Big Gods Came After The Rise of Civilisations, Not Before, Finds Study Using Huge Historical Database

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Big Gods Came After The Rise of Civilisations, Not Before, Finds Study Using Huge Historical Database

When you think of religion, you probably think of a god who rewards the good and punishes the wicked. But the idea of morally concerned gods is by no means universal. Social scientists have long known that small-scale traditional societies – the kind missionaries used to dismiss as “pagan” – envisaged a spirit world that cared little about the morality of human behaviour. Their concern was less about whether humans behaved nicely towards one another and more about whether they carried out their obligations to the spirits and displayed suitable deference to them.

Nevertheless, the world religions we know today, and their myriad variants, either demand belief in all-seeing punitive deities or at least postulate some kind of broader mechanism – such as karma – for rewarding the virtuous and punishing the wicked. In recent years, researchers have debated how and why these moralising religions came into being.

Now, thanks to our massive new database of world history, known as Seshat (named after the Egyptian goddess of record keeping), we’re starting to get some answers.

Out Of Pain & Self Doubt Come Love, Unity, Truth, Golden Buddhas & An Appreciation of Tim Walker's 'Gilt Trip'

Out Of Pain & Self Doubt Come Love, Unity, Truth, Golden Buddhas & An Appreciation of Tim Walker’s ‘Gilt Trip’

The Walker shoot went off in Myanmar, formerly known as Burma. It was the ultimate stage set for the British photographer, known for his ‘monumental fantasy-world sets’, writes W Magazine. “When they first saw the pictures, people asked if we had built the backgrounds,” Walker said. “But, in fact, they were beyond anything I could have even imagined.”

I’ve never been to Myanmar, but seeing this editorial ‘Gilt Trip’ just now, took me back to one of the top five nights of my life … a night in Chiang Mai, Thailand when I fell to my knees surrounded by flickering candles and a golden Buddha statue.

Out of great fear and lack of control, came this extraordinary, life-altering, personal experience in the home of a complete stranger.

Beginning Again

2014 was a most challenging year for so many of us. I don’t know about you, but a huge part of me is so glad that it is over. Still, there lies an awareness in my heart that the most extraordinary gifts have come my way — many of them from total strangers. First and foremost is the spiritual teacher Mooji, whose no-nonsense discussions about the meaning of life and our journey as humans, pulled me through in my darkest hours. My dearest friend Iman is responsible for introducing me to Mooji, who metaphorically held my hand as everything seemingly solid around me in 2014 crumbled in the dust.