Regional Influence On Faith System Origins

In the real estate profession there is a dictum that insinuates the value of any given property, and that quality-gauge is tersely summed up as location, location, location.  Oddly, that real estate saying can help us understand the personality traits of the major organized faith systems that are active in our world today.  Location and the timeframe in which each faith system began its development served as the gene pool for its offspring (ie beliefs), and from these grew the idiosyncrasies that now characterize their interrelated practices.  Stir into this mix any noticeable seasonal changes and astronomical positions that predominated in that timeframe and the results become local interpretations of universal/cosmic interactions.

Circumstances that prevailed in a region where a faith system originated will always continue to color the customs of that faith system.  The regional environment in a definable timeframe accounts for the characteristics of Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Brahmanism, etc., etc.  In other words, it was never divine communications directed at certain chosen persons that “revealed” spiritual qualifications of those faith systems in any particular region: it was some material insecurity in the regional environment which inspired attempts to explain natural cause and effect.

The regional circumstances and the timeframe in which a religion originated served to influence its interpretation of an imagined deity’s personality and psychological profile, which in turn shaped the doctrines which, it was hoped, would favorably influence that imagined deity.  Thus today we find ourselves bound to primitive hand-me-down values of conduct that vary from “faith” to “faith,” and which have shaped doctrines that often defy rationality.

Of the three western highly structured but competing religions, there is the peculiarity of each of them claiming descent from the same seed-bearer named Abraham, an alleged ancestor which none of these faiths have ever been able to authenticate.  All three also claim the same angels—Gabriel, Michael, etc; and they claim linkage to the same lands and they claim a singular Creator-God.  But that God has, apparently, given each of them conflicting data on how the faithful are to win that God’s conditional love.  Understandably, this has caused more spiritual, social, economical and physical distress and suffering throughout the world than is appropriate if they are, as each of them claims, a legitimate representative of the omniscient Creative Source.

The precepts of the faith that would develop as Judaism, for example, were accumulated and developed in the central hill country of Canaan (Judah) around the little settlement  of Jerusalem (c. early 8th century BCE).  The more urbanized Hebrew tribal groups to the north had established a kingdom, Israel, which had fallen to Assyrian invasion.  There was not then and never had been a united monarchy Israel/Judah as priest written Old Testament accounts imply.  (Suggested reading: The Bible Unearthed, by Finkelstein and Silberman.)  Priests in little Jerusalem, situated in the highlands of Canaan between the major competitive powers of Egypt and Assyria, were understandably nervous about their precarious position.  Thus to intimidate those powers and psychologically arm the Judean people, the priest composed “history” presented tales of a god-chosen people possessed of unconquerable strength.

Around the mid-eighth century BCE when the Hebrew scriptures were beginning to be compiled, the Earth happened to experience exogenous disturbances in its rotation, and these coincided with a reverse in Earth’s magnetic field.  This is the timeframe in which the “prophet” Isaiah is cast.  It was in this timeframe also that Babylon and China found it necessary to devise a new calendar.  It should be noted here as well that it was c. 776 BCE that the first Olympiad was inaugurated in Greece, and that event was unquestionably in connection with earlier events concerning the celestial object we today call Venus which had disturbed the heavens through previous generations.

On the other side of our planet in this same timeframe, the ancestors of the Mayans also remained wary and kept nervous watch on the heavens, especially on the planet Venus.  What these worldwide concerns with the heavens reveal is that Isaiah and the later minor “prophets” such as Joel, Micah and Amos were actually astronomers who were concerned about planetary interaction with Earth, first with Venus, and later the disturbed movements of Mars in the timeframe 763-765 BCE.  Add to this timeframe of worldwide disturbances that the traditional date for the founding of Rome is 753 BCE–and that site was dedicated to Mars, which was personified as the god of war.

In Egypt, long before the Jewish faith was concocted, there was a tradition of “the coming messiah,” which was referred to as Madhi.  The point here is that in all ancient pre-Jewish cultures the reference to a Messiah alway carried planetary meaning.  It never referred to any human champion charged with the mission to save or rescue certain people, but referred to expected planetary conditions that were to bring forth new circumstances for all human life.

Christianity is the world’s only city-bred faith system, and it is a product engendered out of Rome and Antioch.  In the timeframe which we consider to be the sixth year of our Common Era (CE), Judah had long been annexed by Rome.  By the late 50s the proportion of Jews in the Roman Empire was over twenty percent.  There had previously arisen a new Pharisaic party of the Humanistic Jews, which had evolved out of the teachings of Hillel the Pharisee (30 BCE).   This was felt to pose a possible threat to the Roman economic structure, for Hillel’s humanistic approach did not accept the practice of slavery, which was the backbone of Roman economy.  (For this reason there is no condemnation of slavery to be found in the New Testament.)  The Pagan Roman Empire always sought to embrace the diversity of its conquered people, and that characteristic is somewhat reflected in the earliest “gospel” writing of Mark, written c. 55-60, and Matthew, written c. 70-75.

Christianity, as such, was not known in the timeframe of the Emperor Nero, 54-68.  The members of the developing Jesus-cult that would evolve as Christianity referred to themselves simply as “brethren.”  Classification as “Christians” was introduced by later interpreters of history who happened to subscribe to the early Jesus-cult teachings as formulated in Antioch.  After the  forced suicide of Nero in 68, a brief civil war followed that brought the Empire to its knees as four “Emperors” battled for power between the months of June and December of 68.

The date of birth for Jesus is, to put it kindly, blurry at best, and equally uncertain is the time of Jesus’ alleged crucifixion–but  it is projected to be some time between the years 30 and 36, since Pontius Pilate is presented in the trial scene.   For all the claimed disturbing circumstances before, during and after the crucifixion, the execution death was not noted in any legal account nor by any contemporary historian.  However, the character of Paul of Tarsus (whose alleged conversion to Jesus bore extraordinary similarity to Moses’ call to faith) came upon the scene in just that timeframe. But the Jesus-cult carried no definable outline at that time.  Paul thus assumed he was called to dedicate himself to formulating doctrine and ceremonial procedures.  Oddly, there is no verifiable proof in regard to Saul/Paul of Tarsus either; his missionary role-playing is narrated in a somewhat haphazard manner.  Some investigators have contended that Pliny the Younger may have been the author of thirteen of the epistles in the NT which are attributed to Paul.  It is a fact that Pliny the Younger was noted for his epistle style writing.

Centuries later Islam developed in the arid, merciless desert atmosphere where nature seems to extend little sympathy to any form of life in its struggle to survive.  Austerity and harshness of the desert encouraged an acceptance that the creative powers offered but limited compassion for life.  There is no question that in the 6th century CE, Mohammad, who traveled widely as a caravan merchant, became aware of stories from both the Jewish Torah and the Christian Gospels.  In his youth, however, Mohammad, as most Arab tribespeople in that timeframe, had been taught to adore al-Uzza (Venus), one of three bana al-Lab, or “Daughters of God.”  The two other “daughters” were known as al-Lat, “the Goddess,” and Manat, “the Fateful One.”  These three deities were of special importance to the Arabs of the Hijaz in the time of Mohammad’s youth.  This adoration of celestial objects obviously had generated out of past traumatic celestial events in which the “daughters” were involved, and they were associated with tribulations and woe.  Thus in the Quran (53:19-26) the question is raised in regard to having formerly worshipped al-Uzza, al-Lat and Manat, calling them “…nothing but empty names which you have invented–you and your forefathers–for which God has bestowed no warrant on high.”  The meteorite stone that had been venerated formerly in connection with al-Uzza is possibly the famous black cornerstone of the Muslim shrine Kaaba at Mecca.

Mohammad’s early radical preaching at Mecca was tolerated for a while, but eventually the priests of Kaaba became concerned over his radical views and forbade him to preach among the Arabs that gathered at Mecca.  Thus he started preaching to any foreigners that happened to pass through: technically he followed the priests’ orders, but the priests of Kaaba were not pleased.

According to Islamic tradition, Mohammad became aware of a plot by the priests of Kaaba in Mecca to have him assassinated for continuing to expound his radical ideas.  This is peculiar, for such violence was strictly prohibited by those in charge of the shrine.  But according to tradition Mohammad fled Mecca at the height of summer and arrived at Yathrib, now known as Medina, on September 20–the time of the autumnal equinox, which also happened to be the time of Jewish atonement.  The popular account says that in 627 Mohammad and his followers were attacked in Yathrib (Medina) by the Meccan leader Abu Sufyan, and this is known as the Battle of the Trench.  Abu Sufyan abandoned the attack after fifteen days, and Mohammad suspected that the Banu Quraiza Jews who resided in Yathrib had aided the Meccans, and so Mohammad had all the Jewish men killed.  Mohammad then went to war against Mecca.  Capturing Mecca is known as Mohammad’s Day of Deliverance, which is said to have occurred on March 16–the approaching days of the vernal equinox, which, of course, is never alluded to.  The account of Mohammad’s “deliverance” has a rather eerie similarity to the Israelite deliverance from their alleged “slavery” in Egypt as it is related in Hebrew legend and which is celebrated by Jews as Passover during the time of the vernal equinox.

These brief outlines on how regional and celestial events stimulated belief systems of the western world are equally applicable to other interpretations of creative deities as well.  Hinduism and Brahmanism, for example, took root where lofty mountains inspired a strong impression of the energy interconnection of spirit, earth and heaven.  Another example: the Aztecs, Incas and Mayans held age-old legends of a past heavenly turmoil, and this coupled with their location in the jungles of South America, suggested to them that the gods always expected sacrifice and appeasement for continuance of life.  And in North America, the natives could appraise in the openness of the land and its bountiful wild life a stern spirit which was nonetheless wide-ranging and interactive with all life.  Thus we can see how the origin of any faith system was influenced by location, location, location.

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