Quotes & Sayings

We, and creation itself, actualize the possibilities of the God who sustains the world, towards becoming in the world in a fuller, more deeper way. - R.E. Slater

There is urgency in coming to see the world as a web of interrelated processes of which we are integral parts, so that all of our choices and actions have [consequential effects upon] the world around us. - Process Metaphysician Alfred North Whitehead

Kurt Gödel's Incompleteness Theorem says (i) all closed systems are unprovable within themselves and, that (ii) all open systems are rightly understood as incomplete. - R.E. Slater

The most true thing about you is what God has said to you in Christ, "You are My Beloved." - Tripp Fuller

The God among us is the God who refuses to be God without us, so great is God's Love. - Tripp Fuller

According to some Christian outlooks we were made for another world. Perhaps, rather, we were made for this world to recreate, reclaim, redeem, and renew unto God's future aspiration by the power of His Spirit. - R.E. Slater

Our eschatological ethos is to love. To stand with those who are oppressed. To stand against those who are oppressing. It is that simple. Love is our only calling and Christian Hope. - R.E. Slater

Secularization theory has been massively falsified. We don't live in an age of secularity. We live in an age of explosive, pervasive religiosity... an age of religious pluralism. - Peter L. Berger

Exploring the edge of life and faith in a post-everything world. - Todd Littleton

I don't need another reason to believe, your love is all around for me to see. – Anon

Thou art our need; and in giving us more of thyself thou givest us all. - Khalil Gibran, Prayer XXIII

Be careful what you pretend to be. You become what you pretend to be. - Kurt Vonnegut

Religious beliefs, far from being primary, are often shaped and adjusted by our social goals. - Jim Forest

We become who we are by what we believe and can justify. - R.E. Slater

People, even more than things, need to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone. – Anon

Certainly, God's love has made fools of us all. - R.E. Slater

An apocalyptic Christian faith doesn't wait for Jesus to come, but for Jesus to become in our midst. - R.E. Slater

Christian belief in God begins with the cross and resurrection of Jesus, not with rational apologetics. - Eberhard Jüngel, Jürgen Moltmann

Our knowledge of God is through the 'I-Thou' encounter, not in finding God at the end of a syllogism or argument. There is a grave danger in any Christian treatment of God as an object. The God of Jesus Christ and Scripture is irreducibly subject and never made as an object, a force, a power, or a principle that can be manipulated. - Emil Brunner

“Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh” means "I will be that who I have yet to become." - God (Ex 3.14) or, conversely, “I AM who I AM Becoming.”

Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. - Thomas Merton

The church is God's world-changing social experiment of bringing unlikes and differents to the Eucharist/Communion table to share life with one another as a new kind of family. When this happens, we show to the world what love, justice, peace, reconciliation, and life together is designed by God to be. The church is God's show-and-tell for the world to see how God wants us to live as a blended, global, polypluralistic family united with one will, by one Lord, and baptized by one Spirit. – Anon

The cross that is planted at the heart of the history of the world cannot be uprooted. - Jacques Ellul

The Unity in whose loving presence the universe unfolds is inside each person as a call to welcome the stranger, protect animals and the earth, respect the dignity of each person, think new thoughts, and help bring about ecological civilizations. - John Cobb & Farhan A. Shah

If you board the wrong train it is of no use running along the corridors of the train in the other direction. - Dietrich Bonhoeffer

God's justice is restorative rather than punitive; His discipline is merciful rather than punishing; His power is made perfect in weakness; and His grace is sufficient for all. – Anon

Our little [biblical] systems have their day; they have their day and cease to be. They are but broken lights of Thee, and Thou, O God art more than they. - Alfred Lord Tennyson

We can’t control God; God is uncontrollable. God can’t control us; God’s love is uncontrolling! - Thomas Jay Oord

Life in perspective but always in process... as we are relational beings in process to one another, so life events are in process in relation to each event... as God is to Self, is to world, is to us... like Father, like sons and daughters, like events... life in process yet always in perspective. - R.E. Slater

To promote societal transition to sustainable ways of living and a global society founded on a shared ethical framework which includes respect and care for the community of life, ecological integrity, universal human rights, respect for diversity, economic justice, democracy, and a culture of peace. - The Earth Charter Mission Statement

Christian humanism is the belief that human freedom, individual conscience, and unencumbered rational inquiry are compatible with the practice of Christianity or even intrinsic in its doctrine. It represents a philosophical union of Christian faith and classical humanist principles. - Scott Postma

It is never wise to have a self-appointed religious institution determine a nation's moral code. The opportunities for moral compromise and failure are high; the moral codes and creeds assuredly racist, discriminatory, or subjectively and religiously defined; and the pronouncement of inhumanitarian political objectives quite predictable. - R.E. Slater

God's love must both center and define the Christian faith and all religious or human faiths seeking human and ecological balance in worlds of subtraction, harm, tragedy, and evil. - R.E. Slater

In Whitehead’s process ontology, we can think of the experiential ground of reality as an eternal pulse whereby what is objectively public in one moment becomes subjectively prehended in the next, and whereby the subject that emerges from its feelings then perishes into public expression as an object (or “superject”) aiming for novelty. There is a rhythm of Being between object and subject, not an ontological division. This rhythm powers the creative growth of the universe from one occasion of experience to the next. This is the Whiteheadian mantra: “The many become one and are increased by one.” - Matthew Segall

Without Love there is no Truth. And True Truth is always Loving. There is no dichotomy between these terms but only seamless integration. This is the premier centering focus of a Processual Theology of Love. - R.E. Slater


Note: Generally I do not respond to commentary. I may read the comments but wish to reserve my time to write (or write from the comments I read). Instead, I'd like to see our community help one another and in the helping encourage and exhort each of us towards Christian love in Christ Jesus our Lord and Savior. - re slater

Monday, March 20, 2023

The Origins of Religion: God Is Pervasive, Essential, Undefeated

The Origins of Religion:
God is Pervasive, Essential, Undefeated

by R.E. Slater

I would like to keep our next topic to the origin of religion as simple as possible. Below I have posted a 4 minute video on the religious imaginings of humanity. Though it states that Stone Age humans thought in the ways speculated I hardly could tell the difference from those very same speculations today by those who think, or say similar things, from their own Christian, or non-Christian, faith. Which is to say, "the world really hasn't changed that much...." Especially when watching the horror movies out their with all their bloody "fluff and fear" of the afterlife.

So as I watched to the video I found myself quite overwhelmed by the variety of religious expressions provided by fanciful perceptions, folklores, and superstitions, based upon enculturated religio-philosophical outlooks.

That these subjective materialities, animisms, senses of fear, of wonder, and the inability to comprehend the incomprehensible have had a lot to do with how we see the metaphysics and ontologies of life within the religious archetypes we have imposed on ourselves through our existential worlds of interpreted phenomena and mysticisms.

That from my estimate, Christianity is as guilty of these mysticisms as any other religion... such as the group-based or individualized conjurings-and-imaginations of the supernatural. I might describe these very human religious reactions as a complex array of folkloric schizophrenias trying to make sense of the material and panpsychic world around itself... that is, if I might use such a word in a sacred context.

But then again, I believe in an omnipresent and very real, supernatural, Creator-Redeemer God myself and do fall within this same category with other supernaturalists as a "panpsychic, panexperiential, panrelational mystic of a kind" myself; though my boundaries are informed by my evangelical Reformed past and have lately been re-defined by the process-based Christian theology directly founded upon the process philosophy of Whitehead and theology of Cobb.

So in a sense, I'm not a stone-throwing monkey running wild in lightening storms even though I greatly enjoy the boom-and-thunder of major storm cells. And as a Christian I wish to teach a theology of love and not an evangelical theology of xenophobic hate; or legalism; or seek an oppressive religious kingdom of converted zombies bowing down to church-approved creeds, tenets and dogma. So yes, I have a few disagreements with my faith and a few more with "spiritualists" in general on metaphysical, ontological, epistomological, and ethical grounds of comportment.

Anyway, here we go... let's first view the vid immediately below to begin....

The Big Story: Origins of Religion
Yathish Dhavala
September 9, 2013

A Few Simple Categories

Now the remainder of this post will look at various explanations of the origins of religion from the viewpoints of:

1 - God, or, the Supernatural

2 - Shamanism (altered states of consciousness) between the natural and the supernatural

3 - The Evolutionary Development of the mind, body, and soul, along with a growing evolutionary awareness of environment, conscience, religion, and ethics.

4 - And, the denial of all because of personal or corporate Illusion (Atheism et al)

Of course, I prefer #1 and #3 but can also understand that humanity has tried and experimented with every course of belief available to it through our eons. As example, Astrology seems to very popular along with various forms of  2020's New Ageism (astrology is the study of the stars and the affects of the universe upon the world; New Ageism is everything else from magnetic rocks and forces to incense candles, drugs, etc).

But remember, the effort here is to think through the origins of religion... NOT the most preferred religion or form of aesthetic belief. Origins... rather than forms....

Getting to Know Our Past

Below, I've provided a few "starter" videos along with articles in the Reference Section for further reading and study. And then, after digesting as much of these viewpoints as we can, I hope to move into the early origins of religions themselves.

Remember, too, that this study of religious origins will be rather limited in that I will be beginning in the Paleolithic (150,000-19,000 BC) and Mesolithic Ages (19,000-7000 BC) during the timeline of the evolutionary (processual) "becoming" of homo sapiens ("modern man").

That "modern" man's last environmental hurdle was that of the last Great Ice Age (25,000-19,000 BC) as humans began moving from hunter-gathers to settling as indigenous people across a variety of geographies (for more on this topic see our past articles).

As these ages came-and-went we must next move forwards towards the more recent Neolithic Ages of ancient civilizations, 7000 BC until presently, today, as all the isolated areas of the world have become "modernized" by contacts with human civilizations (I believe the last "stone age" tribal clans were those of Amazonia in the 70s and Indonesia/Java in 2010?).

The Past is Here. Now What?

This more recent climatic/genetic period extends backwards over the past 9,000 years of our human journey as we have diversified our societies and gathered into geographic clusters of specialized civilizations. And yet, man's entire journey from the conception of his genus until now has been but a mere 150,000 years ago.... Which probably means our species is due for an evolutionary change. A process which never stops. Which also responds to the challenges of our environments. And even now is assuredly undergoing evolutionary change again as our homo sapien line deals with humanity's self-made Anthropocene Age formed of destructive Industrial societies breaking down the extant climes and lifeforms of Earth in greater and greater cycles of extinction.

However, should we go further back to man's evolutionary separation from the apes then we're extending our homonid line backwards over the last 5 to 6 million years ago. Which puts humanity's meager 150,000 year evolutionary period at the short end of the stick - as you'll discover in the first video of our nearest relative, the chimpanzee, and it's conscientious display of religious activity.

When Did Religion Begin? With Us? Or Earlier?

Also, bear in mind, that our earlier forebearers of homonids had travelled in-and-out of Africa many, many times... and across the world eons-and-eons-and-eons-and-eons-and-eons before our own evolutionary line had left Africa. Which then means that religious beliefs, experiences, and activities can only be guessed at as earlier homonids had had their own experiences with the world before our own species had genetically mutated and been birthed.

So by limiting the "origins of religion" to only the evolutionary line of homo sapiens is to allow that vastly earlier religious forms of belief (more likely "feelings" or primal sensory awareness or even primitive forms of "existential self-awareness") were processually maturing by other "divine forms" of "relational connectivity coupled with beingness" from our nearest apian ancestors forwards... ancestors who themselves had millions and millions of years to "feel" or "sense" the divine in their own; observing in some sense the presence of God even as trees and hills and stars do in their own structures and forces.

The Ever-Present Presence of the Divine

This then is what I might include in my definition of God's care for creation... of God's ever constant presence with all materiality, organism, and corpuscle. That as Creation's God and Maker, Redeemer and Energy, this God is not unlike the Eastern Buddhist's idea of God-and-the-World as being one-and-the-same.

Whereas a Christian process theology will say that the divine is the DNA of all of creation. Eastern faiths will say that DNA is God. But both views will say essentially that God's presence is in very nature of the cosmos itself. That creation's very structures, energies - even it's teleologies - are all bent towards a relational, experiential, processual, organic feeling knitting generative effects into creation's being with valuative results.

And because creation is fraught with the divine's very liberty of self-and-conscience of beingness (this is the freewill argument vs determinism of church theology) that God's presence is both materially and metaphysically omnipresent... but more than this... that God's very essence of Love is within the very fabric of the cosmos so that God is ami-present as a loving, beneficent Creator ever Redeeming, Restoring, Reviving, Renewing, Reclaiming the failed processes of creation.

This is also the sense of divinity held by Eastern religions. But a Christian process theology will go several steps further and state:

i) that God is not creation's essence per se but indwelling creation's essence;
ii) that God as an indwelling presence is essentially omnipresent throughout all of nature; and,
iii) that God is OTHER than creation rather than being fully defined as creation, which is what easternism believes.

And so, there is some cross-sect between processed-based Christianity with non-Christian eastern faiths because within each theological structure is processually theology of God and the world.

The Divine "Goes All the Way Up" and "All the Way Down"

For myself, I belief we are instinctively and naturally drawn to our Creator-Redeemer God. If animals could speak they would admit to the same. For whatever reason, God has planted himself and God's divinity into the very sparks of life as far back as the universe's origin at the Big Bang (ps... creatio continua NOT creation ex nihilo). Which is to say, God imputed himself into the void of creation rather than create the void. More plainly, the quantum void was already there before the Big Bang. God became it's spark and consequently, it's Organizer/Creator/Presence.

Which then means that to hold a view of a process theology of God, nature, and religion, the presence of divinity must "goes all the way down" even as it "goes all the way up" through the layers and stratas of creation. That God is All-in-All as the Author of Life and its Eternal Presence over Life across all evolutionary journeys of the cosmos and nature. Consequently, we may expect many different forms of religious expressions of the Divine.

As God Is An Essential Reality, So Too Is Religion

Some faith forms will share more metaphysical forms of agreement with other faith forms... for instance,

  • The Hebrew-Christian-Islamic faiths have broad agreement with one another excepting in the salvific work of Jesus or the prophet Mohammad;
  • Non-Abrahamic Indigenous faiths like Native Americans will speak more broadly of God and God's divinity from their own enculturated expressions of (animistic or polytheistic) faith.
  • And those who deny faith, such as those non-Christians teaching various forms of psychoanalytic "recovery" from religious archetypes, iconology, rites, ritualisms, and ideaologies, are speaking helpfully against the (well meaning but idolatrous) excesses of religion-gone-wrong in its dogmatic legalisms, oppression of others, demeaning asceticisms, and such like.

In each case this also tells us that "religion" is very much a part of our being even as it is an essential identity in all of creation. And so, in my very simple view of God and faith religion's origin began with God and only ends should God end. Otherwise as God is here so will our identity in God indwell our being everywhere and about.

Enjoy the journey...

R.E. Slater
March 20, 2023
Revised & Edited March 21, 2023

The Origins of Religion - Religious
Symbolic Behavior in Our Closest Relatives
Feb 18, 2021

History of Religion - Shamanic
Aug 7, 2020

The History of Religion on Earth series is an extensive treatment that delves into the ancient origins of religion, the constructs of primitive ritual, the institutionalized timelines, and the corruptions within those timelines that have led up to our current religious paradigm. We aim to analyze the current academic consensus but more importantly we want to introduce additional hypotheses that are disallowed by the mainstream.  

Original Archive Narration by WR Hobbs

Part 1 Bio-cosmological Origins
Part 2 Chronology I
Part 3 Chronology II
Part 4 Truth of Control

The Illusion of God's Presence - The Biological Origins of Spiritual Longing

Chapter 36
Origins and Evolution of Religion from a Darwinian Point of View:
Synthesis of Different Theories
by Pierrick Bourrat

How and why did religion evolve?
By Brandon Ambrosino
18th April 2019


The World's Explanations for God and Religion...

* * * * * * * *

Timeline of religion

Religion has been a factor of the human experience throughout history, from pre-historic to modern times. The bulk of the human religious experience pre-dates written history. Written history (the age of formal writing) is only roughly 5,000 years old.[1] A lack of written records results in most of the knowledge of pre-historic religion being derived from archaeological records and other indirect sources, and from suppositions. Much pre-historic religion is subject to continued debate.

Religious practices in prehistory

Middle Paleolithic (200,000–50,000 BC)

Despite claims by some researchers of bear worship, belief in an afterlife, and other rituals, current archaeological evidence does not support the presence of religious practices by modern humans or Neanderthals during this period.[2]

  • 100,000 BC: Earliest known human burial in the Middle East.
  • 78,000–74,000 BC: Earliest known Homo Sapiens burial of a child in Panga ya Saidi, East Africa.
  • 70,000–35,000 BC: Neanderthal burials take place in areas of Europe and the Middle East.[3]

50th to 11th millennium BC

  • 40,000 BC: The remains of one of the earliest known anatomically modern humans to be discovered cremated, was buried near Lake Mungo.[4][5][6][7][8]
  • 38,000 BC: The Aurignacian[9] Löwenmensch figurine, the oldest known zoomorphic (animal-shaped) sculpture in the world and one of the oldest known sculptures in general, was made. The sculpture has also been interpreted as anthropomorphic, giving human characteristics to an animal, although it may have represented a deity.[10]
  • 35,000–26,001 BC: Neanderthal burials are absent from the archaeological record. This roughly coincides with the appearance of Homo sapiens in Europe and decline of the Neanderthals;[3] individual skulls and/or long bones began appearing, heavily stained with red ochre and separately buried. This practice may be the origin of sacred relics.[3] The oldest discovered "Venus figurines" appeared in graves. Some were deliberately broken or repeatedly stabbed, possibly representing the murders of the men with whom they were buried,[3] or owing to some other unknown social dynamic.[citation needed]
  • 25,000–21,000 BC: Clear examples of burials are present in Iberia, Wales, and eastern Europe. These, too, incorporate the heavy use of red ochre. Additionally, various objects were included in the graves (e.g. periwinkle shells, weighted clothing, dolls, possible drumsticks, mammoth ivory beads, fox teeth pendants, panoply of ivory artifacts, "baton" antlers, flint blades etc.).[3]
  • 13,000–8,000 BC: Noticeable burial activity resumed. Prior mortuary activity had either taken a less obvious form or contemporaries retained some of their burial knowledge in the absence of such activity. Dozens of men, women, and children were being buried in the same caves which were used for burials 10,000 years beforehand. All these graves are delineated by the cave walls and large limestone blocks. The burials share a number of characteristics (such as use of ochre, and shell and mammoth ivory jewellery) that go back thousands of years. Some burials were double, comprising an adult male with a juvenile male buried by his side. They were now beginning to take on the form of modern cemeteries. Old burials were commonly re-dug and moved to make way for new ones, with the older bones often being gathered and cached together. Large stones may have acted as grave markers. Pairs of ochred antlers were sometimes mounted on poles within the cave; this is compared to the modern practice of leaving flowers at a grave.[3]

10th to 6th millennium BC

  • 9130–7370 BC: This was the apparent period of use of Göbekli Tepe, one of the oldest human-made sites of worship yet discovered; evidence of similar usage has also been found in another nearby site, Nevalı Çori.[11]
  • 7500–5700 BC: The settlements of Çatalhöyük developed as a likely spiritual center of Anatolia. Possibly practicing worship in communal shrines, its inhabitants left behind numerous clay figurines and impressions of phallic, feminine, and hunting scenes.[citation needed]
  • 7250-6500 BC: The ʿAin Ghazal statues were made in Jordan during the Neolithic.[12] These statues were argued to have been gods, legendary leaders, or other figures of power. They were suggested to have been a representation of a fusion of previously separate communities by Gary O. Rollefson.[13]

I've concluded the Wikipedia article at the 6500 BC mark about 3,300 years before the Age of Writing (Sumer: 3200 BC).