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With any quest, we may not always look in the most obvious places…Truth may pop up when least expected and slap us in the face. Or wake us up like an irritating-obnoxious alarm clock at 5 a.m. after only 3-4 hours of limited sleep.
“NOT ALL MYTHS HAVE A BASIS IN FACT OR IN THE BIBLE”
The All-Pervasive Immortal Soul Belief
20. What was the Assyro-Babylonian belief regarding the afterlife?
20 However, not all myths have a basis in fact or in the Bible. In his search for God, man has clutched at straws, deluded by the illusion of immortality. As we will see throughout this book, the belief in an immortal soul or variations thereof is a legacy that has come down to us through the millenniums. The people of the ancient Assyro-Babylonian culture believed in an afterlife. The New Larousse Encyclopedia of Mythology explains: “Under the earth, beyond the abyss of the Apsu [full of fresh water and encircling the earth], lay the infernal dwelling-place to which men descended after death. It was the ‘Land of no return’ . . . In these regions of eternal darkness the souls of the dead—edimmu—‘clad, like birds, in a garment of wings’ are all jumbled together.” According to the myth, this subterranean world was ruled over by the goddess Ereshkigal, “Princess of the great earth.”
21. According to Egyptian belief, what happened to the dead?
21 The Egyptians likewise had their idea of an immortal soul. Before the soul could reach a happy haven, it had to be weighed against Maat, the goddess of truth and justice, who was symbolized by the feather of truth. Either Anubis, the jackal-headed god, or Horus, the falcon, helped in the procedure. If approved by Osiris, that soul would go on to share bliss with the gods. As is so often the case, here we find the common thread of the Babylonian immortal soul concept shaping people’s religion, lives, and actions.
22. What was the Chinese concept of the dead, and what was done to help them?
22 The old Chinese mythology included a belief in survival after death and the need to keep ancestors happy. Ancestors were “conceived as living and powerful spirits, all vitally concerned about the welfare of their living descendants, but capable of punitive anger if displeased.” The dead were to be given every aid, including companions in death. Thus, “some Shang kings . . . were buried with anywhere from a hundred to three hundred human victims, who were to be his attendants in the next world. (This practice links ancient China with Egypt, Africa, Japan, and other places, where similar sacrifices were made.)” (Man’s Religions, by John B. Noss) In these cases belief in an immortal soul led to human sacrifices.—Contrast Ecclesiastes 9:5, 10; Isaiah 38:18, 19.
23. (a) In Greek mythology, who and what were Hades? (b) What is Hades according to the Bible?
23 The Greeks, having formulated many gods in their mythology, were also concerned with the dead and their destination. According to the myths, the one put in charge of that realm of murky darkness was the son of Cronus and brother of the gods Zeus and Poseidon. His name was Hades, and his realm was named after him. How did the souls of the dead reach Hades? *(“Hades” appears in the Christian Greek Scriptures ten times, not as a mythological person, but as the common grave of mankind. It is the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew she’ohlʹ.—Compare Psalm 16:10; Acts 2:27, Kingdom Interlinear.)
24. (a) According to Greek mythology, what happened in the underworld? (b) What similarity to the Epic of Gilgamesh was there in Greek mythology?
24 Writer Ellen Switzer explains: “There were . . . frightening creatures in the underworld. There was Charon, who rowed the ferry that transported those who had recently died from the land of the living to the underworld. Charon required payment for his ferry service [across the river Styx], and the Greeks often buried their dead with a coin under the tongue to make sure that they had the proper fare. Dead souls who could not pay were kept on the wrong side of the river, in a kind of no-man’s-land, and might return to haunt the living.” *(Interestingly, Utnapishtim, the hero of the Epic of Gilgamesh, had his boatman, Urshanabi, who took Gilgamesh over the waters of death to meet the flood survivor.)
25. Who were influenced by Greek thinking regarding the soul?
25 The Greek mythology of the soul went on to influence the Roman concept, and the Greek philosophers, such as Plato (about 427-347 B.C.E.), strongly influenced early apostate Christian thinkers who accepted the immortal soul teaching into their doctrine, even though it had no Biblical basis.
26, 27. How did the Aztecs, Incas, and Maya view death?
26 The Aztecs, Incas, and Maya also believed in an immortal soul. Death was as much a mystery to them as it was to other civilizations. They had their ceremonies and beliefs to help them reconcile themselves to it. As the archaeological historian Victor W. von Hagen explains in his book The Ancient Sun Kingdoms of the Americas: “The dead were in reality living: they had merely passed from one phase to another; they were invisible, impalpable, invulnerable. The dead . . . had become the unseen members of the clan.”—Contrast Judges 16:30; Ezekiel 18:4, 20.
27 The same source tells us that “the [Inca] Indian believed in immortality; in fact he believed one never died, . . . the dead body merely became undead and it took on the influences of the unseen powers.” The Maya too believed in a soul and in 13 heavens and 9 hells. Thus, wherever we turn, people have wanted to deny the reality of death, and the immortal soul has been the crutch to lean on.—Isaiah 38:18; Acts 3:23.
28. What are some beliefs that have prevailed in Africa?
28 Africa’s mythologies likewise include references to a surviving soul. Many Africans live in awe of the souls of the dead. The New Larousse Encyclopedia of Mythology states: “This belief is bound up with another—the continuing existence of the soul after death. Magicians are able to call on souls to aid their powers. The souls of the dead often transmigrate into the bodies of animals, or may even be reincarnated in plants.” As a consequence, the Zulu will not kill some snakes that they believe to be the spirits of relatives.
29 The Masai of southeastern Africa believe in a creator called ’Ng ai, who places a guardian angel by each Masai as a protection. At the moment of death, the angel takes the warrior’s soul to the hereafter. The previously quoted Larousse supplies a Zulu death-legend involving the first man, Unkulunkulu, who for this myth had become the supreme being. He sent the chameleon to tell mankind, “Men shall not die!” The chameleon was slow and got distracted on the way. So Unkulunkulu sent a different message by means of a lizard, saying, “Men shall die!” The lizard got there first, “and ever since no man has escaped death.” With variations, this same legend exists among the Bechuana, Basuto, and Baronga tribes.
30. In this book what will we further see about the soul?
30 As we pursue the study of mankind’s search for God, we will see even further how important the myth of the immortal soul has been and still is to mankind.
[excerpted reading reference: Mankind’s Search For God, Chapter 3, Common Threads in Mythology, pp. 52-57]
9/27/18 @ 5:42 p.m.
p.s. off to Mind Gym soon…(will “try” to continue this post topic).