By Matthew Kneale
As our goals and nightmares have replaced over the millennia, so have our ideals. The gods we created have advanced and mutated with us via a story fraught with human sacrifice, political upheaval and bloody wars.
Belief used to be man's so much epic exertions of invention. it's been our closest better half, and has mankind around the continents and during history.
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Extra info for An Atheist's History of Belief: Understanding Our Most Extraordinary Invention
This time only the elite was removed, and the poor majority was left alone. How did the Judaean exiles react to this catastrophe? Did they angrily turn against their special god, Yahweh, for having failed to protect them? As we will see, throughout history people have often responded to poor treatment by their gods not with resentment, as one might expect, but rather with increased devotion. They have blamed themselves for not having pleased their gods and tried to do better. So it was with the Jewish exiles.
Around 725 the Assyrians, thoroughly fed up with Israelite disrespect, invaded the kingdom and, three years later, King Sargon II deported most of its population. Some ended up in the Assyrian army as chariot drivers, a role in which Israelites were famously skilful. Most ended up in southern Mesopotamia. Though the Israelites’ fate was abundantly clear, remembrance of it soon became hazy, and they became immortalised as the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel, whose whereabouts became, two thousand years later, the subject of endless curiosity: Spanish explorers identified them as the indigenous peoples of the Americas, and in the later nineteenth century an eccentric British cult, the British Israelites, insisted they were the British themselves.
In essence, Hosea offered them a kind of national supernatural protection policy. Jews had long believed that Yahweh looked after them, but not them alone. Foreigners were also entitled to seek Yahweh’s help, if they took the trouble to worship him, just as Jews could worship other gods. Now, under Hosea’s new proposals, Yahweh became a purely Jewish god. If Jews honoured him by worshipping nobody else, he in turn would devote his full attention to their protection. It was very much a conditional protection, however.
An Atheist's History of Belief: Understanding Our Most Extraordinary Invention by Matthew Kneale