By Matthew Kneale

ISBN-10: 1619024691

ISBN-13: 9781619024694

What first brought on prehistoric guy, sheltering within the shadows of deep caves, to name upon the area of the spirits? And why has trust thrived considering, shaping millions of generations of shamans, pharaohs, Aztec clergymen and Mayan rulers, Jews, Buddhists, Christians, Nazis, and Scientologists?

As our desires 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 used to be man's such a lot epic exertions of invention. it's been our closest better half, and has mankind around the continents and during history.

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Extra resources for An Atheist's History of Belief: Understanding Our Most Extraordinary Invention

Sample text

The Babylon deportees had come home and the temple to Yahweh had been rebuilt. History, though, is poor at happy endings. Wait long enough and new trouble will generally come along. So it was with the Jews. Thanks to the efforts of Alexander the Great in the 330s and 320s BC, the Persian authorities who ruled Palestine were replaced by a Macedonian dynasty – the Seleucids – and under their rule something rather unexpected happened. A portion of the Jewish elite, which had been so devoted to Yahweh, began to show remarkable disloyalty.

The answer, again, is no. Within a few years even Judah’s kings had slipped back to their comfortable old polytheistic ways. Their minds would only be changed by a new disaster. Though the Assyrian Empire had imploded by this time, it was quickly replaced by a southern Mesopotamian power, Babylonia, which, in terms of military ruthlessness, proved barely distinguishable from its predecessor. In 598 BC Judah was invaded by a Babylonian army under King Nebuchadnezzar. Judah’s ruler was deported to Babylonia together with several thousand members of his elite, where they doubtless encountered descendants of the Israelites deported over a century earlier.

What made this piece of writing so enduring? 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.

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

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