The Last Supper

Born of God

The origins of Christianity

Scholars agree that it was Paul and not Jesus who defined Christianity as it is today. The earliest extant written sources of Christianity date from decades after the alleged death of Jesus. Early Christians depended on oral traditions and writings that do no longer exist. Oral recounting is notoriously inaccurate and the evidence of redactions in Gospels makes scholars agree on very little about Jesus of Nazareth, except that he really existed and preached around 30 AD. Perhaps, the earliest written sources have been destroyed on purpose. But why? And is it possible to shed some new light on the origins of some of the peculiar dogmas of Christianity?

Bible: Only God Knows What Jesus Really Said
Bible: Only God Knows What Jesus Really Said. Loesje. Loesje.org.

The earliest Christians may have believed that Jesus was a reincarnation of Adam, that Mary Magdalene was a reincarnation of Eve and that Eve is a Mother Goddess and gave birth to Adam, hence Jesus was the Bridegroom as well as the Son of God. This post is part of a series called God Is A Woman And Jesus Was Her Husband. It is advised to read the following articles first in the order suggested below:

Born of God the Father

The Gospel Of John states that Christians are born of God the Father.1 This suggests that the gender of God has been altered in the texts and that God could be a Mother. But if early Christian leaders have been removing evidence of God being a Mother then how they could have overlooked this? The answer probably is that they didn’t. The Gospels were written in Greek or translated into Greek.

Greek mythology allows for such a peculiarity. The goddess Athena was born from the head of the male god Zeus. If the original sources from which the Gospels were compiled were oral stories or written texts in Hebrew or Aramaic, this phrase might reveal the gender of God. The next question might be why? Such a construct could have made a great compromise at a time when many Christians still believed that God is a Mother.

The Jewish deity Yahweh is male so for Jews it may have been easy to accept the change. For others this may have been different. Syria was one of the first areas outside the Jewish territories where Christianity had spread. The acts of the apostles discuss the church in Antioch in 42 AD.2 As there were a substantial number of Christians in Syria already, it would have taken decades to erase an idea like God being a Mother.

The Gospel of John may have been written to cater this particular need, which may have been to bridge the gap between the newly introduced doctrine of God being a Father and the widespread belief that God is a Mother. The letters of Ignatius of Antioch indicate that the Gospel of John was widely used in the early Syrian Christian community.3 This is the Gospel referring to Christians being born of God the Father. In this gospel Jesus called his mother “woman” and not “mother”.3 Calling her “mother” would have caused confusion if Jesus referred to God as Mother too.

Perhaps the most compelling evidence can be found in the Odes Of Solomon. Ode 19 stands out as it has the following lines:

A cup of milk was offered to me: and I drank it in the sweetness of the delight of the Lord.
The Son is the cup, and He who was milked is the Father.
And the Holy Spirit milked Him: because His breasts were full, and it was necessary for Him that His milk should be sufficiently released.
And the Holy Spirit opened His bosom and mingled the milk from the two breasts of the Father; and gave the mixture to the world without their knowing.4

This clue is important for a few reasons. First, it is an old text. It already existed around 100 AD so it probably was even older. Second, it circulated amongst the earliest Christians in Syria. Third, there are no other Christian texts mentioning any gender related attributes of God. Here God is definitely depicted as female despite being called Father. It gives further substance to the argument that the phrase being born of God points at God being a Mother.

The role of Paul

Paul turned Christianity from an obscure Jewish sect into a religion with universal appeal. He altered the message of Christianity so that it was not only meant for the Jews, but for everyone. To do this he made a few compromises, most likely with the consent of other apostles. The adaptations allowed Christianity to expand outside its Jewish origins. That made Paul a controversial figure with Jewish Christians. Over time the non-Jewish Christians began to outnumber the Jews so that Paul’s views won out in the end.

Jesus referred to himself as the Bridegroom5 and the Kingdom Of God is represented as a wedding banquet.6 Hence, the wedding mentioned in the Gospel Of John could have been Jesus’ marriage. It could explain why his mother was occupied with the lack of wine at the party.7 Jesus started doing miracles at this wedding by turning water into wine.8 If Jesus had been married to God, this marriage may have turned him into the Messiah, and that might explain why he started doing miracles from this point on.

Paul was a Jewish scholar. He may have aimed to bring Christianity more in line with the Jewish religion. God being a woman and Jesus being Her husband didn’t fit into this picture. And so the idea of Jesus being married to the Church may have been invented similar the Old Testamentic concept of God being married to Israel. This brought up new controversies for Jesus had to become God. These issues may have been resolved with the introduction of the Trinity, which is God consisting of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. As the original Eve had been removed from the scene,

The next question may then be why the early Christian leaders would have altered the gender of God? If they were convinced that God is a woman, they wouldn’t have dared to do so. According to the scriptures Paul experienced a psychosis in which Jesus appeared to him and called him.9 He wasn’t called by Mary Magdalene. Paul joined Jesus’ followers shortly after Jesus allegedly died. According to the Gospels Jesus did all the miracles. Perhaps Jesus was the only person who experienced evidence of Mary Magdalene being God. Paul may not have believed it and other disciples may have had their doubts too.

Even more importantly, the idea that Eve took Her son Adam as Her husband is problematic. It also made the relationship between Mary Magdalene and Jesus problematic. Perhaps Paul and the other disciples felt that it was better to remove this from the texts. The alternative would have been to point out that the story of Eve and Adam is not an excuse for incest. God can do as She pleases but we can’t. For instance, God may have killed people in natural disasters, but this isn’t an excuse for murder. Such reasoning was probably inconceivable at the time. With the knowledge of today one could also argue that the story of Eve and Adam is a myth and probably never happened. This knowledge wasn’t available to the early leaders of the Church.

During the decades between the alleged death of Jesus and the time when the Gospels were written, a lot of information was lost or distorted. After forty years most first-hand witnesses were gone and different stories were circulating. It wasn’t difficult for Paul to tweak the narrative and it may even have seemed a good idea too. The Gospels do not suggest that the Bride Of Christ was the Church. Yet, it may not have been Paul who brought his up. Ephesians, the letter in which this idea is introduced, appears to have been written a decade after Paul’s death by one of his followers. Also the seven demons that allegedly troubled Mary Magdalene were not mentioned in the oldest sources of the Gospel Of Mark but were added later on.

Equality of the sexes

The surviving records of Jesus’ words and teachings indicate that Jesus believed women to be equal to men. The equality of men and women is rather peculiar within the context of a patriarchal society. Paul saw women as full partners in the Christian movement. The Didache, an early Christian text dating from the first century, implies equality of the sexes. Later on patriarchy was re-established. The texts have been edited to reflect this. For instance, 1 Corinthians 11:2-16 has been added later. It contains the claim that the man is the head of the family.

Gnostic gospels

The Gnostic Gospels portray a close relationship between Mary Magdalene and Jesus. One passage names her as Jesus’ companion.10 Another mentions that Jesus loves her more than the other disciples and kisses her often.11 A third notes that Jesus loved her more than the other women.12 The Gnostic gospels don’t suggest that Mary Magdalene was God nor do they portray a marriage between her and Jesus.

The Gnostics were a group of mystics that claimed to have some secret knowledge about Jesus’ teachings and the nature of reality. Jesus claimed that his kingdom is of another world and can’t be observed.13 The Gnostics believed that our physical reality is a trap forged by an evil creator god that keeps us away from the Highest God. The idea of physical reality being separate from the immaterial world of ideas comes from Greek philosophers like Plato. Greek culture influenced the Jews and the early Christians. Gnosticism stressed the importance of individual experience. Gnosticism was banned after Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire.

Gnosticism developed gradually from the second century onwards. The Gnostics and the Church started out from the same sources, probably at a time when the evidence of God being a Mother was already suppressed, but not the evidence of Jesus’ close relationship with Mary Magdalene. The different agendas of both groups brought about different modifications. To the Gnostics a close relationship between Mary Magdalene and Jesus probably wasn’t a big issue. For the Church this may have been a different story as Christian theology made Jesus divine. An intimate relationship with Mary Magdalene didn’t fit into this picture.

lastsupperdetail

Beloved disciple

The Gnostic Gospels suggest that Jesus loved Mary Magdalene more than the other disciples. Hence, the Beloved Disciple in the Gospel of John may have been Mary Magdalene. One verse mentions Mary Magdalene and the Beloved Disciple separately,14 which may have been a falsification to obfuscate their intimate relationship. Another verse lists three women, namely Jesus’ aunt, the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene, and then implies that the Beloved Disciple may have been one of them.15 There apparently had been rumours that the Beloved Disciple was immortal.16 This makes sense if the Beloved Disciple was God. The Gospel Of John circulated amongst the early Christians in Syria. This could support the view that this Gospel was written as a compromise at a time when many Christians still believed that God is a Mother.

The contradictions in the accounts of the life of Jesus inspired a number of books like the Da Vinci Code about an alleged conspiracy in the Roman Catholic Church to hide the relationship between Mary Magdalene and Jesus. The Da Vinci Code depends on the idea that the person at the right hand of Jesus in Leonardo da Vinci’s painting of The Last Supper is not the apostle John but Mary Magdalene. It is peculiar that the Beloved Disciple is believed to have been John while John has a female appearance on many renaissance paintings because of his young age as there might be no coincidence in this universe.

Featured image: Bible: Only God Knows What Jesus Really Said. Loesje..org.

1. John 1:12-13 [link]
2. Acts 11:19-26 [link]
3 John 2:4 [link], John 19:25 [link]
4. The Lost Bible: Forgotten Scriptures Revealed. J.R. Porter (2001).
5. Luke 5:34 [link], Mark 2:19-20 [link], Matthew 9:15 [link]
6. Matthew 22:2 [link]
7. John 2:3 [link]
8. John 2:9 [link]
9. Acts 9:3-5 [link]
10. Gospel of Philip: There were three who always walked with the Lord: Mary, his mother, and her sister, and Magdalene, who was called his companion. His sister, his mother and his companion were each a Mary.
11. Gospel of Philip: And the companion of the saviour was Mary Magdalene. Christ loved Mary more than all the disciples, and used to kiss her often. The rest of the disciples were offended by it and expressed disapproval. They said to him, “Why do you love her more than all of us?” The Saviour answered and said to them, “Why do I not love you like her?”
12. Gospel of Mary: Peter said to Mary, “Sister we know that the Saviour loved you more than the rest of woman. Tell us the words of the Saviour which you remember which you know, but we do not, nor have we heard them”. Mary answered and said, “What is hidden from you I will proclaim to you”. And she began to speak to them these words: “I”, she said, “I saw the Lord in a vision and I said to Him, Lord I saw you today in a vision”.
13. Luke 17:20-21 [link]
14. John 20:1-2 [link]
15. John 19:25-27 [link]
16. John 21:21-23 [link]

Eve in the Garden Of Eden

Mother Goddess Eve

Female figurines have been found during archaeological excavations. The most famous one is the Venus of Willendorf dating from around 23,000 BC. Some scholars believe these figurines depict mother goddesses. And indeed many ancient cultures had mother goddesses associated with fertility. Women give birth and humans in early civilisations may have thought that women have special powers that enable them to create life. One of the best known mother goddesses was Isis in ancient Egypt.

Venus of Willendorf
Venus of Willendorf

It has been argued that the worship of mother goddesses disappeared because men desired to control women and their sexuality. This may have happened when caring for children became a family matter rather than a communal affair. Women can be sure that their children are their own but for men this is different. The genes of men who are inclined to raise the children of others tend to die out. And so men may have sought reassurance that the children they cared for are their own. As they could walk out, this commanded a position of power, so that patriarchy may have replaced matriarchy.

The Garden Of Eden is a myth with no historical evidence to support it. Nevertheless the tale reflects the transition from hunting and gathering to agriculture. The life of hunter gatherers was far more agreeable than the plight of the farmers that came later on.1 The Garden Of Eden provided for everything. It resembled the life of hunter gatherers. Adam was banished from the Garden of Eden to work the ground,2 which was a life of toil.3

God appears to be male in the Jewish Torah and the Quran but many believe that God has no gender. Historically Yahweh and Allah have been male gods. Before monotheism took over, Yahweh and Allah even had a wife and children. Jews and Muslims do not see God as a Father like Christians do, even though there are a few references to God as a Father4 and a Mother5 in the Torah. Remarkably the God of the Christians can give birth6 so perhaps God is a Mother after all.

Isis with Horus
Isis with the child Horus. Metropolitan Museum of Art.

This universe could be a virtual reality that exists for entertainment so the script could come with an unexpected plot. The Jews invented their deity Yahweh also known as the God Of Abraham. This imaginary deity might have been used by the owner of this universe to unite the world under a single religion. God may have devised a scheme to disguise Her identity using Virgin Mary as a substitute. The veneration of Virgin Mary as a mother already existed in early Christianity. Later on statues and images of Virgin Mary with the child Jesus have erected made similar to those of the Egyptian mother goddess Isis with her child Horus. The Mother Goddess Mary, who may have been eliminated from the Gospels, re-entered the Church via a back door. As many prayers were directed to Virgin Mary, she became a proxy for God.

Saint Mary Bolnichka Icon
Virgin Mary with the child Jesus. Saint Mary Bolnichka Icon.

The early Christians may have believed that Eve was the mother of all the living, that Mary Magdalene was a reincarnation of Eve, and that Jesus was a reincarnation of Adam. They may have believed that Eve was not made out of the rib of Adam but that Adam was born as a son of Eve so that Adam and therefore Jesus were a Son of God. The Gospels may have been redacted to hide the incestuous relationship between Eve and Adam. And so the birth story of Jesus from Virgin Mary may have been introduced to replace the birth of Adam from Eve.

The creation story in Genesis may have been redacted. The designation ‘mother of all the living’ suggests that Eve may have been a Mother Goddess.7 Genesis 1 already contains a creation story explaining how men and women were created.8 Hence, the creation of Adam and Eve in Genesis 2 is at odds with Genesis 1. It is also peculiar that the woman was made from a rib of the man9 as women usually give birth to men. Adam is simply referred to as ‘the man’10 while Eve is referred to as ‘mother of all the living’.11 Adam calling Eve mother of all the living before they had any children suggests tampering. It is also hard to believe that Eve and Adam were the only people as their children married.

Eve being the Mother Goddess makes all these contradictions disappear. And that is a remarkable coincidence as scholars believe that Genesis 1 and Genesis 2 were based on two different creation myths from Mesopotamia. If this universe is a virtual reality running a script, this may be less remarkable than it seems as it might be part of the plot of the story. Perhaps the original creation myth was that the Mother Goddess Eve felt lonely and wanted a husband for Herself. And so She created a husband by giving birth to him. It seems unlikely that Jesus figured this out all by himself so it appears that Mary Magdalene made him believe this. The Quran mentions the creation of Adam extensively but says little about the creation of Eve, hence Eve may not have been created. The Quran blames Adam for the Fall and leaves Eve out of the picture. Most interestingly, the Quran claims that Adam listened to the voice of Satan, without implicating Eve.12

Adam might have been present while the serpent was talking to Eve.13 So why didn’t Adam participate in the discussion? And why could Eve talk to a snake, and perhaps why could Adam not? Ordinary humans can’t talk to snakes. Serpents have been associated with some of the oldest rituals known to humankind. The serpent is a universal symbol of death, healing, and rebirth. As the serpent sheds its skin, it is reborn.14 It could represent wisdom, good as well as evil.14 Mother Goddesses sometimes had serpents as their sidekicks helping them in doing their magic.14 And so the discussion between Eve and the serpent might have been about whether or not Adam could be introduced into their knowledge represented by the Tree of Knowledge. The serpent may have convinced Eve that it was a good idea. Apparently it didn’t work out well. And so Jesus might have sacrificed himself on the cross to redeem himself and mankind as he might have believed himself to be the reincarnation of Adam.

Jesus is called Son of Mary in the Quran15 while Christians call him Son of God. This is peculiar because the name of God may have been Mary, a secret only God could know. In the Quran Sura 74 named The Hidden Secret or The Cloaked One it is claimed that the number 19 is related to a hidden secret. The Arabic name for Sura 74 can both be translated to a hidden secret as well as a man wearing a cloak. Sura 19 is named Mary while God appears to be a man but might have been a woman named Mary. This may well be the hidden secret proving that God is the source of the Quran.
starcrescent

The star and crescent became the symbol for Islam. This symbol has a long history predating Islam and it was formally associated with a Moon goddess. In the Biblical context it has different meaning. In the Biblical story of Joseph the Moon symbolises the woman while the star symbolises the child.16 Hence, the Islamic symbol may represent the Mother Goddess with the child, just like the Madonna with the child Jesus.

The St. Mary of Zion Church in Ethiopia is said to contain the Ark of the Covenant. It is claimed that the Ark came to Ethiopia with King Menelik after he visited his father King Solomon. Mary of Zion is symbolised by the Ark of the Covenant.17 That is a remarkable coincidence. As the ark was the residence of Yahweh, the God of Israel, this coincidence too may indicate that the God of Christianity was named Mary, and that the God of the Jews is a woman.

Featured image: Eve in the Garden Of Eden. Henri Rousseau (1906-1910). Public Domain. Wikimedia Commons.

Other images: Venus of Willendorf. Don Hitchcock (2008). Wikimedia Commons; Isis with Horus. Metropolitan Museum of Art. Public Domain. Wikimedia Commons; Saint Mary Bolnichka Icon. Public Domain. Wikimedia Commons.

1. A Brief History Of Humankind. Yuval Noah Harari (2014). Harvil Secker.
2. Genesis 3:23 [link]
3. Genesis 3:17-19 [link]
4. Isaiah 63:16 [link]
5. Isaiah 66:13 [link]
6. John 1:13 [link]
7. Asherah – Wikipedia [link]: Some scholars have found an early link between Asherah and Eve, based upon the coincidence of their common title as “the mother of all living” in Genesis 3:20 through the identification with the Hurrian mother goddess Hebat. Asherah was also given the title Chawat from which the name Hawwah in Aramaic and the biblical name Eve are derived.
8. Genesis 1:27 [link]
9. Genesis 2:22 [link]
10. Genesis 2:20 [link]
11. Genesis 3:20 [link]
12. Quran 20:115-121 [link]
13. Genesis 3:6 [link]
14. Serpent (Symbolism) – Wikipedia [link]
15. for instance, Quran 2:87 [link], Quran 4:171 [link], Quran 61:6 [link]
16. Genesis 37:9 [link]
17. Church of Our Lady Mary of Zion – Wikipedia [link]

Lucretia Garfield. Library Of Congres

The identity of God

Jesus was one of the end time prophets travelling around in Israel and Palestine at a time when the Jews began to resist Roman occupation. He stood at the cradle of Christianity, a global religion with more than two billion followers, an enigma that baffles historians. Six centuries later, in an equally astounding turn of history, a small band of Arab warriors created an empire that stretched from the Atlantic to India. They spread a religion called Islam. These historic turns made the God of Abraham the dominant deity on the planet, a promise allegedly made to Abraham.1

Archaeological evidence indicates that the God Of Abraham was invented by the Jews like all the other gods humans imagined. Nevertheless, the God Of Abraham may not have become the dominant deity by accident as the course of events on this planet could be scripted. And so the God Of Abraham may well be the veil behind which the owner of this universe is hidden.

This universe might be a virtual reality created by an advanced civilisation for the purpose of entertaining someone we call God. If that is true then God might use avatars and appear as an ordinary human to us. The Gospels state that Jesus had a personal and intimate relationship with God so Jesus may have known the avatar of God personally. Scholars agree that the Gospels have been edited.2 Apparently God is a ‘Father’ who can give birth.3 Jesus is referred to as the Bridegroom and Son of God. So who was his Bride? And why do Christians call Jesus Son of God? There is a possible answer that might also explain why Jesus felt he was so special that he said that he is the way and the truth and the life and that no one comes to God except through him.4

Mary Magdalene could have been the Bride and the Gospels may originally have stated that Jesus was a reincarnation of Adam and that Mary Magdalene was a reincarnation of Eve. Eve may not have been made out of the rib of Adam but Eve may have given birth to Adam. Eve is called Mother of All the Living,5 Adam is named Son of God6 while Jesus is the firstborn of all creation,7 hence Adam may have been born. Initially Christianity might have been about the marriage between Mary Magdalene and Jesus representing the Kingdom of God. The love of God Jesus was speaking of8 may have been the love of a Goddess for her husband. This could explain why Christians believe that God is love.9 It sheds some new light on Jesus’ assertion that he is one with God10 as marriage is the way to become one with another person.11

It makes little sense that a woman was created from the rib of a man. It makes more sense that the woman gave birth to the man. Mary Magdalene may have convinced Jesus that Eve was the mother of Adam. The Quran mentions the creation of Adam extensively but tells little about the creation of Eve. The Quran states that Jesus’ creation is like that of Adam and that they were both created from dust.12 It may indicate that Adam was born as the first son of the virgin Eve and that God can perform such miracles as the Quran also contends that Mary, the mother of Jesus, was a virgin.13

The Jewish scriptures allow for the idea that Abraham was a husband of God like Joseph, Moses and David. Muhammad might have been God’s husband too. At the age of twenty-five he married his boss, the forty year old merchant Khadijah Bint Khuwaylid. She had been married before and could have been his mother. Khadijah was the first to convert to Islam and her support was invaluable to his mission. Avatars of God may have played a significant role in history. And God could still be dwelling amongst us like an ordinary human.

What if God was one of us?
Just a slob like one of us
Just a stranger on the bus
Trying to make his way home?
Just trying to make his way home
Like back up to heaven all alone
Nobody calling on the phone
Except for the Pope maybe in Rome
And yeah, yeah, God is great
Yeah, yeah, God is good
And yeah, yeah, yeah-yeah-yeah

– Joan Osborne, What If God Was One Of Us

Featured image: Lucretia Garfield. Library Of Congres.

1. Genesis 12:3 [link]
2. Jesus Before the Gospels: How the Earliest Christians Remembered, Changed, and Invented Their Stories of the Saviour. Bart Ehrman (2016). Harper Collins Publishers.
3. John 1:12-13 [link]
4. John 14:6 [link]
5. Genesis 3:20 [link]
6. Luke 3:38 [link]
7. 
Colossians 1:15 [link]
8. John 17:23-26 [link]
9. John 10:30 [link]
10. Mark 10:8 [link], Matthew 19:5 [link]
11. 1 John 4:16  [link]
12. Quran 3:59 [link]
13. Quran 3:47 [link]

Christ with Mary Magdalene

Who was Mary Magdalene?

Who was Mary Magdalene? This question has been asked many times before. A Pope in the Middle Ages proclaimed she was a prostitute.1 If you think about Mary Magdalene this may be the first thing that comes to your mind. In recent years she has become a bit of a cult figure as there is a lot of mystery surrounding her. She may have been the most important person in Jesus’ life. She witnessed the crucifixion from the foot of the cross after the male disciples have fled. She was the first to see the resurrected Jesus.

There has been some speculation as to whether or not she was Jesus’ wife. The official position of the Church is that Jesus was, and still is, married to the Church. There is no evidence in the Gospels to be found on this matter. Jesus is referred to as the Bridegroom several times. A few Gospels that are not recognised by the Church suggest that Mary Magdalene may have been Jesus’ wife, and if she was not, that she was his most important disciple. The Gospel of Philip names her as Jesus’ companion2 and mentions that Jesus loves her more than the other disciples and kisses her often.3 The Gospel of Mary notes that Jesus loved her more than the other women.4

The Gospels state that Jesus had an intimate and loving relationship with God. It seems that he knew God personally. There is an explanation for this. Mary Magdalene could have been an avatar of God. Jesus may have thought that she was a reincarnation of Eve and that he was a reincarnation of Adam. She may have married Jesus after convincing him that he was her eternal husband. Jesus hay have believed that Eve was not made out of the rib of Adam but that Adam was born as a son of Eve so that Adam and therefore Jesus were a son of God. This can explain why Jesus thought that he had an eternal life and that he would return.

Assuming this idea to be true gives rise to new questions. Still, the evidence for this position, also in the official Gospels, is substantial, that is, if you assume the perspective of a detective who has to come up with a plausble narrative that explains all the facts. Indeed, an argument in favour of this idea might be logical consistency on a higher level. So let’s start out with a joke to get you in the mood. Nothing happens by accident as the licence plate on Franz Ferdinand’s car suggests. Hence, the following lyric from Queen is a bit curious:

Here I am, I’m the master of your destiny,
I am the one the only one, I am the god of kingdom come

– Queen, Gimme The Prize

These lines come from a song named Gimme The Prize. Freddy Mercury had a good time when he was performing his act. He probably didn’t realise that he had become part of a queer joke. “I am the God of kingdom come,” became a line sung by Queen. Some Christians believe there are Satanic messages hidden in pop music. The joke may be on them too. That shouldn’t surprise us as this universe might exist for entertainment.

Possible avatars of God can be identified in the Torah, the Jewish part of the Bible. The idea can also shed some new light on the origin of Islam. Muhammad married his boss Khadijah Bint Khuwaylid. Only after she died he married other women. Khadijah may have been an avatar of God too. Avatars of God may have played a significant role in history. The idea doesn’t contradict science as this universe could be a simulation of a real world that is billions of years old where life emerged by accident and evolution.

Featured image: Christ with Mary Magdalene, West Nave, Kilmore Church, Isle of Mull made by Stephen Adam. B. Galbraith. Victorian Web.

1. Who was Mary Magdalene? James Carrol (2006). Smithsonian. [link]
2. Gospel of Philip: There were three who always walked with the Lord: Mary, his mother, and her sister, and Magdalene, who was called his companion. His sister, his mother and his companion were each a Mary.
3. Gospel of Philip: And the companion of the saviour was Mary Magdalene. Christ loved Mary more than all the disciples, and used to kiss her often. The rest of the disciples were offended by it and expressed disapproval. They said to him, “Why do you love her more than all of us?” The Saviour answered and said to them, “Why do I not love you like her?”
4. Gospel of Mary: Peter said to Mary, “Sister we know that the Saviour loved you more than the rest of woman. Tell us the words of the Saviour which you remember which you know, but we do not, nor have we heard them”. Mary answered and said, “What is hidden from you I will proclaim to you”. And she began to speak to them these words: “I”, she said, “I saw the Lord in a vision and I said to Him, Lord I saw you today in a vision”.

Lionheaded figurine from Stadel in the Hohlenstein cave in Germany

About the origins of religion

According to the historian Yuval Harari humans became the dominant animal species because they can cooperate on large scale in a flexible way. Social animals like monkeys and dolphins can cooperate flexibly, but only in small groups. Other animals like ants and bees can cooperate in large numbers but not in a flexible way. Humans are special in this respect. Language enables this distinctive human feature. Some animals use signs and calls but humans use far more words than any other specie.1 Cultures define how people cooperate. Cultures change and that makes humans flexible.

Another distinct feature of humans is that they can think of and to talk about imaginary things. To make large scale cooperation possible humans have invented laws, money, property, corporations and nation states. These collective imaginations only exist in the minds of humans, not in reality as such.1 I can tell a dog about the benefits of using money to pay a corporation to produce dog food, why there are regulations that guarantee the quality of the product and governments to implement these regulations, but all a dog can think of is dog food. And you cannot make dogs work together in a corporation to produce dog food by paying them money. The ability of humans to collectively imagine things exists longer than agriculture and civilisations. Already 32,000 years ago humans made a sculpture of a lionman, which is a lion head upon a human body.

Religions can be seen as a method of making humans cooperate. Gods are figments of human imagination just like laws, property and nation states. People who share a religion can go on a holy war together and slaughter a lot of infidels. Alternatively they can do charitable work or build a house of prayer. Above all, religions promote social stability by providing a justification for the existing social order and promising rewards in the afterlife for those who accept the existing social order. This is what makes humans special. Their imagination makes them do things other species aren’t capable of. You can’t make a dog do tricks and subject itself to the order of the pack by promising that if it is a good dog it will go to dog heaven and enjoy an everlasting banquet of delicious dog food after it dies.

Early humans were hunter gatherers who believed that every place, animal, and plant has an awareness, feelings and emotions. Harari came up with the example of a deer hunter who addresses a herd of deer, and asks one of the deer to sacrifice itself for the hunt. If the hunt succeeds, the hunter then asks forgiveness of the dead animal so that its spirit will not trouble him later on. These early beliefs preceded religions and they concerned visible objects like animals, plants, rivers and rocks. Over time humans began to imagine beings like fairies and spirits. Early humans felt that they were more or less on an equal footing with the plants and animals surrounding them.1

Then came agriculture. As soon as humans started to subjugate plants and animals for their own use, the need emerged for an ideology that justified this new arrangement. To this aim, gods were invented as well as myths in which those gods created the universe and ordained that humans are destined to rule all the plants and animals in the world. In polytheistic religions there are a number of gods, each with a different role. Monotheistic religions emerged because people became so emotionally attached to a particular deity that they came to believe it to be the only god that rules the entire universe.1

Harari contends that monotheistic religions won out because monotheists are more intolerant. If you are very fond of a particular deity, other religions can be an affront. On the other hand, if you believe in many different gods then it is no big deal when others choose to love a particular deity more than others. To the monotheists there is only god worthy of worship. Often they think that the worship of all the other gods should be eliminated.1 Yahweh is a jealous god, the Bible claims. Those who had other views and religions were often forcefully converted or killed.

Most people prefer a god who cares for them and answers their prayers. There is no point in worshipping a deity that is indifferent. There is no point in praying if prayers aren’t answered. This particular desire evoked some difficulties. Not all prayers are answered and there are many bad things going on, so how can an almighty god let this happen? The obvious answer is that there is no god or that God doesn’t care but that wasn’t the answer people were looking for. And so they came up with Satan, God’s evil adversary who makes all these bad things happen.1

Science found a possible explanation for the origins of life and human existence. Humans could be the product accident and evolution and serve no higher purpose. That isn’t an inspiring discovery so most people remained faithful to their religions at first. Over time the gods were replaced by the idea that all humans are unique individuals, each with his or her own destiny and entitlements. And indeed, humans are unique because their imagination can make them do things others species can’t. Science may have enabled humans to make their fantasies become reality. Humans may have turned into gods themselves when they became immortal and created virtual reality universes for their own entertainment. We may be living in one of those universes.

Featured image: Lionheaded figurine from Stadel in the Hohlenstein cave in Germany.  J. Duckeck (2011). Wikimedia Commons.

1. A Brief History Of Humankind. Yuval Noah Harari (2014). Harvil Secker.