Did Christianity Evolve from a ‘Vengeful God’ Myth?
A typical theory on the ‘evolution of religion’ commits multiple logical blunders, not the least of which is ignoring evidence.
What’s wrong with this line of reasoning?* ‘The Greeks reached a certain population size. At that population size, the idea of Zeus arose. Zeus was a vengeful god. Having a vengeful god gave the powerful a way to control the population. Conclusion: This explains the origin of religions.’
*Let us count the ways (see Baloney Detector): non-sequitur, glittering generalities, faulty syllogism, circular reasoning, suggestion, association, post hoc, circumstantial evidence, reductionism, extrapolation, straw man, bluffing, card stacking, and subjectivity. Enough? Don’t rule out half-truth and big lie.
Evolutionists think that everything evolved, including religion. But then, so did evolutionary storytelling. Therefore, evolutionary storytelling cannot be trusted. This falsifies what follows, but let’s consider a recent ‘evolution of religion’ story by Live Science‘s arch-DODO reporter, Charles Q. Choi, who writes: “When Ancient Societies Hit a Million People, Vengeful Gods Appeared.” As with all evolutionary scenarios, Stuff Happens. Vengeful gods “appeared” in a typical evolutionary poof spoof, presumably by natural selection, not by a theophany. And certainly not by intelligent design!
To rub his story in the face of Jews and Christians, Choi begins with a Bible verse where God expresses vengeance against his enemies. Deflecting blame for a bad story somewhat, he falls back on some fellow DODOs, evolutionary anthropologists from a university in Japan, who did ‘research’ to support the story. First, the older Darwinian account:
Ancient societies often used supernatural forces to explain natural phenomena, such as lightning. But in the past several millennia, religions also used supernatural forces to enforce moral codes. For example, the Egyptian sun god, Ra, judged the fate of people in the afterlife according to how well they followed the code of “maat,” or “what is right.”
Past work suggested that the rise of this idea of cosmic enforcement of morality was associated with social complexity. The concept of supernatural judgment evolved to help strangers in large societies cooperate, researchers hypothesized. Some work, such as analyses of Austronesian religions or of the Viking age in Scandinavia, suggested that moralizing gods preceded complex societies, while other research, such as a study of Eurasian empires, found that moralizing gods followed the rise of complex societies.
Now, Choi brings in his latest evolutionary storyteller, Patrick Savage, whose ‘research’ points to population size as the driver of the emergence of moralizing gods.
The researchers found that belief in moralizing gods usually followed increases in social complexity, generally appearing after the emergence of civilizations with populations of more than about 1 million people.
“It was particularly striking how consistent it was [that] this phenomenon emerged at the million-person level,” Savage said. “First, you get big societies, and these beliefs then come.“
Beliefs come. Stuff happens. Maybe a million-person society triggers a mutation in the religion gene or something. Evolutionists don’t believe in free will, so this cannot have been a deliberate choice by intelligent minds. Savage tries not to savage all religions. They might be useful, in some sense.
“We are not saying anything about the value of religion,” Savage added. “We are not saying it is good or bad, but we are saying it has a deep and consistent relationship with societies throughout world history. Religion is deeply intertwined with what it means to be human, for better and for worse.”
But of course they are saying a lot about the value of religion. They are saying it has no value, because it isn’t true. What is valuable, if it is a product of blind dumb luck? What is truth? It evolved. It’s merely an epiphenomenon of human behavior, which (if Darwinism is to be trusted), reduces to physics and energy.
What these reductionists don’t realize is that the same thing can be said about science. It emerges when a population reaches a certain size, for better and for worse [cue sound of implosion].
There are multiple ways this ‘evolution of religion’ story can be refuted, not the least of which is that it is self-refuting. We have explained that problem many times, showing how evolutionists with the Yoda complex fail to realize that their ideas undermine their own concepts. We could also explore the half-truth problem. Just because some false religious use vengeful gods to control the population, it is logically false to assume all do. The story could be refuted by all the fallacies listed above after the asterisk.
This time, let’s consider how Choi and Savage totally misrepresented the Bible and ignored objective evidence. The Bible, unlike any other ‘holy book’ (most of which are long speculations of teachers disconnected from testable evidence), is replete with events, place names and evidences that can be checked. The middle east, along with parts of Asia and Europe mentioned in the New Testament, is filled with archaeological sites that match the text (look at just one recent example on CBN News). The geology of the Earth can be tested against the description of a world-wide Flood. The age of the Earth can be checked against the genealogies of Genesis. Of course evolutionists are going to have their own timelines, but those have major problems (see ICR’s Six Biological Evidences of a Young Earth and Five Global Evidences for a Young Earth). A series of films on YouTube from the 2017 movie “Is Genesis History?” goes into detail about evidence from all branches of science, whether astronomy, geology, paleontology, linguistics, and archaeology, that support the recent Genesis timeline. This is testable, objective, scientific support for the Bible.
In addition, there is an abundance of eyewitness testimony. Jesus was followed by crowds of people who witnessed his miracles: stilling the storm, feeding 5000 people with a few loaves and fish, and feeding another 4000 on another occasion. He raised the dead, healed every kind of sickness, including congenital blindness and deafness. Not only that, he fulfilled numerous detailed prophecies in the Old Testament that could not have been rigged or foreseen by mere human speculation (see Messianic Prophecies) and Prophecies and Promises from TheJohn1010Project.com). Even skeptics admit his teachings are among the most sublime and exalted ever uttered. And his death and resurrection was witnessed by numerous eyewitnesses outside Jerusalem. He was seen alive by over 500 at one time, Paul says in I Corinthians 15. All the apostles died martyr’s deaths without changing their testimony that they had seen Jesus Christ alive from the dead, and ascended bodily to heaven. What they witnessed with their own eyes, and what they felt with their own hands, changed their lives, and turned them from wishy-washy cowards into bold witnesses to the death for the truth of what they knew.
Jesus came to seek and save the lost, not to wreak vengeance, as if he were on a personal vendetta. Unlike pagan gods who punish humans for silly things like irritation over how much racket they make, God’s vengeance is always based on justice. It would be a tragic world if there were no consequences for evil. The righteous Judge of the universe will see to it that all evil will be not succeed; Hitler and other murderers will not get away with it. Only this can give us hope that we live in a meaningful universe.
Jesus also told Pilate that he came to bear witness to the truth. Truth matters in Christianity! The Christian gospel is so far removed from Choi and Savage’s simplistic “vengeful god” story as the east is from the west. The Bible invites testing and scrutiny. Read it for yourself and see! This is not the work of storytellers like the Darwinists are (see yesterday’s post). This is the account of eyewitnesses who related what they saw and experienced. The Bible covers almost two millennia of evidence for God, told by some 40 writers from different cultures and languages, all relating their testimony of the same God working through history from creation to consummation. It is a unified story from beginning to end. It is the anchor of western civilization, with a message of “good news of great joy for all the people,” embraced by members of every tribe, nation, and language. How dare Choi and Savage trifle with this mountain of evidence and reduce it to an evolutionary tale! “Choose you this day whom you will serve,” Joshua said. In our day it is Darwin vs the God of Creation. Joshua was an eyewitness of God’s action in space and time for his whole life, from Egypt to the Promised Land. “As for me and my house,” he continued, “we will serve the Lord.”
Many years ago my father, James F. Coppedge, a preacher, scientist, strong anti-evolutionist and defender of Biblical creation, wrote a song based on this passage.
Have you made sure of Heaven, or are you drifting still,
Counting on chance, when safety depends on your will?
Choose you this day! will you serve Christ or sin?
Choose you this day! Why lose when there’s heaven to win?
Choice, not chance, will govern your fate;
Your heart needs Christ; there’s no need to wait;
Choose then today, lest you be too late —
Choose you this day!