There is a smugness in religions, a smugness which comes from an irrational "assurance" that they know something others don't; that they are assured of some higher place in their spiritual world than non believers, or less righteous believers; that they can become the saviors of the world by forcing others to submit to their dogma. Nowhere is this more evident than in Islam and Christianity, and nowhere in Christianity is it more evident than in the Born Again. This smugness originates in the certainty, which is not at all certain, of a "superior" belief, that is, that there is only "One God" - monotheism, and that god is their god.
Ironically, the foundation for monotheism as an anthropological superior religious belief was given its authority not by a Christian, but by an atheist and Socialist, Sir Edward Tylor. In Primitive Culture (1871) Tylor asserted that animism, "the doctrine of souls and other spiritual beings in general" was the most primitive form of religion, even more primitive than the spirits of shamanism.
Animism, from the Latin, "animus" and "anima," means life, soul, spirit, that which gives the Breath of Life, or makes something animated. The terms are also used in Jungian psychology to denote the male and female aspects of love. However, Tylor asserted that "thinking men" at the lowest level of societal evolution saw two problems, the difference between living and dead bodies. They asked themselves, "what causes waking, sleep, trance, disease, death?" and "what are those human shapes which appear in dreams and visions?" He saw "the ancient savage philosophers" as believing, "that every man has two things belonging to him, namely, a life and a phantom... manifestations of the same soul". Man was dualistic, with a soul which was independent of body and was seen as a personal spirit, apparition or ghost. He describes his "anima" thus:
"It is a thin unsubstantial human image, in its nature a sort of vapour, film, or shadow; the cause of life and though in the individual it animates; independently possessing personal consciousness and volition of its corporeal owner, past or present; capable of leaving the body far behind, to flash swiftly from place to place; mostly impalpable and invisible, yet also manifesting physical power, and especially appearing to men waking or asleep as a phantasm separate from the body of which it bears the likeness; continuing to exist and appear to men after the death of the body; able to enter into, possess, and act in the bodies of other men, of animals, and even of things."
Tylor's disciple, Sir James Frazer, concisely expressed Tylor's assertions of these "things" in "The Golden Bough".
"After men had peopled with a multitude of individual spirits every rock and hill, every tree and flower, every brook and river, every breeze that blew, and every cloud that flecked with silvery white the hue expanse of heaven, they began, in virtue of what we may call the economy of thought, to limit the number of spiritual beings of whom their imagination at first had been so prodigal. Instead of a separate spirit for every individual tree, they came to conceive of a god of the woods in general, a Silvanus or what not; instead of personifying all the winds as gods, each with his distinct character and features, they imagined a single god of the winds, an Aeolua for example... To put it otherwise, the innumerable multitude of spirits and demons were generalized and reduced to a comparatively mall number of deities; animation was replaced by polytheism."
Tylor's political views were generally rejected by Christians because he was one of the fathers of Socialism. But Christians readily accepted his social evolution of religion as a refutation of Darwinian evolution. After all, Christians believed that their god had given the "true religion" to Adam, their first man, and that the true, Christian, religion had no more evolved than man had evolved. It was the other "false" religion which had evolved and thus, Tylor gave impetus to a Christian pomposity which saw the animistic religions of Africa, Native Americans and other "primitive" societies as being inferior to Christianity. But Tylor's ideas provided more. They were proof that the African and Asian people themselves, their culture and their intellect were also inferior.
This was not a new idea. Tylor simply gave a scholarly articulation to a pseudo scientific vindication for the already prevalent concept of "election", and a "privilege" frame of reference by which the British, Dutch, German, French and Belgium cultures and politics were considered to be superior to those of other cultures. The European exploitation of Africa and Asia during the 19th and first half of the 20 centuries, was justified on the grounds that "the" superior intellect of Europeans was beneficial to "those" backward people. The simple, backward, primitive savages were fortunate to be enslaved and exploited by their superior Christian-Europeans masters. They viewed slavery under a Christian as being better than freedom under Paganism or Islam. Thus the black, brown and yellow skinned peoples became the "white man's burden." And the greatest burden was to keep these primitive savages from worshiping their false gods and animistic spirits who were considered to be below the polytheistic heathens whom Augustine had so aptly defeated in his City of God 1300 years earlier. The concept would undoubtedly have continued unchecked had Hitler not tried to make the Aryans the superior race over all the other "elect" whites of Europe.
The Christian doctrine of "election" held that Jews and Christians had been spared the folly of animism and polytheism. There were still some heretics who clung to an anthropomorphic Jesus retaining his mortal body. But monotheism was seen as the ultimate evolution of intellect and the human spirit. Of course Christians saw their ultimate evolution as being manifest only among those who believed their monotheistic god to be an abstract spiritual force. A god without body, parts, or passions, thus replacing the many spirits of the savages with the Great Spirit of the Christian god.
Tylor's theory, coupled with Christian "election" was assumed to be fact just eighty years ago and contradictions were few and far between. It just sounded so logical--logical that is to the elect. The problem is, Tylor's dualistic concept of the soul as being independent of body was quite new to religion. It did not originate with primitive man, as Tylor asserted, but rather, it made its first appearance with the Sumerians and Egyptians, but was not widely believed until a very late form of Hinduism which came into existence about the time of Alexander The Great.
With this fact, that the dualistic nature of the soul being separate from the body, was not widespread until after the founding of Rome, we find no basis for Tylor's origin of religion. Robert Ranulph Marett (1866-1944) demonstrates in Threshold of Religion that supernaturalism, the awe of the mysterious, exists apart from animism, and could well be the basis on which animism was founded. The evidence of supernaturalism is of course found in the earliest societies of Catal Hüyük, Sumer, Egypt and Shaman, none of which were animistic. However, because Egypt held such an important place in the ancient world, many writers, including E. Wallis Budge, went to extraordinary lengths to show that the Egyptians were not really polytheistic, but rather in fact monotheistic; that the numerous Egyptian anthropomorphic human-animal and animal Gods were only different aspects of the "One God", which only the elite understood, but who never wrote anything about it. Budge and the other great minds of the day could not envision a great culture such as Egypt, not having evolved to the "supreme-one-god" Christian concept.
Ignored by those early writers were the archaeological findings that early civilizations did not have any concept of a god, but rather God was a Women, the Mother Goddess. That is not what the patriarchy with its misogynistic heritage wanted to uncover. The female principle, venerated through the fertility of woman and her influence on the land was contrary to everything Christians believed.
Christians could not even look to the fact that most modern Shaman are men to substantiate their view of male superiority and a male god. After all the Shaman as male, is a social condition which has little to do with the spiritual nature or the phenomenon. That phenomenon is almost exclusive to women, the introduction of the social male Shaman, saw it end in 2014.
It is only in the arrogance of the western patriarchy that we find man "evolving" from primitive religion to what they consider to be the ultimate, religious enlightenment, monotheism.
According to this monotheistic pomposity, man's religion began in ignorance and superstition, which caused man to find gods in everything, rocks, trees, plants, the sky, thunder, etc. All were viewed as a powerful force--the gods of Tylor animistic state of religion. From animism man "developed" a simple form of polytheism which relegated the inanimate elements to the order of "spirits," while the "gods" were elevated above nature, as we find in the earliest forms of Shamanism. The next step in the "Christian development" was the assertion of "one god" as being supreme over the other gods, as we find in the Greek's Zeus especially as expressed in His epitaph, Zen, and the Roman's Jove or Jupiter. The final step in the "supreme evolution" of the religion, was monotheism--or so the monotheist would have us believe. But Christian monotheism demands that the god must be a spirit, devoid of any human, anthropomorphic, features. This is pure arrogance, an arrogance with allows the Jews to claim superiority over the rest of the world, as the Jews claim (falsely) to be the first to profess "one god".
The flaw in this reasoning is in assuming that monotheism is the ultimate end. But if religion "evolved" from ignorance and superstition, and not from any spiritual force, as the argument goes, then the ultimate progression is not to the monotheistic spirit of the Jews and Christians, but to atheism. The Christian argument against atheism is simply to interject "Ah, but there is a god", into the logical process. All this does is replace the abstract spirits of animism (which evolved to an anthropomorphic polytheism, then to an anthropomorphic monotheism) with a single abstract spirit they call "God". But once we admit a god, even an abstract spirit, me must admit the possibility of there being more than one god. For the reasons that permit one god for this world also permits there being more than one god - one for each of the billions of worlds in the Universe. It is in finding that god, or more specifically, not finding any god, that has caused men to create impossible images of their "one god".
Plato allegorized man as being frogs on the edge of a lake, and theorized that the creatures in the water would not be able to perceive life above the water, because they were in a more dense atmosphere. Likewise, we human frogs could not perceive the higher realms above the moon, because it is a more rarefied atmosphere. Well, man has gone to the moon, and the rarified atmosphere has given no additional knowledge of the spiritual. The reason is, Plato's allegory is as faulty as is monotheistic pomposity. Plato based his arguments on what he knew, or rather what he did not know, of the universe. So likewise, the monotheistic religionist bases his arguments not on what he knows, but rather on what he does not know of the Universe and the spiritual.