, , ,

From an astronomical point of view, about a half a billion years after the Big Bang, there was a dark era when hydrogen atoms had condensed from an incandescent plasma and cooled, but they had not yet been pulled together by their mutual gravity to form radiant stars. There were small amounts of helium, tiny amounts of lithium and perhaps a few independent atoms of other elements. Possibly there were not enough of these now common elements existing in the entire universe to make a single human being. Therefore, at that time it was impossible for any intelligence to even think about the God concept. Hydrogen doesn’t think.

It wasn’t until stars had evolved through several generations that the star stuff that makes up human beings was available to create brains and thinking creatures. By about five billion years ago, stars had created the stuff of planets like our Earth, and at least this one we live on produced life. It doesn’t appear to have taken long for simple self-reproductive life forms to appear once our planet had cooled to where there were oceans of liquid water. But it did take a couple of billion years to evolve multicelled life forms and then half a billion years more for organized multicelled beings to evolve into humans with the powers of speech.

Animals needed to evolve the mental and physical capacity to speak before a word like God could be spoken in any language. But we humans needed to develop more than single nouns, like God, before we could begin thinking about what that word might mean. To think we needed many more words and a complete syntax for putting those words into sentences and those together into meaningful stories. When we finally developed a modern language we could then talk about the unique capacities and behaviors in the things we find in the world around us.

We could then claim that birds have unique spirits, so do trees, and rocks, and clouds, and rivers and humans, and me too. I feel things and think about things and the people I talk with will claim they can feel and think too. I can ask them to do things for me, and they do them, so I believe that they really do think.

In the evenings some people make up stories about how things work and why they behave as they do. They make up stories about where the stories came from and where people came from, and the animals, and the plants, and the rivers, and stars. But where did it all come from? Over many tellings of stories by the elders of a community the children believe it is the truth. “Yes, Virginia there is a Santa Claus” is still told to gullible children every Christmas season.

Lying to children sets them up for a future belief in superstitious nonsense.