26. The rise of monotheism


Is machismo the reason that monotheistic religions are so hostile towards women?? For an answer, we need to look at the beginnings of monotheism.

Monotheism is a product of the Late Iron Age, when ever more AGR-villages, originally peaceful and egalitarian, were subdued and enslaved and became part of bigger realms of warlords who had become to godlike emperors. Big Men and their guards kept harems of women, a young man could only get a young woman for himself after proof of real manhood: being killer of enemies. In short: monotheism arose in a world of horse-mounted warrior bands of dynamic young males who raided and robbed unarmed peasant villagers under the banner of their war god.

Originally, in the pantheon of the empires of the Iron Age, these war gods were just lower gods under the Upper god, the heir of the Big Ancestor figure in the ancestral creation stories.

Zoroastrianism is one of the first forms of monotheism. Originated in the frustration of the tribal priests by the skewed offering of the young warriors to only the war gods. The loss of their ancestral morality inspired Zarathustra (and presumably other priests, such as Melchisedek, priest of El Elyon, ‘the Highest God’) to create new rituals and offerings to the ancestral Big Ancestor, the Creator of their tribal world.

Around 800 BC, also Zarathustra saw with grief the decline of the old tribal morality. Zarathustra preached the Supreme god Ahura Mazda (‘big lord’), who had to be adored in the pureness of the temple’s fire, and who should be served by noble behavior: thinking good things, saying good words and doing good deeds.

17th century representation of the main elements of Zoroastrian belief

In the following centuries this new belief, Zoroastrianism, got many followers in Mesopotamia. It posed the belief in one God, The Lord, who was not worshipped in the form of a physical statue. Central in this belief was a dualistic tendency: a continuous struggle between good and evil, as represented by good and bad behavior, by angels and devils, by heaven and hell. It also assumed an ‘end of times’ and a ‘last judgment’. It promised a Messiah, a resurrection, and paradise in a hereafter. For the fire rituals in its temples, it prescribed extensive purity. In short, it was a totally new and modern belief for its time. In comparison with other contemporary religions, Zoroastrianism was more women-friendly and tolerant against other religions.

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Used abbreviations

GHs: gatherers/hunters (the phase from 2 million years ago to 10.000 years ago)

AGRs: agriculturers (the phase from 10.000 years ago till now)

NT(s)Neanderthal people

MSA(s): Middle Stone Age people (African NTs)

AMH(s): Anatomical Modern Humans (H sapiens people), like we are

(m)ya: (million) years ago

ANBOs: Ancestor Bonobos (ape-men), our earliest human ancestors

Paleos: all scientists that are important for our story.