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Sunday, May 11, 2008

Man Created God - An Essay Of Sorts

[This blog entry may be offensive to any of you who are Christian or Muslim, or believers in a God in one form or another. I don't mean it to be so, of course. For me it's simply an exploration of my own spiritual journey. So readers beware :-)]

When human beings roamed the earth millions of years ago, they literally did not have the brain capacity to understand very much about their surroundings. Their survival instincts were the sole driving force of their short lives. Can you imagine hearing thunder for the first time and not knowing what it was or where it came from? It would be a pretty terrifying experience (it scares the heck out of me even when I DO know what it is!).

And how would a creature with such little information understand, for instance, the sun? Why is it here and where does it go at night?

Now I'm not a natural historian, but I can certainly understand how an early human with such limited knowledge might begin to think of and even to personify, all of those mighty forces around him. The Sun would be considered a very powerful being, it must have a reason for being here or going away. The Thunder would seem like a very angry sort of creature..maybe I do something to make it angry? How do I plead for the Rain to come and provide me with water when I need it? Is that even possible?

Humans then went from personifying the forces of nature, to believing that perhaps they could do something to please them (or piss them off!) as well. And out of this, kings and powerful leaders in earlier cultures made themselves middle-men between the gods and their subjects. Sacrifices and rituals were a way of exuding power over the people, and influence over the gods. We know that in some early societies, natural forces were indeed given identities and names and they were understood to be gods with great power. It does not seem so far-fetched to me to see that this is how our present-day ideas about one God grew.

It would take nothing but a leap of faith to determine that perhaps only one mighty power was in fact in charge of everything, the objects in the skies, the weather, the thunder, plants and animals, and ultimately, human beings. One force created all of this 'in the beginning' and is still there today, simply because we are.

Two million years ago, early humans had very small brains and over time, those brains grew in size, but not only in size, they also developed new "parts". The cerebral cortex is one of those newer parts. It is where we humans can, among other things, "pre-experience" something in order to decide if that's what we want to do. This is where memory, attention, perceptual awareness, thought, language, and consciousness resides. It is known that teenagers have a period of very rapid growth of this area of the brain, and that in some it happens more quickly than others. Its development is associated with maturity, recognizing the consequences of our actions and being able to more carefully control our impulses.

Could it also be true that, as this part of the brain developed over hundreds of thousands of years, it was responsible for the original concept of gods and ultimately one God? At some point in our human history, we began to question where we came from, rather than only existing as impulsive, reactive and instinctually-driven creatures. Maybe the beginning of the belief in God was, in fact, a physiological event.

It was in a writing by a Buddhist monk where I first read the concept of man creating God. This, to me, was an amazing revelation. Why didn't I think of that before? Man created God, and then ultimately came to the conclusion that God had, in fact, created Man. Since then, I have explored my own ideas and theories and experiences of God, as well as those of others that I have read. I've looked back at my own personal spiritual history and development to try to better understand what brought me to the conclusions I made. And the more I think of it, the more I experience the way the world appears to work, the more I come to the same conclusion that the Buddhist monk did.

As I said, I have no intention of dispelling or undermining anyone's faith. Faith is a very personal experience and I am not trying to change anyone's idea of God, rather I'm only out to explore my own. Lately, I have been delighted to see the leaders of different religions in the world more open to spending time together and looking for the common-ness of their beliefs, and banding together to support certain human causes, rather than fighting about who is "right". This is the way it should be.

IJ