A walk through time

Let’s take a walk. There’s no need to change your shoes. This walk is one that we’re going to take with our imaginations and we’re going to see how we came to believe what we do, today. We’ll start our walk around 40,000 years before Jesus Christ was reputed to have walked the Earth. The people are very simple here. They don’t know much beyond survival and are barely more than animals. They stare in wonder at the stars at night, wondering their nature. They worship the things that bring them life like the rivers, the sun, animals and plants. They worship the things that bring them death like predators. They worship the things they do not understand like lightning and thunder. Their gods are simple and based on nature.

As we walk up the path a few thousand years, into the Classical Period of Greece and Rome, we find that they have become more advanced – the architecture, the engineering, agriculture, animal husbandry and warfare. The gods have become more advanced, too. They are pillaring towers of humanity; a super-humanity; a Pantheon of admirable traits and fantastic foibles. In Genesis 1:27, “God created mankind in his own image”. Even the Hebrew God (with a Capital “G”) of Moses was humanoid. The Ten Commandments were “inscribed by the finger of God”. God has fingers. In the East, the Hindus created a mixture of the two, animal and human.

However, it’s not far down the road that God, in the West, now permanently to be regarded as a single entity, worthy of capitalization, becomes more ethereal. God is now no longer a collection of animals or people. “He” (deliberately masculinized) is now “everywhere”. The gods on Mount Olympus had their own problems. Now, God was interfering in our own, personal lives, all of the time. God had become Big Brother. Sadly, he is to remain so for a long portion of our journey – not as long as our cave-dwelling, sun worshipping ancestors, God had been enslaved for financial and political gain. In many ways he remains so, today; a tool to be used against the uninitiated.

But of all of the incarnations of God that we’ve seen on our forty-two thousand year journey, the most devastating blow has come in only the last couple of hundred years – the assertion that God does not exist at all. The rise of atheism unshackles us from the dogma of organized religion, but are we losing something valuable in the process?

While it is true that there is no direct association between religion and morality, there certainly is that perception. Ethics is a tricky proposition. If one defines it as what one does when no one else is looking (as defined by Aldo Leopold), then one would imagine that a hermit has the potential to be the most ethical person in the world. If they do the right thing all their life, then no one will see it and their ethical standards will be off the charts.

Or will it? In fact, it won’t for one simple reason: how would they know what is and is not ethical behaviour in the first place if there is no one there to show them? Ethics is not taught in school, at least not lower than high school graduate. This has traditionally been the role of the church and is something that is being lost with the decline of religion. This isn’t to suggest melancholic loss for the decline of dogma, rather than to highlight the loss of something far more important: community.

What is needed is a forum where community is cojoined by a common ethical standard, yet not distracted by unsubstantiated tradition; a forum where empathy and the search for empathy is the predominant feature.

What we need is Solipsology.


Published by The High Priest