Crtd 14-01-25 Lastedit 16-02-14
The Origin of the ISIS life style (pick pdf)
I read my classical literature, but real scholarship in Classical Antiquity requires more, longer painstaking study than in de 62 years of my life I could take time for. By contrast, in a month or so, you read the Christian bible and some paraphernalia and know quite a bit more about Christianity than the average believer. One more week and you rank, apart from the learning by heart, decently among Muslim believers as well. Yet, a few centuries after Christian missionaries entered, virtually all walks of Roman life frequented Christian basilicas and had destroyed their own classical temples, as well as over 95% of their literature. I have always wanted to understand this unprecedented feat of historical debilitation.
We would, I am deeply convinced, get a better world if unbelievers would stop simply turning their backs to the religious with a smile of disdain. Who can not be interested why the religious style of leadership still is such a powerful tool, why eradication projects by French revolutionaries and Soviets had, if anything, an adverse effect, and why even modern unbeliever leaders of our most advanced world powers shun to directly confront it?
For this concise historic survey of the tools and aims of Abrahamic religion, I skimmed a lot of literature I read during my life and some I'd never seen before, guided by my specific aim to depict the inner workings of this stunning loss of colour, knowledge and nuance in human history.
Christianity and Islam spring from Judaism, hence this whole family of religions is usually called Abrahamic, after its common patriarch. In Roman literature, the history of the Jews mentions their stay in Egypt, where they were said to be irritant for refusing to pay their respect to the Egyptian gods, but expelled only after they contracted some contagious skin disease, which fortunately later vanished. They crossed over to Syria (under a leader whose name, Moses, was known among these later Roman historians) where they fought themselves into Palestine and managed to hold it. There, they came under the control of the Roman Empire.
In this empire, a temple was the hub to connect to a particular one of the many gods that people believed existed. Its priests ran a service centre open to anybody. Thus, even a Persian Zoroastrian could consult the Oracle of Delphi. Nobody was surprised occasionally hearing of a god he did not know about before. On inspection, some were thought known gods but under another name, others genuinely unknown before and if worshipped by people conquered, often he or she got a new temple in the conquering power centre, to acknowledge the new ties. Temples for the Roman emperor, a god himself, mushroomed over the widening area of the empire, never causing any kind of indignation or friction.
Except among the Jews. Not that they believed that their god Jahwe was the only god. What a Jew was told by Jahwe through his prophets, at least in early stages, was never to worship other gods. In the old testament you read the Moabites had their own gods. But they were just weaker than Jahwe, so the Moabites got massacred, rivers red of their blood.
"The Israelites again treated Yahweh badly; they served the Baals and the Ashtaroth, the gods of Aram and Sidon, the gods of Moab, the gods of the Ammonites and the gods of the Philistines. They abandoned Yahweh and no longer served him." - Judges 10,6 / "Yahweh says: I will bring to an end any man in Moab who offers sacrifice on the high place and burns incense to his gods." - Jeremiah 48,35 / "The waters of Dimon flow with blood, but worse is yet in store, for I will bring lions upon Dimon, upon those who escape from Moab, and upon those who survive in the land." - Isaiah 15,9
This refusal to worship other gods met indifference among Romans as far as it concerned gods like Jupiter or Saturn, after all the Jews lived in a remote and separate area. It was just thought unwise and dangerous, the consequences would just be theirs. But the refusal to worship, at least pay respect to the emperor as a god was a different matter. It caused irritation. Hence, a temple for Jahwe in Rome, as would be the usual thing for a god of a newly conquered people, was useless. Neither did the Jews demand for it. No thanks. This Jewish attitude was a profoundly alien element in the religiously promiscuous world of Antiquity. Jewish religion was closed. Jews only. Jews had rules among themselves (no slavery, no interest on loans) radically differing from those between them and other people (free business, including slave trade). Membership of Judaism was closed and determined by birth. The richest outsider could not get in, however he tried, the poorest Jew had no way to get out.
Then came the new invention: Christianity. Christians departed from Judaism to open membership to non Jews. The next step in addition to the prohibition of worshipping other gods, was to even deny their existence, and worship to these fake gods got claimed to be the work of Satan, quite a scary fellow. An initiation ritual was introduced: baptizing. After being baptized you were "in", would have previously unknown obligations and would be punished for things many non baptized people were routinely doing.
Open to membership, but closed group borders. This was as alien to Classical Antiquity as to Judaism, but even more profoundly irritating to Roman elite, since this monster could swallow non Jews as well. And it did. This is the profound change that came with Christianity. To baptize, in Greek means: to immerse in water. Baptizing was a "cleansing" ritual long common over entire humanity. But, first with Christianity, it made you enter a religious group of "dirt-free" people considering all non-baptized people as "dirty". From the start of Christianity a "dirty one" could immerse in water to enter the group of the "clean ones".
Unlike the Jews, early Christians were not living in a far away country, but at all Roman doorsteps. Convening at night, as they did, was traditionally a heavy offense, probably from the foundation of Rome. Refusing to pay respect to the emperor as a god was considered a shameful act of impoliteness and lack of solidarity. Refusing to pray to the mighty gods, in times of disease or barbarian attacks, was, now they were at least physically part of the community, considered to bring danger to everybody and caused outrage. The first occasional waves of persecution occurred. Early Christian missionaries and leaders apparently had the tools to bring their flocks in this precarious position and yet gain more and more souls. What were these tools?
... head-missionary Paul's severed head lights up, pagans panic (Enrique Simonet 1887) ...
1. Revelation: The established doctrines of classical religion had resulted from merged and organized wisdoms from many. Whether religious opinion was sound or not would be established by argument, that is: philosophy. Hence it was left to the best educated minds.
Instead of arguments and philosophy, Christian missionaries posed as mere messengers from a prophet who spoke the word of God. No discussion, no reasoning. Take it or leave it and burn in eternity. Your choice can be made without being educated in the Classics, hence any soul can enter any moment. No entry requirements except your mere decision.
2. Immortality of the soul. Christianity made much more out of life after death than Judaism, which has no unified articulate doctrine about it. Some Jews believe in a type of hell, others believe the bad simply are permanently destroyed at death. Good souls may be held to go to some type of heaven, but elsewhere somehow wait for resurrection when the Jewish messiah comes. Generally, the Jews' reasons to be good are not so much inspired by hopes and fears concerning one's soul after death. That is what the Christians made of it. In the new testament one does not find much detail about what heaven is like, but in the Christian mosaics of late antiquity heaven is depicted in the stunning resolution in which we later find it described in the successor version, Muhammad's Koran. [more]
3. The devil Abrahamic monotheism resulted from the gradual merging of innumerable gods and other supernatural beings into one (though the road was bumpy). Associated with it is the rise of mono-satanism as a process of merger of innumerable evil forces. Illness, death, bad fortune (including religious error!) came to be attributed to one single devil, in Christianity controlled by God. Moreover, the Christian Devil is not just annoying. He puts you on the fire, and can do so to your soul in eternity. The fear to loose to this unified Satan your ticket as a saved for heaven made Christians ready to suffer anything and very tough to deprogram. In Apocalypse, John's vision deals with those Christians around him in Asia minor who got branded on their foreheads (the "stigma") by pagan authorities fighting fundamentalism. His vision "sees" that the stigma is a pass for the last judgment. On presale: the other, unbranded, Christians have to wait nervously until the last judgment at end of times. Souls of the non Christian dead would surely all be burning eternally. Note that in these times, everybody occasionally saw someone burning, traumatizing real-life experiences, not the Hollywood entertainment the modern diluted Christian is subjected to.
4. Invisibility. Christian leaders opposed the representation of God in images. Henceforth the religious power, Satan not excluded, would see you, but itself would be invisible. Every soldier with battle experience can tell you this brings you in a stressful position.
5. Unprecedented intimacy of messenger with divine sender. Most Jewish prophets claimed to have received their message directly from God or through angels. This blissfully takes away the need to come up with arguments if asked for, as classical religious authorities felt obliged to. Though substitution of argument with authoritarian message was not totally limited to the Jewish tradition, it was best known from there. And in the Jesus narrative the intimacy of the messenger with the divine sender was raised to unprecedented levels: he was the son!
In short, what the Christian mission had on offer was this:
1. an entire new dimension of fiery dangers to the sinner, taken care of by the most powerful devil ever
2. the narrowest path ever, but formerly unheard of lofty perspectives for the righteous
3. all this at a totally new level of absolute certainty making all reasoning useless, namely not merely from the mouth of a human prophet putting miracles on display to assert himself, but even one with the closest of personal family relations to the highest power of the universe: the message is from his own father.
4. the bishop, personally or someone with a knife on his throat, left with a comfortable deal of liberty in charge of the order-of-the-day details of good and bad.
Terminology to be used. To take stock of the religious competition wiped out by this efficient incarnivore, we need, as a preliminary, to dwell on how our modern concepts of science, philosophy, and religion came to differ from the Classical ones.
First, to the archetypal Christian, the only truth is religion, the word of the prophet. Such a Christian does not recognize philosophy, let alone science, and is not even in need of such terms. "Satan" suffices.
Second, in due time, when more and more educated and powerful people felt Christianity could not be beaten and had better be joined, they managed to slightly dilute the doctrine by having it concede some value in classical philosophy, especially of scholars building on Plato. In the compromise proposal, of course these "pagan" philosophers could have erred, but Plato and Platonists got recognized as wise enough to many times properly anticipate and support the word of God through Jesus Christ.
Thus the term "philosophy" (in the classical sense: as a term covering all scholarship) alien to Christian doctrine, got introduced For Christians: all scholarship outside bible reading, since bible reading was no philosophy but the Christian duty to learn the certain absolute revealed truth. This concession to philosophy was not a big deal: the bulk of Christians were too uneducated to deal with the matter and such education was actively discouraged, as it still is in fundamentalist circles.
Digression on "philosophy"
It was only in the late middle ages of Thomas Aquinas that a disaster occurred: European travelers had discovered, in the Arab libraries of Cordoba, the works of Aristotle, that in Middle Age Europe had been so carefully bleached to produce more copies of the bible. In Paris, Thomas Aquinas fought like a lion against these travelers. He got some killed as well (among them Siger of Brabant), but the damage turned out irreversible since the reading of Aristotle, whether openly or stealth, caused great excitement among university clerics. All Thomas could do was to write many sloppy volumes to absorb as much of Aristotle in the Christian doctrine as he safely could. Thus Thomas saved the pope and achieved sainthood. Nowadays we would call a man like Aristotle a philosopher but also a scientist, but in those days the latter term was not coined yet, and he was called a philosopher and his theories of nature, man and society "philosophy".
More threats to the Christian doctrines ended up with the Vatican on red alert two centuries later, in the renaissance, when eminent scholars, inspired by the eagerness of the city craftsmen to invent and improve, stopped limiting themselves to reading and thinking and extended their research with using instruments and designing experiments. Telescopes were construed, the earth turned out to revolve around the sun. The celestial orbits turned out neither to be circular nor epicyclical, but elliptic. To Galileo the church was a lethal danger (that he barely managed to survive). Though Italian admirals hailed the telescope, a military secret for some time, Christianity started to punish, imprison, ban and burn experimental philosophers. To no avail. Centuries later Galileo's work stealth disappeared from the Catholic index. Some words finally got spent on it in Osservatore Romano of by pope John Paul II on November 4, 1992.
Meanwhile experimental philosophy progressed from the renaissance to the present. Christians (gradually dividing themselves in a growing number of sects) typically resisted at every fundamental discovery, to subsequently absorb them and redrawing the borderline between "absolutely true" religion and science in complicated theological annexes to revelation. Works banned by the Vatican include those of Francis Bacon, Galileo, John Milton, René Descartes, Spinoza, John Locke, David Hume, Immanuel Kant, Hugo de Groot, Voltaire, Denis Diderot, Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Blaise Pascal. As late as 1875 some non-clerical Spanish university biology professors got fired on Catholic instigation after the Spanish King's Real Decreto of February 26 (Reception of Charles Darwin in Europe, Engels, Eve-Marie, Glick Thomas F. (eds)), for lecturing on (not: agreeing to!) on Darwin's views.
Thus we arrive at third modern concept, adding to "religion" and "philosophy". By the end of the 19th century, specialist subfields of what all used to be called philosophy (after the habit in Classical Antiquity) had long branched off to assume their own names: physics, chemistry, medicine, economics, biology and got labeled "science" as opposed to "philosophy" which turned into a curiosity cabinet of non- or pre-"scientific" intellectual endeavours.
Doctrines of Antiquity for early Christianity to vanquish. In two senses the initial Christian mission had no competition at all: first, no other religious group sported a single unified personified source of evil with an ADHD even remotely similar to Satan's, endowed with indepleteable stocks of burning material, not even the Celtic druids, one of the rare groups who managed to get persecuted alongside the Christians, for sacrificing humans by slaughtering, roasting and consuming. Second, nowhere in the religious competition paying respect to other gods was deemed a sin triggering some devil's turn-out alarm.
Apart from one more splinter, the Bacchanals, few religious groups seem to have been persecuted in the Roman Empire. And there were many more than would be helpful to all list here. They met in private sessions, most of them peacefully intermingled and exchanged their "philosophy", as any intellectual consideration was called, that concerning the worship of the gods included. Strangers were welcome in temples. A traveler, say a Persian Zoroastrian at Delphi, would there pick up his oracle predictions and tourist information. On the pavements, you could hear a Roman from the Ebro river, Spain, in his quite decent Greek sort out his gods with a Syrian from Antioch. "Oh does he have trade and travel in his portfolio? And is he the god of the thieves? We call him Mercurius". The lucky listener would have witnessed "syncretism" at work. But the two would end up with some "unpairables" in their conversation: gods the other one never heard of. Perfectly normal: you can't know all people, you can't know all gods.
Some 50 gods, however were known all over the Roman empire. One of them was the current Emperor. Naturally, no Roman and no stranger had any problem paying their respect to this god. In newly conquered areas, a temple for him got erected, local gods got synced with Roman, duplicates tagged and singles got their temple in Rome. Done! Here are the best known classical religious currents:
• Pythagoreans Pythagoras (570-495 BCE), Neopythagoreanism was a revival in the 2nd century BC - 2nd century AD period. Stressed purification of the soul by restraining the material urges of the body [more]
• Neoplatonism, the chief doctrine of pagan Late Antiquity, respected by early intellectual Christians as well, is Platonic in seeing the material world as a secondary "phenomenon", that one should go beyond to understand the real world: the world of ideas. [more]
• Original Germanic religions, sources concerning this are highly inconsistent. Many gods were primarily associated with natural phenomena like sun, moon and lightning. [more]
• Zoroastrianism: the chief doctrine in the Persian empire. The forces of good and evil, represented by gods of all sorts, are equal. [more]
• Mazdakists (Mazdak) non-establishment "egalitarian" dualistic cosmology-Zoroastroid heretics in Persia, may have influenced Shia. [more]
• Manichaeans (Mani 216-76) dualistic Zoroastroid cosmology that spread from Persia to Spain and China [more]
• Thrice Great Hermes urge purification of the soul, and against christians defend religious practices such as the veneration of images. Their predominant literary form is the dialogue. [more]
• Chaldaean Oracles (ref since 2nd CE) transcendent entities are called "intellects". Inspired contemporary hermetic teachings [more]
• Gnosis, a sect which looks stealth Christian to a growing number of modern scholars. e.g. Valentinus (100-160) a Christian, reneged after being passed for bishop of Rome: "children of the understanding of the heart". He claimed that Jesus did not defecate. [more]
• Mithra in Roman Empire. Sect with 7 grades of initiation, prominent in Rome. Though the name is identical to that of a Zoroastrian yamata (lesser god) the cult looks pretty alien to Zoroastrianism. [more]
• Orphism Transmigration of souls. Ascetic way of life. [more]
• Helios, originally the Greek Titan God of the Sun, in 274 the Roman emperor Aurelian emancipated the cult. [more]
Once the Romans had converted to Christianity they destroyed their own temples. That was a tough job indeed: they were solid and the world would have been full of undamaged ones for ISIS to blow up had people skipped the huge effort. An easier thing to do was to burn almost all of their own literature. All religious groups listed above were rigorously persecuted as well as "heretic" Christian groups like Arians, Nestorians and Copts. This ended only after the empire got conquered by the religiously tolerant Arianic Christian Visigoths, who settled as a closed top caste. In 589, however this caste decided - probably to have a better control from inside - to go over to the trinity creed of the Roman Christians, then for long, from farmer to aristocrat, having formed a lower caste.
Darwin taught us the lesson: it is useless to ask yourself who is
the best. It is all about who wins. But in a species talking like humans, a
seller on the religious market
may try to gain by making the
customer focus on the bad quality of the competition. From what remains of
pagan criticism of Christianity [more] we must conclude Celsus and Porphyry
largely are counterproductive by philosophically and historically arguing the
incredibility of Christian doctrine. This however is counterproductive since it
only adds to prove the
miraculous power of the Christian god. The more incredible the better! Our modern considerations concerning how to
deprogram a sect member (creating security, removing all triggers of fear,
excess luxury included, since in sectarian teaching a part Satan's tools) seem to appear nowhere in this learned literature.
In no aspect these philosophers were a match to the Christians who simply and effectively dealt with them: it was
all claimed the work of the devil who is able to lead you to an eternally
burning fire with no way back, and whom a true Christian does not need to fear
since God restricts the harassment by the tailed lad to sinners. This made Christians resistant to all suffering, hence
uncontrollable except by bishops. For branding their foreheads (the "stigma"),
they would line up since John's Apocalypse told them this is a ticket for preselection at the last judgment. In a few centuries, the entire Roman empire
went bananas right before the eyes of the classical scholarship.
Then a remarkable man arrived on the scene, fairly late, but he made it seem that he could have turned the tide had he not died 31 years old in a military freak accident. Julian the Apostate, who was raised a Christian, but left the sect four years before made Caesar of the West, succeeding some Christian emperors, meanwhile having become an excellent classical scholar himself, had the ideal combination of life experience and social position to effectively counter Christianity. And he did! He keeps things simple as well: using his status, quite uncomfortable to Christians, of a successful renegade, he claims the atheists (he means the Christians) are haunted by daemons infecting them with misanthropy making them love to walk in chains and live in deserts. But man, he claims, is by nature a gentle and social animal [sic!]. Undaunted, Julian castigates Satan's degraded Christian advocates: "they loudly exclaim, 'Be seized with horror, be afraid, fire, flame, death, a knife, a two-edged sword'; expressing by many names the one noxious power of fire. Of these men, however, it is better peculiarly to observe how much inferior their teachers of the words of God are to our poets." Not only do they preach falsehoods, but they know it: "Whoever ... thinks one thing, and teaches another to his followers, appears to be no less destitute of erudition than he is of virtue." [more] This is a philosopher-emperor who can fire people or send a crisis team to restore order wherever his subjects need more than merely clear-written instruction. But the harsh instruction is at the same time profoundly liberal: anything can be taught. Only seize who teaches what he does not believe himself. A minute precision targeting, singling out the Christian mission. But it survived even this. Under emperor Theodosius, Christian leaders felt strong enough to order their Roman flock to start, despite eloquent pleas (Libanius in Taylor) the tough labour of destroying their own classical temples.
The Ways of Abrahamism
The son-hood of Christ turned out to be an effective weapon. As a
result, after substantial conversion to Christianity got realized, smelling the value of this new religious asset, upcoming Christian leaders used
the articulation of the nature of this sun-hood as their weapon of in-fighting. On a council in Ephesus in 449, the bishop of Constantinople, later Saint, Flavian, got beaten to death at the altar by supporters of
Dioscorus, the patriarch of
Alexandria who thought he could surpass everything thus far by claiming that Jesus was God himself.
But neither after that could the gentlemen agree. One council later (Chalcedon),
the West adopted the holy trinity, in which God, Jesus and de holy spirit are
not equal but form a unity together. Dioscorus held firm and founded his
muscular fellow named Nestorius, bisshop of Constantinople, who opined Jesus had
a human and a divine nature not in unity, could not accept defeat, got fired and
collected a sizeable herd in the Middle East, until deep down in Persia.
Just before these infights, in 348, a Constantinoplan half Goth, Ulfilas (Little Wolf in Gothic), got permission from the Emperor to go North as a Christian missionary. He left, designed the Gothic alphabet, had the Bible copied in Gothic languages and was astonishingly effective in spreading a tolerant Christian creed, a version of Arianism, in which Jesus is a human being like all earlier Jewish prophets (and like, later, Muhammad). Except some, like the Franks, who centuries later stepped straight in Chalcedonic Christianity, the Ulfilas mission converted most Germanic tribes.
When the later missionaries, like Willibrord and Boniface "converted" the hitherto tolerant Germans, this was only to replace Arianic Christianity by the intolerant, aggressive and violent Chalcedonic trinitarianism.
• Judaism (ethnic), prophets are pure humans
• Arianic Christianity (non-ethnic, Jesus monophysite human)
• 451 Christian triage:
Catholic trinitarianism (Chalcedon)
2. Coptic (Egyptian Orthodox, Jesus monophysite divine)
3. Nestorianism Bishop of Constantinople 428-31 founded Church of the East, followers until down in Sassanid Persia, School of Edessa (Jesus has two natures not in union).
600 Islam: no Abrahamic church-split, since the first followers converted straight from paganism (semites: Arabic Bedouins). Muhammad simply claimed to be the next human prophet after Jesus, initially prayers were directed to Jerusalem, in anticipation of the Jews and Christians joining the new movement. In 624 Islamic prayers in disappointment redirected to Mekka. In 632, after Muhammad's death, followers went straight on the battle field without taking time to design a doctrinal disagreement, and never filled that gap. Hence Sunni and Shia's doctrinal difference is about the line of leader-succession only.
Sunni (clerics tend to be more part of state control) rrecognize
Bakr as the first
2. Shia (clerics traditionally more independent) where "followers", "faction", or "party" of Muhammad's son-in-law and cousin Ali, whom the Shia believe to be Muhammad's successor in the Caliphate
• 1054: split between Greek and Roman Chalcedon (issues: whether leavened or unleavened bread should be used in the Eucharist, the Pope's claim to universal jurisdiction, the place of Constantinople in relation to the pentarchy, Roman "filioque", enforcement of clerical celibacy, the limitation of the right of confirmation to the bishop)
•6th century, Roman Chalcedon further splits into Roman Catholic, Lutheran and Calvinist. From these three groups further splinters keep breaking.
... helping Satan burning heretics ...
Initially (7th century) Mohammed thought of himself as a
prophet of Abrahamic religion and expected to be recognized by all, even insisting the prayers should be directed to Jerusalem.
He failed to see how much he had Arabized the doctrine, from saving Bedouin desert
water by cancelling baptizing to easing the demand to convert others: there should, he held, be
no pressure on conversion of outsiders. Intolerable tolerance in Christian eyes. Finally on January 28, 624 CE, he gave up
the Jews and the Christians.
Islamic prayer got redirected to Mecca. Once the Arabs spread out to conquer
their vast empire, Jews, Christians and others were left in peace, albeit
registered in the high tax tariff. Arabs acquired keen interest in philosophy
and started to collect what Christians had
not destroyed of the classical literature. Christians again succeeded in
destroying some of that.
Meanwhile the Arabs established an empire reaching from Spain to the modern West-border of India. Their reputation of peaceful extorters made towns let them in without useless fights, so this Arab conquest largely was touristic travel at the cost of the hosting countries. Western Europe was savage and poor, so not worth conquering, which left Christianity there largely unenlightened by Arab culture and learning, except, but only 6 centuries later, for a stir resulting from traveling scholars bringing unknown manuscripts of Aristotle from Arab Cordoba to Paris. Only after the great plague of the 13th century slowly a European cultural sophistication set in and by the end of the 17th century Christianity had gradually lost ground in the European intellectual elite, losing the competition with the scientific world view to degenerate into a tool to control and discipline the lower classes. Europe gained dominance for highly un-Christian reasons: its increasingly scientifically enhanced techniques of production, transport and warfare, alien to Christian religion since not divinely revealed in the Bible or any other historic source. And historic sources are the sole wisdom of the traditional Christian believer, making his mind totally unable to comprehend a Galileo, a Mercator, a Leeuwenhoek. The Western doctrine of Christianity grew more complex, and got infested with open ends and inconsistencies by the sheer necessity to cede more and more to the scientific discoveries showing the Bible wrong, or marginalize itself. In Islam, behind closed doors in the mosques, unbeliever gadgets like mp3-players and wireless speakers now noise-pollute the streets of the righteous. Neither kalashnikovs not ultra-centrifuges are found in the Holy Scriptures, nor the Abrahamic smart phone clips of the Sunni killing the Shia or the reverse, now daily updated on internet.
How could this happen? French revolutionaries and Soviets tried to abolish Abrahamic religions. To no avail. To restore order, Napoleon opted for Catholicism and jailed the pope of Rome. Putin went Russian Orthodox with a sharp knife on the throat of the patriarch. USA government leaders keep making sure they put a good load of God in their speeches and on their printed currency.
All over the world, Christianity and Islam are rampant. In well organized countries, insight and organization has developed to manage Abrahamic religion under the lower classes by means of palliative education and firm control of their preachers. But in unstable countries, Abrahamic clerics can still feast by running their flocks bonkers.
How could this happen? How can this unlikely fire still burn? I learned again from making this story but am still amazed and feel I run short of explanation. Might it be the human population's genetic variation in human cortex architecture in the last millennia? For the movement's operations typically require loads - for many die young - of simple minds, some slightly - but not too much - better brains. More intelligence would surely smother it.
Or is it a real miracle? Or is it? God Himself sent them the message, they say. Is it because they're right after all?