Mark Zaveson sent me an e-mail this week that centered on a discussion concerning the Bible and the accuracy of the scriptures. The authorâ€™s intent was to review and promote a book whose author attacked the common historical revisionism that is around concerning Jesus specifically and the Bible in general.
Historians link the beginning of religion to the “discovery” of writing, espousing some coincidental issue to have existed between the events. The two also go together like cherries and cream to historical anthropologists. This is all to explain why religion and writing seem to have spontaneously appeared about 5,000 years ago, give or take a few thousand years, some hypotheses and an outlandish wild guess or two.
Of course, there is a direct relationship between the events, but not as is suggested. The relationship is based upon the notion that both happened long ago when mankind was first created and began to multiply across the face of the earth. As with all things, man was created in adult form, not in some immature state. The scriptures tell us that everything was created that way full blown and complete, to quote the popular American anthem, “from the mountains, to the prairies, to the oceans, white with foam.” And if you believe what is given in Genesis, man was therefore cognizant and could speak and write from the very first, and he quickly began to use granted and then developed skills to produce goods and necessities from Adam’s time onward. Man didn’t discover fire, it was provided for his use. The people of Noah’s day marveled at the rain, having never seen it before, but it did not take long for them to figure out they should have listened to the preacher and could have probably used a boat; and so it goes, on and on.
Our ancestors were neither dolts nor idiots, for man was created in the image of God. And the world was also made in the form He chose. God saw fit to record that when completed, that it was all very good. It all had been made full blown and in a seasoned state. This explanation, of course, is not acceptable to atheists, evolutionists, and other believers in the suspension of the laws of nature, law defying accidents or extra-terrestrials. It simply does not appeal to any earthly intellect. It never has.
Call me skeptical, but there is absolutely no evidence or indication that somebody got up one day after a few thousand years or more had passed and decided to start scrawling things on cave walls in response to some unknown intellectual stimulus; and that they or their buddies later chipped them into stone in an oblivious response to some cathartic (and truly momentous) evolutionary event. Can you see me rolling my eyes while I write this? In my shallow end of the pool of deep thinking – just because someone from long ago passed a few minutes scratching things on a rock or wall may have no deeper meaning to it than that their tummy was either empty or very full; and they had little to do at that precise moment; and it appealed to them to doodle some time away. There was nothing more weighty at work.
The point, anthropologically speaking (or when speaking from any other perspective), is the nonsensical notion that about the time some poor knuckle dragging cousin to an ape had gotten around to concocting script, he and some compatriots then held their collective noses and quickly took another plunge — and within a little while had come up with a religion. Perhaps it happened in reverse order – religion then language and script. Who could say? The point is that all of this is sillier far than any fairy tale. “It’s dark inside our cave, and that bright sun ball is right outside, and we’re not sophisticated enough to recognize that it was all here yesterday, and will probably be here tomorrow, whether we can ever explain it or not. So we’ll paint our faces and dance around a pile of rocks and start making things up just to fill our time. There are no signs and no directions, and we haven’t invented the calculus, refrigeration or rifled artillery yet, so let’s get going and make up an explanation as to how all this marvelous stuff came about.” This simple foolishness is typical of many modern explanations for complex things. I’m a descendant of a caveman and so are you, and we are collectively not clever enough to figure out how to fleece the neighbors.
The last line lies much closer to the truth. Religion has appealed to quick thinkers, cads and charlatans in every age. It still does. Coveting someone else’s stuff has always been involved in these things both then and now. And I suspect that not much has changed, except for technical abilities and the levels of sophistication. If you want all the goodies (and somebody always has) and you want to be the boss, you need leverage.
How could the idea of kings and masters have ever cropped up and then gotten solidly appended unless somebody assumed they had a right to their neighbor’s goods, and the wherewithal to seize them? They quickly learned to use might to get at the prize. At some point, also early on, someone changed the game and added an appeal to authority atop the already available means of enforcement with a good dose of muscle, applying it all in a somewhat softer and different direction. The advantage is that it is easier to scam someone who is not paying attention (the old Kansas City Shuffle in early historic form) than it is to constantly be at war. Some of it even held to a line of benevolence, just as it does now.
“We are the (paid for) King’s men. You should give some of your bounty to us to pay homage to our lord, and in return we will protect you from the other guy (who you may not see or know is lurking about). Our guy will be your lord, and you will now bow down to him. He is king because he is a god or he has been chosen by your gods. So get down on your knees savages!” This form of shakedown was thought of a very long, long time ago. They didn’t see fit to write up a How-To instruction manual, but history is replete with examples. Coupled with some brute force and better tactics than that of your next door neighbor, you have what the Egyptians, the Amalekites and Persians later perfected. This is how gangs and mobsters have also always worked; excepting “their gods” have no part in the mix as they only care about the muscle end of things and gaining the immediate end product. A progeny of sorts is what we today call power politics and all of these have been on the landscape in one form or another as long as there has been a landscape.
Now, let’s take another tiny dose of reality. The earliest religion is the religion of the God of the Bible. The rest are abridgments, poor imitations, or just another form of shakedown set to work on fear or to exploit emotions. Now I know that I will likely receive some resistance to this from some who don’t subscribe to the explanations listed above. You may see this as base and simplistic, but the one and only true God has never had any desire for real estate or gold, and had nothing temporal to gain by anointing Himself Lord of Hosts and God Almighty. He has no use for any of those things. He does not abide in temples made with hands. He has sought after other things; and no other god or pretended gods, or any champions of philosophy claiming to be gods have ever sought after those same things.
Some will undoubtedly state that Moses, who had written the first five books of the OT, lived some 3,000 years beyond the time identified where religion first appeared in societies and religious inscriptions, and was late to the show. But, Moses covered the beginning of those “first religions” in short order in his first book. And nobody spent any real time in a cave, unless they were on the run or otherwise had been forced to.
That’s enough small talk. Here is some big talk: There is no other book like the Bible and no God like unto the God of the Hebrews, the Israelis of old and of the Christians today. That should be clear enough if you will bother to read the oldest book known to humankind.