In retrospect, the subject of this book has been a life-long interest of mine from childhood days on the Great Plains of the North American continent. For the longest time I thought that it was the very grandeur of the external world that I occupied that was weighing on my childhood naiveté and that this was making the stories of my Christian upbringing so hard to believe. There still seems to be something about the clear air of that part of the world that makes sincere but wishful thinking so transparent to me.
I remember that one evening I was splitting wood during a typical glorious prairie sunset and concluding that even if it were all false, that that particular faith was a good way to live. I suppose now that that was a key step in the process of what later I was to learn was the “losing” of my religious faith. (Perhaps it was not so much “losing” religion as it was “gaining” insight?) It has always troubled me as well that the Christians of that time, at least the child so understood, insisted that the other faiths, while undoubtedly well-meaning, were somehow fundamentally mistaken.
Gradually, after the traumatic experience at college of proving, to myself at least, that my own religious faith was indeed fundamentally mistaken, in part at least, I did abandon my inherited religion altogether. Rather skeptically, I examined other faiths. In all of them I found similar difficulties. It all seemed to boil down to blind faith in some religious system or other and ultimately to some human being(s) who hopefully were indeed divinely inspired.
That divinely inspired persons disagreed so profoundly among themselves was most problematic to me.
A reliable logical technique is known in Latin as “reductio ad absurdum”. Reduce it to the absurd. In short, when faced with any choice, consider the extremes of any situation.
Either organized religion ultimately is true or it is ultimately untrue. These would be the two absurd extremes in this situation. This way of analyzing is similar to the way we use On the One Hand and On the Other Hand practically every week in figuring out our own stance in some problem.
This makes us think of the Either Or used in computers. In computers this corresponds to the Yes or No or to the Positive and Negative used in electricity.
Of course religion cannot be reduced that easily to Either Or but still we can see how the reductio ad absurdum technique can be useful in sorting out our own ideas about where the truth can probably be found. Usually the truth can be found somewhere between two extremes.
All organized religion seemed to be blind faith of a sort that was inherently opposed to the rigorous application of thought and reason and science in all of my college courses. It was all quite bewildering. How could all those millions of good and capable people, over thousands of years, have been so fundamentally wrong? Many of them were far more bright and informed than I was, too.
In a fairly casual way, since by then I was disillusioned and cynical, I began to search for the process whereby such a misapplication of reason and intellect could have happened. It took decades of living and thinking to eventually figure out how our species could simultaneously think its way into progress in so many fields and somehow still stay mired where religious thought and theory was concerned.
Who let the dogs out, indeed! Two persons. I'm afraid that one of them is the reader of this preface.
As the decades passed it became clear to me that the answers I was looking for had to be somewhere in our own human history. It was only when I had accumulated enough historical and other knowledge of my own that I could put together the chapters that comprise this book. This process took all of my working life.
Like most informed people, including professional people who know better in the ordinary course of their work, I was able to overlook the occasional bit of nonsense detail in concentrating upon the larger picture.
Only recently did I realize the insight that our species’s willingness to accept any authority at all must be based in part upon the notion of the unchallengeable authority, if he or she or it exists, of God himself. If we are willing to accept any authority at all, I suspect that it must be because, without thinking it through, we all accept the idea that someone or something has ultimate authority over us. As we try to understand the wonders all around us, I think it is also quite natural to assume that it must all have had its start, at least, with a Him or Her or It that is very much superior to oneself.
Elsewhere in this book, whenever I refer to God the reader needs to understand that by God I actually mean a Him or Her or It.
Throughout this long process of accumulating this understanding, it became apparent to me that many believers were continuing to regard themselves as believers while quietly ignoring or consciously discounting some of the truly incredible aspects of their particular religion.
In all fairness and decency, one does have to respect their basic beliefs and their faithfulness and their basic goodness and good intentions. When one regards the silly details that attend even the very best of mankind’s efforts at piety, one should just let go some of the odd stuff that the various major religions require their adherents to affirm. There is much that sensibly can be claimed in this way of reasoning.
However, someone with my way of thinking will continue to be bothered by this sort of sloppiness in what should be perfect. Granted that humans can be sloppy while God simultaneously can be perfect, but just how can a perfect and All-Powerful God be associated with something so clearly imperfect in its fundamentals?
Just how did our species manage to evolve the various sets of religious beliefs that so many in 2010 find so difficult to take seriously? This religious crisis of our time in the twenty first century affects not only the Christian religions but all religions around the world. The very notion of this crisis ought not to be condemned as heresy or even any kind of disrespect for the motivations of the religiously inclined.
In this book I talk mainly about the Abrahamic religions because these are what I am most familiar with, but really the problem is with all religious faith, no matter of what provenance. The problem is global, not just with those Abrahamic religions. One can admire the bulk of any believer’s aspirations, frequent self-denial, and good works, but one deplores the sloppiness of some of the details. And some of each religion’s more draconian details are most troubling. Perhaps “sloppy” is too flippant a word for fatal weaknesses.
I think that the answer to where our species “got religion” is to be found, besides tradition, mainly in a misunderstanding of ancient literary records. These records, and modern archaeology, are available in our times in a way they were not available to previous generations. Perhaps I should say, in a way that previous generations, for whatever reasons, were not prepared to consider seriously or scientifically.
My own respect for genuine ancient documents is similar to my trust in, for example, genuine dinosaur bones and other genuine historical artifacts that have been scientifically dated. It seemed and still seems to me most improbable that all of those ancient authors were mistaken or that all those various specialists all somehow got together to pull the wool over my eyes.
What is genuine? As you will see elsewhere in this book, I am far from being naïve. Having been grievously misled as a young student I am, if anything, excessively skeptical as a thinking adult.
Yesterday’s newspaper may indeed contain erroneous information but we can at least grant that someone thought that it was worthwhile to publish that information. And we can do comparative analyses to refute or confirm specific information.
Why could we not extend the same presumption and techniques to some genuine document from 2,000 years ago? Or 10,000 years ago?
I like that respectful approach to literary archaeology, although one does have to be wary of the many deliberate deceptions one finds in history, especially in autobiography. And of course there is always the problem of simply misunderstanding the evidence.
I know that the notion of the distant past containing the answers to my questions is a notion that is dismissed out of hand by virtually everybody. Most people shrug at the notion of history. But the past, distant or recent, generally does contain the causes of the way the world is today. Virtually everyone who stops to think about it will agree. The way things are today is the result, intended or not, of decisions taken in the past. To just condemn the past as being the past is to ignore that some of the decisions being taken today will equally turn out to be erroneous or fundamentally mistaken in the future. I am not being pessimistic when I say this. History teaches us that mistakes have been made in the past, and probability predicts that probably some mistakes will also be made today or in the future.
So, let us agree that whether I like it or not, the answer to Why Religion? today must generally be somewhere in our past.
Let me make it quite clear that over the decades I was only gradually backed into the idea that it must have been some fundamental misunderstandings over the eras that got our human species into believing a set of ideas that to any rigorous analysis today look quite impossible. I do not want to believe in fundamental misunderstandings. But somehow things came to be the way they are. How?
As I went about the matter of making a living over the decades, I kept an eye on this whole dilemma. It was striking how evidence from a number of fields of human inquiry, around the world, gradually pointed at a possible way that our species evolved its notions about religion. This evidence that I have accumulated must somehow be explained.This book is my attempt to pull all this evidence together and to see what conclusions, if any, might sensibly be drawn.
The theory that I developed as a possible explanation will be seen by most sensible, informed people, as utterly preposterous. It is so to me, too, but that scientific possibility of its being true, as so much in science, does continue to be intriguing. The main reason that I followed it through at all was that this possibility did not require miracles. As you will see later in this book, miracles for me, in this universe at least, are simply not possible.
Specifically and gradually, it was in reading The Earth Chronicles series by Zechariah Sitchin that a coherent view or possible explanation came into focus for me. This was back in the 1980s. Sitchin is a person who was born in 1922 in Azerbaijan and raised in Palestine. He seems to have spent most of his career, it seems to me, in research into what I call “literary archeology”. This field of literary archeology intrigues me. I submit that it has not received the attention and respect from the reading public that it deserves.
The gap between what we call mythology and my own Christian heritage had always also intrigued me. There was a time when people took myths very seriously indeed, just like religious people today take their beliefs very seriously. How can this be?
As a student of history and as a person who once wanted a career as a journalist, I still have a particular respect for literary archeology. This does not mean that I regard all or even most ancient texts as genuine, only that I think, like Sitchin, that we should be able to find in them some clues as to what really happened in history.
Sitchin has obviously done a lot of comparative literary and other analysis in the course of his life-long studies into ancient writings and other ancient materials. His questions, similar to mine, must be answered by the proponents of religion. His extensive actual evidence from various fields must be given respectable answers by scientists as well as by religious authorities. Currently the scientific community seems to regard his theories as fringe science, at best. The religious community dismisses them altogether, of course.
I do suspect, however, that he is on the right track in his theories. If he is right in only some of the details of those theories, the implications for both camps are staggering.
I capitalize Truth in this book to distinguish it from the ordinary English word for truth which I am here defining as something that may or may not be true. Of course we all can agree that truth is not necessarily the Truth but for purposes of understanding this book let us agree that the real truth in this book is labeled the Truth with a capital T.
Similarly, whenever in this book I use the expression “an All-Powerful God”, I mean literally and logically a God who, as Evangelicals and Fundamentalists from various religions insist, can immediately do anything he wants.
I suppose that it was during the past twenty years that the idea of writing this book first occurred to me. It was my own curiosity that was driving my search for answers to these impossible questions. I have waited all these years because I wanted to be quite sure that I wanted to awaken all those sleeping dogs and quite frankly because I knew that even today this topic was sure to be very controversial and divisive. Some of my oldest friends and family are very devout and religious and I wanted to be quite sure of my own tentative conclusions before troubling them in their own thinking.
I am fully aware that what I am intrigued by will be considered by many sober and well-meaning individuals as fantastical and that the author must be some kind of kook to even spend an hour on such ideas. To such persons I would only say that none of what I am intrigued by requires a miracle. All religions that I am aware of do require miracles, however.
To reiterate, to me a miracle is something which is not possible according to the established physics, as I understand it, of this universe.
To my way of thinking, the notion of a religious miracle is thus very problematic. For this particular universe to cohere, genuine miracles have to be scientifically impossible. No-one is exempt from them. However, logically, even I will admit that an All-Powerful God ought to be able to just snap his fingers and to cause something “miraculous” to happen. But in the real world, just how does the miracle come about? Granted, things do occur that seem to be miraculous, but upon scientific examination, all such incidents so far do seem to have natural causes.
I recall that even as a child I became skeptical when I noticed that all of the so-called plagues in the Old Testament actually were catastrophes that were natural in their causes and nature.
The difficulty of which I speak is that there appears to be no way in this universe to short-circuit or evade a natural process or to avoid a proven scientific process. Even incidents that appear miraculous turn out to have some cause that is within the range of known natural phenomena.
This was not true, as far as I can see, even in the recent past. Here we have a genuine collision between scientific and religious thinking. I suspect that it was easier for things to appear miraculous in the past than it is today.
The authorities at the Vatican, no fools themselves, have a constant difficulty in declaring someone to be a saint, because there have to be convincing evidences of at least two miracles attributable to that person before such a declaration is possible.
David Hume, the prominent Scottish philosopher, among others, had the same objection to miracles that I do, namely that they are impossible in terms of that scientific view that was becoming popular with educated people in his day, the 1700s. His times, however, also accepted that magic could be worked by both good and bad persons. Christianity claimed that miracles are worked only directly by God. Hume and I say that God cannot possibly subvert the proven physics of this world in that way.
How then can we, or Sitchin, understand history without resorting to miracles?
To my knowledge, Christianity, Judaism, and Islam or, for that matter, any other religion, require a belief in one or more miracles. So which set of ideas is more fantastical? Which ones violate the known scientific principles that prevail and seem to prevail exclusively in this universe?
Sitchin, through his imaginative curiosity and his ability to read ancient languages and in particular the various clay cuneiform writings, has fleshed out a story of the ancient humanlike Nefilim or “those who were cast down upon Earth”, who apparently created our human kind and gave it almost all of the knowledge we had until recent times. The Anunnaki would be “the Annunaki of Heaven”, heaven being Nibiru, the home planet of the Nefilim.
Apparently there are tens of thousands of those old baked clay tablets, a particularly durable form of ancient writings, in excellent condition and quite readable even today. Some are in the British Museum in London. In fact, the Middle East, in particular the so-called Fertile Crescent where civilization is supposed to have begun, is full of them, Iraq especially so. Has Sitchin misinterpreted them? Could they tell us something about those puzzling “myths”?
The stories they and other ancient documents tell are of an era when “gods” dwelt upon the Earth and intimately directed the affairs of human beings. I urge those readers interested in such matters to read Sitchin for more details of their activities and lives. What is relevant here for purposes of this book is that these stories were obviously the source of the myths that I as a child had tried to reconcile with my readings of the Christian Bible and in particular with my then faith system.
Myths, including the religions of today, must be explained somehow. To simply dismiss them is not scientifically or philosophically adequate. To shrug one’s shoulders and to say that people just made them up will not do.
To my astonishment, in subsequent researches I found an amazing correspondence between those myths and the Jewish and Christian faiths. So much so that one can even discern the personalities and probably the very identities of many of those gods and goddesses. This appears to be the case not only between the Old Testament and Greek and Roman mythologies but indeed among myths from around the world.
This, if you think about it, would have to be the case if the Sitchin account is in fact the Truth.
I mean no disrespect to conventional explanations when I cite, for consideration by unbiased persons, such statements and facts as are claimed by Sitchin and others. I merely point out that such questions must be answered in a respectful and scientific way by those who pose alternative explanations. Personally, I would to some degree actually prefer some contemporary religious explanations, realizing full well how fantastical Sitchin’s arguments must seem to conventional thinking and perhaps to some readers of this preface.
Adding to my continuing astonishment, as I continued in my researches, was the growing realization that this fabulous notion was physically possible and that in fact it made much more sense than any religious or miraculous account of how history evolved.
As just one example of physical artifacts that need explanation, what are we to make of that Antikythera mechanism that is a real museum object from at least 100 BCE and whose sophistication and manufacture is at least 1300 years ahead of its time? How did those “ignorant” ancients manage to create such an object?
I personally cannot prove any of this yet but I do continue to see that Sitchin’s theory and his evidence make much more sense than all the other explanations I have heard.
It continued to puzzle me, however, why it had fallen to me to attempt to alert the current reading public to this amazing correspondence. Surely many other researchers had noticed such similarities before?
I think I now know why hardly anyone in modern times, except Sitchin, seems to have published this line of thinking before. Whoever writes convincingly on these matters is sure to outrage all Christians, the Jewish faithful, and particularly all those other religious persons of a fundamentalist persuasion.
Whoever writes on these matters is also likely eventually to become the object of an Islamicist fatwa, a sobering and sometimes lethal condemnation indeed.
And so it will go, with all the other faith systems that are out there. If many people pay attention, such an author is indeed likely to experience the same fate that befell Charles Darwin and still continues to befall him. No wonder why other potential authors have decided, like Galileo or Copernicus, that it is better to let the debate continue than to attempt to suggest another way of thinking in the form of a book such as Why Religion?
Few people want to be thought out of the mainstream by those around him or her. I suppose that many people have entertained heretical thoughts in the privacy of their own minds, but few have acted upon them. I think that is why there are not many viewpoints like this one out there.
The 1700s are full of anti-religious speculations by persons of advanced intellectual and scientific qualifications, but the romantic or anti-intellectual or religious point of view remains remarkably durable to our day. Most Americans, for example, apparently still do believe today in some kind of religion. Or so they say in responding to surveys. The anti-Enlightenment or counter-reaction or religious excesses of the 1800s yielded before the onrushing discoveries of the 1900s. Today, in the 2000s, we are still trying to make sense of all this increase in scientific knowledge that seems to counter the easier religious faith of earlier centuries.
If Sitchin is right in his theory, the Nefilim were then about as advanced as we humans are just about now. It is interesting that in his The Universe in a Nutshell on p 171, Stephen Hawking says that “any alien life we encounter will likely be either much more primitive or much more advanced”. One could remark that it is striking that Earth and Nibiru should even have been that similar at that point in time. That our species and theirs occurred about the same time is in itself astonishing.
And indeed, to return to my childhood thought that faith is a good way to live, perhaps it is not so bad that so many people do cling to some kind of religion, no matter how problematic it may seem to a scientific mind. Religion is in fact a great comfort to many people and it certainly does, in the main, help some people to lead better lives than they might if left only to their own impulses and scientific theories. Neither religious nor non-religious persons ought to scoff at the other point of view.
In the main, religion helps religious people and it now seems to hurt no-one else. Who can be against such a tool? Who can be against such consequences? Who is being hurt by a person of faith? Who can be against any notions of regularly attempting to acknowledge and even worship God in the form of some formal religious practice? Who can be against the undoubted good done by people of faith? Does “fundamentally mistaken” even matter that much?
It is when attempts are made to impose a particular religious philosophy upon others that the trouble starts. Some centuries ago Europe went through what seems to be happening in the Middle East and the Far East just now. I mean good people massacring each other in this life essentially over their religious theories about the next life. Of course there are also other reasons why so many people feel that it is right to massacre other people.
To persons in the thoughtful world, it seems incredible that any human being can take another human being’s life over a religious concept. However, history tells us that this is exactly what has happened. Logically, if one is certain of one’s beliefs, then it may make some kind of sense to kill a non-believer. This seems to be how such persons think.
The American Constitution, ratified in 1787-91 at the height of what some call the Enlightenment, accordingly sensibly bans religious thinking from interfering with political thinking. Even there, and recently, too, an American President who calls himself and his Administration religious can try to force it back onto everybody’s agenda.
Ironically, the American Constitution was adopted at the time in part so that people were free to worship in whatever religion suited them. Almost everyone at that time agreed that there was a God, however.
All this science since then, however, does not mean that religion does not help many people to make sense of what to them otherwise seems to be a cold and uncaring universe. For me personally, it remains most difficult to imagine that the universe somehow came to be of itself, mainly because I cannot imagine how it could. Even if we accept all of the evidence put forward in Sitchin and in this book, it simply moves the problem of who or what started it all, God or not, further out.
I may be mistaken in this, but it seems more reasonable to me to suppose that someone or something inexpressibly capable got it all going in the first place.
Among intellectual sophisticates, among most scientists, and among a great many other people the very idea of religion today is, to put it plainly, simply dismissed. Again, to repeat the notion advanced above, just who is being hurt by this insistence upon honoring “God” in some formal manner or other, even if it does gloss over some difficult questions? And if God did not create it all, how did it all come into existence?
To spell it out, I suppose that therefore I personally should be regarded as agnostic. Not atheistic, agnostic. I am one who simply cannot say whether God exists or not.
If Christianity and even Judaism originally started with the Nefilim or Anunnaki, whom then do the Nibirians themselves regard as the Creator? And if the Nefilim acknowledge a Creator, who or what then created the Creator? This is the central problem that has dogged all philosophers through the ages.
I also am stuck on this point and I have no answer, either, one way or another. Sitchin, nominally a religious person, seems to avoid taking a position, either, possibly for similar reasons.
I thus may succeed in showing some readers what religion or spirituality could not be, but not in proving what it should be or really is. It follows that the problem of whether there is a God or not, will still be there after you read this book.
The reader who has a deeper interest in considering Why Religion? will need to read Zecharia Sitchin’s Earth Chronicles series and his other books on this subject.
Since for most readers the original book, The Twelfth Planet, although detailed and excellent, is rather demanding to follow in its first reading, you might start with one of Sitchin’s more recent books, The Lost Book of Enki, which, although Biblical and poetic in its presentation, has a more straightforward time line that is easier to follow.
The latter book enables the first-time reader to see this complex and lengthy story in a more understandable way. Armed with Sitchin’s understanding of myth and history, the interested reader then will be able to separate the historical information from the opinion contained in it and to form his or her own theories. By the way, in no sense are any of Sitchin’s books to be regarded as readable only by scientists. They can be read and understood readily by anybody.
In the chapter on Sitchin’s Theory I summarize Sitchin’s main ideas. Here and there in this book I refer to some particularly plausible detail I found in his books. Otherwise this book is written to stand on its own. It is not necessary to read any of Sitchin to be able to ponder the questions that this book poses. Indeed this book could have been written without any input from Sitchin at all, but since he did do a lot of fundamental and impressive literary research, his ideas make this book and similar speculations all but inevitable.
The debt that this author and we all owe to Zecharia Sitchin is therefore incalculable. As with Darwin and Einstein, others ought to be able to confirm or refute his ideas or to amplify upon them. The reader will have to form his or her own ideas about them.
This book is about my own ideas about Why Religion? As you will see if you persist in reading further, I am much persuaded in my own thinking by the accumulation of respectable evidence from different fields. I do however give due consideration to the significant fact that so many good people feel that they need some kind of organized religion in their lives. And I do continue to have the utmost respect for their motivations. And for the continuing power of culture and cultural tradition.
In this book, however, I talk about the main considerations that cause me to conclude that Zecharia Sitchin is probably right in his central theses. Each of my chapters talks about one of these main considerations and is summarized in the paragraphs that follow.
The Preface, an introduction to all this, is what you are reading now. On the website you can read this Preface without further involvement. To read the rest of the chapters you will need to read my book Why Religion?
Chapter One is Why Read This Book? This chapter talks generally about why it is time now to look at any religion skeptically. It introduces the Sitchin idea as an alternative explanation for how history developed and how religion came to be.
Chapter Two is Author's Qualifications. This chapter's theme is self-explanatory. This chapter may be skipped if you just want to get to the intriguing stuff.
Chapter Three is on Sitchin’s Theory. This chapter outlines Sitchin’s theory that ancient astronauts came to Earth long ago and created mankind before leaving Earth altogether. The history of these events became what we know as mythology and variations of this history is what led to the various religions that our species practices to this day.
Chapter Four is On the Dual Nature of Humanity. You will want to read this chapter. Most people do agree with this notion but if you do not largely agree with it, there will not be much point in reading the rest of the book. The basic argument here is that a human consists of the obviously material along with an indefinable something else.
Chapter Five is Literary Archaeology. This is the main reason I am intrigued by Sitchin’s argument and the main reason why I am so skeptical about organized religion. Again, if this alternative way of looking at the historical record does not resonate with you at least to some extent, this book is not for you.
Chapter Six is Collective Amnesia. Sad but it is true, as far as I have been able to tell, that our species forgets its past all too quickly. If Today is Tomorrow’s History, then why I chose to use the present tense in the title of this book becomes more understandable.
Chapter Seven is On Mythology. As noted above, I think that Sitchin and I know why most of those myths got started. The original essence of them, I suspect, was true, although much incredible detail gathered around each of them.
Chapter Eight is about Problems With Christianity or with any other organized religion. As everyone will concede, throughout the history of human thought certain problems have bedeviled secular and pious philosophers alike. I do not know if there is a God or not, but he or she or it cannot be that which the various religions claim. Surely any religion that is in fact the Truth cannot contain or tolerate unanswerable problems. Merely saying that the ways of God are beyond human comprehension is a cop-out. How can any normal human creature be expected to obey that which it does not understand from its God?
Chapter Nine is about the Source of Religion. This chapter details my thinking about how Sitchin’s notion, if it is so, could have led readily to the development of the religious history that we have as our collective heritage here in the West. The same notion could account for the development of other, non-Christian, religions.
Chapter Ten is about Understanding History. Here I argue that if one can set aside the influence of such key books as the Christian Bible, the Jewish Old Testament, and the Islamic Qur’an upon thinking, it is quite possible to understand history in quite a different way. Modern scientific research seems to support this alternative way of understanding history.
Chapter Eleven is On Formal Religions. In this chapter, in a fairly arbitrary and highly personal way, I explore some of my ideas about how religious people think and what they have come up with so far. What we have from them so far is pretty fantastic compared with what probably actually happened in history.
Chapter Twelve is In Our Image. This chapter deals with that famous contradiction in the Christian Genesis in which God is described as having human form. It shows how the Sitchin argument is much more credible than the one espoused by some of the major religions.
Chapter Thirteen is about Monarchs and Other Good Families. If Sitchin is right, this chapter shows where we humans could have gotten our ability and patience to just accept that some persons and families can properly dominate the rest of us, even to the point of accepting as legitimate the notions of authority, aristocracy, and slavery.
Chapter Fourteen is about Probabilities. Here I argue that it is quite proper and logical to fill gaps in the historical record with probabilities, buttressed by supporting evidence from other knowledge, about what probably happened in history.
Chapter Fifteen is an Invitation to More Research. In this concluding chapter I make the case that we should wait until more research of a scientific nature either supports or refutes the astonishing concepts advanced in this book.
It is 2010 as I write this. Why has it taken all this time for someone to write a book like this? Because it is only in the 21st century that the intellectual and popular climate is open and tolerant enough for a civil and an intelligent debate to occur about these ideas and for more research to reach a popular audience. Not so long ago even our “advanced” Western culture was requiring us to kill each other over our differing opinions on this matter.
The main idea in this book is not so much to discredit any religion, but just to try to know and to understand Why Religion? This is an important question and the search for the Truth will go on long after my own analyses and thinking are published. And probably for long after the reader has pondered the ideas in this particular book.
There are many well-informed and well-intentioned persons who will disagree deeply with all or with some of the analyses and evidence put forward in this book. The author harbors no ill will to any of them.
However, I would resist by argument all those who would require me to accept their religious theories by legal or military force rather than by reason and through rigorous scientific proof. All do have an obligation to put forward their own explanations or alternative interpretations to certain historical and scientific facts. These explanations need to be of a kind that an informed person of 2010 can accept as making sense.
For my part, in the end it is all still a rather open question and I am always ready to consider better alternative explanations.