The faith in a Messiah is ubiquitous. It is common in many if not all cultures. It survived till today, not only in legends and religious scripts. It is even revived in modern literature such as Dune or philosophy such as Marxism or ideology such as democracy. The idea of a Messiah evolved from prehistoric tribal behavior, showed some transformations over human history, and found its solution recently in The Bible. The Easter story in particular.
The Messiah idea has its roots in prehistoric human social behavior. Humans primeval ancestors lived in compound that were lead by alpha males. Obedience to that leader was essential to that compounds competitiveness, so we may conclude if not even biologically wired there is a strong socially inherited tendency to follow a leading male. In the emerging class societies, the function of the alpha male was substituted by religious or political rulers. No wonder then that the first Messiahs in old scriptures coincided with political rulers.
As with growing contradictions among social classes an other type of interpretation of Messiah evolved. While the ruling class still maintained the old ideology of God given ruler being the Messiah, the abused classes suffering from conflicts, suppression, and injustice began to dream of an other Messiah. A new type of ruler who would enforce their interests.
Human thinking caged
Psychologists call it cognitive inhibition. As human upbringing in a family with a strong leader reinforces humans primeval social behavior, there is a perpetual source of new Messiah stories. Some as clumsy as Dune where a single person changes the world. Some others, more realistic about human egoistic behavior, transpose the idea of a Messiah to a group of people. The working class in Marxism and a democratically elected assembly in Western ideologies. None is working for two reasons.
- There is no such thing as a human that wont abuse power. That holds for a single person as well as for groups of people.
- There is no such thing as a wise decision that all people are complacent about. Neither contradictory interests can be reconciled nor really progressive decisions can be made by mass support.
Despite the growing number of people that create ever new stories of Messiahs and scholars that invent new Messiah theories, wise people found out about its infeasibility some two thousand years ago when they wrote the story about Jesus. Jesus was meant to be a Messiah but failed. The message is clear. As Jesus failed who was capable to muster all the power of God in his favor, every human who cannot muster as much power must fail too.
Unfortunately these rational foundations of human sociology by early Christian scholars remained almost unnoticed. Too strong have been the efforts of ruler, even of the Christian churches, to disguise the original tenet. And also too strong is the desire of humans to believe in something that complies with deeply inherited feelings, however irrational it may be.
Unfortunately early sociologists did not offer a solution to the problem, but they did so for a purpose, for not creating a new Messiah, for not repeating old mistakes. Admittedly progress in society and sociology goes slowly. But what is 2k years in an evolutionary timescale?
This work by Paul Netman is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.
Fauceir theory is developed and © by Mato Nagel and available at www.fauceir.org.