“Anthropologists have assumed that organized religion began as a way of salving the tensions that inevitably arose when hunter-gatherers settled down, became farmers, and developed large societies,” according to a National Geographic feature in June 2011.1 But the exquisitely carved pillars of the world’s oldest known temple, Gobekli Tepe, contradict that evolutionary version of ancient human history.2
Standard evolutionary anthropology—the study of ancient man—insists that humans invented religious worship as they emerged from an ape-like ancestry. Religion supposedly emerged after the development of agriculture provided people with enough free time and close proximity to bicker, thus also providing them with an incentive to invent God and religion.
Evolutionary storytellers such as H. G. Wells provided possible reasons why early humans developed religion. In 1939, Wells speculated about Neolithic peoples:
Tabu, that is to say primitive moral control, and magic, which is primitive science, are now grouped about the directive priesthood, and an elaborate astronomy fraught with worship, links the plough and the labouring beast and the sacrifice upon the altar with then constellations.3
Similarly speculative, the National Geographic‘s report on Gobekli Tepe asserted that “those who rose to power were seen as having a special connection with the gods.”2
But the idea that agricultural amenities spawned religion is making an about-face in light of the fully constructed temple complexes discovered at Gobekli Tepe (pronounced Guh-behk-lee Teh-peh and roughly translated “potbelly hill”) in southern Turkey. The remarkable findings there show that mankind was able to worship from the beginning of the human race….
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