13) Statistically Valid Evidence For Religion

From the Department of Health and Social Behavior, Harvard School of Public Health

[I]ntimate relations exist between mathematics and material reality, that counting and categorizing are the currency of durable knowledge, and that empirical study of variegated humanity…can uncover universal truths. The common origins of contemporary epidemiology and social sciences can accordingly be traced to Western Europe in the 14th—16th centuries, when quantification of phenomena…becomes a potent new mode of describing and predicting events of the heavens and earth…

What universal truths on religion are revealed in statistical studies?

Incidence and prevalence are measures used to describe patterns of disease in communities…

The term disease is used here in its broadest sense to mean any impairment (whether psychological, physiological or anatomical) that interferes with a person’s ability to meet the needs of daily living

Epidemiologists frequently make use of two measurements of disease. The first – the incidence – measures how many people began to suffer from the disease during a particular period of time. The second – the prevalence – measures how many people actually had the disease at a particular time.

The arguments for and against God certainly consider the opposing position to be an impairment.

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Fifty years after TIME posed the question Is God Dead? on the cover of the magazine, Americans’ belief in a supreme deity appears to be declining.

The article…cited a 1965 poll by Lou Harris finding that 97% of Americans still believed in God…in 2014, that number had fallen to 86%.

In other words, the prevalence – total number in the population – of people who don’t believe in God increased from 3% of the population to 14% of the population.

But, we have to take into consideration that the individuals being questioned had changed in the 49 years between the first and second polls. Assuming the poll only questioned adults, defined as age 18 and above, the youngest member of the second poll would be 67 years old by the time of the second poll, and many would be deceased or incapacitated in some way.

incidence-and-prevalence-1200x600-c-defaultSo these figures don’t demonstrate that many of the original individuals being polled had changed their minds. Instead, it demonstrates that the incidence – number of new people who don’t believe in God, had increased.

Statistics support the reality of a condition, such as the COVID pandemic, but not for the facts behind the condition. Statistics simply indicate a need for further research to uncover cause and effect, appropriate response, and, simply put, the truth.

We could frame the research question as Why? What has changed in American society since 1965 to cause American adults to stop believing in God?

Without question, one major change in society has been the technological advances in what is purported to be a purely materialistic scientific methodology for discovering pure knowledge and developing applications for controlling our world.

Putting men on the moon and devising instruments to collect data from far reaches of the universe, and harnessing nuclear power for bombs in war and energy sources in peace has been understandably persuasive. Many people switched sides once America broke through the barriers between heaven and earth and the inner workings of the atom.

As if human accomplishments alone prove that there is no God or gods. That’s not even logical. There can be both.

The reality of religious experiences is substantiated by historic

  • incidence – frequency of new occurrences of believers in the growing population 
  • and prevalence – total number of believers accumulated over time.

Religion has been a factor of the human experience from pre-historic to modern times

There is no culture recorded in human history which has not practiced some form of religion…

Religion, then and now, concerns itself with the spiritual [energizing / life force] aspect of the human condition, gods and goddesses (or a single personal god or goddess), the creation of the world, a human being’s place in the world, life after death, eternity, and how to escape from suffering in this world or in the next.

The fundamental concept to religion as documented throughout the entirely of known history is that, by its very nature, life / energy is incapable of beginning or ceasing existence. We are composed of this hyper dimension, only some of which temporarily took shape as what is perceived as matter. 

In other words, the Laws of Thermodynamics reframed in a personal context.

The ultimate “May the Force be with you.”

In the scientific universe matter came before mind. Mind is an accident of matter. How that happened is not even begun to be explained.

In contrast, religions report that mental activity, e.g. electrical energy, and sound, another form of energy, came before matter.

The reality of a Creator is substantiated by the incidence and prevalence of reports of a Creator from the beginning of known history.

Science and religion agree that in the beginning the cosmos moved from a state of nothingness to the existence of matter. But science has very little to say about this mysterious transition, all of it highly speculative…

By contrast, there was remarkable unanimity among…the sacred texts of the world’s great religions.

  • an all-powerful immaterial pre-existent Being
  • expressed in four-dimensional constructs as a trinity,
  • who created other hyper-dimensional immortal beings, the material universe, and humans,
  • and provided mortal beings with a means of attaining immortality,
  • in a battle of good against evil.

Ancient religions in all cultures recount the actions of a Creator who brought material substance, life and death / time into existence.

Creation stories are commonly classified into a small number of basic groups, and many individual myths contain two or more elements of these themes. This small grouping is evidence that, although altered in time, most creation myths had their origin from an actual set of events or records.

1. Creation From Nothing. This idea involves the Creator “calling forth into being” the creation that came into existence totally as a result of His will… includes the Navajo and Mayan Creation stories…

2. Creation from Chaos…the producing of a structure from undifferentiated material…the Greek, Chinese, Finnish, Indian, Japanese, and Egyptian creation myths…order was caused to occur as a result of some activity, force, or process. The Popol Vuh tells the creation myth of the Mayan people, in the beginning there was nothingness, then the sky and the sea. One god from each region, Plumed Serpent from the sky and Hurricane from the sea, came together to create the world. Whatever they said was created. Mankind proved unable to properly respect their creators. Hurricane sent monsters to the Earth to destroy them…The Earth then blackened and a continuous rainstorm came. The Aztecs described the creation of male and then female and a catastrophic flood.

3. Emergence Myths. In this category God creates the material ex-nihilo, and then forms or shapes it into useful forms…Good examples include the formation of man from the dust of the earth…ancient African creation myths…hold that “there was nothing before God created the world”…The Navajo Aztecs, and Pueblos all teach all life as well as the first man and woman were created from the earth by God or the gods…Many myths also teach creation through “the word” or the logos…The term “myth” is from the Greek word mythos “which means word in the sense of final authority.” In this category God or gods create through sounds [a form of energy].

4. Separation Myths…darkness once rested upon the heaven and earth until the light and darkness were separated by God…

5. Creation From a Cosmic Egg…a “germ” or some raw material such as water or clay that God created or already existed, and out of which He formed humans, animals, plants, the earth or some other part of the universe….Indian, Phoenician, Egyptian, Orphic, Chinese, and other texts…

6. The…Earth-Divider Myths or where a divine being divides the water by bringing the land up from the sea, permanently separating the two…

In addition, an “enormous number of creation myths….involve the sun, and the life-giving, regenerative properties of light…almost universally identified with primarily creative forces. Everywhere the sun or light plays an important, if not a central role…” in creation.

The term light often refers not only to physical light, but also to knowledge and insight…The importance of light (knowledge and wisdom) is likewise reflected in virtually all…creation stories.

Archeological remains provide even older unwritten information about ancient religious beliefs. 

Göbekli Tepe, the oldest human-made sites of worship yet discovered, is a monumental complex built on the top of a rocky mountaintop in current-day Turkey. The site’s original excavator, German archaeologist Klaus Schmidt, described it as the “world’s first temple”. After about 2,000 years it was, inexplicably, buried.

Close to Gobekli Tepe in Anatolia, the inhabitants of housing settlements of Catalhoyuk left behind numerous clay figurines and impressions of phallic, female, and hunting scenes. Here, as in Gobekli Tepe, there is no documentation, so the specifics of religious activities are best determined using Occam’s razor logic rather than speculation. The likelihood is that the same motivations driving later groups are present in this earlier group.

This provides a justifiable deduction that the figures indicate use of magic – access to hyper dimensional sources – to empower four dimensional virility, fertility, and provision of food. This is also supported by common sense, as the basic necessities of survival are food and a pack to support each other in procurement and defense.

This perspective is validated by Hinduism, considered by some to be the oldest religion still practiced today, Archaeologists have found bull and cow motifs, sacred to Hinduism, associated with an ancient civilization inhabiting the area near the Indus River, dating back to the same time as Catalhoyuk.

This makes Hinduism our main witness in the search for ancient religious beliefs.

Hinduism is admittedly highly complex, with much diversity within itself. That internal diversity prevents Hinduism from being a reliable witness. However, comparison with other ancient religions allows the determination of validity of the accounts n comparative religions, and validity of shared concepts is an acceptable measure of truth in any investigation.

Think of the same process used in a court of law. Three witnesses may differ on details because of different circumstances surrounding their interaction with the prime suspect, but the main issue is the convergence of their testimony identifying the suspect as the perpetrator.

Brahma is the Hindu creator god, supreme in the triad of great Hindu gods. In the beginning, Brahma created gods, demons, humans and all living creatures upon the earth. When forces of evil, the demons, gain the ascendancy it is night, and when forces of goodness, the gods, rule, it is day.  This is consistent with the days and nights of Genesis 1.

Brahma’s first female is Death, through whose actions the distinction between mortals and gods was preserved forever. Clearly a parallel to Eve.

Brahma appointed Shiva to rule over humanity as the destroyer and recreator of all things, i.e. Time. Shiva is the equivalent of The Seed of the Woman, the Melchizedek / Priest-King of Righteousness, The Messiah / Appointed One.

the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly…the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the LORD of hosts / armies…there should be time no longer…But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth…Behold, I make all things new…” (Malachi 4:1-2, Revelation 10:6, 21:5)

Then all creatures, including gods and animals, began to be attached to women. This is consistent with the corruption of created creatures after their own kind described in Genesis 6.

Vishnu – equivalent to the biblical Holy Spirit – is the Preserver and guardian of humans. He protects the order of things (dharma) and he appears on earth in various incarnations (avatars) to fight demons and to maintain cosmic harmony.

The end goal of Hinduism is restoring unity with the Creator. This theme is found in virtually all subsequent religions.

~5000 BC The Sumerian creation myth can be found on a tablet in Nippur, an ancient Mesopotamian city founded in approximately 5000 BC. 

3760 BC – 1700 BCInterestingly, the archeological dating of known historical human civilizations coincides with the ancient Hebrew calendar documented in the book of Genesis, as well as the ancient religious concepts shared in common with all cultures.

~2000 BC Zoroastrianism is one of the oldest religions still in existence. Zoroaster’s / Zarathustra’s culture was likely polytheistic, one of the early forms of HinduismLike Moses and Muhammed, he led his people back to the worship of the Creator.

The first couple created by Ahura Mazda – Mashya and Mashynag – had lived in peace and harmony with all things in the paradise Ahura Mazda had created for them until they listened to the whisperings of Angra Mainyu who convinced them that…Ahura Mazda was their enemy and a deceiver. For doubting their true lord and listening to lies, they were expelled from paradise and condemned to a world of difficulty and strife, but their descendants could still live meaningful and fulfilling lives by remaining loyal to Ahura Mazda.

[Like the Apostle Paul] He was rejected by the priests, his life was threatened, and he was forced to flee his home. He would not stop preaching the new, revealed truth, however, remaining constantly in prayer to receive guidance from Ahura Mazda in how he should proceed. His prayers and questions…would later be committed to writing and form a central section of the Zoroastrian scriptures known as the Avesta

It rested on five principles:

  1. The supreme god is the Bringer of Light and Darkness, Ahura Mazda with 101 names / attributes
  2. Ahura Mazda is all-good.
  3. His eternal opponent, Angra Mainyu, is all-evil.
  4. Goodness is apparent through good thoughts, good words, and good deeds.
  5. Each individual has free will to choose between good and evil.

Ahura Mazda was the uncreated, eternal, and only god, while the many other deities previously worshipped were merely spirits or emanations from the divine.

There is strong internal biblical evidence for dating the book of Job to this time frame. A Zoroastrian may be the young but wise Eli-hu / He is my God in Job’s account.

1700–1100 BC

The oldest existing Hindu Vedas (scriptures), the Rig Vedawere composed. 1250–600 BC

The Upanishads (Vedic texts) were composed, containing the earliest emergence of some of the central religious concepts of Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism.

1200 BC

The Olmecs built the earliest pyramids and temples in Central America. and bequeathed their religion to subsequent civilizations as evidenced in artifacts such as the sky-dragon and the feathered-snake god transformed into the major gods Kukulcan for the Maya and Quetzalcoatl for the Aztecs.

c. 563/480 – c. 483/400 BC

Gautama Buddha, founder of Buddhism, teaches that souls do not exist. Existence in this world is considered a suffering experience. The goal of Buddhism is to escape the cycle of rebirth by reaching Nirvana

This just sounds to me like such a dark view of life with a diagnosable psychiatric condition of nihilism.

At this same period of time Confucius founded the similarly atheistic but completely opposite cheerful view of existence: The philosophy is based on the belief that human beings are essentially good.

It is estimated that only 0.1% of the world’s population follows Confucianism. Perhaps it is due to widespread personal experience that human beings are not essentially good? 

c. 4 BC – c. 30/33 AD

Jesus of Nazareth, the central figure of Christianity based all his claims on the Old Testament / Tanakh, which is all founded on Moses’ writings. Likewise, the authors of the New Testament validated everything they wrote about Jesus Christ by referencing the Old Testament writings. 

c. 1 AD

Taoism / Daoism is usually translated as the Way. All things are unified and connected in a Chinese worldview. The Tao is the ultimate creative principle of the universe and all things are unified in the Tao. The pursuit of spiritual immortality is by self-development and being virtuous.

570–632

Prophet Muhammad of Islam. The Moslem’s Holy Book, the Koran, openly pulls many of its teachings from the writings that Jews call the Tanakh and Christians call the Old Testament.

1469

The Sikh faith, a monotheistic religion, is established in India by Guru Nanak, who taught that one must honor God by honoring others and the Earth, God’s creation. The three core pillars of Sikhism can be recognized as equivalent to Moses’ compilation of ancient Hebrew teachings.

    • Vaṇḍ Chakkō: A spirit of giving, sharing, and caring for one another is central to Sikhism.
    • Kirat Karō: Earning/making a living honestly and speaking the truth at all times.
    • Naam Japna: Meditating on God’s name / attributes to live a life of decency and humility.

Sikhs see the temporary distractions of the material world as an illusion, or Māyā. The five qualities of ego, anger, greed, attachment and lust are known as the Five Thieves that rob a person of their ability to realize their oneness with God and creation. Sikhs work to counteract the temptations of these qualities through the Sikh values of service, equality, and seeking justice for all.

Sikhs believe that one’s form on Earth is only a temporary vessel for the eternal soul on its journey toward God.

1800’s

Baha’i Faith The Báb (1819–1850), considered a herald like John the Baptist, taught that God would soon send a prophet in the same way of Jesus or Muhammad. Baháʼu’lláh (1817–1892) who in 1863 claimed to be that prophet, taught that religion is revealed in an orderly and progressive way by Manifestations of God, who are the founders of major world religions throughout history. At the heart of Baháʼí teachings is the goal of a unified world order that ensures the prosperity of all nations, races, creeds, and classes. Letters written by Baháʼu’lláh have been assembled into a canon of Baháʼí scripture.

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