Are Gods real?
Did they exist at one time on Earth or are they just a figment of our imagination?
Did God create the first couple on earth?
All these and more questions have been of immense interest to humans from centuries. The natural curiosity about the origin of life though documented throughout history has always featured some unexplained parts which Science has not been able to explain leaving imaginative people at liberty to spin all kinds of tales to suit their immediate needs.
The Evolution of Gods by Ajay Kansal is an effort to utilize Science to explain the why, how and when of the evolution of life and the subsequent evolution of the God phenomenon. The author, being a man of science himself, takes anthropological and historical facts to explain the evolution of life, religion and God in a simple yet very interesting way.
According to the author,
“Man could perceive some unseen, unheard, untouchable, non-aromatic divine power only after the evolution of his imagination.”
“Whenever people encountered some power beyond their control that could harm or help them, they began to worship that power.”
I was sent a free copy of the book by the author to read and give my honest review. So here it goes.
Firstly, I loved the cover design of the book where an artistically dressed man possibly the Priest or the Head of a tribe is shown in a "call upon" pose with lightning in the background. It brings to our minds the image of a tribe that worships the elements of nature feeling it all powerful because it is beyond its control!!
A point made several times by the author in the book when he links the origin of Gods to the power of imagination of us, humans and the fact that the power deemed as Gods was unpredictable and beyond our control.
“…they considered thunder and lightning as devastating, mysterious and frightening. Consequently, their leaders or priests imagined a divine sky god that was behind the changes occurring in the sky. Gradually, they began worshipping the sky as a god.”
Secondly, the writing is simple yet leaves us interested and hooked to each event he describes, be it the first burial instance from the Skhul Cave of Israel to Naskapi- a tribe in Canada where the Priests were consulted by the people before any venture. Ajay Kansal is able to dispel myths and shed light to some pretty exciting things which are generally unknown to people like “…the Vedas do not assert the concept of punishment for past karma, and do not advise any meditation to liberate people from them. The Buddha was first to invent the idea of past karma, and he came several centuries after the compilation of Vedas.”
Thirdly, a lot of research is evident and the book stimulates discussion and debate. Thought provoking statements backed by solid well researched examples are abundant.
Fourthly, though the book seems like it is a work of an atheist yet it does not preach against religion or our faith in the existence of Gods. It’s a venture to try and explain each and every belief of ours using modern Science.
Lastly, it’s a well written book and keeps the reader bound, quickly turning pages till the end. All explanations to our beliefs are well backed with scientific discoveries, dates and suitable data. It’s written in a timeline fashion which I think increases its appeal as we get to see a scientific perspective to all events till date.
All positives done, it’s time to count the negatives.
Firstly, the sentence structure could have been made more appealing with a little more editing.
Secondly, some small footnotes or end notes could have been added to support the author's explanations and assertions.
Thirdly, I felt an addition of a few pictures and diagrams could have greatly added to the overall appeal of the book.
All in all, a fascinating read from a very promising author. It’s written to the point and greatly adds to our understanding and knowledge of the origin of life, religion and evolution of Gods. I have always believed that there is a God and that everything that happens is part of a bigger plan known and devised by him. But The Evolution of Gods,without preaching against the existence of God, has made me question if all my beliefs are true or just made up tales to inspire fear and reverence to something greater than us!!
“...Humanity itself imagined all the divine powers called Gods. The concept of Gods was the projection of ancient humans' need to have something greater than themselves.”
But apart from creating queries, it is also successful in satisfying our curiosities and answering our questions without being boring and stilted. Thus making it a very promising book; with a fresh perspective to our origin, history, our morals, beliefs, faith in God etc. It states hard facts without compelling the reader to take sides; leaving him enough freedom to come to his own conclusions.
I give The Evolution of Gods 4 out of 5 and recommend everyone to read it.