“Gene frequencies in a population change over time in response to environmental pressures”
A very fine description and explanation of speciel evolution.
Ideas also change over time according to environmental pressures.
There are no ideas in a vacuum. They are influenced by the past and they are influenced by the present surrounding thoughts and conclusions. Ideas which do not fit into the current intellectual environment eventually disappear, being replaced by ideas which are acceptable within the constraints of the time.
Phlogiston and the flat earth are examples of scientific ideas which disappeared with a change in the prevailing intellectual landscape.
It is interesting to follow the growth of religious thought through the millennia. How some religions grew and then faded. How others succeeded until their followers were defeated in a battle.
Baal was defeated by Jehovah, Hera was married (defeated) by Zeus and in each case kingdoms rose and fell.
In what became the Grecian sphere of influence, the Gods and Goddesses remained recognisably human in their attitudes and habits. Jealous and promiscuous with a fair measure of random nastiness to fit in with observed extreme natural events. Over a thousand years of intercity warfare the Gods and Goddesses waxed and waned, yet they survived in the stories of the region. They spread as far as India under Alexander but returned to their own lands in time to be adopted by the Romans.
Meanwhile, in the Middle East, the pantheon of their Gods was joined by one who was so powerful his priests decreed that His name could never be spoken. Worshipped by a small and quite insignificant nomadic tribe, this God was able to lead His tribe into a number of victories and so they were able to gain a land of their own. Despite defeats by newer invaders who had larger, better supplied armies and exile from their land their God continued to be worshipped and every time those worshippers found themselves in charge, they attempted to destroy all other Gods.
Then, as happens in most historical events, there was a rather unusual set of circumstances. As a consequence of these events, an offshoot of this small religion was adopted by the Romans and so spread throughout Europe and nearby regions. Finally this God was strong enough to squash all other religions in His sphere of influence.
Now it is the dominant religion in the Western World.
But is this still the same God which first appeared in the Middle East some three or four thousand years ago?
Many modern-day believers will automatically reply in the affirmative. Yet let us look at the over-all habits of this ancient Middle Eastern God. He was no lover of any who opposed him. He was rigid in His expectations of his followers. He had no difficulties in ordering His people to commit genocide, either to take their land or to remove all trace of another God.
Compare this with the God of Love who is worshipped today.
He has evolved as philosophy and ethics and knowledge have evolved. He has not been existing in a vacuum. His attributes have developed as society has developed. He has developed an omnipresence and he has developed “omniknowledge”. He did not know all while he was in the desert. Otherwise He would not have tested Job at the request of a fallen angel. Come to think of it, the Devil and God no longer communicate in the modern world. Another evolution of ideas. Anyway, He would not have tested Job for He would have already known the future.
His present day worshippers will consider that any changes in God are due to our increased knowledge of Him and His attributes. So much so that it has been necessary to create numerous versions (species) of worshippers. Just as the followers of Al’lah have formed a number of species within the worship of Mohammed’s God and the followers of the original incarnation of this God have a number of species. In fact there is a case for arguing that “The People of the Book”, the genera of Jews, Christians and Muslims, all belong to a specific religious Family with its roots found four thousand years ago in Mesopotamia. There are still in existence, some small groups which are possibly descended from the same Order which led to the Family of “People of the Book”. The Zoroastrians of Persia are an example of this. Other species within today’s pantheon such as the Hindu, Voodoo and the pantheism of Africa have different ancestors and may even have arisen from other Orders or even Classes.
The important thing is that each of these religious species has adapted to its philosophical environment and so has succeeded. As that environment changes, with new ideas and ideals, then each will change. Some will be wiped out by invasion, some will lose their relevance. Most, like the ancient Egyptian and Greek Gods, are now extinct.
I guess that what I am trying to say is that I began with a quote about evolution; “Gene frequencies in a population change over time in response to environmental pressures”. I have come to see that it also applies to civilisations and religions.
Mores and Memes in a population change over time in response to ideological pressures.
(Written on a Saturday evening without reference to my library so some small parts of the above may be refutable. However, I was exploring a general idea from a layman’s POV.)
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