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Words by Steven Joseph McCrystal
Artwork by Amanda Chisholm
Why on earth did we ever stop worshiping the sun, the moon, and the elements? It was simple back then. The sun comes up: hallelujah. The sun goes down: hallelujah. The moon comes up and the moon goes down: hallelujah. Throw in the odd rain dance here and there and Bob’s your uncle - a fully functioning religion. It almost seems sensible to me to pray the sun, the moon, and the wind because those are natural things that we can see and feel. Well, maybe not moonbeams, you have to be a werewolf to feel them.
If I had the time or the inclination I wouldn’t mind travelling down to Stonehenge for a summer solstice or two. I can imagine myself dancing around the fire butt naked at the break of dawn and getting a buzz out of doing it Pagan style. Who knows, it might have been quite refreshing to live in such godless times. However, it’s hard to imagine a world without some kind of god in it, around it, or above it for that matter. I wonder how far back our Christian society would have to go before our current god didn’t exist. I’ve tried researching the subject but even Google can’t answer that question for me.
Although, according to my favorite place of reference the earliest recorded religion known to man was a Sumerian religion. Their belief system seemed simple enough but I’m sure if you dug a little deeper than Wikipedia you’d find a complex set of deities attached to the Sumerian society. There was a god named Anu who was the god of heaven. Another chap was called Enul who was the god of air and another dude to grace the Sumerians with his presence was Enki. He was the god of water. All in all that’s very close to the belief system I’ve described in the first paragraph. Except there’s more emphasis placed on the elemental aspects of the Sumerian culture than that of the sun and the moon. I wonder who came first, Anu, Enul, or Enki.
I can only imagine the day when the Sumerians named their gods. I suppose that it would be easy to embellish one of those names with human characteristics. If Anu meant sky then it only takes a small leap of faith to say that Anu is alive because he throws thunderbolts when he’s in battle with another god. I think that the population of Sumerian gods would be responsible for the anger contained in thunderstorms. It’s easy to believe in such primordial interpretations of the elements like thunder and lightning because thunder and lightning still scares people today. Why not pay homage to some of the coolest things nature does. If the Sumerian religion developed over the centuries they might just have ended up with a more complex belief system. Maybe a wife for Anu or another couple of elements like fire and earth to go with Enul and Enki. Thankfully, history tells us that many cultures worshipped the elements and if you’re wondering when the Sumerians were kicking about the planet it was five thousand years ago. That’s three thousand years before Christ was invented.
What about other non-Sumerian gods of old? I can think of a few off hand, Zeus, Ra, and Odin. They all have their place in history. It’s just a pity they seem to have went out of fashion. In today’s climate you would be considered to be absolutely nuts if you worshiped any of the gods I just mentioned. However, if I did have to choose a god and the belief system attached to that god I would have to choose Odin the all father. Which would make my heaven Valhalla and Asgard the hall of the slain. It sounds alright to me. Waking up every morning bright as a button. Then feasting all day on a sumptuous meals whilst getting drunk on honey dew mead. Then it’s off to have a square go with one of your best mates within the halls of Asgard. It almost sounds like a parody of life as we know it today. Except waking up bright as a button after a heavy mead session does sound a bit too optimistic.
If I’m honest with you, I am an atheist, a non-believer, a heathen if you will. Which would make what I’m about to say heresy. One god. One heaven. One pile of pish more like. What’s there to believe in? An omnipotent invisible old man who lives in the sky. Someone who has a master plan but doesn’t really give a toss about anything. An invisible heaven that might just exist in another dimension. A place where peoples souls (which are also invisible) go to live in peace and harmony with the big man himself. Somewhere where you go to sleep on little fluffy clouds every night and are awoken by the songs of angels. It sounds nuts because it is nuts. Some psychiatrists would consider Christianity’s belief in god as a mass delusion. I mean how can you believe in nothing? Whose idea was it to create one god? There must be a point of origin hidden somewhere in mankind’s collective psyche. Although, having said that religion is a fallacy I find that it definitely has substance because people give it substance.
Take the Bible for instance. It’s a book that changed the world. I’ve actually read the damn thing when I was a younger man, but in my defense it was the only book available to me at the time. I was stranded in one of the dark places in this world reading the good book helped me through it by alleviating my boredom. In retrospect, the Bible is a book that spawned a thousand books and those thousand books spawned yet another thousand books and . . . well you get the picture. All this spawning gives religion substance, it’s the same with art, music, buildings, and anything else that mankind can invent or create in the name of god. It all reinforces an idea and ideas are bullet proof. Ideas also evolve as time goes on. I say this because religion has went through so many transformations over the centuries that it’s hard to keep track of them.
All of this substance makes it easy to get lost in religious ideology or dogma for that matter because there’s so much of it around. Whether it be: Aztec gods, Roman gods, Indian gods, Egyptian gods, Sumerian gods or Norse gods - history is littered with them. It’s a truly fascinating subject. Even an atheist like myself has to concede the fact that gods (even although they do not exist) have changed and shaped the world we live in today.
#Real #Religion #Essay #Gods #AtheistPerspective
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