The History and Mystery of Gods
Posted on September 28th, 2009

By Asoka Devendra

Many theories Theistic, Scientific or otherwise have been advanced about the origin of the solar system. But one fact is certain and this has been firmly authenticated by meticulous scientific research. The Solar system is one connected system and the sun had to appear first to hold the planetary system in place. Modern scientific experiments have also established that there are thousands of similar solar systems strewn all over the universe, many being even older than ours. This is patently at variance with the Theistic Creation Theory.

Researchers have also revealed that all the planets were originally fiery gaseous masses. The major planets are still more or less in the same state. The minor planets began to cool and although still retaining their inner molten states developed hard outer crusts. All these would have taken billions of years. These were certainly not sudden creations.

The earth has still not reached a steady state. The various volcanic eruptions indicate that the inner core is still turbulent. The inner tectonic plates still keep shifting causing destructive earth movements and Tsunamis. Due to the asymmetrical shape of the Earth, its alleged axis of rotation is moving in a circle known as the perturbation of the Earth’s axis. In fact he entire shape of the Earth is constantly changing. Various land masses are moving about. These movements have in fact been measured. The Geographic map has to be constantly updated. Some islands are submerging some others are arising and so forth. The Earth is certainly not a single all time perfect creation as claimed by Theistic faiths.

The Earth after cooling would certainly have been in a stark barren and desolate state. There were certainly no rivers, lakes or oceans. But it certainly would have been unpolluted and fertile and thus conducive for plant life to grow. Consequently various physiochemical reactions as well as microbic forms of life transported through meteorites etc. would have begun to proliferate and with time, forming into vast dense forests. These would have then given rise to rains that would have gone to form the rivers, lakes, oceans etc. These are certainly not fantasies or beliefs but bare facts.

The Earth was no resplendent with plenty of vegetative food and water hence ideal for animal life. Thus various microbiological systems would have begun to generate incipient micro life forms which no doubt would have rapidly developed both on land and water. These then would certainly have had to grow into monstrous sizes in order to survive in the prevailing harsh conditions and for self protection.

Some of these life forms would have with time resorted to living on trees as a measure of safety. They would have then developed to form the primates (monkeys, apes etc.). Subsequently when these primates grew in size they descended on to the Earth. Consequently, they gradually had to become erect in order to reach up to the trees to obtain food. Here was then the first appearance of the upright bipeds.

The stage was now well set for the arrival of the Home-sapiens. A form of life, that had to depend more on its brain than on its brawn. The remains of these anthropomorphic Humans, which are still being unearthed certainly reveals that the very earliest man was very simian in form and feature. No Theistic teachings ever refer to these earliest forms of animal life as replicated in the Jurassic Park or to the earliest Human forms. Most religious teachings start off with a perfect man and woman and a Paradise. Certainly there is a conflict between facts and beliefs. Further more, a single Human couple would certainly have to lead to a situation where incestuous relations would be necessary in order to give rise to future generations. Theistic beliefs appear to be unaware of this. This is certainly not a very propitious start for Humanity. It also will surely give rise to concerns about the Creations Theory on which the need for a Creator God firmly depends. In fact newer forms of life, bacteria virus etc.are still appearing.

The earliest Man would have had to eke out a most perilous existence amidst the formidable denizens o the forest. His position was even more confounded by the cantankerous behaviour of Nature. At times it was benign and beneficial then at times wild and devastating.

Man no doubt would have pondered over these vagaries. All he could do was to attribute all these to some external Power, which at times appeared to be pleased and at times displeased. “¦”¦”¦”¦. Man took on himself to believe that it was his own shortcomings that triggered the various behaviour traits of these alleged external Powers.

Since Nature played a significant role in his life, Man assigned powers to the various natural phenomena. We thus see the appearance of the Nature Gods, Sun, Moon, Rain, Thunder etc were deified (Sun, Moon worship exists even to the present times). Having attributed powers to these Gods, Man had to work out how to appease and mollify them, and thereby to get their blessings and assistance. This psychological mentality still remains with even the present day Man.

The stage was set for the appearance for some designing people to assume the role as intermediaries between Gods and Men. These people were then known as “Witch Doctors”. The devised all manner of unintelligible mumbo jumbo mainly to impress the fear ridden people into believing that they possessed various special powers. They for instance, dressed grotesquely with chains of cowries, leopard teeth etc and devised various complex bodily contortions and disfigurements and produced most stentorious incantations. They also enveloped themselves in fire and fragrant smoke (most of these are still in vogue to this day). They then prescribed various nostrums, oblations, rituals etc alleged to be necessary to appease the various Gods and thus to win their favours. We still resort to such rites, rituals etc showing that the fear psychosis imbedded in the earliest Man is still lying latent even in the minds of modern Man. If and when these rites failed, Man again as present times, took the blame on himself. Thus the power, status and divinity of the Gods remained undiminished, unsullied and intact then, even as of now.

Modifications of these ancient ritualistic practices are still being resorted to in modern times. Where prayers praise, and practices predominate. Such is the latent deep-seated tendency to accept traditional beliefs as facts that is still endemic in the minds of the modern fear-ridden craven people.

There is no doubt that these Nature Gods did serve the same purpose in catering to the religious needs of the ancient people as at the modern times. The magnificent monuments, religious based structures, works of art etc bear ample evidence to this assertion. In fact Nature Gods certainly united the people into a single religious system. This contrasts starkly with the modern times. Theistic systems have in fact now fragmented society mostly into warring factions between religions and also within religions. All these are happening within the purview of an alleged All Knowing Power. If Man can act as he wishes, then for what purposes are the vast powers assigned to Gods being used?

With the gradual expansion of knowledge, the Nature Gods began to take on more Human forms. Hence we see the Gods taking on semi-human or complex Human forms (multi-featured). Such God forms are extant even to this day. Each of these God forms were attributed with specialized powers and thus the votive practices differed from God to God. Each of these Gods had their own special shrines etc. It was a polytheistic system, even in existence to this day, involving all manner of ritualistic practices, some hardly worthy to honour a Powerful God.

The next logical development was to assign the Gods a perfect Human form. This was manifestly evident during ancient Greek and Roman Civilizations which existed upto nearly 2,500 years ago. These Gods were so Human that they even cohabited with earthly Humans. Their human off springs such as Perseus, Achilles, etc were super humans. We still hold the Olympic Games. These were originally held by super Men to honour their God King Zeus who was alleged to have lived on Mount Olympus.

It is indeed an extraordinary fact that although these ancient Gods are now taken as fictitious, they certainly played a very significant role in molding the character and also serving the religious needs of the then people as in modern times. In fact not only are the magnificent works of the ancient peoples to honour their Gods being still admired. These civilizations have also certainly contributed immeasurably to modern Science, Philosophy, Mathematics, Social Ethics etc. If these ancient allegedly fictitious Gods could have created conditions necessary for the development of such great civilizations, what more does one need from the modern “True Gods”? In fact the modern Mono Theistic Gods are vested with tremendous Powers as for instance being All Knowing, All Seeing, All Merciful etc. The burning question is why are the Gods not exercising, at least some of their great powers to quell some of the terrorist activities, horrendous insurgencies, to protect their places of worship, to prevent the devastating natural disasters and so on? But if some trivial good fortune comes by Man’s way, the people are then quite willing to attribute it to God as a manifestation of Heavenly Power. Such is the obtuseness of a belief-soaked mind.

It is manifestly true from historical facts that as the people’s knowledge widened, the concepts about Gods also become more complex. Similarly as the process of living got more involved and intricate, the time available for ritualistic practices got less and less. It was now apparent that Man found it more convenient to vest all the diverse powers they wanted their Gods to possess into a single Divine Being. Thus we have the emergence of the modern Mono Theistic systems. In fact the recorded history of these God systems, are not more than about 2,000 years.

Incidentally, each of these great civilizations went into oblivion taking their Gods also with them. Such is the saga of the Gods. What criteria do we really have to assert that the present Gods will not undergo the same fate? , or assert that any one Theistic system is superior to another? In fact this problem is present even more so today, where about an equal segment of the Human society, are each paying homage to a different Theistic system. The present Mono Theistic systems are by themselves fissiparous and fragmented, at times into even bellicose sub-sects. The relevant Gods have certainly not made even the slightest efforts to remedy this apparently dangerous trend. Each of these sects have in fact, their own interpretations about the same God. Is it that these are too insignificant and thus do not come within the purview of the “All Seeing” God? The ancient religious systems certainly do not appear to have been plagued by such trends. Thus what reasons do we have to assert that any one God system is superior to another even in the context of modern times?

Incidentally no religious text in use either in ancient or modern times, were ever written by any God. They are purely Human compilations. These have been in fact even amended from time to time also by Humans. It should be patently clear even to a nitwit that no All Knowing God could ever have issued a Heavenly edicts that would give rise to so many sects and diverse religious concepts and practices etc, or would not have used his All Mighty Power to thwart such dangerous fissiparous tends. Hence like the Human legal system, the prevailing religious trends of enforcing divergent social, ethical moral restrictions etc, within each religion are purely Human constructions. But then people are so beguiled and gullible that they can very well contend with all these unquestionably.

A very intriguing and legitimate question that arises is “What is the language prevailing in each of the Heavens presided over by the different Gods? They certainly cannot be any of the languages in usage on Earth, these being purely Human creations, to suit their different ethnic and geographic needs. Incidentally, why should there also be such manifest Human variations on this Earth when it is claimed that all these are a result of a single creation with a common Heaven? Are there answers?

In the welter of all these we have the presence of the Non-Theistic Buddha Dhamma. A doctrine founded by Man on this very Earth, unlike a religion alleged to have been sent down from Heaven. There were many Buddhas in the past and many to come in the future. They come into being at various time periods, when the moral lives of the people become degenerate and irresponsible. All the Buddhas preach the same Noble Truths.

The Dhamma also admits the existence of a vast pantheon of Gods. These Gods have at various times appeared before The Buddha and the Arahants to obtain advice. These are recorded in the texts. The Gods are temporary states of existence achieved by performing certain wholesome acts on this Earth. There is no discrimination whatsoever. Any person of whatever belief, performing such acts will be rewarded with a temporary stint in an appropriate Heaven. All states of existence in the Heavens, Earth or Hell are temporary. They will change in accordance with the inviolable laws of Kamma (action), and Vipaka(reaction). This process is known as Rebecoming(which is in fact is now fully accepted by modern science). This process will cease only and only when the mind energy is weaned of its craving to united with a body energy. The Dhamma clearly shows the way to achieve this Supreme state. In The Buddha Dhamma, Man is supreme. He has to work out his own salvation at his own pace. The Dhamma only shows the way. Incidentally The Buddha has gone beyond the reach of any being and is thus unavailable.

It will then be patently clear that the powers vested in Gods are in fact purely Human attributes vested by Man himself in order to satisfy his own needs, greed and beliefs. No God has still ever directly manifested any of these in any tangible form. Had the Gods really done so the world would certainly have been a much better place to live in than at present. Thus it appears that it is pure Belief that is the only sustaining force behind all Theistic Faiths.

The world oscillates between beliefs and facts just as facts get amended with the improvement of knowledge. For example, even Newton’s laws of gravity have now been found to be inadequate. Beliefs also share this quality. Many of the beliefs held with great tenacity, such as the concept of a flat Earth. That the Earth was Created, that the Sun revolved round the Earth etc. which had and has strong religious support have now been summarily rejected. Although facts are verifiable no Belief is ever verifiable. Furthermore, there can be only say, one law of Gravity operating at a time. But there are even at the present a number of Gods with special Heavens and Hells presiding over the Earth. Each such God is maintained by a special set of beliefs and practices. People are willing quite surprisingly to accept this status quo quite unquestioningly and impassively.

This has lead some people to claim for instance, that God is the answer which Man himself provided to the question which he himself raised ” who made all these?” Others claim is that a God is necessary at only two points of time- namely, at Creation and then again at Resurrection.

It is an inviolable fact that Man’s main ambition in life is to acquire security and satisfaction. He firmly believes that these can only be achieved by palliating to his incessant desires and expectations. He is thus strongly tempted to accept any Power either in Heaven or Earth which appears to cater to these latent wants. This is being strongly exploited by the various Theistic faiths. This is manifestly the motive behind all the invidious forms of conversions, where impoverished ingenuous and innocent people are lured by material gifts and other services as being gratuitous gifts from the Heavens. Of course all these acts appear to be at variance with the religious plea “Lead us not into temptation”. But then other designs can often over-ride even over Theistic edicts when surreptitious and insidious needs or covert motives arise.

It is only The Buddha Dhamma which persistently and emphatically emphasizes that merely catering to the worldly material and body needs is not the sure way to inner spirituality. The Dhamma in fact shows the way to contentment even to those who live in extenuating and poor circumstances. The Dhamma is of course intended purely to those who are wise, who are willing to accept that inner peace, purification and perfect contentment lies within one’s self and not without. Such people can thus arise above the bounded world like perfect lotuses rising out of the mud and murk below.

In conclusion it must be emphatically asserted that certainly no God could ever have determined, designed or designated any of the alleged places of worship, shrines, sacred places etc. These are purely Human choices and constructions located according to the needs and designs of the various religious leaders. This is patently evident considering the fact that these places are frequently subject to destruction, not only be Natural causes. Human beings themselves cause deaths, defilements, destructions etc. at these very places. Hence any claim that there is a divine presence in these places will only certainly cast aspersions on the Power and Sovereignty of such a God. In any case the Gods appear supremely indifferent and unperturbed by such occurrences- strange but true. But people can of course devise religious excuses to cover all these.

It may also be thus asserted that such religious centres are not sanctified by a God but only by Humans. Sanctity is only a personal experience. People can choose to be sanctified or not. No material form whether it be a building, statue or other object can ever manifest any Power except their intrinsic physical qualities like colour, smell, radiance etc.

It is only the mind that has such Powers. This is an intractable scientific fact. The mind of course can certainly get sanctified only by the association of certain concepts with such an object or place. For example the Bo-Tree at Anuradhapura has per se no intrinsic Power, but it can cause wonderful visions and invoke the incomparable qualities of the Supreme Buddha to arise in the mind which no other tree can ever do. Hence the Bo Tree is venerated. The sooner people will realize this infallible fact of the inertness of materiality and the Power of the Mind the better will it be for Humanity. According to The Buddha Dhamma, the Human mind reigns supreme over all Natural phenomena whether it be in Heaven, Earth or Hell. The Dhamma thus imbues self-confidence. Thus no true Buddhist will thus ever seek succour from any external Power real or imagined. On the Dhamma ( The Universal Natural Law) will be his guide for salvation and peace on this very Earth.

3 Responses to “The History and Mystery of Gods”

  1. Faqi Says:

    Mr. Asoka Devendra must be complimented for he above article. Buddhists in Sri Lanka fall prostrate at many of the Hindu Deities or Gods at various temples and Kovils all over the Island. I hope that Buddhists read this article and comprehend everything it states. I too have the same question: If there is an almighty god or gods who are also merciful & so powerful, how come they created so many horrifying things? It just does not make sense. Does it?
    Steven Weinberg, ( Physicist) said: I am surprised the majority cannot see the truth of this.
    “Religion is an insult to human dignity. With or without it you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion.

  2. Faqi Says:

    How long does it take to moderate a comment?

  3. Priyantha Abeywickrama Says:

    This is a remarkable collection of English words opening up a lot of intellectual challenges for those seeking knowledge. I thought of giving some more foods for thought. They say knowledge is words. However, I note that you created none of these words in this article. The concept of God has become the centre of life for many human groups. I wonder why you do not try to find out the original meaning of the word “God”? Obviously, today god is a source of income for many who do not want to use their modern human skills. Having spent a lot of time in the wild, there are many among us (including many office employees) who want to live just like in the nature without doing strange things that we do, though we have multiplied many times due to dedication of those who found new ways of complementing the natural production processes. Their contributions have led the status of god/s to new heights as you have detailed. Though I believe that they are correct in their beliefs, I wish you could find the meaning of the word God when it came to being, long before the yarn that decorated and mystified it? Based on that meaning, what do you say if I can give you an undeniable proof that there are gods, devils and so on, especially those referred to by Sinhala names? What if I prove beyond any doubt those ancient Sinhala beliefs ignored as myths, primitive ideas etc., in fact are true? Alternatively what is the situation if the so-called scientific methods are as stupid as fictional stories or mere words of gamblers struggling to make a living out of nothing? Just like questioning god, if you apply the same concepts to every other popular concepts including Buddhism, I am pretty sure you will find more interesting things that may even challenge your very belief in it. Referring to the last words before Nirvana, what is the impact on every other word uttered during Buddha’s lifetime? I wonder whether you noticed that there were only two heinous crimes (Anantharya papa karma) before the advent of Buddhism, which increased them to five with specific reference to self (Was it self interest?). In the west the original two crimes are considered ordinary, but not paying tax is the worst crime according to their belief with fatal consequences (losing everything you own). Have you done a comparison with Hinduism? Do you have any estimate of how many new words were added as part of Buddhist doctrine and how many words and concepts were borrowed from Hinduism? From where did these come to Hinduism? Given your displayed intellectual capabilities, I believe you can do a great service to your future generations, your nation and their native land. Why not try to reach to the top of the humanity by finding yourself good in something that there is none among the humanity to match you? Obviously, this can be verified in clear and understandable terms. What a contrast between Ashoka D and Ashoka S when writing articles using English words. Would you accept that humans are an irrelevant species out of infinite life forms, struggling to live on oxygen (I mean knowledge) continuing its post-extinct life without any direction yet? What will happen to us if we are left to the nature’s will? Are you prepared to accept that other life forms are as good as or better than humans? What do you think if I say that many humans are part humans or duplicates that lack some vital elements required to meet the description of original humanness? By the way what makes us human? Can you try to figure out the two other options that sit along side the Buddhist and Christian/Islamic versions of human life, but without any imaginary components? Where is the origin of knowledge? I love to hear from you.

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