Mystery Babylon and myths of Genesis as historical events
If anyone tells me that religion, and especially the Judeo-Christian one, was regretfully relegated to the backseat of our lives in modern secular society, I just facepalm. After all, more than half of current world population (56.2 %) openly identifies themselves as adherents of what we call Abrahamic tradition. The very tradition that gave us Moses and his Pentateuch. Even if one does not subscribe to all five books as a whole, Genesis and its stories about the creation, ensuing fall of mankind, or the flood are known by literally everyone and shape (not only Western) civilization as such.
If you consider, for example, that the most widespread civil calendar and de facto international standard is the Gregorian calendar, no matter how you look at it, Pentateuch, and Genesis particularly, is the most influential piece of literature (and subsequently line of thought) there is today.
Let us unpack how the myths depicted there map with actual history which may allow us to see what we actually subscribe to. And yes, I mean everyone.
The whole Biblical story begins simply with God creating the physical Universe, then Earth with seas, subsequently all kinds of plants and animals, and finally human beings.
Science has currently no definitive answers where Universe came from, but the most widely accepted theory of Big Bang correlates nicely with what is recorded in Genesis. That is, a currently unknown cause or process specialized itself into space, natural forces, and matter which are all just various kinds of interacting fields that give rise to Universe as we know it. In this cosmos, subsequently, our planet Earth emerged, geologically developed roughly as described, and these circumstances then produced life which, indeed, naturally evolved in the sequence very broadly depicted in the Bible.
The story of Genesis then continues with pair of humans, Adam and Eve, living in garden of Eden in the presence of God, happy and naked (!) but forbidden to eat from the tree of knowledge of good and bad lest they die. They, of course, disobey and are driven out of Eden (geographically located between Euphrates and Tigris, i.e. Sumer) to toil on cursed ground in order to eat grasses of the field gained by hard work.
When we consult modern science we will find out that Homo sapiens is at least 210 thousand years old. We will also discover that our ancestors, even though they had a bit more body hair than we have today, were already what we could consider a “naked ape.” Yet, it wasn’t until approximately 70 thousand years ago that people started to wear clothes and at around that time also (undisputed) symbolic art (70–75 kya) and intentional burials (80–100 kya) appeared for the first time.
As it seems, it was the era when people became painfully aware of their mortality. Whatever happened in the heads of our predecessors, it set humans on a trajectory that inevitably led to the invention of agriculture, pastoralism, and transition to a sedentary way of life which occurred c. 12 thousand years ago.
So, the next part in Genesis describes the conflict between two sons, Cain and Abel, who were born to the couple expelled from Eden. According to the legend, Cain was a farmer while Abel was a pastoralist. And since Cain was jealous of his brother because God allegedly accepted Abel’s sheep offering but did not accept Cain’s grain offering, Cain, in a fit of rage, killed Abel.
We don’t need to travel in history to see brutal clashes between farmers and herders that happen in Africa to this very day. The conflict, however, does not revolve around offerings or gods but a more pragmatic issue — land. Due to climate and other factors, the fertile land is becoming scarce and one group wants to use it as fields while another sees it as pastures for their herds. It’s safe to assume that that was also the case in ancient Levant and this story thus can be viewed as the first precedent in Judaic law.
However, to explain what I mean, I must take a small detour.
When we turn back the Biblical clock to the very beginning, we suddenly land in the year 3761 BCE and that’s not a coincidence. This time period not only marks the approaching peak of “great desertification” of North Africa and Near East (4500–3000 BCE) which turned both areas from lush green savannas to deserts of today (and which hit Near East the strongest in two waves during 3700–3600 and 3300–3100 BCE), but also the time when Sumerian model of civilization, the only model that survived to this day and age and which is the direct ancestor of our current worldwide society, took a firm hold of the whole Levant and North Africa.
Now, while previous civilizations, represented by settlements such as Çatalhöyük in Anatolia or Mehrgarh in Indus Valley, were egalitarian and (in all likelihood) animistic, the Sumerian model, most probably in response to rapid change in climate, was based on centralized storage and subsequent redistribution of agricultural production. I would guess, and give the folks the benefit of the doubt, that the initial idea was, “We work together, we eat together.”
However, this arrangement inevitably elevated the former shamans, who oversaw the whole process of collecting and redistribution, into position of priests. In order to keep the society coherent and at peace, priests legislated and institutionalized animism into polytheism and invented elaborate rituals involving animal but also human sacrifices. All the while they kept a part of the collected production for themselves. We can only speculate what portion they put aside, but it’s an undeniable fact that soon enough priests were living in luxurious residences and demanded treatment of social elites, which was until that time unprecedented. Well, but surely priests must have liked their new-found lifestyle.
It’s only natural that common population, even though initially supportive of the whole idea, was not content with such development. The fate of Arslantepe is a clear example as the settlement was burned down in violent revolt in c. 3000 BCE. One may argue that the fall of Arslantepe was caused merely by poor record keeping (simple seals and bowls) and lavish lifestyle of elites all enforced by brute strength (the oldest known bronze swords were found exactly there). After all, in other places where this new system of division of labor and sustenance was implemented (e.g. Mesopotamia or Egypt), the city states in question not only survived but flourished. What set these cities apart was that in addition to the same type of sacrificial polytheistic ideology the new social arrangement also spurred the invention and rapid development of writing and monetary systems.
However — as history demonstrated through the fate of all empires times and again, all such clever workarounds only postpone the inevitable.
And just for the record, civilization in Indus Valley, which remained without visible social stratification, lacked clear polytheistic ideology, and also didn’t use money, flourished between c. 7000–1300 BCE when it was eventually replaced with the same hierarchic Sumerian model, even though it employed the same collect-then-redistribute paradigm.
Therefore you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to see that Bible is in essence a story of Sumerian model of civilization. It takes everything from plain observations of nature to (pre-)animistic tales that may go back tens of thousands of years, intertwines them with relatively recent events in Levant and history of birth of Sumerian model of civilization (few millennia or centuries old), and tells them from a perspective of a Hebrew living in the second to first millennium BCE when Judaism was already firmly established with all its bells and whistles. Thus, it effectively creates an apologetic narrative validating normative religion as literally embedded in the fabric of Universe itself. It’s also a story told at a time when Sumer was already better known as Babylon.
So, going back to Cain and Abel, it’s evident that that story on one hand enacts the nature of (obviously polytheistic) blood sacrifice, and on the other hand it establishes the role of such sacrifice as the fundamental social glue, the alpha and omega of relations with gods in order to protect the body social (this is further sanctioned in many other places in the Bible, e.g. Abraham and Isaac, etc.).
Of course many will object that Judaism (as well as the whole Abrahamic tradition) is monotheistic. Well, enter Benei-ha’Elohim, or Sons of God, and Nephilim.
As far as we know, Proto-Indo-Europeans (PIE) arrived to Levant around 2000–1800 BCE and a flood huge even by local standards happened in Sumer around the year 2900 BCE. We also know that it was PIE who brought with them the non-dual knowledge of reality that culminates in “mystical union”, or, in other words, the realization which Jesus allegedly paraphrased two millennia later as, “I and the Father are one.”
From Animism to Non-Duality
Entheogens, religion, and the evolution of the way of life
Now, for Levantines PIE claiming such “mystical union” would amount to meeting Sons of El (El being a prominent local Levantine deity). Naturally, there is this 900 years discrepancy, which is huge, but to reliably trace a small vanguard of a major migration event that would later register on the historical map is almost impossible. The negative context in which “Sons of God” appear is also not surprising because PIE (especially Indo-Iranians), who completely overrode Sumerian culture (by intermarriage with local women as the Genesis tells us), would pose a significant cultural threat to Hebrews holding dear their hard defended Semitic tribal roots.
Furthermore, if we look at the word “Nephilim”, we see that the word itself literally means “fallen ones”. It is usually translated as “giants”, but can also mean “warriors”, “the violent ones”, “the ones falling [upon their enemies]”, “sons of the rulers”, or “sons of the judges”. Pretty much “heroes of old, the men of renown” (Genesis 6:4).
In any case, the monism that PIE brought as part of their culture was the common cultural ancestor that got mixed with local variants of polytheism and gave rise to monotheistic Zoroastrianism and Judaism respectively (as well as Vedic Hinduism few centuries later when PIE migrated further eastward). The relationship between PIE and native Levantines also noticeably improved during the centuries that followed. Stories of Melchizedek and Abraham, both evidently members of “mystical union” school of thought only now depicted as the “good” monotheists living among the polytheistic heathens , are clear testaments to that fact. After all, it’s what naturally happens when two cultures, even though they are initially completely different, live side by side long enough.
Well, the moral of this story is quite clear cut.
For almost six millennia we live in an uninterrupted continuation of Sumerian civilization. We live in Babylon. All products of our labor are centrally collected by someone else who then redistributes the products made. As tokens for the work or goods produced we are awarded money without which no one can buy and sell. We then think and/or act in terms of it because our physical lives depend on it. Of course, as was the case with the first priests, the collectors keep a portion of the production for themselves which, exactly as in the days of yore, creates economic and subsequently social stratification (with priests always on top).
And however far-fetched it may seem, it’s still kept together by normative religions that go back to Sumerian polytheism which first devoured animism, then PIE monism, and later even Jesus’ and Muhammad’s attempts at reformation. I must admit, it’s a clever system. It takes everything that could endanger it, appropriates it, and then pretends to be the very thing devoured only to remain the same, predominantly blood sacrificial, cult (that’s why priest are still at the top of all social hierarchies).
We don’t have to go very far — Jews still crave a temple to reestablish animal sacrifices, Christianity is build on a human sacrifice per se (there are denominations that are even pseudo-cannibalistic which is another common trait of all blood sacrificial systems), and animal sacrifices are not unknown to either Islam or Hinduism. You may argue that e.g. Buddhism or Taoism are exceptions. But when you see adherents of a tradition that has at its core tenets of no-self, equality, and lack of value judgment bowing to enormous golden statues of deified Buddha, you see the same appropriation as mentioned before in action (and you can witness something quite similar also in Taoist temples).
You may also argue that such sentiments pertain only to orthodox believers and have no influence on either moderates or secularists. However, by now it should be obvious that no matter where you look you won’t find a secular value or rule that wouldn’t originate in ancient Sumerian religions and all influences it misappropriated during its, rather brief, history. And it all boils down to, “Just be calm and obedient and keep the money flowing.”
That’s the mantra of Babylon and it already spans the whole globe.
Now, many people, in line with that Babylonian manner of thinking, try to find a scapegoat blaming the rich and powerful, media or other propagandists, or what have you. But the way of Babylon is merely an idea that took hold of, and is living in, everyone’s mind. It propagates through cultural indoctrination, that is, upbringing, education, etc. A seductive promise of false security that is slowly killing our species and large chunks of Earth’s ecosystem with it.
Well, we either go extinct or drive that line of thought out. But don’t despair. If we, indeed, go extinct, some other more capable species will surely replace us. So neither Universe nor reality at large will suffer any losses.
 Although, it’s worth mentioning that while Abraham is associated with animal sacrifice, Melchizedek’s way of paying homage to God is associated with bread and wine.