By Matthew Kneale

ISBN-10: 1619024691

ISBN-13: 9781619024694

What first caused prehistoric guy, sheltering within the shadows of deep caves, to name upon the world of the spirits? And why has trust thrived seeing that, shaping millions of generations of shamans, pharaohs, Aztec monks and Mayan rulers, Jews, Buddhists, Christians, Nazis, and Scientologists?

As our goals and nightmares have replaced over the millennia, so have our ideals. The gods we created have developed and mutated with us via a story fraught with human sacrifice, political upheaval and bloody wars.

Belief was once man's such a lot epic exertions of invention. it's been our closest significant other, and has mankind around the continents and during history.

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Unlike Hosea’s earlier laws of God, which were lost, these laws have survived, with alterations, in a text that would become central to Judaism: Deuteronomy. As one might expect, they were on the stern side. Jews were to abandon the worship of all gods but Yahweh, on pain of death. They were to make sacrifices to Yahweh only at his Jerusalem temple. They were to help the poor and needy. They were not to have sex before marriage, commit adultery or live dissolutely. They were also to destroy their false-believer neighbours in a kind of early jihad.

For they shall sow the wind and they shall reap the whirlwind. (Hosea 8:1–8) Hosea was asking a great deal of the people of Israel, though he offered them little in return. Firstly, he demanded that the Israelites obey God’s law. Just what this law was remains unknown, as none of it has survived, but, judging by Hosea’s threatening tone, it was probably strict. Secondly, Hosea told the Israelites, who until then had happily worshipped a whole pantheon of gods, of which Yahweh was the senior, that they must now reject all gods except Yahweh.

In some ways it was a rather unlikely success. Its forgery was clumsy. Having ‘predicted’ past events with perfect accuracy, it quickly ran into trouble when it tried to make a real prediction. This was in part because, unwisely, the forger chose not only to say what would happen, but when. Daniel prophesied that the hated king Antiochus IV would be killed by God after Jews had ‘suffered three and a half’ years of struggle with the Greeks. This meant he would be dead by 164 BC. When this year had come and gone, and the king was still very much alive, a new chapter (8) was hastily added, in which Daniel predicted that Antiochus would live for a further three and a half years.

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An Atheist's History of Belief: Understanding Our Most Extraordinary Invention by Matthew Kneale


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