The first gods are fake

Not convinced that’s possible. Sociology will try to find reasons for group behaviour, but I’ve never seen claims made for individuals. Neither am I convinced that such a proof can be known in terms of ancient history. It’s hard enough today, if possible in any consistent way.

I’ll stick with my functionalist notion that such behaviours began because they met human needs. For believers it may have been say meaning and purpose. For the priestly castes, perhaps a need to be rich and powerful.

I’ll concede that it seems to me that any religion with a hierarchical power structure will become corrupt at some stage.

I don’t think you’re wrong that it’s a difficult task. I would just reiterate that the performances put on by elites in Mesopotamia, Egypt, and China cannot have been sincere. They claimed to feed gods, even at length, but those gods were statues and nonexistent spirits. That means those gods cannot have eaten or drank any of their offerings. Humans did not supposedly eat and drink for gods, statue-gods and spirit-gods supposedly ate and drank independently. This cannot have taken place as its described. That begs the question why elites said it happened anyway, and my answer is that they conned peasants and other citizens out of their food and drink.

I briefly discuss Joseph Smith Jr. because he pulled a food con on a farmer once, i.e., tricked the farmer out of his food. He claimed he needed to kill a farmer’s sheep to appease a spirit who was guarding a treasure. Instead, he ate the farmer’s sheep and never produced a treasure.

I try to leave aside whether the con artists could have believed in heavenly gods because they could have. Even if they could not believe those statues ate or drank through statues, for instance, they could have believed that the gods in question lived on in heaven.

I’m just bored. I have not heard anything innovative. Good luck with your book.

Fair enough. Thanks.

That is what priests do, that is what they have always done.

The con really hasn’t changed much, because it doesn’t need to. There will always be throngs of people lining themselves up to service the priests.

I don’t know that modern priests, many of them at least, know that they’re lying. How would they know that if their claims involve invisible beings? There’s a difference between knowing you have no proof and knowing you’re telling lies.

I don’t know what to tell you. It seems like you are still living in a fantasy world, imo.

It seems to me like you’re making claims you can’t back up. Prove to me that modern priests know they’re lying about god. Explain to me how they would know that they were deliberately telling lies about something.

You and I both know that priests are wrong about gods. That’s entirely separate from whether they know they’re wrong but say it anyway. You’re not able to draw that distinction I guess.

Prove you aren’t from Mars.

Thanks for the snide remarks attacking my intelligence!
:poop: ------- :monkey:

Thank you for making my point for me. I can’t prove I’m not from Mars, neither can you prove priests are lying because they believe in invisible gods. The priests I studied from Mesopotamia, Egypt, and China taught that visible, audible gods existed, but had proof before their very eyes that they did not: the statue-gods they said ate and drank did not eat or drink, the spirit-gods they said ate and drank did not eat or drink, in simple terms. All they had to do was watch the ceremonies themselves, as they are described doing in enough sources.

That’s the distinction you’re failing to grasp. A lack of evidence for a belief vs evidence that discredits or discounts a belief. If you can see the sun is yellow or orange or whatever color, and you say it’s green or blue, you’re lying. If you can’t see the sun and you say it’s green or blue, well, you might be sincerely mistaken.

As for the insult, you started it with saying I live in a fantasy land because I don’t agree with you. I’m just returning what you sent my way. waves

The priests (past, present, future) didn’t have proof either.

liar :scream_cat: :scream:

That’s certainly the impression I have, but I have no way of knowing if it’s true. With respect ,neither do you.

I believe Billy Graham lost his faith because he said so. I believe That evil old hag, Teresa of Calcutta had a crisis of faith because she said so.

Many believer seem to suffer from cognitive dissonance.

You seem determined to make claims about what other people believe. Our actions do not necessarily reflect what we believe. Another term for that is ‘hypocrisy’, which imo is part of the human condition.

You may well be right. I’m agnostic on the matter. A sceptic, I avoid truth claims. The more extreme the claim, the stronger the evidence needed.


I might be repeating myself, but:

I still struggle with your explanation, as I see several that are possible. They did nothing different from what priests have always done even to this day. Whether it is catholic priests claiming that the wafer & wine is magically converted to the body and blood of Jesus, or preachers claiming to heal people/channel the magical healing power of their deity(*), or shamans claiming to channel the gods. It’s the same shit. I can see several possible explanations, including but not limited to:

  1. Cognitive dissonance. They honestly believe/believed that they are/were telling the truth, despite clearly seeing that what they are/were claiming is/was not happening. They are in other words shutting the facts out. Never underestimate the power of cognitive dissonance.
  2. The priests started believing their own lies. Never underestimate the power of repeated lies either. They can sometimes even lead to the lying liars believing their own lies. New priests were told that the discrepancies they witnessed were just due to the fact that they didn’t fully comprehend the ways of the gods yet, and were still weak in their faith. So they tried harder, and developed strong defences against rational thought. And so on down through the priestly generations. Actually, come to think of it, this is a variant of 1.
  3. Lost context. The written documentation, several thousand years old, may have some context that is lost over the millenia, with some underlying understanding of what was expressed in writing as one thing actually meant something else in that context, only understandable with the contemporary cultural context(**). Analogous to the phrasing of the christian practice of eating bread and drinking wine described as a cannibalistic ritual would be interpreted as the latter without the proper christian cultural understanding.
  4. It was simply a scam to hold on to power.
  5. Any combination of the above.

I don’t know to what degree you discuss this, but given the amount of time that has passed (several thousands of years), the sparsity of sources, the lack of cultural understanding, and the potential for the rituals to be filtered through a chain of telling and retelling (i.e. a game of telephone) before they were written down, I fail to see how you can arrive at a strong conclusion.

(*) funnily enough, none of them seem to claim to be able to heal amputees.
(**) I’m sure there is a word or term for this, but it escapes me at this moment

1 Like

Those are fair points and points I’m willing to consider. Let me reflect on those and I’ll respond to your post at greater length when I have.

To respond to what you said, Get_off_my_lawn:

To points 1 and 2, which are interesting and worth considering: I don’t know if and how priests convinced themselves that they weren’t lying. It only matters to me that they saw for themselves that what they were saying was false. If I’m chanting, “May you eat well Enlil” (that’s from the Sumerian song ‘Honored One, Wild Ox’) and then I go into the sanctuary and statue-Enlil doesn’t eat his offerings, I am confronted by that disconfirmation. I can shut it out, you’re right, I can do mental gymnastics to get around it, but… I still know that I said something untrue, even briefly or momentarily. I have similar claims from Egypt and China (“The spirits are drunk,” “Food of all kinds hast thou [statue-Amun-Ra] tasted”) that imply falsehoods priests knew to be falsehoods from observing temple ceremonies.

I don’t know, and I don’t try to speculate, about what priests said to other priests when they saw for themselves that statue-gods or spirit-gods did not consume their offerings. I’m willing to admit that they could have read into statements they saw on temple walls (Horus: “I have received your offering… I have drunk the wine”) that gods dined non-demonstrably, which scholars sometimes argue. In Eastern Zhou China, and I admit and discuss this for a few pages, elites sometimes said gods dined on the essence of the offerings (that’s found in The Guanzi, The Zuo Commentary, etc.). Essence is invisible, sometimes spirits are said to be invisible, therefore it is possible priests during the Eastern Zhou believed their own claims. Other claims about spirits, however, from The Mozi and The Book of Documents among others claim spirits appear visibly and audibly in temples (“A wizard carrying a cane appeared and said…”, “On the day of the sacrifice to Wu Ding, there appeared a crowing pheasant…”). Priests cannot have believed that sincerely.

Not every priest was lying about gods, and I want to be clear about that. In many Egyptian and Mesopotamian texts, often the divine feasting act (the god dining) is not described. The author instead passes over it without comment. Such persons are tacitly admitting that gods did not dine in temples, but they aren’t lying about it.

There is still a contradiction in many Mesopotamian, Egyptian, and Chinese sources, and that is the fact that statue-gods or spirit-gods did not dine demonstrably, as they are sometimes said or implied to. I am not the only scholar to notice this contradiction as I’ll call it:

Marc Linssen (2004): "The ‘feeding of the gods’ remained the most important purpose of the divine meal in Mesopotamia. Although the foods and drinks offered were re-distributed after the offering ceremony to priests, temple personnel, and others, an official cult maintained up to the end of civilization in Mesopotamia the fiction [italics mine] that the divine meal was consumed by the gods, or rather their statues, and that offerings served no other purpose (129)
Dale Launderville (2003): "So even though the cultic system arranged for the food and drink offered in the cult to be consumed by humans, the religious outlook maintained that deities consumed these provisions” (140).

To point 3: I don’t think sources are too sparse for an argument to be made. The sources I use are as old as the practices they describe, and were written by contemporaries; I read over 125 (many come from The Electronic Text Corpus of Sumerian Literature, They survive on clay tablets, oracle bones, papyrus scrolls, temple walls, etc. which were found or remain in situ. They provide compelling evidence, at the very least, that what priests and kings said happened to the offerings did not happen to the offerings.

To point 4: you know that’s my argument, I won’t belabor the point. I would only add that besides power, elites wanted the food and drink offerings they received from slaves, peasants, and other citizens (the wives of elites, military commanders, etc.) and they ate and drank them after the ceremonies.

In the Hebrew Bible, sacrifice always involves transformation . One of the most common ways to transform something is to destroy it. Destruction removes the animal from the ordinary realm and transfers it to a transcendent one. Biblical texts tell us that God received the smoke of the burning sacrifice as a “pleasing odor” (see, for example, Lev 1:13). In so doing, God enjoyed a fellowship meal with human beings in God’s dwelling on earth—the temple.

I think this is important the “claims or procedure of the priests”.

According to Leviticus, And that which is left thereof [from the meal-offering] shall Aaron and his sons eat; it shall be eaten without leaven in a holy place; in the tent of meeting they shall eat it…it is most holy as the sin-offering and the guilt-offering (Leviticus 6:9-10).”

So destroy a little and the “leftovers” are eaten by man.

It’s still consumed by god and it’s earthly representative (of god’s word/will).

Personally, whether they knew outright of their ongoing lie or self-deception or dishonest inner dialogue (for their own self gain and position) it really wouldn’t make much of a difference to the true believers.

And those that weren’t “true believers” understood the tie of religion/politics of the day.

In other words- no different than today with the host of lies heaped upon man.

Not to criticize or say “don’t add” to knowledge your perspective…just pointing out that what’s old is new again.

EDITED to add: ONLY pointing out a procedure/process with the same claim and how they “got around” the lie

1 Like

What you’ve said is interesting, but it’s specific to the Israelite religion. I don’t consider Israel because someone can believe what you’ve quoted from the Bible sincerely (I mean they don’t see what happens to the smoke as it ascends, who knows what happens to it). However, that is not how Sumerian, Egyptian, Chinese, etc. sacrifices are described in primary texts, most of which were not burned. Consider this quote from ‘Utu E,’ a Sumerian hymn to the gods Enlil and Utu:

Beer has now been poured out: let me give you this beer to drink. Liquor has now been
poured out: let me give you this liquor to refresh yourself. Oh, lord, eat and drink! May it be acceptable to you. Oh Enlil, eat and drink! …As you eat, flax comes into being, grain comes into being. As you drink, early floods come into being in the rivers. As you eat, mottled grain comes into being in the fields… Accept the flour that the righteous man has brought to you (ETCSL 4.32.e.: 25-50)

Some sacrifices were burned, and I’m willing to admit that those sacrifices could have been performed sincerely. I do discuss this in the chapter on China.

You’re right also to point out that even people who knew gods did not eat or drink didn’t have much choice in contributing offerings. I try to talk about that too at places, that coercion played a role in getting elites the offerings.

Interesting quote and given that the early bible writings were based on some of the Sumerian myths, no doubt they stole some of the other common hand-me-down “god practices”.

I picture some guy all decked out in garb, pouring a bit of beer in the ground and tossing some grain in the air. Very serious. Very solemn. If this wasn’t done, well, fuck me - no rains or good river runs and nothing “popping” out of the ground.

1 Like

I presume you refer to the flood myth in The Epic of Gilgamesh and the similarities to the Noah flood myth. There is certainly a correlation, but I’m not sure a causal connection has been established.

Worth considering that there are universal flood myths in dozens if not hundreds of cultures from around the world (Over many different time scales)

My simple explanation is that at that time people had a very poor understanding of the size of the earth. They had a flood. Went to the highest point they had. Nothing but water from horizon to horizon . They therefore reached the logical conclusion based on the information they had, that the entire world was flooded.