For those of who agree that God only exists as a construct humans created, one question still remains: Why did we create it? I feel strongly that it has to do with the fact that the wants and needs that drive us, as modern humans, are far different from those that defined the lives of our prehistoric predecessors.
The emotions of modern humans are tied to the ownership of property and material possessions that we count on to ensure our personal wellbeing for life. Contrast that with prehistoric humans. They were tied to Nature. The lived for now, they lived off the land. And they counted on each other for both security and material needs. This is how humans lived until a fateful day in prehistory when men began forming alliances to authorize personal lifetime claims on land animals and women. What does God have to do with this? When men decided to own things, they needed a convincing story to justify what they were doing.
To take leave of the natural way of life that had been so successful for the human species for hundreds of thousands of years defied the innate sensibilities bestowed by evolution on every human being. It also defies common sense, for the obvious question that was never asked: What happens when a small percentage of the population eventually owns everything?
Questions like that are easily avoided, when what you are doing is seen as being ordained by God. This is why at wedding ceremonies, even to this day, these words are usually spoken: “The institution of marriage is ordained by God.” In other words, if men are authorizing one another to make exclusive lifetime claims on women—which is what marriage was traditionally about—what better way for them to justify what they were doing than to proclaim it as ordained by the creator of the universe?
Or consider how we think of our country as being “one nation under God.” The basis for the existence of nation sates is to protect claims of ownership. Indeed, it was the large land owners who created this nation. Why? Because they wanted the police powers of the state, and even its army, if necessary, on their side when the dispossessed came knocking on their doors.
It pains me to say this, but instead of this nation being created by the people for the people, it was created by the wealthy for the wealthy. That the signers of the constitution saw the poor as little more than pests is evident in that people without property were not even given the right to vote. This isn’t to impugn the personhood of our founding fathers, but to demonstrate how radically rights of ownership transform the human emotions and human behavior. We simply cease feeling or functioning like normal humans beings.
When living in our natural state, ungoverned by institutions, social acceptance is the key to an individual’s survival! In this way of life people naturally feel like taking care of one another, which is why prehistoric cultures did not need prisons. But, give those same people the right to own property and, to a person, they will spend the rest of their lives pursuing wealth and privilege. In that pursuit, as demonstrated by our founding fathers, they will need the state’s protection, not only from the dispossessed, but also from one another. As devout believers in the concept of ownership—how can we not be given that our very identity is largely based on what we own—little wonder that we are inspired to evoke “the creator of the universe” as the overseer of what is going on inside our state houses.
This is not an argument for communism, an ideology that was created, curiously enough, to protect the poor from the wealthy. Communist states are also based on ownership. It is just in their case the state owns everything. Ownership is the problem, not who or what presumes to have god status over a specific domain. Both systems are ultimately unstable due to ill will that eventually arises between the privileged and the poor. It’s just that in one system the owners are the privileged, and in the other the bureaucrats and party elates are privileged..
Lest there be any doubt about the connection between God and ownership, consider “the first written words of God,” the Ten Commandments. Not only do they implore us to respect property rights, but in the tenth commandment the wife’s status is rendered the same as that of the husband’s oxen and servants. In the eyes of the God who wrote the Ten Commandments, she is his slave. Thus, the Tenth Commandment, proclaimed as the word of God, established human society as patriarchal and justified the enslavement of half the human race.
Though there is no historical proof that natural human cultures are matriarchal, given that most other social species are, there is reason to believe that humans are also. If so, that means that men, by nature, are emotionally dependent on women, including even for a reason for being. By enslaving women, men enslaved the essential half of of the human race—the half that, by intuition, knows life’s way. As legal slaves, women were no longer free to form sisterly bonds based on mutual trust. Consequently, there were no sisterhoods available to become the nucleus of natural families and communities that previously were the home bases for human existence. Without women and their children to serve and to protect, men had no natural purpose. They were left to their own devices, to the mindless self-aggrandizement of conquest, temple building, discovery, and eventually science and technology, just for the sake of having a reason for being. Is it any wonder that the history of civilization is such a glorious, yet sorry, gory, and mindless affair.
Consider this quote from: Engineering an Empire, presented on the History Channel regarding the fall of Rome:
Maybe the most important lessons the Romans taught is in one that Julius Caesar, Nero, and Caracalla never understood. That the same blind ambition that drives our progress can also bring about our demise. These people lived out their ambitions and their kind of appetites in such a way that we both admire and abhor them at the same time The ancient Romans were often violent, vindictive, greedy, and egocentric. But the imposing structures they left behind stand as evidence, not only of the power of one civilization, but of the unlimited potential of mankind.
To think that mankind’s possibilities are limitless, is to not comprehend, even to this day, the lesson the Romans taught us. To glorify our existence based on grand achievements is to miss life’s point. The only potential, or ability, that has value to any species, including mankind, is the ability to sustain life. In men’s mindless effort to realize their unlimited potential, humanity is ignoring life’s needs, and we are thus at risk of presenting ourselves as the universe’s ultimate fools. As I see it, unless women regain control of men by again bonding in sisterhoods for the sake of their emotional and material wellbeing, and that of their children, men will remain without a natural sense of purpose. Unfortunately, we are creative. Without a real reason for being, we will create one. The problem is that, in the very limitlessness of our possibilities—be they demonstrated by religions, pyramids, temples, empires, or science and technology—may well lie our doom.
The construct of God is largely about justifying claims of ownership. It is also about managing the pain of emotional and material dispossession that eventually results from trusting our lives to legal claims, instead of to our innate sensibilities. Get rid of ownership, and God goes away. Otherwise, He—and that is definitely a He, not a She—will be hanging around in one form or another until the end of time, that is, until humanities’ obsessive need to defend our God-ordained institutions at all costs, drives our species to extinction. It isn’t just our kind for whom time will end, but the countless other species whose extinctions are resulting from the habitat destruction imposed by modern man’s presumption that, instead of us belonging to the earth, the earth belongs to us.
The presumption that we have the God-given right to own things leads us inevitably to the conclusion that we ourselves are gods: Because the earth belongs to us, we have the power and authority to use it to our own ends. That we believe we are gods is quite a head trip, one that understandably would be difficult to come down from. If we in fact are not gods, the inability to come down from the illusion that we are could well dictate our fate.
After being largely possessed by this head trip for upwards of 6,000 years, is it possible for us to stop seeing ourselves as owners of Nature, and again see ourselves, as did our prehistoric forbearers, as expressions of Nature? No one knows, but it is something we should probably be thinking about.
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The news isn’t all bad. Nature has a special reward in store for those who, by trusting their lives to relationships bonded by mutual needs, instead of to legal claims authorized by states, come down from our multi-millennial head trip. Unfortunately, humans have not experienced Nature’s special reward for thousands of years, and it can’t really be explained. Like all of Nature’s other rewards, such as the beauty of an exceptional sunset, it is revealed only through feelings, and must be experienced to comprehend.
What is the natural sensation through which Nature rewards us for being true to life? It is the unconditional love that people can experience only when they are trusting their lives to one another through interdependent relationships. Why only interdependent relationships? Interdependence was essential to our survival while our kind was coming to being, and for the first 200,000 years or so that we were homo sapiens. Consequently, by the processes of evolution, celebrating life through interdependent relationships is what our emotional natures are all about. Only through interdependence do we know Nature’s reward for being true to life—the sense that we are at one with ourselves, with those around us, with our environment, and with all time.
And when does Nature initiate that reward? The moment that we divorce ourselves from institutions—not en masse, but as bodies of people. It will require that we trust our lives, as members of extended families bonded in mutual trust, to one another, instead to anyone’s God-ordained/legally-authorized designs on the distant future.
Given our present state of spiritual distrust, what could possibly inspire people to trust their lives to a body of people, instead of to our all-powerful institutions? If we are indeed not gods—if we in fact do not have the power to use the earth to our own ends—then our way of life, despite how remarkable and glorious it might now seem, is based on a grand illusion, an illusion as grand as the glory it created. If so, not only does the illusion that we are gods result in a way of life that we will find increasingly painful, but one that ultimately is not sustainable.
As our situation deteriorates, people may well begin seeing through the illusion that justifies what we are, and have been, doing for upwards of 6,000 years—since our expulsion from the metaphorical Garden of Eden. At some point we might surprise even ourselves with what we might be inspired to do, to get back to reality and common sense. As unbelievable as it may now seem, we may well return to living for one another and for now. Only if that happens, will we be able to take the journey back to where we once enjoyed the graces of Nature’s love that yet remain patiently waiting to be expressed through each one of us.
We have it within us to do all of this. After all, the human emotional system was honed, by millions of years of evolution, to give us that power. When having placed our trust in people, instead of institutions, we will again be functioning as expressions of Nature, instead of as its owners. Only by being true to our emotional nature in our relationships with others, can we cease striving to maintain our personal respectability in the eyes of God—that is, in the eyes of our monetary and legal systems, which proclaim their sovereignty in the name of God.
As we begin recognizing that the promise of legal and monetary systems is an illusion, surely the question will increasingly come to us: If all my life is about is making money and managing the legal arrangements required for me to get to its end as comfortably as possible, then why even go on, other than to satisfy my will to live? Should we be inspired to trust our lives to people, on the other hand, we will find ourselves far more involved in their needs than in our own. We will discover, in the needs in our brothers and sisters, a reason to continue living that far transcends our mere will to live.