a thorough look into the work of historian Dr. John G. Jackson. Together they lay out an important discussion on the origins of religion and early human religious practices. While I wouldn’t consider myself an atheist, I do think Dr. Jackson’s historical framing of the term is interesting and makes sense. More importantly though, his studies seem to have imbued upon him a comprehensive understanding of the role and conceptualization of God throughout human history, which I find extremely valuable.
On magic, religion and science: “Frazier says the first people didn’t have religion, they believed in magic. Then they realized magic doesn’t always work so they moved on to religion. They they realized religion didn’t always work so they moved on to science. He stopped there but I believe he should have kept going because science doesn’t always work either… I think a certain amount of magic is valid. I think a certain amount of religion is valid. And I think a certain amount of science is valid.”
“All the religions of the world go back to the Pygmies… In early days god was imaged not as a man but as a woman because the first god was mother earth. The worship of the Earth branched out and turned into the things that were on the Earth. Tree worship. Plant worship. Animal worship. Terrestrial, on the ground. But then religion went from the ground up to the sky. Then you have sky worship, star worship, moon worship, sun worship. And these all mixed together and produced the zodiac.”
“In my research… the African idea of god is this: The Christians say that everything around us is nature, and it couldn’t have created itself so there must have been a super-natural god that created it. The African says that there is no such thing as the super-natural, that nature is all. And, therefore, that god is just another word for nature, or universe… The universe is nothing more than a big box with no top, no bottom and no sides [laughter]… They took the position that god is the all and all, the sum total of everything. And he’s the great god. And these little gods — the sun, the moon, the stars and the words — you put them all together and you get the great god. Just like you take a bunch of colleges and put them together and get a university. According to the old-African type of religion, god is the physical universe and Christ is the spiritual universe. And you take matter and spirit and put it together and you’ve got Everything.”
“The right title should have been “The African Origin of Christianity”, but I realized that if I gave it that title very few people would buy the book because a sad feature about black people today is that most of them are almost totally illiterate they can’t read anything anymore. Television done robbed them of what little literacy they had. So I just called it “Christianity Before Christ” in hope that a few white intellectuals would read it. And it worked out all right.”
“The Schomburg library stayed open until 11pm. So if you couldn’t go to school you could go to the library. Nowadays they close early so if you work you’re not going there. I had the good fortune to be born before there was any radio and before there was any television, so I had to learn to read, write and count.”
“Instead of Europe civilizing Africa, Africa civilized Europe twice.”
We don’t need you to save the nation or save the world. Save yourself first so you can lend a helping hand to your brother… Don’t worry about loving your enemy, love yourself… Most of us have wishbones where our backbones ought to be.