The Origins of Faith: Egypt
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By Pastor Richard Beobide
We are in the search of the doctrine eternal life!
As you've read in the Mesopotamian civilizations we've found that the gods of Sumer offered no afterlife to speak of except darkness, ash and gloom. You also remember their civilization began 3500 years before Christ according to the historians. In this article we will explore Egypt's historic past to see if there's any evidence of documentation that contains the doctrine of "Eternal Life."
Egypt and the lost art of Mummification
As we journey through this ancient culture we find how it differs from the beliefs of Sumer. To begin with the Egyptian religious belief system evolves through the progression of time. JM Roberts notes that the religious culture was part of the mind set of the Egyptian people. Unlike the Sumerian's bleak gloominess, the Egyptians believed by the time of the Middle Kingdom that they can be happy in the "After Life."
Throughout the latter portion of their dynastic history, this people searched out a "changeless world" through the life of the Mummified dead. So much so, did the Egyptian people believe that the dead lived among them, that the careful practice of mummification of their dead was "The Struggle" to insure a happy "After Life" for their deceased.
The dead were prepared through priestly rituals and mummification, then the burial process lasted a total of seventy days. After the priestly rituals came the mummification process, where the body of the deceased would have its inside parts completely removed. This process was usually done by one of two procedures: either from behind the eye or through the nose. The brain was discarded and the cavity areas of the body were then filled with spices, natron (a salt substance) and a form of plaster. The inward parts of the body were stored in jars. After this preparation was complete the "Opening of the Mouth" ceremony began. This ceremony allowed the deceased to hear, eat, drink and breath in the spirit world.
Finally, once all preparation was complete the deceased stood before Ma'at, Anubis and Ammut. This was the judgment seat, the place of the scale. The heart of the deceased would be weighed on a scale against its counterweight of Good. If the "Good" in heart of the deceased outweighed "Good" on the scale, the deceased would enjoy life with the god Osiris in his kingdom. However, if the bad in the person's heart outweighed the "Good" on the scale then Anubis delivered the deceased to Ammut the devourer. Ammut would eat the heart of the deceased, and they would exist no more.
Egypt's Belief Systems and Pantheons
Egypt is considered by the experts to be the second oldest civilization in the world. It dates as far back as 3200 BC. (according to historians best guess). The great land of Egypt with her belief system had a long list of gods. Their gods along with pharaoh, who was said to be a direct descendant of the god Osiris, was thought to be in control of the whole world.
This prehistoric Egyptian culture also thought that these gods were embodied and dwelt in the natural forces that surrounded men; such as the god of wind, water, and light amongst others. However, after Egypt was attacked by outside forces; countrymen died and helped bring about the end of pharaoh's godhood. So, also was the fate of the Egyptians pantheon of gods; which was at last count was a list of more then two thousand.
Truth and Religion
When a person decides to hunt down the truth we must be prepare to receive answers that aren't exactly pleasing to us. The fact is "truth" is not for the faint of heart. Scientists, Christians and non-believers are going to come up against barriers and blockades, where for the time being, at least, you must accept things by faith alone. Sometimes, as during the rise of Darwinism and doctrines such as the Documentary Hypotheses, faith can be hard to hold onto. The good fortune for the Christian is this: their faith has proven to be most dependable whether under the scrutiny of other religious belief systems such as science and history or other non-science related religions such as Buddha, Hinduism and Islam.
Addressing Eternal Life
Since we're on the hunt for the doctrine of "Eternal Life," we must take note that the Egyptian's pantheon doctrine could be considered one of the first doctrines of "Eternal Life," (as well as the doctrine of the Sumerians) at least for Pharaoh and his immediate subjects. Furthermore, by the Middle Kingdom, this Later civilization believed that there was a form of "Eternal Life" for all Egyptians, not just for pharaoh and his immediate counsel. Another important note is Moses. This Author of an "Eternal Life" doctrine was born in Goshen and raised as a prince in Egypt. He lived during the time and place of the doctrines we are currently discussing. This will be examined later in the article the "Belief System of the Jews." As you can imagine, therefore the truth and scientific deduction is extremely important with regard to faith. In other words, the scientific model of the universe presented by science and the one presented by faith ultimately should agree. But because we don't know everything we must wait for our researchers find facts, archeological or otherwise.
Continuity of faith is very important. As we learn about the ancient faith of Egypt it differs greatly from its Moslem belief systems of today. From the beginning of Egypt's dynastic history the "after life" of the people was different from that of the Pharaoh. It appears historically that from the proto-dynastic period (3200 BC. See chart below) all the way through to the start of the Middle kingdom (3052 BC. Is the beginning of the middle kingdom) the subjects of pharaoh did not receive the "after life" or "everlasting life." In other words, the "after life" wasn't available to any of the pharaoh's subjects. Therefore, during this period of at least 1148 years (3200 BC.- 2052 BC.) the subjects of pharaoh were not concerned with "After Life" for themselves; rather the "After Life" of pharaoh was their only concern.
However, in the Middle Kingdom starting around 2052 BC. A tremendous evolutionary change occurs in the Egyptian belief system. Suddenly, the idea springs up that pharaoh's subjects are now entitled to gain access to "Eternal Life" just as pharaoh. The subjects now looked to serve the god's, and then would be judged by Osiris. If judgment was favorable they lived with Osiris in his kingdom. If unfavorable, they were left to the destroyer type hybrid that was one third crocodile, one third lion and one third Hippopotamus that destroyed them.
This is an important observation, because the continuity of the belief system's break! The status "Egyptian Subject" meant that they were not entitled to "After Life" or "Eternal Life" prior to 2052 BC., The "After Life" was reserved for Pharaoh only.
Then after the year 2052 BC., the "After Life" becomes available to this group. The question would have to raised; what happens to the souls of the "Egyptian Subjects" during the period before its availability (3200 BC.-2052 BC. See chart above)?
Oops! We Lost A Few
As we stated earlier, the period of more then 1148 years, leading up to the Middle Kingdom, Egyptian subjugation to pharaoh meant no "After Life" for his subjects. Now, in the Middle Kingdom "After Life" exist for pharaoh's subjects must be asked; where is the doctrinal accounting for the lost souls during this 1148 year period? The conclusion is perhaps there is more information yet to be has in archeology or we can consider these subjects either unaccounted for, or lost souls forever or dead without an "After life." Why is this so important? It's importance is based on one fact concerning divinely inspired doctrine and doctrinal evolution.
Divinely Inspired or Evolutionary Doctrine
Doctrine may grow (through Prophecy of a foretelling of changes to come), but it must be consistent with prior doctrine. It cannot change and abandon a policy for the souls of the past. Every soul through our history must be accounted for, from the beginning of time to the end of all history to come (that is a future event when all of time comes to an end), unless it is told before hand through prophecy. Furthermore, the why's and how's of the coming change must be included in the foretelling of major events along with the foretelling of specific events that will occur during the time of the foretold change. This allows the reader to identify the occurrences as a divine act. In other words, a doctrine is supposed to be divinely inspired. The proof of divine inspiration is the accurate foretelling of future events (prophecy). Otherwise how would we know that a supernatural god is at work in a doctrine.
Imhotep, Pagans and Deification
He we can bring up "Imhotep chancellor to the king." (Imhotep was recently raised from the dead in the movie "The Mummy") He was deified (or made into a god) perhaps by the pharaoh of his time for his great works, including the "Step Pyramid" of Egypt and is considered the "First Architect." So great were his works that his deification declared him "The God of Medicine." Clearly Imhotep was not a god in the beginning of his life but became one through his works. I bring these points to light because all through out history pagan belief systems would take a person's great works and use them to deify (or glorify as a god) the person performed them. The list of pagan interjections of deities are long; Egypt's Imhotep, Sumer's Gilgamesh, The Apostle Paul by the Greeks, Mary for the Virgin Birth and Mary the Mother of God by the Catholics, and perhaps thousands more. Why is this so important? Since deities can change at the desire of a leader, politics or population; it tells us that it is driven by humanity or set regulation according to laws. Furthermore, deification (or godhood) by way of human assignment shows an evolutionary change in the belief systems resulting from a leader, politics or population and not from a divine being establishing himself among the souls of the earth. In other words, the only way a truly divine belief system can be established is through the divine foretelling of events to come before they actually happen. Today, as I write this article, the catholic faith is suffering from a humanistic view of the scripture. The result is an un-divine doctrine causing confusion for its parishioners. The Catholic church has told of a doctrine that Mary had a virgin birth and remained a virgin throughout her life. The scripture is clear that this was not the case. Mary had other children from Joseph her husband after the virgin birth of Jesus who was the Christ. While I believe it is true that Mary conceived as a virgin, it is clear that the Lord said to Joseph that he cannot have relations with Mary until after the birth of Jesus the Messiah. Joseph then did have relations with Mary and James the blood brother of Jesus was conceived as the scripture teaches.
The Egyptian Belief System
As with the Sumerians, there is no way of completely understanding the belief systems of the Egyptians except by studying and examining what was retrieved from archeological excavations. There are interesting facts about this belief systems in that it can be summarized in the following manner:
The Gods: The Egyptian belief system contained more then 2000 gods by the end of the New Kingdom. However, there was no divine plan. These gods, as best we know are no longer worshipped and the doctrine can be considered dead since the end of the New Kingdom 1075 BC.
Life: As we mentioned earlier, life for the Egyptian subject went through a radical evolutionary change, in that, from 3200 BC- 2052 BC. The Egyptian subject had no after life. However, at around 2052 BC. The subject had gained (without a divine plan, but rather through social change) the right to receive an "After Life."
Death: All humans were subject to death even pharaoh. Pharaoh is said to have become a god after death and the subjects were said to have their hearts weighed against Ma'at (the standard of good). Anyone considered good lived with Osiris in his kingdom. Those considered bad at the weigh in were devoured by Ammut who was also known as the goddess of death. She had the head of a crocodile, torso of a lion and the rump of the hippopotamus.
After Life: After Life or Eternal Life was granted to a person whose heart was weighed against the standard of Ma'at. As previously mentioned the good person lived with Osiris.
What's important as we will see later in the Summation if the series of articles the bad were devoured and there was no eternal punishment or eternal death but rather simply devoured and no longer existed.
I think people are more infatuated with Egypt and the belief systems of her ancient kingdoms today more then ever before. Here to we can ask some interesting and thought provoking questions. So let's take a moment to speculate on some doctrinal concepts. Let's say a person (like yourself) wanted to follow this belief system. What difficulties would be encountered along the was?
* If a person were seeking the "Eternal Life" or the "After Life" experience described in their doctrines, one of the immediate problems encountered is the lack of a divine plan. While the Ma'at standard was a way a person could live their life, the flaw of inconsistency regarding the after life issue of pharaoh' s subjects from the pre-Middle Kingdom into the Middle Kingdom shows that the belief system itself is not truly divinely inspired but created by man. If a person were to deeply investigate the faith your were left with a large flaw in the continuity of the belief system because the belief is not seamless.
* The next large hurdle is: let's say for example you're an old person and you truly see the light of Ma'at, but you were quite wicked in your day. Now you've made a complete change of heart. Then your die. The odds are when you go before the scales and the standard of Ma'at the evil in your heart will out weigh the good and you'll be devoured by Ammut. That's because your decision to follow Ma'at came very late in life. In other words you didn't have enough time to do the works needed to outweigh your wickedness in your life time.
* Also, you would have to consider the foretelling of future events in the belief system. The ability to foretell an event prior to its occurrence is the true test of any belief system. It's the only way to tell that there is truly a divine god involved in the belief. The belief system of the Egyptians had some foretelling of future events. However, this belief system had virtually none to speak of that actually came to pass. In fact, pharaohs soothsayers were often put to death because of inaccurate predictions. It's good thing for the weather men of today we don't have kings and pharaohs.
In the end, the final result is: this belief system was completely abandoned by the Egyptian people by 1000 BC. While "Eternal Life" is a mentioned concept in the ancient writings of Egypt the of logic and reason proved it to be intellectually and logically dead, and unable to stand up to the scrutiny of the truth. It's safe to say that these are the reasons why the Egyptian pantheon was finally abandoned by the Egyptian civilization. This may have left a sizable void in the Egyptian civilization for an approximate 1600 years when another faith would enter into the society in the year 600 AD. Anyway that about sums it up. We'll see you next time on Mystery & Logic!