"The origins of religion and the afterlife"
An essay donated by Allan W. Janssen
This is an excerpt from the book "The Plain Truth About God-101" by
Allan W Janssen. You can purchase the book in PDF format at:
There is a feeling of purpose that seems to pervade all of creation. It is
a feeling of connection that is felt by everyone who has ever lived. It is
a feeling that will continue to carry us down through the ages and is a need
that is inherent in all humanity.
It is the basis of all our religious beliefs and superstitions. After all,
humanity has always had a sense of wonder and awe about the many dangers,
and the occasional joys, of the daily struggle to survive.
Since our ancestors first huddled together around a fire so many hundreds of
thousands of years ago, we collectively tried to protect ourselves against
the dangers and terrors of the world. Then, with the advent of a rudimentary
language, blind acceptance of our lot in life gradually gave way to a
questioning of the meaning to all of the suffering that fell upon us.
With the gift of awareness however, also came the curse of knowledge. The
knowledge of our own fate! It helped to relieve the pain of daily existence
by assuming the evils and misfortunes that befell us were caused by some
deed, action or thought that was not "right or good."
By taking the responsibility for life's hardships from our own shoulders and
putting it onto some Higher Power, humanity's misfortunes became easier to
"It's not our fault." became the haunting cry of humanity that echoed down
through the millennia!
The concept of a Supreme Being, whose pleasure / displeasure could influence
how life treated us, was a thought that gradually evolved over time.
When we had a feeling that we were being punished for some presumed misdeed,
like a small child that was being admonished, we could make it right again
with the proper thought or attitude!
If this great God, or many gods for that matter, could be appeased, then it
put us into a position where we finally had some measure of control over the
worst that life could throw at us.
Sure life was tough. Our fate hinged on the whim of a Deity we could never
really know or understand. If we followed some simple rules and kept our
nose clean, then we would at least have some hope that the human condition
would eventually improve.
If not in this life, then certainly in the next.
Naturally, our lot in life usually stayed the same, or if anything, got even
In the natural order of things events usually seemed to go from bad to
worse. If, despite the constant homage and sacrifices made to the great
spirits, things in general did not improve then a crisis in confidence would
develop. This meant some other means of comfort was required.
This is where early man developed one of the most remarkable and insightful
theories about how the world works. If things did not get any better in the
here and now, then it was obviously a "test." A test meant to prepare us
for a reward at some time after this "vale of tears" was lifted.
It was by this time understood that our lot in life was suffering. By
showing how well we could suffer and still carry on we showed the Gods our
courage, tenacity, --- and above all, our Faith!
As everyone soon realized this bravado did not do us much good in the
present life. However, our willingness to suffer for a higher cause was all
that was required of us to gain the promise of reward at some time in the
"Voila," the afterlife was born.
Copyright © by Allan W. Janssen
Originally posted: 2006-JUN-08
Latest update: 2006-JUN-09
Author: B.A. Robinson