Hi – I’m new to the site but not to the ideas… I’m a writer and have been doing a lot of research into the history of religion, particularly the “Abrahamic” faiths. I’ve also been looking into the history of story-telling, and myths (especially the "Monomyth"). I think I’m close to putting two and two together, but as I work alone most of the time, it would be nice to hear what others think about these things, and hopefully to generate some discussion that will help me form a clearer view.
What interests me more that facts, figures, dates and historical characters is the “WHYs” and “HOWs” in all of this. WHY do people “need” religion? HOW did religion get to be what it is today?
My personal view, based on the evidence I’ve found and tried to verify at source as far as possible, is that neither Jesus nor Muhammad existed, at least not in the personifications we have come to know. Christianity only got going decades after when Jesus was supposed to have lived. With Islam, it took at least a hundred years before the first mentions of a man called Muhammad, and a book called the Qur’an. It’s highly unlikely that Mecca existed before the 8th or 9th centuries.
But what’s undeniable is that these religions carry the same timeless messages that have endured over time (many thousands of years), even if their roots and the messages themselves have become obscured and distorted. One of my main sources of reference has been Joseph Campbell’s “The Hero with a Thousand Faces”. Has anyone read this? In a nutshell, it shows how stories, and religions, are all based on a collective universal need to have codes by which to live our lives, and that most - if not all - religions, carry the same message if one looks between the lines.
So if Christianity and Islam are simply mythic stories, and their “prophets” were not real people, and the messages didn’t come from them directly, how did the religions get started, and why? And who by?
Does anyone have any thoughts on this to start with?