Comparing the Evolution of Chinese Culture with that of Christianity and Islam

Authors

WORK IN PROGRESS

Introduction

As I reflect upon the differences in the evolution of the various racial cultures, I have wondered why no one has yet compared the way these various cultures evolved taking into the time scale of such evolution and significance of the environment in which they evolved. Placing myself into a time capsule and travelling back through the ages into the environment of its evolution, I saw a scene so clearly that much was explained in the evolution of the human mind and his emotional developments. Much of this insight has already been expressed in my many articles already posted. I hope that you will enjoy my travels into the deep past.

Evolution of the Chinese: Taoist Culture

The examination of the Chinese culture based on the evolution of Taoism is special because of the uniqueness of these peoples. Unique, because these peoples evolved a culture in isolation.  A nation surrounded to the North by Tundra and Ice, to the East by impassable deserts, to the South by impenetrable mountains, and to the East by open unless oceans. There were no other cultures to corrupt or influence the evolution of the Chinese people. They evolved a religious  and social justice system based upon their own experiences and cultural needs.

Where do we begin?

As far back as possible? A hominid fossil that was 1.8 million year old was discovered in Indonesia, and later another hominid fossil, 1.9 million year old was found in China. Indicating that either homo erectus may have migrated to Asia as far back as 2 million years ago or that a hominid species may have evolved in China before that time. It was originally assumed that hominids evolved in Africa, with the earliest fossils of “Australopithecine” dated to 3.2 to 3.6 million years old. [1]

Scientists have assumed that the first hominids to venture into Europe and Asia from Africa were Homo Erectus till about 1.5 million years ago. But now scientists are beginning to suspect that a hominid species, pre-Homo erectus may have evolved in China long before 1.5 millions years ago. [2]

1.8-million-year-old hominid fossils in Indonesia, and 1.9-million-year-old hominid fossils in China suggests that Homo erectus may have migrated into Asia as early as 2 million years ago and then migrated across the continent very quickly. There is also evidence that a hominid species more primitive than Homo erectus may have evolved in China before that time. Hominids are early humans. Until recently scientists believed that man evolved in Africa and didn’t leave that continent until 1.5 million years ago and the first hominid to arrive in Asia and Europe was homo erectus, a species which included the famous Java Man and Peking Man. Now scientists working in China and elsewhere in Asia are challenging these theories. [2]

Archeologists have found bone fragments at Tianyuan Cavem near Beijing that has been carbon dated to between 42,000 and 39,000 years ago. What is puzzling states Professor Erik Trinkaus, Washington University in St Louis, USA is this, “We have remains from the Niah Cave in Sarawak, Borneo, and now this specimen from Tianyuan, China. As you go west, the next specimens are from Lebanon. There is nothing in between.” Erik Trinkaus believes that although the Tianyuan show modern Homo Sapiens characteristics, Trinkhaus’ team also speculates on the probability of the interbreeding between the Homo Sapiens from Africa and the native Hominoids. This could explain the genetic variation today. [3]

Origins of Oriental Culture – SHAMANISM [4a]

Early man would have queried the meaning and significance of thunder and lightning, night and day, fire and water, birth and death, illnesses and good health, success and failure, good fortune and back fortune. And the wise man of the tribe would soon evolve as the shaman of that community explaining and comforting the needy. Man needed answers, even primitive man. Thus, shamanism predates all organised religions, going back to the Neolithic period (12,000- 9500 years BC) and strong evidence that it goes back into the Paleolithic period (300,000 to 10,000 years ago). Shamanism provided the answers for man and was the unifying force of early man. That shamanism has had an influence on the culture or man and subsequent religions is without a doubt. Shamanism existed in all parts of the world with different emphasis depending upon local circumstances but some traits are common as identified by Elaide (1934):

1.  Spirits exist and play essential roles in personal lives and communities.

2.  Shamans can communicate with the spiritual world.

3.  Spirits can be good or evil.

4.  Shamans are able to treat illnesses caused by evil spirits.

5.  Shamans use trance as a means of entering the spirit world that separates them from ordinary people.

6.  The Shaman’s spirit can leave his body and enter the supernatural world to find answers.

7.  The Shaman evokes images of animals as spiritual guides, omens, and message bearers.

8.  The Shaman can foretell the future, read oracle bones, and perform divination.

Shamans are healers of illnesses (witch-doctors in Africa), ritualist for sacrifices to the spirits, Fortune tellers, tellers of folk-lore and traditional chants, and as a spiritual guide to the community. The Shaman is considered as a spiritual priest, a sage of traditional lore, and an interpreter of omens or dreams. [4]

As a matter of interest, shamanism was a large part of the “Bon religion” (the original religion of Tibetans) and still has a role in forming the current Tibetan Buddhism. Shamanism also has a great influence in many of the religious culture in many of the Central Asian, Nepal and Northern Indian cultures. It still alive today in different forms. [4]

Pre-historic China The Xia Dynasty (2207BC to 1766 BC) and earlier can be referred to as pre-history and there are no written records or many myths prior to that dynasty. The only evidence can be gleaned from archeological findings and to extrapolate deeper into the past. Some recorded history started with the Shang Dynasty (1765 BC to 1122 BC) with the discovery of oracle bones discovered of that period which archeologists have uncovered and authenticates the existence of their civilisation. A Chinese archeological team dated the find of those oracle bones to 2070 BC which was the beginning of the Xia Dynasty. [5]

Oracle bones were used in divination a practice that runs through the thread of Shamanism. This is a clear indication that even in the Xia Dynasty (2207 BC to 1766 BC) there was already a society sophisticated enough to be concerned with spirituality, and predictions, and spiritual forces. The question is, how many generations before the Xia Dynasty were people sophisticated enough to seek knowledge and to trust the wisdom to Shamans to meet their spiritual and practical needs? [6]

Thus it is abundantly clear that shamanism was aware of spiritualism and developed profound thoughts and philosophies about spiritualism. How sophisticated, therefore, were people of the Neolithic period (12,000 – 9000 BC) to be able to visualise in the abstract visions of spiritualism? In fact, shamanism in all probability would have been handed down from the Paleolithic period ***(300,000 – 10,000 BC.)  The etymology of the word Shama is uncertain, but can be related to the Tungus root “sa-” meaning, “to know” thus related to the Turco-Mongol cultures. Other scholars claim that it comes directly from the Manchu language. [4]

***The Chinese Cultural Evolution

Imagine the Chinese people of the neolithic period (12,000-9,000 BC), even stretching into the Palaeolithic period (300,000 – 10,000 BC) when we know that primitive man roamed the valley of the Yangtse river, ***isolated from any other communities or cultural influences, cut off in the North by frozen tundra, the East by scorching deserts, the south by impassable mountains, and the East by open treacherous seas. In this isolated primitive  wild and alien land evolved the Chinese culture. Thus it is so ideal to study as it is unique and uncontaminated.

What were the conditions of the environment for these primitive peoples? The people had little tools or material to survive on. They were hunter gatherers surviving only on what they could find to eat and shelter from the elements. Their main concerns therefore would be survival, from heat and cold, from storms and drought, from wild animals and unfriendly neighbours, and from their own domestic incompatibilities. There was no scholarship, or wisdom, and you learned as you experienced life and from your parents. The primitive man learned by experience and trial and error in order to understand the vicissitudes of nature in order to survive. But what would be the major concerns of primitive man at that time of his evolution back in the Neolithic and Palaeolithic periods?

***Typical Anxieties of Neolithic peoples (12,000 – 9,000 BC) in China

(1) Protection/Security/Punishment/Laws and for this aspect of their social and civil order the peoples created  21 deities to protect them against such injustices.

(2) Sex/Illness/famines/exorcism/death: to help them overcome their fear of these unknowns they created 15 deities to meet such spiritual needs.

(3) Wealth/Success/Happiness/Compassion/happiness/virtue: To meet their spiritual needs for this aspect of their lives they created 11 deities to cover such needs.

(4) Heavenly Laws and gods: Ancient |Chinese allotted 5 deities to meet Heavenly Law and gods.

(5) Prostitution: The ancient Chinese peoples located 3 deities to meet this problem in their society.

Evolution of the Abrahamic Faiths

By comparison, the Pharoahs at the time of Abraham (1813 BC-1638 BC) worshipped physical gods, with no obvious connections to spirituality as with the Shamans. “The Egyptian community had  more than 2000 gods but there were some gods like Ra, the sun god, who was worshipped by all Egyptians throughout the country. Ra was the main god, but here is a list of others. Ra – The Sun God, the one who was there at the beginning. Amun – the Father of life who later combined with Ra to become Amun-Ra the all important State God. Osisris, Isis, Seth & Nephthys came from the Creation of the Universe. Ptah created Heaven and Earth. Sekhmet was the Wife of Ptah. Seth murdered his Brother Osiris by trapping him in a coffin and then threw him in the Nile. Nephthys as Sister and Wife to Seth. Isis was Osiris’ Sister and Wife and sometime after his death was able to revive him long enough to conceive Horus. Osiris was chosen to judge dead mortals who wanted to follow him to Heaven. He sat in judgement as their heart was put in the balance against a feather of the Goddess Maat, who stood for truth. Horus a Falcon, avenged his Father Osiris. Thoth was given the Moon and appointed assistant to the Sun God, Ra. Isis together with Horus, Anubis and Thoth were able to reassemble the previously dismembered parts of the body of Osiris, and add a phallus (the original having bveen eaten by fish,) wrapped it in bandages and thereby created the first Mummy. Hathor, the Goddess of Love, Joy and Music first suckled Horus then later became his wife.” [7]

It was not till Moses saw the burning bush in 1314 BC did the concept of a “Spiritual God,” Yahweh,  the Jewish God, was conceived. Yet, the environment of the Manchus or Orientals and that of the Jews were different and each evolved their own philosophies according to their environment. Moses evolved from a physical polytheist culture into one that was monotheist. The  spiritual evolution of the Oriental shamans evolved from an primitive earthy spirituality into a more complex polytheist culture but still strongly linked to spirituality.

In order to properly understand the evolution of the Abrahamic Faiths, it is necessary to appreciate the environment from which it emerged. The God of Moses did not appear like a bold of lightening out of the Heavens to reveal His unique existence but it evolved out of the multitudes of different mythological beliefs that preceded it by thousands of years and were already firmly established religions and beliefs in that region and well known to all the surrounding inhabitants.

Ancient Babylonia – Religion of the Ancient Near East

Babylon also appears prominently in the biblical books of Daniel, Jeremiah, and Isaiah, among others, and, most notably, The Book of Revelation. It was these biblical references which sparked interest in Mesopotamian archaeology.

Outside of the sinful reputation given it by the Bible, the city is known for its impressive walls and buildings, its reputation as a great seat of learning and culture, ***the formation of a code of law which pre-dates the Mosaic Law, and for the Hanging Gardens of Babylon which were man-made terraces of flora and fauna, watered by machinery, which were cited by Herodotus as one of the Seven Wonders of the World. [Thus the impact of Babylonian culture and beliefs must inherently have had a profound influence in the thoughts and beliefs of the founders of the Abrahamic faiths. This fact must be kept in mind when we trace the evolution of the Abrahamic faiths. But what should be constantly kept in mind is the Timescale of events.

THE OLD CITY & HAMMURABI
Babylon was founded at some point prior to the reign of Sargon of Akkad (also known as Sargon the Great) who ruled from ***2334-2279 BCE and claimed to have built temples at Babylon (other ancient sources seem to indicate that Sargon himself founded the city). At that time, Babylon seems to have been a minor city or perhaps a large port town on the Euphrates River at the point where it runs closest to the river Tigris. Whatever early role the city played in the ancient world is lost to modern-day scholars because the water level in the region has risen steadily over the centuries and the ruins of Old Babylon have become inaccessible. The ruins which were excavated by Koldewey, and are visible today, date only to well over one thousand years after the city was founded. The historian Paul Kriwaczek, among other scholars, claims it was established by the Amorites following the collapse of the Third Dynasty of Ur. This information, and any other pertaining to Old Babylon, comes to us today through artifacts which were carried away from the city after the Persian invasion or those which were created elsewhere.

EVERY ANCIENT WRITER MENTIONS BABYLON WITH A TONE OF AWE AND REVERENCE.
The known history of Babylon, then, begins with its most famous king: Hammurabi (1792-1750 BCE). This obscure Amorite prince ascended to the throne upon the abdication of his father, King Sin-Muballit, and fairly quickly transformed the city into one of the most powerful and influential in all of Mesopotamia. Hammurabi’s law codes are well known but are only one example of the policies he implemented to maintain peace and encourage prosperity. He enlarged and heightened the walls of the city, engaged in great public works which included opulent temples and canals, and made diplomacy an integral part of his administration. So successful was he in both diplomacy and war that, by 1755 BCE, he had united all of Mesopotamia under the rule of Babylon which, at this time, was the largest city in the world, and named his realm Babylonia.

THE ASSYRIANS, CHALDEANS, & NEBUCHADNEZZAR II
Following Hammurabi’s death, his empire fell apart and Babylonia dwindled in size and scope until Babylon was easily sacked by the Hittites in 1595 BCE. The Kassites followed the Hittites and re-named the city Karanduniash. The meaning of this name is not clear. The Assyrians then followed the Kassites in dominating the region and, under the reign of the Assyrian ruler Sennacherib (reigned 705-681 BCE), Babylon revolted. Sennacherib had the city sacked, razed, and the ruins scattered as a lesson to others. His extreme measures were considered impious by the people generally and Sennacherib’s court specifically and he was soon after assassinated by his sons. His successor, Esarhaddon, re-built Babylon and returned it to its former glory. The city later rose in revolt against Ashurbanipal of Nineveh who besieged and defeated the city but did not damage it to any great extent and, in fact, personally purified Babylon of the evil spirits which were thought to have led to the trouble. The reputation of the city as a center of learning and culture was already well established by this time.

Babylon at the time of Hammurabi
After the fall of the Assyrian Empire, a Chaldean named Nabopolassar took the throne of Babylon and, through careful alliances, ***created the Neo-Babylonian Empire. His son, Nebuchadnezzar II (604-561 BCE), renovated the city so that it covered 900 hectares (2,200 acres) of land and boasted some the most beautiful and impressive structures in all of Mesopotamia. Every ancient writer to make mention of the city of Babylon, outside of those responsible for the stories in the Bible, does so with a tone of awe and reverence.

Lion of Babylon Statue, Babylonia
THE PERSIAN CONQUEST & BABYLON’S DECLINE
The Neo-Babylonian Empire continued after the death of Nebuchadnezzar II and Babylon continued to play an important role in the region under the rule of Nabonidus and his successor Belshazzar (featured in the biblical Book of Daniel). In 539 BCE the empire fell to the Persians under Cyrus the Great at the Battle of Opis. Babylon’s walls were impregnable and so the Persians cleverly devised a plan whereby they diverted the course of the Euphrates River so that it fell to a manageable depth. While the residents of the city were distracted by one of their great religious feast days, the Persian army waded the river and marched under the walls of Babylon unnoticed. It was claimed the city was taken without a fight although documents of the time indicate that repairs had to be made to the walls and some sections of the city and so perhaps the action was not as effortless as the Persian account maintained.

Under Persian rule, Babylon flourished as a center of art and education. Cyrus and his successors held the city in great regard and made it the administrative capital of their empire (although at one point the Persian emperor Xerxes felt obliged to lay siege to the city after another revolt). Babylonian mathematics, cosmology, and astronomy were highly respected and it is thought that Thales of Miletus (known as the first western philosopher) may have studied there and that Pythagoras developed his famous mathematical theorem based upon a Babylonian model. When, after two hundred years, the Persian Empire fell to Alexander the Great in 331 BCE, he also gave great reverence to the city, ordering his men not to damage the buildings nor molest the inhabitants.

By the time the Parthian Empire ruled the region in 141 BCE Babylon was deserted and forgotten. The city steadily fell into ruin and, even during a brief revival under the Sassanid Persians, never approached its former greatness. In the Muslim conquest of the land in 650 CE whatever remained of Babylon was swept away and, in time, was buried beneath the sands. In the 17th and 18th centuries CE European travelers began to explore the area and return home with various artefacts.

Ancient Babylonia – Religion of the Ancient Near East

Religious beliefs and practices
Little was known about the religions of the city-states of W Asia until stores of religious literature were uncovered by excavations in the 19th and 20th cent. The picture is still incomplete, although from the available information it appears that the various religions shared many beliefs and concepts. It was from these roots that three of the world’s major religions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam developed).

The Gods
Probably the most important of the Middle Eastern religions was that which was developed by the peoples of Mesopotamia (i.e., the Sumerians, the Babylonians, and the Assyrians). These peoples, besides spreading their influence, absorbed contributions of the Hittites, the Phrygians, the Ugarites, and the Phoenicians. It was in Mesopotamia that the Sumerians implanted reverence for the sky and for high places. Later, when they came into contact with the Semites, new gods were absorbed into the pantheon. The result was a blend of religious thought, Sumerian and Semitic, in which everything (a tree, a stone, a fish, a bird, a person, or even an abstract idea) had a particular significance in the universe.

***The highest authority was the triad of gods: the sky god Anu, the storm god Enlil, and the water god Ea, or Enki. Later a second triad arose: the moon god Sin, the sun god Shamash, and the goddess Ishtar (sometimes replaced by the weather god Hadad). As Babylon rose to supremacy in the 2d millennium B.C., the local god Marduk became important; a thousand years later Ashur of Assyria took his place. Thus many deities were determined by political conquest as well as by interchange.
There was a gradual development among the Middle Eastern cultures toward belief in a supreme god. One of the most widespread cults was that of the mother goddess (Inanna, Ishtar, Astarte, Cybele; see Great Mother Goddess). She was considered as more kindly disposed toward humans than the other deities but was also capable of cruelty and vengefulness.

The Role of Humans
***People were, according to Middle Eastern beliefs, created for the benefit of the gods: they were to serve and obey, provide the gods with food, clothing, and shelter, and offer them reverence. There were personal gods who were protective of the individual and linked humans with the great deities, but essentially the ancient Mesopotamian peoples were at the mercy of gods whose behavior was arbitrary and often abusive. In response to this belief in negligence on the part of the gods, various city-states enacted public laws or codes of ethics (in addition to promulgating a large body of wisdom literature) that sought to promote justice and truth and to destroy wickedness. Of these law collections the most famous was probably the code of Hammurapi.

While originally the functions of priesthood were borne by the city rulers, in later times priests became a separate group and were assigned special and significant duties: some pacified the gods with hymns and liturgy; others were trained in divination and astrology (special functions in Middle Eastern religion that indirectly contributed to the growth of science); others, perhaps the most important, were concerned with protecting people from demons, who were considered actual creatures with distinct shapes and names and were to be repelled by magic, daily recitations, and exorcism.
Other Beliefs
Some beliefs (the story of creation, the perpetuation of life, the inevitable fate of humanity) have come down to us in Sumerian and Babylonian mythology, which was preserved in cuneiform writing on clay tablets. The epic of creation, the Enuma elish (2d millennium B.C.), describes the battle between the young gods (forces of order), led by Marduk, and the old gods (forces of chaos), led by Tiamat and her consort Kingu. Another well-known myth, symbolizing the death and rebirth of vegetation, is that of Ishtar’s descent to the underworld in search of her lover Tammuz and her triumphant return to earth. Here is the resurrection theme common to later religions. Perhaps the most famous of all Babylonian myths is the story of Gilgamesh. ***Although the people of the ancient Middle East conceived of a sort of after-existence, they generally believed that a person’s fate was decay and dust. Their beliefs foreshadowed the change from polytheism to monotheism, faith in some sort of divine benevolence, and even the idea of salvation so important in the religious mysteries and later in Christianity.

http://www.bible-history.com/babylonia/BabyloniaReligion_of_the_Ancient_Near_Eas.htm

The Religions of Ancient Egypt and Babylonia: The Gifford Lectures on the Ancient Egyptian and Babylonian Conception of the Divine Delivered in Aberde.

These collection of lectures presents a vivid, although complex and complicated picture of the mental and spiritual mentality of Egyptian and Babylonian society in those far distant days when literacy was non existent except for the few priests who may have delved into its mysteries. An epitome of an ancient culture of some 520 pages, it sets the mood and the *****ambience of the cauldron from which the Abrahamic Faiths were synthesised and eventually evolved in the form of a monotheistic religion. But to understand many of the anomalies in the Bible, it is essential to attempt to understand the minds and the culture of the peoples from which it was derived. Yes, it was heavy reading, but how else would one be transported into that ancient environment and feel what those early Egyptians and Babylonians felt. They too must have been overwhelmed with the many gods, traditions, and obligations they were expected to observe.

We should not attempt to judge the standards and values of those ancient peasant peoples with the mentality we possess today but attempt to put ourselves into their shoes to understand how their minds and emotions worked under those ancient primitive conditions of life. Only then will we see that those people were not ignorant pagans but were people attempting to understand their surroundings and to find an explanation of their lives within the limits of their intellectual development and knowledge.

The gap of knowledge between an illiterate peasant and that of a scholarly priest (even limited as it was in those days) must have been unbridgeable.

***The gap in the social status of a peasant and that of the Pharaoh too must have been so great that the Pharaoh was seen as omnipotent and regarded as such without question, a god-like figure. And as with most other religions, immortalizing a Pharaoh into a god, is no less similar to modern Christians elevating good man and women to sainthood. So we now begin to see the merging of man and god, in all the great religions of man, the immortalizing of our Saints. Yet, prejudice dictates that some worship pagan polygods, while others worship one god but with many saints or prophets or angels.

The importance of lectures and books such as this, suppressed for thousands of years by the different clergy like the ***Justinian code or the Roman Canon Law, allows an insight into the evolution of Judaism from much earlier religious philosophies and traditions. It is by looking at some of these pre-Judaic beginnings that we can appreciate how the early script writers could record the vision of Moses in 1314 BC. We will look at some of these pre-Judaic concepts and traditions to show that Judaic traditions were not by any means unique but handed down and already accepted by the peoples long before them.

The Egyptian religion had always been a combination of ill-assorted survivals and confederation of different cults rather than having evolved from a definite theology. The cohesion of their beliefs was welded together by the authority of the Pharaoh. The Pharaoh was accepted by his people not only as a son and representative of the sun-god, but the visible manifestation of the sun-god himself. It was accepted by the people that the Pharaoh, the Egyptian State, and the Egyptian Religion were united as one.

(1)***** Here we observe that the Pharaoh, (a man), is so highly regarded that he is accepted as a god. Also the Pharaoh (a man) is a manifestation of a god, Ra. Upon examination of all earlier pictorial representation of Christian Prophets or Saints, you will notice that they were all depicted with the halo. The halo was the pictorial symbol of the Sun God, Ra. Only all modern illustrations of Christian prophets and saints today do not have the benefit of a halo. It has taken a long time for Christians to disassociate themselves from the Sun god, Ra.

(2)***** Thus for these same peoples to accept Jesus as a god, representing God on earth does not raise any questions in the minds of the people.

(3)***** The Egyptians also believe in the virgin-birth of the god Pharaoh. This goes back to the 18th Dynasty where on the western wall of the temple of Luxor, when the birth of Amon-hotep III is described that he had no human father. Amon himself descended from heaven and became the father of the future king. His mother was still a virgin when the god of Thebes “incarnated himself,” so that she might “behold him in his divine form.” “My soul is in him, and he shall wear the twofold crown of royalty, ruling the two worlds like the sun for ever.”

(4)***** Here again, clear precedence has been set for the concept of “virgin-birth.” Hence, the story of the virgin birth of Mary of Jesus is also a concept that raises no eye-brows. But Amon-hotep III was not the first whose father was a god. Queen Hatshepsu was also said to have been born of Amon.

(5) *****It is a fundamental belief in Osiris ideology that every body has a Ka, spirit, and the two are bound together. And that it is possible for the Ka to return to a deceased body and there would be resurrection. Hence the Egyptian practice of embalming, to ensure that the Ka has a perfect body to return to for resurrection. The doctrine of resurrection of the body became an integral part of the Osirian faith.

(6)***** Thus the vision of the resurrection of Jesus after his Crucifixion is all well within the bounds of the perception and imagination of the early scribes of the Bible. Although today it would be a miracle for someone to be resurrected after lying dead for 3 days.

(7)***** It is fascinating to observe that the Doctrine of the Trinity was already well established in the early Egyptian schools of theology. All the chief deities of Egypt were forced to conform to it. Anubus, the second person in the trinity of Set, must have already been attached to the cult of Osiris.

(8) Without delving into more details of the Trinity of the Egyptian religion, it can only be assumed that when ***the Council of Nicaea decided to adopt the Trinity in 325 AD that Scholars of Egyptian religions must have had a strong influence in uniting the clergy at Nicaea under the Egyptian doctrines.

(9) It was from among the Babylonians that they saw their gods possessed human forms. Man had been made in the likeness of gods and the gods therefore were of human shape. The converse was the case in Egypt. Here the gods, with a few exceptions, were conveived of as brute beasts. Horus was the hawk, Nekheb the vulture, Uazit of Buto the deadly uraeus snake. Thus it is concluded that Egyptian religion was influenced from outside, likely Asia.

(10) *****The main purpose for the Babylonians to credit the god of Babylon with the creation of the world was to glorify Him. It was necessary that the supreme god of the universe should also be its creator. There is a great contrast between the Babylonian and the Hebrew conceptions of creation. The Hebrew cosmology starts from the belief in one God, i.e., “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. ….The breath of God should become the life of the world.” But the elements of Hebrew cosmology are all Babylonian. But between the polytheism of Babylonia and the monotheism of Israel a gulf is fixed which cannot be spanned.

(11)*** Babylonian cosmology had 3 beliefs, that water is the primal element, the belief in a lawless chaos from which the present world has been rescued after a long struggle between the powers of darkness and light, and a belief in generation as the primary creative force.

(12)*** It will be observed that Babylonian, Hebrew, and Creation in Genesis have all considered that the heavenly bodies are already in existence. What the creator did was to establish them in their stations, and appoint them to mark and register time. Or with Genisis a generality that the Universe was created in 7 days. That the concept of an expanding Universe created from an inconceivable and as yet inexplicable explosion was beyond their comprehension.

(13) Searching for evidence of the creation of man in these ancient scripts, we find, “Ea was the “lord of the earth” as well as of the sea, and Eridu, his city, was the “city of the lord of the land.” The men who inhabited it were his creation: *****he had formed them like a potter out of the clay, and as the divine potter he was therefore known unto them. He was the first artist in clay, and the models that he made were the first men. We can see how this early concept was plagiarized and elaborated upon in Genisis.

(14) ***The Babylonian story of the Deluge (Flood) is well known. But here, it was Xisuthros, like Noah who owed his preservation to his piety. The Deluge (Flood) was a punishment for sin, and that righteous man should be saved. This is clearly an example that people of ancient times saw god as a cruel taskmaster who would destroy if you did not obey his commands.

(15)  *****The monotheism of Khu-n-Aten, in Egypt, was pantheistic, and as a result of this the god he worshipped was the god of the whole universe. It was the first time in history that the doctrine was proclaimed that the Supreme Being was the God of all mankind. This again is that same God that is portrayed by Moses and Judaism but was already practiced in Egypt although it did not survive then because of the entrenched memes of orthodox Egyptian polytheist gods. But it was revived by Semites under the guise of Moses’ visions.

Comments:

I found it astounding that the Bible was neither original, unique nor divine, but was a compilation of the best and believable bits of pagan Egyptian, Babylonian, Sumerian, and Asiatic religious and superstitious beliefs of earlier civilizations that had been kept suppressed until only recently.

It certainly opened my mind to the probable beginnings and roots of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. It also suggests that many of these religious concepts were the evolution of the inquiring minds of humans rather than some revelation of God. There are simply too many coincidences of Christian ideologies being only plagiarisms and modifications of the best bits of pagan ancient beliefs. [9]

The Greek Religion

Greek religion,religious beliefs and practices of the ancient Hellenes. Greek religion is not the same as Greek mythology, which is concerned with traditional tales, though the two are closely interlinked.Curiously, for a people so religiously minded, the Greeks had no word for religion itself; the nearest terms were eusebeia (“piety”) and threskeia (“cult”).

Although its origins may be traced to the remotest eras, *****Greek religion in its developed form lasted more than a thousand years, from the time of Homer (probably ****9th or 8th century bce) to the reign of the emperor Julian (4th century ce). During that period its influence spread as far west as Spain, east to the Indus River, and throughout the Mediterranean world. Its effect was most marked on the Romans, who identified their deities with those of the Greeks. Under Christianity, Greek heroes and even deities survived as saints, while the rival madonnas of southern European communities reflected the independence of local cults. The rediscovery of Greek literature during the Renaissance and, above all, the novel perfection of Classical sculpture produced a revolution in taste that had far-reaching effects on Christian religious art. The most-striking characteristic of Greek religion was the belief in a multiplicity of anthropomorphic deities under one supreme god. Priests simply looked after cults; they did not constitute a clergy, and there were no sacred books.

The sole requirements for the Greeks were to believe that the gods existed and to perform ritual and sacrifice, through which the gods received their due. To deny the existence of a deity was to risk reprisals, from the deity or from other mortals. The list of avowed atheists is brief. But if a Greek went through the motions of piety, he risked little, since no attempt was made to enforce orthodoxy, a religious concept almost incomprehensible to the Greeks. The large corpus of myths concerned with gods, heroes, and rituals embodied the worldview of Greek religion and remains its legacy. (See Greek mythology.) It should be noted that the myths varied over time and that, within limits, a writer—e.g., a Greek tragedian—could alter a myth by changing not only the role played by the gods in it but also the evaluation of the gods’ actions.

From the later 6th century bce onward, myths and gods were subject to rational criticism on ethical or other grounds. In those circumstances it is easy to overlook the fact that most Greeks “believed” in their gods in roughly the modern sense of the term and that they prayed in a time of crisis not merely to the “relevant” deity but to any deity on whose aid they had established a claim by sacrifice. To that end, each Greek polis had a series of public festivals throughout the year that were intended to ensure the aid of all the gods who were thus honoured. They reminded the gods of services rendered and asked for a quid pro quo. Particularly during times of crises, the Greeks, like the Romans, were often willing to petition deities borrowed from other cultures. [10]

Zoroastrianism

Zoroastrianism, the ancient pre-Islamic religion of Iran that survives there in isolated areas and, more prosperously, in India, where the descendants of Zoroastrian Iranian (Persian) immigrants are known as Parsis, or Parsees. In India the religion is called Parsiism.

Founded by the Iranian prophet and reformer Zoroaster in the 6th century bc, the religion contains both monotheistic and dualistic features. It influenced the other major Western religons—Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. For a discussion of the context in which Zoroastrianism arose, see Iranian religion.

Nature and significance
The ancient Greeks saw in Zoroastrianism the archetype of the dualistic view of the world and of man’s destiny. Zoroaster was supposed to have instructed Pythagoras in Babylon and to have inspired the Chaldean doctrines of astrology and magic. It is likely that Zoroastrianism influenced the development of Judaism and the birth of Christianity. The Christians, following a Jewish tradition, identified Zoroaster with Ezekiel, Nimrod, Seth, Balaam, and Baruch, and even, through the latter, with Christ himself. On the other hand, Zoroaster, as the presumed founder of astrology and magic, could be considered the arch-heretic. In more recent times the study of Zoroastrianism has played a decisive part in reconstructing the religion and social structure of the Indo-European peoples.

Though Zoroastrianism was never, even in the thinking of its founder, as aggressively monotheistic as, for instance, Judaism or Islām, it does represent an original attempt at unifying under the worship of one supreme god a polytheistic religion comparable to those of the ancient Greeks, Latins, Indians, and other early peoples.

Its other salient feature, namely dualism, was never understood in an absolute, rigorous fashion. Good and Evil fight an unequal battle in which the former is assured of triumph. God’s omnipotence is thus only temporarily limited. In this struggle man must enlist because of his capacity of free choice. He does so with his soul and body, not against his body, for the opposition between good and evil is not the same as the one between spirit and matter. Contrary to the Christian or Manichaean (from Manichaeism—a Hellenistic, dualistic religion founded by the Iranian prophet Mani) attitude, fasting and celibacy are proscribed, except as part of the purificatory ritual. Man’s fight has a negative aspect, nonetheless: he must keep himself pure; i.e., avoid defilement by the forces of death, contact with dead matter, etc. Thus Zoroastrian ethics, although in itself lofty and rational, has a ritual aspect that is all-pervading. On the whole, Zoroastrianism is optimistic and has remained so even through the hardship and oppression of its believers.

Conclusion
Zoroastrianism is not the purely ethical religion it may at first seem. In practice, despite the doctrine of free choice, a Zoroastrian is so constantly involved in a meticulous struggle against the contamination of death and the thousand causes of defilement, and against the threat, even in his sleep, of ever-present demons, that he does not often believe that he is leading his life freely and morally.

Apart from this attitude, the belief in the power of destiny sometimes culminates in fatalism. The latter is easily associated with Zurvanism, itself sometimes tainted with materialism. In the Mēnōk-i Khrat, it is stated that “though one be armed with the valour and strength of wisdom and knowledge, yet it is not possible to strive against fate.” On the whole, however, as R.C. Zaehner notes, “the theological premises” of Zoroastrianism “are based on an essentially moralistic view of life. [11]

Remarks:

later

 

Reference

[1] Migration of Homo Sapiens: http://www.handprint.com/LS/ANC/disp.html

[2] Prehistoric man in China: http://factsanddetails.com/china.php?itemid=33&catid=2&subcatid=1

[3] Hominid discovery by Angela MH Schuster: http://www.archaeology.org/9903/newsbriefs/hominid.html

[4] Modern man-Tuanyuan Caves, Beijing: http://www.stonepages.com/news/archives/002333.html

[5] Shamanism, animism, worship of spirit of ancestors and other spirits: http://www.wowwiki.com/Shamanism_and_nature_worship

[6] A Shaman: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shamanism

[7] China: pre-history, pre-Xia/Shang: http://www.imperialchina.org/Pre-history.html

[8] Oracle Bones: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oracle_bone

[9] The Religions of Ancient Egypt and Babylonia: http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Religions-Ancient-Egypt-Babylonia/dp/0548718342/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top/277-5515237-1141407

[10] The Greek Religion: (9 C BCE): http://www.britannica.com/topic/Greek-religion

[11] Zoroastrianism: http://www.britannica.com/topic/Zoroastrianism/Practices-and-institutions

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