A Twist in Eden…or, about those Cave Men…!

As I continue on in my life, and new vistas arise, beckoning…and I set out to explore them…I find that God is there, too.

Not that I doubted that.  But I might have been unmindful of it, at any specific moment.  So when He shows up, it can be such a delight!  We can use all the delight we can get in these times, wouldn’t you say?  Being shown a new slant on anything related to God invigorates me, and revives hope.

God is often in my thoughts in a frame-of-reference kind of way.  He’s the backdrop against which I try to view & evaluate everything else.  I can be doing this almost unconsciously.  I’ve learned that I need to depend on His sovereignty & control in all my situations.  There is ALOT that I cannot handle.   Tasks for which I am responsible on my job I find I cannot accomplish within the time frame given me, relationship pressures cause too much – well, pressure – and I need to disappoint, for my own health – then there’s the guilt that can result from this!  Yeah, I need the Lord…

…and I find it intriguing & refreshing to consider ideas such as the following…

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The term ‘religion’ is used by many people to describe their belief system & worship practices.  I dislike that word.   It sounds formal.  Ritual is implied.  Yuk.  Give me the word ‘spiritual’ any day of the week!  God is Spirit. and those who worship Him must do so in spirit and truth…and not necessarily in any specific place, either.  {John 4:21-24}  However, ‘religion’ is the term I’ll be using here today, to make a point.

A better definition of ‘religion’ might be man’s efforts to improve his standing with God, or to make his own atonement for sin.   Think about it – when you know you’ve displeased someone, don’t you sometimes come up with a scheme to get yourself off-the-hook?  Whoops! did I say ‘scheme’?  I meant ‘plan’ (ahem) to assuage that person’s anger, or your own guilt.  You buy her roses, or get him tickets to a sports event, make a favorite meal…we all have tried to buy our way out of uncomfortable situations with a gift of some sort.  Why not do it with God?

That is a rhetorical question, so even though there are Biblical reasons not to try to buy off the Lord, my purpose here isn’t to outline them.  Rather, I’m pointing out a human inclination to placate God, or a god.  In a word,  ‘religion’.

Let’s get really religious – starting with a visit to the Garden of Eden.  Though there seems to be no way of absolutely ascertaining its location, Genesis gives us enough detail to make an assumption.  Four rivers are named as flowing from Eden (Genesis 2:10-14).  Two are unfamiliar to modern man, but the other two, the Tigris & the Euphrates rivers are well-known.  We’ll begin there…

According to the Bible, the God of creation planted this sumptuous garden as home for the first man & woman – besides creating the entire planet Earth! He arranged everything for their comfort & pleasure. It all started here.  Man was given dominion over ‘all the earth’. (Genesis 1:26)  God walked and talked with them in the cool of the evening.  Climate control, animals galore, a perfectly matched mate…no diseases, no war…the Lord declared these things ‘good’.

So I find it most interesting that some of these very conditions, originally designed by God Himself, played a major part in giving rise to the practice of idolatry.

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…but first, a slight though related detour…

Though the Genesis Scriptures tell us that God created man from the dust of the earth, they don’t tell us exactly  how long He took doing it.  Though we are informed that this act of creation took place on the sixth day, the Hebrew word translated ‘day’ does not necessarily indicate a literal 24-hour cycle – it could mean a season, a length of time, or a process.  It could mean milennia…so, during that time, man possibly evolved & developed in many ways.  Thus, we end up with the term ‘primitive man’, or ‘prehistoric man’.  Which leads us to primitive man’s religious beliefs, if he had any.

Sources indicate he most certainly did.`

Records exist of Neanderthal burial ceremonies that indicate a belief in life after death.  Eerdmans Handbook to the World’s Religionsdocuments a burial site of that period, of rocks resting on a bed of flowers, found in a cave in northern Iraq.  Flowers bloom every year, bringing new life, hope & beauty with them.  We place flowers & plants on graves today for such reasons, and it appears so did people of primitive times.  There existed throughout pre-historic eras a practice of dusting corpses with a mixture of clay and iron oxide, which produced red ocher.  This red substance is considered to possibly be a ritual substitute for blood, the symbol of life. (Eliade, Mircea, A History of Religious Ideas)   (“The life of the flesh is in the blood” {Lev.17:11}  seems to have borne witness to those who never even knew the Scriptures.  The covering of the Blood of the Lamb was on some subliminal level known? and acted upon, symbolically? eons before Christ ever stepped foot on the earth, and proving as well that “…He hath set eternity in their heart…” {Ecclesiastes 3:11, ASV})

Mircea Eliade

There does not exist, however, an abundance of evidence pointing us to primitive man’s religious practices.  With no written language having yet been developed, and uncovered artifacts not necessarily revealing anything specifically religious in nature….modern man does not have much on which to base conclusions about our pre-historic ancestors’ acknowledgment of a God, or gods. Except for one particular source….“…the religious beliefs of certain primitive tribes {some of which are still in existence today} whose lives and circumstances closely approximate those that must have characterized primitive man.”  (Graham, James L., Genesis and the Religion of Primitive Man)

Follow the evidence…

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…and let’s get some background on ‘religion’…

By the turn of the nineteenth century, a varied and interesting assortment of theories analyzing & explaining how religion developed from a primitive beginning had themselves developed   The common denominator in all these theories was their rejection of monotheism and the advancing of fear & superstition as the driving force behind these early religions. From fetishism – a belief in the power of charms, amulets, etc. – through animism, an attempt to explain man’s basic bodily & mental conditions by developing the concept of a ‘soul’ or ‘spirit’ , and including totemism, magic and the worship of ghosts….and the application of Darwin’s theory of natural selection to the area of religion…“The concept of God was nothing more than the end result of the evolution of primitive man’s fear and superstition.”  (Graham)

Providentially (speaking of God!), prior to the introduction of many of these ‘explanations ‘of primitive religion,    archaeological discoveries made in France & throughout Europe had proven the existence of prehistoric man, and proven as well that he had inhabited the farthest reaches of the globe.  Though this very data was implemented extensively in the formation of these end-result intellectual religious theories, ultimately, it also thwarted them. By the time this plethora of God-less religious theories abounded, there also was found in abundance enough factual information concerning primitive existence to eventually fuel a very strong antithesis. The thirteen volume “The Origin of the Concept of God” was built on this information, and was the result of a life devoted to challenging & destroying previously held systems denying a belief in one God.  The works of its author, Wilhelm Schmidt, a Catholic priest, were so significant that by the middle of the twentieth century the evolutionary theories of these primitive religious origins & beliefs became almost totally rejected by most reputable scholars.

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Father Schmidt produced such impacting results by refining the concept of cultural stratification.  Suffice it to say that such a method allowed for chronological identification of discoveries, determining which were truly primitive & which were more recent.  In so doing, it was shown that these evolutionary theories were contradicted by historical fact, thus “…destroy{ing} for all time the evolutionary concept of religion.”  (Graham)

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Next post , I hope to tie all this in with my earlier statement:   “So I find it most interesting that some of these very conditions, originally designed by God Himself, played a major part in giving rise to the practice of idolatry.”

`

 

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4 responses to “A Twist in Eden…or, about those Cave Men…!

  1. Love your blog. You can spin an interesting story. Ever consider being a writer?
    By the way, you talk about very ancient religion. Ever hear of the Law of One?
    If you have an interest in ancient archaeology and history, you might want to check out Michael Cremo who has done extensive research in that area.

    • chicajoja, Thanks! and I think of myself as a writer, just not a paid one! I actually have a novel in progress, but it’s been on a back burner since I stsrted J, R & Y…I will def check out Michael Cremo, appreciate the info.

  2. Pingback: A Twist on Eden, Part 2…or, Contradictions? | Jesus, the Revolution & You

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