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Religion - Looking for a book that deals with the origin of all religions

  1. May 27, 2004 #1
    Like many people, I find myself trying to figure out whether it is possible that we find ourselves in existence on this planet, along with millions of other species of living organism, by utter chance - a random occurrence in a universe/multiverse that we cannot comprehend.

    But I always find myself at the same dead-end; Something or some force MUST have created the matter of the universe in the first place - it cannot come from nothing. The big bang was triggered by something. It is for this reason (amongst others) that, at the moment (I change my mind quite a lot!), I believe in some form of God.

    What baffles me though, is the number of different religions on Earth. Supposing even one of them is right, that would mean the rest are wrong. So what drives people to have such blind faith in whatever religion they are born into? The chances are that it's the wrong one - like throwing a dice - wherever you happen to be born....

    I'm starting to get interested in the origins of the main religions. The Witnesses came round to my house a few weeks ago and keep on coming back after I spoke to them the first time. I never let them in, but I stand on the doorstep and out of curiosity, I ask them questions. They have an answer for everything, and they claim their bible is "The Truth" - nothing would convince them otherwise. But if they grew up in Iran, they would probably believe that Islam was "The Truth".


    Can anyone tell me where I can find a book on Religion as a whole - with information on when these various sacred books were written, where and by whom?

    I'd be interested to hear other peoples thoughts on this.
     
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  3. May 27, 2004 #2

    hypnagogue

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    No book springs immediately to mind, but you may want to look into perennial philosophy. Perennial philosophy states that there is some kind of divine reality that humans can tap into, and that ultimately all religions are different forms or expressions of this underlying truth. This site might have some books of interest to you:

    http://www.perennial.org/

    I would also recommend Mysticism by Evelyn Underhill (which can be found online here) and The Varieties of Religious Experience by William James (which can be found here).
     
  4. May 27, 2004 #3

    honestrosewater

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    Sounds like you’re looking for comparative religion books/info. In addition to search engines, directories, and such, amazon.com is a great place to narrow down the field in which you’re interested- from the books tab-> browse subjects-> Religion & Spirituality.
    I’ve found that a lot of comparative religion books are biased, i.e., they are more about why one religion is better than the others, so beware ;) You may want to look for books of a more historical, rather than religious, bent.

    What exactly do you include in “nothing”? Is this just no physical matter, or does it include time, beings of some other nature, intelligence, etc.?
    King Lear wasn’t completely mad,
    “Nothing can come of nothing: speak again.” ;)

    Happy thoughts
    Rachel

    EDIT- a quick look for an example found this:
    http://pup.princeton.edu/titles/7816.html
    is this something along the lines of what you were thinking?
    You may also want to take a look at the religions of Ancient Mesopotamia- this is pretty much the beginning.? (Someone correct me if I need it, please ;)
     
    Last edited: May 27, 2004
  5. May 27, 2004 #4

    loseyourname

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    It's a bit outdated, but I don't think you can do any better than the classic Golden Bough by Sir James George Frazier. It tells a very detailed history of the evolution of religious beliefs, starting back with animistic religions and nature cults and proceeding through to Christian mythology.
     
  6. May 27, 2004 #5

    honestrosewater

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    A few others, perhaps more helpful:
    http://www.digiserve.com/mystic/
    Seems like a pretty nice site; especially interesting to you may be the section “there’s a reality beyond the material world: which is uncreated”

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/people/features/world_religions/index.shtml
    BBC always does a fab job ;)

    http://www.pbs.org/teachersource/thismonth/mar02/index2.shtm#1
    may be a bit below your level, but has nice links to other material. PBS is also another of my trusted favorites.

    Of course, there are more than 6 religions :)
    I've always loved ancient Greek mythology and religion- ever since I could read and would wonder why they didn't just climb to the top of Olympus and search around :rofl: Now there's a belief that's testable!
     
  7. May 27, 2004 #6

    honestrosewater

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    http://www.sacred-texts.com/pag/frazer/

    http://www.sacred-texts.com/index.htm

    is also a nice site :) Isn't the internet grand :approve:
     
  8. May 28, 2004 #7
    Thanks everyone - lot's to read, this is exactly what I was hoping I would get from this topic. I haven't clicked any of the links yet, but can't wait to get stuck in and look at some of these books you've recommended.

    Rachel - I have had a look on Amazon but I haven't bought anything for fear of a biased slant, leaning towards one specific religion - that's the last thing I want. And on the big bang topic, and my talk of there surely being something other than "nothing" before it, you asked me:

    According to New Scientist a couple of months ago, the new idea is that the big bang is eventually going to reverse backwards and back to the size of an atom before breaking through the fabric of space-time and doing the same on "another side", going back and forth between dimensions forever. Each time making a universe that expands then contracts, (I'm not sure how long they think the expansion lasts - but it's not for a while yet - assuming they are right!).

    I don't think this is too hard a thing to grasp, and if some firm proof of this were to emerge, then I would be comfortable with it - but once again - what started off the process in the first place? Is there another time that can run the time we live in?? Is it run by some beings of some other nature (who created them?) - intelligence alone - some kind of force - or a God?
     
  9. May 28, 2004 #8
    An easy way to imagine this new big bang idea, is to picture a bow-tie. The centre point is creation of the universe, with the wider points showing the furthest expansion of the universe before it goes back on itself again.
     
  10. May 28, 2004 #9

    honestrosewater

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    Yes, that is the question :tongue2:

    I get the crunch & bang concept, though I'd like to call it the crash & burn concept- it has a nice ring to it ;)

    The problem with saying that something cannot come from nothing is that, if "nothing" is left undefined, there is room for you to assume that nothing *is* something.
    For example, if you include some intelligent being in the "nothing", and if an intelligent being is something, and if an intelligent being can come from an intelligent being, then something can come from nothing.
    More correctly, if an intelligent being is something, then nothing isn't really nothing. Er, I'm tired. If humans are intelligent beings, rather.
    Yeah, why am I still talking? :zzz:
     
  11. May 28, 2004 #10
    Doc, you sound hungry and if those are your thoughts then what is required of you to find the truth is to be true to those thoughts and not settle on an answer. If you settle on a belief what do you have? The answer which is born in this way is unchangable and connects all things.
     
  12. May 28, 2004 #11
    Quickie - I found Mitchner's "The Source" very helpful in understanding HOW different religions come to be. This is a work of fiction, but it reveals how human nature needed (wanted) to believe in something greater than self. An entertaining book as I recall (1970ish or prior).

    loveNpeace
    olde drunk
     
  13. May 28, 2004 #12

    Janitor

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    This won't be the sort of thing you are looking for, but Isaac Newton wrote on the topic of religion, affirming Christianity to be the one True religion. I have heard that Newton even "calculated" a date for the Biblical Battle of Armageddon, coming to a theater near you in 2060.
     
  14. May 28, 2004 #13

    A scientist believing in a religion? I'd love to read this - did he write a book on it?

    I've been reading some of the links people have provided, and this one that Rachel posted actually gives a good (albeit basic) overview of the main religions' beliefs, etc

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/people/features/world_religions/index.shtml

    A lot of it is very unsettling if you ask me. All the Religions have something upsetting - whether it be the prospect of Hell if you have done wrong (what makes you good or bad in this day and age??), Christianity states that we only get one chance with Life, Islam states you have to stave yourself for a month and pray 5 times a day at certain times - it's all quite frightening in my opinion.

    Do you think that the Western people who have never been to church or followed a specific religion, believing it to be nonsense, are destined to go to Hell?? (Assuming it turned out that the doubters were all wrong, and God and his many religions are right)
     
  15. May 28, 2004 #14
  16. May 28, 2004 #15

    honestrosewater

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    Something that I find quite revealing is to look at the different versions of the Bible.
    BTW This is not meant in disrespect or to start a riot; just to illustrate a change.

    For example, I Timothy 2:11-15

    Notice the changes? Even the most basic things, like a sacred text, can change to better reflect our society’s changing ideas. Practices have certainly relaxed.

    Well, I'm not sure why you single out Western people, but the answer would of course depend on your beliefs. I don't think you'll find much consensus on this, even among people of the same religion.
    I don't want to say too much, religion has its own area for a reason, and I'm not sure quite where the line is drawn.

    Happy thoughts
    Rachel
     
  17. May 28, 2004 #16

    honestrosewater

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    Interesting, I didn't know about that. Yeah, people suck sometimes :grumpy:
     
  18. May 28, 2004 #17

    loseyourname

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    I believe you mean James Michener. Sorry to be picky, but I used to date his niece.
     
  19. May 28, 2004 #18

    hypnagogue

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  20. May 29, 2004 #19

    Janitor

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    If I remember, someone going through Newton's papers after his death found a large quantity of material on interpretation of the Bible. Whether the material was ever published in significant numbers in book form, I don't know.
     
  21. Jun 9, 2004 #20
    Any other book recommendations from anyone?

    hypnagogue, I'm onto yours... thanks for that.
     
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