Wednesday, 13 July 2011

200,000 years before Jesus

Inspired by Christopher Hitchens and Sam Harris . . .


We now know that the human race is 100 to 200 thousand years old. For all of that time people have been inventing better ways of living, and spreading around the world. They have been developing fire, art, music, wheels, levers, tools and . . . religions. Not just one religion but thousands of them.

For all that time humanity has faced disease, earthquakes, volcanoes, predators and no doubt temptation.

Heaven looked on, unconcerned.

But then, suddenly, 4000 years ago in barbaric, illiterate parts of the bronze-age middle east, God (with a capital G) decided to intervene. He didn't reveal himself in China or Europe, but only to a chosen people (who have subsequently split themselves into Judaism, Islam and Christianity).

What most religious people of today fail to notice is that this religion was just one of humanity's first attempts to explain the world in terms of:
  • Philosophy
  • Morality and 
  • Healthcare

We now have better attempts at all three of these without relying on the supernatural.  We now have much more elegant and persuasive scientific explanations for the world around us. It is not perfect, but with every iteration it gets nearer to perfection.

Meanwhile, religion stands still.  It was first written down by people who knew nothing of the world of science.  They did not know what caused people to die.  They could not predict the natural phenomena around them.  They were not stupid of course, but nobody reading this anywhere in the world knows as little as they knew, and in fact probably none of us have ever even met anyone so ignorant.

But still people look back on the great religious texts as if they contain the wisdom of the ancients.

2 comments:

RosaRubicondior said...

Never understood this strange belief that somehow people living a long time ago knew more than we do when it is patently obvious that human knowledge is accumulative and INCREASING with time, not decreasing.

But I suppose people who believe in magic can fool themselves into believing anything.

Anonymous said...

i think this is not the first instance of humanity having high technology, but that this knowledge was lost to much of the earth and had to be relearned...there is some striking evidence that leads me to think this is true, such as physical evidence to support both the events of sodom and gomorrah, and the claims that are in the vedic texts in india...so to a human population that was reduced to barbarism out of collapse, the devolution of the mind to superstition and nonsense is also a plausible theory...after all it is often portrayed in post apocalyptic movies and there are probably accounts of such things happening to people isolated from civilization when their situation becomes desperate... such as Robinson Crusoe, or the Donner party...

it happens still to this day... i also think there is a strong case for humanity forgetting what high technology was and interpreting it wrong as magic or the power of the gods...