And Man Created Gods
By the end of the Neolithic the men took over from the Matriarchat of the Hunter-Gatherers and created a patriarchal society headed by a plethora of Gods. Apparently women don't need gods, they were happy with a Great Goddess, who in her many incarnations covered the various aspects of their lives and daily work. Their men with their fear of death and biological insecurity needed powerful personal protectors and props to confirm their patriarchal position in society vis-a-vis their women. Hence, with the advent of agriculture powerful gods appeared that were identified with kings, kingdoms and cities. This first happened in Sumerian/Akkadian Mesopotamia around 6000 BC, where a symbiosis of proto European and Semitic people provided an especially fertile ground for such speculations. 3000 years later Egypt went through a similar development. In both cases the invention of writing proved decisive leading to two independent cultures of great richness and beauty.
While Egypt remained an isolated culture, Mesopotamian concepts became the foundation of European/Mediterranean religion. The most unusual being Judaism, the only monotheist religion, from which would derive Christianity and Islam. Asia, India and China developed their own answers to man's spiritual questions: India by creating four major religions, and China adding Confucian ethics and Taoist mysticism – both atheist!
This collection of short essays is not intended to be an abbreviated history of religion. The subject is so large that this survey has to remain a superficial, ideosyncratic description of the effects the various religious systems had on the cultures of Eurasia, illustrated with images and augmented by extensive references supported by internet links.
Pacific Palisades, February 2014