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Idols and Idolatry

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The earliest human beings divided their world into Seeable and Un-seeable Realms. Spirits (e.g. good and bad gods or Supernatural beings) were used to explain what caused happenings coming out of the sky and what caused activities with things that moved on earth (e.g. animals). To deal with good spirits they formed an assortment of religious practices designed to please and encourage them to continue doing beneficial things (e.g. producing food). In dealing with good gods or supernatural beings, activating their sound waves was done by speaking directly to them in asking for help--and this gave rise to Mantras. Images were made to also remind them of their gods for whom they had extreme affection and respect. For bad spirits, Magic was used in attempts to control them. Magic's purpose was to either persuade the angry spirits to give up their vindictive acts and/or to control some of their powers by means of mystical words, dances, and rituals as a way of altering their life support functions. Binding these practices to certain rules constituted the original form of Religion. Meanwhile, by depending on animals for food, to improve their success when hunting, came the ideas of controlling the animals' spirit; doing things to blend into the animals' spirit; or even owning an image of the animal. For these purposes of gaining the animal's power, Primitive (the first people) Africans resorted to imagining something about the animal's power, so as to organize its energy into "frozen" Thought-Forms. The shaping of its forces into a defined object was called an Image (or Icon). Then by awakening its associated sound waves not only gave them the power of the animal but also imparted power over the animal itself.

Millennia later and outside Africa, perhaps originating in Aurignacian times (Upper Paleolithic, Cro-Magnon man) and expanding into the eastern Mediterranean area, primitive peoples believed that located in Supernatural realms was a supreme being or a number of spirits guiding earthly affairs as well as governing their destinies. They made a god--an Idol (Greek, image, a likeness fashioned in animal, animal/human, human, or symbolic form)--of nearly everything in the material world--the stick or stone, the graven image, or the anthropomorphic deities. Yet, the supreme model was in superhuman form. Then they would fall down to worship their own creation because of their limited power of interpretation. They expanded on the images or representations of a Supernatural being as had been laid out by Primitive Africans by means of making sacrifices and doing other devotional acts as part of rituals of worship performed before pagan "images." And that constituted Idolatry (Image worship). The word "Pagan" thereafter came to mean idolatry or the worship of idols of false gods, Supernatural beings, or superhumans who served as "invisible" companions. Eventually, Images, Idols, or Symbols of venerated gods were set up in places where the people could see and worship them--especially on doors or in temples. Others were used to venerate their families, kinship, and tribes. Idolatry is seen by some as its god in the powers of their Nature-Worship of the heavenly bodies and the elements; some develop hero-worship; some animal and image worship, the lowest form of which is Fetishism; and most today, money and GUN worship.

Though this was not an issue for Ancient Africans where Religion and Spirituality were based on proof and Certainty, eventually in Western tradition the plurality of religions raised the question of truth or falsity. For any having Beliefs, acts of piety and worship, recourse to prayer, the partaking of sacraments, the observance of certain rituals, and the performance of sacrifices and purifications different from ones own meant they were not rendering God what is due. For those who were "different," such epithets as "Idolatrous," "Superstitious," "Heretical," and "Schismatic" were applied--and hence the justification for going to war. Thus, the Latin Christians were mortal enemies of Mahometans; the Mohammedans, in turn, against all who did not hold their view. The Jews and Christians as well as the Protestants and Catholics countered often by charges of infidelity or heresy and schism. Each hold that their religious practices are prescribed by divine law and that prevents the entertaining of contrary beliefs/practices as conceivably true alternatives. By contrast, Africans Spirituality' was/is based on the Spiritual Elements without conflict!

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