Origins of religions



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HAGGAI:

Haggai prophesied in the days of Darius, king of Persia (and Babylon). Darius is the same as (Cyrus the Persian general who over threw Babylon (see Daniel 5:26 i.e. last verse; then Daniel 6:11), (Ezra 1:1 and Ezra 4: 24). If you trace our discussion so far, you will notice that Haggai was the tenth of the 12 Minor Prophets. He was a contemporary of Zechariah the eleventh minor prophet. Haggai Was also an exilic prophet which means he prophesied during the exile. Some of his prophecies were directed to Zerubabel the governor of Judah during the exile and to the Jewish remnants, i.e. those Jews not carried away. His prophecies reminded them of Israel before exile (Haggai 2:1-14) Haggai covers only two chapters.



ZECHARIAH:

Zechariah like Haggai was also speaking to Israel during the exile. “Your fathers, where are they and your prophets, do they live forever? Did they not take hold of your fathers” (Zechariah 1:5-6). Zechariah’s prophecies were written between 600 to540 BC, during the exile. These exilic prophecies were at times psychological messages of hope to Israel in captivity.


MALACHI:

Malachi, the twelfth minor prophet addressed the priests straight on “if ye will not hear or give glory to my name, says the Lord of hosts, I will even send a curse upon you. “And I will curse your blessing

(Malachi 1:2) Compare Malachi’s tithe to Abraham’s tenth offering in Gen 14: 18-20 i.e. offering given to Meichizedek (the Priestly king of the Most High God).
400 INTER-TESTAMENTAL YEARS, i.e. 400 years of silence between the Old and New Testament.

After the Minor Prophets and Cyrus of Persia, it is said that prophecy ceased in Israel. Jesus was born at the end of that 400 years. The 400 years of silence started with Darius II, then Darius Ill was defeated by Alexander the great of Greece in 333 BCE. This was the time of Aristotle, Socrates and Plato, during the reign of Darius II C450 400 BC; While Thales lived C620- 546BC exactly the time Nebuchadnezzar entered Jerusalem and exiled the Jews. When Cyrus overthrew Babylon C530 BC, the sophists, and Anaximander etc. were speculating in Greece; By the time Alexander died C323BC, Zeno of citium C300BC Was teaching Stoicism. Diogenes the Cynic had C325BC rebuffed Alexander. By 323 Ptolemy took Egypt and Palestine (Seleucids were in Syria) and philosophy went down, though the stoics were still prominent. The Pharisees, Sadducees, zealots, Maccabees (John Hyrchanus), and the Herodians emerged c 200/120 BCE as Israel waited for the messiah. Jewish scholars like Philo and Josephus were contemporaries of Jesus.


THE KETHUBIM; OTHER OLD TESTAMENT WRITINGS

Other Old Testament writings include the following



  1. The Psalms: Psalms mean songs. Our Biblical psalms are said to have been written by David and other obscure writers around 1000 BC.

  2. 1 chronicles and 2 Chronicles: These are historical writings which look like duplicated accounts of the Books of Kings, i.e. narratives in Kings are also in chronicles, though not carbon copies.

  3. Ruth: Ruth is a book set in Israel’s early days of settlement in the Promised Land - Canaan. The simplest summary of the book is that Ruth was a faithful daughter-in-law despite the death of her father-in-law, and her own husband; she remained to help her mother in law.

  4. Ezra: Ezra 7:7-13 records Ezra and some Jews permitted by Artaxerxes (probably Darius II or Cyrus) the Persian king to go to Jerusalem.. Ezra was a Jewish priest and scribe, in , exile (Ezra 7:6-11) He quoted Jeremiah’s prophecy as being fulfilled when Cyrus signed a decree to free Israel; (Ezra 1: 1). Cyrus of Medo Persia over threw Babylon and fulfilled Jeremiah’s prophecy by freeing the Jews from exile. Cyrus started building a temple for God in Jerusalem (Ezra 1:2),Ezra 6:14, names Haggai and Zechariah as great prophets during Cyrus era.

  5. Nehemiah: Nehemiah asked king Artaxerxes of Persia to allow him go and rebuild Jerusalem (Neh. 2:5-15) to be assisted by those who did not go into captivity (Neh.1:3).While rebuilding Jerusalem for the return from exile, Nehemiah encountered opposition from Sanballat and the Arabians: Neh. 4:7 (Please see the book of Nehemiah)

  6. Esther: Esther can simply be called the favored woman. This historical scripture is about a Jewish woman in exile who found favor in the sight of King Ahaserus of Persia, i.e Perhaps, after Modecai foiled Haman’s plot to kill all Jews in Shushan. (Esther3: 8-9).


CHAPTER SEVEN
INTRODUCTION TO SOCIOLOGY OF RELIGION AND PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION
PREAMBLE:

Is it that Religion does not solve social problems again; or that Religion may have become a social problem: We cannot solve dangerous religious problems by running away from them: see Phenomenology of Religion for the separation of God from Religion.


SOCIOLOGY OF RELIGION:
WHAT IS SOCIOLOGY?

According to Simpson and wiener; Oxford (encyclopedic) English Dictionary vol. 17 (1989). Sociology is simply the study of human societies, Social structures and their functions including institutions that make up societies of which Nigeria’s Basic social-studies Education curriculum (N.E.R.D.C. federal Ministry of Education Curriculum; 2009) has classified Religion, Marriage, schools, hospitals etc. as social institutions (Nnaji; 2006) editor; Social studies JSS 3 Basic Education curriculum: Enugu, Ministry of Education NERDC; 2006) pp.1-end.


WHAT IS RELIGION?

Religion (without etymology) means the relationship between God and man. Man is part of society; Religion is a human activity directed towards the veneration of God, Religion therefore is indisputably a related metaphysical social activity; hence Religion is a social institution that takes care of man’s spiritual needs, especially the sociological insistence that religion must have nonviolent appreciable and measurable positive effects on society.


WHAT THEN IS SOCIOLOGY OF RELIGION?

Sociology of Religion is the theological use of sociology to point out that Religion is fast becoming a problem rather than solution to society. Sociology of Religion identifies the position, role, relevance, importance, usefulness and positive contributions of Religion and its institutions to society and humanity. Are we just petrified or hypnotized by the phenomenology of religion. Are men simply over whelmed by the awesomeness of God’s presence and glory? - (Like Rudolf atta’s Mysterium, Tremendum En Fascinum) to such an extent that “the idea of the Holy” figuratively kills anyone who attempts to see God, (the way the image of God paralyzed Moses at Sinai). Or is the idea of God hugely occupied by stoning fornicators to death and strictly observing the Sabbath and ablutions, ignoring questions such as relevance and advantages of these religious laws to the individual, and to society in general.


RELEVANCE, IMPORTANCE AND USEFULNESS IN SOCIOLOGY OF RELIGION.

Relevance means, do we need religion or supernatural help. Industrial Religion says that morally sound religious people don’t commit bank frauds, abortions; or is it reasonable to say that man has solution to all human problems: Religion as a. socio-cultural activity and institution should be solving human and social problems. However it’s like Religion has become a loaded social problem; society is currently solving religious problems rather than religion solving social problems. That a Religion has prophets and Holy Books should not be basis for approving the Religion, since Religions that claim revelations are busy killing people; is it really true that God commands people to kill? (See the Biochemistry of Religion).



Importance says that if man needs supernatural help, then how important is God to man. Is this God able to solve man’s numerous problems and can religion solve man’s problems especially what sort of social services can religion render to society? Or has religion itself become a serious social problem?

Usefulness goes on to seek how man can manipulate supernatural and ecclesiastical power - influences in religion to better selfish economic, political, tribal and other material desires, these which have often been points always made by antagonists of Religion that religion has become business, political-parties and irrational enterprises that can collapse under the rise of science, technology, prosperity and seriously looming God-less materialism and secularism (see Adam Kuper and Jessica Kuper (eds.) The social science encyclopedia 2nd edition (London: Routledge; 1996).

WHAT ARE THE CONTRIBUTIONS OF RELIGION TO MAN AND SOCIETIES?

What has man benefitted from obeying divine laws and practicing religious rituals and liturgies? Education and divine moral laws, which instilled sanity in lawless societies, are positive contributions of religion to humanity since monotheism, prophecy and Holy books are very vital tools often needed to sanitize unruly societies; However, after the protestant ethic had helped man to produce capitalism, we now witness extreme materialism, plurality of religious beliefs, intolerance, ignorance etc. all producing bloody religious conflicts and related terrorism killings of many innocent lives, all in the name of God (See also Edgar .F. Borgata Ronda, J.V Montgomery: Encyclopedia of sociology, 2” edition (New York, MacMillan; 2000) p 2964 “Sociology of Religion”



Criteria for calling a Religion True: Any Religion that encourages killing of human beings, no matter how beautiful its revelations and Holy scriptures may be, that religion can never be a true religion. God does not send people to violate or kill people,
WHAT SOCIOLOGY OF RELIGION SHOULD NOT DO

It is not the duty of sociology of religion to question or investigate religion and miracle-claims; rather Sociology of religion should want to find out if that mountain, tree, river or tiger you call god, contributes positively (e.g. peace and prosperity) to your life and to the generality of society. The (positive) advantages of having religion as a social and cultural institution, is the business of sociology Of religion: If God exists or not, is the duty of philosophy of religion to investigate.

Therefore, if sociologists of religion make statements such as, “religion is irrational” then they have made themselves philosophers of religion. However, if they argue that plurality of believe systems and heresy portray religion in bad light, then that is well taken, not forgetting that sociologists of religion have often claimed that materialism and secularism will reduce peoples believe in the supernatural; can that be true?
INTRODUCTION TO PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION:

Philosophy of Religion is a theological instrument of investigation created to help in verifying religious claims, and demythologizing canonized revelations (Ogundu .c) Validity of Truth in counter Claims; MA Dissertation; Ibadan 1994)


VERIFICATION OF RELIGIOUS CLAIMS:

Since philosophy involves love and search for knowledge, philosophy of religion tries to find out (a) if God exists (b) if people actually came (or still come) into contact with supernatural or metaphysical elements such as sprits, ghosts, witches and God etc. (c) was existence produced through creation or evolution (d) How true are miracles (e) if -people received revelations from God, are everything in the scriptures revelations or Jewish and Arab customs which have crept into revelations (f) can we compare many events people call religious experiences to hallucinations and delusions technically called schizophrenia or psychoses in psychobiology and psychiatry: e.g. Thomas Hobbes in his book Leviathan c 1659, said that madmen will not allow us know who is a mad man and who is a prophet. Current research studies in psychobiology show that faulty neurotransmitter actions in the human brain (C.N.S) often lead many people into irrational religious behavior which they obviously attribute to revelations from God; for example many religious extremists carry out bloody terrorist murders which they always claim God sent them to do; can that ever be true? How true is it that God sends people to kill people of other faiths, which seriously violates God’s sanctity of human life. Since when did God make religion by force? (See Diogenes .E. Understanding Philosophy of Religion London; Scm and knoss; 1985”)



Do miracles really occur? Is it possible for laws of nature to be violated so that extraordinary events like miracles can occur. Is it too awesome or simply unbelievable and impossible for some one to receive back his sight or be raised up from death?

Do religious languages, signify anything more than man’s limited abilities to verify what he believes exists, but that he (man) can only express possibility of divine reality in mere beautiful languages of venerations, which Phenomenology of Religion calls mere expressions qf God’s qualities like “Immortal”; Philosophy of Religion questions statements such as “God exists”, “God answers prayers”, or more still do I have to dismiss the statement receive your sight in Jesus Name;” or is it still relevant to look for an object or being that looks like the word “God”, Does it really work that way?
PROBLEM OF EVIL:

People who antagonize religion ask these questions (I) why should a good God create an imperfect world endemic with volcanoes, floods, earthquakes, landslides, wars, religious conflicts etc. More questions keep rearing up their ugly heads; such questions include (II) why is it that good or righteous people always suffer doing good, while criminals, corrupt politicians, pinching civil servants, terrorists, sexual immoralities, prostitutes, adulterers, examination cheats, armed robbers, corrupt lawyers and accountants, medical abortionists etc. keep on getting away with their loot and evil acts? How do we explain that God allow divinely avoidable disasters and misfortunes to ravage humanity while people who deliberately commit evil continue to prosper and boast in their devilish acts? Link this to the moral argument for the existence of God.


REVELATION AND PROVIDENCE:

The question of revelation and providence in philosophy of Religion is simply the ability of man to balance the need to obey God’s law (revelation) while being confronted by physical realities, which God should have foreknown but probably did not provide for, as shown by excessive avoidable human suffering. E.g.is it right for a good girl from a very poor born again family whose father is dying in a hospital to morally reject N100,000 offered for sex; or for a poor graduate girl who desperately needs a job to reject a mouth watering oil company job made possible by one night with the MD? Certainly some very poor girls can reject sex and loose the,huge offers, yet find some other help; However, was it not possible God foreknew and prevented those temptations and pressures; Or were they being tested for their faiths. (See the problem of Evil).


GNOSTICISM AND AGNOSTICISM:

Gnosticism and Agnosticism are really not main points in philosophy of religion since Gnosticism agree that it is possible to know God, while agnostics do not seem to want to know anything, let alone know God. Does that riot sound like a familiar out dated rhetoric?


FAITH, REASON AND EXPERIMENT (OR RELIGION AND SCIENCE):

Faith represents religion; reason and experiment represent science; The Holy Bible encourages believers to believe by faith, things not yet seen (Hebrew 11:1) while scientific-philosophy says believing without seeing is irrational (see Biblical Thomas). Science thus insists on observation and experiment to prove the reality of the supernatural. (Judges 6:36-40) However, faith argues that science is incapable of investigating the supernatural. (See Quantum Theometry) Hence, someone once said that man is bigger than nature, but there is something bigger than man. Man’s plural religious beliefs are man’s continuous search for that thing that is bigger than man. (e.g. 2010 world cup organizers in south Africa want to sacrifice cows in their ten new stadiums to attract divine intervention, an example of man’s limited abilities);(See also Olukunle A/C; Witch craft in Yoruba Metaphysics. Ibadan PhD,1980)


METAPHYSICAL ISSUES:

On 27th November, 2009, the British Broadcasting cooperating aired a business news report that an American satellite T.V called in a medium to communicate with late Michael Jackson;The medium said that Michael Jackson was adjusting to his new life in the spirit world, but that Michael said he was not happy he was not buried beside Marilyn Munroe, a former American first lady; Mediums are spiritualists who claim they can communicate with the dead (See Witch of Endor in the Bible when king Saul wanted to communicate with Late Samuel). Since Philosophy of Religion investigates the existence of metaphysical claims like ancestral spirits, ghosts, witch - craft, apparitions, psychic powers, exorcism, occultism, mysticism, magic etc. the above very current metaphysical episode transmitted by a scientific - U. S/T.V satellite channel to over 600,000 viewers is a very good explanation of metaphysical issues in Philosophy of Religion. Definitely inherited psychic extra ordinary powers exist which many people confuse for Holy Spirit powers. The Japanese also buy charms for good luck.


THREE KEY ISSUES IN PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION

Philosophy of Religion has three other major issues. The major issues are (a) Debates for and against the existence of God (i.e. the ultimate reality) (b) Creation against Evolution (c) The problem of evil and providence

(1) Arguments for the Existence of God (see John Hicks in Olukunlé Ibadan PhD 1980). Investigating the existence of God or the ultimate reality was the basic reason why Egyptian Theology (3,500BC) and Aristotle’s (35OBC) logical philosophy advanced proofs for the existence of God; Also recalling Anaximander (500BC/470 BC) who called the original stuff (essence) of existence an indestructible infinite - first cause that had no beginning. A restatement of a monotheistic God. (T. U Nwala, 1997) see five Arguments for the existence of God.

(2) Battle between Evolution and Creation: When Philosophy started investigating how existence came into being it got confronted by two polar positions (a) the Holy Scriptures say God created all things including man. That is what we call creationism (See Genesis 1:1-end and Genesis 2:1-end in the Holy Bible (b) The other position is from the Biological sciences which has developed Charles Darwin’s Origin of species (1859). This biological theory says that man probably evolved by chance mutation of genes through lower animals over sedimented millions of years, starting from 3 billion years ago when the first unicellular cell appeared; from where? Who was behind that cell; or since when did things start appearing from nothing; Physicists have further linked this theory to what physics calls the Big bang theory scientific explanation for the origin of the universe; A situation where by the universe was produced from the burst of a mysterious tiny bubble leading to billions of galaxies and trillions of planets and stars, is not acceptable: The sun, moon, earth, stars. (i.e. other planets etc.). are among these billions of thousands planetic bodies suspended in space. Ancient people speculated God by worshipping the planets as gods. The questions remain: (a) Where did that tiny mysterious bubble come from? (b) Where did the first unicellular cell come from?



Later on Theistic theologians emerged; they argue that God or some other higher intelligence was surely behind evolution.
WHAT PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION SHOULD NOT DO?

Philosophy of Religion can investigate (to demythologize) religious claims:

However Philosophy of Religion should not question, abuse or insult Religion, since “the stone mister- nobody chose as his god, is his own headache, so far such religious beliefs do not abuse, condemn or kill people from other religious faiths.”

CHAPTER EIGHT
OLD TESTAMENT INTRODUCTION TO PHILOSOPHY
Greece emerged as an ancient Island of city states whose history dates back to the Aegean civilization of 2000 to 1500 BCE; exactly between the times of the Jews in Egypt and the Mosean Exodus (Walter Wall - Bank; Scott foreman’s History and life (Illinois; Foresman; 1990) pp 70-86. Early Greek city states included lonia, Athens, Sparta, and Crete etc. Early Greek Philosophers were philosophy students in Egypt around 1000BC/500BC.

Such early Greek philosophers included Thales (620- 546BC) this was exactly when Nebuchadnezzar marched into Jerusalem and exiled the Jews. Let us note that the earliest unrecorded Greek philosophers go back to 1000 to 700 BCE after Sargon of Assyria had carried the Northern Kingdom of Israel into captivity. Some of those early Greek thinkers also include Epicurus, Pythagoras, Protagoras, Socrates (450 BC), Plato (428 BC) Aristotle (350BC) etc. It is obvious that history did not capture some early Greek Philosophers before 1000 BCE; just as great effort produced Egyptian Ptah Hotep as the world’s first recorded philosopher (3500 BCE)


EARLY PHILOSOPHY TOPICS

Early Greek thinkers asked questions over a number of issues which include;



  1. Origin of existence; Metaphysics i.e-on things above nature; see Anaximander and Aristotle etc,

  2. Ultimate Reality, (i.e. God) See Anaximander’s monotheism and Egyptian Memphite Theology 3;500BC)

  3. Essential Quality of things; Thales on water, Empedocles arid Anaxagoras on water, Earth and fire; Anaximanes on air etc.

  4. Creation and unity of the universe.

  5. Nature and necessity; Glaucon, Aristotle. Etc.

  6. Determinism and free will: Zero, Seneca, Diogenes etc

  7. Existence of God (see Aristotle’s proofs for the existence of God)

  8. Anaximander’s- monotheism. Etc.


DEFINITION OF PHILOSOPHY:

Philosophy comes from two; Greek words,

(i) Philos i.e. love (ii) and Sophos or Sophia, i.e. wisdom; which put together, Philosophy means love of wisdom; however, as at today, Philosophy has advanced beyond love of wisdom to scientific investigation of origin and meaning of existence.
MAJOR BRANCHES OF PHILOSOPHY

According to Aristotle, metaphysics or Theology study those higher beings which physics cannot study; Ontology study perceived higher beings like God and Spirits; Cosmology looks at the structure of the universe often involving origins of planetic bodies, while Cosmogony study origin of the Universe ans its deities.



METAPHYSICS:

Metaphysics primarily employs human reasoning in the investigation of Nature, necessity, essence and the ultimate reality popularly called God. However, the true meaning of metaphysics is the study of those entities and beings (Ontos) which are higher and beyond nature and human comprehension (Transcendence)


EPISTEMOLOGY:

Epistemology study processes and methods required to obtain knowledge of any sort. Hence, how to know and. what is known and how to obtain .knowledge; is it through pure reasoning, intuition,revelation claims, metaphysical forces or scientific method. Epistemology is interested in truth; logic stands on validity of arguments.


LOGIC:

Logic is the science of correct reasoning. Logic comes from the Greek word; logia’ or Logos’ which means spoken words, theory, argument or debate backed up by evidence to arrive at a good conclusion.


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