Why religion took such a hold
To a modern scientific mind, many religious notions seem incredible yet they have persisted over a very long time. Alphomism maintains that they did so because they are very close to the truth. The religious thinkers, delving into the inner world, came up with good approximations. There are, of course, considerable differences between creeds but generally religions have some of all of several crucial elements:
a belief that there is more to individual significance than the here and now
a perfect place (Paradise, Nirvana etc)
an entity with total knowledge
a catastrophic ‘fall from grace’
a hot and horrific aspect (Hades, Hell etc)
a belief that there is some point in struggling against the difficulties life
a belief that the lives of our ancestors are linked to our own.
the resurrection of the dead
It is understandable that religious thinkers had to express themselves in very human terms and that, given the scale and power they were trying to encompass, they resorted to the notion of gods. But it is surely not too fanciful to see, in the Christian tradition for example, the pre-Big Bang state as ‘god the father’, Nature, with all its suffering, as ‘god the son’ and the emergent Alphoma as ‘god the holy ghost’.
Sticking to the Christian tradition, it is also interesting that the idea that the human species began with one woman who lived in a fertile place, has recently been supported with a claim that we are all ultimately descended from a single African female.
It might seem, given the insatiable human thirst for truth, that the thinkers who focused on the exterior world would have held centre stage in the early phase of human development. Survival depended absolutely on the success of the scientific method. But in fact, those with a gift for introspection acquired great power. There are at least two reasons for this.
Firstly, the objective method is slow. Science and technology require patience. It took a long time for the separate elements of objective understanding to begin to link up.
Secondly, people doubtless sensed that, however effective the scientists might become, there was a rift between the inner and outer worlds which could never be bridged. When the early thinkers who could make some approximate sense of things announced their ideas, listeners doubtless accepted or rejected them on the basis of their own vague perceptions. Where a significant number of people came to accept a theory derived from the inner world as ‘true’ this became an enshrined part of that community’s culture.