As states became bigger, religion became more refined leading to monolatry (worshiping only one god but allowing for the existence of other gods) and monotheism (there is only one god).

Monotheism is much better suited for social control and it first appeared in the Persian Empire (see below). The king is the god’s favorite. Belief in after-life also helps to establish control. It was big in the Persian religion. (Paradise is a Persian word.) Christianity evolved from Judaism with the infusion of Persian ideas (Essenes). A Redeemer (messiah) is present in Zoroastrianism, to be borne by a virgin mother. The Roman emperors of the fourth century seized upon Christianity as a tool for social control and ushered the Dark Ages. State imposed orthodoxy killed all independent thinking. On the other hand the Chinese empire never had monotheism! (And neither did India.) Instead there was an ethical and philosophical system: Confucianism. (Kong Fuzi, 551–479 BC. – Buddha 563-483 – Socrates 470-399, Plato 428-348) Confucianism eventually took aspects of religion, but only one of many.


Judaism is considered the world's oldest monotheistic religion but that is debatable. Some scholars, particularly James Kugel, think that Judaism did not become monotheistic until the time of the half-century long Babylonian exile and the subsequent restoration of the Temple by the Persian king Cyrus [WRT, KUG, p. 560, CLK, pp. 152-156]. Until then the God of Israel was one of many gods, although more powerful than the others, as the hymn Mi Kamocha demonstrates. The critical passage of the Persian influence can be found in Isaiah:45. "Thus said the LORD to CYRUS, His anointed one - ....". Also the concept of life after death in Judaism appears for the first time in the same period. It is worth noting that the word Paradise is of Persian origin.


[CLK] Peter Clark Zoroastrianism, Sussex, 1998.
[KUG] James L. Kugel How to Read the Bible, Free Press, 2007.
[WRT] Robert Wright, The Evolution of God, Little, Brown, New York, 2009.

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