An Historical Perspective On God
Submitters name: Francis X. Barden
Essay Title: An Historical Perspective On God
Age Group: adolescent and beyond
Date Written: 11/25/2006
That which mankind refers to as "God" is a title that mankind has given to all that it is unable to define in its limited reality. Long ago, when our ancestors had become more tribal and would sit around a fire and speak of things, their conversation, inevitably, turned to the discussion of the unknown - "what causes the thunder"? - "what is meant by the fire that erupts from the mountain over there?" - "why does the light of the day disappear and re-appear and where does that which makes the light go?"
Someone among the tribe, no doubt, being more thoughtful and introspective than the rest, spoke up and began to explain, from his/her perspective, the meanings of all they witnessed maybe they were endowed with talents beyond their peers, at any rate, they became, for the tribe, "shamans" or "seers" or whatever title was given to people with those talents and, the giving of that title or respect endowed them with a certain amount of power within the tribe
Over time, these individuals and their successors established a position that enabled them to control the thoughts and actions of the tribe. They identified the mountain as the "god - the wind was the "god" - the fire was the "god" - whatever - they" spoke" for the "god", they made decisions on behalf of the "god" and those who defied or ignored them were thrust out of the tribe on the commandment of the "high priest". No one wished to anger the "god" by ignoring the commandments of the representative of the "god". It was the shaman who offered prayers to the "god" during times of famine and drought - it was the shaman who cured the sick and read the "signs" and interpreted the unknown
These shamans/oracles/priests/seers assumed a position of great power and, eventually, were influential in the selection of the "kings" or "chieftains" to whom the tribe would give its allegiance. When the tribe went to war against its neighbors, it was the shaman who called down on the "enemy" the judgment of the "god" and assured the tribe that, through him (the shaman) they had the protection of the "god"
As time went by, these shaman developed a culture of their own, separate from that of the tribe. The members of their "family" became the priestly caste among the tribe and, eventually, assumed a position of authority that, at times, bordered on being as powerful as that of the chief/king. In order to obtain the agreement of the tribe for a cause of action, it was necessary to convert to that cause, the chief/king - who better to influence the chief/king than the shaman - over time, this belief system became known as, what we call, our religion and, within that religion, we have assigned certain powers and privileges to our religious leaders
Now, come forward to the time of the beginnings of the early Christian faith when the messengers of the faith began to spread out among the gentiles and pagans, to whom did they go? - to the chief/kings of the tribes - when they had converted that person, the tribe went along in obedience to the wishes of the chief/king. Once this was accomplished, the tribe did whatever the chief/king ordered it to do in accordance with the wishes of the "religion/god" to which they had all converted. It was the priests who spoke for the new "god" and whatever the priest said, was TRUTH and none could go against the "truth" spoken by the priests for fear of incurring the wrath, not just of the chief/king but of the "god" to which the priest and the king swore their belief
We are, now, thousands of years later and it is the priest/minister/rabbi/imam who is interpreting the wishes of whatever god is professed. These individuals are convinced that only they speak for "god" and that "god" will punish all who defy them. As a result, the behavior of the various members of the new "tribes" is totally dictated by the belief of the tribe as interpreted by the pope/priest/minister/rabbi/imam
The bottom line? - mankind's belief dictates its behavior and no change for the better will occur in the world unless and until mankind goes through a total reversal of the way in which it believes. Again, this change may be brought about by some sort of calamity or, conversely, by way of a new kind of a movement that causes mankind to question all that they have been told/taught was the truth - I hold out hope for the latter
Age Grouping: adolescent and beyond