5-COUNCIL OF NICAEA

Around 20 thousand years ago, hominids learned to grow things and became sedentary. 5 thousand years ago, writing started, and those who mastered the art were considered superior beings, and wanting to improve the human condition, they started putting religion to paper. Some 1700 years ago, as the Roman Empire was on the verge of collapsing, a few wise men decided to invent and create the most successful religion the world has ever seen. The New Testament, the document that served as a basis for this religion, created a Christ that was a poor copy of one Apollonius of Tyana.

Apollonius was born at the start of the Common Era (CE) and lived to be around 100. Very early on in life he opted for continence and abstinence, as opposed to pleasure and gratification, as a way of achieving enlightenment and freeing his spirit. He followed the teachings of Pythagoras, great philosopher, mathematician, ascetic and vegetarian, born in 569 BCE. Later Apollonius travelled and studied far and wide, including India, in order to further his knowledge. He was an avowed philosopher, social leader, moral teacher, religious reformer and healer, and from one end of the Roman empire to the other, he was honored by all, from slave to emperor. Many referred to him as ‘the master’ or the ‘savior’, for he healed the body as well as the soul.

After travelling to India where he was greatly influenced by Krishna, he became a naturopathic healer. He healed by ‘the laying of hands’, and by the use of hydrotherapy. The idea of baptism likely originated when he decided to clean the bodies of the poor wretches who came to consult him. He would rinse out their colon in order to rid them of worms, clean their whole bodies, insist on their getting a lot of clean air and sunlight, and above all, strongly urge them not to consume anything that Mother Earth did not directly produce. He was a strict vegetarian who did not drink wine and respected the life of animals as much as that of humans.

In India he was introduced to the doctrines of Krishna, and the doctrines of Pythagoras and Krishna became one in his mind. In Judea and Egypt, he preached to the Nazarenes and the Therapeuts, and converted many. The Nazarenes and Therapeuts were also known as Essenes, individuals who belonged to a Jewish sect that had split off from the main body of Judaism. The Nazarenes lived near the Dead Sea and are the presumed authors of the Dead Sea Scrolls, while the Therapeuts lived near Alexandria where they were known as healers. Upon his return from India, Apollonius, already a famous teacher of moral, became known as a great healer, and he was no doubt the one responsible for spreading the Essene doctrine throughout the Roman Empire. Though not Jewish, he became known as an Essene, and converted many ‘new’ Jews, Romans and others, to his way of thinking. The Essenes were soon seen as a threat to the foundering Roman religion.

In 325CE, faced with an Empire on life support, Emperor Constantine had an idea. Constantine had been made Augustus of the Western Roman Empire in 313 CE. A previous Emperor, Diocletian, had split the Empire into three parts in order to better rule, but it hadn’t helped, for thereafter the Empire had been torn apart by civil war more than ever. Constantine lost no time in defeating and killing Emperors Maxentius and Licinius, in order to become sole ruler. Wanting to establish peace within the Empire before leaving for Byzantium to the east, Constantine proceeded to replace an ineffective impersonal Roman religion with the very popular and widespread Essene religion based on the teachings of Apollonius. Instead of massacring the Essenes like Diocletian had done, he decided to use them. He would rule through a religious network instead of a military one. He would make the Essene religion the official state religion, and have bishops infiltrate the existing Roman Empire infrastructure. In 325 CE, he convened the Council of Nicaea.

Constantine may be revered as a saint by the Greek Christian Church, and somewhat so by the Latin Christian Church which doesn’t quite know what to think of him, but regardless, he was a sanguinary. The Roman Church claims he was baptized on his deathbed, but that is questionable and irrelevant. Constantine was a brutal man who butchered his enemies and executed his own wife and son. It’s clear that whatever this cruel man did was seeped in raw ambition.

As he convened the Council of Nicaea, Constantine must have insisted on having a few changes made to the about-to-be-created state religion. Apollonius, an Essene who had existed more than three hundred years before, was the acknowledged messiah, a holy man who had not only preached peace and goodwill among men, but also abstinence and respect for all living things. Understandably, a religion that condemned meat eating, wine drinking, lasciviousness and profit making, was out of the question. If it was to be declared the official state religion, it needed a few nips and tucks; it needed to be more in tune with Roman reality.

As it turned out, the revamped messiah not only drank wine and ate fish but was declared Son of God. The prelates kept inventing Christ by saying that he had been conceived by a virgin who had been visited by a holy spirit. All the scriptures that have come down to us were either created or adjusted at that time in order to give credence to the God-made-man concept. Contrary to Apollonius, the real messiah figure, the alleged messiah accomplished a lot of miracles, miracles that were never corroborated by any historian. No matter, presenting the new Christ as the Son of God was something the superstitious hominids would readily believe. It wasn’t much of a stretch for them to believe their Messiah was actually the Son of God who had been sent down on earth and made man in order to save them.

In pursuing their goal, the Church fathers were quite wise in keeping some existing myths. One such myth was a convoluted story where Adam and Eve, the first human couple, had been caught playing house in the Garden of Eden. The deed was so horrendous that God reacted violently and banned the couple and their descendants from the Garden of Eden for all time. Very odd behavior for a master creator who wanted to create a human race! Nonetheless, the Christian gurus’ stroke of genius was to have everybody believe that God changed his mind and sent his son down on earth to die on the cross in order to redeem humans from their ‘original sin’, a curse that was sending hominids straight to hell. From then on, if one wanted God to accept him into the Garden of Eden after death, all he had to do was to have that dreadful first sin washed away from his soul through baptism and to live according to the teachings of the revamped Christ. This transformed the lowly hominids into godlike creatures, and more importantly, they now knew where they came from, why they were here, and where they were going after death. They were relieved from the ‘original sin’, ‘existential sin’, or ‘sin of the flesh’, depending on one’s interpretation.

As for setting Christ’s birthday, it was rather easy. Because he was now considered the giver of eternal life, it was quite logical to have his birth coincide with the greatest event in the sun’s cycle. What happens on the 25th of December is a phenomenon that’s unique and unchanging in the northern hemisphere; the sun stops dropping off the horizon and can be observed reversing itself. Since the increased amount of sunlight is tantamount to a promise of new life, many ancient gods are said to have been born on this day. And since the Romans were used to celebrating Sol Invictus, why not continue the tradition and celebrate Christ’s birth instead?

Christ’s birth year was another matter. The prelates wanted to make it coincide as much as possible with the birth of Apollonius in order to make the imposture credible. So, in Roman Era 1279 (525 CE), a monk called Dionysius Exiguus introduced the Anno Domini calendar. Since the Easter calendar used during the Roman Era was a calendar referring to emperor years, Dionysius said it was intolerable to continually refer to Diocletian, the Emperor who had persecuted and massacred the Essenes, and he set about creating the Gregorian calendar. So, with imaginative arithmetic, he arrived at the conclusion that the Messiah was born in 753 of the Roman Era, and decided that January 1st of year 754 of the Roman Era would be known as January 1st of Year One of the Anno Domini Era (AD). It was much later, in 1582 CE that Pope Gregory, in spite of the dubious arithmetic used by Dionysius, made it official. Ever since, when dating historical events, the whole world uses BC or AD, acronyms that are tied to the birth of Jesus of Nazareth, a fabricated messiah. That’s why some people today prefer to use the acronym CE (Common Era).

As for Christ’s birth place, it was determined when Emperor Constantine stopped in Palestine with his mother Helena on his way to Byzantine. Helena was the one who led the way in having Christian holy sites built in Palestine. Helena was the one who suggested Christ had been born in Bethlehem where she had a church built. In the meantime, Constantine had workers excavate the area where the demolished temple of Jupiter Capitolinus had been in Jerusalem. When the workers allegedly discovered the remains of the tomb that was reported to be that of Christ, Constantine had a new shrine built on the spot, and it still stands today as the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. The temple of Venus had also been demolished, thereby exposing the site where Christ was allegedly crucified. Emperor Constantine had arrived at this conclusion after ordering the Bishop of Jerusalem to make a search for the cross which produced a few pieces of wood found in a cistern. Constantine and his mother may have had the holy places built for their own reasons, but Jews and Muslims have never quite agreed with the accuracy of their geographical positioning.

The Council of Nicaea was indeed a momentous event in our history. Because the Christian Church was now the official Roman religion, it grew exponentially, and went about converting the Visigoths, Ostrogoths, Burgundians, and Vandals, the Arian ‘barbarians’, with the help of Clovis, the Frankish warlord. After being baptized in Reims in 496 CE, Clovis had become the first of many absolute kings of divine right, and he had started doing his godly chores by changing the minds of those who believed Christ was a prophet and not the Son of God. In enforcing the Nicene Creed untold numbers of Essenes, or barbarians as we are taught, were accordingly slaughtered.

Having gotten rid of all opposition, the growth of the new religion knew no bounds, and the church made good use of the Roman Empire infrastructure, especially in the Latin half. Having a church and a holy man in every small town fostered a feeling of solidarity and the poor hominids felt secure for the first time in all of their existence. To the east, in the Greek half, it was another matter. The Greek Church refused the authority of the Latin Pope and divided up in parts controlled by separate Patriarchs. And because it also had to face the pressures of the Muslim world, the Greek Church never attained the power and influence of the Latin Church.

The Christian Church very quickly became a considerable financial power. After Charlemagne was crowned Emperor by Pope Theo III in Reims, France, in 800 CE, tithing throughout Europe took on a new dimension. Because 10% of everybody’s revenue represented mindboggling amounts, and because many Christians bequeathed their estates to the Church in order to ensure their passage to heaven after their demise, the Church owned as much as one third of all the wealth and property in Europe.

But no matter how we look at it, the enormous success of the Christian Church was also due to just plain psychology. When humans broke the time barrier, they were not only scared out of their wits upon becoming aware of their mortality, but they were also deeply ashamed of having to behave like animals, especially with regards to fornication. 3 million years later, Judaism, the original branch of monotheism, found ways to sooth both concerns. The Adam and Eve story helped make fornication acceptable by referring to it as the original sin, and that was followed by the 10 Commandments that told the faithful what they had to do in order to go to heaven. The Church Fathers were telling the faithful that God had sent His son on earth to show them that He cared, and that He had chosen them as His people. Morphing Apollonius, a mere mortal, into Christ, the Son of God, was a very astute move, for it made heaven accessible. Later, at the Council of Trent in 1545 CE, when the Church Fathers made confession a sacrament, the success of Christianity was assured. The local priest figure was thereafter perceived as being in direct contact with God and as the one who could heal the penitent’s soul by forgiving his sins in His name.

4-GREED AND SEXUALITY

When hominids became intelligent, their natural disposition towards envy, greed, and lust took on a new dimension. Natural selection being thrashed, they started physically overpowering the females, for it didn’t take them long to figure out that the most accessible and mind-boggling pleasures were those relating to fornication. Up till then, the right to pass on genes had been reserved to the alpha who had to constantly fight the other males for that privilege. However, the alpha never paid much attention to the female unless she was in heat at which time he was made aware of her by the characteristic odor she exuded. This, however, was no longer the case, and it left the door wide open for the now intelligent lower order males.

In a blink of an eye, many lower order males became aspiring alphas, for they had the wherewithal to outwit the traditional alpha in their effort to get a female and experience the intense pleasures of copulation. Realizing that they didn’t have to wait for the entrancing odors given off by the female in heat in order to satisfy their urge, hominids became very focused on ‘diddling’, and it caused a lot of violence and cruelty within the group. Males were ready to move heaven and earth in order to experience the wondrous sensations fornication procured them. They fought, cheated, lied, and were even disposed to maim and kill in order to satisfy the urges that the female triggered in them.

Unfortunately for the females, using his intelligence instead of his nose in order to find a partner meant the male was inclined to discriminate. Up till then, all the females had had the services of the best male available, the alpha, but now, the lower ranking males found ways to party as well, and that changed the order of things. Not only did the males start forcing themselves upon the females, but they became selective. They figured out that if they wanted to increase their chances at having a healthy offspring, it was not only better to seek out a young female with generous hips, but if a female had big breasts, a well-proportioned body, and harmonious facial features, she was more apt to be nurturing, healthy, and resourceful.

In the millennia that followed, the gene pool deteriorated, sexually transmitted diseases increased and fewer healthy embryos made it to term. Mother Nature helped the situation by transforming the females’ estrus cycle into a menstrual cycle. This meant human females were now reproductive year-round and were receptive to males on an ongoing basis. It increased their chances of getting pregnant, the sexually transmitted disease rate dropped, the embryos were better protected and there were more and healthier babies.

However, when alphas had been the only ones to pass on their genes, the specie had remained hardy, but now that every Tom, Dick, and Harry were accessing every Sue, Jane, and Mary, the quality of the breeding stock dropped dramatically. The equivalent of handsome, young, big-breasted females and handsome, tall, muscular males was diminishing, while that of individuals with inadequacies and shortcomings was increasing. And since hominids were now intelligent, they weren’t only conscious of where they stood on the social ladder, but they also knew if they’d been short-changed genetically. Naturally, they started compensating for their shortcomings. Lying, cheating, posturing, and bringing others down to their level as a way of making themselves feel adequate was the order of the day. They found it harder and harder to admit to being wrong or ignorant, and they were even prepared to commit cruel and dastardly deeds to prove they were as good as anybody else. Hominids became unnatural and fragile animals, and it engendered a lot of ugliness in them.

Though denaturalized, hominids were truly ingenious monkeys, and they knew that they couldn’t afford to alienate the group members. They were dependent on the group, and they knew it was in their best interest to have the others think highly of them. They were torn between their uncontrollable urge to satisfy their desires and their need to be liked. Regardless, they were becoming hard to handle, and physical force alone could no longer keep them in line and maintain cohesion within the group. Many individuals were aware of the advantages that altruism and cooperation procured, but there were too many who didn’t.

As it became obvious that hominids’ disposition with regards to greed and lust was making cohesion within the group impossible, the elders had to find ways to make everyday life bearable. Through stories and myths, they promoted the notion of omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient beings who could inflict the worse punishments on those who didn’t behave as expected. At night, hominids were constantly reminded of these threats as they sat around the communal fire listening to the tall tales. They saw the evil red eyes piercing through the thick surrounding blanket of darkness, and as they listened to the howls of monsters that prowled the night, they trembled. The precursor of the bad mean god who could condemn one to the consuming fires of hell for eternity was being created. But official man-made religion as we know it would have to wait for the written world which developed some five thousand years ago.

 

 

3-TIME BARRIER

When scientists tell us that all life on Earth evolved from amino acids and the like, building blocks of life brewed in the primeval soup of life at the dawn of time, we sort of believe them, and when they tell us that Darwin’s theory of evolution is irrefutable, we sort of believe them, but when they tell us we’re monkeys, that’s when we get our backs up. If we’re intelligent, it’s because God made us that way, and that’s all there is to it.

Nonetheless, it gets harder and harder to refute the evidence that our ancestors had started prancing around on two feet as recently as 7 million years ago. As we became bipedal, and with the Sahara pump working away, we prospered in the African Rift Valleys where environmental conditions were ideal. We spent a lot of time in the water in order to protect ourselves from predators and lost most of our hair in the process. However, we found it impossible to compete with the big predators roaming the grasslands, and we certainly weren’t able to get at the carcasses until they had finished with them. To be sure, we were at the bottom of the totem pole when it came to living off the grasslands. Nonetheless, in time, we got our courage up and invested the killing fields in order to glean a few morsels from the leftovers, and we obviously found nothing but bones. Understandably, we didn’t know what to do with them, but since we were last on the scene and had all the time in the world to experiment, we eventually cracked one open. The precious bone marrow we found was avidly consumed, and when added to the rich and plentiful sea food already at our disposition in the shallow waters, we evolved in a spectacular way. By spending less time foraging for food, we had more time to ‘think’.

Since our brain was rapidly increasing in size along with the rest of our body, there was outward pressure on the cranium, and, in time, our facial features slowly morphed into what they are today. As the neocortex grew exponentially and grafted itself upon our reptilian and limbic brains, it caused an explosion of cerebral activity, and we became the thinking, talking, problem-solving emotional beings we are today.

As of that moment, we traveled in an existential world different from the other primates. But the line that forever set us apart from our wild cousins was drawn in the sand when we grasped the notion of death. After witnessing the death of a loved one, not grasping why our parent or companion was no longer communicating with us, or why his or her body was decomposing, we were probably overcome with deep emotional distress. Our feelings and our need to understand surely made something snap in our brain. That was the day we broke the time barrier, the day we realized that we too would die.

Breaking the time barrier meant we were now intelligent. We could use past experience to shape future events. As a simple ape frozen in the present, we had not known the anguish that the notion of death produces. Before, death had just been a momentary interruption in time, a sad happening devoid of meaning, and one that was not anticipated. But now, having broken the time barrier, not only did we know that we would die, but we also knew what could cause our death, and we were scared out of our wits. We saw dangers that threatened our life every which way we turned. We no longer trusted our instincts and our insecurity made us very aggressive. An everyday occurrence became a deadly threat, and fear overcame us. The forest became a scary place and darkness was unbearable. We could no longer stand the aquatic environment either, for we imagined the most terrible creatures lurking beneath the surface.

We managed to survive by taking refuge in caves and grabbing unto the (coat) tails of any outstanding individual who seemed to have answers. Through trial and error, we discovered how to make a fire and keep it going. Thereafter, we not only could warm ourselves, but we could keep the predators at bay. We learned to make weapons, and to hunt and live in groups, and our confidence grew. Nonetheless, it was hard to accept that we were animals and behaved like animals, and that our life would someday end.