People are always interested in the origins of the esoteric, and all that is part of human nature is one.
I make three assumptions while writing this. One, none of the forefathers of humans are any less than those of the current generation, as far as ability go, whether intellectual, physical, or whatever. Two, also there are no changes, when it comes to attributes, like temperament, character, or aptitude. And lastly, almost every other creature of our earth is superior to us, till we devise an implement, or some other expedient, specifically to contain it. Naturally, till industrial revolution enabled us to develop powerful, sophisticated mechanisms, humans were not the best of the lot.
God - The Original Rationale
In fact reality and spirituality are the two inseparable components of all that is there in the universe. However, these are mostly in disagreement with each other, and as a result of which, I think, we have come to see these as totally separate entities.
Is that so? Isn’t god, as well as spirituality, the earliest, ‘scientific’ concepts? The famous ‘x’, that too, a dynamic one? Such that any unknown, of whatever nature, could be accommodated by this term. And spirituality, a collection of activities that leave a a lingering unease, which always leads one to return to the concept, whether it is in pain, or moved by pleasure? Such that no unknown in a society will be left unaddressed. And if at all it happens thus, people will be forced to continue thinking about the unknown itself, till an answer is found. Exactly for doubly ensuring this, spirituality is something that is always held in high esteem. Now, one can say with confidence, an answer will be there for every question, sooner than later. Hence, god and spirituality are well planned moves by the ancients.
Also, like any other scientific idea, it has been susceptible to change, and was accommodating itself seamlessly. Addition or alteration of underlying notions have been happening all throughout. Almost all things, whether living or nonliving, or, real or abstract, have been adorning the position of god, some time, and to which, we kept attributing everything, except when doing so is a clear misfit. It thus becomes the default cause for each and every effect, till some other reason could explain it undoubtedly and clearly. And when that happens, god quietly withdraws to the domain of the remaining unknowns.
The Mistakes that Killed the Rationale
In fact this is where, humans committed their first mistake. Or, it was a planned move to ensure the survival of the fundamental idea, the original one behind the very concept of god, such that all the unknowns will get addressed some time, if ever there is any change in circumstances. That is, unlike everywhere else, they continued to refer to it by the same name, god, even after the entity representing the idea changed substantially. Which is quite a possibility, since the early humans would not have been aware of the potential to derive practical benefits from such ideas. As a result of this, subsequent generations could not perceive things like the original, scientific element in the idea of god, and failed to register the rationale behind the adoption of different entities of widely varying nature, to occupy that slot. One can say, even in this age of printing, publication, and modern communication, messages do change, unless kept updated.
And they imagined god to be comprised of whatever was currently of influence, the most.
Another mistake, a major blunder, helped perpetuate the above. Every generation of humans started observing something abnormal with the previous generations’ choice of god, nonchalantly attributing it to the ignorance prevailing then, while finding theirs, appropriate, and progressive. And they found a ready answer to this imbroglio. Human society then, was yet to be evolved fully, and the circumstances, not progressed enough.
God Rises from the Ashes of the Rationale
God was resurrected in the ancient days of humans, as a sequel to the discoveries that would have been constantly in the making. Given the propensity, the humans show, for anything extracurricular or extraordinary, very many discoveries and inventions would have been happening constantly, as can be confirmed from the remains of the past. One can also presume, quite a few would have been the phenomena, categorized as ‘unknown’. Over time, along with the discoveries that were adopted by each of us, when ‘unknowns’ became a force to be reckoned with, those things collectively came to be known as god. Many of those would have been of great help, and we readily accepted such unknowns, which is what happens, when people get civilized.
Perhaps they wanted to investigate such unknowns further. So, for easy identification and retrieval of data, whenever an opportunity for the same arise, all such unknowns were assigned or latched to prominent objects, most of which happened to be objects of the sky.
Worship the Rationale - First Step
By now, we know, humans are a lazy lot, and so would have been, our forefathers. Rather than following the tedious path of exploring things with a critical mind, they would have been resorting to a less taxing way, one of supplication and worship. Maybe, critical examination also was happening simultaneously, but on a scale not big enough to leave any remnants. (Interestingly, now the exact opposite is taking place. Dwelling deeply into the fundamentals, we are leaving ample signs of the times. We still resort to worship, but only in a few cases where it is inconvenient to explore!)
A cursory glance at the history of spirituality and our gods shall be enough to prove, how apt is the above reasoning. Also see, in the very early days, people were not at all aware of their planet and all that is inside and outside of it. The deities of those era are not much different from the stuff, one encounters often.
Worship the Rationale - More Steps
However, as days passed, the quantum of entities unclear to us kept on reducing, reaching finally, couple of abstract questions related to the universe as a whole. And quite in step with it, our current idea about god also transforms, and it homes on to whatever is there, we are not aware of, clearly. Since, either we are quite clear about almost everything we can see or feel directly. or we are becoming thus, the idea of god is turning towards the realm of the abstract.
It is something like this. Say, there is a storage space, a cupboard, where we stack all our unknowns. And this place can be of use, whenever we are in a need of something we do not already have. During such times, we can visit this area and search. As time passes, some of these may happen to become greatly useful to us, and known to us clearly. At such times, we need to remove those ones from the cupboard, rearranging the contents. Which generally takes place, sometimes pretty smoothly, sometimes very violently, and most of the times, with hiccups. A revisit would have been happening at such junctures and ironing things out, taking suitable steps. We, being quite imaginative, I think, ascribe certain relationships and link all these unknowns, naming the resulting product or edifice, god. This ‘edifice’ needs to be refreshed during regular visits. But, since there have been no system of refreshing the society’s memory, which, in the absence of proper ways of record keeping became an impossible task, succeeding generations lost the connection between the two, as well as that of the revisit. In a little while, the hiccups were roaming free and causing a commotion, which, subsequent generations ‘understood’ as the complexity associated with human race. Currently we are imagining it be originating from the confluence of material elements of human nature and the spiritual priorities.
Worship the Rationale - Current Step
The ‘edifice’ metamorphosed into an abstract idea encompassing whatever is currently unknown, and got entrenched into human society as the spiritual domain. This was a boon, a place, where the early humans could find themselves much superior to all other races. It became the distinct mark of the race, and spiritual transactions became hugely popular. Think of the early days, especially those before gun powder and the industrial revolution, where wild animals are a major threat, and overcoming those could raise even common people to stardom. But, only a few, brave, physically strong ones would have been able to get recognized thus. Those intellectually superior would have been missing it, motivating them to come up with an answer. This is where spirituality came to their rescue. They could easily overwhelm the fellow beings, who would have taken to suppressing threat from other species, on their behalf as well. Now they had to hold the spiritual domain itself close to their hearts, and since any attempts of exploration or study would have weakened their position, they did all they could to keep the whole domain under wraps. Spiritual world came to be associated with magnificence and splendor of the highest degree. Nobody would have objected to it, since, the spiritual dimension to life was only making their own race appear superior to all the other ‘competitors’.
Time moved on. Inventions and discoveries kept on occurring, making significant changes to human life and lifestyle, all of which, having the potential to pose a threat to the current order of spiritual domain. We humans have been facing it in a unique manner, that is, by turning more to the abstract. Also, since the complete superiority of human race over all the other ones started to manifest in many ways, none needing the support of the spiritual, we are constantly advocating spiritual corrections to whatever ills we may face. Else, spirituality would have become extinct by now.
Worship the Rationale - The Road Ahead
Logically, under these circumstances, the relevance of the spiritual domain should have been on a decline, vanishing altogether, in due course. But it didn’t happen thus. Since the principle of causation, that every effect needs a cause, was part of our guiding science, the idea of god could remain alive to meet the many effects that were not clear otherwise. Now that quantum theory is posing a question here, that effects need not have a cause, and random events can occur without it, what will happen to god and spirituality?
Will the idea of god regain the original position it lost, that is, as the proverbial 'x'? Along with it, will spirituality take up a role of facilitating the necessary? And, as a result of which, over time, will these aspects cease to exist as separate entities?
Will it turn more towards the abstract and become the dynamic repository of whatever is left unexplained? And, as a result of which, further cementing its position as a distinct and permanent mark of the human?
© 2020 ROY T JAMES