Since when have there been religions?
No one can say how long religions will exist on earth.
Some, like the biologist Alister Hardy (1896-1985), see in man the "praying animal"[i] and assume that religions or at least religiosity already existed in the Paleolithic.
Funeral rites of the Neanderthals 30,000 years ago can be interpreted religiously. Thus one can see in it a proof of the belief already of these people in the further life after death. Until today the common conviction of all high religions.
Evidence of religious places of worship dates back only to the 10th millennium B.C.; for example, Göbekli Tepe near Sanliurfa in Anatolia, supposedly the oldest known temple of mankind. This was built before or at the very beginning of the "Neolithic Revolution," the beginning of agriculture and animal husbandry, about 12,000 years ago.
We know almost nothing about the religious ideas of Stone Age people. Researchers have to rely on uncertain interpretations of rock paintings, figurines, buildings, graves and sculptures.
There are some meaningful ideas about the religions of our ancestors only since written records are available.
It is true that one can try to get an idea of how our ancestors might have felt 10, 20 or more thousand years ago by observing the religious rites of primitive peoples at the Stone Age level.
However, scientists do not know whether recent (currently living) people with Stone Age technology are backward tribes that have not merely lost touch with normal development, but may have regressed or even failed to develop. Thus, conclusions from their transcendent experience of today to stone-age primitive religions could be misleading. -
Shamanism - the first religion?
From the observation of primitive peoples one can conclude that at the beginning of religions stood shamanism, which existed in many varieties from East Asia to Europe and Africa to America, or still exists today.
The first Paleolithic shamans probably had otherworldly contacts, e.g. with nature beings. This enabled them to sense where fruit, game and roots could be found, where there were watering holes, where dangers lurked and when it was time to seek shelter from storms or natural disasters. Shamans were probably also the first doctors. The early shamans made an important contribution to the survival of their group and took on a leading role.
From today's shamans and sorcerers[ii] In my opinion, one should not expect any lucid contacts with the afterlife. Their influence is often based only on the traditional superstition and the fear of their tribesmen of curse and imprecation.
The first priests were therefore shamans, whose skills gave them a prominent position in their society.
Later came successors whose spiritual qualities were deficient, but who nevertheless sought to gain the prestige that had fallen to their more capable predecessors. In such cases, the path to fraud is not far, to "pious fraud", as it was already proven to priests of antiquity and later became the origin of many a "pious" legend.
The pursuit of power
Since the overvaluation of the material over the spiritual - that is, at the latest since the ancient Egyptians - priests (inside) strive for influence and power. Religious dignitaries are mostly not satisfied with living out their teachings according to Jesus' word "By their works you shall know them". (Matth. 7,16), and to prove the value of their supposedly higher knowledge by putting it into practice.
The priest - no matter which religion - usually claims to have deeper insights than his contemporaries, wants to teach them, and expects recognition and influence; thus also power! The proof for the correctness of his teachings he can deliver as good as never; because this "proof" would lie on transcendental levels which are inaccessible to people caught in materialism.
The religiously and philosophically based demand that the most mature spirit should also be the earthly ruler could never be permanently and successfully asserted in known history. There are legendary memories of long-gone "golden times" in which the king also acted as high priest and was responsible for the light connection. If he fulfilled both his spiritual duties and his earthly obligations, he was entitled to respect and veneration[iii].
A reverberation of this has been preserved until historical times. Thus, the Roman emperor had the title "pontifex maximus"[iv]The Japanese Tenno was denied his "divine origin" only after the Second World War.
Thus, at least since ancient times, there has been the struggle for influence and power between religious leaders and earthly power. Such a development is inevitable as soon as materialistic aspirations also break into religions, and earth-bound intellectual thinking gradually displaces spirituality.
Then, personalities of insufficient spiritual quality can also enter the priesthood and deceive and seduce gullible people. If indoctrination, fraud and deception are not enough to discipline the "faithful," religious authorities - sometimes to this day - do not shy away from psychological pressure and even physical violence. Truly religious people are then repelled, and in extreme cases they become martyrs.
Power struggles of religions
It can be assumed that priests of insufficient spiritual quality fought for earthly influence and power already in prehistoric times and probably did not shy away from any means; regardless of the religious ethics they proclaimed.
Some historical examples may be cited:
* Already from the old Egypt the argument between the Pharao Echnaton (Amenophis IV. approx. 1340-1324 B.C.) and the priesthood is handed down. Akhenaten probably enforced a one-god doctrine (scholars disagree on this) with the sun disk as the symbol for Aton, the supreme deity. Priests who paid homage to other gods (especially Amon-Re) lost power. This led to fights, which ended after Akhenaten's death with the victory of the traditional cults and their priesthood.
* In the Old Testament of the Bible, especially in Deuteronomy (5th Book of Moses), the claim to power of the priests (cf. e.g. Deut. 5:18) and the absolute primacy of the "chosen people" preached against all other peoples and justified inhuman cruelties. (Cf. e.g. E.g., Deut. 2:32-35; Deut. 7:1-5, 21-24; Deut. 20:10-18; Josh. 6:21; Josh. 8:24-28; Josh. 11:12-14, etc.). Archaic fantasies of violence represented there.[v] were also handed down by Christian churches and used, for example, in crusades, in the Inquisition, in the persecution of heretics, in slavery[vi] or practiced in colonialism.
Old Testament prophets opposed the hateful teachings of the priests. (Cf. e.g. Amos 9:7; Hosea 6:6.).
* Roman emperors came into conflict with the church soon after the persecution of Christians ended. Ambrose, the bishop of Milan, prevented the punishment of a bishop who had incited a crowd to burn down a synagogue in 388. The rebuilding of the synagogue at the expense of Christians, ordered by the emperor, was also prevented[vii]. From Ambrosius probably also comes the saying, "the emperor is in, not above the church". Since the church is subject to the pope, the emperor would then also be subject to the pope.
* The German Middle Ages were characterized for centuries by the struggle between the emperor and the pope, as well as the unfortunate compulsion of German kings to go to Rome with an army for the coronation of the emperor. (Cf. "A German doom" under "History"). This long struggle between spiritual and earthly power caused untold damage to the "Roman Empire of the German Nation" and contributed significantly to its downfall.
* Any deviation from church doctrine, any attempt to develop it further or bring it to life was rigorously suppressed for centuries. And this by both churches; the Roman as well as the Eastern Church. Also the Protestants were later by no means tolerant.
Exemplary of the ruthlessness with which the churches fought to maintain their power is the eradication of the form of Christianity practiced by the Cathars in southern France. The Roman pope and the king of France proclaimed a crusade that destroyed a flourishing country and its culture. (Cf. "The Albigensian Crusade" in "Short, Concise, Curious" page 302″).[viii].
* The Reformation, initiated by Martin Luther in 1517, could not be immediately smothered in blood because the imperial troops were needed elsewhere. Last but not least, the Turks were in front of Vienna for the first time in 1529, so that one can claim that the survival of Protestantism was due to the Turks.
The ensuing religious wars of the modern era were to a large extent also political wars in which religion served as a pretext.
* The "New Science" (natural science) and the philosophy of the Enlightenment contradicted old church teachings. Accordingly, these new findings were brutally attacked by the churches. Thus it came to violent arguments between science and church, in which the religious teachings had to be questioned fundamentally. These doubts about everything religious could not be stopped even by the worst crimes of the Inquisition and the persecutions of heretics. This also gave rise to the widespread skepticism today against everything "not scientifically explainable".
In the end, the churches were forced to grudgingly accept some ideas of Enlightenment philosophy as "basic Christian values" or even to incorporate them into their doctrinal edifices (human rights, free exercise of religion, separation of church and state[ix], etc.). Not to speak of the highly reluctant acceptance of the "New Astronomy" (heliocentric world view) by the churches.
Islam - as the second religion currently occupying us - does not know the separation between earthly and spiritual violence, between state and mosque - at least theologically. For Mohammed was prophet and warlord in one person; one of the few "armed prophets" (Machiavelli). The outrageously rapid spread of Islam by Muhammad's successors, the "caliphs," was then made possible by force of arms, cruel slaughter and forced Islamization[x].
Following Muhammad's example, the caliphs were also supposed to unite earthly and spiritual power in their hands. But this concept did not work smoothly. Apart from the split between Sunnis and Shiites, there were sometimes two caliphs at the same time, the caliphate was not always universally recognized and was out of force for a long time, until it was revived in the 18th century and abolished in 1924.
The list of religious or religiously based wars and crimes can be extended. But this is not about criticism of religion or the church, but about recognizing that religious ideas have been misused for millennia to assert claims to power, to oppress people and to lead them astray. Hardly any sect, religious group, or high religion can claim that it has never given in to this temptation to abuse its teachings, which has often resulted in splits.
The long history of religious oppression, only briefly touched upon here, probably began in prehistoric times, and its end is not in sight. For whenever more or less questionable religious "bosses" - be they those of sects or of world religions - run out of convincing arguments, they tend toward exclusion, threats and even earthly violence. The supposedly so peaceful and loving character of their teachings is then quickly invalidated.
The power of religion begins where earthly power ends.
Religious experience should be the deepest, innermost feeling of man. It impresses the mind very deeply and finds - if it is pure - connection to higher, promoting creative forces.
Deep feeling, however, is always personal, not transferable and also not teachable and learnable. It is a spiritual experience that breaks through from the deepest inside and cannot be guided or even limited by any dogmatic guidelines.
True religiosity thrives only on the ground of spiritual freedom; a freedom of choice that is inseparable from responsibility. Only in this way can "faith become conviction.
It is not only the monotheistic religions that have a hard time with "spiritual freedom" that does not want to submit to the old dogmas or even questions the whole earthly structure together with the respective theology. Tolerance is much rarer in religious groups than the devaluation or even the persecution of dissenters, who are called "apostates", "heretics", "unbelievers" or "damned". Preservation of power is in the foreground!
"...the priests did not want at all Teacher be and Helpers, but only dominant ones.
As true Helper they would have had to educate the people to inner independence, Spiritual dignity and spiritual greatness, so that these people may freely enter into the will of God and joyfully act accordingly.
The priests did the opposite and bands the spirit, so that he remained docile to them for their earthly purposes."[xi]
The religious experience of the faithful was and is not infrequently misguided by power-hungry, self-righteous priests. Instead of addressing feeling, only feeling is touched; genuine religiosity is suppressed by dogmatism and fundamentalism. Instead of helping forces of creation, lower currents, anger and hatred can be attracted. Centers of prayer, actually consecrated to the service of the Most High, can become hotbeds of hatred and religious fanaticism, capable of triggering religious excesses such as have wreaked havoc in every century since antiquity - right up to the immediate present.
The priests of all religions, bear heavy responsibility.
Thus, the claim invented by priests of "the only beatifying church"; the claim to teach the only way to God, which is not limited to the Catholic Church but is more or less made by all monotheistic religions, has scared off many valuable people and severely shaken faith in God. The discrepancy between the spiritual claims of religions and the earthly behavior of many of their spiritual representatives became too obvious.
The heresies preached by priests are also responsible for the widespread devaluation of religiosity and spirituality associated with the triumph of materialism.
[i] "Man, the Praying Animal. Religiosity as a Factor or Evolution," Stuttgart 1979.
[ii] The term "shaman" originates from Asia. In other continents one speaks of "sorcerers" or "sorceresses", "medicine men" or "medicine women" or "witches" or "sorcerers". In ancient religions there were priestesses and priests throughout. Only the Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity, Islam) usually do not want priestesses, as there are only recently in Protestantism.
[iii] Such an ideal image of a "priest-king" can be found in "From Faded Millennia" (published by the Grail Message Foundation) in the chapter "The Life of Abd-ru-shin on Earth" in the person of Ishmael.
[iv] Pontifex maximus = greatest bridge builder. This does not mean the bridges over the Tiber, but those to higher realms.
[v] One may assume that these horrible massacres did not take place in this way, but sprang from the brains of corrupt ancient Jewish priests, probably at the time of the Babylonian captivity.
[vi] Genesis 9:18-27 was still considered evidence of the superiority of the white race and justification for slavery in the 20th century.
[vii] Cf. Hagl, Siegfried: "Der okkulte Kanzler", Gräfelfing, 2000, page 104 f.
[viii] The list of religious wars is long. Cf. e.g. in "Short, concise, curious" page 279 "An outburst of rage influences world history" and page 346 "How religious fanaticism ruined countries and empires", as well as "The modern era still begins" under "commemorative days
[ix] It's already in the Bible: "Render therefore unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and unto God the things that are God's". (Matth. 22,21).
[x] On the violent spread of Islam, see philipantonmende.com "Islam vs. Crusades."
[xi] Abd-ru-shin "in the light of truth" Volume 3, Lecture 44.