During the 19th century CE an ignorant man called Edward Tylor (1832-1917 CE) developed a misguided evolutionary view of religion in which it was quite wrongly thought that religion evolved from idolatry into Monotheism, which was in fact diametrically opposed to what often actually happened.
This myth became popular with Darwinian Materialists who spread it far and wide, but as well as being contrary to Divine teachings it is also contrary to actual observation of various peoples.
Most people have been indoctrinated with this view through academic study or the mass media, but many educated people past and present have seen it for a modern myth.
One of these was the anthropologist Wilhelm Schmidt (1868-1954 CE), unlike Tylor he had actually researched traditional religions all over the world.
When he visited the cultures thought to be the most ancient or primitive he found that in their histories Monotheism actually came first and that any developments into idolatry had in fact come later.
Wilhelm Schmidt published his clear findings in his massive study The Origin of the Concept of God, which showed the evidence that he had seen (over 4000 pages) from all continents proving that Monotheism was in fact humanities oldest form of religion.
Amongst his findings he noted that Schmidt identified that primordial hunter-gathering societies were linked to Monotheism, whilst more complex agricultural tribal cultures developed Paganism, but pastoral tribes who followed their herds tended to retain the worship of the (genuine) One God.
He noted that more complex civilizations still (he classed them as Secondary and Tertiary societies) tended towards idolatry and the practice of magic.
The modern researcher, Dr. Wilfried Corduan (a Christian theologian), has pointed out that a religious culture, left without strong guidance tends towards increased ritualism and magic and these developments are what has been mistaken for primal religion by many superficial observers.
Believers in the three Abrahamic faiths may observe that this reality of the pull to superstitious developments away from Monotheism can be seen everywhere and is the direct result of the whispering of Satan and his helpers.
It can be seen amongst the false religious guides, the sectarian cultists and the exaggerated religious innovators amongst the people of the modern world, and many times throughout history.
Dr Corduan identifies the qualities of early religion as being Monotheistic,
- believing in One God and avoiding worshipping spirits or Angels.
- God is described as a ‘He’ not a ‘She’.
- God is seen as the Creator made the world and the universe and isn’t a part of it.
- God is a Superior One; He isn’t human and doesn’t have a human body.
- God is seen as an Everlasting one, who isn’t subject to time like humans and has no beginning or end.
- God is seen as an All-knowing one (who knows even what is in human minds and hearts).
- God is seen as an All-Good one, who is always good and who made moral rules for humans to follow.
- God is seen as an All-powerful one, having complete power.
Christian and Jewish observers may perceive the truth of the above statements, Muslims may furthermore recognize the qualities of primal religion identified by these modern researchers equating to what they call the religion of Fitra (nature).
There are many examples of Monotheism (true religion) being supplanted by polytheism (superstitious idolatry) throughout human history. Some of these are mentioned below…
China was a center of true Monotheism in ancient times. The ancient Chinese people called God ‘Shang Ti’. The researcher Ron Williams has pointed out in his theses paper ‘Early Chinese Monotheism’ that in the primal ancient period the Chinese were clearly Monotheistic and saw God as the Supreme Ruler, as being One and indivisible, being unchanging, having no equal, ruling absolutely and being alone over all in heaven above and in Earth beneath, as being one who does what He wills and whom no power could hinder and who was always right.
The writer Wu, Kuo Cheng recorded in his 1982 CE work The Chinese Heritage that in his opinion there was no question that ancient Chinese people believed in One Almighty God, pointing out that the records, from the earliest times, testify to this.
He noted that they called him Di, “the Lord”, or Shang Ti, “the Lord Above” and how they never endowed their view of God with human attributes or any kind of physical image.
He went on to describe how from all records prior to 2nd century B.C. there was no indication that the Chinese had ever worshiped idols and pointed out that idol worship was in fact introduced to China only after the arrival of Buddhism in the 1st century CE.
Africa was another centre of Monotheism in ancient times and Africa’s Monotheistic history amongst people unaware of the known Divine Revelations is clear but tragically so was the descent of African religions into misguidance.
The great Bantu people who populate much of Central and Southern Africa also show clear signs of their original primal Monotheism although it was overlaid by later diverse developments away from it, however, along with ancestralism similar to that of China the concept of the One Supreme God would remain amongst the many Bantu cultures.
The West African Kikuyu knew of Him under the name of Ngai but held the mistaken belief that He is to distant to be approached apart from when one is in greatest need and the Mende people of Sierra Leone in West Africa believed in One True God who is the great Creator of the universe and called Him Ngweyo.
Also in the West African Yoruba religion the people believed in the One Supreme God and called him Olorius or Olodumare (Lord of the Heavens), yet like many other African cultures the Yoruba later overlaid their primal Monotheism with idolatry.
The Maasai called the One True God Engai and knew that He is the good Creator who punishes the sinners.
The Gedo People of south-central Ethiopia traditionally believed in One God, calling Him Magano and knowing that He is the good Creator of all things, but few Gedo people pray to Magano as over time they started to make sacrifices to the accursed Satan (they call him “Sheit’an”), not out of love but out of a misguided belief that their ties to the One True God aren’t close enough for their prayers to be accepted by him, this belief being their tragic self delusion.
The Zulu people of Southern Africa were portrayed by the British, who nearly lost a war against them (circa 1879 CE) as archetypal savages but in truth they were a cultured, if warlike people. The Christian Missionary J.H. Titcomb (1819-1887 CE) (who recorded that the native people of Madagascar held the concept of the One God) noted that that a former Bishop of Natal who was in contact with the Zulus before the Western Civilization had influenced them recorded that they had no idols and were Monotheists acknowledging One Supreme Being who they knew as the Great One and the All-Mighty.
Thus we know that the Zulus knew of the One True God before they adopted Trinitarian Christianity (and many called called Him Inkoshi Yezulu).
Amongst the pre-Columbian Native Americans of North America the knowledge of the existence of One True God was very real, although false religious ideas were also prevalent.
Generally the peoples of these lands had a concept of God as the ‘Great Spirit’, known variously as Nagi Tanka, Manitou etc, and they were aware that He is the Creator who made the world and the heavens and that He is the Provider.
In particular some such as the Californian Maidu, Wintun and Yuki people (who were indeed primitive hunter-gatherers) had very strong awareness of the One True God as the Creator (and Lord) of the universe.
They were also aware of Satan, the trickster and spreader of evil, yet the primal Monotheism of the Native Americans had also become somewhat overlaid with Shamanism.
It is interesting to note that Pachacuti, a powerful South American Incan King, ruled 1438-1471 CE, returned to natural religion by rejecting the Paganism of his people.
In South America during Pachacuti’s reign the Incas were in their golden age and the Incan ruler was an inspired man who built the amazing mountain top town of Machu Picchu.
When he had come to power the Incas idolized the sun and in line with this Pachacuti built a magnificent solar temple, but he was a man with Fitra and (in events reminiscent of the realizations of Prophet Abraham (may God bless him and give him peace) as a youth) he soon came to see that the Sun was a mere created things, the radiance of which could be obscured by a small cloud, and which was set in a fixed course.
Incan civilization had a faded memory of the One True God who was the all powerful Creator of Creation and they called him Viracocha (and auspiciously his father had once dreamed about Him too), therefore Pachacuti became a worshiper of the One God, but he was not confident enough to teach Monotheism to his people straight away in fear of their revolting against him, instead he promoted it only amongst those close to him.
Sadly the growing wisdom of these people would soon be annihilated by the invasion of the Crusading Spanish Conquistadors.
In 1817 CE the Christian Missionary Adoniram Judson arrived amongst the Karen tribal people of the Burmese jungles.
He discovered that they already believed in the One God and they called him ‘Y’wa’, they knew that God was eternal, that He formed the world, and they had a slightly garbled memory of Adam and Eve (May God bless them) and the fall from paradise through the forbidden fruit (which they called the fruit of trial) and also of the great flood.
They believed that people needed to repent from sins for Y’wa to forgive them and had other beliefs conforming to true religion. The Karens had always refused to accept the idolatry of the Buddhist missionaries and they had a vague memory of the existence of a Book from God.
Judson was able to convince them that it was his Christian Bible, thus the Karen’s who held long memory of true religion, possibly from the most ancient times, became followers of Trinitarian Christianity rather than of pure the Unitarianism religion that their souls truly sought. It is intersting to note that they would refuse to eat pork.
It is interesting to note that the primitive native peoples of the jungles of the Andaman Islands were themselves noted for their ferociousness and independence, yet some of them were recorded as having a very good understanding of many spiritual matters within their native religions.
The researcher Andrew Lang (1844-1912) described how they believed in One God, who cannot be seen, who is immortal and the Creator, the Knower of what is in the hearts, the One who is angered by lies and wrong actions and who helps those people who are in distress or pain. Furthermore they considered Him the Judge who will one day preside over a great Judgement of the souls.
Lang considered these beliefs to be the islanders primal beliefs from which foreign influence seemed to have been excluded, however, he noted that they had, in addition to such a pure spiritual tradition, various cultural myths that were certainly the opposite.
Wherever we look we may find similar realities, but don’t expect to her about it the on the BBC or through the productions of the academic establishment – they are fully invested in the Materialist philosophy and the popular myths that are used to support it.….