Why are religions warlike

All power on this earth derives from 6 million years of evolution in which kinship groups of 20-30 individuals evolved to divide their labor and function as a single organism.  The founding mothers of hominid Family domesticated the males into the fecundity of a monogamous mating system in which males had a genetic stake in their own offspring.  In order to enforce such a system, dominance and submissive mentalities underwent a process of selection inclusion in which the dominance mentalities of groups merged into the force of authority that suppressed the laws of the jungle into the rules of justice and morality.  This force of authority became a unitary force in all groups because there is only one justice, only one morality.   

             As the brains of the hominid group organism expanded in our own Homo Genus for the last 2 ½ million years, the sinews of its integrity as an organism continued to be held together by the foundation of morality and justice demanded by the authority of God. 

             Then in the shift towards individual sexuality in our own Homo sapiens species commenced the long and arduous process, which is our sacred destiny, of joining together these small, wandering kinship groups into one Family under God on earth.  Through the process of mass imitation of sexual displays, language and culture arose leading to the domestication of plants and animals and the capacity to accumulate wealth.  At this point, the dark ages of civilization ensued.  The long evolved power of the ability of many to act under one Will was usurped and torn from God’s moorings in morality and justice to be wielded by individuals seeking glory within whom the possession of such an immense human instrument stirred the reemergence of the Primate impulse to dominate, conquer and enslave that had been stilled for 6 million years. 

             The new human consciousness of linguistic representation groped about to express the reality of God’s power initially assuming He emanated from the animals, trees, mountains and the stars.  However the fact that religion was the source of all power was not lost on those who usurped it. 

 Robert Bellah in his Religion in Human Evolution (2011) follows the seminal insights of Karl Jaspers[1] in The Origin and Goal of History (1953) in defining the “archaic” and “axial” ages.  Bellah tellingly defines a “state” according to degree to which its chiefs have “broken from the kinship system.”  He then proceeds to describe the emergence of “archaic religions” beginning in 4000 BCE in which the worship of gods first appears.  Everywhere kings enter into a special relationship with these gods the primary results of which became both human sacrifice and the construction of monumental pyramidal architecture in Mesopotamia, Mesoamerica (later,) and of course, Egypt, where man-posing-as-god reached its zenith. 

 Following the archaic age, what Jaspers dubbed the “axis of history” started in Israel about 800 BCE, but centered around 500 BCE when he claims that “Man as we know him today came into being.” Jaspers thought that “the figures of the axial age – the Hebrew prophets, Confucius, Buddha, and the Greek philosophers – are alive to us, are contemporary with us, in a way that no earlier figures are.”

 Jaspers placed emphasis on the social turmoil proceeding this time in every instance with constant war. In other words, without justice, the power of the alliance between Kings and their (false) gods repeatedly and, with increasing frequency, fragmented these rulers into a chaotic state of chronic war.  With the northern kingdom of Israel collapsing, the prophet, Hosea rejects kingship altogether:   

  “I will destroy you, O Israel;  Who can help you? Where now is your king to  save you? Where are all your princes to defend you— Those of whom you said, ‘Give me a king and princes’?  I have given you kings in my anger,  And I have taken them away in my wrath.”

             Thus it was the ancient Hebrews who first discovered the true nature and reality of a theistic God whose power wielded in the absence of justice and morality would fragment into murderous chaos.  However, compared to all other modern religions, the discovery of the reality of a unitary God made available all the more power to be usurped and corrupted for the vainglory of the craven politicians amongst their own descendents, later joined by those amongst Christians and Muslims, despite the righteous teachings of Jesus and Mohamed. 

The next posting will present evidence for the evolutionary force of God in this phase of human history.

[1] I report with utmost humility that Karl Jaspers was also a psychiatrist turned philosopher.

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2 Comments on “God FAQ: Why Do Religions – Particularly those with One God – Fight So Much? #3: the Era of Usurpation”

  1. I hesitate to jump in to these deep waters, but (you’ve surely heard that word before)…

    I saw E. O. Wilson’s “Social Conquest” in the bookstore, and, attracted by his reputation, went to Amazon to check the reviews, where I found your site.

    I’m just about finished with a remarkable book:

    Psycho Bible, by Armando Favazza, a noted psychiatrist (recently known for his work in self-mutilation (“Bodies Under Siege”)).

    He looks at the Bible from a psychiatric viewpoint, trying to explain human behavior in terms of religious influence. In this, I find him mostly successful.

    If you haven’t come across it yet, I believe you’d find it illuminating.

    It’ll take me some time to browse through your site – I’ll probably return to ask beginner’s questions.

    1. Dear Mike,

      So good of you to take the time to respond. I would love you to cruise around my site and ask questions. Click on “Myth” in the cloud in the right column to read E.O.Wilson’s call for a myth consistent with evolutionary facts. I will surely follow up and get Psycho Bible.
      Thanks again for your interest.

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