In the Beginning God: A Fresh Look at the Case for Original Monotheism
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In the Beginning God: A Fresh Look at the Case for Original Monotheism

B&H Academic / 2013 / Paperback

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Stock No: WW447783


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Christians believe religion began when God created human beings and revealed himself to them. But is there sufficient evidence for this belief?

In the nineteenth-century academic world, a story debate took shape over the origin of religion. A dominant view emerged that religion began with animism-the veneration of spirits-and only later evolved into higher forms, from polytheism to monotheism.

Yet, on the basis of discoveries made throughout the world, some scholars challenged the prevailing view. Andrew Lang and Wilhelm Schmidt contended that there are as many cultures on the lowest level of material development that orginated as monotheistic, acknowledging the existence of one supreme god who created the world and holds people accountable for living morally upright lives.

The debate wore on, and Schmidt, a member of a Catholic order and a priest, was accused (without evidence) of letting his faith interpret the facts. By the mid-twentieth century a silent consensus formed among scholars not to discuss the origin and evolution any further. The work of Lang and Schmidt has since been largely ignored.

However, the evidence on which these scholars based their conclusion is still there, and the case for an original monotheism still stands. In the Beginning God educates Christians about the debate--the facts that were accepted and those that were ignored--and how one can put this knowledge to use in making a case for the truth of Christianity.

Product Information

Format: Paperback
Number of Pages: 400
Vendor: B&H Academic
Publication Date: 2013
Dimensions: 9.00 X 6.00 X 1.03 (inches)
ISBN: 0805447784
ISBN-13: 9780805447781

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Publisher's Description

 Christians believe that religion began when God created human beings and revealed himself to them. But is there scholarly evidence for this belief?

In the nineteenth century academic world a stormy debate took shape over the origin of religion. Scholars explored the ancient languages of mythology and then considered evolutionary anthropology. A dominant view emerged that religion began with animism -- the reverent honoring of spirits -- and from there evolved into higher forms, from polytheism on to monotheism.

However, scholars Andrew Lang and Wilhem Schmidt contended there were cultures throughout the world -- pygmy people in Africa and Asia, certain Australian Aboriginal groups and Native American tribes -- that originated as monotheistic, acknowledging the existence of one supreme God who created the world and holds people accountable for living morally upright lives.

The debate wore on, and Schmidt, a member of the Catholic order and a priest, was accused (without evidence) of letting his faith interpret the facts. By the mid-twentieth century a silent consensus formed among scholars not to discuss the origin and evolution of religion any further. The discoveries of Lang and Schmidt have since been largely ignored.

However, the evidence on which these scholars based their conclusion of monotheism is still out there. In the Beginning God attempts to educate Christians about the debate on this topic, the facts that were accepted and those that were ignored, and the use to which Christians can put all of this material in making a case for the truth of Christianity.

Author Bio

 Winfried Corduan (Ph.D., Rice University) is professor emeritus of Philosophy and Religion at Taylor University in Upland, Indiana.

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