Armstrong, K. (2000). Islam: a short history. Weidenfeld and Nicholson.

Bowker,J. (1995). What Muslims believe. Oxford: Oneday.

Dalal, Farhad. A Transcultural Perspective on Psychodynamic Psychotherapy. 

Denton, Michael. (1998) Nature’s Destiny.

Feuerbach, L. (1854) First Ed. The Essence of Christianity. London: John Chapman.

Gibb,H. & Kramers,J.  (1961) Shorter encyclopaedia of Islam. Leiden: E.J.Brill

Harris, Sam. The end of faith. 2005 award. Clash of faith and reason.

8. God the general

Maxwell, T. and Ryan, H. (1988).  Fanaticism, Political Suicide and Terrorism. Terrorism, 11(2), 108

9. Where have all the goddesses gone?

Freud, S. (1939). Moses and Monotheism. Standard Edition, vol. 23. Hogarth Press.

10. Holy books need editors

Geertz, C. “Religion as a Cultural System,” in Anthropological Approaches to the Study of Religion , ed. M. Banton (London: Tavistock, 1966): 1-46

Luxenberg, Christoph. Die Syro-Arämaische Lesart des Koran. Berlin: Weinart.

11. Society evolves

Lifton,E. (2007). A clinical psychology perspective on radical Islamic youth. Chapter 3 in Islam Political Radicalism: A European Comparative Perspective, Tahir Abbas (ed) Edinburgh University Press.

Post, Jerrold, M. (2003). The psychological assessment of political leaders. University of Michigan Press.

Rosenthal, F. (1976), E. Yarshter, ed., Al-Biruni between Greece and India,, New York: Iran Center, Columbia University. 


Men Make Gods

  • Author: Sajah
  • Published: 2016-11-23 11:20:14
  • Words: 10571
Men Make Gods Men Make Gods