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Question: God or Evolution?






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Total Votes: 193

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I'm just curious to know what the next generation will believe. Seems like evolution is what the schools will be teaching. I've been researching this for many years and I feel the evolution theory is as far from being proven as the creation myth-theory.  I'm just wondering what this next generation of mothers will be teaching their kids (I exposed my children to both, but they are grown now). I'm researching this for my next book.

Love to hear your thoughts.

Nancy Madore

by on Nov. 8, 2012 at 4:01 PM
Replies (171-180):
by Ruby Member on Nov. 16, 2012 at 9:35 AM
Quoting NancyMadore:

Like it or not, the Bible is the most comprehensive source for the period around 3,000 BC. This isn't to say I believe everything in it. But I do think it gives us an insight on the people and what they believed, which is mainly what I'm looking for.

I'll post some stuff.

by Ruby Member on Nov. 16, 2012 at 9:38 AM
1 mom liked this

About 11000 years ago, a major technological breakthrough was made in the Fertile Crescent (the flood plains of the Nile, Jordan, Tigris and Euphrates rivers): a grass, einkorn wheat, was domesticated.   The floods ensured the nutrients in the soil didn't get depleted, and the increased yields from the strain of wheat selectively bred by generations of gatherers meant that, for the first time in history, a food source in one location was so abundant that having granaries to store the surplus outweighed the benefits of moving around to take advantage of migrating animals.  Agricultural civilisation had arrived and, with it, the flat social structure of the hunter-gatherer tribes was supplanted by governmental forms with specialised leaders, hierarchies and bureaucracy.    (It happened in the Fertile Crescent, rather than on other flood plains because, as the meeting point of Africa, Europe and Asia it retained greater biodiversity when other areas became squeezed by climate changes.  It happened 11000 years ago, rather than earlier or later, because of the stability from the Holocene inter-galacial period.)

The faiths of hunter-gatherer tribes tended to be local to each tribe, with just a few shared archetypes (such as having a mother goddess in charge of things like fertility and childbirth - Hathor, from Egypt, is a good example of this).  With civilisation and fixed end points for boats and caravans to aim at, came greater trade and communication.  And, with it, the spread of ideas.  With storehouses full of grain, and rulers with specialised soldiers, came war, conquest, and further spread of ideas.  With hierarchies and rulers needing to tax a population of farmers to support soldiers and the construction of buildings came a selective pressure upon those ideas.  If you are a ruler whose priest of Hathor is telling the farmers that you've the support of the gods and they need to tithe grain to you if the gods are to be pleased and grant them a good harvest next year, then it matters to you whether the farmers are worshipping Hathor, rather than Isis, Ninsun, Ashtart, Asherah, Ninhursag, Gaia or Allat - Goddesses with similar roles (and often shared symbology and mythology), but different names.

One of the first changes implemented by the priestly class (specialists who, supported by the abundant food, could be supported by city to do nothing but intervene with the spirits on behalf of the people) was to formalise a local polytheistic collection of worshiped greater and lesser spirits into a hierarchy - a pantheon of named Gods that defined who was 'in' and who was 'out', and set demarcation on which spirit you sacrificed to for intervention with which aspect of nature (who did storms, who did grain fields, who did fishing, who did war, etc).   And, being priests, this was done in the form of a story - which gods in the pantheon came first, who married whom, who gave birth to whom (and how - being created from a body part or secretion of another god, was popular).  As worship of heroic ancestors combined with hereditary rulers you sometimes got not only rulers who acted as priests, but also rulers who were worshipped as semi-divine (or who would be, upon death, and who planned ahead). 

The concept of 'god' vs 'demon' wasn't as clear cut then as it is now.  The patron deity of the city on the other side of the valley was a spirit, just as your patron deity was, and you hoped that yours would be more powerful than theirs and help you win the upcoming war against them (monolatrism).  'Good' versus 'Bad' was more a sense of 'these guys are good for us'.   To use football as a metaphor, it is a sense of 'our team' versus 'their team'.  As the stories of the priests became more complex, the home team deities started being portrayed as not just the local spirit the local people prayed to for intervention in a particular area of nature, but the creator of that aspect everywhere, the sole deity of it, requiring that the competing deities from other regions be cast into lesser roles and unfavourable lights. (A belief in prayer, by the way, is also a consequence of magical thinking: link, link.)

Over time, as factions of priests within a religion competed for power, it was common to see the religion's 'back story' change, with the previous head of a pantheon being demoted to a minor god of hunting or some such, and a new deity being credited with the creation of the world (sometimes both, with the world being created from the slain body of the being who, 200 years earlier, had been worshipped as the chief god in that same region).  As empires grew, spread, merged and crumbled, you also saw pantheons merging, with new deities being added into the story, roles changing and names of similar deities being hyphenated then merged.

And it wasn't just religions that evolved by competing against each other for individual worshippers and nations, growing, splitting and mutating by changing deities, the properties of deities, and the religion's back story and practices.   In the same way that biological evolution can be seen from the point of view of the genes rather than the individual creatures, the cultural evolution of religions can be seen from the point of view of the memes (specific doctrines and practices) rather than the individual religions.   Doctrines, practices and archetypal story elements change inside religions and pass between religions fairly easily, sometimes associated with a particular deity, but often centered on a particular city, sect, priesthood or community of worshippers and staying with them even as the city passes from the control of one religion to another as the city is conquored by a different empire.  The Roman conquest of Greece is a great example of this, where many of the elements of the resulting religion ended up being far more Greek than Roman.


60,000 - Neanderthal buried with flowers in the Shanidar Cave in northern Iraq
9000 - Granaries first appear in villages, and spread through the fertile crescent
9000 - Göbekli Tepe, in Turkey - world's oldest religious structure: animal spirit pictograms
8000 - The city of Jericho builds a large wall to defend against the river Jordan flooding
8000 - Wooden structures at Stonehenge in England, precursor to the later stone circle
7000 - The settlement of Lepenski Vir, in Serbia.  by 5500 BCE they are smelting copper.
6000 - The port city of Ugarit founded, in Syria
5000 - Cities on the island of Crete trade with both Ugarit and Egypt
5000 - The city of Uruk (Erech) founded in Sumer (Shinar)
4100 - Temples built on Malta, showing organised religion fully established
3500 - Sumerians build the City of Ur: cuniform writing
2250 - The city of Babylon (Babel) founded; has a tower

By this time the original Sumerian religion has spread throughout Mesopotamia and on, to influence religions in both Greece and Egypt. There's a complex pantheon, and each region has varying names for the deities in it.  Each city has its own patron deity (accorded the title of "El", "Baal" or "Marduk", depending upon region).

City     Deity      Role

Erech    An         Lord of the Sun
Eridu    Enki       Lord of Water
Nippur   Enlil      Lord of Wind
Ur       Nanna      Lord of the Moon
Babylon  Haddad     Lord of Lightning
Carthage Kronos     Lord of Time (Egyptian: Amun, Sumer: Hamman)
Sippar   Shamash    Lord of Justice
         Ishtar     Queen of Heaven
         Anat       A virgin war goddess (a mix of An and Ishtar)
         Mot        Lord of the Underworld (Death)

Here's a simplified diagram, showing one local version of just part of the pantheon:

For more info, see: full list of gods, more complex diagram
, timeline

An example of an early meme that spread through the region is the explanation of the yearly cycle of seasons.  The Sun (An, titled Baal or El, depending on the region the story is being told in) dies and his wife Anat (or, in some versions, his sister) descends to the underworld in order to contest against Mot (death).  Mot doesn't want to release him, but finally agrees (after being beaten or tricked) to let him live above ground for half of each year.   This resurrection story is seen everywhere, from Egypt (Osiris) to Greece (Demeter)

An example of an early religion that drew heavily on previous ones in the region, and went on to influence others, is Zoroastrianism.  Zoroaster took the chief God from the Persian pantheon, Ahura Mazdā (“Wise Lord”), and declared him to be the only God, relegating a few of the most popular of other deities in the pantheon to a lesser status ("beneficent immortals"), and discarding the rest, or casting them as angels or demons.  Mithra (previously the second most powerful deity in the pantheon - a warrior sun god who punished covenant breakers - 'protector of wide pasture lands') was retained, but recast as being an aspect of Ahura Mazdā.   The religion also featured the memes: free will choice between good and evil, heaven, hell, confession, penance and spiritual purification via immersion in water.

For further examples of stories and deities evolving, see Titanomachy.

by Ruby Member on Nov. 16, 2012 at 9:39 AM
1 mom liked this

In about 2200 BCE, the Amorites (a nomadic Semitic people, originally from the Levant, in Syria) were hit by a drought and migrated west to settle in the Judean mountains, in Canaan.  They eventually built a number of small cities, including Shaddai, but were tall and retained a reputation for being fierce (if uncivilised) warriors.  Their local patron was a variant on Enki, and was referred to as El (chief God), or to distinguish him from the chief gods of other cities, the El Shaddai (the chief God of Shaddai).

In about 1420 BCE, the Egyptian pharaoh Amenhotep II goes on a successful campaign in Canaan, capturing 89,600 prisoners, including some mountain Apiru or Habiru (disreputable nomadic bandits or mercenaries).

The Kenites are a tribe of Shasu (Bedouin nomadic tinkers and shepherds from Midian, in the Sinai desert) and, according to the Amarna Letters (a set of Egyptian tablets dating back to around 1340 BCE), their tribal God is YHWH.

In about 1200 BCE, there starts to be evidence of some Israeli settlements in the mountainous regions of Canaan.  There's no evidence of mass invasion or slaughter - it seems to have been a merging of tribes, mainly Canaanite, with some external Kenite influence.  These Israelis are monolatrist, not monotheist (monotheism hasn't been invented yet), but do worship Yahweh as their patron deity, and Ishtar alongside him, as His consort (he's even briefly added into the Canaanite pantheon, as a cupbearer and son of the chief Deity, but is swiftly promoted, in the local area, to being the chief Himself).

By about 1000 BCE, the Israelis (under a leader, David) have taken control of parts of Canaan, which splits into two Kingdoms a few years after his death:

and over the next 500 years the sources which will eventually get redacted into a single document (The Torah) are written:


 950 : the Yahwist source ( J )
 850 : the Elohist source ( E )
 719 : Northern kingdom, Israel, falls to Assyria
 600 : the Deuteronomist ( D )
 587 : Southern kingdom, Judah, falls to Babylon
 500 : the Priestly source ( P )

These document not only had a different style and content, they were each written for a different political purpose (eg justifying the united kingdom, versus stamping out heresy during the exile):

"J was identified with a rich narrative style, E was somewhat less eloquent, P's language was dry and legalistic. Vocabulary items such as the names of God, or the use of Horeb (E and D) or Sinai (J and P) for God's mountain; ritual objects such as the ark, mentioned frequently in J but never in E; the status of judges (never mentioned in P) and prophets (mentioned only in E and D); the means of communication between God and humanity (J's God meets in person with Adam and Abraham, E's God communicates through dreams, P's can only be approached through the priesthood)"  (source)

It is notable that monotheism enters the documents only after the concept became popularised by Zoroastrianism.

For further information, see:

by on Nov. 16, 2012 at 9:59 AM

Certainly evolution.  I don't believe in God but I'm not opposed to those who do believe, but that speculation belongs in church, not science class.

Evolution has been proven as well as anything can reasonably be.  There are some disagreements as to exactly how it happened, bot not whether it happened.

by on Nov. 16, 2012 at 10:16 AM

Both. I dont agree or believe that they are completely seperate issues. God created us and our world. and he created this world to evolve and grow. 

by Ruby Member on Dec. 7, 2012 at 7:21 AM
1 mom liked this
Quoting NancyMadore:
Quoting Clairwil:
Quoting NancyMadore:

Thank you for all of your comments. It's been a pleasure discussing this with you. 

You're planning to write an entire book on this.

Why run away from the discussion?  It is only just getting started.

Oh no, I'm definitely not ditching the discussion.


Still waiting for your responses to the stuff posted so far.

by Bronze Member on Dec. 23, 2012 at 11:52 PM
1 mom liked this

Quoting mikiemom:

I don't think a belief in the divine and evolution are mutually exclusive. It may be with the christian god but not all gods and goddesses and religions etc.

ITA..... Accepting scientific evidence does not mean that one can't believe in some higher power.

by Mahinaarangi on Dec. 24, 2012 at 12:13 AM
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 from my generation to my kids Ive watched everyone I know attend church to a few. 

IMO human intellect is succeeding :-)

by Ruby Member on Dec. 24, 2012 at 7:55 AM
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Agreed, throughout the ages, people used religion to explain many things they didn't understand as we learned and developed, many things were explained that doesn't mean that the devine does not exist. Of course, In my mind the devine exists in me and not on some lofty cloud somewhere.


Quoting sha_lyn68:

Quoting mikiemom:

I don't think a belief in the divine and evolution are mutually exclusive. It may be with the christian god but not all gods and goddesses and religions etc.

ITA..... Accepting scientific evidence does not mean that one can't believe in some higher power.

by on Dec. 24, 2012 at 11:33 AM
1 mom liked this

I believe both.

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