I watched a fascinating documentary yesterday on the GÖBEKLI TEPE archaeological site in Turkey. This is a 12000 year old temple complex which is far more advanced in design, art and technology than anyone had previously believed possible for a hunter gather society. The site is immense, covering at least 25 acres. Within the site are a series of round temples (between 30 and 100 feet wide) with six foot high walls. Within the walls and standing alone in the centre of the circles are megaliths, nine feet in height. On the top of the megaliths are placed massive stone lintel type blocks. The megaliths have surface carving that indicate that they are meant to represent the bodies of people and there are also exceptionally fine carvings of animals standing out from the megaliths.

It seems certain that when the temples were built there was no agriculture, but the demands of running the complex led to the invention of agriculture and the building of cities. This completely turns the previously accepted chronology of human cultural development on it's head. Previously, it had been assumed that the discovery of agriculture led to the building of cities and the invention of religion. Göbekli Tepe shows that religion came first. That agriculture, civilisation, technology, writing and science came about because man first believed.

Oh dear, Mr Dawkins. It would appear that it is not just your enormous wealth that is the direct result of the religious practices of the faithful over the millennia. Your entire career, all the science that you worship as your deity, would not exist exist if it wasn't for us god-botherers.

And there is a serious side to this. If our culture came from the religious tendency of our race, what happens when some fool kills religion? In my opinion it will be "goodbye culture." And we have proof of this. The only great art that came out of the atheistic, communist states during the 20th. Century was produced by artists who, usually secretly, believed the regimes to be stifling of all true creativity because of their mechanistic view of humankind.

You don't have to believe in the gods. But unless you want to go back to gathering berries and roots, it might be a very good idea to believe in the benefit to society that believing in the gods can give rise to.


THE EGG CAME FIRST — 11 Comments

  1. So it doesn’t matter if it’s true or not?
    That’s saying something about religion that Dawkins and Hitchens usually tried not to say, that it was just something people invented and found useful and were too afraid to let go of in fear of what might happen.
    “Don’t bother about truth-just do these ceremonies because we think it’s useful.” Pitiful.

  2. Of course, we could spend our time cyber-stalking, making the same half-baked arguments and purposeful “misunderstanding-the-argument” that have never worked in the hope they’ll work this time – or worse, the knowledge they won’t work and we’re just having a tantrum and taking up and wasting other peoples’ valuable time and bandwidth in an entirely parasitic way that’s unconcerned with anything but personal gratification.

    That’s much more productive.

  3. It has always been true that current science owes its inspiration to the religious beliefs of scientists in the medieval and early modern period – Newtonian physics in particular, but cf. Roger Bacon. I don’t know whether you’ve ever read Pierre Duhem’s Le Systeme du Monde, which covers that in more detail (it’s a long old read though)!

    The odd thing about Dawkins is that unlike most scientists, he is a bit reluctant to acknowledge this debt. He seems to be as reluctant to credit anything good to religion as I am to credit integrity or ability to the officials of the Student Loan Company, although in his case I hope he has less reason for his reluctance.

  4. Dawkins is particularly keen on pinning much of violence of the world on religions and coming to the conclusion that religion is a bad thing. Even if his maths were correct (which they most certainly are not) his conclusion is somewhat undermined if it proves to be true that religion was necessary for the cultural and intellectual development of modern humans.

    However, the idea that religion may have given rise to Richard Dawkins may indicate that religion is a totally bad thing after all.

  5. Erp has not been evolving? I find that an interesting idea.

    I confess that I have no idea what Mark typed. Can someone translate? Mark if you can be that obscure, you have a chance to become archbishop of Canterbury.

    This looks like a fascinating site and it is likely going to change a lot of how we think of our ancestors.


  6. One thing that it should do is bring the proponents of end of ice age civilisation out of exile and perhaps more work will be done on the ancient submerged cities of the Indian sub-continent.

  7. I was snarking at a comment made by the ubiquitous anonymous, Jim. He/she/it seems to think that everything must have utilitarian purpose – except, of course, him/her/itself.

    . . you have a chance to become archbishop of Canterbury.

    No. I believe in God, see?

  8. Previously, it had been assumed that the discovery of agriculture led to the building of cities and the invention of religion.

    Hmmm, I’ve never heard that agriculture invented religion. Even Neanderthals had some kind of Afterlife belief-system, so religion clearly predates agriculture.

    But agriculture as inventors of cities—and ominously, wealth (the whole “I will build Bigger Barns!” thang)—is the Conventional Wisdom.

    I look forward to seeing the research on GÖBEKLI TEPE.