Windows and Doors

Windows and Doors


Did God Create The World?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Okay, to be fair, that is a somewhat hyperbolic question, and one which nobody can claim to have proof or even scientific evidence for.  Of course, that doesn’t mean it isn’t true.  It simply means that the endless debates about that question being answerable through science are really a waste of time.  Not a waste of time however, is new evidence that the yearning to connect with God or gods may very well have created civilization as we know it.

For years, historians, archeologists, anthropologists, and pretty much all of the other “ologists” have agreed that agriculture created civilization, including religion, as we have known it for the past 12-15 thousand years.  The assumption was that settling down to lives of farming, people built cities, created art, and made up organized religions to suit the new needs they faced in the transition from hunter-gathers to farmers.  Or not. 

New evidence suggests that it was not agriculture which created civilization, but religion.  The June issue of National Geographic offers a brief and provocative story from a place in Turkey known as Göbekli Tepe, site of the world’s oldest example of monumental architecture i.e. a temple.

While the interpretation of archeological remains is often as much art as it is science, there is plenty of reason to believe that in Gobekli Tepe, we have strong evidence that people’s need/desire to gather for worship is what created civilization, not the reverse, as was previously assumed.  The Temple existed without a city.
 
As article author Charles C. Mann observes:
At the time of Göbekli Tepe‘s construction much of the human race lived in small nomadic bands that survived by foraging for plants and hunting wild animals. Construction of the site would have required more people coming together in one place than had likely occurred before. Amazingly, the temple’s builders were able to cut, shape, and transport 16-ton stones hundreds of feet despite having no wheels or beasts of burden. The pilgrims who came to Göbekli Tepe lived in a world without writing, metal, or pottery; to those approaching the temple from below, its pillars must have loomed overhead like rigid giants, the animals on the stones shivering in the firelight–emissaries from a spiritual world that the human mind may have only begun to envision.

That human minds, at least some of them, envision things ahead of what is physically possible and respond to impulses which are driven by more than physical needs is not only wonderful, it demonstrates that religion is more than what typical utilitarians suggest.  It also does so without having to buy into theologies which many people reject. 

The choice is not necessarily to view religion as a low level response to changed physical circumstances on the one hand, or as the gift of supernatural beings who live in the skies above or in the depths below, on the other.  That dichotomy, like most dichotomies, is false.  At least that is the evidence suggested by the remains at Gobekli Tepe.

The evidence from Turkey suggests that the pilgrimage impulse, the collective worship impulse, the sacred space impulse, are all supra-natural, if not super-natural.  There is something within us, not necessarily from outside us, which compels the building of Gobekli Tepe and places like it. That “something” is not simply accounted for by the usual explanations which seek to explain, or, too often, explain away, people’s attachment to religious expression.  

The evidence from Gobekli Tepe suggests that religion is both more real, and more human, than is often admitted.  The ultra-orthodox in both camps in the ongoing debate about what religion “really is”, where it came from and what purposes it serves may find this difficult to accept.
 
Of course, the assumption that something cannot be both deeply religious and deeply rooted in human impulse and capacity, may be one of the idols which need to be smashed in this debate.  Gobekli Tepe may be just the hammer for which we have been waiting.



  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment nnmns

    We might reasonably ask what brought about the desire of people to practice religion. I can think of three things that may reasonably have fed into it:

    1) Tribes that were cohesive survived better than tribes that weren’t, and in those “simple” times joint belief in some kind of religion would add cohesion so at that time religious belief may have been an evolutionary positive.

    2) As time went by people in the tribe who didn’t “believe” in the tribal religion may have been expelled or worse so they didn’t reproduce as well and what is now healthy skepticism was somewhat bred out of the human race.

    3) Priests and rulers were either the same or in collusion so they and their followers exerted a lot of social pressure to participate in the tribal worship.

    So don’t bother looking for a supernatural explanation of people coming together to participate in religion. Look to evolution.

    And of course rabid religion now threatens us; it’s become a non-survival trait for the human race. So let’s hope we can overcome it in the next few decades.

  • http://Readthearticle TXV

    nnmns: your arguments were considered and rejected. I just finished reading my new National Geographic: fasciniating findings. The worship site offers no evidence of any of these in such early human populations.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment nnmns

    I’m not at all sure how they would have been recorded or preserved. And anyway they were probably happening for centuries/millenia before that.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Sue

    Man created the world–worldliness, the pride of man.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment romanscapegoat

    god is everything-everything is god-if god were to die…everything would die…science is able to see things they call atoms and movement called electricity…atoms look like planets…electricity connects everyone and everything together-science is seeing how god functions and doesn’t realize it…everything is one…everything is god…there is no free will…god is playing with himself…i am god…you are god…but there is an hierarchy in this game…you are all my toys

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Gil

    Goat you are still up to your old disjointed puerile ramblings. If everything is relevant there would be nothing for something to be relevant to. If this is a battle of wits I refrain from attacking an unarmed opponent.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment romanscapegoat

    gil…the jew with no faith..this is why god is lonely…he is by him self…he is playing a game with himself…god is feeling existence through everyone…god makes himself into me and becomes christ…god is playing with his toys…

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Nancy Jones

    The concept of religion and worshipping a higher power existed well before any civilization. Neanderthal burials were found in Israel with objects that could be considered sacred. The cave paintings in Spain and France prove that mankind was thinking about more than just hunting. Lines pointing to the spring equinox were found in the hills where the cave paintings are in France. And we should not forget the so-called Venus figurines that have been found all over Europe from the Paleolithic era. They have been interpretted as one of two things, either the worship of a godness or fertility figurines. Whether they were used for either thing it shows that mankind was appealing to a higher power for help or worshipping a higher power.
    I have a degree in Anthropology and Archaeology and have never heard that it took civilization to create religion. Any Antropologist that puts forth that idea is probably an aethist.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Dennis

    Of the many alternative views, the one I prefer is that religion began when man first imagined invisible spirits as the cause and motivating force for the events around him. These multiple spirits eventually became multiple gods, then a hierarchy of gods, and finally only one god to eliminate the political problems resulting from poly theism. What no one can doubt is that god is an idea, a concept, a construction. The unproven issue is if anything corresponds to this human idea. The practical necessities of group survival created civilizations and religious institutions. Specific religious beliefs were used to define and maintain a tribal identity–as they continue to do today.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Rick P

    A skillful approach here is to make sharp distinctions between the actual physical reality of artifacts and the stories that are told about them. Stories that “prove” what one wants to be true are particularly suspect.

    To the atheist, it’s all evolution; to the theist, the ‘temple’ proves the primacy of religion. These ideas are not driven by truth, but by defense of ego and the rickety supporting structures of opinion.

    The truth is a pile of rocks.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment romanscapegoat

    rick p…truth is Lucifer helped man make religion to keep god away from everyone…the Hebrew son of god that the jews killed-said god never stopped walking with man… justlove eachother and god-ITS was HARD TO MAKE A CONTROLING RELIGION out of JUST TWO Commandments SOOOOOO A BUNCH OF SHIT Was made up…SEARCH FOR TRUTH

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Rick P

    Mr. Goat,
    That is a very interesting story you tell.Who knows, in a “shot in the dark” way, it could be true. I can tell that you believe it, and that is fine. It, however, cannot stand under any lens of objectivity or empiricism, so it remains a story. The only truth in it is that it exists as a series of electrochemical patterns in your brain. That is all it is.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment romanscapegoat

    ricky lake…since you want to tell the world you dont want anything to do with god-try chanting lucifer come talk to me- do that for a week….according to your belief in truth nothing should happen except electrical stimulations of pleasure beliefing you have free will…lucifer and his fallen angels werer kicked out of heaven and changed to a horriable form…THE “SPACE ALIENS”…watch the movie the FOURTH KIND…you will learn how lucifer will treat your kind….

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Rick P

    @ Goat
    I’m going to assume that you are just jankin’ my chain with this. You are trying to get a response from me by writing the most ridiculous, insane babble you can imagine. LOL, I almost believed you were serious.

    Signing off with a laugh.

    Thanks, bro.

  • http://santacruzjewishtheatre.com Claire Cameron

    WEll, folks -
    I’m with the Rabbi. Rabbi Hirschfield always makes a great deal of sense, sometimes out of questionable thoughts and positions. You have to give this man a lot of credit. He’s not “talking through his hat”!
    My dad, who was also a reform rabbi, always said:” I may not agree with what you say, but I will fight to the death, to have you say it.”
    Intelligence, knowledge, a curiosity that leads to continual research on an endless variety of thoughts and subjects always brings our informed rabbi to thought-provoking and well-put answers.
    My applause once again goes to Rabbi Brad!
    Claire – Artistic Director/ Author

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Ginny

    Rick P.,

    Thanks for your insightful comments. I especially like “the truth is a pile of rocks.”

  • http://www.didgodcreatetheworld.fhero.net/index.html cathy

    no don’t agree you can do anything at all wththat page…excellent pages

    http://www.didgodcreatetheworld.fher.net/indx.html

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