In the Beginning...
GENESIS - FROM "NOT KNOWING" TO "KNOWING"
According to mankind's first book - which we today know as the Bible - God created Heaven and Earth, placing a Firmament of Stars above, together with the Sun, Moon and Planets. Thereafter, he populated the Earth with beasts, fish and fowl - and us.
From that point on - and this is the sense of the story of Adam and Eve - if we define civilization as the "development" of mankind - then Man's path has been the road from "not knowing" to "knowing". Eve bit into the apple of knowledge and Man became a "knowing" being.
COSMOLOGY - HOW THE WORLD CAME TO BE
It is no coincidence that the Bible - in Genesis - begins with a "cosmology" of the universe - that is, an explanation - through the eyes of the ancients - of how the world came to be. We humans need to know where we are and how and why we are here, and this desire is one of the foundations of human civilization and technological advancement.
A cosmology of some kind is at the bottom of all human behavior and is the - often subliminal - driving motive force for human action - even in our modern world, where believers from various religions compete with each other for the rightfulness of their view of "Creation". We require an understanding of our lives - of what the world is. We often think this is "philosophy", but philosophy is rightly the question of "how" one should live. Cosmology asks the question of what does it mean to live at all? Or, as Giordano Bruno wrote,
"If the world has no beginning and no end, then WHERE are we?"
That is a question of cosmology and not of philosophy.
WHAT DID MAN KNOW?
At the beginning of man's sojourn on Earth, as also today, mankind's cosmology was limited by what Man knew - in his era, in his part of the world. He formed his cosmology in the image of the world around him. He included the heavens, the visible stars, the planets, the Sun and the Moon, and the manner of procreation he saw on Earth.
That was the hermetic principle: As on Earth, So in Heaven.
MAN'S ACCOUNT OF GOD's CREATION : CONTENT
When the Bible speaks of God's creation of the "beasts", for example, we can presume that the modernly discovered dinosaurs - unknown in Biblical days - were not included in God's Biblical group of "beasts", nor is there any mention of dinosaurs in the human account of Noah's Ark.
Man could only define the origin of his world from the perspective of his knowledge at any given time and place. His cosmology (and religion) was limited by his knowledge. The level of Man's civilization was thus always a question of knowing or not knowing. What did Man know?
Hence, the beasts we find named in Bible are the beasts known to man in the corresponding Biblical era and region. Animals from other eras and other regions of the world were simply not included, and we will thus not find kangaroos from Australia or walruses from Scandinavia or penguins from Antarctica mentioned in ancient books from the ancient Near East. People in this region simply did not know of these animals.
However, since God allegedly created all the beasts on Earth and thus knew of their existence, it is arguable that if the religious works claimed as God's work are actually HIS works, then HE would have mentioned such animals as well, but HE did not. In fact, all the alleged holy books that we know - which are written in "human language" - are demonstrably limited in scope by their writer's location and incomplete knowledge. We find time and again that the all-encompassing knowledge of God is missing from man's written religious works. Man does not know enough.
The cosmology of our ancestors was thus "human" in its conception and presentation. Some believers claim their prophets were "divinely inspired" but their writing is human nevertheless.
MAN'S ACCOUNT OF GOD's CREATION : LANGUAGE
Similarly - in ancient days - when men could speak only the language into which they were born, the God of THEIR creation - of course - spoke to them in THEIR tongue and THEIR prophets wrote only for and in the language of THEIR people. Men are still captives of their birth - rather than masters of their reason, which they often ignore.
Thus, the God of the Jews spoke Hebrew and the origins of the Bible are to be found in Hebrew texts. Unsurprisingly, the God of the Muslims spoke to them in THEIR language, Arabic. Similarly, the Hindu religion of India is based on THEIR Sanskrit Vedic texts.
ALL PEOPLES HAVE THEIR OWN COSMOLOGY
In fact, as we have discovered in cultural anthropological studies (ethnology) in our modern period, ALL of the peoples of the world did have and do have their OWN cosmology, whether this be the Manitou of the Algonkians, the Sons of God of the Sumerians and Latvians, or the Stars in the Sky of the megalith builders. God has in fact apparently spoken in one way or the other to all men, in many places and in many eras.
Yet, in spite of the fact that ALL human groups have had their own cosmology, and in spite of vast new modern knowledge and information about "Creation" gained through the sciences of astrophysics and genetics in recent years, the outdated dogmas of the prevailing religions are still with us - and are hampering civilization greatly.
Major religions and their prophets or tenets are: Christianity (monotheism, Jesus Christ), Judaism (monotheism, Hebrews), Islam (monotheism, Muhammad), Hinduism (world's oldest organized religion), Buddhism (Siddhartha Gautama, Buddha), Sikhism (alleges there is no Hindu, no Muslim), Shinto (ancient Japanese religion), Confucianism (Confucius, ethical system of religion), Jainism (astronomical, origin in East India), Taoism (Lao-Tse, "the path", in China), Vodun (African origin), and the Baha'i Faith (holds that ALL prophets of all religions are manifestations of God). There are many smaller religions and sects. Most men and women believe in something. But recall, belief is the absence of fact.
Essentially, we have a world full of modern knowledge which is run in part by the contradictory motor of outdated and - by nature - primitive religions - whose basic outdated cosmological precepts are badly in need of modernization and reform. This does not mean we must do away with religion - for most of Mankind apparently needs religion - but our religions must keep pace with our knowledge, or they lose their credibility. Religion gives hope, and this hope must be believable. Otherwise, the hope becomes despair - and leads to futility and even war.
CONFLICT OF OUTDATED RELIGIONS WITH MODERN CIVILIZATION
The daily news we see in our lifetime is marked by the chaos which has resulted from the conflict of modern knowledge with ancient belief and fantasy. Religious systems are simply out of phase with reality.
Either the new scientific knowledge recently gained will have to give way, which is basically impossible, since knowledge seldom runs backward - or the religions will have to modernize their dogmas and their belief systems and adapt to the modern age. Otherwise, there will be no peace on this Earth in the near future.
RELIGIONS MUST BE MODERNIZED AND REFORMED
The lesson of the history of civilization is that Man's cosmology must fit the times - and presently it does not do so. Historically seen, whenever religion has not kept pace with the march of civilization, religion has ultimately lost, being defeated by that very same new knowledge and the newer products of that knowledge, including weapons.
As Voltaire stated - "God is on the side of the heaviest battalions" - and there is some truth to that statement. The heaviest battalions belong to the most modern nations - the peoples that insist on living in the past can not keep pace. Civilization also means "to keep up", "to stay in tune", "to be state of the art". Religion is no exception.
In any case, cosmology is at the base of our world view and influences greatly what men do on this Earth. In fact, this was much more so in ancient days than today, and this entire subject matter of cosmology and astronomy will be a part of our future discussions on Civilization Pundit ®. After all, why do we think God is in heaven, and not elsewhere? There is in fact a historical reason for this belief - and we will discover what it is.
We will investigate how ancient Man viewed his world and how those ancient views guided the development of human civilization.